Annotate like a Pro with iAnnotate PDF. This is another of my favorite apps that is currently on-sale (only until February 4th so quickly read on!). I receive documents in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Intervention plans, data graphs, new forms, etc., and they all usually require my thoughts and/or interpretations but they don’t always come in a form that is easy to comment on, add my thoughts, or review*. iAnnotate is great because regardless of the form it comes in, you can seamlessly convert the file into a “PDF” document you can annotate using Apple’s “open in..” function. Below are some of the pros and cons I see in the app for School Psychologists to use but the website has great information.
- Wide variety of annotation tools to use to make comments (pencil, marker, color, stamps, text boxes, notes, highlighters, image stamp, just to name a few)
- Access to variety of cloud based platforms such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, SkyDrive, WebDAV
- Share your comments in a variety of forms such as a “annotated (annotations can be viewed and modified) “flattened” (receiver sees comments but can’t edit them), summary of annotations, or original
- For updated iPads, you can AirDrop files to other AirDrop users (iPad or Mac computer)
- Work on multiple documents all at once, because we all over multitask. Up to 8 tabs open at a time!
- Great for recording a student while completing a running record. Recording audio is built in and then annotate as the student reads. Paperless work in action.
- There are LOTS of features and I probably don’t use half of them on a regular basis. It would be nice to have a version that was 1/2 as powerful and 1/2 the price.
- It isn’t always clear how to save a document or if it is automatically saving. I’m just not that trusting.
- I know I can edit and customize the toolbars but I’m not sure why the share button isn’t automatically on the main bar, without a customized bar I have to go digging.
Uses for Students:
- On lecture notes, outlines, slides students can write comments or highlight key points that were important to them as they participated in the lecture.
- Built in text-to-speech so students can select text in the file to be read out loud.
- Along the lines of running records, students could record themselves reading, listen to the recording, and then make comments on their own reading afterwards.
- Due to the “heft” of this app, I’d recommend using it with older students (upper Elementary, MS, HS, College, etc.) because younger students may find it overwhelming and not user friendly.
* I think we can all agree that Word's "comment" function isn't all that user friendly!
A while ago I wrote an initial review on the app School Psych Tools which is an app specifically created for School Psychologists. I know! How often does that happen?! As with any app there are pros and cons but what distinguishes a good app from a great app is when the developers respond to feedback and actively work to improve their app. This is the case for School Psych Tools. I’m not going to go in to the previous “Pros” I described in my first post but I will review changes made that were “Cons” previously
Cons – Now Pros:
Previously the app was for iPhone and the background was grainy when you ran the app on your iPad. This is no longer the case. The app is a universal app meaning it is optimized for both iPhone and iPad. The graphics are great on both devices. No complaints.
Previously you could only view the app in portrait mode which wasn’t helpful if you preferred typing in landscape mode but this has been corrected for the iPhone and iPad. Type in landscape mode to your hearts content. If you want to get really fancy undock and split the keyboard for when you don’t have a table to sit and type when you’re observing.
When using the age calculator, you’re now able to change the date of birth date and the testing date and you’re not limited to only using the age calculator on the date you are testing. This is a great feature for me especially when I have too much to do and too little time. Anyone else feel that way?
Features to Be Desired:
Here is where my lack of technical expertise comes in to play and limits my ability to understand if the app is doing what it says it is supposed to do. Password protection. As I discussed in my first School Psych Tools post, I strongly encourage you to password protect your whole mobile device but when individual apps are password protected I perceive my sensitive information is even more protected. The School Psych Tools Manual indicates that by following their password protection steps that an additional level of data encryption is applied. You do not have to enter a password every time you open the app and the manual suggests that this is what the user would want. I “feel” better when apps ask me to put in a passcode when it opens, whether the app is actually more secure or not, I don’t know.
The observation features and settings in the School Psych Tools app are some of the best I’ve seen in the observation apps and services available for individuals completing in-school student observations. Here is my “wish list”
- Add narrative information to an observation without pausing the active observation. A format such as split screen would be a good option.
- When you can add narrative notes to the observation while it is running the added notes should be time stamped.
Another welcomed feature would be the ability to make students “inactive” after they have left your building for whatever reason. This would also be helpful for a case when the student is doing so well that they are no longer receiving intervention supports. The app developers have shared that this feature is in the works so this will be a great and useful addition in the future. As I mentioned in my initial post on the pros and cons of School Psych Tools, the developers of the app are responsive and open to feedback. They’ve proven that they listen and make the tool better. Who wouldn’t want to buy a tool that continues to get better and the improvements are free?