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Instructional Design and Technology in Education

Enabling User Preferences allows Flexibility in Acrobat Reader Documents

Using Acrobat PDF files have been found to have a real benefit in online classes. Often the need to preserve a document’s formatting has been a necessity where specialty fonts are required such as in math and science or when showing images that were created using specific software that not everyone may have loaded on their personal computers. Often the file size of a pdf file is much smaller then the original document thus saving precious downloading time. Students don’t have to purchase expensive software to read your documents and most newer computers come with the software already installed. You don’t have to worry about cross-platform issues so you can be sure that your MAC file can be read by a WINDOWS user.

Often, students don’t have the full version of Adobe Acrobat and have to rely on the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. Many of the great features aren’t available in the free version, specifically: saving, documents and markup and commenting.

Creating activities such as crossword puzzles or worksheets or using forms have been great tools if the student was able to submit a printed copy or if the data from the forms was usable to the instructor as a downloadable text file

If you didn’t have the full version, you weren’t able to save your file for your personal reference or to save a copy to electronically send to your instructor. You were only able print it out and submit it as a piece of paper. While this option works ok for print-based classes, it becomes a hurdle for online classes.

Another very useful tool in the full version of acrobat is the ability to make comments or markup a document using a variety of editing tools. You can do some simple editing, add sticky notes, record an audio comment and then manage these comments.

But here’s some good news! There’s a feature in Acrobat 8.0 that allows you to enable users to save their form data AND more! This is huge!

Other features that are allowed:

– save form data (if your form was created as a fillable PDF form)
– activating the commenting and drawing mark-up tools
– sign an existing signature field
– digitally sign anywhere on the page

1. Choose Advanced > Go to Enable User Rights in Adobe Reader.
2. Read through the instructions and click Save Now.

Once you have assigned these features to your document some editing functions are restricted. But it’s pretty easy to SAVE AS and create a new copy of your document that doesn’t have these features enabled.

With the addition of activating the commenting tools you can now add sticky notes, highlight and cross-out text, apply different editing symbols, and record audio comments. And now that a student can save their crossword puzzle, activity worksheet, or form as an electronic document that can be emailed or attached to a lesson assignment, this format has become must more versatile!

Author: Heidi Olson

Heidi enjoys working with content experts in developing eCampus courses to provide alternatives for students. Her other interests include faculty training in best practices for eCampus and researching eCampus tools to help fulfill learning outcomes. Having worked in the distance education arena for over 20 years, she has a wide range of experiences in supporting students and faculty as technology and pedagogy evolve.

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