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…


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.


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


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




It also has highlighters…


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..


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


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.

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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