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Free-range scanning

iphonescanner 158x300 Free range scanning

The other day my desktop printer/scanner decided it would no longer scan.

Panicked, I wondered if I could simply take a picture of the page I needed with my smartphone camera.

That sorta worked, but the text didn’t look as clear as I hoped it would, so I searched the app store for options.

That’s when I discovered a vast array of free (and inexpensive) mobile document scanning options.

I may be the last person in the world to make this discovery, but just in case you were equally unaware: your cell phone and your tablet are scanners too.

I have not tried them all, but I have to say the ones I have tried are nearly magical solutions.

In the past couple of days, I rescued the teacher’s baby picture guessing game for Junior Ring Day.  The yearbook kids rethought and simplified their process for scanning business cards and baby photos of the seniors. I helped a teacher who needed a screen shot of a page from his text for his Moodle.

Personally, I have a new strategy for managing receipts, business cards, and contracts.

My very willing student interns took several of the free apps for test drives on my iPad.  (Note: there are many inexpensive fuller-featured document scanning apps, but our non-existent budget limited our exploration to those that were free.)

My very willing student interns took several of the free apps for test drives on my iPad.  (Note: there are many inexpensive fuller-featured document scanning apps, but our non-existent budget limited our exploration to those that were free.)

As we explored we discovered simple editing features–smart cropping, color and lighting enhancement, rotating, drawing, straightening, and annotation features. They offered the ability to scan multiple-page documents and optical character recognition features for searching keywords.  Files could be saved as images or as PDFs and immediately shared via email and on social media.  (To share with Google Drive, DropBox and Evernote, you’ll need to spring for the premium versions. This may be a compelling reason to upgrade.)  We discovered that good lighting and a steady hand improved the quality of our scans.

After testing several apps on the same documents, based on the quality of the scan and the availability of features, the students’ two favorites free apps were Cam Scanner  and Genius Scan.

Here are some intros to those tools:

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Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is the teacher-librarian at Springfield Township High School, a technology writer, and a blogger. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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