Solutions to PDF Problems: 3 Ways to Modify Resources for Teletherapy and Distance Learning
PDF problems. Every teletherapist has them. If you’re like me, your first week of doing teletherapy was spent asking yourself questions like:
How do I extract just a part of this PDF?
How do I upload a PDF to my teletherapy platform when the PDF is too large?
How do I make this PDF more interactive?
Don’t get me wrong. The PDF is a wonderful and beautiful file type. But PDFs do sometimes create pain points when used in teletherapy and distance learning. Sometimes they’re too big to upload to a teletherapy platform. Or too long and overwhelming to email in their entirety to students for homework. And some of them can be kind of, well, lame 😬 as is without anything interactive for the student to do with them.
Without further ado...
Help! The PDF is too large to upload into my platform!
This might be the most frustrating PDF problem of all. Many platforms have a maximum size for files that can be uploaded. But have no fear, compression is here! There are tons of free websites that can quickly compress a PDF file, such as smallpdf.com or ilovepdf.com. Check out the video to see how easy it is!
Voila! But if that still doesn't make your PDF small enough, you could split the PDF into multiple parts..... hang tight, that trick is next!
Help! I need to send just a part of a PDF to a student!
This can be done in a few ways. When I want to send just a part of one page, I use the 'snipping tool' to capture a screenshot from this resource.
PC: Open Snipping Tool and take a screenshot
Mac: How to capture a portion of the screen
If you want to extract a page or page range from a static PDF, you can use the “print to PDF” feature. With the PDF open in Adobe Reader, follow the directions below.
After selecting 'Print', you will be prompted to choose where to save the new, shortened PDF. And there it will wait for you, all perfectly sized for your needs. If you need to know how to do this on a Mac, check out this website.
For interactive PDFs which have clickable navigation/buttons, text boxes, and/or check boxes, I’ve recently discovered that ilovepdf.com is able to split a PDF and maintain the interactive components while doing so. A game changer if you love interactive PDFs as much as I do! Watch the video to see how I extracted a few pages from this interactive PDF.
There's also a way to extract part of a PDF using the Google Chrome browser. Check out Abby from The Type B SLP to learn how!
Help! I want my students to be able to draw on the PDF!
Allow me to introduce you to annotation! Hiiiii annotation! Annotation tools allow you to type words and draw shapes and lines as a digital overlay on the PDF. Some teletherapy platforms have these tools built in, where you're able to upload the PDF into the platform and use annotation to mark up the PDF right there. No screen share needed.
If your platform does not have annotation tools but you can screen share, there are other options. Adobe Reader is a popular (free) PDF software which has annotation tools and can be shared via screenshare with your students.
Here's a BRAND NEW option for annotation that's hot off the press! TpT has added built-in, interactive tools for PDF downloads purchased on their site. As of right now this feature is in beta testing, with limited stores (such as myself) participating. When you purchase a PDF (or download a freebie), you have two options:
You can download and save the PDF to your computer (by clicking "Download Now", or
Open the resource in another browser tab by clicking "Create Digital Activity". The activity is then presented in a digital format where students can type, highlight, and draw lines right on the PDF within the TpT website. You can also assign the activity via Google Classroom. Check it out in this video:
So cool, right? If you want to try it out, here's the link to the FREE RESOURCE shown in the video. And to learn more about this digital overlay from TpT, check out my friend Belinda's blog post!
Welp, I hope these little tricks have given you faith and confidence in successfully using PDFs digitally in speech therapy. Feel free to drop a comment below if you have any more ways to adapt PDFs for teletherapy or distance learning!