Inov8 Educational Consulting publishes a series called "There's an App for that" on their website - http://www.inov8-ed.com/2011/07/theres-a-special-app-for-that-part-9-apps-for-college-university-students-with-learning-disabilities/
Here's one from their series geared towards students with LD in college but these apps are appropriate for all students who need help taking notes or organizing their school material.
How can assistive technology help?
There are many different technologies that can help students with learning disabilities. Most college and university centres for students with disabilities (and sometimes even governments) provide information, accommodations, resources and support with many types of assistive technologies. Software is primarily designed to bypass difficulties associated with reading and writing, and can be excellent options. There are several new options, however, in the way of apps in the areas of productivity, notetaking, research assistance, and organization that centres may not yet be aware of.
Organizational strategies for students with LDs in college or university is key to success. With a course load, research papers, collaborative assignments and a social life to juggle, college life can often be overwhelming. Effective note-taking, organization and research skills are extremely important. Here are 10 apps that we like in the area of productivity and organization:
1. Audionote ($4.99)
Audionote -http://www.inov8-ed.com/app/audionote is an app that syncs audio in real time to your notes. What does this mean? Say you are in a lecture. As you take notes, the audio of the instructor who is speaking will be recorded and synced with your notetaking. When you go back to your notes later, you can listen to the audio that was spoken at that particular point in time as a backup to your notes, or to see if you have missed anything. This is a great tool for teaching yourself to take notes as well, as you can see if what you are recording in your notes is accurate. Gizmodo.com gave it a Bronze Medal in their “Best note taking apps” post. One caution to using this app: be sure to take note of your college, university or instructor’s policy on recording in class – or speak to your student support centre.
2. Penultimate ($1.99)
Penultimate is a handwriting app used for primarily notetaking purposes, and should be used with a stylus (a specialized pen for the iPad). You write your notes or draw your illustrations (different colors are available) on “paper” and it is then stored for you in a “notebook.” Each notebook is filed away and your notes are always accessible to you. This is a good app for short notes, drawings, graphs, and equations – great for subjects like physics, chemistry, economics, music and many others. It takes a bit of getting used to, especially if you’ve never used a stylus on the iPad. We don’t recommend this app if you find the fine motor aspect of writing very strenuous and difficult. However, if you are comfortable writing, we like the fact that notes are stored neatly and the interface is very simple to use. You can then e-mail your notes in pdf format to share them with a group.
3. Audiotorium Notes ($4.99)
Audiotorium Notes is a note-taking app that has similar features to Audionote with a few key differences. It allows you to synchronize your notes to Dropbox — meaning that you can access your notes from anywhere on any computer or browser. You don’t even have to sync your iPad to your computer, you have complete freedom and mobility to access your notes in the cloud.
Audiotorium Notes has some other nice features as well; the option to choose from a wide range of texts and “paper,” audio syncing, category creation for extensive organization and time-stamping of your notes within a very easy-to-use interface. It supports the use of another app, TextExpander, which can allow you to create “shortcuts” to commonly typed phrases (like formulas or acronyms). Lastly, it can even continue to record audio even if the app is closed, allow you to multitask and still record during class. For note-taking in class, however, we recommend this app with an external keyboard.
Here is a nice video overview:
4. Notes Plus ($4.99)
Notes Plus is a comprehensive note-taking app that requires a little basic training. However, we find it easy to learn and there is a nice “getting started” video tutorial and examples within the app. Your notes are organized within “notebooks” with unlimited pages. Audio can be recorded and synched with notes. You can use typed text or handwriting within the app but if using handwriting, we feel that this would be best used with a stylus.
A few features that are useful for students with LDs include the ability to mix handwriting with text, a “close-up” window in which you can write with greater fine-motor control, and the ability to draw shapes with built in auto-detection. This means that when drawing diagrams or shapes, the app will detect what you are drawing and add it in for you. For students with LDs this could be a real time-saver, and can increase the neatness and readability of your notes-great for math and social sciences. Another useful feature is the”Palm Pad” which is used to protect your notes by preventing the iPad from detecting your palm when writing. This provides a visual cue to where the “protection” is and allows you to comfortably rest your hand on the iPad without it impacting your notes.
The company also created a great video overview:
5. iThoughts ($7.99/iPhone), iThoughts HD ($9.99/iPad)
iThoughts HD is a comprehensive mindmapping app that we have covered in previous posts. Use it for notetaking, brainstorming, organizing your ideas, etc. This app has multiple transfer options (e-mail, Dropbox) as well as export options into a variety of formats, including other mind map applications. There are other features useful for college and university students, such as placing mind maps into folders with attached notes, as well as due date reminders. Just a quick note-if you are looking for a simple, more basic but free mindmapping app, try SimpleMind.
6. iStudiez Pro ($2.99)
iStudiez Pro is an app that helps you manage and organize your college or university academic schedule and courseload. This app organizes access to your calendar, schedules (semesters, classes) as well as instructor information, assignments, study groups, deadlines, etc in one app. Entering information is simple, and once completed, iStudiez Pro sends out notifications for deadlines and classes each day-a great way to keep organized. One of their newest features allows the app to “Cloud Sync” enabling it to synchronize your data on all your iOS devices and back it up to their servers. Their website has a very comprehensive guide to using the app.
7. inClass ($Free / $2.99 in-app upgrade to no ads)
inClass is a free app that has some features similar to iStudiez Pro. It is a good basic app for organizing your terms, courses and daily calendar but it also has the additional benefit of note-taking with the app. So, your notes are organized for you within your courses and your daily schedule. However, there are some important features within the note-taking option that allow it to stand out: when note-taking you have the option to record audio (even in the background), insert or take a picture as well as file-share. All useful options for students with LDs, as students can benefit from audio and visual enhancements to printed notes as well as the tight integration of reminders of due dates of tasks in courses.
8. Diigo for iPad ($Free)
Diigo for the iPad provides offline management of a Diigo library. Diigo is what’s called a “social bookmarking” tool – a method to organize, store, manage and search for bookmarks of resources online. Bookmarking is very useful for college or university students with LDs as an organizational research tool – as an example, Diigo would allow you to compile websites, pictures, pages, photos, links etc. for a research paper and save the information in specified categories, all in one accessible place. You can then also share the information with your peers online. It also has the option to highlight and add sticky notes to webpages creating a “highlighter/annotator” for the web. Besides providing access to all the Diigo web-based tools, the iPad app installs a little “diigolet” on your toolbar, allowing you to collect and store information easily on their iOS device, but have it automatically synched with your Diigo account. This great feature of Diigo allows for accessing information anywhere. Did we mention Diigo is a free app?
It wouldn’t be possible to talk about organizational apps without talking about Springpad and Evernote. Both are web-based information management and organizational apps and allow you to collect information to be organized, categorized and retrieved whenever you need it. You can automatically synch all the information in these apps to the “cloud” and they both have iOS, other mobile phone, computer and web-based apps. They both go beyond what Diigo can do (and end up being very different applications).
Springpad is almost a life management tool; in addition to helping you organize information, it also allows you to organize individual tasks and projects, personal information by adding notes, audio notes, or pictures. Another great feature: Springpad categorizes information for you as you find it. It it uses your preset tags to split and organize your information automatically. If you add a movie, it automatically links to the movie trailer and allows you to purchase tickets directly. It can search nearby business, automatically manage pictures and even import information from a barcode scan.
However, one of the best features of this app for students with LDs is the “board” area, in which the student can visually represent a project and add pictures, notes as well as web links. Springpad is fully set up for those who want to share information as well with social media tools. Just when you thought they might be a passing fad, they just passed 1 million users in Feb, 2011. The best part-its another free app!
It may be hard to visualize how helpful this app can be from the screenshots alone. Have a look at the video below that gives a better idea of what you can do with Springpad: