A Review of Scan Apps

Mobile devices are great for scanning document and pictures.  Many mobile applications now offer the ability to able to capture and save a JPEG version of a photograph or a PDF version of a document.  Doing this can save you the hassle and expense of printing the document.  Here are some of the best apps available for scanning:

Scanner Pro (iOS and Android app)
This is one of the few apps on my iPhone for which I have actually paid, and it is outstanding.  This app allows the user to scan anything (documents, photos, handwritten notes) and does an excellent job of recognizing the boundaries of the paper and creating a really clean looking document.  The app also has a optical character recognition feature that can help convert a document to editable text.  The app can be setup to automatically save documents to a variety of cloud-based services, including Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, OneNote, and Evernote.  You can also store scans on your device and then send them via email to others.


Microsoft Office Lens|PDF Scan (iOS and Android app)
Microsoft’s scanning app can be set to capture a document, a whiteboard, a business card, or a photo.  It can then convert these captures to their appropriate formats, such as a PDF, picture, or even a contact entry.  It is not as good as Scanner Pro at automatically finding the edges or the media and capturing a clean image, but it has several great features that make it superb.

Office Lens gives you tools to use once a scan is captured, including the ability to crop and rotate, the ability to add text, and the ability to draw directly on the scanned image.  Like Scanner Pro, you can also save to a wide variety of locations, like directly to your Photo Library, to OneNote, and to OneDrive.  You can also share with others via the Outlook or Mail app.  One huge advantage of using Office Lens is its ability to open a scanned document with the Immersive Reader tool.  This tool actually scans to recognize the text in the document and can then read it back to you.  You can also use this tool to enlarge the text and to apply color overlays.  These features can help those with vision issues or dyslexia.


Google Drive (iOS and Android app)
The Google Drive mobile app gives you the ability to photograph items and then store these pictures to Drive.  The Drive app does not have special features for recognizing the boundaries of a document, so the quality of the “scans” will not be as good as those made by the other apps. If all you want is a quick way to photograph (or video) something and then store immediately to Drive, this app is for you.


Google Photo Scan (iOS and Android)
This past May when my son was a high school senior, I needed to scan a collection of older print photos of him that we had taken through the years in order to create a slideshow.  Photo Scan was the app I used for this, and it worked very well.  The app is specifically designed for scanning prints, and it has a special mechanism for eliminating the glare that occurs when overhead lighting bounces off the glossy paper of the photo.


Notes (iOS app)
Notes is an app that is found by default on all iPhones and iPads.  Users normally use the app to create text notes, but it also has the ability to scan and capture documents, which it places within the note on which you are working.  It does a good job of recognizing the corners and edges of a scanned document.  You can crop and rotate the scan as well as apply filters like color, grayscale, and black and white.  You can also create a PDF of the document, mark it up with various pens and ink colors, and share via email, Drive, and several other services.


Custom Colors in GSuite Applications

The number of colors available in Google Sides, Docs, and Drawings is limited.  Here is a way to get just the color you want by using hex values.

The Latest in Google Classroom (Fall 2018)

The only thing consistent about Google is that they change things all the time.  That is true yet again this week.  Google has released another round of changes for Google Classroom, and here is a brief summary:


When the Classwork page appeared in August, the only thing we could do to include items like class rules, course syllabi, and digital textbook materials was to create a non-graded assignment and attach or include these resources.  Now, you can tag classify these things with special item label called Material.

Classwork Page

You can now add or remove the Classwork page from a class.  To do this, click the question mark in the lower left-hand corner, and select Remove Classwork page.

or if you have an older Classroom class that does not have the Classwork page and you want to add it, click the question mark and select Add Classwork page.

Easier Posting on the Stream Page

The plus sign button that used to be in the lower right-hand corner is now gone.  Now, when you or your students want to include something in the stream, simply click in the box that says, “Share something with your class…”  and prepare your announcement.  You can also click the two horizontal arrows on the right to re-use a post from another class.

Google has also added some features for the app on iOS that were missing, such as bottom tab navigation and the ability to view guardian information.


Create a Folder for Easy Public Sharing in Google Drive

I share a lot of items stored in Google Drive with the public via social media.  Getting the sharing settings right on individual files is tricky.  More than once, I have shared something that I thought was public but heard from a user who tried the link that he/she needed permission to see it.  One way to avoid this is to create a folder in which everything is shared publicly by default.  Here’s how.

First, create a folder in Google Drive and name it.   I’ll call mine Public Test.

Next, right-click the new folder and choose Sharing from the drop-down menu.

Click Advanced in the lower right-hand corner.

Click Change next to the Who has access > Private setting.

Choose the setting that says, “On – Anyone with the link.”  This means that, as long as a user has the link to a file in this folder, he/she will be able to access the file.  By default, anything that you put in this folder will be accessible this way, so be careful what you place here.

You will still need to provide the link to the file, which you can do by clicking “Get shareable link.”

Retrieving Exchange Email via Gmail

If you like using Gmail and would prefer both your hendersonisd.net and hendersonisd.org email to show up in one place, you’ll need to make a few adjustments to your Gmail settings.  First, go to Gmail and log in with your school-issued Google account.  One you’re there, click settings (gear icon in upper right-hand corner) and then click Settings from the drop-down menu.

Click Accounts and then look for the “Check mail from other accounts” area.  Click “Add a mail account.”


A pop-up window will appear.  Complete the fields by entering your full hendersonisd.org email address and click Next.  Enter your full hendersonisd.org email address again as the username and enter your hendersonisd.org password.  For the POP server address, enter autodiscover.hendersonisd.org.  For the port, choose 995 from the drop-down menu.  Click the box that says, “Leave a copy of retrieved email message on the server.”  This will ensure that the messages will also be available via Outlook when you want to use that application.  When the screen appears to ask, “Would you also like to be able to send mail as…”, click No.  We do not allow routing of email this way.

You should soon begin to see email messages that were sent to your hendersonisd.org address appear in your inbox.  You can reply to these messages, but keep in mind that the reply address will show as having come from hendersonisd.net.



What’s new in Google Classroom? (2018)

Google has made some changes to their Google Classroom product.  They have posted a nice article on which much of this post is based at https://support.google.com/edu/classroom/answer/9048510

Here is an overview of what’s new:

New Classwork Page

One of the biggest problems with the old Classroom design was the way assignments were organized.  Only two views were available- Stream and People.  The Stream page allows little flexibility in the way items are displayed; they are stacked one atop another with no opportunity to move them up or down in the order.  Items can be tagged and sorted with topics, but that was the extent to which things could be organized.

The new Classroom has three views- Stream, People, and a new view called Classwork.

The Classwork page is where the real action now happens in Classroom.  Users can create Assignments, Questions, or Topics and can re-use posts here.

Organization has really improved.  Once they create items, users can move things up or down in the vertical order, which allows for organizing lessons in sequence by six weeks or semesters.  The topic headings are accented with bold bars of color that really stand out.  👍🏻

Because teachers can no longer put materials like the course syllabus, class rules, and digital textbook information in the About area, it’s advisable to create a topic called About on the Classwork page.  Here, teachers can create ungraded assignments that contain these bits of helpful information.

Improved Stream Page

The Stream page now has items that are collapsed by default.  Items now take up much less vertical space allowing for more content to show on a single page.

The old Stream design

The new Stream design

Centralized People Page

This page has not changed much.  All participants in the class are managed from this page.  Teachers can invite fellow teachers to co-teach a class and can manage students here much the same way they have always done. Users can enter guardian email addresses so that parents receive weekly digests of course activity.  One very nice feature of adding guardian emails is the ability to send all of them an email message with one or two clicks.  When doing this, the recipients are placed in the Bcc field of the Gmail message, which preserves the privacy of all.


The settings area has slimmed down a bit.  The “Add Class Materials” option is gone, which is kind of a bummer.  The good news is that teachers can create a topic called Materials or About and then create ungraded assignments within this topic.  This can be placed at the top of the Classwork page to stand out prominently.

Create a quiz directly within Classroom

Google says that a fourth option will soon be available when creating an Assignment- Create a quiz assignment.  Teachers have had to create a quiz using Google Forms and then link to that quiz in Classroom.  It looks like Google will make this process more seamless in the near future.


Create locked quizzes

One of the big problems with quizzes has been that students can minimize the quiz and use Google and other resources to look up answers.  Google will be adding the ability to “lock” a quiz when creating it in Classroom.  This will force students on managed Chromebooks to submit the quiz before they can do anything else on their device.  This feature will only be available on managed Chromebooks, which we have at both the middle and high school campuses.

Padlet Example

Padlet is a digital pinboard that allows users to gather and share a variety of objects, including text posts, pictures, video clips, audio files, and web links.  Teachers and students can use Padlet to create collections of information to share with each other.  They can work collaboratively to build these collections.

This padlet is a collection of information from a recent trip our family took to New York City.  It contains all types of posts, including pictures, video, text, a map, and an audio file.  Padlet even offers a special export just for WordPress pages.

Made with Padlet