Taking Notes with the Ipad

One of the reasons I like students to use the ipads for their notetaking (besides the obvious paper saving) is that it prevents them from borrowing that piece of paper for today's notes then promptly losing it in the black hole of their book bag. Their notes never get lost (almost never) and they can easily share their notes with classmates through dropbox or email. I also never need to copy handouts for lab activities or guided inquiry worksheets. They are always available through a quick download to the ipad from dropbox. I can even add a document on the fly if I need to. After about five months of experience using the ipad in the classroom, we have pretty well settled on Noterize as our preferred note-taking app for the following reasons:

1. Easy to import and export pdfs from and to Dropbox. I must say, that since we got the ipads for my classroom, I have become a "dropbox fangirl" Even though we have a moodle site for the school, I find it much easier to share materials with my students with a shared dropbox folder not only for ipads but for home computers as well. I simply drag unit materials from what I call my "Purgatory" folder into the class folder as we need them and drag them out when we're done with the unit. This one of the reasons that the Noterize app has become popular because even though you can pull from Dropbox in Smartnote, there is an intermediate step and it's a little more confusing for the students.

2. The notebooks are easily managed and extra pages can be inserted as needed. If student's run out of room on the slide pages I provide for them, they can always insert an additional page in a seemless way. In addition, if we are working on a guided inquiry or lab assignment, these can be inserted into the note for that unit in the appropriate place. In this way, all the student's materials are collected in one place.

3. The handwriting and zooming functions seem to work pretty well. This is nice for worksheets and problem sets. Students also seem to like to type answers or notes in textboxes as well. Since changing the font size is pretty easy and inserting textboxes works well, this has been a popular tool.

4. The app has a VGA out feature so that student's can work a problem and we can share it on the projection screen. It would be cool if it also had an wifi sharing with the projection computer something like the AirSketch app. This is a great feature for flipping from one student's work to another to display and share with the class.

The Drawbacks:

Many students resist change and are not as comfortable writing on the ipad as they are on paper. They don't have a stylus that's adequate to the task and are not as quick with their typing. I give them the option to use paper if they wish but most find that since I provide pdf's of outlines, it's much easier to write on these than to take separate notes. Admittedly, the app is not perfect and sometimes it freezes up when trying to expand a page or edit a text box. Also, since the note sets are not password protected and since several student's share the same device, I have had the occasional issue of student's downloading into or deleting another student's work. I'm hoping that Noterize improves this aspect of the app in the near future.