Let’s say you find a newspaper article that is stunningly relevant to what you are teaching at the moment, but the language in the article is pitched at the wrong reading level. Maybe you teach primary students and the AGE Journalist has used too much scientific jargon in an article that is also too long. How cool would it be to substitute a few words, and delete a few paragraphs? Or perhaps you teach VCE students and the Herald Sun editor has dumbed down the terminology to make it more … accessible, but you’d prefer to edit some of that meaningful terminology back in to the article to strengthen its ties to what your students are learning.
Scanner with OCR will allow you to take a photo of the article with your iPad’s camera, and it will ‘read’ the text in the photo and give you a plain text document that contains the entire article! You can edit the text, delete sections, copy and paste bits out into another document. It also means you can save the article to (say) Dropbox, and because it is text you will be able to search its contents, later.
There are other iOS apps that will OCR a scan. The most obvious one is Smile Software’s PDFpen Scan+ which has been around for a long time now (perhaps six months or more). That app is expensive though – at AU$9:00. It’s also nowhere near as good (although the interface is more nifty and it will let you scan multiple pages). It’s OK for a standard typed page, such as a letter, but it has real trouble with columns of text, and in my experience it makes quite a few errors even with a standard page of text. It also seems to struggle with things such as bullet points. In one document I scanned this afternoon, it interpreted one bullet point as a “$” and another as a “0”. Also once the OCR is completed, you have to export the entire document to (say) Pages, and then edit the text there; you can’t just select and copy a paragraph, like you can in Scanner with OCR.
Scanner with OCR on the other hand was practically flawless in my testing. It rarely makes a mistake, even with bullet points – and copes with multiple columns deftly.
Normally just AU$1.99 – today it’s totally free.