Going Paperless III: Mark up PDF documents


PDF annotating tools are a great step forward in working paperless. Whether you are editing your own work, marking up a research article, or grading student papers, PDF annotators have a wide variety of mark-up tools.

To get started, you need to save and gain access to your PDF documents (see previous post). Simply open the document you wish to work on and begin highlighting text, adding call-outs (shapes like squares, cirlcles and arrows), editing text using strike-through and pen tools, and commenting in the margins. Here are few tools we like:

For mobile devices:

  • GoodReader ($4.99; iOS): Access and sync a variety of document types from Google Drive (and many more cloud storage options). You can use GoodReader to simply view files, but you also have extensive mark-up tools. After marking up a document, you can save it back to Google Drive, automatically sync the document to avoid multiple versions, or email the document with a summary of your changes and additions.
  • PDF Reader (Free; iOS): Not quite as robust as GoodReader, PDF Reader is straight forward and easy to use. Connect to Google Drive or other cloud storage to access documents. The free version only syncs documents to iCloud, not to Google Drive (although you can upload documents back to Google Drive).
  • iAnnotate ($9.99; iOS & Android): Another popular annotating tool, it has many of the same features as GoodReader. In our experience, the interface and syncing is easier than GoodReader, but comes with a bigger price tag.

For your laptop/desktop:

  • Preview on the Mac does have some PDF annotating tools, including highlighting and adding notes. Macworld has a good article on how to use these tools.
  • There is nothing native to the PC that includes PDF annotating tools, but you can find software to do this. A lifehacker article mentions PDF-Xchange Viewer and FoxitReader.

Are there other tools you use and would recommend? Let us know in the comments!

Image credit: Wesley Fryer. Document editing on an iPad using iAnnotate PDF. From http://www.flickr.com/photos/wfryer/6281755151/

Lecture Capture to Stay on Track

Today’s Technology Fellows guest post is written by Joe Schroeder, Associate Professor of Neuroscience. Inspired by one of our recent Teaching with Technology workshops, his post focuses on using easy lecture capture technologies to keep up on course content when the unexpected happens.

schroeder“I have been thinking more and more about flipped classrooms since Steve Loomis’s demonstration a couple of weeks ago.  In my experience with my own kids’ teachers and my participation in several Learning and the Brain conferences which focuses primarily on elementary and secondary education, I think educators at this level are ahead of college educators when it comes to the use of flipped classrooms and alternative educational approaches in general.  We could learn a lot from them.

Before break, I was giving a lecture in my Sensation and Perception course and got carried away with a demonstration.  We did not finish about 20 minutes of material that was for the exam I was giving on the Friday before break (I know, how mean).  I used Jing to record the remainder of my lecture and asked the students to watch the videos so that they would be prepared.  The feedback I have receive from the students has been positive.  Most said the best aspect of the recorded lecture was their ability to pause the video, review the corresponding text material to reinforce the concepts.  I graded their exams over break, they did considerably better on the questions related to the video lecture material compared to the regular lecture material.  I’m looking forward to expanding my experience with this technology.”



Going Paperless II: Student Assignments

4527144772_822cda1fc9_bOne way to go paperless in your courses is to have students submit papers electronically, rather than in hard copy. Moodle’s Assignment activity facilitates the collection of student papers by providing a space for students to upload their work, and for professors to return graded work to students. Not only are students saved the time and expense of printing, instructors never need to worry about misplaced student papers or grades, as they are all stored online in Moodle. The Assignment activity allows faculty to download student papers, either one-by-one or as a set, and then upload marked-up versions of the paper as feedback for the students. Faculty can mark up papers by using the ‘track changes’ feature in Word, or any of a number of PDF annotation tools (look out for our next post in this series on PDF annotation tools). Other feedback, in the form of comments and grades, can also be provided to students, and any grades are delivered directly to the Moodle gradebook.

Need some help getting started? Contact your Instructional Technology liaison.

Image credit: RLHyde, Flickr, CC:BY-SA

Video and Second Language Acquisition

The Technology Fellows Program is underway! Our initial discussions have focused on social media, digital literacies, using and creating video, among other topics. We are excited to share our discussions with the broader community and will use Engage as a platform to publish guest posts written by the Fellows.

 Our first post is written by Suzuko Knott, Assistant Professor of German. Thank you, Suzuko!

suzuko-knottDeveloping English Grammar Instructional Videos for the Second Language Acquisition Classroom and the Writing-Intensive First Year Seminar

Project Overview

Very often the students who find their way into a beginning German language course are faced not only with the task of learning the grammar of a foreign language, but also by the challenge of learning English grammar for the very first time. This is not a situation limited to non-native speakers of English, but a common phenomenon that extends to students who have never spoken any language other than English. Increasingly grammar is not explicitly taught in the K-12 system and a lack of grammar knowledge necessary to secondary language acquisition and writing-intensive First Year Seminars must be taught in the first year of college. To facilitate English grammar learning for both of these kinds of classrooms, I am developing instructional videos and integrating other digital media technologies to provide grammar support for students in their first year.

 R & D


The research and development phase of any project can be a frustrating process. For each great lead that drives your line of inquiry forward, there are at least three dead-ends. This is particularly true of projects that fall outside of your area of expertise. As a relative neophyte to theories on the application of advanced digital technologies in the Second Language Acquisition (SLA) classroom, and to someone who frankly could have paid better attention to her SLA pedagogy instructor during graduate school (sorry, Eva!), I have embarked on a three-pronged journey in search of substantive SLA theory articles on digital technologies in the classroom, English grammar and writing pedagogy, and concrete examples of successful instructional videos.

  (Very) Preliminary Results

 As one might imagine, there is a glut of information on digital technologies in the classroom, and the first true challenge has been sifting through the embarrassment of riches for the gems that fit my project. Although they have little to do with the production of instructional videos, I’ve discovered some interesting reports on the use of social media platforms and video games in the classroom – reports that make me think that perhaps my idea to produce video material is already antiquated and passé.  I’ve also looked at other institutions’ approaches to the problem of grammar instruction in the SLA classrooom, including the German Department at Dartmouth’s extensive web-based “Grammar Review” and “Annotext” and the University of Texas’ online “Grimm Grammar” developed for learners of German.

These are not new resources, but I am now looking at them through the lens of assessment and adaptability. These are, however, static information sources, and I am interested in creating dynamic tutorials that also allow the student to co-create a final product. There should also be a form of assessment (quiz function) built into the tutorial.

Examples of video instruction of both high and low quality are readily available online. In order to explore the possibilities of these technologies, I have looked at some MOOCs, iTunes University podcasts and YouTube videos. Here is a brief sampling of the more entertaining videos I’ve found on YouTube from the Sentence Center and from Todd Coyour and Brett Freyseth. Humor and the element of collaboration are of particular interest to me in these examples.

The Sentence Center

Todd Coyour and Brett Frayseth

Image credit: By Vaikoovery (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Going Paperless I: Saving & Organizing

2915047335_0a442ee08d_bBefore moving to a paperless environment, you’ll want to spend some time thinking about how to best organize your digital files. Maybe you already have a system, and adding new files to that system won’t be a problem. Or maybe you need to create a system, or rethink the one you are using. Considering workflow and organization before you dive into moving paperless will save you time in the long run. To see examples, take a look at these academic workflow concept resources collected by Georgia Tech Library. Also remember that both librarians and instructional technologists can help you create a solution.

Now, let’s dive into the tools:

  • Evernote: We have held two workshops on Evernote and blogged about it here. This is a great cloud based tool to collect information – articles, websites, blog posts, pictures, meeting notes, audio notes – and be able to access them anywhere from any connected device or computer. Add-ons like the Evernote webclipper make saving online content easy. Organize your notes into notebooks, add relevant subject tags, or search across all your notes to find information when you need it.
  • Google Drive is one of many cloud storage tools. Through Google Apps for Education, all Connecticut College faculty, staff and students each receive 30 GB for storing files. Because the College community is connected, it is easy to share and collaborate on documents.
  • RefWorks, available through Shain library’s database subscriptions, allows you to create your own personal database of published research. Find something in a database? In Google Scholar? Add the citations to your  RefWorks account. You can also upload the pdf article to the bibliographic information. Because RefWorks was created for libraries, it is easy to create folders to organize your references and then to create bibliographies automatically. RefWorks is available online to any Connecticut College student, staff or faculty member.
  • Mendeley is similar to RefWorks but is not tied to our institution. It is free to create an account, organize your research articles and upload pdfs.  You can also annotate the pdfs in your library, or share them with colleagues. Mendeley also has a social network component. By creating or joining groups, you can share research, collaborate and chat with colleagues, and find out what others in your field are reading.

Image source: Pete Birkinshaw. Filing System.  From http://www.flickr.com/photos/binaryape/2915047335/in/photostream/

New Lynda.com Courses!

lynda_logo1k-d_72x72If you haven’t looked at Lynda.com recently, you should! New courses are added daily. Access lynda.com through CamelWeb or by using this link, then browse or search the 2,000 courses (and because each course is made up of many short videos, there are over 10,000 videos!).

Here are a few new courses:

We enjoy Monday Productivity Pointers – short videos featuring new tools published every Monday.

Is there a course you like? Let us know in the comments!

Tired of paper? Going paperless blog series

512px-Bob_Braden_in_1996The predicted paperless office has not yet come to pass. In fact, global consumption of paper doubled from 1980 to 2000. With the advent of tablets, apps and cloud-based tools, however, the goal of a paperless office, or paperless classroom, seems easier to achieve.

This blog series will describe some of the tools you can use to move your work to the digital realm. There are many, many tools available- more than we can possibly describe. In addition, some tools fall under multiple categories. To make this complicated world manageable, we are introducing a series of four blog posts organized from a workflow perspective: Saving & Organizing, Student Assignments, Marking up PDF Documents, Scanning, and Paperless in Practice.

Enjoy the series and we hope you share your ideas and favorite tools in the comments!

Image credit: By Carl Malamud (Bob Braden  Uploaded by Edward) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons