I seriously hope so this time around!
In my previous course in 2017, I had planned to go paperless and use the iPad or iPhone to study on the go. They are smaller and lighter and can even be used if standing on the bus or train. Honestly, what a shock – I found it so difficult that my H818 project was born out of my frustration (it was a huge success for me and there are blog posts for the Mobile Apps Study Guide – type keywords into the Search box to find them).
My studies and sanity suffered that year and I ended up printing stuff, but it was never where I was when I had a few minutes to spare or writing up (plus it was full of coffee stains and ragged and heavy). Being more organised is one of my top 5 goals for 2020 to save time and stress! When you are a mature student working full-time and have a family life you have to squeeze study into every spare minute during the day cause you get tired by 9-10pm! I found it impossible to cram it all into the weekend and have a life. Another blog will describe my solution, stay tuned.
Perhaps any tablet and smartphone can do the job but Apple costs a bit more for a reason. For the most part they work out the bugs but to make a seamless user experience and due to its limited customising they can control what 3rd party developer dish out. This is their marketing and my personal preference. Yes, I get annoyed sometimes but everything has trade offs right?
Warning – I am an Apple champion and if you can live with their ‘eco-system’ (which is not without issues) tech life is a lot easier. Everything to do with technology takes time (especially printing) and more than you think it should. If you use it for a many of things, i.e. work, school, hobbies and ‘work from home’ sometimes, you don’t have to be a technical network geek to connect from anywhere and find all your stuff (if you save it in an organised way and in the one cloud storage). If you’re like me and tried to use all the free space on iCloud, Dropbox, and Google drive you might end up in a mess (when one got full I shifted to the next free one). I no longer have to buy text books so I pay for a few good apps and cloud storage.
However, if you like getting under the hood and tinkering for hours or days to fix incompatibility errors, battling with Windows and Microsoft then go forth and prosper ;-). For most of us life is busy and I want my tech to sort of be fun. That shouldn’t sound stupid. And the price arguement, I’ve noticed top end androids are also £900 plus. The best small PC laptops are also similar in price to Apple. My strategy is to buy good second hand, keep them till they die and I have had great luck because they are so well made they last for years (today anyway – hopefully now that Steve Jobs is sadly gone it doesn’t change).
iCloud also storage got very cheap in recent years which has helped a lot. I pay £2.99/mo. for 200GBs! and it works with every device and in a browser for hybrid/occasional PC use so I gave up the others except for a few shared docs. Office365 is now a contender but I just didn’t like OneNotes when they got large. I couldn’t remember what folder or tab they were in and the names were squashed and the search was just ok. The apps on the mobile didn’t play nice with the full version and the online ones are not fully featured. I do try to be agnostic and open minded.
So setting up paperless is my mission this week. I had Evernote free for a few years now. Like so many apps, it’s ok for random stuff, lists, web clips, scanning pages here and there but it’s PDF annotation is crap. No handwriting support even though the device has it built in! You can highlight (essential), type text boxes (ok, but I want to write my notes so I can quickly see what are my thoughts and stopping the flow to open a text box and type accurately is not great), can add arrows (so what) and green ticks (don’t care) but no hand drawn circles (essential – a quick way to indicate good vocabulary words or an author’s name in the text) and no ‘notes to self’ in the margins. Terrible.
iBooks and iNotes are also OK-ish but don’t combine notes, highlights plus written annotations. This is a deal breaker for paperless. The video below by ‘Paperless Student’ is a good general overview and starting point. The ‘Paperless Student’ also has a number of comparison videos on YouTube that I found informative.
This is a work in progress, I have jumped and bought Notability today and teaching myself how to get the most out of it. It allows imports of Cornell notes template – ah-ma-zing! A little sting, to have searching in hand written notes is an add-on purchase of $2. It is worth a lot more, years ago text OCR was hundreds of £’s. And it isn’t a annual subscription, just a one time purchase – that is rare and really good. (You do have to buy another app to use it on the Mac laptop because the OS is completely different so fair enough).
I have seen many references that hand write notes, (I will find the links on this) promote better retention because it slows one down and allows reflection as you process. Chris Parks mentions it in the Learning Journal article. I find this true for me and I can quickly see what is the ‘article’ and what are my thoughts. Additionally, I was really surprised at how much it helps me improve my spelling. I am a poor speller and realised that copy and paste doesn’t force me to ‘see’ words in full, I glance at them as an image. (Perhaps that’s why I am a visual artist!)
Hope this wasn’t too long and rambling but I was so interested in sharing the full picture and who knows, I could change my mind if the alternatives improve their game!