Saturday, August 24, 2013

5 Free iPad Apps Students Can Use to Take Notes

Cross-posted from

One of the things that I love about the start of the new school year is that so many students have goals for making “this year the year they…” For many students that blank is filled in with “stay organized” or “take better notes.” If your students are going to be using iPads in your classroom this year, here are five free iPad apps they can try for taking notes and keeping those notes organized.

Penultimate provides a place for you to hand-write notes on your iPad. The app allows you to create multiple notebooks with multiple pages in each. You can change the color and size of the pen strokes that are created when you write in your notebooks. Each page in your notebook can include pictures that you have stored on your iPad or pictures that you take through the Penultimate app. The app provides the option to change the look of the virtual paper on which you write. You can copy and paste content from one page to another and from one notebook to another. This is my go-to app for writing notes. 

inClass is a fantastic free iPad app that students can use to take and keep track of the notes they record in all of their courses. inClass allows students to organize notebooks for each of their courses. Within each notebook students can include typed notes, audio notes, video notes, and pictures. The ability to store those four types of notes makes inClass a great app for students to use in a science lab where they might want to have a little video clip of an experiment along with their own typed notes about the lab experiment.

Evernote is the Swiss Army knife of iPad apps. Students can use Evernote for a little bit of everything from bookmarking websites to dictating notes to themselves. The app will automatically sync with students online Evernote accounts so that they can access my notes, bookmarks, and saved files from any computer or device that is connected to the web.

Fetchnotes is a service for creating and organizing notes for yourself. Organizing your notes on Fetchnotes is quite simple. When you write a note, just use a hashtag to label your note. Then whenever you want to search for a note just enter a hashtag. For example, if I was a student taking notes in a history course I might use the hashtag “#revolution” for all notes related to revolutions. Then I could go back and read all of my notes about revolution by just searching for that hashtag. Fetchnotes lets you create groups of people with whom you share notes. When you want to share a note with someone else in your group just add @ before that person’s name to have the task appear on your list and his or her list. In addition to being available through the free iPad app, Fetchnotes can be used in your web browser. Fetchnotes also offers a free Android app.

Last but not least is Google Drive for iPad. While not nearly as robust as the browser-based version of Google Drive, Google Drive for iPad can be used by students to create notes documents. If your school is using Google Apps for Education, your students are probably already familiar with how to use Google Drive. Of course, their notes will sync to their Google Drive accounts so that they can access their notes through any Internet-connected device. Click here for a short (13 page PDF) guide to using Google Drive for iPad.