In my previous post, I described the results of a survey about the use of digital texts in Bible study. One of the more intriguing aspects of that survey had to do with the question of focus. Some felt that studying in Accordance helped them avoid "losing lines of thought while looking for information," while others felt that their reading was more "fragmentary" because they lost sight of context or were distracted by the multitude of available resources. So what can you do to take advantage of Accordance's strengths without letting it take your focus away from the text? This week, I'll give you a series of tips to help you remove distractions and focus on the text.
If anyone has the potential to become distracted by a multiplicity of resources, I probably have more. On any given day, I may be error-checking several new Accordance modules, beta-testing a new update to the Accordance application, trying to help someone on our user forums, using Accordance in family devotions, looking things up to help my kids with their schoolwork, and so on. I usually end up with numerous zones with tons of tabs containing a wide variety of resources opened for very different purposes. When I need to focus, I rely on one feature that I regard as absolutely priceless: the ability to Magnify one zone to fill an entire workspace.
To magnify a zone, simply hover over its title bar until you see the little plus icon appear, then click it. That zone will then expand to fill the workspace, and all the other zones will be hidden from view. What better way to focus on something than to hide all the distractions?
For example, this afternoon, while I was in the middle of several projects, my daughter came to me with some questions about biblical geography. I opened a map, then magnified that zone to hide all the other stuff I'd been working on. When I had answered her questions, I closed the zone and went back to my work.
Magnifying a zone is one of the easiest ways I know to sweep aside the clutter and focus on one thing at a time. If it hasn't yet become a major part of your workflow, you're missing out.
In the past couple of posts, I've talked about how I'm trying to teach Greek to my children. I described how I'm using Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek in Accordance and how I did a simple search to find plenty of examples they could practice parsing. In the process of doing that exercise, I stumbled across another helpful use for the new Magnify Zones feature: it's a great way to hide stuff you don't want your students to see.
When I did the search described in this post, I already had a zone open displaying the paradigm chart from Mounce's grammar that we've been going over. Since I wanted them to do the exercise without looking at the chart, I was tempted to close the zone containing the grammar. But that would have meant losing my place and having to find it again the next time I opened Mounce.
Then it hit me: just magnify the zone containing the Greek text, and the zone containing Mounce will automatically be hidden.
Whenever I needed to refer to the paradigm chart, I could simply de-magnify the zone or cycle to the zone containing Mounce using the keyboard shortcuts Dr. J showed off in his recent podcast. It couldn't have been easier!