The Importance of Note Taking Apps

The GoodNotes app published a blog post about how Shirantha Beddag uses the GoodNotes app in her teaching.

While the blog post is worth reading for anyone who teaches music, it is also good reading for the rest of us. GoodNotes (and similar apps like Apple’s Notes and Notability) are foundation-level apps for those of us in education. As such, they run the risk of disappearing into the background. 

But these note taking apps are the kind of things administrators, faculty, staff, and students alike will use day in and day out. For that reason, it’s important to find an app that fits your needs. And, quite frankly, they are one of the biggest reasons to go with an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil combination. We may not all be ready to take advantage of the artistic potential offered by ProCreate. Everyone who has meetings inflicted upon them need a way to take notes.

For me, the reason that I ended up going with GoodNotes is its use of notebooks organizational metaphor rather than a system that hews closer to a computer file system, which is what is found in Notability and Apple’s Notes app. All three are strong, and there are others that are worth looking into. The strength of the App Store is that it provides options that users can weigh. For some students, the ability to record a lecture may be the killer feature, as opposed to GoodNotes’ ability to search handwritten text.

So how will you know, short of downloading them all and playing with them? Fortunately, someone has done that for you already. Serenity Caldwell has a great run-down of several apps on iMore. Also, ask around and see what your colleagues are using. I’ve noticed people who have chosen an app, rather than just going with a default, are happy to show you how their app helps their idiosyncrasies. 

Dr. Matthew M. DeForrest is a Professor of English and the Mott University Professor at Johnson C. Smith University. The observations and opinions he expresses here are his own. You are very welcome to follow him on Twitter and can find his academic profile at