Tech Tuesday: Zotero
This Tech Tuesday we are highlighting Zotero which is a browser extension and stand-alone desktop application for Windows and MacOS. Zotero is most commonly known as a citation manager similar to EasyBib or Mendeley. While Zotero is excellent at managing citations, it is capable of so much more. This article will provide an overview of its most useful features. Future blog posts will expand on Zotero with in-depth how-to guides. I like Zotero because it is feature rich and can help students keep readings and citations well organized. Another huge perk is that Zotero is open source software. Not only is it free, but it also has a number of useful plug-ins and add-ons.
Managing Citations and Outputting References:
As mentioned, Zotero is an excellent citation manager. The base install of the desktop application comes with a variety of standard citation styles including MLA, APA, Chicago and others. Have an obscure citation style only used by a specific discipline, don’t fret, chances are you can find it in the Zotero style repository here.
Outputting in-text citations in Zotero couldn’t be easier. Select the reference or references you want a citation for, right-click and select “Create bibliography from item” choose in-text citation, your chosen style, and copy to clipboard. Then, simply past the citation where needed in your document. You can create full reference pages in much the same way. Simply choose bibliography in the output section.
Add, Organize and Manage Citations
Zotero has feature rich folder options to keep your citations organized. You can create a folder for a given class or project and then store all your citations in the folder. Adding citations is easy. If you’re using Google Scholar, you can simply download an RIS file (RefMan) using cite function in Google Scholar and open it with Zotero. Books can be added using the wand button () and then adding the ISBN for the book. Zotero will handle the rest. Using add-ons Zotero can even scan PDF’s of journal articles and collect all the citation and metadata info directly from the article. A how-to blog outlining just how to do this will be available soon.
Have a class with a heavy reading load? Zotero is great for keeping all your readings organized. Add them all to a folder for that specific class and then you can write summaries or outlines for each with the built-in note taking function.
Alternatively, or in-addition, you can also add any attachment you want to a given reference. For STEM students, this could be particularly useful if you draw diagrams in your notes and you want to keep them together with a specific reading. As mentioned, Zotero is free you can download it here. Check back soon for specific how-to guides that will expand in-depth on the various features and options Zotero has to offer.
Staff Writer: Randall Perez
Tech Tuesday: Coggle, A Mind Mapping App
Mind maps are a great tool for not only organizing your arguments and ideas for a paper or presentation, but also for organizing information you need to know as a way to study for an exam. Consider mind maps as a way to neatly and visually organize all the information you need or want on topics. Coggle is a free website where this can be done. Here are the benefits of using this platform:
- it’s always free
- do real-time collaboration on a project with a partner or group. Partners can comment and chat. Track changes are available (like Google Docs)
- upload PDFs or images to include in your mind map
- it’s user friendly. You don’t have to know complicated features to use it or to create stunning visual mind maps
- download the mind maps for studying later, or include in a paper, or print out for presentations
- easily share your mind map with others
Check out these sample Coggle mind maps!
For more information or practice on how to use it, come into the Weingarten Learning and Resources Center anytime!
Staff Writer: Victoria Gill
Tech Tuesday: Study with Spotify
Midterms may have come and gone, allowing you to take a moment to breathe but finals are looming near and fast approaching. With around 6 weeks left of the semester, it’s time to mentally get into “hyper-focused” mode. Although there are many techniques and strategies that assist you in keeping your concentration, listening to music can be a way to increase academic performance. Ever heard of the “Mozart effect” (Rauscher et. al, 1993)? The study conducted by researchers Rauscher et. al (1993) revealed that by listening to Mozart for around 10 minutes, subjects were able to significantly improve their spatial reasoning skills. In addition, according to other and more recent researchers, “listening to a pleasant music while performing an academic test helped students to overcome stress due to cognitive dissonance, to devote more time to more stressful and more complicated tasks and the grades were higher” (Cabanac, et. al, 2013).
Of course, you might not get beautiful sonatas to listen to while taking your exams, but this a nice strategy to use while studying. At the very least, it could help with decreasing stress levels. Spotify is a free music radio app that can be downloaded from their website for any electronic device (laptop, phone, tablet). Once it’s downloaded, create your own playlist with any type of music that you think will help you stay focused. Or you can go into the “browse” section and click on pre-ready made “Focus” playlists. Whatever your taste may be, you might find it. There are playlists titled from “Electronic Study Music” to “Epic All Nighters”. Who doesn’t want a soundtrack to their life and why not even during the times of intense academic work? Here are some of my favorites:
Fig. 1: General “Focus” playlist page. Scroll down this page within the app to find a playlist you like.
Fig. 2: The “Peaceful Piano” playlist have some of the most relaxing piano pieces for when you are working at a slower and calmer pace.
Fig. 3: The “Cello 50” playlist is a powerful collection of some of the most celebrated cello pieces. This helps me focus but also stay pumped and motivated to keep studying/writing.
Cabanac, A., Perlovsky, L., Bonniot-Cabanac, M., & Cabanc, M. (2013). Music and academic
performance. Behavioral Brain Research. Volume 256:1. Pgs. 257-260.
Rauscher, F.H., Shaw, G.L., Ky, K.N. (1993). Music and spatial task performance. Nature. Oct
Staff Writer: Victoria Gill
Tech Tuesday: How to Activate the Dictation Feature on Your Mac
Tired of typing papers? Or maybe you’re just really not feeling like typing and want to dictate your notes, thoughts, or next assignment? If you have a Mac, use these simple 8 steps to get the dictation on your computer working instead of paying loads of money for the Dragon software or other apps:
1. Go to the apple menu
2. Click on system preferences
3. Towards the bottom, click on “Dictation & Speech”
4. Click “on”
5. Then click “Use Enhanced Dictation”
6. Let the “enhanced” version download really quick. Should be less than 3-5 minutes depending how good your internet connection is.
7. You can use this feature in Word Documents or even in other note-taking applications like Evernote!
8. Press the “fn” (function) key twice to activate! Let the paper writing begin!
Staff Writer: Victoria Rodriguez
Tech Tuesday: Quizlet
So you’ve finally got the hang of getting back into “school mode” by having a somewhat cohesive schedule, by doing all the readings (haha! *wink *wink), and staying afloat with all the assignments. But its now that time of the semester…welcome midterm season!
One way you can make your study sessions smarter is by using Quizlet (the website or download the app on your computer/phone/tablet). Quizlet is a free, digital flashcard system that can be used to learn or play games.
Step 1: Create your own study sets. This works for anything from science concepts, mathematical formulas, foreign language, to just plain old vocabulary/terminology studying. Put the term on one side of the card and the definition on the other. There is an “auto-define” feature, and plus you can add images to better help you study. Another option is to just search their site for already made flashcard sets by the millions of their current users.
Step 2: Study! With this website you have many options for how you want to study your material. Observe the many ways below:
Bonus: [AUDIO] Everything that you type in can be clicked on and read aloud to you. For those of you taking a language course, there is audio available for 18 languages, from Arabic to Turkish! How awesome is that?! This helps with pronunciation and also by providing the material in a different way than just reading it visually.
Staff Writer: Victoria Rodriguez
Tech Tuesday: Evernote
If you’re looking for a new way to keep track of all your class notes, recipes, or just want to use less paper in class…try the free Evernote app. Like its logo of an elephant suggests, it will remember everything you put in its “cloud” memory. Here are some ways you can use Evernote to help with your schooling:
1) Instead of buying a different notebook for each class, create digital notebooks inside Evernote and take notes right in the app. After saving them, you can access Evernote on any device that has internet! You can take notes by simply typing, or you can record lectures for later (make sure your professor agrees to being recorded!)
2) Evernote is great for sharing your notebooks or class notes! Anything you save in there is easily shared. Just select the text/items you want then click “Share” to email that note or share on a public space like Twitter or Facebook.
3) You can import anything you type from Microsoft Word, save an article from the web, or even images can be turned into notes! Since most classes have a syllabus, PDF articles and assignments on Canvas anyways, might as well save on printing and make it easier for you to find later by importing them to Evernote. Why? Keep reading my friends.
4) The “Search” tool on Evernote is extremely useful. Say you’re ready to write your semester paper but you don’t want to flip through a hundred pages of notes or articles. Using the “search” tool in Evernote is best for helping you find that one quote or idea you wrote down two months.
5) Add-Ons to the app make it even more useful. For example, if you add the “Web Clipper” extension to Evernote, you’ll be able to save webpages and web articles through the app. Why is this cool? You can just bookmark the link, right? Boring! With the “Web Clipper” extension you can not only save the article but also write on it and take notes. Or if you don’t need to get messy with it, just save it into a related “notebook” or “note” file so you always search it for when you need it next!
Staff Writer: Victoria Rodriguez
Tech Tuesday: Google Calendar
Ah, yes…school is starting, clubs are up and running, you’re making friends so party invites are blasting in, oh…but don’t forget, that group project is due, papers are piling up, and how did the time fly by, it’s midterms next week?! To stay on top of your schedule, it’s best to have some form of organizing your time and commitments. One way to do that is by using the free, online Google Calendar app. Since it is cloud based technology, you’re able to access and edit your calendar from any device with internet. If you already have Apple’s iCal, it can easily sync. Here are some other ways in which Google Calendar can help you be a master of time management:
1) When inputting an event, type in “#todo” and it automatically will create a To-Do list for you. When you’ve completed your task, mark the item with a big “X” in the brackets.
2) Color code your schedules to use in the all-in-one master calendar. For example: blue events could be for school, purple for personal events, red for work etc. Google Calendar also includes national holidays.
3) Share your calendar with others. Why you ask? Check out this extremely realistic scenario: you’re trying to get a project done with a group of people in your class, do you just get everyone’s email/number and text back and forth until a possible date comes up for when you’re all available? Boring! Let Google Calendar do all the heavy lifting for you so you can get more time sleeping. With Google Calendar you can share your calendar online, and then use the “Find a Time” or “Suggested Time” feature within the app and voila! Possible group meeting times will magically appear before you! Also, you can input the location on the event so everyone knows where to go.
4) This app is synced with your Gmail already so you don’t need to sign up for anything new. If you don’t always want to use this on your laptop, you also download the app onto your phone and it’ll automatically sync.
5) Email events to guests. So you’ve already set up a time and place but don’t want the other folks to forget. With Google Calendar, you can send your guests an online invite to the event (ex: study time, group work, dinner) and when they accept, it automatically gets put into their calendar as well. Seriously, everybody wins.
6) Set up when and how you get reminded for big projects, due dates, or events. If you’re the type of person that needs an official reminder, you can customize your reminders to be emailed to you. On the other hand, if you just need gentle reminders, set it up for “pop-up” notifications.
7) Lastly, the graphics are cute (for a calendar)! For instance, when putting in an event for “movies with the homies,” the background in that time slot area will have a giant bag of popcorn. Not only is that adorable, but a quick visual reminder saves time when you’re glancing at your calendar.
Staff Writer: Victoria Rodriguez