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Search results for the Tag keyword: prelims
By Paul Nisbet on Wednesday 30th March, 2011 at 9:27am
Adobe have just released new versions of Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat Pro. Adobe Reader is the free program that most people use for reading PDF files, such as the Hodder Gibson textbooks that we distribute for pupils who cannot read the paper versions, or the SQA digital exam papers. Acrobat Pro is what we use for creating and editing PDF files.
We will examine the new versions and update our information and web sites in the near future, but for now here are a few important comments.
Adobe Reader X
You can download the new Reader X free from Adobe's web site. It is similar to version 9, except that most of the tools now appear to the right of the screen rather than as toolbars along the top. This makes it looks tidier and less confusing because there aren't loads of mysterious buttons littering your screen, but old pros like us get slightly irritated because it takes more clicks to find things.
The goods news is that PDFaloud and other text-to-speech programs still work with Reader X. You may have to re-install PDFaloud, or manually copy it from the old Reader 9 to the new Reader X folder. (See our FAQs on how to do this.)
Another good development is that you can add highlights and sticky notes to any PDF (not just ones which have been 'reader-enabled') which can be useful for pupils who are studying with PDF textbooks, or for staff who want to set and mark homework using PDF.
We'll review the new version in more detail soon - watch this space.
Adobe Acrobat Pro X
The new Acrobat Pro X has lots of new and refined features, but there are two in particular which make it really useful for those of us who want to make digital learning resources.
New editable, correctable scanning and OCR
With Acrobat Pro 9 you could scan paper resources into PDF and convert into readable text, but you couldn't correct any scanning mistakes. With Pro X, you can! This means that schools can, for example, scan paper prelims to PDF and correct any misrecognised words so that the questions can be spoken out correctly using text-to-speech software. With Pro 9, you would have had to buy another program like FineReader to do your corrections. We have tested the scanning and OCR with Pro X and it's pretty straightforward and easy to use.
Save to Word or text
Another major improvement is the formatting when saving from Acrobat Pro into other formats such as Microsoft Word - Pro X seems to do a much better job of giving you a Word file that looks like the original PDF. Saving to plain text also seems to give more accurate and reliable results.
Taken together, both these features now make Acrobat Pro X a very useful tool for anyone who wants to create accessible resources and Books for All: you can scan paper resources to PDF, check and correct any errors in order to produce a PDF digital version of the book that looks exactly like the original; and you can also save to Word or plain text and then edit it for example to produce a large print version of the book.
Adobe Acrobat Pro X is now available to Scottish schools from Learning and Teaching Scotland for approximately £51 per licence, plus £20 for the program DVD. You can download a 30 day trial version free from Adobe.
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By Paul Nisbet on Monday 28th March, 2011 at 11:34am
We have added a new section to the CALL Digital Exam Papers web site, with information on how to use the SQA digital exam papers. There's also a new page where you can download user guides and information sheets on using and making interactive resources in PDF.
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By Paul Nisbet on Monday 21st March, 2011 at 1:24pm
Both Perfect Papers and P&N Publications are now supplying digital prelims with answer boxes - the same format and style that is used for the SQA digital question papers. This should make it much easier for schools who use these commercial prelim papers to provide them for students who need adapted digital prelims.
Perfect Papers say:
"Adapted: If you order the adapted version of our papers you will receive the Microsoft Word version, Standard Adobe PDF AND the specially adapted Adobe PDF file for candidates with disabilities and/or additional support needs. If the paper is a "write on" format this will include boxes for candidate responses to be typed or, for papers which are not "write on" this will be a large format master (A3) for large print. For modern language subjects MP3 files of the listening audio are also included.”
“Q: Are P&N papers available as Digital Question Papers to support candidates with additional support needs?
A: All 2010/2011 test papers are available as "ready to go" Digital Question Papers (rights-enabled PDFs with form fields included) to support candidates with additional support needs. Please order your papers in the usual way, but include this request along with a centre-based (school/college) email address and contact name. You will be able to order these directly via our new and improved website which will be launched shortly.”
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By Paul Nisbet on Friday 7th January, 2011 at 10:58am
A report on the use of digital papers in 2010 is now available for download. The report contains a lot of interesting (well, to me, anyway) statistics and feedback from staff who used the papers last year.
In 2010, 101 centres made 2000 requests for digital papers on behalf of 675 candidates. Compared with 2009, this represents a 71% increase in the number of requests, a 38% increase in the number of centres, and a 60% increase in the number of candidates. This continues the upward trend since the papers were first trialled in 2006.
While more schools and candidates used the papers for the first time in 2010, the data also shows that most centres which used the papers in previous years made more requests for more candidates. Once a school 'goes digital', it seems the number of candidates increases each year, and the number of digital papers that a pupil uses also increases. This is good news because it shows that the papers are in most cases well received and meeting the needs of pupils.
Centres from 30 of the 32 local authorities requested digital papers, together with 5 colleges and 5 independent schools.
Candidates with dyslexia and specific learning difficulties were the largest group of users (60%) of digital papers, although pupils with a wide range of other difficulties also used them.
Each year SQA send a questiuonnaire to staff who used the papers and Maggie Quinn of SQA has compiled some useful observations which will help SQA and CALL to develop and support use of digital papers.
The report also summarises feedback from a Focus Group meeting held on 29th October 2010, which will also help improve quality of the papers and administration.
The Digital Papers project has been a great success: a really good collaboration between SQA, CALL, schools and pupils. One of the key players has been Sheila Rennie, SQA Manager of Assessment Materials and Publications. Sheila, along with her colleagues Patricia McDonald and Maggie Quinn, has really driven the project along and the uptake of papers is a tribute to her hard work and professionalism. Sheila retired last year and we wish her well.
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By Paul Nisbet on Monday 8th November, 2010 at 3:37pm
SQA have made all the 2010 adapted digital papers available on the SQA web site. There are over 400 papers covering a wide range of subjects.
These past papers are ideal for revision and practice, for pupils who are going to be sitting prelims with digital papers, or are intending to 'go digital' in the 2011 exams. Subject teachers also find the past papers useful for class teaching: the papers can be shown on an interactve white board and answers typed on-screen.
You can also download digital versions of answer booklets, for use with papers that are not "question-and-answer" format (i.e. most Standard Grade Credit, and Higher and Advanced Higher papers).