Ed Tech Tips with E. Mosier

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The Case of the Mysterious PDF


It seems that the trickiest file type in the Ed Tech world is the PDF. A Portable Document File is the snapshot of a document that can be viewed, printed, or shared electronically. Often times, we as teachers would like to share a PDF with our students and wish for them to edit it, label it, or simply highlight a portion of text. But, because a PDF file is an electronic image of a document, those things can be difficult. However, there are a few ways we can work around this roadblock.

Convert to a Word Document

One of the easiest ways to get the PDF so it is editable is to convert it to a Doc format. There are several sites available that will do this with a simple Google search. The most efficient tool that I have found for this is the PDF to Word Converter on the Small PDF website. Simply drag and drop the file into the box and the conversion is done. Then, you're able to download the new file. However, the biggest issue that occurs is the formatting doesn't transfer as easily, so be wary of that. But, once the file is a Doc, upload it into Drive, then share out to your students turning a once uneditable document into and editable project.

Convert a Doc to a PDF

On the flip side of converting a PDF to a Doc, there may be times when you would like to convert a Doc to a PDF. Depending on what program you are using, there are different options. If you are using Microsoft Word, go to File>Print. This may seem odd to select Print, but once the print options screen appears, select the "Cute PDF" printer. That will allow you to save your Doc as a PDF file from Word. But, if you're using Google, this task is much easier to complete. From the File Menu, you have the option to select either "Download As" (and then select PDF), or "Email as Attachment" (PDF is the default format).

Convert to Other file types

There may be times when a PDF is shared with you that isn't a Doc, but rather an image or even a spreadsheet. Converting those is just as easy using a website known as SmallPDF. Within this site, you are able to convert from .jpg to .pdf, .xls to .pdf, or even .ppt to .pdf. You are able to pull files from your computer, Google Drive, and DropBox. Drag and drop or open the file in the converter box, and the conversion is completed for you within seconds, and then is ready for download.

Editing a PDF

An extremely difficult task is to edit a PDF. As mentioned, you can convert the file to something that is easier, but sometimes editing the file directly is the most efficient solution. There are two quick ways to do this. The first one is to use Google Drawings. Take a snapshot of the file, then paste it into a Drawing. Then, use shapes and textboxes to overlay on the image to edit as you wish. Or, from the SmallPDF website again, you can upload it into their PDF Editor and you are able to add textboxes, circles to showcase parts of a text or map, or even use a drawing tool to mark the text.

Combining Multiple PDFs

A terrific way to keep track of multiple PDFs is to merge them into one file. Two of the most efficient sites I have used for this are PDF Merge and Merge PDF from SmallPDF. Both of them have their distinct advantages. What is great about PDF Merge is that you can individually select files. So, if you have a list of files, but want to be selective of which ones are combined, this allows for more careful merging. With the Merge PDF on the SmallPDF site, you can drag and drop a batch of PDF files, and it will easily convert them.

A Word on Printing in the DCSD

If you are a teacher in the Davenport Community School District, there's a small trick when emailing a sheet so that it appears in a PDF format. Once you're scanned in, select "Services Home." Then, you should see an option that reads, "Email." Next, select the button on the screen that says, "Add Me" (which adds you as a recipient of the message) and then hit the green button as you would if you are making a copy. That will automatically email the file to you in a PDF format. If you select the "Scan to Me" option, it is doing just that. Scanning a file to you, but it will be in .jpg format, which means you have to use a an online converter, or retry it using a different method.

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