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Study Smarter with Technology: Useful Tools

Do you use a computer/smartphone or device? Do you want to make it easier to use for study and work? This page gives some suggestions for tools that you can use to make reading, writing, watching and working with others easier for everyone.

Most of these suggested tools are already available in your Office 365 or on your phone so you can get started with them straightaway!  

The Staffordshire University Software Downloads site has links to allow you to download and install Office 365 and other software to your own devices (PCs/laptops/tablets). 

Some general tips for using this page:

My Computer My Way

My Computer My Way provides a range of guides offering step by step instructions on how to adapt your phone, computer or tablet to meet a variety of needs. Although aimed as some specific accessibility needs there is guidance which can be of benefit to everyone.

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Recommended Tools and Resources






Text to speech:

For when you prefer to listen to your reading.

MS Speak: reads out Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and OneNote.

Office 365

Read Out Loud: reads out PDF documents.

Student PC

 Free download

ClaroRead Chrome Extension: reads back text on a Google Chrome web page and in Google Docs.

  Free download

Text to Speech Apps: your phone can read text to you.

Phone apps


Voice recognition:

Why type when you can dictate instead?

MS Dictate: available on the Online versions of Microsoft Outlook, Word and PowerPoint and converts speech to text.

 Office 365

Ask Google Assistant: use voice to send messages, search, set reminders etc.

Phone apps

Siri: assistant on iPhones to send messages, set reminders etc.

Phone apps

Reading onscreen:

Read quicker and easier or adjust how you read onscreen

MS Learning Tools and Immersive Reader: Simplifies the screen to make reading easier. Shows syllables, parts of speech and other comprehension tools.

 Office 365

Edge: a browser that includes features to help you read the web more easily.

Windows 10

Spreed: speed read one word at a time.

Free online tool

Blackboard Ally: Convert documents on Blackboard to alternative formats.

Free online tool

Beeline Reader: Make online reading easier and faster.

Free online tool


Tools to check grammar, speed up your typing, write clearly or use predictive text.

MS Word: use automatic headings, contents lists, auto-correct and keyboard shortcuts to make Word work for you.

Office 365

MS PowerPoint: Present images and ideas effectively. Office 365

Grammarly:  Check the grammar of your text as you type

Free online tool

Hemingway:  Review text when complete - highlight text that's hard to read and suggests alternatives.

Free online tool

Video and audio:

When you want to record audio instead of writing or typing

When you want to read captions from video instead of listening

Voice Recorder app: records your voice and other speakers nearby.

App available on most smartphone devices. Look for:

  • Windows Phone = Voice Recorder
  • Android = Voice Recorder
  • iPhone = Voice Memos

Phone app

MS Teams: making captions visible.

Office 365

YouTube: making captions visible.

Free online tool

Planning, mind mapping, notes:

When you want to get organised

MS OneNote: Create and synch notes, to-do lists and drawings. 

Office 365

MindGenius: create mind maps.

Student PC 

 Free download

Collaborate and meet:

When you want to work with others at the University.

MS OneDrive: Share and work together on documents.

Office 365

MS Teams: work together, share documents, chat and web-conference.

Office 365