notability

Great notes can now be easily taken on iPads including diagrams, typed text, images and web clips.

Notability is SUPERB!  It essentially allows a digital notebook to be created with “dividers” , “subjects” and “notes”. These notes can be made up of handwritten content, text, Text boxes, images and “webclips”. Word documents, pdfs, spreadsheets, PowerPoints can all be “opened in” Notability and annotated.  Audio recordings can be made as notes are taken and watched back to see all interactions timed as the audio was being recorded!

It is great to note that his app keeps on improving and the updates are inevitably always awesome!! There is now a Mac app to enhance their suite and all signs are pointing to a web app in the future!?

Notes can be shared via email or linked with all well known cloud storage options. A synchronised backup can be made as pdfs, or as “note” files meaning you can access the files on other devices. Your notes can also synchronise over iCloud so you can have access to view or continue editing on your other iDevices (including a mac)!

Our Review and Tutorial:

We have made a review and tutorial of the Notability app showing its strengths and features and how to get the most out of the app. There have been a couple of additions to the app since including audio recordings in real time, better iCloud options and a mac app. An updated video is pending!!!!

Uses of Notability for Learning:

The obvious use is . .. …. arghh taking notes! But there are a heap of other uses as well:

Document Submission: Submitting work to online Learning Management Systems  or as a digital file where the work needs to have images, annotations, drawings links and the like. In most cases work can be submitted straight from the app which is also pretty cool!

Annotate existing documents: documents can be opened in the app and then annotated, highlighted or typed over as well as graphics added to them. This works well when “stimulus” material or instruction sheets are posted online and opened in notability. NOTE: sending out a document as a .note allows the user to erase annotations and continue editing as their own.

A Mobile Interactive Whiteboard: Board notes can be done in Notability instead with a lot more power. This can be done in conjunction with other apps as well and really is an IWB killer!  Projecting wirelessly to either a laptop (with AirServer or Reflector) or to Apple TV makes this a great option with mobility (see the page on mobility). You will soon find your notes to be much neater and you have a continuos page that you can go back to sections or share a digital copy at the end.  At the end a pdf of the notes can be shared!!! Notability (and digital notetaking) really blow any traditional board notes completely out of the water!

Creating Graphics: handwritten graphics are superb and can be done so easily with either screenshots or by opening the saved pdf in other apps or in Photoshop .

Record Presentations: Recording of audio can be made while notes are taken as text or writing and the audio is linked to your interactions within your document. In other words, when you click on a word or a piece of writing in your notes then the audio will jump to the audio from that time.
NOTE: To avoid tapping typing sounds, plug in headset to get recorder away from the iPad.

Create Tutorials: Couple with Explain Everything App to make awesome tutorials amazingly easily (read “flipped classroom” material!). Write everything you want to be on one screen then work backwards! In other words you delete a line at a time and when you are finished you’ll have all screenshots ready to select and narrate over the top. Read our Explain Everything App page here or check a video about creating tutorials quickly and powerfully with Notability and Explain Everything used together.

Go Paperless: If you need to sign or fill out a document open it in Notability and email the finished pdf all in one. No printing, filling out and scanning!

Wrap up:

The App is generally around $3 AUD and if you can get it through Volume Licensing it is half that (that is $1.50!) Through to the app on the app store. Now you have seen Notability in action you will no doubt see its value for personal use but hopefully this post also highlights what is possible by students with iPads and these apps as well.

Suggestions for Improvements:

Suggestions by Rolfe Kolbe @rolfek
– Eraser Options: have an option to erase bits of a line or stroke instead of the whole stroke. Maybe a button that toggles to erase stroke or normal eraser.
– Landscape Notes: allow the ability to create landscape oriented notes for better import and export into and out of presentation apps especially like Explain Everything and Keynote.
– Straight Lines and Shapes: It would be good to be able to snap to straight lines or shapes while using the pen tool (like in Good Notes)
– Moving elements forward or back: moving elements ie. images, writing etc forward or back will allow writing behind pictures which is great when you have images with transparencies.
– More colour choice: ideally a colour wheel option for tools and background colour is needed.
– Imported PDFs full page: it would be nice to have an option that when you import a PDF you can have it so that it does not have extra margins around it. Eg if I made a test in notability and shared it as a pdf when students open in notability it is smaller. I don’t want to share it as a .note file for marking purposes.
– Control over folders in backups: As a teacher, it would be good to have each folder of class notes synchronising into Google Shared folders that we set up at the start of the year ie. in a different Google folder than my personal folders. I can go in and share the folders once I have created them but it would be great to be able to do it within the app.
– Better copy and pasting: being able to copy a whole text box and paste it would be desirable as it is not working at present. Also being able to copy a text box or image with all the associated “attached” objects that would normally move around with it is an important option.
Suggestions from staff during Professional Learning sessions:
Default background should be white (not beige bad for print!!)
Default text – default should be text box and not hold down
Group elements to copy, paste, move and arrange YES YES YES!!

ADD MORE!! : If you have any more suggestions then please add them to the following Google document bit.ly/notabilitysuggestions 

All sorts of Really Useful Papers and backgrounds: there is a great blog post on the notability blog with a link to a dropbox folder with a huge number of great backgrounds to use  – just “open in” Notability! WELL WORTH CHECKING OUT!

Authors Note:
There was plenty of testing different note taking apps before is was decided that Notability by Gingerlabs really stands out (by head and shoulders.) The inking is superb and there are great features that I find very useful.
Interestingly, I have recently noticed that I no longer carry my notebook around when it never used to leave my side.  My notes are much better as well as being accessible across my devices and on the web and sharable when I want.
I also no longer use the whiteboard in class as I project wirelessly and write my notes and answer questions while moving around the class. The app is updated regularly with improvements and it is exciting to see where it goes.
Rolfe Kolbe @rolfek


Page UPDATES:
This page will be updated and “enhanced” over time through response to feedback and comments as well as responding to updates and changes.
28 May 2014 Initial page created
9 July 2014 refinements and further ideas added plus suggestions for improvements.
26 Sept 2014 refinements adding, updating and deleting. New additions to what can be improved. task being set for staff PL day!