CamScanner is an app that turns your mobile device into a scanner! As always, it is available on both the iTunes App Store and on Google Play, and it’s free. At the time of writing, Dec 2014, CamScanner Pro is free from the iTunes App Store.
There is also a web-based version of CamScanner and you can view and edit your own scans there too and comment on any scan shared with you also.
If you’re an educator or student with a .edu email address you get the full version for free! I emailed CamScanner to see if this offer could apply to me as an educator with a .dit.ie email address but sadly, no.
I love this app. It’s just so handy and has so many uses from the simple everyday things like keeping digital copies of bills and receipts to being an invaluable tool in the classroom for managing and sharing documents and collaborating! Such as versatile little app. You can scan paper docs or an import images from your device’s album, from Box or from DropBox. Then, you can annotate it, write and attach you own notes, invite others to collaborate, see their comments and add your own, save it, tag it, print it, fax it, and email it or upload it to your cloud based storage accounts Evernote, Google Drive, DropBox and Box. The basic account comes with 200MB of cloud storage but you can ‘earn’ more cloud storage space really easily by sharing it on facebook and on twitter and by following CamScanner on Twitter. You also get 100 MB each time someone you’ve invited to use CamScanner actually signs up.
It took me about 15 minutes to try out all of the different features and investigate what everything did in the various menus etc. Below is a collage of screenshots showing what the main screen in the app looks like on my iPad, along with a selection of options from the menus. The interface is uncluttered as you can see below, it’s fairly intuitive, and it just works!
If you’d like to see the app in action, watch this 02.11 minute YouTube video from CamScanner.
CamScanner is a scanner in you pocket, and a very handy one at that. However, in the educational context, just using it to scan paper documents for organisational purposes, or getting students to scan and email permission slips or work placement forms for example isn’t really adding any educational value.
CamScanner could be used as another way of engaging with your students though. Let’s say for example your Art, Design and Printing students are busy sketching on paper preparing ideas for a design project. Normally they would submit a photocopy of a sketch showing their handwritten notes/specs to you and having reviewed them you would try to meet each and every one of them for a short discussion. Your class size has grown in the last year however, and meeting each of them at every different stage of their project is becoming difficult. Instead, each student could scan their sketch using CamScanner and invite you as a collaborator and share their sketch with you. Now you can post your comments on each sketch and your students can comment back. There is a record there now too of that conversation and the student can go back on that conversation as needs be. You are using the app to substitute the usual face-to-face meetings but there is some functional improvement too. The asynchronous comments does give the students the chance to reflect on what you’ve said and give them the time to give considered responses.
I think though that using an app like CamScanner to allow you to start the process of capturing and sharing a learning situation as it happens live, is where this app could help modify a learning activity as per the SAMR model. Consider this example, you just introduced your students to a difficult mathematical concept in class and they struggled with it. After class you happened to meet one of your students in the foyer and he asked for some further help. On a sheet of paper you quickly worked through a simple example and he began to understand straight away. As you looked at the sheet of paper you both just worked on you’re sorry that the rest of the class missed out on this explanation. So, using CamScanner you scan the sheet of paper before your student goes away with it. However, your other students are hardly likely to understand everything from just reviewing that one simple example on the sheet, so using the editing tools in CamScanner, you highlight different aspects of the computation, share it with them via the sharing options in CamScanner, and then add in some quick comments explaining the computation and the parts that have been highlighted. Your students (who also use CamScanner) will now be able to access those comments and reply back with further comments or queries that they might have on it. You just created a digital learning resource on the fly that started with an unexpected encounter with a struggling student and a piece of paper, and without a tool like CamScanner it would not have been possible.
To continue our scenario above, thinking about it later you decide that the comments alone attached to that scanned example could still prove difficult to understand. But what can you do about it? Here’s where ‘App Smashing‘ comes in!
‘App Smash’ as a phrase was coined by Greg Kulowiec (@gregkulowiec) and it even has it’s own hashtag #AppSmash. It refers to the situation where content created using one app is transferred to another app, and maybe even a third app, in order to enhance it further before publishing the final product.
So you email the scanned and annotated mathematical computation to yourself using the sharing tools in CamScanner. You import it into Explain Everything and using the capabilities of that app you record a voiceover explaining where the different calculations came from, writing out some of the formulas that were used as you speak. When done, you share your finished video to your private YouTube channel and share the link with your students.
Students can also use CamScanner and other apps in a similar way, to scan, tag, share, comment and collaborate on documents and images. They can also take a photo of the whiteboard at the end of class, bring that into CanScanner, annotate it and add comments before tagging it and sending it to Evernote.
Can you think of other apps that could be ‘smashed’? Let us know on twitter!
Here are some great examples to get those creative juices flowing!
1. Install CamScanner from iTunes App Store or Google Play.
2. Sign your name on a blank white sheet of paper.
3. Use CamScanner to scan the page.
4. Using the tools provided, crop the image and enhance the detail.
5. Email your digtial signature to yourself and save it. This can now be inserted into any online document or used as your signature on your emails.
Did you know that there is a computational knowledge engine called WolframAlpha with accompanying apps for both iOS and Android?
“Wolfram|Alpha uses its vast collection of algorithms and data to compute answers and generate reports for you.” Ask any question about any fact and get an answer that includes graphs, charts and computations where appropriate – it’s a great teaching tool, especially in the science and mathematics area and it blows Google out of the water for that kind of information.
Want to know what is does exactly in 1.19mins? Then watch this ‘WolframAlpha in a Nut Shell‘ YouTube video.
Don’t forget to tweet #12appsDIT your opinion of this app, or indeed post a comment below. Let us know your ideas on how to use it effectively with students to transform teaching, learning and assessment practices. The more we share, the more we learn!