New Squad Member: Waldemar Kowalski and Using the ScanSnap iX500 in an Educational Environment

Wednesday, October 16, 2013
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One of the primary pleasures in the IT side of my brain is in scoping out new technologies and their innovative uses. I’ve always been interested in figuring out better ways to do things, especially if it improved my research as well as the teaching/learning experience of my colleagues and students. Fujitsu scanners have become an important part of this, especially the ScanSnap iX500. I’m also intrigued to check out the recently announced ScanSnap SV600, and hope to try it out soon.

Here are some of the ways the iX500 (and before that the fi-6130) have worked for me:

  1. Converting the masses of paper generated by research, grading, committee work, and life in general into searchable data that can easily be backed up, and accessed, while recovering physical space. (No, my office still isn’t neat, but that’s not the fault of my scanner.)
  2. Before Kindle, I would buy duplicate copies of my textbooks, slice off the spine, and scan these into searchable pdf files, which I could take into the classroom on my tablet PC, and now they live on my iPad. It truly is incredible to be able to avoid the binders of paper and multiple textbooks, and have just one device that holds all my notes and texts (and is backed up). In a follow-up post, I will provide a bit more info on this, with details on the workflow and results.
  3. When students need excerpts these can easily be emailed to them on the spot, keeping in mind of course the fair use guidelines for copyrighted material. When students have questions related to the texts, I can also quickly find that material. Full OCR is significantly superior to even a thorough index.
  4. With the coming of the Kindle, one of the early problems with ebooks was that page numbers were lost, so proper academic citation was not possible. This is not an issue with my scanned books, as the page structure is fully preserved. Kindle books now offer this information but I still prefer my own scans; however, I do have a growing collection of Kindle and other purchased ebooks for some materials. Of course, not everything I want to carry with me is available as yet in electronic form, so sometimes Kindle is not an option.

That is a very brief introduction to how I use my ScanSnap iX500. I love its wireless capabilities, the ability to scan directly to iOS devices, the ability to go directly into Evernote, but I think its simplicity of use, speed, and quality of output make it compelling.

I teach courses and seminars on the integration of technology into teaching and preaching, and the iX500 has stirred a great deal of interest. It really sells itself! One recent attendee ordered a unit online on the spot (no, I don’t get any royalties), but wondered whether I would be available to help figure out how to use it. I assured him that it would be unlikely that my help would be needed, but he could call me if he wanted further tips. This is simply one of those tools that I recommend to my friends and colleagues, confident that they will be able to use it and that it will improve their life.

Waldemar Kowalski
Professor of Theology
Northwest University

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