An ideal tool for mediation trainers: New application converts digital images of flipcharts into searchable PDF files

Application allows photographs of documents to be converted into searchable PDF filesWe mediation trainers tend to be Luddites when it comes to the tools of our trade. Most of us would rather use flipcharts and markers than PowerPoint slides and LCD projectors any day of the week.

Flipcharts you can stick all over the walls to mark your group’s progress or to refer back to easily to reinforce concepts. Flipcharts encourage spontaneity and the free flow of ideas, enabling trainers to involve students in creating the content of the flipchart pages. PowerPoint presentations, on the other hand, seem static and contrived in comparison. I use both, but I think you can guess what my preference is.

The downside, of course, to flipcharts is that you can’t easily photocopy them for distribution or email them to your students–not unless you or someone else painstakingly transcribes them. There is a solution, however, for those of us who seek ways to integrate 21st technology into 20th century practices.

Via the excellent blog NevilleHobson.com comes this post about scanR, an application that, in the words of its web site, “uses advanced imaging processing and data extraction technologies to convert photos into legible, searchable PDF files”. Using a camera phone or digital camera, you simply photograph a document, whiteboard, or flipchart, email your photo off to scanR, and receive back via email your photograph converted into universally accessible PDF format which you can then forward to your group. You can try it (and use it, if my eyes don’t deceive me) for free.

Of course for more tech tools that even anti-modernist mediators will love, be sure to visit Tammy Lenski’s Mediator Tech.

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