PDFs for Remote Learning


Distance learning took off in 2020 when schools were shut down and students were forced to rely on virtual classrooms to continue their studies. Even though distance learning was common among large numbers of university and post-secondary students, elementary and high-school students, and their teachers, needed to get accustomed to a completely new style of education. While the transition was difficult for all involved, the use of tools like PDFs aimed to make it easier for students to learn and communicate with fellow students and their teachers. 

4 Ways to Use PDFs in Asynchronous Learning 

Asynchronous learning refers to the time spent studying outside of regular virtual classroom hours – think homework. This time is for students to shore up their understanding of the day’s lesson and pursue their curiosity about a particular subject at their discretion. Teachers can help students learn asynchronously by providing them with learning materials in the following ways: 

Paper Form 

Teachers can always send their students PDFs of important class documents and other learning material via email, which students can then print on their home printers to have a hard copy. While PDFs are often used with a device or tablet, printing the document lets students focus on the page and forces them to write without the aid of spell-checks and other electronic learning aids. 

Use an e-Learning Platform 

During the pandemic, many schools were forced to use online learning platforms like Google Classrooms, Brainscape, and the Khan Academy to help connect students with teachers and each other. These platforms tried to replicate the classroom environment as best as possible. 

But they were also useful in adding more advanced functions like document sharing, in-app chats, and other direct communications. Teachers could also use these programs to share a digital document like a PDF with all students at the same time. 

Upload to the Cloud 

Cloud-based platforms like Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox have changed the way that documents are stored and shared. Not only do students and teachers have much more space to save their documents, but the documents can also be made accessible to anyone who is given access. A teacher can create a class account and then upload important documents so students can reference them whenever they want. 

Online PDF Editor 

When students access a PDF, it can be difficult for them to do anything with it other than to view it. But some PDFs can be changed or edited to be more accessible, which is why students need to have access to a user-friendly PDF editor like Lumin PDF. Lumin can sync with a class Google Drive account so students cannot only open a file but add comments or questions to parts of the text they do not understand. 

3 Ways to Use PDFs in Synchronous Learning 

Synchronous learning is the opposite of asynchronous and refers to the learning that takes place during regular class time. This type of instruction is when students are present for a teacher-led class and must work individually or together with other classmates to discuss subjects or work out problems assigned by their teacher. 

A Full-Screen PDF 

During in-person classes, teachers often use overhead projectors to display a particular text, image, or graph to all students in the class. But virtual classrooms have that capability with PDFs that teachers can widen and expand to full-screen so all the students present can follow along with the teacher’s instruction. 

Working the Problem Together 

When a PDF is expanded and in full view of all participants, it can also be filled in by the entire class. If a teacher has used a fillable PDF form, they can prompt the students to try to answer or fill in the fields together. This way the students can focus on the problems involved and work together to solve them. 

Get Creative 

When using a PDF in front of the virtual classroom, instructors can add new elements to the document with a variety of different tools and methods. Instructors can plan ahead of time and ready any necessary design elements like images, hyperlinks, graphs, or tables or they can improvise on the spot by drawing or inserting new elements into the document to keep students interested. 


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