Many of us have switched over from writing by hand to taking notes on our laptops or tablets. This is great for legibility, speed as well as efficiency for researching keywords or new concepts later. It is also convenient for storage, accessibility whenever we need them, and sharing and collaborating with peers instantly. Google Docs makes it easy to do this and also is a great way to keep from losing your work.
Many mobile devices also provide amazing note-taking apps that have more features than Word, Google or Pages. Although profs don’t always accept or like seeing students on their phones, accessing these applications on a tablet or laptop is easy and can really optimize what we note-take, in how much detail, as well as how fast we can write down what we need word-for-word. If you want to use one of these apps, be sure to ask your prof if they mind you using your phone to do so or if they would prefer you take notes on a laptop. (The thing is, cellphones still have a bad rep as a symbol of being disinterested or distracted and you wouldn’t want to offend your prof while they’re lecturing. Just ask first.)
Let’s take a look at some of these great note-taking apps and look at what features they offer.
- Notes – If you’re on an iPhone, Mac or iPad, Apple’s Notes app might be all you need and it’s free of charge. The app comes pre-loaded on all iOS devices. It has a really great list-making feature and you can tick off as you go which comes in handy for studying to-do lists or time-management with assignments. Ticking off something on a to-do list has always felt very satisfying for me in my studies and I know a lot of other students feel the same. Adding an attachment likes photos or graphs is also simple on Notes and it also matches right up with Siri so you can use voice commands if that’s something that you like to do on your phone.
- ColorNote – Also a free app, but with an Android product instead, this is a use-friendly and simple app with no frills. The app’s trademark feature is the ability to quickly and easily organize notes by color-coding them. You can also sync notes and lecture dates with your calendar, and set reminders to review and revisit your notes.
- OneNote –A free iOS, Android, Windows Phone app. This app is great because it has full integration with Microsoft Office so your notes are accessible from anywhere, on any Internet-connected device. When you want to review a note, the app’s search option works very effectively and quickly.
- Simplenote is a free OS, Android note-taking device that is as simple as the name. It is best for jotting down notes quickly and has less features than Evernote or Onenote. With simplenote, you can create new notes and add bullet points as well as search through your notes with keywords.
- Notability — This app costs approx. 2.99$ The app helps you type out notes, sketch ideas with your finger and efficiently add photos and video. It also lets you annotate documents and PDFs, then share them with others which is great for collaborative learning. One premium feature that really stands out is the app’s ability to sync written notes with an audio recording; when you’re reviewing your notes, tap a word or picture to hear what was said at that moment.
- Penultimate is a free iPad note-taking app for those who prefer to use a stylus. The app’s concept is centered around using a pen so you can scribble down notes and draw diagrams by hand. You can use your finger or a stylus to take notes, and the app features effective “palm rejection” so you won’t make any unwanted marks and cause chaos on the page. Your notes can be automatically organized by topic, project or category, and the built-in search engine can recognize and locate your hand-written words.
No matter what App is right for you or whether you still prefer to take notes the “old-fashioned” way with pen and paper, the idea is to be able to write quickly, in an organized legible way to be able to reflect and return to the notes later on and have the material feel just as relevant and clear as it was during your prof’s lecture. Note-taking is an acquired skill and there are some methods that work for some people better than others.
Learn more on the Chapman Learning Commons site today under the note-taking toolkit and discover what note-taking strategies, technologies and methods are best for you!