Category: Classroom management

Top PDF Editors Among Educators

PDF editors are valuable tools in schools that allow students with different platforms–Google Apps, MS Office, and others–to make annotations, add comments, edit content (with some restrictions), and collaborate. Students can submit assignments digitally despite differences between their home platform and school (say, they use MS Office at home and Google Apps at school). Lesson plans and materials can be shared as PDFs with reasonable assurance they will be able to access and read it. PDF files are (much) smaller than others making them easier to transfer via email and save in folders.

No surprise that as useful as PDFs are, there are many options. An Ask a Tech Teacher contributor reviews five options for you to consider:

    1. Format PDF
    2. Adobe
    3. PDF Element
    4. Nitro Pro
    5. Foxit Phantom PDF

Top PDF Editors Among Teachers and Educators

In the digital age, the ability to effectively work with PDF documents has become essential for professionals in various fields, including education. As educators, you encounter a wide range of PDF files, from worksheets and lesson plans to research papers and administrative documents. To efficiently manage and modify these files, having a reliable PDF editor at your disposal is paramount.

In this article, we present a comprehensive guide to the top PDF editors that have gained popularity among teachers and educators. Whether you need to annotate textbooks, create interactive lesson materials, merge multiple documents, or securely sign important forms, our list of recommended PDF editors will help you streamline your workflow and enhance your productivity.

So, without further ado, let’s delve into the world of top PDF editors and discover the tools that will revolutionize your PDF management experience!

1 offers a user-friendly interface that allows teachers and educators to easily upload, edit, and save PDF files. The platform provides essential editing tools such as text and image editing, page manipulation, and the ability to merge or split PDF documents. It also enables users to add annotations, comments, and highlights, making it convenient for collaborative work and providing feedback on student assignments. You can check it out here.


  • Accessibility: Being an online PDF editor, allows users to access their documents from any device with an internet connection, eliminating the need for software installations.
  • Ease of Use: The intuitive interface and straightforward navigation make a user-friendly option, even for those with limited technical expertise.
  • Cost-effective: offers a range of pricing plans, including free options with limited features and affordable premium plans, making it accessible to educators with varying budgets.


  • Internet Dependency: As an online tool, requires a stable internet connection to access and edit PDF files. This may limit usability in situations where a reliable internet connection is not available.
  • Limited Offline Access: Unlike downloadable software, does not offer offline access to documents, which can be a drawback for educators who prefer to work without an internet connection.

2 Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC offers a plethora of features designed to enhance document management and collaboration for educators. With this software, users can easily create, edit, and convert PDF files while maintaining the original formatting and integrity. The intuitive interface allows for efficient navigation and seamless integration with other Adobe products, making it a versatile tool for educators.


  • Advanced Editing Capabilities: Adobe Acrobat Pro DC offers an extensive range of editing tools, including text and image manipulation, page organization, and advanced formatting options. This allows educators to create professional-grade documents tailored to their specific teaching requirements.
  • Collaboration and Reviewing: The software facilitates seamless collaboration through its review and commenting features, enabling educators to share PDF files with colleagues, students, or administrators for feedback and revision.
  • Integration with Adobe Ecosystem: As part of the Adobe suite, the software seamlessly integrates with other Adobe products such as Photoshop and Illustrator, offering enhanced creative possibilities for educators.


  • Cost: Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is a premium software that requires a subscription or a one-time purchase, which may be a deterrent for educators on a limited budget.
  • Learning Curve: Due to its comprehensive feature set, mastering all aspects of Adobe Acrobat Pro DC may require some time and effort. However, Adobe provides extensive tutorials and support resources to assist users in becoming proficient with the software.

Overall, Adobe Acrobat Pro DC stands out as a powerful PDF editing software, empowering teachers and educators with its wide range of features, collaboration capabilities, and advanced editing options. While the cost and learning curve may be considerations, the comprehensive functionality and seamless integration with other Adobe products make it a compelling choice for educators seeking a professional-grade PDF editor.

3 PDF Element

PDF element offers form creation and filling capabilities, empowering teachers to design interactive worksheets, assessment forms, and surveys. The software’s OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology enables the extraction of text from scanned documents, facilitating the digitization of physical resources for easy integration into digital teaching materials.


  • User-Friendly Interface: PDFelement boasts an intuitive and user-friendly interface, making it accessible to educators with varying levels of technical expertise. The software’s layout and navigation ensure a seamless experience while working with PDF documents.
  • Customization and Annotation: Educators can easily customize their PDF documents by adding annotations, comments, highlights, and stamps, allowing for comprehensive feedback and engagement with students.
  • Cost-Effective: PDFelement offers flexible licensing options, including one-time purchases and affordable subscription plans, making it accessible to educators with different budget considerations.


  • Few Advanced Features: While PDFelement provides a comprehensive set of tools for most educators’ needs, it may not offer the same level of advanced features found in more specialized or high-end PDF editing software.
  • Limited Integration: Unlike software that is part of a larger ecosystem, PDFelement does not have extensive integration capabilities with other software applications commonly used in education. However, it supports essential file formats and allows for seamless import and export of documents.

4 Nitro Pro

Nitro Pro offers a wide range of features that aim to boost productivity and simplify PDF editing tasks for educators. With this software, users can easily create, edit, convert, and merge PDF files. Educators have the flexibility to modify text and images, rearrange pages, and incorporate headers, footers, and watermarks, enabling them to personalize their documents to align with their teaching needs.


  • Advanced Editing Capabilities: Nitro Pro provides extensive editing tools, including precise text and image manipulation, page organization, and comprehensive formatting options, empowering educators to create polished and professional-grade documents.
  • Collaboration and Review: The software offers robust collaboration features, allowing teachers to share PDF files with colleagues and students for seamless reviewing, commenting, and revising of educational materials.
  • Document Security: Nitro Pro provides encryption and password protection features, ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive educational documents.


  • Affordability: Nitro Pro is a high-end software that offers multiple pricing options, which may present a challenge for educators on a tighter budget. However, the software’s extensive range of features and advanced capabilities make it a worthwhile investment for those seeking comprehensive functionality.
  • Ease of Use: Due to its rich feature set, Nitro Pro may require some dedicated time and exploration to fully grasp its complete range of functionalities. Nevertheless, Nitro Pro understands the importance of supporting educators and provides comprehensive tutorials and robust support resources to help them maximize their utilization of the software.

5 Foxit Phantom PDF

One notable feature of Foxit PhantomPDF is its collaboration capabilities. Educators can share PDF files, track changes, and add comments and annotations, facilitating seamless collaboration and feedback exchange with students and colleagues. The software also offers document security features, including password protection and redaction, ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive educational materials

  • Lightweight and Fast: Foxit PhantomPDF is known for its fast performance and low system resource requirements. It allows educators to work seamlessly without experiencing significant delays or slowdowns.
  • Customizable Ribbon Interface: The software offers a flexible and customizable ribbon interface, allowing educators to personalize their workspace and access frequently used features with ease.
  • PDF Portfolio Creation: Foxit PhantomPDF enables educators to create PDF portfolios, which can combine multiple files into a single, organized document. This feature is particularly useful for compiling and sharing comprehensive teaching resources.


  • Limited Advanced Markup Tools: While Foxit PhantomPDF provides essential annotation and commenting tools, it may lack some of the more advanced markup options available in other PDF editors. Educators who require highly specialized markup features may find this limitation restrictive.
  • Limited Integration with Cloud Storage: While Foxit PhantomPDF allows integration with cloud storage services, the options may be more limited compared to other PDF editors. This may pose a challenge for educators who heavily rely on cloud-based workflows and file storage.

In conclusion, the world of PDF editing offers a multitude of options for teachers and educators seeking efficient and versatile tools to manage their documents. In this article, we explored a selection of top PDF editors specifically tailored to meet the needs of educators.

While online editors offer accessibility and convenience, downloadable software options provide offline access, advanced editing capabilities, and increased control over document management. Educators can choose the software that best aligns with their preferences, budget considerations, and workflow requirements. Happy PDFing!

Copyright ©2023 – All rights reserved.

Here’s the sign-up link if the image above doesn’t work:

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Books You’ll Want to Read This Summer



Summer is a great time to reset your personal pedagogy to an education-friendly mindset and catch up on what’s been changing in the ed world while you were teaching eight ten hours a day. My Twitter friends gave me great suggestions, but first:

A comment on the selections: I did get more suggestions than I could possibly list so I avoided books that involved politics or hot-button subjects that teachers are divided on and focused on positive and uplifting reading. Yes, there is a lot wrong with education around the world but I wanted a selection of books that would send me — and you —  back to teaching in the fall with a can-do attitude for how to accomplish miracles with your next class of students.

Having said that, here’s a granular list of teacher-approved books to keep you busy this summer:

Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times

by Eric C. Sheninger

Digital Leadership defines a strategic mindset and set of behaviors that leverage resources to create a meaningful, transparent, and engaging school culture. It takes into account recent changes such as connectivity, open-source technology, mobile devices, and personalization of learning to dramatically shift how schools have been run for over a century.

Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns

by Clayton M. Christensen

Selected as one of Business Week’s Best Books on Innovation in 2008, Disrupting Class remains a worthy read. It is filled with fascinating case studies, scientific findings, and insights into how managed innovation can unleash education. Disrupting Class will open your eyes to new possibilities and evolve your thinking. For more detail, read my review, Disrupting Class.


How to Clean Up Google Classroom for the Summer

As you end your school year, there are lots of details that must be taken care of . If you use Google Classroom, here’s a list, created by one of the Ask a Tech Teacher contributor:

As the school year comes to an end, teachers everywhere are getting ready for summer break. For many, this means cleaning out classrooms and organizing materials for the next year. However, it’s not just your physical classroom that needs to be cleaned and organized at the end of the year.

If you’re a teacher who uses Google Classroom, there’s one more task to add to your list: cleaning up your virtual classroom.

I know, it sounds like a pain. One more thing to add to the list. But not to worry, it’s nowhere near as hard as it sounds. You’re just tying up loose ends and creating a blank state for the following school year. Just a little work now will help you to stay organized over summer break and make it easier to get started again in the fall.

Here are four simple steps you can take to close up your Google Classroom for the year in a neat, organized fashion:


What is a Growth Mindset?


It’s no secret many parents are frustrated with public schools. Are kids learning to think or just to pass tests? Are they spending classroom time wisely or just doing what’s always been done? Are we developing lifelong learners or kids who can’t wait to graduate?

If this describes you, you’re not alone in your concerns, but there’s hope. Consider a pedagogy that transcends rote memorization and the stock drills often found in today’s classrooms, expects critical thinking that teaches how to learn anything — not just school subjects. It’s called a “Growth Mindset”. In an Edsurge article by Rupa Gupta, former Redesign Administrator at Burnett Middle School in San Jose, Calif., she summarized the issue like this:

“In a recent national survey, 97 percent of teachers agreed that all students can and should have a growth mindset, and that same number said fostering a growth mindset is an important part of a teacher’s job. Yet only 50 percent said they have adequate solutions and strategies to shift mindset.”

So nearly everyone agrees this type of cerebral approach is important to real learning but few know how to make it happen.

What is Growth Mindset?

Let me back up a moment and define “Growth Mindset” more clearly. Most people believe basic human qualities like intelligence and talent are fixed traits: nature supersedes nurture. Kids are born with the characteristics that will mold their future. They are good at math or they aren’t. They can throw a football well or not. As kids grow, they figure out what they can and can’t do and adjust learning and life as needed to these truths. They come to believe that understanding and adapting to this process equates to success.

In a Growth Mindset, people believe ability can be developed through dedication and hard work. The cerebral and physical traits they were born with are just the starting point. Students are responsible for setting the patterns and strategies that allow them to succeed, by evaluating what they can do at any given point and making a plan for learning everything else.


How to Digitize School Historic Videos

Why is it important to preserve historical school video recordings? How about:

  • to preserve old recordings that are degrading with time
  • to make them more accessible to potential viewers and researchers
  • to increase their lifespan

But what’s the best way to do this? Ask a Tech Teacher contributor has some ideas:

3 Effective Ways to Digitize and Preserve School’s Historical Video Recordings

Each year, schools manage and process all sorts of documents and data, starting with students’ personal information and ending with events. These data are stored in each school’s archive for safekeeping over the years. 

Therefore, any such archive often contains a mixture of materials that are relevant to the school’s past and present, such as photographs, yearbooks, student publications (newspapers or magazines), administrative records, meeting minutes, curricular materials, and artifacts from significant events.

Schools also keep video records of important activities (usually sports-related), security logs, student performances, teacher evaluations, or historical events like lectures from famous people visiting the campus. 

These recordings can serve a plethora of purposes, so it’s only natural that your school wants to make sure the information is well-preserved. And one way to make sure video recordings don’t get damaged over time (especially ones on old storage formats like VHS tapes) is to digitize them. 

As such, today we’ll look at some of the most common methods to digitize historical video records and how to make sure the new formats are well-preserved and safe from accidental loss or damage. 

How to Digitize Old Video Recordings

Turning old video recordings into digital format is not too difficult, but it can be time-consuming. So, depending on the resources and time you have at your disposal, you can use one of the methods listed below.

1 Use a Video Capture Device (or Digital Converter)

Using a video capture device to convert old videos to digital format is a relatively straightforward process. But you’ll need a few devices, like an old video player (like VCR or camcorder), a computer, and a video capture device.

Once you have all the devices, plus the old video tapes you want to digitize, install the software for the capture device on the computer. Next, connect the video player to the capture device using an RCA cable. This way, you’ll connect the VCR’s output jacks (typically yellow for video, white and red for audio) to the corresponding input jacks of the capture device.

Lastly, connect the USB end of your video capture device to an available USB port on your computer, open the software, and configure the settings. Press play and wait for the capture device to do its job.

The disadvantage of this method is that you can’t speed things up. You have to wait for each tape to play its full length so the capture device can get the entire footage. Also, it’s difficult to create a clean digital copy without breaks for changing the tapes or noise.

It’s also a method for tech-savvy users since you have to understand how a digital converter works and what settings to make to get the best video quality. Plus, if your VCR is not in the best condition, you risk losing the original content without any chance of recovering it. 

2. Use a Video-to-DVD Transfer Service

If you don’t have the time and resources to digitize old video tapes yourself, there are plenty of video to DVD transfer services you can use. The main advantage of these services is that you don’t have to do much. You just send out the tapes and wait to receive the digitized content.

Plus, if your tapes are damaged or need cleaning, you can ask for a few extra services. Not to mention that you’ll receive an edited digital copy clean of any noise and interruptions. 

3. Screen Recording

If you have time on your hands, you can always apply the screen recording method. With this, you only need a VCR, VHS tapes, a TV or projector, and a digital camera. 

The method is quite simple – while the VCR plays the tapes, you record the screen of the TV or projector using the camera (you can also use a smartphone). Just make sure to stabilize the camera and account for lighting, audio, and other factors that may affect the video quality. 

This method is less tech-savvy and quite cost-effective, but the results are usually low-quality, and it takes a lot of time to work your way through several tapes.

How to Preserve Your Digitized Copies

While there are plenty of educational videos schools can access online, it’s different when you have several on storage that are easy to access. Plus, many of these old videos include elements of school history and identity that are unique and precious. 

So how can you make sure your digital copies won’t get damaged or leaked online? 

Well, the best method to store and preserve your digital videos for the long term is a combination of cloud storage and local backup on external hard drives or solid-state drives (SSDs). Cloud storage is safe and offers easy access, while an external hard drive or SSD serves as a safety backup in case something happens to the cloud copies.

Wrap Up

At the end of the day, preserving precious memories is essential, and by converting old video formats to digital, you ensure their longevity. By using a combination of the appropriate methods and secure storage solutions like cloud services and local backups, you can safeguard your digital videos for future generations to cherish and enjoy.

Copyright ©2023 – All rights reserved.

Here’s the sign-up link if the image above doesn’t work:

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Tech Tips to End the School Year

Wrapping up your school technology for the summer is as complicated as setting it up in September. There are endless backups, shares, cleanings, changed settings, and vacation messages that — if not done right — can mean big problems when you return from summer vacation. If you have a school device, a lot of the shutdown steps will be done by the IT folks as they backup, clean, reformat, and maybe re-image your device. If you have a personal device assigned by the school but yours to take home, the steps may be more numerous but really, not more complicated.

Here’s a list. Skip those that don’t apply to you and complete the rest. I won’t take time in this article for a how-to on each activity so if you don’t know how to complete one, check with your IT folks or Google it:


Use the SAMR Model to Energize Class Tech

samr stepsThis is a question I get often from teachers: Technology is always an extra layer of work in my classroom. How can I blend it into what I already do without taking time I don’t have? When I first addressed this issue fifteen years ago, it was all about replacing traditional classroom tools with one on a computer. For example, book reports were typed on the computer instead of handwritten, or math facts were practiced with a math game instead of flash cards. But that quickly became cumbersome. Teachers didn’t know how to use the digital tools and there was never enough training to untip that balance. At the end of the day, paper-and-pencil was easier, faster, and perfectly understood. Soon, even the most stalwart tech-infused teachers discovered it was just as effective to use traditional tools and pull out the tech stuff for special occasions.

What happened? How did such a good idea go so wrong? The problem was four-fold:

  • students didn’t have the technology foundation to smoothly incorporate digital tools into projects. Too often, the effort to provide evidence of learning suffered as students (and teachers) became mired in efforts to get the technology to work. Where is the tool? How do you do **? Why is the program not working?
  • teachers didn’t have training in the tools. Even schools that made herculean efforts to train teachers in technology found themselves flailing. Even teachers who understood the tool would struggle with the inadequate infrastructure, the undependability of the technology itself, and the non-intuitive nature of so many of the programs they wanted to use. As a result, they used tools they understood rather than those best-suited for the project and learning.
  • projects always–really, always–took longer using technology than the traditional low-tech approach.
  • school infrastructure often struggled to support the exciting plans that tech-savvy teachers wanted to try. Computers froze or the network became over-burdened or the internet went down just as students required them the most. The money required to fix these problems was measured in the thousands of dollars–tens of thousands. Too many schools just didn’t have that budget.


14 Tech Assessment Strategies

It used to be simple to post grades. Add up test scores and see what the student earned. Very defensible. Everyone understood. It’s not that way anymore. Here are factors I consider when I’m posting grades for my tech students:

  • Does s/he remember skills from prior lessons as they complete current lessons?
  • Does s/he show evidence of learning by using tech class knowledge in classroom or home?
  • Does s/he participate in class discussions?
  • Does s/he complete daily goals (a project, visit a website, watch a tutorial, etc.)?
  • Does s/he save to their network folder?


11 Ways to Add #Inquiry to Your Class

You became a teacher not to pontificate to trusting minds, but to teach children how to succeed as adults. That idealism infused every class in your credential program and only took a slight bump during your student teacher days. You graduated sure you’d never teach to the test or lecture for 90% of a class.

Then you got a job and reality struck. You had lesson plans to get through, standards to assess, meetings to attend, parents to council, and state-wide tests that students must do well on. A glance in the mirror said you were becoming that teacher you hated in school. You considered leaving the profession. Until a colleague mentioned the inquiry-based classroom, where teaching’s goal was not the solution to a problem but the path followed. It’s what you’d hoped to do long ago when you started–but how do you turn a traditional entrenched classroom into one that’s inquiry-based?

Here are 11 ideas. One or more will resonate with your teaching style: