ITEC Workshops Spring 2017

We will be continuing our series of workshops this semester investigating topics related to teaching and learning.
The spring rotation starts in February and runs through the end of April. Sessions will be scheduled two days per week at different times.
  • Monday sessions will be held 4-5PM.
  • Thursday sessions will be held from 12-1:00PM.
Locations are listed below.  We hope that this staggered schedule will maximize opportunities for people to attend.

Click here for a downloadable, printable copy of the schedule.

If you have questions about any of the sessions or suggestions for topics that we should cover, please contact Jedidiah Rex or Adam Dinnes

Spring 2017 Schedule

Feb. 6
4-5 pm
SC 150
Google Classroom
This session will provide an overview of Google Classroom. The session will include  a guest presentation from Bill New about his experience using Google Classroom.
Feb. 9
12-1 pm
MI 109
Google Classroom
Feb. 13
4-5 pm
SC 150
UDL/Universal Design for Learning
This will be a condensed version of the session that Kristen Dabney gave last semester. Kristen will provide a brief definition and history of universal design, share examples of UDL and then provide opportunity for discussion.
Feb. 16
12-1 pm
MI 109
UDL/Universal Design for Learning
Feb. 20
4-5 pm
Learning Studio (Library)
Interactive Video
We will be looking at a group of tools with the potential of making video an active, rather than passive learning experience. The tools are: H5P, VideoANT, VoiceThread, Quicktime.
Feb. 23
12-1 pm
Learning Studio (Library)
Interactive Video
Mar. 13
4-5 pm
SC 150
3D Printing
We will be hosting a panel and discussion around the use of 3D printing for the classroom. Guest presenters include Ted Gries, Rachel Bergstrom, and Cruz Rico.
Mar. 16
12-1 pm
MI 109
3D Printing
Mar. 20
4-5 pm
Learning Studio (Library)
PDF Forms
Creating PDF forms with Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat Pro.
Mar. 23
12-1 pm
Learning Studio (Library)
PDF Forms
Mar. 27
4-5 pm
SC 150
Student Engagement
We will be hosting a panel discussion around strategies for increasing student engagement.
The list of presenters/topics include:
- John McMahon/Podcasting
- Mathew Taylor/Classcraft (March 27 only)
- Leslie Williams/Infographics
- Olga Ogurtsova/Eno Interactive Whiteboards (March 30 only)
Mar. 30
12-1 pm
MI 109
Student Engagement
Apr. 3
4-5 pm
Learning Studio (Library)
We will be providing two sessions on how to edit in Wikipedia in advance of the first Edit-a-thon.
Apr. 6
12-1 pm
Learning Studio (Library)
Apr. 10
4-5 pm
Learning Studio (Library)
Adobe Premiere Pro
We will demonstrate basic editing with this tool and share some recommendations for making the experience more straight-forward and approachable.
Apr. 14
12-1 pm
Learning Studio (Library)
Adobe Premiere Pro

Click here for a downloadable, printable copy of the schedule.


Spring 2017: PDF Accessibility Workshops

Adobe_Acrobat_DC_IconThe Library, IT, and LEADS offices are offering four sessions on creating accessible PDF documents. These sessions are meant to be a hands-on look at working with PDF files in Adobe Acrobat. Please feel free to bring your own computer to work along with the presenters.
The four sessions are:
  • Wednesday, 1/11/17, 10:30-11:30 am, Science Center 150
    RSVP Form
  • Wednesday, 1/11/17, 2-3 pm, Learning Studio (Library)*
    RSVP Form
  • Monday, 1/23/17, 12:30-1:20 pm, Science Center 150
    RSVP Form
  • Friday, 1/27/17, 12:30-1:20 pm Learning Studio (Library)*
    RSVP Form
Please let us know if you will be attending one of the sessions by using the appropriate RSVP form above.
If you are interested in attending a session, but are unable to do so, please feel free to enter your information onto our waiting list form. The form can be found here: http://bit.ly/PDF-accessibility_waiting-list.
*The seating will be limited to 12 for the two sessions which will take place in the Learning Studio.


"Creating Accessible PDFs" Session Summary

An image of the Adobe Acrobat logo.
Thursday December 8th, representatives from the Library, IT, and the LEADS offices presented a session about creating accessible PDF documents. Topics covered scanning tips and working with Adobe Acrobat Pro. This was followed by a question and answer period.

Making PDFs accessible is not only important for persons who may need accommodation, but for everyone. A PDF with rendered text is searchable, may be read aloud, and may be marked up or annotated. This makes the document more inclusive and a better tool for teaching and learning, enabling students to engage with the text in different modes.

OCR - What Is It?
OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. This is the process in which a software program identifies where it thinks words are by drawing rectangles around them, compares the light and dark pixels to what it knows are particular letters, and finally provides the output of the computer’s guess as to what the text is. In the image below, the boxes are drawn in green and red. Click the image to see a larger version.

Example of optical character recognition.

DPI Explained, and Why it Matters
DPI, or dots per inch is the resolution of the document. The more dots in a given area the higher the resolution. Resolution is an important factor in the ability of software to be able to recognize text. If the resolution is not high enough, the software will not be able to accurately render the text. The recommended minimum resolution when scanning for OCR is 300 dpi.

Document Quality

The most important consideration for making a document accessible is the overall quality of the document. By quality we mostly mean resolution or DPI. This greatly affects how easily the document can be made accessible. The presence of additional drawings, underlining, highlighting, or handwriting within the document can make attempting OCR a difficult and frustrating experience. The age of the digital document also plays a role in how well the document may be OCRed.

If the document you are working with is an old scan, it may be recommended to re-scan depending on the results of the OCR. The quality of a document also degrades each time it is copied or scanned. While the document may have sufficient quality to be read, it may not have sufficient quality to be OCRed. If the results from the OCR are not accurate, it may be recommended to re-scan the original. Below is an example of how the quality of a document may affect the quality of the OCR.

In a session about universal design for learning (UDL), Kristen Dabney shared the following images* as examples of the effect that resolution and document age can have on the ability for the software to render the text. The first image shows an older, low DPI document. The second image is newer and has higher DPI. Click the thumbnail images to see full-size images.

An image showing a side-by-side comparison of an older, low resolution PDF  and the resulting rendered text.
OCR Example 1

This image shows a side-by-side comparison of a newer, higher resolution scan and the resulting rendered text.
OCR Example 2

Scanning Setting Recommendations for OCR

In order to ensure that the quality of the resulting scan will be as high as possible to support OCR there are three settings we need to check and/or change. They are:
  1. Color - This should be set to Grayscale. The grayscale setting helps to gather as much detail as possible from the original without making the file size too large.
  2. Resolution (DPI) - This should be set to 300 dpi to best support OCR. 
  3. Format - The file format should be PDF.
The links below to specific devices cover how to set each of the above settings for the particular device.

Editing a PDF with Adobe Acrobat

In order to make a PDF accessible requires that one edit that PDF. Adobe Acrobat Pro is the recommended tool on Beloit college's campus. The college has a site license for this software. If you do not have it and would like it installed, please submit a request through SchoolDude, and IT will be happy to install it for you.

The instructions below are for Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.

To run OCR in Acrobat:

  1. Select Tools > Enhance Scans > Recognize Text > In this File
  2. Click the Recognize Text button to scan document. This may take some time depending on how many pages there are in the document.

    When you run OCR, anything that Acrobat finds that it is not sure about is called a "Suspect." Suspects are outlined in red and will ask for verification of particularly questionable words. If there aren’t many in the document, it may be worth editing. If the entire page is filled with them, re-scanning will be a better use of your time. For more about this check out the following link: https://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/using/scan-documents-pdf.html
    Some other tools/edits that may be helpful:

    • Crop Pages
      Cropping pages may allow you to crop out handwriting, extra pages that you don't need, or shadows from edges of pages.

      To Crop a page:
      1. Select Tools > Edit PDF.
      2. Click the Crop Pages button.
      3. Click and drag a selection box around the portion you want to keep.
      4. Double-click inside the selection box.
      5. In the Set Page Boxes dialog box confirm the crop. You may also choose to which pages you want the crop to apply.
      6. Click OK.

    • Remove blanks
      Removing blank helps reduce file size and increases the readability of a document.

      To remove page(s):
      1. Select Tools > Organize pages.
      2. Click to select the pages you want to remove. There are options to select varying groups of pages if necessary.
      3. Click the Delete icon (trash can).

    • Optimize PDF
      Optimizing a PDF reduces file size. You may read more about it here: https://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/using/optimizing-pdfs-acrobat-pro.html

      To optimize a PDF:
      1. Select File > Save as Other... > Optimized PDF... .
      2. The defaults in the PDF Optimizer dialog box are generally good for our purposes. Click OK.
      3. Choose a save location and click Save.

    Scanning Locations and Devices

    There are a number of locations to scan on campus. The Library has a number of scanners located in the North Riser area. Instructions for using the two models you will find there are linked below. All of the computers in the Library have Adobe Acrobat Pro installed.

    Multi-function Devices (MFDs)

    There are a number of other locations at which you may scan documents. Below is a list of the multi-function devices at which documents may be scanned to PDF and sent by email. The links navigate to instructions for each specific device.
    *images have been used with permission.

    If you would like a downloadable, printable PDF version of this post, click here.


    Create Accessible PDFs Session

    Representatives from the Library, IT, and the LEADS offices will present a demonstration of how to create accessible PDF documents. Topics covered will include scanning tips, and working with Adobe Acrobat Pro. This will be followed by a question and answer period.

    The session will be held on Thursday December 8, from 10:30-11:30 AM in Science Center, Room 150.

    We invite any interested faculty, staff, or students to attend.

    Link to event: https://www.beloit.edu/campus/events/?event_id=491555

    Link to session summary: coming soon


    Scheduling Meetings: Choice Eliminator Google Forms Plugin

    Logo image for the Choice Eliminator 2 plugin for Google Forms.
    I happened on this plugin for Google Forms that will eliminate a choice once it has been chosen and submitted in a form. This has the potential to streamline scheduling office hours or other meetings. I am sure that there are other applications as well.

    The plugin may be found and installed at the following link: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/choice-eliminator-2/mnhoinjhhhafgieggnhjekliaodnkigj

    I found this plugin from a post in the Free Tech for teachers blog. It is one option in a list of options. While focusing on the K-12 venue, this blog is a great resource for any instructor regardless of teaching level, and is listed in our list of "Noteworthy Blogs."