Monday, December 8, 2014

The Twelve Tools of December: Notable PDF Extension

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day as part of our Twelve Tools of December series.  Some of these tools are designed to be used instructionally, some can help you be more productive, and some are just fun.

Today, we're sharing about Notable PDF.

What is it?

Notable PDF is both a Chrome web app and an extension for Chrome that allows you to view, mark up, and save PDFs.  With Notable, you can add text, highlights, comments, etc.  If you have PDFs stored in GoogleDrive, you can open them in Notable to annotate them.  If you have PDFs stored on your local computer, you can drag the file into the Notable window to begin marking it up (and you can then export it to GoogleDrive, if you wish).  You can also collaborate with others by uploading your file to Notable (it will give you a link and embed code).   The web app takes you to the web service for uploading and viewing files, and the extension detects PDFs you view in your browser and lets you annotate without having to download the PDF.

Why would I use it?  What does it do?

If you have files in PDF that you'd like to annotate digitally yourself or have an article you'd like your students to annotate, this is a great solution.  Having students (or peers) interact with text helps support a deeper dive into material, and there is some recent research that indicates that students can be good online readers if they are taught good digital annotation skills that encourage analysis and reflection.  

Are there similar tools? 

Many students and teachers in our district are using Scrible to annotate web-based text, but Scrible won't work with PDFs (at least not yet).  Apps exist for iOS and Android, but if you're looking for a browser-based solution, Notable PDF is probably your best bet.  Other Chrome apps or extensions like PDFZen or Diigo exist, but they don't perform nearly as well or as reliably as Notable PDF (or require a separate account).  

Where can I learn more?

Notable has a help area with tutorials and helpful articles on using the tool. While fairly intuitive to use, the articles are helpful when using some of the more advanced features like collaboration and exporting.

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