Help / FAQ

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Using SCAN in the classroom

How long does it take to do a SCAN lesson?

Typically it takes about 45 minutes for a class to get through all SCAN steps. However, you can shorten the time by having students work in advance (e.g. read the lesson, explore links, even jot down possible issues, etc.) or afterwards (e.g. do follow-up questions for homework, etc.). Depending on how long you want to allow for reflection, commenting and discussion, it may take longer.

Do students need to register and/or provide personal information in order to use SCAN?

One of the features that makes SCAN so easy to use is that you don’t need to register students. Students go directly to the SCAN lesson (the lesson URL which you provide after setting up the SCAN lesson). In order to start, they will need to create a generic username that is unique only to the single SCAN lesson. Students will also identify themselves by initials. This will allow you as the teacher to know which student(s) are linked to each username.

Does SCAN work if you have more than one student at a computer?

SCAN works well with groups of students at a computer (ideally 2-4 students/computer)! Be sure to assign just one point of view/per computer or group. That way, all students in a group will be reading the same information and answering from the same point of view. Students can talk among themselves before deciding what to input.

How do I prepare students to use SCAN for the first-time?

SCAN is designed to be used without requiring much instruction. A quick class brainstorm of possible issues they might find in the scenario is a helpful jumpstart to the session. For students who are comfortable working with computers, a few words of introduction about the SCAN tool and what they will be doing should be sufficient. Once students go to the URL you provide, first-timers can watch the SCAN demo video (video link is on the sign-in page) for an overview of SCAN and what they will be doing.

Once I’ve set up a SCAN session, how do students log on? How do I get them the SCAN lesson URL?

Students log on by typing the URL you provide (the one you were issued when you set up the SCAN lesson) into their browser. If the URL is correct, they will see a screen that says “Hi there! Welcome to SCAN”. They will be asked to enter a username and their initials. If the complete URL is not correct, but they are on the website, they will be prompted to enter in the SCAN Session ID (the session numbers from the session URL) provided by the teacher.

In order to get the URL to your students, you can easily print out a sheet of multiple copies of your SCAN session URL, to hand out to your students. Just go to your lesson in MySCANs, and select “URL handout” from the “print” menu. Or you can use the lesson “worksheet” (also available under “print”).

How can I see what students are writing and commenting?

Join the SCAN session by going to MySCANs and clicking on “log in” under the lesson you set up. Create your own username and participate in the SCAN session!

What do I do if I see any offensive comments being made?

“Teacher’s View” (in MySCAN for each SCAN session you set up) allows you to know which students are linked with each username (if you asked students to supply their initials). If you want to remove offensive comments during or after a SCAN session, you can delete them from “Teacher’s View”.

How do I get student answers to follow-up questions?

Each username will be able to answer the follow-up questions on screen and then print out answers. Students can print their answers from the screen. Teachers can review student answers by printing out transcripts of the SCAN session. If students are working in groups and you want them to individually answer the questions, they will need to print out the questions and answer on paper.

If I am pressed for time, what can I do and still use SCAN?

You can shorten class time spent on SCAN by printing out the scenario and having student read it ahead of time (for homework). To print out the scenario for your SCAN session, first login to the session and then click the “Print session” button at the top of the page. You can even have them jot down issues or explore links as homework. Keep students moving through SCAN by limiting the amount of time or number of comments you allow them. Also, you can quickly tell what step students are on by looking at the highlighted S, C, A, or N on the tops of their pages. Students can finish SCAN and do follow-up questions as homework after the SCAN session.

Can students work on their SCAN lesson from home or elsewhere?

Students can access their SCAN sessions from anywhere as long as they are using one of the following web browsers: Internet Explorer 7 , 8, and 9, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, or Google Chrome. If they are using a different browser or version, they may not be able to access the session successfully. They will need the session URL in order to access the session. If students have been in groups but try to access the session individually, they may run into a problem if another group member is already signed in. The first user to hit the site will be able to use the username, but other users will be locked out as long as that username is in use. If the username they used is grayed out or they can’t remember their username, they can create a new username and select the same POV as before. If a username if locked out accidentally, the classroom teacher will be able to unlock the username by clicking a link on the page.

SCAN is most powerful, though, when it is used collectively and synchronously. Asynchronous use limits the ability (especially for earlier users) to see and react to the input of others.

Why are my students having trouble accessing the SCAN lesson -Why are we getting an error message?

If you’re having trouble accessing the SCAN session or are getting an error message, Check the URL — make sure the URL in the browser matches the one you were assigned when you set up the lesson (you can check it by going to MyScans). Transcription errors are common and prevent students from reaching the correct URL.

Cut down on transcription errors, by using the “URL handout”. This prints multiple copies of your SCAN session URL, which you can then cut up and hand out to your students. Just go to your lesson in MySCANs, and select “URL handout” from the “print” menu.

Also, check to see if you meet the technical requirements listed at the beginning of the FAQ section.

What if a SCAN session gets interrupted – how do students rejoin the session?

Students can rejoin by going back to the lesson URL. They should be able to find their username on the log-in page. If their username is grayed out, teachers can use the “override” feature to grant access to them in the same username. Using the same username, takes them to the screen they last used. Alternatively, they can sign in with a new username and start over.

Where do I find my SCAN session URL?

You are given the URL and the opportunity to print a worksheet or URL handout when you set up the SCAN lesson. After that, the URL is posted in MYSCANs and you can re-access those worksheets and the URL there. Go to the SCAN lesson in “MySCANs and click on “log-in”. The URL will be in your browser. The URL is also found on the worksheet and handout listed under “print” menu in “MySCANs” for the lesson in question.

Can I print out a record of the entire session? How do I print just one page?

To print out a transcript of the entire SCAN session, login to the SCAN lesson in “MYSCANs” and click the “Print session” button at the top of the page.

To print out a copy of just the present screen use the “print” button from the file menu of your browser. It prints out all the information, but if none of the students have gotten to a step, that steps data will be empty.

Do I have to use all point of view roles?

We recommend using all the roles in order to get the full power of seeing all perspectives. However, if there are different roles you would prefer to use, create your own lessons and designate desired points of view. Assigning roles ahead of time ensures that all roles are represented.

Can I only use certain SCAN steps – or do I have to use them all?

The first two steps – “S” and “C” helps students identify and understand the issues related to the situation. Just completing these steps can be tremendously helpful in preparing students for a persuasive essay, a debate, a discussion. Teachers sometimes only use these first two steps for these reasons. The later steps, however, – “A” and “N”, cannot be completed without doing the prior steps.

How can I assess my students work in the session?

Here are some simple ways you can assess student work:

  • Take a quick look at the final avatar page to see who was really actively involved
  • Go to “teacher view” or print a transcript of the session to get a sense of the quality of participation
  • Have students complete one or more follow-up questions
  • Use the rubric (found in “My Dashboard – Teacher Tips & Resources”)

Can a student save their work?

Work is automatically saved during the SCAN session as they move between screens.

Will students from outside my class be able to get into our session?

No one can access your SCAN session unless you invite them by sharing your unique URL.

How can I help the students working in group, come to consensus?

Sometimes it is helpful to “rotate the mouse” so that each student working in the group inputs information for a particular step. The student with the mouse for that step becomes the facilitator.

Can teachers participate/view student input during the SCAN session?

Yes, if they are logged in they can view input in the same way that the kids do. Easy access is provided via the “Log-in” button under the desired SCAN lesson in “My Dashboard – MySCANs”

How can students navigate back to the beginning?

If students want to get back to an earlier step, they can use the SCAN tabs at the top of the page to go to the step that you want. They can access the lesson text by clicking on the “Situation text” link at the top of the page.

How can my students go back to the original scenario text?

There is a “situation text” button towards the top of the page on the right-hand side. This allows students to go back at any time and read the lesson text.

How do you monitor where students are in the session?

You can log in (via MySCANs) to the session and see what they are seeing or you can see where they are by the highlighted S-C-A-N tabs at the top of their page. You can also go to “Teacher’s View to see where everyone is in the SCAN lesson.


Why are lessons divided into different points of view?

For every challenging situation, there is more than one way of seeing it. Often, different groups of stakeholders have different concerns or issues. Our lessons simulate this reality by asking students to role-play being a part of different stakeholders groups. During “My take” they enter information from their designated point of view. In “Everyone’s take” they have a chance to see how others may view the situation.

Do I have to use and/or add links or follow-up questions?

No – these are optional. If a lesson comes with links, you have the option during set-up to turn off any or all links – or to change them. Also, using follow-up questions is optional.

I want to create my own lesson – what’s the best way to do this?

To create your own lesson, go to “set up a lesson” in the “My Dashboard” section. Click on the “Use your own lesson” tab. The template is easy-to-follow and will walk you through the pieces of information you need to provide in order to use your own lesson. You can create your lesson in a Word document and then you can copy and paste relevant pieces into the template. The lesson elements you will need are:

  • lesson title
  • short summary
  • introductory text
  • points of view you will use (most lessons use 4 points if view)
  • text for each point of view - and links, if desired
  • the subject(s) the lesson should be linked to (e.g. socials studies – civics, etc.)
  • the recommended grade level (e.g. elementary, middle, etc.)
  • any additional notes, instructions, or links you want to provide students (optional)
  • any follow-up questions you want them to answer (optional)

In addition, you will be asked if you want to make your lesson available to other subscribers so they can also use it or if you want to keep it private (for your use only). If you are willing to share it, you will be asked how we should list the attribution (e.g. your name and school, username, “anonymous”, etc.).

Click on the “lesson set-up video” link in “set up your own lesson” for a tutorial on how to set up SCAN lessons – including your own. Also, find more info in the “User’s Guide” in the “Teacher Tips & Resources” section of “My Scan Dashboard”.

If I post my own lesson, where do I find it?

If you create a lesson of your own, it will be found in the lesson library. If you choose to keep it private, it will be available in your lesson library list but not in other users’.

If I post my own lesson, can others use it?

If you create your own lesson, others can use it provided you check the box during lesson set-up that says “I want to share this with others”.

Why can’t I post my own lesson or access other lesson listed?

In order to access all lessons in the library and be able to create your own SCAN lessons, you must be a subscriber.

Why do some lessons have point of view text and others don’t?

Earlier lessons were not divided by point of view text. SCAN still works very well this way – students still answer from their chosen point of view but everyone has access to all the lesson text.

Can I use lessons for ages and subjects other than those that are recommended?

Absolutely! The grade levels and subjects associated with each lesson are just guidelines. As you well know, reading levels, maturity, interests, etc. vary widely. You are the best judge of which lessons are the best fit for your students.

What if I want to edit a SCAN lesson after I have set it up, how do I do that?

You can use the “edit” button in MySCANs to edit links or follow-up questions after you set up the lesson.

What do I do if I want to use the same SCAN lesson with more than one class?

If you set up a SCAN lesson for one class and want to use it with another class – go to that lesson in “MySCANs” (found in “My SCAN Dashboard”). Click on the “Duplicate and rename” button and it will duplicate the lesson set-up and ask you to rename it for the new class/period, etc. You can even do this after a lesson has been used. It will duplicate the set-up but not include any student info or responses.

Can SCAN be used for all problem solving situations?

SCAN is a tool that helps us look at complex situations and break them into manageable pieces. There are other “tools” for doing other types of problem-solving – e.g. making decisions or finding root cause. However, SCAN works for examining and thinking about how to address any multifaceted situation which involves different perspectives.

Can I get training?

We provide additional training via our webinars and in-service workshops. In addition, don’t forget to check out the resources in the “Teacher Tips & resources” section of “My Scan Dashboard”.

My SCAN dashboard

What is the “MySCANs dashboard”?

The MySCANs dashboard is where you go to: set up SCAN lessons (either your own or those from the lesson library), find lessons you previously set up, and find SCAN tips and resources.

Why are folders provided in “MySCANs”?

Folders help you keep your SCAN sessions organized. You can create and name them – by subject, class period, topic, etc. You can even hide old SCAN sessions in the “archived” folder so they don’t clutter up your other folders.

What does the “edit” tab do?

“Edit” allows you to edit lesson links, instructions or follow-up questions prior to conducting the lesson

What does the “duplicate and rename” tab do?

You may want to use the same lesson for multiple classes. Once you have set up a lesson (e.g. for period 4), select “duplicate and rename” in order to set up the exact same lesson for another class (e.g. period 5).

Why can’t I delete a previously used SCAN session?

Because of the way SCAN is constructed, we cannot delete a SCAN lesson once it is set up – whether or not it has been used. To hide it, move it to your “archived” folder.

Why can’t I delete the “current” and “archived” folders?

These folders are permanent features. When you create a SCAN session, it will automatically go to your “current” folder unless you move it elsewhere. You can keep/hide old SCAN lessons in the “archived” folder - almost as a storage place.

What is “teacher view”?

Teacher view allows you to have a bit more control over your SCAN session. This will allow you to know which students (by initial) are answering under a given username and where the class is in the lesson. You can also use it to remove offensive comments or usernames.

How do I modify a SCAN lesson once it’s set up?

If you want to change any links, instructions, follow-up questions, etc. once you have set up your SCAN lesson, you can do so by finding the SCAN lesson in “MySCANS" and clicking on the “edit” feature. Please note, once the SCAN lessons had been used, you cannot change it. However, you can “duplicate and rename” the lesson set-up for another class and then “edit” before the lesson is conducted.

How do I delete offensive comments and/or usernames?

You can delete offensive comments or usernames during or after the SCAN lesson from “teacher view” (found in MySCANs).

How long are SCAN sessions saved and/or available to me?

Once you have set up a SCAN lesson – whether or not you use it – you cannot delete it. It is available as long as you are a registered user.

Technical Requirements/Problems

What technical requirements do I need to meet in order to use SCAN?

SCAN works in Internet Explorer 7, 8 and 9, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Google Chrome. SCAN also works within the browsers on Android-based tablets. You must have JavaScript and cookies enabled for SCAN to function. SCAN will check to make sure those are enabled when you create a session or login to a session. If either is not enabled, instructions will be shown on how to enable them in each browser.

Sometimes during a SCAN session, things seem to freeze – what should I do?

If a screen seems to freeze during a SCAN lesson, students should exit SCAN and re-access the session using the same URL. They should see their username listed. If it is grayed out, use the teacher “override” feature to allow them to re-access the session under the same name. Alternatively, they can sign in under a new name and start over.

Students are having trouble re-accessing a SCAN session – they see their username, but it is grayed out. What should I do?

An override link is shown under each grayed out button - that link takes the user to a page where the teacher has to enter their site registration password to unlock the login.

What if I have technical difficulties?

If you are having difficulties with the site and cannot find answers in Help/FAQ, you can email us at: We do our best to respond to all inquiries in a timely manner.