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Documind: Chatting with Your PDFs

Just before Christmas, my line manager asked me to look at educational AI tools and prepare a talk for staff. In this series of posts, I share some of the apps that grabbed me.

Take a look at the AI tools currently available, and you’ll immediately notice how many are simply frontends for ChatGPT, which is not surprising given how OpenAI dominates the market. Sometimes they’re not much more than wrappers for the chatbot, but sometimes they make things much easier for the user. A good example of the latter is Documind. This new tool provides a user-friendly interface that allows you to upload PDFs and ask questions about their content; it’s basically like talking to a book. Here’s an example from a conversation with our school’s Moodle Handbook:

What are the important settings when creating a quiz?

When creating a quiz in Moodle, there are several important settings to consider. Here are the key settings to be mindful of:

  1. Timing: This setting allows you to specify when the quiz starts and closes or set a duration in minutes. It is important to set “When time expires” to “Open attempts are submitted automatically” so that students don’t lose their work.
  2. Grade: In this setting, you can determine the minimum grade to pass, the number of attempts allowed, and how to grade multiple attempts.
  3. Layout: This setting allows you to choose whether to have a new page for each question and whether to allow free navigation or force students to answer in sequence.
  4. Question Behavior: This sets defaults for questions, such as whether to shuffle the answers in multiple choice and matching questions and whether feedback on answers is immediate or deferred until the end of the quiz.
  5. Extra Restrictions: This setting allows you to take steps to discourage cheating, such as setting a password and browser security.
  6. Question Banks: Although not directly a setting, it is important to have a well-stocked question bank which can be used to create quizzes more efficiently. These settings are important for ensuring that the quiz functions as intended and provides a fair and accurate assessment for students.

Speaking as the author of the text in question, I thought this was a pretty good answer. On the other hand, when I typed “Can you expand that last answer?” it just gave me a description of the whole book.

Documind also allows you to organise texts into folders and chat with all of your texts at once, though unfortunately it doesn’t let you chat with all the texts in just one folder, which would be a logical feature to have. I collected the following texts in a folder called “philosophy”: the Principle Doctrines of Epicurus, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, the letters of Seneca (in Tim Ferris’s edition The Tao of Seneca) and the Enneads of Plotinus. I asked “What should be my attitude to pleasure?” as that might give contradictory answers given that we have Epicurus, a couple of Stoics and a Neo-Platonist. The answer was an interesting compromise:

Your attitude towards pleasure should be one of moderation, contentment, and understanding. Pleasure is a natural part of life, but it should not be the primary focus or goal. Instead, you should strive for balance and not let pleasure control or overwhelm you. It’s important to recognize that pleasure is fleeting and should not be the sole source of happiness. Instead, prioritize virtues such as wisdom, honor, and justice, which are interdependent with pleasure. Seek joy that is enduring and not dependent on external factors. Additionally, be mindful of the potential dangers of excessive pleasure and be content with what you have, finding joy in the present moment and in the simple things. Overall, your attitude towards pleasure should be one of understanding its place in your life and not letting it overwhelm or control you.

The possibilities for getting advice from the greatest minds in history are intriguing, but I imagine most students will be more interested in uploading their textbooks. it would be very interesting to combine this kind of software with Moodle or Perusall to allow instant interrogation of all the texts on a course.

Robin Turner
Latest posts by Robin Turner (see all)

Robin Turner

Until recently, EAP instructor and Moodle systems administrator at Bilkent University, Ankara, now Learning Technologist at the Global Banking School's London Greenford campus. Interested in educational technology and gamification/game-based learning.

One thought on “Documind: Chatting with Your PDFs

  • Anonymous

    Fascinating !
    I need to focus more on pleasure I think, lol.
    But the concept of uploading teachers notes, and a student interacting with questions is certainly interesting option !


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