Playing With Interactive PDFs: A Discovery Learning Mini-lesson

by Corina Koch MacLeod

If you’ve ever filled out a form online, you’ve used an interactive PDF. Not too complicated, right?

But did you know that there’s more to an interactive PDF than meets the eye? An interactive PDF can provide a potentially rich learning experience for students, especially if you open it with Adobe Reader XI (free) and learn to use the features that come with this software. Interactive PDFs are also a neat way to integrate technology into literacy instruction. Want to give it a try?

Try This: Learning by Doing

In the spirit of discovery-based learning, I’ve provided you with an interactive PDF that you can play with. It’s an excerpt from Don’t Panic 2.0: On-the-Go Practice for the OSSLT, Interactive Edition.

For those of you who’d rather not go off-road just yet, the checklist of features below will guide you in your explorations. I won’t tell you how to find or use these features in Adobe Reader XIat least not in this postbut I will at some point in the near future.

Allow me to give you a hint: if you’re using the Windows* version of Adobe Reader XI, the tools you’ll need can be found in the Comment tab in Adobe Reader XI.

*There is some variation between the Adobe apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iPad, and Surface. That’s normal, as each app is designed in a slightly different way so that it runs optimally on that device. Check back for upcoming reviews on each of the Adobe Reader apps.

Discovery-Based Learning Guide for Interactive PDFs

  • Highlight some text in the reading selection.
  • Create a note in the margin using the sticky note feature.
  • Create a note in the margin using the typewriter tool. Which note making tool do you you prefer?
  • Create a note using the voice dictation feature (Android Adobe app).
  • Answer a multiple-choice question.
  • Write a sentence in response to a writing question; spell-check it. (Hint: right-click on your mouse.)
  • Get Adobe Reader XI to read some text to you.
  • Create a graphic organizer using the drawing tools.
  • Record an audio comment (your computer will need a speaker to make this work).

How did you do?

It’s About Students

I am willing to bet that you know a student who knows how to do most of this stuff, or who can figure it out in three minutes flat (never underestimate students). If you happen to know an enterprising student who’d like to create a video demonstrating any of these features, we’d love to showcase their video on this blog. It’s really all about the students, anyway.

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