List of JIS layout compatible apps for iPad

I have compiled two lists of apps which I use which are compatible and not compatible with JIS layout keyboards. It can be found here.

Is it really GoodNotes vs Notability?

I have been using both GoodNotes and Notability for a bit now. Both purchases were made after recommendations and some research. Most people seem to pit these two against each other as if they are rivals. But I beg to differ. I’ll tell you why at the end.

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GoodNotes was not made for typing

I like GoodNotes for many reasons but typing isn’t one of them.

Interestingly there isn’t even a button for text input in the toolbar (update: it’s buried deep in the “+” menu). To type text you need to hold a finger down somewhere on the page and select “text” from the popup menu. What you get then is a text-box. You can type what you want then save.

But because of this the text does not “flow” on the page. It doesn’t feel like a “notepad app” which is what taking notes should feel like. In other words GoodNotes is an annotation app for PDFs and not really for taking notes by typing. This is why the handwriting input system is its focus, not it’s typing input system. One can almost say the typing input was an afterthought to GoodNotes.

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Because it’s handwriting input system is so good you can use that independent of any PDF and handwrite on a blank page neatly and usefully. Combined with the latest feature — handwriting recognition — and you have an infinitely more useful productive app.

More on this later.

Using GoodNotes in the classroom

Recently I have been upgrading in the apps department to match my needs for English language teaching. By far the iPad is the best thing for presentation of teaching material on the big screen (the classroom projector screen, that is).

Having held back on forking out money for apps which do similar work to free ones I thought it was high time I tried some to see what all the hype is about.

One apps which I heard recommended over and over again is GoodNotes. Particularly it is the handwriting input system which has caught all the attention. And low and behold I wasn’t disappointed. The implementation of the handwriting by zoom input and auto-shifting (or auto-scrolling, call it what you like) is fantastic. And this works really well with its Presentation Mode which hides all your actions from the students makes it ideal as a teaching tool.

For me I mostly use the projector to show the textbook and teaching material (in PDF format) while we go through it. So being able to annotate there and then is all but crucial. My students love watching the action and it certainly has made my teaching much easier to follow since I use only English to my non-native students. So any instruction tend to be lost or difficult to follow for them.

Checking the answers with students has also made it much easier and more understandable since I can show students exactly where a problem might be for them. By filling in the answers in together as if directly into their textbooks or handouts students tend to respond much better than if checking the answers verbally only.

Ironically it is this aspect of my research about the importance of embodiment which has enhanced and informed my overall teaching skills.