Free to Use Software, Apps and Online Tools for Students

There are a variety of free to use software, apps and online tools available for students. These can aid with academic skills; such as time management, organisation and note taking.

Time Management and Organisation

      Calendars and Organisers:

  • Microsoft Outlook - Calendar and Tasks for organisation and planning. Available via Desktop Anywhere and free from Student Advantage.
  • OneNote - Program for recording, storing and organising text notes, web pages, photos, attachments and sound files. Available via Desktop Anywhere and free from Student Advantage. Available for Windows, Mac and mobile devices.
  • Google Calendar - Web based calendar that can send email or text message reminders.
  • Apple Calendar - Calendar app for Apple devices.
  • Evernote - Collection of tools for recording, storing and organising text notes, webpages, photos, attachments and sound files. Available for PCs, Macs and mobile devices.
  • Wunderlist - Web and app based tool to manage tasks based on to-do lists.

      Mindmapping:

Note Taking

  • Audio Class Notes - Audio Class Notes makes it easy to record class lectures, and tag the important points. You can instantly jump to the important parts of the lesson and study in less time. Apple devices only.
  • Class Notes - You can Make Notes, Audio record your teachers’ lectures, Click and Save Images from the Application and save your time & paper.
    Organize your exams, test and project deadlines with the in-app alarm.
    Android devices only.
  • Evernote - Collection of tools for recording, storing and organising text notes, webpages, photos, attachments and sound files. Available for Windows, OS X and mobile devices.
  • OneNote - Program for recording, storing and organising text notes, webpages, photos, attachments and sound files. Available via Desktop Anywhere and free from Student Advantage.

Support with Reading

  • TextHelp Read & Write - Read&Write for Windows is an easy-to-use flexible toolbar containing support features to make reading, writing and research easier for you. Includes text-to-speech, pronunciation tutor, word prediction and a variety of other tools to aid reading and writing. Available via Desktop Anywhere and on all University cluster PCs.
  • Natural Reader - Text-to-speech software that can convert any written text, such as MS Word, Webpage, PDF and emails into spoken word. Both web based and applications for Windows and OS X.
  • RoboBraille - Converts documents into audio files. Can also convert inaccessible files such as image files and non-text PDFs into accessible documents or into audio files. Web based tool.
  • ATbar - Change the look and feel of web pages, increase and decrease font sizes, have text read aloud, use coloured overlays, readability and a dictionary to aid reading. Spell check forms and try word prediction when writing. Toolbar plug-in for most web browsers.
  • MyStudyBar - Floating toolbar that offers a range of tools, eg, screen masking, talking dictionary, mind mapping, text-to-speech, virtual colour overlays, magnification, save text to MP 3 etc. Windows only.
  • Built-in Windows Text-to-speech - Windows 7 and above comes with a basic screen reader called Narrator, which reads text on the screen aloud and describes some events (such as an error message appearing) that happen while you're using the computer. For older versions of Windows, use these instructions.
  • Built-in Apple Mac Text-to-Speech - OS X has a screen reader called VoiceOver which reads every item on the screen but also text-to-speech features that reads selected text when you press a specific key.
  • BeeLine Reader - BeeLine Reader makes reading faster and easier by using a color gradient that guides your eyes from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. With BeeLine Reader, you can finish your work faster—and with less eyestrain. Can be installed as an app or as a browser plug-in for Firefox / Chrome. Also works with PDFs.

Support with Writing

  • PaperRater- This provides in depth analysis to help improve grammar and writing. Some of the features include: Plagiarism Detection, Auto Grader, Spelling and Grammar Check, Style and Word Choice Analysis, Readability Statistics, Title Validation and a Vocabulary Builder tool. Web based application.
  • Grammerly - Grammarly’s writing app finds and corrects hundreds of complex writing errors. As you type, Grammarly checks your text against more than 250 advanced grammar rules. The checks include common grammatical errors, such as subject-verb agreement, article use, and modifier placement, in addition to contextual spelling mistakes, phonetic spelling mistakes, and irregular verb conjugations. Plus, Grammarly’s spell check takes the context of your sentence into account. Grammarly also provides synonym suggestions to make your writing more readable and precise. Web based application and plugins for Chrome browser, Microsoft Office and Windows.

  • Ginger - This proof reader is integrated with most common desktop applications and browsers. Ginger Proof reader offers both ESL (English as a Second Language) and native English speakers the ability to correct spelling and grammar mistakes with a single-click. Available for Windows and Android/Apple mobile devices.

  • Internet Grammar of English - This is an online course in English grammar written primarily for university undergraduates.  It has a website and a downloadable app for Apple and Android hand-held devices.  This site covers the very basics, right through to the very complex and does use some very technical language.  However, is very useful for reference. Web based.
  • DiCom - Dicom Portable allows you to complete words in fewer keystrokes making it a valuable tool for users with motor and coordination impairments. It includes English and French dictionaries of words and you can add your own words using the configuration icon in the system tray. After entering a few characters, a list of word options pops up with the ability to hit F1 to F10 to select the appropriate word. The app can also be used for your own dictionaries for programming and other subjects. Windows only.

Dictation

  • Dragon Naturally Speaking - Voice recognition program that converts speech into text on a computer as a person talks. Full version is available in the bookable assistive technology room in Edward Boyle Library. User guides, workbooks and quick start cards are available in written and video format from Nuance.

  • Operating System built-in Functionality - Speech recognition can be enabled on your own device, using the built-in functionality:

Windows 8 Windows Vista, and 7 Mac Android and Apple mobile devices

Revision

  • Anki Card - Program which is designed to make remembering things easy to decrease your time spent studying, or increase the amount you learn. Web based and multi-platform. Paid for App on Apple devices.
  • Cram.com - Online flash cards. Create your own or use existing ones. Web based.

Screen Readers

  • NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) - Free “screen reader” which enables blind and vision impaired people to use computers. It reads the text on the screen in a computerised voice. You can control what is read to you by moving the cursor to the relevant area of text with a mouse or the arrows on your keyboard. NVDA can also convert the text into braille if the computer user owns a device called a “braille display”. For Windows only.
  • VoiceOver - Built-in screen reader for Mac and Apple mobile devices.
  • TalkBack - Built-in screen reader for Android devices.
  • Jaws - is a computer screen reader program for Microsoft Windows that allows blind and visually impaired users to read the screen either with a text-to-speech output or by a Refreshable Braille display. Its installed ready to run onto the following  clusters: Bragg; Brotherton; Cohen; Derek Wood; EBL level 11; Education CBL 7.67; Fourman; Houldsworth; ISS Help Desk; Manton North; Social Studies; Textiles; Woolhouse.
  • Zoomtext Extra - allows you to see and hear everything on the computer screen as well as providing access to applications, documents, email and the Internet. It has magnification and screen reading software for the visually impaired It's installed ready to run onto the following clusters: Bragg; Brotherton; Cohen; Derek Wood; EBL level 11; Education CBL 7.67; Fourman; Houldsworth; ISS Help Desk; Manton North; Social Studies; Textiles; Woolhouse

Office Software

  • Office 365 - Includes Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote. Available via Desktop Anywhere and free from Student Advantage.  Free versions also exist for iOS and Android based mobile devices.
  • Libre Office - Contains word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, vector graphics editor, database manager and mathematical equation editor. For Windows, OS X and Linux.
  • Microsoft Office Online and Google Documents - Online office software – contains word processor, spreadsheet and presentation program.

Colour Blind Adjustments

  • Daltonize - Plugin for Chrome browser that adjusts the colours to make them accessible. Settings for people with Protanopia (red-green), Deuteranopia (red-green), or Tritanopia (blue-yellow). Most forms of files can be converted to HTML to be viewed via Chrome.

Visual Stress

  • Online Instructions - Some people find certain text and background colour combinations difficult to read, while others prefer to always have a specific colour, such as white text on a black background. These guides explain how you can change the text and background colours in your operating system (Windows, Mac or Linux) and browser to better suit your needs.
  • ssOverlay - Program that places a coloured overlay onto the screen. The colour and transparency levels can be adjusted to suit the user. Windows only.
  • Screen Shades - Program that places a coloured overlay onto the screen. The colour and transparency levels can be adjusted to suit the user. OS X only.

Study Skills

  • Skills@Library - Provides academic skills teaching and e-learning support so that students can effectively find, use, apply and present the information they need. Online tutorials, workshop programmes and one-to-one drop-in support sessions.
  • How to study - A website that has some good resources on all aspects of studying and the skills involved.  This is an American site and this is reflected in the language used.   This site is a base for lots of resources that are pulled from various educational institutions.
  • Palgrave Study Skills - Academic guidance from the study skills publisher. Includes critical thinking, revision/exam skills, writing and referencing, group work/presentations and research methods.

  • ASK Assignment Survival Kit - This is accessed through Staffordshire University's website.  This is a very detailed tool for planning and writing assignments (essays, reports, portfolios and presentations).  Once a submission date is entered, the system puts a step by step plan into place, with completion dates and checklists along the way.  Some of the information (library resources) are specific to Staffordshire University, but can be easily adapted.
  • BBC Skillswise - Basic Maths and English study skills/tips/tasks.  Very easy to use and has clear factsheets on numerous areas of numeracy and literacy.  Particularly good for suggesting strategies, for example the ‘look, say, cover, write, check’ technique to aid spelling.  Basic skills, but a good starting point.

Accessible Facilities on Campus

Find out here where accessible facilities are located and how to access specific assistance such as car parking spaces, assistive technology and more.