(This blog post was written by my teenaged son, Danny)
I’ve been using the iPad in school since April 2010. Since I bought the iPad, I’ve probably gone through ten different note-taking apps, and four or five planners. So rather than dwell on each app and describe why I didn’t like them, I’ll just tell you my current system and along the way explain why the other apps didn’t work.
Right now I use a total of four apps in my everyday school work, so I’ll start with my notes apps. To take notes I use an app called UPAD. This app allows me to draw, type, highlight, change font sizes, add guidelines and so on. So, using a feature that allows me to write on a zoomed in spot of the sheet while still seeing the whole piece of paper, I can do all of my math notes on the iPad without slowing down behind everyone else. But then, when a teacher gives us a word definition to write down, I can switch to typing mode by tapping one button and I can insert text where ever I want and highlight anything important that I think I will need to study. Then, when all is said and done, I send my notes to my “filing folder app” which is a note-taking app itself, yet I use it as a filing folding because of its friendly interface. This app is called aNote (Awesome Note). Now this is what I basically had been doing with the iPad 1, but now with the iPad 2, I can do ALL of my work on the iPad using the cameras. The app I was talking about before, UPAD, lets you change the background image that you draw on, so, when a teacher hands out a piece of paper or packet, I quickly snap a picture of all sides and put it as a background on my notes. So if a teacher hands out a packet worksheet, I snap a picture of all sides, and hand the worksheet right back to them. If the whole school was on this system, the teachers wouldn’t even need paper, because they could just email the documents to all the kids so right as they walk into class, they should have the worksheet. When the kids finished they could just email it right to the teacher, saving a good 5 to 10 minutes from passing out and collecting papers.
Now this filing cabinet app, aNote, is really something else. No matter what, when kids come into class, they always have their papers; there is no possible way that they “lost” it because it’s all saved on the iPad. But that’s in the short term. Due to the small file size of every note, you never have to delete notes, or “throw out your papers / empty binders” so when a quarter comes to an end, a student does not have to be scrambling to collect their notes for tests. All they have to do is go to their classes tab and there you go, the app even has a calendar where you can see your notes. Maybe you’re a senior in Spanish level 3 and you remember that you took extremely good notes on the command form of words sophomore year, all that senior would have to do is either jump to their sophomore Spanish folder and look, or just search “command form”.
The third app I use is Pages, Apple’s word processing app. This app allows me to work on all my essays in school, so if a teacher tells us what type of header to write on our essay, I can put it in right away. If our class goes to the computer lab to work, rather than waste (and I actually timed it) 14 minutes to turn on the computer, find your essay, then start up word, I can just turn on my iPad and Pages will come up in less than 30 seconds. Also, don’t forget the fact that if all the kids had iPads, we wouldn’t need to take even more time out of class to walk to the computer labs.
The fourth app I use is called OmniFocus. Now there are a plentiful amount of planner apps out there that work just fine like iStudiez pro and iHomework, but Omnifocus beats everything by far. With Omnifocus I can create tasks, folders, projects, project start times, locations, contexts, anything. So I have a school folder, and inside that folder there are folders for every class. Then inside those are my projects, so I have a homework project, which is where I put all my regular homework, and then I have my Project projects, like for lab reports and presentations. This way, Instead of just writing down what’s due, I can make every task that I have to do to get a project done, and then order them sequentially to make sure I finish everything in a timely manner. Although this is great, a regular planner app would probably work the best for everyone, so I would suggest using iStudiez pro, because you can add semesters, partners, teacher contacts, and much more.
Finally, there are a bunch of apps that I just use every now and then, but they save my back from carrying the extra weight – for example, iBooks. Most of the books we read in class are classics that, in the iBooks store, are free. So when my teacher hands me a copy of Macbeth, I can instantly go online and download a free copy of this book, which I can read, take notes on in the app, book mark certain pages, look up a sentence or word online, or even, without any type of online service, look up a word in the dictionary. Another app I use is Dictionary.com’s app, which gives you a 43mb full, offline dictionary and thesaurus. My calculator app is also very useful. I’m sure there are others, but everything above are the must-haves.
Prices (in addition to the iPad itself):
- UPAD = $4.99
- aNote = $4.99
- Pages = $9.99
- Calculator = FREE
- Dictionary = FREE
- iBooks = FREE
- iStudiez Pro = $2.99
Total cost = $23
Now think about all the pencils, binders, folders, papers, books, planners that people would have to buy in one year, and multiply that by the 4 years a kid is in high school. I’ve been collecting every piece of paper that my teacher gives me and bringing it home to put in a pile of papers to make a point. Without notebooks, that pile is already 8 inches tall from just my sophomore year. With 5 notebooks, that’s 11 inches tall of pure paper. If you do the math for the 1,700 kids in my school for 4 years, that’s about 1.2 miles of stacked paper!
So overall the iPad extremely convenient, not a hassle, and I actually find it humorous to watch people walk down the hallway with these huge 20-pound backpacks, when sometimes I have nothing in mine because I carry my iPad in my hand. Then when I get to my next class, there is no need for me to switch my binders, or file my papers, just sit and take off the smart case.