My fellow teachers! No more will I be a slave to the copy machine! Today I declare my independence from the daily ritual of lining up behind the beige, beeping monstrosity with blackline masters in hand! Today I took my fancy box of student handout masters, tore the bindings out of them, and stuffed them through the business end of said copier and set it for scan instead of copy. I spent the whole morning feeding the machine my masters. Sure, I had to unclog it a few times, but at the end of the morning all 30 weeks of my reading program were rendered into fancy, organized PDFs, now living happily on the cloud within my Dropbox.
Why scan all these in? Mostly to save time, to prevent having my eggs in one basket and hopefully allow me to be more versatile with how I can distribute my homework. Instead of having to spend time leafing through my book, figuring out the settings on the copier and barring access to the copier for my co-workers, I can now send the pages I want from my computer. (A trick accomplished by separating the pages with commas: for example, if I only want pages 5, 24, and 6 I tell the printer I want pages 5,24,6) Instead of having a single copy of my masters, through the magic of the cloud I have them at home on my iPad and on my SMARTboard at work. I can never lose the digital copy (hopefully) or have it damaged though a coffee spill or a hungry dog. If a student is absent, I can shoot them a PDF from my desk since I already have it on my computer. If I have an emergency, I can access the files I need from home and create a packet to send to my sub.
Would I replace my books for a digital edition? No. I like to have book to thumb through and mark up with sticky notes. But it helps to have a digital edition as well, since the act of printing and presenting can be hard on their binding. I hope that as ebooks and digital editions of textbooks become more common that more books include digital versions with their print materials. Then I don’t have to spend so many mornings wrestling with the great beige beast.