For years I have been advocating for teachers to use PDFs to distribute documents to students via the web. It’s a pretty well defined standard that can work on most any platform and device and doesn’t require propriety software (MS Office, Apple’s productivity tools, etc.) to open. All you need is a PDF reader which Adobe has been offering for free. Now it’s even easier to create PDF documents without having to use print drivers or sometimes costly software. However, once a PDF has been created, it’s (mostly) a read-only document. Sure there are forms that can be made and there are editable PDFs, but for the most part, it’s locked for editing. There are lots of techniques to get around this, but one that’s really simple and absolutely free is to use Adobe Acrobat Reader X. This is the most recent version of Reader and it has some tools that are seldom used that allow you to do more than just open up a PDF document.
- Sticky Notes - Put a sticky note on top of a PDF file to add a note
- Highlighter - Draw attention to some text through the highlighter tool
- Save as text - Save the text of a pdf into a .txt document
- Read out loud - Using speech-to-text have the computer read the text of a document to you
These tools can make a PDF more flexible for you and your students in many different ways. Below you will find a document that outlines how to use these different tools as well as a video where I go through the process for using them. I hope you find this useful and if you decide to have your students markup a document using these techniques, I’d love to come in and see what they’re doing.
Adobe Reader X tools (pdf handout)