Introduction to Using an iPad for University Lectures

Hopefully after reviewing some of the following potential 'advantages and disadvantages for using an Apple iPad for university lectures', it will aid you in deciding (particularly for freshers - 'first years' at university who are new to higher education and lecture-style teaching) what medium and platform of note taking best suits you in a university lecture - and help you ultimately to produce the most efficient form of notes within the university lecture. (Remember: there is no shame in using just good old fashioned 'pen and paper'). You may even (and probably are likely to) go for a combination of mediums and platforms for the best and most efficient note taking in a university lecture (I personally recommend - the newest iPad for the main note taking, along side a good old pad of paper and few pens to note down quick ideas and diagrams).

Advantages for Using an iPad in University Lectures

The Power of the Internet - presuming you have access to the internet during the lecture, a great benefit for using the Apple iPad in University Lectures is that you have all your lecture and educational material that has been uploaded by your module right there in front of you. So if the lecture is being presented on Powerpoint or pdf files etc. you have the slides right there in front of you, upon which you annotate additional notes to a Powerpoint presentation or lecture. Furthermore, you can search the internet (with safari) right there and then for concepts and terms you are unsure of. As opposed to a scenario of just 'pen and paper' (essentially no access to the internet), you just have to bear and grit it and learn what the term means later on - which you may forget, as well as somewhat lose your way during the ongoing lecture.

Educational Organization - with the Apple iPad you have all your materials and notes you have made all at your finger tips, where as with notes on paper they have to be manually filed into folders (time consuming) and even then it is somewhat difficult to remember where just a bullet points are located (even more time consuming). With the iPad it can be found and located with an instant, saving you the time and energy searching through piles of folders to be concentrated on studying. Furthermore, if the lecturer refers to a previous lecture that you have made notes on, obviously with the iPad you can immediately bring them notes up right in front of you to refresh yourself with the material. Where as in the circumstance with the pen and paper method you would have to search through folders of lecture notes to get right on top of the material.

Mobile - an obvious advantage that the iPad brings is its 'mobility' (For the new iPad weighing less than 1.5 pounds, with a height of no more than 9.5 inches and width of 7.31 inches and tiny depth of 0.37 inches). If you are only going to be making notes through the iPad, there is no real need to bring additional stationary, text books, word pads and lecture folders etc. (which I am guessing will weigh considerably more than 1.5 pounds). Instead all you need to bring is your rather light Apple iPad that can pop nicely into your 'now' light uni-bag, therefore no need to be literally lugging your packed uni-bag around campus. 

Tools and Applications - obviously one of the greatest benefits of having an iPad for university is the accustomed productivity applications. For example Evernote, iProcrastinate, Simplenote, Skitch etc. The Apple iPad (iTunes Store) offers so many tools that can really enhance your lecture notes and provide you the opportunity to make your lecture notes multi-media rich. Do you think you would 'learn' and 'revise' better from notes that offer links to videos, images and interactive sources, compared to that of black and white paper revision notes? 

The Apple iPad in (Higher) Education (University)

Disadvantages for Using an iPad in University Lectures

Distractions - one of the obvious drawbacks of using an Apple iPad in university lectures is that it can be rather 'easy and simple' for you to get distracted and essentially not be concentrating on taking notes and understanding the concepts within the university lecture at hand! Due to all the various applications you have and various functions at your finger tips (such as e-mail, YouTube videos, gaming applications, instant messaging etc.) it can certainly make life quite difficult to actually concentrate on making notes. Of course such a problem does not really occur (at least to the same extent) with the traditional 'pen and paper' method - you do not really have anything to do, but concentrate on the university lecture, unless your partial to a good doodle.

Note Taking Speed - a particular issue that some of you may find (particularly when you have not had a lot of practise ) is that when it comes to taking notes on the iPad - you may find an issue with the speed at which you are in fact able to take the notes down. Due to being a touch screen device it is often difficult to type at speed that can keep at pace with the lecture (especially compared to that of pen and paper or a laptop). However, this can be rather easily solved with Apple accessory attatchable keyboard products such as the Kensigton Apple iPad 2 & New iPad KeyFolio Pro Performance Case - which then allows you obviously to be able to touch type at the same speed as you would on a laptop based computer - giving you chance to keep up to pace with the lecture.

Practicality - the Apple iPad does sometimes offer a weakness and that is at times there are simply situations presented to you in a university lecture, when a quick 'pen and paper sketch' are all that is required - for example to quickly note down a diagram, where as if you are only stuck with the iPad, the application load time or the practicality of the drawing the diagram on the app is just too slow and complicated. Which is a reason why I recommend that it is important that you should bring in addition to your Apple  iPad just a small pad of paper and additional pens and pencils for such specific cases (or if you have forgotten to charge your iPad from last night or it is malfunctioning) - in which later you can then simply make the notes smarter and neater in your own time.

Stolen or Damaged - a negative aspect of the Apple iPad is that it is valuable and therefore a target for theft - hence by taking it into campus there is a risk of it getting stolen or even accidentally broken with so many people in university lecture theatres. It is therefore important to firstly password protect your iPad and secondly to insure your iPad from being stolen or accidentally damaged.

Summary of the Advantages and Disadvantages for Using an iPad in University Lectures

In all, I believe the Apple iPad (tablet) to be a great device for using in a university lecture - where you have instant access to the material upon which you can annotate and make additional notes to, as well as having the ability to search relevant material right there and then. I do however also believe that one should bring an additional word pad and paper for the occasions where the iPad is not necessarily needed and where a quick idea or diagram should be noted. (A further point to be mentioned is that although not necessarily a direct disadvantage for an Apple iPad in a university lecture, there needs to be a point about the cost - an iPad is not cheap and one can buy a pretty decent laptop for around the same price, so perhaps that is something worth thinking about also.)

If you have any additional advantages and disadvantages for using an iPad in university lectures or any general insights on using an iPad, as well as any general remarks, then I encourage you to please leave a comment below.