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2 posts for February 2012
By Paul Nisbet on Friday 3rd February, 2012 at 4:11pm
One of the requests from the staff who attended the Digital Papers Focus Group meeting in October 2011 was for SQA to provide answer booklets in Microsoft Word format. While answer booklets have been provided as PDF documents, some staff felt that the Word format would be more suitable for some candidates. You can now download answer booklets in Word / DOC format from the SQA web site.
The main advantage of using PDF answer booklets with Adobe Reader is that candidates can use the same program to access both question paper and answer booklet. However, disadvantages of the PDF answer booklets are:
- Each page contains a separate text box for the answer and the candidate's text does not automatically flow from one page to another.
- The font and size are fixed, and formatting is basic.
- Inserting symbols, formulae and equations is awkward.
- Drawing tools are basic.
- PDFaloud text-to-speech software does not highlight the text in the answer booklet as it reads, and it reads the whole page - you can't just read a sentence, word or paragraph.
- Word is a much better word processor than an Adobe Reader text box! The candidate can change fonts, sizes, styles, use formatting etc etc.
- Symbols, formulae, equations and diagrams can be easily inserted.
- A wider range of text-to-speech programs can be used to read out your answers, including the free WordTalk reader.
- Speech recognition can be used to dictate into Word, including the free Windows 7 speech recognition software.
- Support tools for mind-mapping, spellchecking and word prediction (if permitted by SQA) tend to work better with Word than Adobe Reader.
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By Allan Wilson on Friday 3rd February, 2012 at 12:20pm
Most people who use a Kindle simply download the books they want from the Amazon web site. But what can you do if you want to read something else on your Kindle? The Kindle recognises Kindle (.azw), Text (.txt) and Mobi (.mobi) files and can also view (but not read out) PDFs. It cannot currently handle E-Pub files, so if the book or resource you are looking for is only available in E-Pub format, you need to convert it, using a program such as Calibre.
Calibre is a free eBook management program that you can download from the Calibre web site. It is a very comprehensive program that allows you to search for and download eBooks from the internet, view them and manage your collection. It also allows you to convert between the various file formats used by different eBook readers, so that you can read your eBook on, for example, a Kindle. Calibre also allows you to download online editions of newspapers and magazines from all around the world.
Some aspects of Calibre are a little quirky and it does not have built-in text-to-speech, though it links well with free TTS programs, such as NaturalReader and Ivona Minireader. Nevertheless, it is a very useful program for anybody using digital books.
CALL have now produced a Quick Guide to Using Calibre to Read E-Books and Convert E-Pub Files for the Kindle, which can be downloaded from the Quick Guide section of the CALL web site, under Books for All.
More 'Books for All' Quick Guides
More than 30 further Quick Guides are available in this section covering many different aspects of finding and adapting books for learners with a print disability. Titles include: