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Technology

Optimizing Microsoft Word for Academic Writing

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Microsoft Office Word is one of the most commonly used software editing programs of all the time, but we rarely think about how to make it work better to fit our needs. You might not realize it, but there are several easy ways to optimize Word to make it more efficient and effective when using in an academic setting. In this article, I will be sharing with you six practical tips on how to customize Microsoft Word to help save you time, create documents that are more professional and readable, as well as how to set up Word as a citation manager.

1) Don’t rely on Word’s default proofing settings

If you want Word to offer stylistic suggestions or if you’d like more data about your writing than word count, such as number of passive sentences and readability statistics, you can turn on more options. Go to options—you should be able to find this under the file tab—and then Proofing. From here you will be able to turn on style suggestions and readability statistics, which will be available to you after you go through the spelling and grammar check suggestions.

2) Remove metadata

This is vital if you’re submitting something that is supposed to be fairly judged without knowledge of the author—e.g., peer review—or if you don’t want someone to know how long you’ve spent editing a document. To remove this metadata, go to the file tab and then select the info option. From there you can see a “Prepare for Sharing” button that you should use in some circumstances.

3) Use Field Codes

You should have an academic writing document template with embedded and automatically updating field codes. You can use these to insert things such as the date the document was most recently revised, the word count, etc. To start using field codes, go to the Insert tab, find the Quick Parts button and click on it, and select Field from the drop-down menu that will appear.

4) Use Word to create PDFs

You don’t need the full version of Adobe Acrobat to create PDFs. When saving a document, you can select PDF as the format and have a document that appears more final and professional.

5) Use a citation manager that has a Word plug-in

Don’t cite manually. Citation managers can be used to store and organize your references, including PDF files associated with them, and then to automatically cite and create bibliographies as you write in Word. I’m familiar with Endnote and Mendeley. Both are useful and have Word plug-ins for citing, but I’ve found Mendeley to be simpler to use for citing in Word, easier to learn, and better for organizing my journal article PDFs. Most importantly, Mendeley is free.

6) Use the Review tab

There are many things you can do from the review tab. Experiment with the Track Changes and Compare buttons. They won’t be entirely necessary for everything you do—especially the compare button—but they are indispensable in some situations.

Below, I  have included a video from Mendeley on how to incorporate their OpenOffice plugin into Microsoft Word.

Landon Schnabel is an associate instructor and Ph.D. student at Indiana University-Bloomington. His scholarship spans the domains of gender, religion, violence, family, sexualities, and inequality. He is particularly interested in how gender and sexuality intersect with religion, violence, and inequality. While pursuing his Ph.D., Landon is working, or has worked, as a volunteer with a domestic violence and rape crisis shelter, a community partnership that provides protective order assistance, a food pantry, and a housing agency.

          
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Education

Enhancing Education with Digital Tools in the Classroom

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Especially now, with the rise of technology in the classroom, teachers have practically unlimited methods for teaching, assigning, and grading student work. Features within forums such as Google Classroom, Flocabulary, Read180 Universal, PowToon, NewsELA, etc., allow for student choice, engagement, and differentiation. While the options and methods are seemingly unlimited, there are a few things to consider when it comes to utilizing classroom technology effectively.  

To ensure that the digital classroom is an asset, instead of an obstacle, for students and parents, educators will want to address the following concerns before planning and implementing:

Is the technology adding to the student’s understanding of the material, or is it simply technology for technology’s sake?

If teachers cannot readily identify how the digital tool is adding a layer of complexity, relevance, choice, or differentiation, then the tool may be better utilized for another task. What we do not want is for the learning to be secondary to the digital forum. For example, if students are using PowToon or Prezi for an assignment, then the objective should be something related to summarizing, paraphrasing, simulating cause and effect, etc., since those are skills that the digital tools support. Those two particular digital tools are more geared towards public speaking or presenting, so an objective for speaking and listening should be a component, as well.

How much scaffolding or frontloading will the technology involve?

As teachers, we know that time is limited, as we are constantly moving students from one skill to the next. A worst-case scenario would be for the digital tool to become a “time-suck” in the unit. More than anything, the technology should be comprehensive and user-friendly, so that it does not become an obstacle for students to demonstrate mastery.

How much of the student’s grade will be determined by the proper use of the technology?

Again, if the objective is for students to relay research that they have gathered in a focused and organized way, then the technology feature is simply a small aspect of that task. Consequently, if the objective is for students to construct a timeline of a story and present the animation, then the technology becomes more of a vital component.

Can the use of the digital tool be optional?

Another recommendation when considering student choice is to provide the option to not use the technology to demonstrate mastery. For some students, technology can be scary because of their unfamiliarity with it. For others, computer or internet access at home may not be a possibility. Teachers should be wary of only using digital creations or submissions, as this would mean that some students can only work on an assignment or project in the classroom—not at home.

Are my digital posts, grades, and assignments easy to access and displayed clearly?

When using a digital classroom like Google Classroom, teachers should be sure to make their digital forum as accessible and transparent as possible. At open house or parent conferences, teachers should consider inviting parents to sign up to the virtual classroom. This provides parents with their own means of logging into and monitoring the virtual classroom. Guardian access also allows parents to set email alerts anytime a new announcement, assignment, or grade is posted.

This means that parents receive notifications in real time, as opposed to having to wait for their child to bring home the new assignment or rubric. Guardian access also allows teachers to post entire lessons, documents, and reading to the classroom. This type of transparency provides parents with a peek inside the day’s activities and lessons. With documents posted, there will also be a backup option for parents if their child has lost or forgotten the paper copy.

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Business

Brick and Mortar Stores and Their Potential Demise

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Earlier this year, Business Insider reported almost 4,000 stores in the United States will close. Among those were giant corporate retailers — Toys R Us, Walgreens, and Gap. If the stores with the most competitive prices and widest spread are having trouble, imagine those with a smaller safety net. Imagine your local mom-and-pop shop.

Across the board, technology and e-shopping are often blamed for this decline in sales for physical stores. According to an infographic from Villanova University, Americans in the current day spend around 5 hours a day on their smartphones and compare prices and reviews for products while shopping in a store, sometimes only to buy them later from Amazon!

It’s no wonder people are more hesitant to become entrepreneurs now. But fear not, aspiring entrepreneurs! The story’s not over yet, and there are a few reasons to believe the physical shopping experience is still alive — and will continue to be that way. But you have to adapt to the changing world as well.

Oh, the Humanity!

According to multiple studies, the majority of shoppers still prefer physical, on-location shopping. This is largely due to the experience of it. People appreciate the experience, and guess what? Your customers are people. It’s different than going to a chain store in which people know what they’re going to get. A brick-and-mortar store has its own personality, typically representative of the owner’s personality, aka their personal brand.

People enjoy going out to shop because there’s an experience to be had with it. The atmosphere of the store, the aspect of leaving their home to travel somewhere, and of course (and this may be the biggest one), the opportunity to feel and touch the product in person. Activating a customer’s senses help them to build an emotional and personal relationship with your brand in this way. It’s this human connection which will get people shopping and keep them coming back.

The Millennial Conscience

Millennials surprised the world a few years ago by proving large amounts of them are not lazy and spoiled. Instead, we’ve learned many of them are very socially conscious and full of moral conviction. It’s this moral consciousness which has led droves of them against big business and extreme capitalism. As a small business owner, this puts you in a pretty good spot with them as potential customers.

From this angle, it’s a good idea to get involved in your local community and give back to people like you. If you plan on running a small business, plan on participating in Small Business Saturday. Think about binding together with some other local businesses as well. Hold events benefiting people and communities around you who need help, or that simply bring people together. Not only will you build brand loyalty, but you’ll be doing something worthwhile that moves far beyond you and your business.

Technology Is Compatible

There are ways to keep up with technology and run a physical storefront. First of all, we live in the app age. People own smartphones — portable computers that fit in their hands and have many functions. Owning an app which is compatible with your store location gives them a reason to shop with you consistently. Primarily, this app should bring customers to your business through special discounts, but it could also make them aware of new products you have.

To further indulge in this intersection of technology and physicality, having a physical storefront does not mean you should not have an online presence or your foot in the e-commerce game! You can have a website and an online store as well as a physical storefront. You can promote your brand through SEO and social media. Technology does not necessarily mean the demise of brick and mortar — it means the changing of it. Be proactive.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

The acceptance and help of humans are important, but we can’t forget that entrepreneurs have kept hopeless industries alive for years by innovating on what was already there before. It requires intelligence, risk-taking, and drive, as well as the ability to adapt to the present time. The choices surrounding products stocked, inventory ordered, marketing methods, and purchasing or leasing commercial spaces have changed over time with new technology and a new economy. But brick and mortar stores have been around for a long time and they haven’t actually left us, despite losing prevalence in some cases. They are still relevant even with the game-changing.

See, there have always been threats to mom-and-pop shops. The Walmarts of the world moving into communities and taking sales from hard-working small businesses, thus destroying the strength of local communities, come to mind first. Legal restrictions and defamation from competitors have been known to happen in their own form of small business drama. But as long as entrepreneurs have the right resources available to them and there are small communities who care about what they’re doing, they will survive.

What has your experience been running a physical storefront in the internet age been like? What are your reservations about starting one? Let us know in the comments below!

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Social Good

How the Internet and Social Media Is Impacting Social Work

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Social media and the Internet, in general, have had an immense effect on social work. It enables communication between people from different corners of the world and makes access to information fast and easy. On the flipside, social media has brought about evils like fake news and Cyber Bullying whose effects can be fatal. But how exactly has what is possibly the most significant invention of the 21st century affected the field of social work? Below is a look at both the positive and negative impacts of social media.

Positive impacts

Enhanced Communication

Social media has significantly improved the communication experience between social workers and their clients. Social networks such as Facebook and WhatsApp make it easier, cheaper and faster for social workers to get in touch with clients without necessarily spending money on transport. In addition to this, most social workers have social media pages where interested clients can contact them and book appointments without breaking a sweat.

Globalization of social work

Decades ago, social workers could only deal with issues affecting their neighboring communities. Now, with social sites like Skype and Facebook Messenger, it is possible for a counselor in the USA to offer their services to a client in Europe or Africa without either of them incurring massive expenditure.

Easier solicitation of clients

As mentioned earlier, social workers can attract more clients by opening social media pages and regularly updating content. As it were, there are numerous resources available to social workers who want to establish and grow their online presence such as using video to increase engagement on social media. On their part, clients can search for available social workers and be able to receive services such as spiritual, psychiatrist and anxiety counseling online even without revealing their identities.

Negative Impacts

Ethical dilemmas

Social workers who have direct contact with their clients on social media face a lot of moral issues in their work. For one, being friends on Facebook may result in both consensual and unwanted flirting which may lead to a sexual relationship. This often leads to conflicts of interest which might affect the social worker’s efficiency.

Privacy and confidentiality

In the past, social workers relied on the personal information provided by their clients when designing interventions. With social media, social workers like counselors and psychiatrists may be tempted to spy on their clients’ social media pages to fish for information. This amounts to an invasion of privacy, which is not only an ethical issue but a legal issue as well.

Social workers may also find themselves in awkward situations when, for instance, clients send them friend requests on Facebook and start chatting them up. There is also the risk of clients stalking social workers and using the information and pictures on their pages for unprofessional purposes.

Regulatory challenges

Social work remains mostly an unregulated field, and the increasing social media usage doesn’t make it any better. On one side, regulatory bodies may find it difficult to regulate online social workers who may not have a physical office or address for that matter.

This is made even worse by the fact that there is no existing regulatory framework for online social work. Clients, on the other hand, may also not be in a position to verify the registration and regulatory status of their social workers especially if they’re not from the same country.

Dealing with unregulated social workers exposes one to dangers such as sexual harassment and even fraud.

Way forward

Social work has a lot of challenges as it is and social media, despite being a significant opportunity, happens to be one of them. As government agencies find ways to regulate online social work, both the public and social workers must look out for themselves and find ways to protect their confidentiality.

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Mental Health

Virtual Crisis Intervention: Wave of the Future?

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Crisis intervention, once primarily delivered over the phone is increasingly being delivered through the computer and via text. Social Workers and other helping professionals need to be aware of the benefits and drawbacks of these methods of communication. Whether you work for an employer who may allow or require you to begin using these technologies or you are in private practice, learning more about text and chat for crisis intervention can enhance your practice.

Who uses text and chat?

Adults still primarily prefer to use the telephone or in-person communication to get their mental health needs met. In one large Canadian crisis service (the ONTX Project), the majority of the contacts via text message come from youth, while the majority of the computer chats come from adults.

LGBT youth – especially trans youth, may be more likely to use text and chat services because they don’t have to worry about “passing” or blending, being recognized as the gender they identify as. Via text and chat messaging there is no need to fear being mis-gendered if a client identifies as a woman but has a deep voice, for example.

How is it different from other forms of support?

Text and chat communications are slower, sometimes much slower. This means that it will take you more time to collect the same amount of information. Expect a 20 minute phone call to take closer to an hour with text and chat.

Because this method of communication is more resource intensive, you will need to carefully manage the conversation. Youth especially can talk for hours via text if they are given the option, but your therapeutic boundaries and agency policy may not permit you to engage them this long. Making an action plan to meet their immediate needs and inviting them to access the service again another time can be very helpful.

You can’t demonstrate empathy with your voice tone (obviously), so you have to be very careful to write out your empathic statements. “From what you’ve said, I really get the feeling that you felt alone.” This helps ensure that your client really feels heard.

Suicide risk assessment via text and chat

Suicide risk assessment is a more challenging task over text and chat. It’s important to make sure you firmly ask if the texter has done anything to kill themselves or end their life as soon as you determine they are suicidal. If they have, you can jump right to the active rescue procedure. You may need to adjust how you ask questions about suicide in order to fit them into 140 character limits some services have.

Accessing emergency services

This is one area that is significantly different. A lot of crisis agencies have close relationships to the police and EMS can trace phones in cases of imminent risk. On the computer though, this is a lot more difficult or even impossible. You will need to rely on your ability to build a strong rapport in order to convince your client to access active rescue.

Many texting services do not allow clients to hide their number from you, which is different from telephone services where you can block your phone number from the responding hotline worker. This can make identifying texters at imminent risk somewhat easier.

How can you build text and chat skills?

If you don’t currently have the opportunity to perform crisis intervention over text and chat through your employer, consider the ONTX Project in Canada or the Crisis Text Line in the US. These organizations allow you to volunteer to staff a web and text crisis line through the Internet, and volunteer virtually. After completing training, you’re able to volunteer between 4 and 16 hours a month for a year to help you add these valuable skills to your resume and improve your ability to serve your clients.

Will text and chat replace in-person counselling or therapy?

Some proponents of e-counselling think that text or chat will replace telephone helpline services for immediate support, but this is unlikely. Text and chat is a great introduction to helping support, but clients likely won’t be able to get all their needs met in this manner. Once they’re comfortable, you may find it more helpful to transition them to telephone or in-person support at your agency.

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Employment

Why Efforts to Hire and Maintain the Best Staff Can Be Critical for Nonprofits

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While a well-seasoned and dedicated staff can be a terrific resource for any business, hiring the right professional to fill a position can be an even more important concern for nonprofits. Lacking the funds and additional resources of their commercial counterparts and competitors can place many nonprofits at a distinct disadvantage. By addressing the issues and specific problems that those employed by a nonprofit are most likely to encounter, employers may be able to minimize turnover and transform their existing staff into their greatest asset. Drive, Dedication and Vision Professionals whose ambition only extends to themselves can a major liability for nonprofits. Without the need to build value for their shareholders, nonprofit organizations must rely on their staff to provide them with the vision and drive they need to be effective. Pairing workers who are dedicated to an idea that is greater than themselves with an organization able to provide them with the agency needed to make a difference can be of paramount importance, especially for nonprofits who have suffered from lackluster performance or that may have begun to stagnate. Generating Momentum and Inertia Internally

Employees, workers and professional associates who are able to generate the momentum needed to enact real and lasting change are often the heart of any successful nonprofit. The conventional business models that are so often utilized by commercial businesses place often place the bulk of their focus on the mid and upper-level managers and supervisors who are tasked with creating and implementing new policies. Nonprofits stand to benefit by shifting their focus to the workers who do the actual heavy lifting and who take on the more mundane day to day tasks. Dedicated workers can provide their employers and organizations with the momentum and inertia they need in order to continue operating effectively.

Going the Extra Mile Finding employees who are willing to go the extra mile can be a difficult proposition for any organization that lacks the funds and financial resources needed to provide a more competitive salary. Individuals who are committed to reaching loftier goals or unlocking their full professional for reasons that extend beyond mere financial reward are not a resource that nonprofits can afford to take lightly. A little extra effort is often the missing component when it comes to finding solutions to a stubborn problem or overcoming an obstacle that might otherwise end up limiting other opportunities and future success. Workers who are determined to keep their organization going and employers who need their employees to give it their all both need to understand the value of going the extra mile. Optimizing Existing Resources Having to make due with shortages of finances and other key resources is often a concern that is all too familiar to many nonprofit organizations. While boosting efficiency and finding ways to curb waste can help commercial organizations to enjoy greater profitability, such efforts are often essential for ensuring the very survival of a nonprofit. Whether it’s finding the best accounting software for nonprofits in order to ensure more accurate bookkeeping or identifying the ways in which financial resources may be best utilized, making the most of their existing resources is a concern that organizations would do well to prioritize. Long-term Success Begins During the Hiring Process A nonprofit is only as good as its employees and being able to identify the right fit or a good match often means a great deal. For employers, educating prospective employees and applicants regarding the nature of nonprofit work is often a smart move. Applicants, candidates and even unpaid volunteers who wish to see their organization succeed need to recognize that their passion, aspiration and drive can often be just as important as any skills or expertise they may bring to the table. Cultivating the right staff and making the most out of their existing employees can allow organizations to more easily overcome the obstacles created due to limited funds and resource scarcity.
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Business

Three Mobile Marketing Strategies to Raise Awareness

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Today, mobile marketing is one of the most powerful forms of digital marketing. Social media, email and video marketing are other channels for digital marketing, but none of them is quite as efficient as mobile marketing. Mobile marketing entails providing mobile phone users with personalized info which promotes goods and services.

It has an extensive reach. Billions of people around the world actively use mobile devices. The audience is there to be harnessed. With mobile marketing, you can send time sensitive information and personalized deals via push notifications, mobile applications, text messages, QR codes, Bluetooth, and multimedia messages.

Mobile marketing can be vital for enhancing brand loyalty. It also increases the chances of gaining new customers while simultaneously making sure that existing ones return to patronize your business.

Like other forms of digital marketing, there are various mobile marketing strategies out there. The trick is to choose an approach that works with your audience; an approach that increases brand engagement, awareness, and customer participation.

Below is a list of mobile marketing strategies that are guaranteed to drive up engagement rates and conversions for your business:

Make the best use of micro-moments

Micro-moments is a term coined by Google. It primarily refers to moments in time when people use their phones to get advice or information. The unprecedented accessibility to the world wide web mobile devices grant conditions many users to seek immediate answers, as quickly as possible, preferably without extraneous data. Extraneous data includes charts, PDF files, and graphs.

There are four major micro-moments you should take advantage of repeatedly. They are:

  • “I want to know” moments, e.g., “Who invented the mobile phone?”
  • “I want to go” moments, e.g., “Where can I see a movie?”
  • “I want to do” moments, e.g., “How do I upgrade my personal computer?”
  • “I want to buy” moments, e.g., “Buy Samsung Galaxy S9.”

Optimizing these micro-moments can make all the difference for your business.

You have to research and anticipate the most common searches and needs of your target audience. The next step is to go on to create actionable content that addresses those needs.

Take proper care to make sure that your content is straight to the point.

Mobile marketing truly shines when you promote your brand while providing answers to these micro-moments.

Take for example a clothing company. While answering a query about tying a necktie knot, you could provide a hyperlink to a page on your website with a collection of ties for sale.

You can also get creative by including suggestions and information about shopping deals and discounts as a part of your content. Just makes sure that you include these links and deals without compromising the brevity and quality of the information you are providing.

Use QR codes to improve user experience

Most mobile phone users are now aware of the fact that scanning QR codes with smartphones is an accessible source of information. A considerable percentage of shoppers have confessed to using smartphones to scan QR codes to compare prices.

Use QR codes to provide a seamless information to your target audience.

Remember that everyone wants information as quickly and as directly as possible. When scanned, your QR codes should lead directly to a specific, valuable and useful information. View them as a shortcut for your customer base to get the answers they need.

Make sure that your QR codes do one of the following:

  • Take users to a page with detailed information about a product
  • Offer users deals, promos, or a coupon
  • Allow users to follow your brand on social media.

Utilize SMS to connect with your customers quickly and on the go

According to statistics gleaned from Venture Beat, the open rate for promotions and campaigns sent via text messages is 98%. This represents the highest open rate among the available forms of digital marketing.

On the other hand, the number of mobile coupons users is projected to reach 1.05 billion by 2019. Text messages are a great way to engage with your customers by offering special deals and personalized promotions, among other things.

Since text messages are almost always opened, you must make sure that your customers are ready to add their numbers to your messaging lists.

You can do this by offering compensation in the form of discounts for customers that sign up with their phone numbers. Furthermore, you can use text messages to publicize sales, send reminders for appointment-based businesses, conduct customer surveys, and check up on reluctant customers.

There are many other ways mobile marketing can empower a brand and increase its reach, but the strategies listed above are tested and work admirably if incorporated accurately.

Study your audience, understand their needs and play the strengths of your brand through some inobrtusive, yet engaging mobile marketing.

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