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Many disciplines—math, science, health sciences and art, to name a few—require students to submit handwritten or three-dimensional assignments online. There are various ways in which your students can submit their non-digital assignments to you in a digital format.  Student can use a:

  • Smart device (phone, tablet, etc.) to take a picture of the assignment.
  • Smart device (phone, tablet, etc.) to scan handwritten work.
  • Publicly available scanner.

Smart device as scanner: Most smart devices have built-in scanner functions. If your device does not, it can be easily turned into a scanner using free or a relatively low-cost app that uses the camera to create scanned documents. Many scanning apps have file management functions and image editing capabilities. 

If you would like to provide suggestions of some apps they might consider, you might suggest they check out the following apps. 

Please note, the above scanner apps are not centrally supported by campus IT and are only suggestions of the types of apps your students might consider. If students run into issues with the apps, then the students will need to contact the app for support. 

Campus self-serve scanners: Several of the UM System campuses have scanners on campus that students can use. Please check with your campus IT department to find out if your campus has scanners available to your students and the location of the scanners. 

Publicly available scanners:  Students can use scanners that are available at many public places, such as libraries, shipping stores (e.g., FedEx Kinkos, UPS Store), and post offices. These locations may require students to pay for the use of their equipment, but it gets the job done! Typically, a sales associate or attendant is available to assist students in using the scanner. You may want to suggest that students call ahead and ask what type of payment is required (it may be coin operated). Your students should ask whether they need to bring a USB memory device with them or if their scanners can email the file(s).

Syllabus reminders

Don’t forget to add information to your syllabus regarding the requirement to submit handwritten or 3D work digitally. You should add information to the following sections of your syllabus:

Technical Requirements” section, you should tell students that they need a scanner, scanning app, or the ability to scan items and submit them to Canvas. 

Technical Skills Required” section, you should tell students they need to be able to take scanned images and upload them to Canvas. They also might need the skills to edit scanned images so that they can provide clear, easy to read images. 

Required Course Materials” section, you may want include a scanner or scanning app in your list of required materials for the course. This would be a good section to provide information on suggestions for apps and to let students know that they can use either a free app or purchase one inexpensively from their device’s store.

Some instructors provide their students with Scanning Tips information (see below). You can insert this information in your syllabus, on a Module page in your Canvas course site or with the instructions of your first handwritten or 3D assignment. 

Scanning tips

  1. Use dark lettering: Use the darkest pen, pencil or font color possible to do your work.
  2. Scan on a flat surface.
  3. Scan on a surface with a high contrast to your paper (e.g., if your paper is white, use a dark surface).
  4. Include the surface in your scan. The scanning software will find the corners for you.
  5. Steady your hands: Scan your pages slowly with steady hands.
  6. Restore or enhance your scans, if needed: Both iOS and Android devices provide editing software for scanned images. Use this tool to ensure your scans are legible and complete.
  7. Convert your image or scan to a PDF for easy submission via Canvas.