This year, 2020, has been such a challenging year, and we've gotten some questions regarding the PDF format we tend to use. How might it work with remote students that need to digitally annotate on the PDF files?
Before we talk about options, we want to explain a few reasons we originally decided on the PDF format. The first reason is that they are universal file types: nearly all devices and operating systems can open a PDF without distorting any of the images/text whereas other file types are sometimes only optimized for certain devices or operating systems. The second reason we chose the PDF format is that the format helps protect our images and text on the handouts. We unfortunately have had our illustrations and text taken and used on items that are sold by others on TpT, and the work involved getting those removed online takes away from our time creating.
Here are some options that we've suggested to teachers regarding digitally annotating on PDFs- as we do want our resources to be useful for educational use.
1. There are several tools available that function as Chrome extensions or apps that allow for direct annotating on PDFs as well as some other forms of interactivity. The ones we list on our website are Kami and DocHub. We have found that a web search of "DocHub for teachers," has pulled up some articles written by educators about how that tool can be useful for writing on PDFs and working with Google products. We know that DocHub has been a popular Chrome extension for this purpose as it allows users to directly annotate on PDFs. However, we do want to emphasize we're not affiliated with Kami or DocHub or any outside edtech tool, so we only know that these are PDF writing tools that have been popular with many teachers. We know it may also depend on whether the district approves of a specific tool.
2. Another option is that the teacher can consider creating a single google form if permitted by the school/district. If just creating one google form, it can work for all students and for multiple of our recap handouts too. The form can ask for the student's first name + last initial, class period, the name of the Amoeba Sisters handout (so the same form can be used multiple times as the teacher can sort responses by handout name), and a space for students to write in their answers when they look at the handout. The results from the form could then be sorted by student or handout. Our page here has a screenshot at the very bottom to show an example Google form.
We think there is quite a bit of room for innovation with PDFs. So far, in addition to Kami and DocHub, we have a few other PDF editing programs and apps on our list to check out that teachers have shared with us including Microsoft OneNote, Notability, PDF Expert app, and Classkick. We have not yet explored these, but they are on our list as we are always searching for better ways for our content to be useful.
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