I got a question from one of the readers, and instead of privately addressing it, I thought I would just write a post about it since it was a pretty good question and it could help out future students as well.
Blayne asked, “Are there any things/technology (iPad, recording devices to listen to lectures, etc) that you would consider helpful or even crucial to getting everything out of a lecture that you possibly can? Anything that you use yourself or wish you did have to utilize?”
I’m going to address this mainly with my personal opinions and how I went about this process. I currently use an iPad equiped with a keyboard for note taking. This has many benefitsm butt there are also things you have to be careful with. I started my first trimester just using printed notes and the notesets we were required to have from the Bookstore. Most of the professors will make their note sets available online so you can download them onto a tablet or you can print them. I started out printing.
The thing to keep in mind is we have a lot of notes so printing started to get expensive and then I had papers to keep track of and it started to get messy. I envied the people with tablets. I ended up only getting one because I had someone selling one for a good pricem but even if that hadn’t happened I would have probably caved shortly after.
What I like about having a tablet is everything is in one place. I am able to type onto the documents and I am still able to print them after I have made extra notes on them. I use an app called iAnnotate. I think it runs about $10 in the Appstore, but I know there are a few others that people use. I really like iAnnotate, but I know other people really like other ones, too. I suggest if you’re considering going this route find someone who has the app and play around with it ask questions so you can see if it will do everything you need. It also has a search files sections, so you when you want to reference stuff from other classes it’s easier to find the topic you’re question as opposed to flipping through piles of papers and binders. Also, know your study habits well. If you study better off of paper and not a screen, this probably isn’t the best option.
With the tablet, it’s also really nice to have the Internet at your disposal if you need to look something up on the portal (this is where professors post notes and updates) or if you want to Google something you need more understanding on.
Overall, I am very happy I got a tablet and probably would have gone crazy if I hadn’t. I wouldn’t be surprized if costs of printing and paper didn’t cost more than the tablet in the end. As for recorders and things, the school has a policy where you are not allowed to record in the classroom without prior permission from the professor. So if you get permission to do so, that could be very helpful. If you already have the tablet, usually they come with that feature.
The downfall of having a tablet in class: It’s extremely distracting. It’s really hard to stay focused when the Internet is right there. You’re able to use the Internet, check social media and play games. This is evidently leads to a crisis when it comes to test time and you’re reteaching yourself everything that went over in class because you got distracted by Pinterest and quit paying attention! Believe me, I suffer from this.
Another problem I have experienced is technology isn’t perfect, so sometimes my tablet freezes, isn’t working correctly or dies (in this case you’re temporarily out of notes). In the case of the battery dying, most of the class rooms have outlets where you can have the tablet plugged in and still be working on it, but if you forget the charger, it poses a problem.
So there are good and bad from each aspect. Really, it’s up to you and your personal preference. Of course, I don’t want to tell you to go out and spend all that money on a tablet because you’re going to need it, because thats not the case. There are a lot of people that are very successful in classes without tablets and there are some people that are unsuccessful in classes because of them. Just make sure you weigh the pros and cons before you make a big purchase like that. For me it was worth it, but for some people it is not.