Is There an Easy Way to Go Digital? Use PDF Expert!

Of course, you can use a document camera and project any document on a screen. But do you really want to write on your original documents, books and other resources? No!  Then just convert them to a digital format that can be used every year!  I’m talking about using the iPad (or iPhone) App PDF Expert.  It is also available for desktop Macs as well.

Though I’m in a 1:1 classroom with a cart full of Chrome Books, I use a MacBook Pro, iPad Pro and an iPhone 7 plus to teach with.  Though there is no Windows or Android version of this App, you can find alternatives HERE:

I first found out about PDF Expert a couple of years ago when it was the Free App of the Week at the Apple App Store.  I downloaded it and immediately was awed by what it could do!  It is no longer free but is available HERE:  PDF Expert for iPad for $9.99.  That’s a lot for an App, but as you will see, it is totally worth it!  I am in no way a paid endorser or affiliated with the parent company (Readdle) that produces this App.  I’m just a happy user of the App!

Why is this App the best thing since sliced bread?  Because you can bring in any PDF document (you know, all those resources you purchased from Teachers Pay Teachers!) into PDF Expert and ANNOTATE it like you were using a Smartboard.  The only difference is, you don’t have to pay thousands of dollars for a Smartboard or equivalent.  Just attach your iPad to your projector or AirPlay it over (see HERE how I do it).  Then use the annotation tools to highlight, underline, strikeout or simply write on the document live!  Imagine how this can change your teaching! It has mine.

I have been using it in many ways.  All my PDF documents that I just used to print out and then project from my document camera can now be projected from my iPad and PDF Expert — another way to go paperless!  Here’s another way I use it.  The math series that I use has the student book online, though no PDF version.  What good is that if I can’t write or annotate in the browser?  Instead, I just take a screen shot of the math page and save it to my Camera Roll.  To take a screenshot on an iPad or iPhone, hold down the on/off button and home button simultaneously.

Think about it, any page you find on the web you can take a screenshot and instantly you have a jpg to convert to PDF.  Don’t worry about the conversion process, as PDF Expert will convert any jpg into a PDF document on the fly!

From there I send it to PDF Expert via the Cloud.  Yep, PDF Expert uses the Cloud.  Not only that, you can also give it access to your DropBox or Google Drive!  Very convenient when you have files stored there that you want to bring in.  Once it’s in the Cloud, I select the file in PDF Expert.  If it’s a jpg, just remember to convert it first or you won’t’ be able to annotate on it.

Now that it’s in PDF Expert, I can annotate at will.  Instead of projecting from my document camera or using a Big Book or some other print resource, I can now use my iPad for shared reading!

While we are reading it together in shared reading, it is so easy to stop and analyze text and annotate right on top.  I can highlight important words or phrases.  I can underline key words.  If I’m teaching my students to revise, I can use strike through to delete text.

It even has a focus feature!  Just use your finger or Apple Pen or stylus to outline the part you want to focus on and magically all the other text is deemphasized and the text you outlined is now focused within a box.

There are many more features of PDF Expert that I haven’t even yet explored.  I know that the makers of PDF Expert did not envision teachers using this App in this way, but here I am doing it!  The Digital Revolution is here.   With the use of Chrome Books, Google Drive, and Interactive DIGITAL Notebooks, PDF Expert is just one more way to go paperless!

I am participating with many other teachers to spotlight favorite tech tips and technology that we use in our class. This Sunday, check out Instagram to see all these wonderful ideas!  Search for the hashtags  #IGFORPD #IGFORPDTECH.  You can also follow me on Instagram right HERE.


As always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions!