3/26/2012

Take note...

Tablets are taking the academic world by storm. They're light, compact and extremely multifunctional. They also do things differently than a laptop. One of the really interesting areas tablets are being used is as a notebook.

There are dozens of note-taking apps out there, each with it's particular pluses and minuses. I'm just going to touch on a few that I find particularly interesting.

1) PDF editors- iAnnotate PDF, PDF Notes, PDFpen, PDF Expert

These are apps which allow you to take notes on what you read. My professors would always tell me that in order to learn from a textbook, you really have to interact with it by underlining and writing in the margins. That's exactly what these apps allow you to do. By providing digital highlighters, pens and sticky notes, textbooks can be marked up in endless ways. Latter, the annotations can just as easily be erased.

2) Typing, sharing notes- Google docs, Microsoft Office Live, Evernote, Notability
These are all great options for typing and saving notes in class. The first three are actually just designed to save and share text. Notability really stands out though. At ten bucks, it gives you a lot more functionality like syncing your notes to audio recordings. This can be a lifesaver if you’re are in a fast-paced lecture. It also lets you draw in your notes- another great feature.

3) Document scanners- Camscanner, Photo to PDF, DocScanner
Having the ability to turn a picture into a PDF can come in quite handy. On the fly, you can turn any document into a PDF which you can then mark up or email to someone. Keep in mind that these would be best used in a pinch. Scanners and copy machines like Riso do a much better job of scanning your important papers.  

Like so much of what we've seen so far, tablets are providing students with options they've never had before. These are just a few of the ways tablets can (but just as often do not) outshine laptops. Please let me know if I've missed something important here. I'd love to get your feedback.