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How the iPad Changed My Academic Experience

The iPad changed everything for me. I started classes in the PhD program in September of 2011. I lugged an old HP laptop along to access documents and took visual notes in a small moleskine notebook. I enjoyed taking notes like this, but they were in black and white. I had to scan them to make them digital and bring them into Evernote. These notes looked like this…

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In January of 2012 one of my colleagues leaned over and said, “If anyone should have an iPad it’s you.” I mentioned this to my trusted mentor, and the next thing I know, I am gifted with an iPad.

The first note taking app I tried was Penultimate. It was good, but it could not get the level of detail I was used to. I also tried Bamboo Paper. Again, it was good, better than Penultimate, but it still didn’t have the level of detail I required.
Then I found it. I absolutely love Noteshelf by Fluidtouch. Here are some of the features I like…

Customizable bookshelf with unlimited notebooks.

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It has a zoom feature which allows you to get the detail I craved.

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It also has multiple drawing tools that pull out in drawers. You can adjust the color and thickness. Here are some screen shots.

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It also has highlighters…

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Another feature I like is the ability to snap a photo and then mark on it. This is a photo I took of a book that my prof mentioned in the lecture. I snapped it while he was talking and then marked up the parts he mentioned..

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Here’s one more example of a page of lecture notes…

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Since last January all I needed for class was my iPad. It is a laptop and a notebook all-in-one. I also use iAnnotate to mark up documents. Here’s a screenshot of a syllabus I marked up.
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You can highlight, underline, add comments, etc. All of these apps used in conjunction with dropbox makes the iPad the ultimate academic tool. At least for me. (BTW, I composed this blog post, including the photos, using the WordPress app on…my iPad, of course)

If you enjoyed this, you can view all my class notes at Sketching through a PhD.

Also, I use the bamboo stylus as my writing utensil.

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