Sunday, 2 September 2012

How I Attempt To Stay On Top Of Things At University

It's that time of year again when most of us will be heading back to university or college and some of you may be going for the first time. I am heading into my second year now and I have decided to share with you my preferred method of taking down lecture notes. 

Lots of schools have different notepad:technology ratios and while most American students (from what I've seen on TV/in the movies) use laptops to take notes in the lecture hall, most British students, from my experience, use the old fashioned paper and pencil method. 
The generic American university lecture you see in the movies (also a scene from one of my favourite films, Legally Blonde).
Personally I hate the jotter method, I always have. You seem end up with about six different notepads with pages ripped out, unfinished notes, scribbles, juice stains and if you live in rainy Scotland and walk home from school you often find that your notes have been used by your bag as a sponge and are completely soaked.

While at school I was only allowed to use paper to take notes but since I am such a neat freak when it comes to note taking I ended up re-writing all of my notes (for up to eight subjects) in bigger notepads so they were all in order, written neatly and easily understandable. Although this seemed to work for me as I got the grades I needed, it was very time consuming and frustrating, so as soon as I was at uni I started to use technology to take notes instead. 

Taking my laptop to university was hard work; to get to my campus I have a 15 minute walk to the bus stop, a 20 minute journey on the public busses and then a further walk up a pretty steep hill to finally arrive at the campus. My laptop isn't the heaviest on the market but it also isn't a MacBook Air so I struggled to carry it along with my books, bag and lunch box. Therefore I decided to use my iPad instead.
It's love...
I have to admit I felt a bit weird using it at first as I thought others would think I was using it to show off but for me it really is the best way to take notes, I have even started to use my iPad to write most of my blog posts before transferring them to my laptop to publish them. It also means you can watch movies, check the news news headlines and even have a sneaky wee read of Fifty Shades of Grey during breaks (haha).
So here are my top apps and a step-by-step guide as to how I use my iPad to take lecture notes:

Taking the notes:

For this I use the bog standard Notes app that comes preloaded on your devices. I find that this is the fastest and most stable app that allows you to take down pages of notes rather than just a couple of words. It is very reliable and easy to use which is exactly what you need when trying to type at high-speed. 

Apples standard note taking app.
After writing the notes I will either print the pages out or I will send the notes to my laptop.

The Print Method

This function only works with select printers.

I have recently bought a new printer an Epson SX235 (£35) which has the ability to print directly from an iPad over wifi using the Epson iPrint app (free on the app store). This allows you to print emails, pictures, notes and other documents without having to email them to yourself and print them out through your computer. It is great if you like to have a paper copy of your notes as well as a digital copy on your iPad. This printer also has a scanner built in so you are able to scan in pages from text books, jotters or any worksheets you are given out in lectures and make up your own ring binder of notes.
This app allows iPad users to print to their Epson printers.
The Sync Method

My preferred option is to use a file sharing app and send my notes I have taken in the lecture to my laptop via wifi. To do this I take the notes I have typed in my notes app and paste them into an app called CloudOn (free on the app store). CloudOn has the ability to create Word, Power Point and Excel documents and stores them in your Dropbox account (also free on the app store and the internet for the computer app) on your devices and computer.

This app allows you to create some document types found in Microsoft Office.
This method may seem a little more complicated but it means that your notes are stored in multiple places and you can properly file them on your laptop. The only thing to watch out for is the amount of space you have remaining in your Dropbox account as if you exceed the limits you will be charged as you have to purchase extra space.
This app allows you to share your files over several devices.
I hope you have found this blog helpful, as I say these are only my opinions but I have found that these are the methods that work best for me.
Let me know if you have found any apps that are good for taking lecture notes so I can check them out too.

Until next time TTFN x

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