FAQ

Questions answered here

Common Questions

What is OutlinesOutloud? Does it include actual study outlines?
OutlinesOutloud isn’t a library of prepared outlines— It’s a powerful tool that converts your study outlines (ones you create yourself) into spoken audio you can control in different ways, to increase the effectiveness of your studying.
How does OutlinesOutloud differ from just using the text-to-speech Accessibility feature built into iOS?
OutlinesOutloud is a full-featured app that automatically syncs outlines and other study docs from your computer to your iPhone. It gives you total control over the playback experience, letting you jump forward and back, skip and ‘unskip’ sections with a swipe and a tap, vary the speech rate, pause, loop, and more.
In addition, OutlinesOutloud understands the structure of outlines. It recognizes, for example, row identifiers (the numerals and letters at the beginning of outline rows) and speaks them in a natural way: That “I.” at the beginning of a row will be spoken as “Roman Numeral One” and not “Aye”. (It also treats information like “1950 – 1995” correctly, reading it as “nineteen fifty to nineteen ninety-five, and not “one thousand nine hundred and fifty minus one thousand nine hundred and ninety-five.”)
Other OutlinesOutloud tweaks include optimizing the rhythm and pacing of the spoken text, preserving outline structure while making it more listenable. All this promotes easier studying, potentially faster learning, and lets you study anywhere, anytime, without lugging around notes, books, or even your laptop.
In contrast, the text-to-speech Accessiblity feature in iOS does only one thing: it lets you select a single, unbroken block of text and hear it spoken.
Why outlines, specifically?
Creating outlines from lecture notes or textbook reading is a great learning strategy. The mental step of “deconstructing” the information helps you better understand the relationship of ideas. In fact, just creating the outline will increase your retention. Reviewing the outline several times afterward will increase retention even more. And OutlinesOutloud lets you review the outline by listening to it—offering a new and efficient learning pathway that many find more helpful than simply reviewing the outline visually.
What’s the benefit of reviewing outlines “out loud?”
According to studies[1], most people prefer to learn through multiple modalities, making OutlinesOutloud a great tool for all students. It offers three things: greater variety in study options; a chance to improve retention by incorporating an additional learning channel; and perhaps most important, the flexibility to study virtually anywhere!
(Of course, if you happen to be among the 30% of students who find it easier to retain information they hear, rather than read, this easy, flexible, text-to-speech study app can be even more—an academic lifesaver!)
Can I input text that is not in outline form?
Absolutely! OutlinesOutloud has a number of features designed specifically to enhance the playback of outlines, but will happily play any text as long as the source file is saved in OPML format. It’s actually a great tool for studying notes, vocabulary lists, even speeches. And you’ll have the advantage of all the special playback features—ability to jump forward and backward, skip some sections so you can concentrate on others, vary speech rate, pause, and loop.
How do I get outlines onto my iPhone?
It’s simple: First, create the outline on your computer. You can use any outlining application—such as OmniOutliner, Microsoft OneNote, or many others—that saves in OPML format. Save your finished outline in a particular Dropbox folder on your computer (recommended), or drag it into iTunes. It will appear on your iPhone either immediately (with Dropbox) or the next time you manually sync (with iTunes). For more detailed instructions, see the Support section.
Can I edit my outlines within the app?
No. But you can easily edit outlines on your computer the same way you created them in the first place—using any program that will save in OPML. Simply save the edited outline into your /Dropbox/Apps/OutlinesOutloud folder or drag into iTunes and it will appear on your iPhone automatically (with Dropbox) or when you manually sync (with iTunes). Again, for more detailed instructions, see the Support section.
Suppose I want to listen to certain parts of the outline and not others. Can I select sections to listen to without having to edit the outline?
Absolutely. With a swipe and a tap, you can skip any sections of the outline you don’t want to hear. Skipping a section doesn’t change the outline file itself; you can still see the skipped sections in the interface, and they can be “un-skipped” at any time. You can also assign sections to loop, so you can listen to them multiple times without re-cuing.

 

1. First-year medical students prefer multiple learning styles  Heidi L. Lujan and Stephen E. DiCarlo, Department of Physiology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan.