Supercharge your classroom with OrbitNote
(10th May 2023) - Kathleen Colburn, Senior Product Manager
One thing that comes up again and again is how to make sure everyone in your classroom can access your resources and learning materials. Whether we're talking digital files or paper resources, it’s often tricky to make sure they can be read and accessed by each learner in your class.
While you’ve been busy teaching, here at Texthelp we’ve been working to make PDFs more interactive than ever before. Our newest tool, OrbitNote, helps you create accessible, dynamic, and collaborative spaces that work for everyone.
Here’s a quick rundown of all the ways we’ve supercharged OrbitNote to support teachers and students in the best way possible.
Create assignments in D2L Brightspace
One of the most important things that OrbitNote can do is support you and your students in familiar environments. We don’t want you to have to use lots of different applications, or add to your workstack. That’s why OrbitNote already integrates seamlessly with other popular Learning Management Systems like Schoology and Canvas. Now, we’ve expanded that support to D2L Brightspace, allowing you to create PDF assignments directly inside your D2L course.
Lots of our users use D2L Brightspace LMS and have asked if it’s possible to create an integration like this. For D2L Brightspace users this means that not only can you create the PDF assignment within your D2L course, but your students can complete the assignment using OrbitNote tools, turn it in, and you can review their work, all without leaving D2L.
We’re looking forward to hearing how this improves your workflow in your D2L courses, so if this is something you’ve tried out, let us know what you think.
You can now add images to your PDFs
You asked, and we listened. As a new product, we want to build and evolve OrbitNote into something that you all want and need. That’s why this new feature comes straight from user feedback. We’ve just added the ability to add an image to your PDFs. Teachers and students can now use the “add image” button in OrbitNote to select and add an image to their PDF from Google Drive, One Drive, or their computer.
We want everyone in your classroom to be able to benefit from using OrbitNote, and with this new feature it means that you and your students have another way to interact with classroom resources, making the experience richer, and more engaging. As a teacher you can use the feature to add images to assignments, helping to personalize the assignment, or help to engage different types of learners. Students can use the feature to upload an image of some handwritten work, if they don’t always have access to a computer or device. If you’re using this new feature, we’d love to hear about the ways you’re putting it into practice.
We’re already getting a head start on the next enhancements that will be added to this feature in the coming months. Be on the lookout for new options to add image alt text, and layer images, text and other annotations to create an even richer PDF experience.
Another one of our most popular feature requests, Digital Signatures are now available in OrbitNote. Users will be able to sign using mouse, touchscreen, etc. and insert the signature into a PDF. They can then download the PDF and save a new copy with the signature embedded. The Digital Signature feature takes OrbitNote beyond the classroom, making it a universal tool for teachers, administrators and anyone in your school or district. Whether it’s signing a classroom pledge, emergency contact form, employment paperwork, or wherever your John Hancock is needed, OrbitNote has you covered.
We take data privacy very seriously at Texthelp, which is why your signatures are not stored on our servers. Be sure to download and save your PDF after signing, so you can retain your own copy of the document with your signature on it. Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it with helpful in-product tips when you use the feature.
One for the teachers
Managing and organizing multipage documents and assignments can be a time consuming and sometimes arduous task. But with OrbitNote’s new Split and Merge PDFs feature, it’s a breeze! This latest feature will allow you to split PDFs into multiple files, combine multiple PDFs into one document, and remove and reorder individual pages. Easily customize and create assignments for students by putting together textbook pages, questions and activities. Or if you’re looking after health forms, permission slips, and other important documents this one should benefit you. To get started, just go to your OrbitNote dashboard at orbit.texthelp.com, and click the new menu option for Split and Merge.
Look out for even more enhancements to Split and Merge coming in the next few months, including duplicating pages and toggling between File and Page view when working with larger documents.
See your work outside of OrbitNote
We understand that not everyone you share PDFs with may be using OrbitNote. That’s why for this new school year we’ve added the ability to save a copy of your PDF with all your annotations and highlights embedded. This includes all text, images, shapes, signatures and highlighted text that you’ve added to the PDF.
To use, just click the Download button in OrbitNote and select the new option to “Include Annotations”. Now you’ll have an annotated copy of the PDF that can be emailed, shared or distributed to others who don’t have OrbitNote installed. Students can submit their work this way, or you can share signed and annotated PDFs with colleagues or parents.
Again, we’ve had lots of people asking for this one, so we’d love to hear from you about how you’re using this feature and who’s benefiting.