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Sep 08, 2022

Case study: Justin Sargeant and Emporia High School

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Two years ago Justin Sargeant was googling how to edit a PDF. Now he’s the go-to tech whizz at his school.

Digitizing 10 years’ worth of high school education is gruelling. Making those scans useful is even harder. That’s the challenge Justin Sargeant faced in 2020, when virtual learning was kickstarted by the pandemic. 

There are around 1,200 students at Emporia High School, a Kansas school that sees both teenagers and adults come through its doors in search of higher learning. Justin is Emporia High's assistant principal, and his work includes running an alternative adult education center on top of the usual high school curriculum.

The problem: digitizing a school curriculum

Running a school like Emporia High is a hectic job at the best of times, and when schools moved online Justin was worried about what this upheaval would mean for staff and students alike. “We didn’t have a lot of students coming to the center,” he says. “They were doing things virtually.”

The students and teachers were used to worksheets and exercise books. He needed to make the new, digitized system work for them in a similar way. “The problem was that a PDF isn’t easy to use, or navigate. Our students really needed it broken down into small sections.”

Emporia High School had to do more than just scan a bunch of textbooks; it had to make those books interactive online. “We were trying to take a five-level curriculum, with two years’ worth of content in each level – so essentially a 10-year curriculum – and fit it for our needs,” he says.

This is where Lumin came in.

The answer: PDF editing

First, Justin digitized the school’s curriculum – a mammoth task, considering its size. Then he needed to make his new, digital files usable.

“I was like, how do I digitize this book? How do I edit PDFs?” he remembers.

He started looking for a Google Chrome extension that might help him with the huge number of scanned files sitting on his computer. He found one. “Lumin was huge,” he says. Other tools he tried weren’t user-friendly; many had limits and high costs associated with them. Lumin was accessible and easy to use.

Lumin allowed him to edit documents so they were fit for purpose. “If the PDF had answers we could block off the answers. I was able to separate pages off of a test. It just allowed us to make it more user-friendly than the text was originally.”

Now, two years into the virtual learning revolution, Justin is Emporia High School’s go-to computer guy.

“There are times when I have to work with a PDF and the first thing I think of is Lumin because it’s what I feel most comfortable with.”

Justin’s favorite tools - annotations, shapes and edit text.

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