I have been going to uni for the last couple of weeks now, and have been taking my iPad with me everywhere I go for lectures, workshops and tutorials. I have been searching around the Internet forums to hunt for the perfect productivity tools to enable me to exceed in my classes, but eventually these are the apps that I have found which works best for me:
– iAnnotate app
– blackboard mobile
The blackboard mobile is a free app for university students – if your school supports this program, or uses blackboard as their main method for students to access lecture notes, recordings, quizzes, tutorials etc, then you are in luck. The whole set up process takes less than 5 minutes – download, search for your uni, sign in with your student ID and password, then all the classes that your enrolled in will appear.
It is very easy to navigate through – its like a blackboard basically – with your enrolled subjects on the left, posted on a pin board, and announcements on your right (which you can swipe to hide). Clicking on each subject will open up the contents of that subject up on the main “blackboard” – from announcements, to topics, to grades, tools, contacts etc – basically anything you find in when logging into the computer normally, you will find it on the Blackboard Mobile app. The interface is very smooth and fluid. It has capabilities to read .pptx, .docx, .pdf files in the program – you can then export this via “open in” to your favourite editable document program.
Something I find I don’t like about blackboard is that in a normal web browser, be it safari, firefox, internet explorer or chrome etc, I am able to view everything on that whole webpage – ie all the content under all the subheadings and read everything at once. I am a practical person and prefer to do just that. Blackboard mobile allows for browsing one subheading at a time – so I have to click on each subheading to read each one, when instead I can view everything in a normal internet browser. However, Blackboard has found a way around this – they’ve included a “view in browser” option that opens up another window of what the whole page will actually look like if you were to view it in your favourite browser. There, you can see everything you are missing out on – I’m not saying it a bad thing – you can actually view all these things when you click on each individual subheading – but why do that when you should be able to view everything all at once. Like my economics lecturer said, Time is a major constraint for some people – I am one of them!
The other unappealing thing in Blackboard is that it suffers from recognising all those formatting you see in a normal browser – so no bold, italics, no underlining, no colour, no fancy formatting. Teaching should be fun – bright colours, bold writing, italics etc make an impact on student learning! Studies have shown people learn faster and are actively engaged when the brain sees bright, colourful images and words – It’s a pity Blackboard doesn’t though.
My last app, iAnnotate, is a PDF editor. I have written extensively about this and other comparable apps in the following posts. Please feel free to check them out!