Digitizing your traditional equipment: a survival guide

(continuation of the dossier) Teachers who use a lot of “loose sheets” and who stick to paper textbooks and activity books are those who risk experiencing the greatest […]

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Teachers who use a lot of “loose sheets” and stick to paper textbooks and activity books are the ones who are likely to experience the greatest shock when assisting technology comes into the classroom. Indeed, these traditional mediums are not very useful for students who use software to overcome their difficulties. Unless… digitize them!

Optical character recognition (OCR), this step necessary for reading texts using a vocal synthesis, however, is not easy. “We have several texts for which we do not have the original digital version. You have to run it through the copier and then into software. Without retouching, it is sometimes illegible. Even with great software, you would have to spend a lot of time reworking them. It sometimes takes less time to copy it, quite simply, ”laments Isabelle Goyette.


Planning and hardware

Digitization must be planned. Which texts should be distributed to the whole class in the context of the chosen learning and assessment situations? Which texts must be given in digital version to pupils in difficulty? Do we have such a version on hand? Should we invest time to digitize and edit these texts? In elementary school, this last question deserves to be asked. In the case of short instructions, tables, pictorial texts, various classroom management tips, including working in pairs, may justify the choice not to digitize all the documents.

In secondary school, texts are often denser and their compatibility with text-to-speech software is essential for students with special needs. This does not mean, however, that we should abandon the printed copy to use only technological tools in complex tasks, thinks remedial educator Maude Lymburner. “In reading and writing, a hard copy allows the text to be annotated. We must continue to apply the strategies put forward and encourage reflection. At the end, the pupil uses his voice synthesis just as another pupil rereads his copy ”.

Different scanning devices are available in the market. From the enormous photocopier for the complete pages to the small digitizer pencil for short instructions, through a digitizer that is placed on a table or a bar that is slipped on the paper, there is something for you. all tastes and all budgets. According to the experiments of Richard Ayotte, at the Samares school board, the digitizer mouse offers good compromises. “By giving the same sheet of paper to all the students in a class, the struggling student can hover his mouse over the instructions. It makes the photo appear on the screen. The step of converting pixels into words is done automatically and with good efficiency ”. This technology is affordable in addition to making the student autonomous. However, it is less suitable for multi-page texts, texts with complex layouts or from a bound book.

Isabelle Goyette has in mind to test such a mouse to make things easier for herself. In his school, the scanner and printer are not in his room, which requires multiple back and forth with USB keys. "I put up with it and I digitize outside of my working hours because it meets deep convictions and I cannot conceive of creating an unfair situation towards these students," she explains.


Copyright: holà!

Finally, even if the technology makes it possible to digitize documents, it does not exempt teachers from copyright. With the exception of students with perceptual disabilities, the copyright law is clear : if the digitized version is available on the market, it is not allowed to reproduce a work to present it visually for educational purposes. If the school textbook, activity book or novel does not exist in a digital version, you must request a scanning authorization from Copibec for each pupil in difficulty. This digitization request is not necessary if the material is licensed under an open source, such as the Creative Commons license.



1. Know success at last through technology
2. ICTs to help students with learning disabilities: an injustice to others?
3. Technologies for assisting learning disabilities: the technopedagogical challenge for teachers
4. Digitizing your traditional equipment: a survival guide
5. Deployment of technological aids: changes to be expected in the classroom
6. Assistive technology and ministerial assessment

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