I am a Sociology Professor and department chair at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I started my career as a professor 18 years ago. Over thirty years ago I started listening to – literally – books on tape. I evolved to listening to books on my phone. I’ve added podcasts and more recently textbooks delivered through apps. Until I discovered Voice Dream Reader, I was frustrated that I could not listen to journal articles, news paper articles, drafts of my own papers, and academic books.

How long have you been using Voice Dream Reader?
One of my graduate students who is immensely creative and marvelously tenacious introduced me to Voice Dream Reader in May. Therefore only three months – yet I have used it every day, multiple times a day. I could not believe that he was serious – I could listen to dissertations, academic articles, news paper articles, web pages, blogs, and more? The piles of Chronicle of Hire Education articles I want to keep up with but do not manage to find time for? I immediately downloaded the app and LISTENED to the instructions. I was thrilled.

How does Voice Dream Reader help you with your work?
I could do my work without Voice Dream, but I would not enjoy it nor would I be as efficient. It is hard for me to concentrate on what I am reading when I am sitting still. For decades I have read while walking. It is a strategy that has helped me absorb information and concentrate. I also have a stand up desk and an exercise bike to help me be in motion so that I could concentrate (and sometimes stay awake). In recent years my eyes hurt. My eyes feel fatigued from reading on my phone or iPad, and just reading in general. Most of my job involves reading. Now, with Voice Dream, I can walk, do laundry, dishes, ride my bike, and listen to much more than I could listen to before. Sometimes I listen on my phone and mark up a document on my ipad. Mostly I just listen and when I need to remember something, I write quote notes on my phone. I particularly like listening to work that I need to review – student’s work, my own papers that require editing, articles that I am reviewing for journals – to get a big picture overview of the work. I then go back and look for sections of the work that I want to line-item edit, after hearing the whole document. I have also found that I can listen to things that would normally put me to sleep, for example my college handbook, and stay focused on what I am hearing if I am walking, biking, or doing housework. In addition, I am able to keep up with documents that I aspire to read but rarely am able to elevate to the top of my pile. For example, heading to my national professional meeting, I am listening to the section newsletters. Unlike many of my peers who focus on one subdiscipline, I belong to about six sections, each with a newsletter. I was also thrilled that I could listen to the American Association for University Professors (AAUP) magazine and articles of interest in Science magazines.

Recently I have become more bold about listening to academic books. I bought a colleagues book, and then asked if she would share the digital chapters so that I could listen to her book. I would have waited years to read the book, because it is not essential to my core focus. Yet listening to her book is helping me to think about my projects in a new way and making connections that I would not make if I only had time for my narrow current foci.

Are there any other benefits to Voice Dream Reader?
I struggle to get through my email. I’ve realized recently that one reason is that I am interested in so many things, I tend to want to read all of the interesting links to blogs, New York Times articles, Inside Higher Education, and Web pages. It was hard to prioritize what I should really be focused on and what could wait. Now, I save documents and quickly bring them into Voice Dream. I save them for when I am moving and can enjoy listening to them. I get through my email more quickly because I have divided “reading” into those that are a few lines (and I can take care of them) and those that are paragraphs and I should save for listening. I also enjoy daily meditation apps. I now select all, copy to clipboard, bring into Voice Dream Reader, and listen to them – sometimes a few times a day. When I want to memorize something, I also listen over and over. If I listen while on a particular walk, if I remember where I am on the walk, I can remember what I am trying to memorize better.