I remember when I bought my iPad last september; the semester just started, and I was now facing the great task of being productive with an iPad.
Everyone can play angry birds for hours but maybe not write a decent paper and print it out afterwards (and no, you do not need a dedicated AirPrint printer for that). I once read an article about this very topic which seemed rather like a list of popular recommended apps. Here, I am instead going to try to present iPad apps for education I like to use together. Each of them is doing a great job, and they sure helped me ever since I installed them.
I’m currently studying sociology and political science. It’s not as boring as it sounds, and if you’re interested in peoples’ actions and patterns of these actions, you get to learn a lot of cool stuff. But I’m talking apps now.
Besides talking about cool stuff, there is a lot of reading. And I say a lot. Most of you will be familiar with the Good Reader app. Good Reader offers a simple and unique way to open and manipulate/edit files. And since you’re able to sync it with your Dropbox account or your Google Docs account you will always be up to date. If you’re like me and you think, sometimes, a stylus is useful for being accurate for notes and acclamations, this app offers a lot.
Taking notes with the iPad can be either easy or very frustrating. You have to see that the iPad isn’t specifically made for this purpose; but apps can be. First, I want to talk about Penultimate. This note-taking app is trying to be a digital notebook in many different ways: lined paper, different colors, and simple import of media. It also got a major update in the last couple of days, and they somehow partnered up with the Evernote- service. A cool thing if you already use evernote.
One other app is Bamboo Paper – Notebook. The look and feel of this app as the use of digital ink seems more fluent to me. I also recently bought the original Bamboo Stylus I always use for these things. If you might not feel like taking notes, SimpleMind+ lets you construct a clean mindmap containing all of your thoughts.
At the end of every paper you write, there has to be a list of all your sources. Books, web pages, articles in newspapers, and so on. Mostly books. Now, with books you have to write down pricisely who wrote it, where, when, with whom, and of course the name of the publisher. Luckily, I found this great app called easyBib. This app turns your iPad (or lets say the camera of your iPad) into a barcode scanner for books. While scanning, the app collects all relevant data and puts it together in the right way. After scanning a couple of books, youll see a full list of your used media.
There are a variety of writing apps available, and most of them have the look and functionality of the TextEdit app on the Mac. I currently use Pages; it’s worth the price, and is and unbeatable if you have Pages installed on the Mac thanks to iCloud.
It gets a little difficult if you’re finally done with your document and want to print it out. Most apps offer an AirPrint-shortcut which will work just fine provided you have an AirPrint capable printer. I personally don’t. However, there are other ways. Printer Pro is a great app for connecting your iDevice with a printer through your Mac/PC. You need to have the desktop version of Printer Pro running and your printer connected to your computer. After one single set-up its so easy to print out stuff on your iPad!
At last, I want to talk about the experience I’ve had so far with cloud-computing. I love the idea of having all-time-access to important files and photos from every device I use. Dropbox is just one of many services offering these services on many platforms. Annother app that might be not so popular is Quik IO. Cloud-Services are great, but first, the dedicated files have to be uploaded to a certain server. With Quik IO, you get to build your own personal cloud. There is no need for uploading stuff because in this case it gets streamed to your devices. Technically, it’s a dream come true for Apple-users. First, there are real share opportunities within the app; it gives you the chance to send pictures, songs, even movies. Secondly, all files can be downloaded for offline use. It’s great to have access to your complete music-library, even if you have the 16GB iPhone and no iTunes Match subscribtion.
The iPad offers many great ways to be a working-station. But what’s important for that? At first, do not see the iPad as a Toy. As you look at it, the iPad can be a lot of things. But there are times when you need to focus, and this is a good way to do so. Great portability and variable functionality thanks to 800,000+ apps give you a device to be productive with. During the time I’ve owned mine, I found many different ways to be productive.
It was the last day before I had to hand out my paper and I bought my iPad in the morning. (I know, I know.) Afterwards, I wouldn‘t call it a mistake. It took some time to collect all nessesary apps, but once I had them, the benefits prevailed.