Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Interacting with Electronic Text

As we get more and more information online, we need to be able to read and interact with electronic text more effectively.  Lately, I’ve been exploring two tools make that easier: Readability and Preview.
  • Readability is a little application that pares web sites down to readable text without distracting graphics.*  That text can be saved as a PDF file which can be saved to a hard drive.
  • Preview is a Mac application that allows us to annotate PDF files with highlighting and comments, etc.

Using Readability:

To save the text as a PDF, click on the printer button that appears on the left.  Instead of printing, though, click on the PDF button and Save as PDF.

Other ways to create PDFs:
Many educational web sites such as online encyclopedias and databases already have “Print” button that clears away clutter.  Three examples:

We can also copy text from a web site and paste it into a Pages document.  Then export the document as a PDF.

Interacting with PDFs using Preview:
We can open a PDF in Preview and then use the Annotation tools to highlight, comment, etc.

Potential uses:
  • Teachers could comment on written assignments students turn in without having to print them out.
  • Students could use a "talk to the text" strategy.
  • Students could identify various kinds of words or phrases in a passage: proper nouns, similes, words they don't know, especially interesting words.
  • While doing research, students could highlight the most important parts of the text before taking notes.

Share your ideas in the comments.  And let us know if you have a way of doing this with a PC.

*Is it just me, or is it ironic that we go to all this trouble to design attractive web pages and then cut out all those graphics to make them easier to read?

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