Lecture Notes on iPad

The biggest thing I wanted to change this year was the way I took notes in lectures – something I’ve talked about a lot on this blog.

Today I just want to go a bit more in depth about it (don’t worry, it’s the last time!) and talk about how easy (or not so easy) it is.

First and foremost, it’s amazing how easy it is to get to grips with the large on screen keyboard of the iPad. It sort of becomes natural to type on when you get used to it.  I’ve owned several iterations of the iPad myself but never typed extensively on them, but typing on it is relatively painless and I find myself using the ‘touch keyboard’ A LOT to select text, indent a selection of text, create lists etc.

The real problem is really how quick it is. In a lecture, it’s really easy to get left behind while the lecturer is moving forward with his talk because you’re not striking real keys, rather a flat bit of glass, so I found myself typing slower than I would like. Often at times I would miss the lectures talk because the iPad constantly auto corrects you changes words. Also, sometimes the keyboard accidentally activates its touch keyboard mode and selects text, which then gets deleted when I start typing again. Luckily there are undo buttons in apps, but in the time I’ve made these mistakes, I’ve also missed a few minutes of the lecturers talk – which might not seem like much but it is a lot when you’re trying to understand Java!

Talking about Java though, I noticed that it’s quite challenging to type code in my notes. The special characters are not easy to type as you have keep changing the view of the keyboard from letters to symbols – which is understandable, given the fact you can only see so much on screen as one time. It also likes to correct any code I type into other “proper” words and changes the formatting of some code. It’s definitely not designed to take programming notes but it can be done.

If you overlook these small problems, I found the iPad to be a solid device for taking notes on and I am happy to report that a notepad has not been seen in my bag at all. It’s SUPER easy to get to my notes on iCloud.com and download them to my USB.

My preferred app for taking notes is Pages because it’s integrated with the iPad and iCloud (being an Apple made app) and is also clean and easy to use. I have seen other students using the built in Notes app, which is great. Another student uses the Notability app and they said they liked the larger text area and the amount of features it has.

At the top of my lecture notes, I like to write the name of the module, followed by the lecture number. It can be very long to keep typing “Object Oriented Programming 2” every time, so I have set up some keyboard short cuts to help me with them 😉

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So now I can type “OOP2”, and it will expand automatically!

A small number of students are still lagging behind on pen and paper and an even smaller number are carrying laptops for notes + following slides. However there so are many brave students that are taking notes, following the slides & interacting with the lecture on the iPads.

In the next post, I will be talking about textbooks on iPad 🙂

Irfan

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