All entries for Friday 23 December 2011

December 23, 2011

Everything as PDF?

Follow-up to 3 essential elements for an e–learning strategy from Inspires Learning - Robert O'Toole

My new found enthusiasm for the PDF format is a consequence of using iAnnotate on the iPad. Here's an example illustrating why I think every event should be accompanied by at least an overview PDF (at least until the tools to create a PDF from any format on the iPad become more effective). Last week I attended a conference at DeMontfort University on the Democratic Learning Conversation (great conference).

I received the agenda as a Word file, imported it into iAnnotate which converted it into PDF. I was then able to add notes to the agenda during the sessions. However, I quickly discovered another very effective trick. During some of the sessions I was inspired to create Keynote slides (the Apple equivalent of Powerpoint) and a Mindjet mind map developing some of my own ideas in response to the speakers. I was able to take image snapshots of these and embed them at the appropriate point in the PDF. So I left the conference with a single PDF document containing rich annotations.

That's good. But the longer term effect is particularly impressive. I lead quite a busy life. Lots of meetings, lots to remember and learn. Annotating the PDF helped me to remember the details of the conference (just in the act of writing the notes down I can remember them better) and to keep alive the thinking that it inspired. If a student were to ask me for a recommendation as to a learning technology that could make a big difference to their capabilities, this would be it: PDF + iAnnotate + iPad.

Here is a snapshot of the PDF that I annotated. You can see a thumbnail of one of the Keynote slides. The slide can be viewed as full screen in the PDF file. Audio annotations may also be added. So for example I could have interviewed another attendee, or perhaps even recorded a whole session.

iAnnotate example

One additional feature would be useful - to be able to add extra space in the margins of the PDF, or an additional blank page to contain my notes. CORRECTION - ADDING BLANK PAGES IS POSSIBLE IN iAnnotate