This month’s FTI guest blogger is Dr. Emily Neil Skinner from Teacher Education.


Attending the Faculty Technology Institute 2012: Teaching the Tech Generation last summer was reminiscent of going to the Cooper River Bridge Pre-Race Expo. Or seeing Cirque de Soleil. Like the race expo, there was so much to see and try on- only the (free) merchandise was tech tools instead of running gear. Similar to Cirque de Soleil, the tech tools presented a lot of eye candy….

I was instantly engaged. But, a little overwhelmed. I needed to focus. I could relate to the tech generation students whose technology practices and identities were the focus of the institute. So much technology. So little time. What to focus my attention on? I remembered the advice of my mentor when I was a 6th grade ELA teacher in Michigan and we attended the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Conference together: Just pick a couple of things to take away and implement immediately

So, I strategically approached the institute with this advice in mind. Pick a couple of ideas to take away from the smorgasbord of technologies and tools presented and start using them before I forget them. Which of the seemingly multiplying apps would be most useful to me tomorrow and also on a day-to-day basis?

I currently serve as a co-editor of the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy (with Margaret Hagood, TEDU). We collectively adjudicate 250+ peer-reviewed manuscripts a year, and keeping track of our manuscript tracking is almost as challenging as reading and responding to the manuscripts themselves. However, with the professional development offered at the 2012 Faculty Technology Institute last summer, ongoing assistance and insights from our super-savvy tech liaison, Mendi Benigni, and our wicked smart and efficient administrative assistant, Meg Manuel, we have set up a system that utilizes multiple tech tools to help organize, share and collaboratively respond to hundreds of manuscripts and related documents.

For this blog entry, I will zoom in on my use of GoodNotes, an app that I was introduced to at the FTI.GoodNotes icon GoodNotes allows users to download pdfs, annotate the documents, organize docs in files and share your notes with others. I started with the free app, but once I had hit my two “notebook” limit for saving documents, I shelled out the $4.99 so I could save an unlimited amount of notebooks (pdf’s).  Users can save multiple documents within one notebook if, for instance, needing to respond to students’ work, all assignments could go in the same notebook and users may have two notebooks available at all times (users can delete a notebook at any time).

screenshot of goodnotes shelf

Since I prefer to save each manuscript separately, the upgraded app was a no-brainer. The free app has all of the capabilities of the $4.99 app as far as annotation.

Basically, from start to finish, this is how it goes with GoodNotes:

  • When users  touch on the pdf on the iPad from downloading context, an “Open in Goodnotes” option is given.
  • Users are then given an option to start a new notebook, or if a notebook is already open, the pdf can be opened at the bottom of that notebook.
  • Users can either write with a stylus, fingertip, or in a text box. Text boxes   can be stretched to fit any size/shape and moved  around on the pdf.

screenshot of goodnotes

  • Users can also highlight text as part of reading or highlight comments to ensure they are easy to find when returning to the document later. I always highlight my comments so that I can locate them later when drafting decision letters.
  • Users can view pdfs a single page at a time or flip to the navigation tool where all the pages can be seen at one time (along with highlights and comments). Like all iPad apps, users can zoom in as much as desired. GoodNotes saves instantaneously so writing is never lost before it has been saved.
  • PDFs can be exported (either a page or the whole notebook) with or without notes with collaborators via email, iTunes, Dropbox or other external apps on the iPad.  Printing wirelessly is easy.
  • Filing documents is user-friendly-through selecting “edit” and then exporting, moving, duplicating or deleting files.

In short, GoodNotes is user-friendly and time-efficient. If you decide to try it out, I’m confident you’ll have a GoodTime with GoodNotes! GoodLuck!