Hidden treasures

We’ve probably all heard the statistic that 80% of people use only 20% of a program’s features – but that doesn’t mean to say that the unused features are no good. It could be that people haven’t discovered them, or could not find an obvious use for them, or that they have simply forgotten about them.

You can find this feature in the View menuThat last one definitely applied to me in the context of the Navigation or Document Map view in Word. It’s something I used to know about but which had slipped my mind over the years. It was not until I attended the Technologies for Print Disabilities Training Day that I was reminded of it.

The Navigation or Document Map view (depending on which version of Office you are using), is a bit like the Outline view. That enables you to see only the headings in a document, enabling you to easily leap from one section to another, and even move whole paragraphs around. The Document Map view enables you to see all the headings in a document, like the Outline view – but it also lets you see the body of the document at the same time, in an adjacent window.

The Document Map view of a document

This is incredibly useful, especially when working with children who have reading difficulties. First, clicking on a heading in the left hand window take you straight to that section of the document in the right hand window. Second, you can easily pick up the gist of the story or article by looking at the headings in the left hand window. And third  (and this is something that can benefit everyone), one of the hallmarks of efficient reading is anticipating what comes next, ie where the writer is going with it. Seeing the headings in the left hand window enables you to do exactly that.

To make it worthwhile using the Document Map view, structure your document with the heading paragraph styles provided (you can modify them if you like), rather than simply making the headings bold or underlined. You can find these styles, as they're called, along the ribbon at the top of Word in the Home tab.

So, do explore the Document Map view, which may be found in the View menu of Word. But don’t just stop there. What other features are you not using that could be useful? Not only in Word, but all the other programs you use. Why not set aside 30 minutes a week to explore the ‘hidden treasures’ of the various applications you use. Why not enlist the pupils’ help too, by asking them to find a feature they didn’t know about, and then share it with the rest of the class using a class blog or wiki or Wallwisher, which is a post-it notes type of program on the web.

You never know what you might find!

I wrote this as a guest blogger on behalf of Dyslexia Action, but my opinions are my own.

Stop press!

I’ve received some further information about the free conference I mentioned in Learning about inclusive technologies through collaboration. Madeleine Penney, of Dyslexia Action, tells me that at the conference, which is called Focusing on inclusive technologies for SEN, delegates can pick a route through the evening of up to 5 separate sessions, opening up the opportunity for truly personalised CPD.

Topics will include; text to speech, free and open source technologies for accessibility, accessible and alternative formats, teacher training in use of technology for accessibility, peer support in accessibility, print disabilities (dyslexia, visual impairments, physical disabilities) and projects supporting SEN and technology in schools.

Collabor8 4 Change and Load2Learn are inviting participants to join them for a free practitioner conference on the use of technologies in education with a special focus on inclusive technologies.

The conference is a special participatory event at TES SEN Show, Fri 12th Oct, 6 – 9pm, at the Business Design Centre in London (light refreshments will be provided). It will combine learning with sharing and participation and will include table sessions, facilitated by presenters from the floor - be it schools, commercial providers or students, or even over video conference live from another country.

For more information or to register and get involved, visit www.load2learn.org.uk