My iPad in school

I recently completed a small contract job to help a small business startup acquire and setup all of their computer and networking needs. For compensation, they gave me a 32GB wifi-only iPad, a nice Targus Truss case, and a Targus stylus.

Then came the fun part of learning to utilize this iPad to its fullest potential for life, school, and work. This post is to walk you through the steps of how, after a few days of research and testing, have decided I’m going to use the iPad for school.

As has been mentioned, I still feel I learn best via the note and paper method. Odd for a geek, but my notes have always sucked and I have retained less of them when trying to simply type the notes on a laptop. Also, I had no good solution for those times when I really just needed to draw a diagram or map an idea. This is hard to do with a keyboard. So my goal when researching note-taking applications was something that would allow me to write by hand. Evernote’s “cloud” storage is great for sharing notes amongst my many devices, but does not have a “drawing” input. Penultimate has nice notebook management and is decent for pen input. Finally, I’ve discovered UPAD. UPAD lets me input with the keyboard AND the stylus/finger on the same note, and has some very nice page templates for different types of paper, such as music staff, graph paper, and even Cornell-style notes. UPAD is the only note-taking app I’ve used so far that actually gives the user a special “zoomed-in” box for touch input. This is important, as using the capacative screen with a stylus or finger doesn’t provided the greatest accuracy when attempting to write small enough to fit between the lines of a paper’s rule.

Another great feature of UPAD that this post will discuss is the ability to annotate PDFs.

At Ball State, all of my grad school professors (and I would assume all professors) post Powerpoint presentations prior to class of the material to be covered in lecture. I download the Powerpoint slides, then open them in Powerpoint. From there, I choose print, and select the option to print notes pages to my PDF printer:

Once the PDF has been created and saved to a suitable location, I open iTunes.

Under devices, select the iPad, then choose Apps to view the applications installed on the iPad. Scrolling down, you will see a section called File Sharing. Select UPAD from the list of applications on the left, then Add. Browse to and select the PDF created from Powerpoint. Once this file has been added, Sync the device.

Once sync is complete, open UPAD on the iPad. Locate the PDF you’ve added and open it. From there, you can draw onto the PDF, making notes on each slide of information relevant to that particular slide.

Once complete, you can simple study from the notes in UPAD or generate and email a PDF of the notes to yourself and others. The latter option is done seamlessly through the intuitive interface of the app.