Tag Archives: technical writing

Proofreading

Many of us don’t himage of two hands holding a paper with typing on it - one hand is holding a penave the luxury of having copy editors to proof our work, and yet proofreading is really an important eLearning element.

I use a variety of methods when I proofread, but the one I wanted to share today involves listening rather than reading.

It’s really surprising to me – or maybe it shouldn’t be any longer – that I can re-read content several times and STILL miss an error here or there. Somewhere along the line, I got the idea to copy my text into a text-to-speech application and listen to it as it was “read” back to me. Inevitably when I’ve done this, I’ve picked up at least one (embarrassing) mistake.

Free Natural Reader
The application I usually use now is Natural Reader. There are different versions available here, including free, personal, professional, and ultimate.

Microsoft® Anna comes with the free version. If she’s reading too quickly, I can adjust her pace with the speed bar. There are also controls to stop, pause, and resume the playback. And I can rewind back to the previous sentence or fast forward to the next one.

By default, a yellow highlight appears around each “narrated” sentence and a blue square appears over each word as it is “read.”

There are many more features available in the Free Version, including a Floating Toolbar that eliminates the need to copy and paste the text. And of course, the versions that you pay for include even more options.

Other Free Text to Speech Tools
Recently a post appeared in my Twitter feed with a link to 10 Free Text to Speech Tools for Educators.

If you’re a Twitter user, you may want to follow the individuals who provided this link: @cpappas and @medkh9. Oh, and you can follow me at @refco27.

Copyright and Fair Use

Knowledge of copyright and fair use guidelines are an important element of eLearning. Many years ago I was asked to create and present a workshop on this topic by a client who said, tongue in cheek, “it seems people think ‘copy right’ means they have “the right to copy.”

Recently I was part of a discussion where I heard an echo of the most oft-repeated fallacy I’d heard many years ago: It’s OK to use someone else’s “stuff” if you’re not making money from it and/or if it’s only for classroom or internal use. Unfortunately, that’s not true. But you can find out what IS true with a little bit of research.

This is my favorite Copyright Website. You can find information on copyright and fair use and view examples of infringement in the movies, in music, and on the Web. (Interesting aside: Did you know George Harrison was sued for subconscious copyright infringement of “My Sweet Lord?” You can check it out here).

If you’re looking for more information, you may want to start with the U.S. Copyright Office.

As you read this information, you’ll see that, as with many things in life, nothing is clear cut. So, it’s often best to check with the originator of the work.

Copyright Blue Computer Key courtesy of Stuart Miles /FreeDigitalPhotos.net.