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Creating Online Activities With Fillable PDFs and More

Last week I received lots of questions about making online activities with PDFs. In short, a lot of people seem to be looking for ways to digitize worksheets for students to complete online.

There are some people who will argue that “we can do better” than digital worksheets. In normal circumstances I would be in that camp. But these aren’t normal circumstances and we’re all trying to do the best we can to quickly provide equitable remote learning activities for students.

Creating online activities with fillable PDFs can be a quick way for some teachers to provide students with remote practice activities that can be completed online. Those same activities can also be printed and mailed for those students who don’t have reliable Internet access at home (that’s actually happening in my school district).

Create and Share PDF-based Activities With Formative

Formative is a service that I have used since 2016 to create online assessment activities. One of the best features of Formative is the option to upload PDFs and or images to then add questions on top of them. Students see the questions appear over the PDF or image and then answer the question. Questions can be short answer, multiple choice, or true/false. There’s also an option to let students use freehand drawing to respond to questions. I made a video this evening to demonstrate how you can use PDFs to create and distribute online activities through Formative. You can watch that video here.

PDF Annotation in Google Drive

Kami is a service that offers a variety of document annotation tools including a Chrome extension and Google Drive integration that let you annotate PDFs within Google Drive. Included in Kami’s list of features are options to fill-in blank spaces, highlight, and draw on PDFs. You can use Kami to distribute PDFs to your students. Kami has recently hosted a bunch of webinars and you can find them all here.

Share PDFs via Google Classroom

You can share just about anything through Google Classroom including PDFs. You might want do this if the item you’re sharing was designed as a PDF and will lose some important formatting if it’s converted into Google Docs or Word format. For example, a flowchart converted from a PDF into a Google Doc might lose some of the spacing thereby causing components to overlap or be out of sequence. Here’s a video that I made last week about how to distribute PDFs through Google Classroom.

Free Webinar Tomorrow!

This Tuesday at 1pm ET I’m hosting a free webinar for anyone who is looking for some strategies and advice on providing remote instructional technology support. The webinar is called Three Strategies for Providing Remote Instructional Technology Support – Beyond Q&A. You can register for it here. Yes, it will be recorded for those who register but cannot attend the live broadcast.