Using CamScanner or Evernote Scannable to Help Create the Paperless Classroom

This is the seventh installment in my series, 15 Educational Apps in 15 Days. You can view a list of all posts in this series here.

One of the dreams of our digital age is the paperless classroom. Wouldn't it be more efficient and helpful to teachers and students if, whenever possible, all handouts and assignments could be distributed, completed, and graded digitally? Everything would easily be organized and backed up online "in the cloud", and a portfolio of class and student work would be created for easy retrieval in the future. A strong learning management system like Haiku Learning and Google Drive are key components of this.

I make the caveat above whenever possible since there are times when it is not feasible to complete assignments by computer. For example, math homework is difficult to type on the computer. There are LaTeX equation editors, and this just might be a 21st century skill to begin teaching our students, but at present most students do not know how to use them and would rather write their homework answers by hand.

Similarly, when doing Hebrew homework, although students in a Jewish day school should have some familiarity with the Hebrew keyboard, they might find it more efficient to write by hand than to type in a second language. (Requiring writing by hands also mitigates the use of Google Translate.)

One could of course submit pictures of the homework taken using one's phone but often it is much easier to read and grade PDFs than an image file, PDFs allow for multiple page documents, and pictures are designed for photos not for text. Scanning the homework would be a much better solution. But what can one do with the many students who do not have ready access to a Scanner?

Enter CamScanner

Photo courtesy of

CamScanner is an android and iPhone app that transforms one's phone camera into a scanner. It can create single or multi-page documents, it outputs in PDF format, and it optimizes the result to a view ideal for reading text-based documents rather than pictures. I don't only use CamScanner for school but for a myriad of situations where I need to quickly scan and do not have time to find a scanner. In the school context it can be transformative.

Here is a video tour of the various features of Cam Scanner.

And below are step-by-step instructions that I shared with my students for using CamScanner to scan and then submit homework on Haiku Learning using the iPad.

How to take a screenshot of Homework and Hand In using Haiku Learning iPad App

Evernote Scannable, an alternative to Cam Scanner

CamScanner is not the only scanning app. Evernote recently came out with Evernote Scannable. This app has also received rave reviews for its ability to not only convert documents automatically to black and white text formats but for hiding curves in the scanned document and other imperfections in order to make it more closely resemble a "flat document. Scannable is currently only available for iPhone and iPad so I still would prefer CamScanner since my smartphone is an android but I will give it a try on my iPad once the schoool year starts.

Whichever app you choose, share them with your colleagues and students and begin to slowly inch closer to the paperless classroom. You will reap the benefits of storing all student work online for easy grading, searching, archiving, and retrieving.