Developing Digital Learning Strategies In A Time of Technological Distraction

Learning Digital Strategies

Nowadays, we’re constantly in a state of distraction. From texting and checking emails to posting on Facebook and watching YouTube, technology has made it all too easy for us.

Overall, unwinding with a few Facebook updates can be harmless.  However, in your academic career the digital distraction can have a negative impact on your success.  Procrastination and distractions lurk in every corner.

Yet as the world of education changes and institutions invest heavily in educational technology, your approach to learning and studying will need to change.

The question is, can you develop an effective digital learning strategy when technological distraction is everywhere? The answer is yes.

Use The Age Of Distraction To Your Advantage

Sure, it can be tough to switch gears online and focus on the task at hand, but the trick is to work with the distraction, not to try and beat it. The digital habits you practice every day is where you can start developing solid digital learning strategies that’ll stand you in good stead.

And there’s no time like the present to start prepping yourself for next year. Currently, students have and will continue to see major changes in how learning will occur in 2015 and onwards. Aurion Learning, a company dedicated to helping organizations develop online learning solutions, got an overview of the latest trends.

15 E-Learning statistics you need to know for 2015 from Aurion Learning

 

And the statistics paint a clear picture: the world of education is not only focused on digitizing your learning style, but your academic lifestyle as well. So what can you do to turn your daily distractions into a learning tool? Here are a few suggested strategies.

When You Browse, Browse Creatively

Think about it. You search for something on the web all the time. But chances are, your usual search habits aren’t producing results.  Most of us only use Google for basic keyword searches, but not much else.  But there’s so more to Google than just search.

In fact, there’s more to searching the web than just Google, too. You can easily refine your research skills for projects by finding other creative ways to search the web.  All you need to do is to look differently at the internet: what searches you can perform without Google?  Where else can you find answers? In a nutshell, make the time you spend web surfing count.

Post, Upload And Interact With Content On Social Media

Believe it or not, posting links and uploading files and images on social networks can boost the digital learning process. The skills you use to interact on social media are essentially the same skills needed to participate in and work with digital learning environments. Thus, you need all the basic tech skills you can acquire.

Some examples of where you’ll need basic skills:

  • Creating PowerPoint presentations, mock business plans, or ebook study guides.
  • Voicing your opinion in class forums or e-bulletin boards.
  • Following people & networks related to your field of study as learning-related resources.
  • Curating content and tutorial sites to keep you on top of your niche and related skills.
  • Staying organized with files and group members by using a document management system.

Use social media check-ins as a way to practice your digital interaction skills, but don’t get carried away. Remember—social media is a means to an end, not an end in itself. 

Pay Attention To The Headlines In Your Feed

As much as we say we’re digitally connected, not many of us will know automatically how to accomplish something specific online.  The simple strategy to improve that is to get familiar with web tools.  You read about online tools constantly. Not a blog post in a feed goes by without some mention of Dropbox or tips on Google Docs. All it takes is actually clicking through to read about them.

So start creating your own personal toolbox.  Try one tool at a time to get yourself familiar with ones like Evernote or IFTTT. Ask yourself things like: Which would be the best for publishing my work? How can I send that large file of an essay? Can I annotate a peer’s digital paper? Discover popular tools with the aim of fitting them into your academic routine. 

Get Connected Visually

While having online courses makes it easy for you to participate in class from anywhere, distance and online learning itself, isn’t easy. You need support, peer discussion, and feedback from people who may not be physically there. You have to adapt to a new communication system without the all-important human factor.

Here, collaborative tech will be key. If you’re constantly online, then you know all about chatting, IMs and video conferencing. Tools like these will help you make the human connections needed throughout the learning process.  This is especially true of video conferencing. A single video chat or G+ Hangout can give you that extra learning boost which avatars and textual IMs can’t.

Some tool strategies to help with the actual work:

  • Use project management tools to keep everyone on track.
  • Collaborate with video and e-conferencing and chat tools like Skype.
  • Use Wikis and whiteboards for major group research and presentations.
  • To stay in touch with class mates, create Facebook groups, Google+ circles or Twitter lists.

The ability to develop transferrable digital skills is more important than ever. Tapping into your daily distractions can be one effective way to get immersed in your digital learning experience.  But what other strategies can you think of?

 

5 Hats All Budding Entrepreneurs Should Expect To Wear

Preparing For Business

Nowadays, you can’t sift through a business news feed without hearing news about small startups that went from rags to riches and made it big. And if a success story provides you with anything, it’s the idea that anyone can do it, that all it takes is your passion and one great idea.

But that is NOT enough.

As a successful entrepreneur, you need to be versatile, open to risk, and committed to seeing your vision through. Not only that, but there are a ton of hurdles known as “work” standing in your way. They’re all too easy to forget when you’re excited about your idea, brainstorming on how to finance and pitch your product. Keeping your business afloat will mean a lot of business-related stress and becoming a jack of all trades.

Already have the entrepreneurial spirit and ready to take that first step? That’s great. But before you do, think about your second step: what roles and shoes will you have to fill?

To prep you with an idea of what to expect, consider a few of these essential hats you should expect to wear as you turn your pipe dream into a successful startup.

The Administration Hat

At the beginning, entrepreneurs will need to consider the nitty-gritty details of handling business operations on the most basic level.  Depending on what your business is, this will include any aspect needed to keep your company and product line running: office space, payroll, supplies, accounting, and setting up workflows, just to name a few.

If one part in the administration chain doesn’t work out, you have to be open to different solutions, looking at the process from all angles. That first year as an entrepreneur will be about discovering and testing both yourself and your ability to think outside the box. So be prepared.

The Team Management Hat

Don’t forget that it also takes interpersonal skills to build a successful company. Once you build a solid business team, you need to be able to work with and lead them.  This means being able to delegate tasks, mediate conflicts, listen to concerns, know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, or simply give credit when and where it’s due.

Managing Office Teams

Whatever decisions you make regarding the team and your office, you need to be able to listen to the dynamics going on around you. With the management hat on, you lead and generate the company’s culture, creating an atmosphere and tone for the company.

The Marketing Hat

Nowadays, new businesses won’t even make an impact without some online exposure. Marketing will play a major factor in staying ahead of the field. On the technical side of things, this means being familiar with web technology, SEO, ads, marketing tools, and analytics.  On the human side of things, it means having a clear goal in mind to create a sincere brand you and loyal users can stand behind.

Once you have both, you’ll have to be able to decide what type of marketing works for your business and what doesn’t. And while it’s easy to mimic what other companies are doing, remember that one size doesn’t fit all. When it comes to marketing, expect to invest some serious time in researching your own demographics. A marketing campaign is only successful if it fits your company and your vision.

The Social Hat

Web presence and social image is everything now. From blogging to networking, wherever you choose to promote your business, you need to have a community behind you. It’s a great way to get feedback, support, and loyal fans. The relationship you build with your users is what will set you apart.

Making Business Connections

And note that this social hat doesn’t only apply to an online audience. This also includes in-person meetings, presentation pitches, board room discussions and even swapping business cards at conventions. Making the right connections can help put you in a good position in your niche.  No one ever does it alone!

The Tech Hat

Before you even start pushing your product out there, be sure you know the tech behind it—especially if you’re a tech start up. Be active in the development and testing stage. Do everything you can to be in-the-know about your niche, don’t leave this side of the project to only one person on the team. Don’t forget, if you’re helping to field the support lines too, you can’t blank out on basic usage and troubleshooting issues.

Learning New Business Technology

For non-tech start ups, this is still a necessity. No matter what product or service you offer to the public, you need to know about the tools needed to run your business. Dealing with customers online, for instance, may mean creating an entirely new database and digital document management system.  From simple emailing to document processing, you have to make sure your tech makes things work smoothly.

 

Debating on whether or not you can hack it?  Just reading about someone else’s success is enough to inspire you to make your own entrepreneurial dream happen. So before you quit your day job, do your homework first.  Be prepared for the tasks you’ll be spending most, if not all, of your time on.

Ever dreamed about starting your own business? How do you plan on getting it off the ground?

How To Work Faster With Your PDFs Using Able2Extract 9

How effectively do you convert PDF files? Are you spending more time on setting things up? Making formatting adjustments after conversion? Checking in for conversions to start and end?

Well, with this short guide, we’re putting our foot down on some of the most common PDF conversion time-wasters.

If you’ve got Able2Extract, you may already be familiar with a few of the features on this list. But if you haven’t given them much thought before, you’ll want to take a closer look now. Because when combined, they can eliminate a majority of the small tasks that add up and slow you down.

Specify Custom PDF To Excel Settings Only Once

Performing a custom PDF to Excel conversion is one of the most effective ways to get your spreadsheet data right. But it’s all too easy to get caught up in getting the rows and columns formatted just right. This is why Able2Extract offers Custom Excel Templates.

When you use this feature, you can easily save your column structure and use it to instantly convert other PDF tables that are formatted in the same way. You don’t have to reset your parameters or remember how you set your conversion up.

Custom Excel Template Option

Once you have a template saved, you can simply load it to perform the same conversion any time. So if you’re dealing with customer data or PDF invoices in standardized forms, this feature can do a lot of the leg work for you.

Quickly Open PDFs Without Clicking

When opening a PDF file, you probably waste more than 4 clicks to get it open and set up. Did you know that Able2Extract will let you open a file in less than half of that? Try a couple of these quick PDF-opening tricks:

  • Drag the PDF onto the Able2Extract shortcut on your desktop

This will open a new window of Able2Extract when you want to quickly start viewing a PDF in isolation, away from PDFs to be converted or edited.

Opening PDF With Shortcut

  • Drag PDF documents into the Able2Extract 9 interface

Doing this will open a PDF file within the application simply by dragging your PDF into the open application. No double clicking needed. Use this trick to work with a specific group of PDFs at the same time which aren’t located in the same folder.

Opening PDF By Dragging

Automatically Convert To Different Microsoft Office Versions

We know that not everyone uses the same version of Microsoft Office. At one point or another, you probably came across this compatibility issue with others. Ever have to re-convert a PDF or re-save the converted Office file?

Well, instead of re-working the already converted Word, Excel or PowerPoint data, Able2Extract will let you switch up the default format even before you start converting the PDF.

Usually, Able2Extract will convert your data to the Office version you have installed by default. But you can also set the Office output format to 2007 so you convert to the .docx format regardless of the Office version you have installed.

  1. Go to View> Conversion Options
  2. In the dialog, depending on the format you’re using you can,
  • Switch the PowerPoint default format from the General tab
  • Switch the Microsoft Word default format from the Word tab. You can choose between .RTF and Word 2007.
  • Switch the Microsoft Excel default format from the Excel tab. Select between .CSV and Excel 2007.

To make things even easier, you can save your conversion settings as a file. This way you can easily switch between different Office output settings as needed.

Convert To Different Worksheets With One Click

Excel conversions are hard to nail. Oftentimes, you may opt to simply extract everything into one worksheet and then spend a few minutes, post-conversion, moving data around into different worksheets.

If that’s the case, then you should take a look at the Excel Single Worksheet feature. With this functionality, Able2Extract converts selected data from your PDF into one single Excel worksheet.

Excel Single Worksheet Option

By default this is turned on. So if you want to break up your converted data and get each page into separate worksheets for more precise conversions, you can do so before you convert. Here’s how:

  1. Go to the View menu
  2. Click on Excel Single Worksheet to remove the checkmark next to it.

Microsoft Excel Multiple Worksheets

Or you can simply hit F5 to turn the feature off.

Automate And Perform Multiple PDF Conversions At Once

With Able2Extract’s batch conversion, you can get the most done with the least amount of effort. Of all the features in this list, the Batch Conversion option is the one that saves you the most time as it works on multiple PDFs at once. If you have a handful of straightforward conversions to the same format, use this feature.

Automating Batch PDF Conversion

The process is automated, so you don’t have to sit and supervise each process as Able2Extract goes down the list. Just set it up and Able2Extract will take care of the rest. You can quickly access the feature from the command toolbar or by hitting CTRL + V.

 

How To Sign PDF Documents & Word Forms With Google Docs

The business world is now a digital one. Professionals and users are looking to do and keep everything digital–even signing documents. Users are turning to access a quick way to deal with e-signatures without having to print, sign, and re-scan the form.

There are a ton of services that can help you sign documents. But if you’re looking for a quick sign-and-go tool, you can use Google Docs in conjunction with the add-ons available.  In this tutorial, we show you how to digitally sign forms with Google Docs.

Signing PDFs and Forms with Google Docs

The best part is that you can essentially sign uncomplicated PDF documents if you upload them as MS Word documents first.  So if you have simple PDF documents that only need a signature to complete it, convert your PDF to Word first.

Once you’ve converted it, follow these steps:

1. Upload and open your Word document in GoogleDocs.

2. Click on the Add-ons tab and add the HelloSign Add-on.

Google Docs Addon

The HelloSign Add-on will give you the most direct way to add signature and other signing fields to your documents. All you have to do is click and drag.

This Add-on also ensures that the signatures, themselves, are legally binding. One limitation, though, is that you only get 3 free signed documents per month. For more, you’ll need to upgrade your account.

3. With the form document opened, go to Add-ons>HelloSign>Sign Document.

Selecting Sign Document Option

4. In the side bar, select the number of people who need to sign. We selected Me and Others for this tutorial.

Setting Up Document

5. Click on Continue in the next dialog to prep your document for signing. You‘ll then be directed to the HelloSign website where you can designate signers as well as yourself.

6. Once you’ve added the signers in the Who needs to sign? screen, click on Continue and the HelloSign editor interface will appear.

 Adding Signers To Document

7. Select the signing fields you need and drag them into place.

Adding Signature Fields

8. To sign the document, click on the drop down menu listing (under “Who signs here?”). Select Me (Now).

9. Decide how to sign the document. We opted to draw in a signature as the manager and clicked on Next to review it.

10. When satisfied, click on Insert or Save and Insert Signature.

 Selecting Signature Type

11. Click on Continue to send the document to the other signers with a message.  On the other end, your recipients will be able to simply click on the Review & Sign button from their notification email.

Reviewing Signature

Once they sign it, they can click on I agree and the document will be confirmed as signed. HelloSign will send a copy of the document to their inbox.

Finalizing Signature Agreement

When you receive notices that the document is viewed and signed, you can view the form itself. It will come with an audit trail attached at the end. Then from the viewing window, you can Share, Download, and check in with other signed or pending forms. When you download your form, you can export it as a PDF.

This is a great workaround for companies or individuals looking to sign PDF files digitally.  There are many ways to use Google Docs in your everyday work, whether you’re signing contracts digitally or writing papers online.  How do you use them?

 

PDF Page Editing Made Easy

Editing Pages

With digital and mobile workflows trending in the office place, it’s all about the 2 P’s: Paperless Productivity. And for us in the PDF industry, this not only means going digital with your documents, but that you work efficiently with them as well.

To that end, one of our goals is to make it so that you don’t have to resort to other tools to get a separate PDF task done. And we’ve made some great progress towards that goal with Able2Extract 9.

You already know about its proven track record with multiple conversion options, and are now just getting a taste of its PDF creation abilities.  Curious about its PDF editing features, too?  Here’s a quick orientation guide for you.

Able2Extract’s PDF Editing Features

You can find these features by going to Edit>Pages in both the Standard version and the Professional version for editing scanned PDF files.

PDF Page Editor

As a PDF editor, Able2Extract can do a few things to alleviate some of the panic you experience when opening a less than perfect PDF document.

Delete

Got redundant pages? We’ve all had them at one point.  Whether they’re pages meant for specific people, blank eBook pages, or automatic page inserts, they add to the file bloat and extra scrolling. Good news is that you don’t have to put up with them anymore.

Deleting PDF Pages

Once you have your PDF opened in Able2Extract 9, you can delete PDF pages by specifying the page range and clicking on Delete. Enter the same page number in both fields to delete a single page. Your PDF page content will automatically shift up or down, of course, but the unnecessary page will be gone.

Move

Being able to move PDF pages comes in handy for long document revisions or PDF presentations where content order is especially important. When you need to rearrange or re-order pages in your document, use this feature.

Accessing this option will give you the following dialog:

Moving PDF Pages

Just input your page range accordingly and the number of the page you want your selected range to be placed before. Note that your page sequence is modified after each move. So be sure to use the most recently modified page numbering to define the Put Before Page value for your next PDF page move.

Resize

The Resize PDF pages feature acts like a cropping tool that can help you cut out large margins or unnecessary white space, this is the feature to use. In other words, this feature resizes your pages, not your content.

Resizing PDF Pages

You can adjust your page(s) dimensions as needed, resizing as much or as little as you want. Don’t forget to set the measurement units to either inches, centimeters, millimeters or points when using this feature! Once you have your values set, click on Resize.

Adjusting PDF Page Dimensions

Scale

Unlike the Resize feature above, Able2Extract’s scale PDF page option will let you change both the PDF page content and size together.

Scaling PDF Pages

The scaling measurement is done by percentage. It can be adjusted up to within 0.01% of the scale needed, so your content remains consistent and accurate, no matter what size the page is.

Adjusting PDF Content Dimensions

Rotate

The Rotate PDF page feature is designed for PDFs that with page content that appears upside down or sideways. This can usually happen with full page images that are originally in landscape mode, but are included in a portrait oriented PDF.

Rotating PDF Pages

The benefit? Instead of extracting the pages and re-creating the PDF, you can simply give a specified page (or page range) a good 90 degree turn in Able2Extract 9.

 

To get the full Able2Extract editing experience, give these features a go with a 7-day free trial for Able2Extract Standard or Able2Extract Professional for converting scanned or image PDFs.