How to make digital versions of printed assignments that students can draw and write on

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Teaching during a pandemic means that it’s tougher to administer and collect student work that requires paper and pencil β€” such as exit tickets, problem sets, packets, worksheets or activity sheets that students would normally write on and hand in.

There are a variety of options to do this, each with their own set of pros and cons.

Using Google Slides

This one is perhaps one of the most flexible and works best with Google Classroom β€” but it does take a bit of practice to get used to. It’s also not the best for drawing freeform shapes, but it does let your students draw boxes and other shapes, add text and even insert images and media on top of your assignment without messing up the background.

Here’s how.

Other ways

These options are better suited for assignments that don’t require a “template” for students to complete, such as an exit ticket, problem set or worksheets. For example, they’re probably better suited for having students draw or diagram from scratch.

  • Good for team drawing: Sketchpad Pro: A free tool that lets you upload an image file or PDF or select a digital map and let students draw on it. The big drawback is that it doesn’t have a great way to make a copy for each student β€” instead sharing the link to it lets everyone draw on the same document. This can be great for teamwork or group work. This tool also features a chat feature which could open the door for issues, but it can be disabled under the “advanced” options link.
  • Good for drawing from scratch or on an image the student uploads: Google Canvas: Google Canvas lets users upload an image or start with a white background and draw on it with a variety of handy tools. It’s probably best for “freeform” assignments that don’t require any backgrounds as it too lacks the ability to set a default background image and then give each student their own copy. Students will still have to download the image and submit it you manually too. It would also work well if the student is expected to find an image on their own and then annotate it or add their own labels and drawings.
  • Good for simple drawings: Draw Island: Although it looks a bit dated, this tool features clear buttons that describe what each tool does, instead of the icons the other tools. There is the ability to add a background image, but it’s not as clear.

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