The iPad, PDFs and the Professor: Digital Document Annotation


In a recent post I wrote about my experience with using GoodReader on the iPad with a projector, for sharing PDF (and other) documents. I also noted in earlier posts how the new iBooks app would include note taking and bookmarking. Scott McLeod, Ph.D., recently posted a comprehensive article with informative screenshots about his experience with digital document annotation. The article has three main parts. In the first part, he addresses using the Kindle app for highlighting and note making. In the second, he describes moving your collected Kindle notes online into Evernote. In the final section, he documents using the iAnnotate PDF app for the iPad to mark up PDF files and offers his conclusions. For me, this final part was the most relevant.

iAnnotate PDF has tools for highlighting, adding notes, underlining, strikethrough and freehand notation or drawing. Dr. McLeod makes a strong case for educators to use iAnnotate as a PDF tool on the iPad, especially when combined with Dropbox (a popular online service to store, sync and share files). He correctly points out that GoodReader and the next iBooks app do not include iAnnotate’s ability to mark up PDF files. However, iAnnotate PDF does not have video out. With the addition of video display, iAnnotate may indeed be the ideal app for educators to read PDFs, collect notes, mark up articles, offer feedback on student work, and selectively share those activities with a larger audience. Dr. McLeod also recommends the Pogo Sketch stylus, essentially a digital pen for your digital tablet. I too use this stylus with my iPad and find it a valuable accessory. 

N.B.  Educators will recognize Scott McLeod as the co-creator of the popular video Did You Know (a.k.a. Shift Happens).

About Andy Brovey

Dr. Andy Brovey, The Portable Prof, helps others make sense and make use of digital tools through his work, websites and social media. He has over 30 years experience in educational technology, including teaching, administration and professional development. In 2007, Apple Inc. recognized his work and named him an Apple Distinguished Educator. He started this iPad Academy website shortly after the first iPad went on sale to help others become more comfortable and competent with the iPad, in person and online. His latest venture is Teach About Tech, a resource marketplace for technology trainers.