Going back to university as an iPad only user

Discussion in 'iPad' started by SB-MBP, Sep 16, 2017.

  1. SB-MBP Suspended

    SB-MBP

    Joined:
    May 11, 2013
    Location:
    N. Ireland
    #1
    There’s a lot of interest about the iPad only lifestyle since iOS 11 and the Pro came out, so I’m inclined to share experiences that you might like to read about on here and get a discussion going about whether or not you think it’s a good idea or maybe how it’s working for you too.

    Last year, at university <for studying accountancy and finance> I found that our note taking was all on paper or the odd person with a laptop (one had a Surface Pro!). I used to write them down on paper, neaten them up and then type them up on my Mac on Word in a neater, more space efficient way for revising them over the weeks. So Paper > Word > Print. I had a bag full of handouts, past exam papers, written notes, printed out Word notes and three colour coded folders for each module. It worked, and the fact I maintained it probably meant I was more organised than most of the others there!

    This year, I’m iPad only. And I decided, for all of the iPad’s strengths and weaknesses - note taking is it’s forte as much as anything else! So I’m going to use it to it’s full power. One of the reasons I didn’t take my 13” non-Retina MBP was it was heavy, and I didn’t like that if I set my backpack down too fast I might crack the screen, dent it or ruin it in some way. It was also noticeably heavy on the shoulders. I must add, I do NOT have a Pro model so pencil productivity doesn’t apply to me, however, I feel like the iPad with a keyboard is quite sufficient and I’ll explain more why as I write on. Perhaps not as ideal, but for a budget conscious student, I think the non Pro iPad will do the job just as well, if not as naturally, but still could do you much better than a cheap Windows laptop anyway!

    First off all, if you do a course like what, Architecture or Science that requires specialist programmes, then throw the idea of iPad only out the window. For accountancy, whilst specific software like Sage exists in the real world, you won’t be using it at university. And whilst Excel is an amazing programme with no limits on the full Windows desktop, you’ll find that many accounting practices don’t use more than basic formatting and mathematical formulas. Let alone the fact they wouldn’t let you take home client info on a personal device from home. But anyway, my point is, for Accounting I don’t need to use specialist Windows only software. But if I did, and if you do, then the iPad ONLY model won’t work. Because I know a lot of you will point that out, and right you are!

    In my backpack, I plan on carrying the iPad (2017), a Logitech K380 wireless keyboard and a battery charger (not that you’d need it on the iPad, but handy if you forget to charge it!). On top of this, a notepad, a pen, pencil, basic stationary and some graph paper. One big folder with compartments for each module - I’m done having a folder for each. Quite a slim and light backpack.

    ALL written notes when I can’t type on the iPad will eventually be typed up to Notability. For handouts, timetables and other documents that ‘pile up’ in your backpack, I plan on scanning them with Scanner Pro by Readdle. Then, I’ve got high quality copies on iCloud and on my iPad. I’ll export them into PDF format and annotate them with PDF Export by Readdle - for filling in forms and emailing them or printing them out. As for, say module information sheets, I’ll save them as PDFs in iCloud and keep it all paperless. I found that I didn’t look at this type of info much last year, but didn’t want to throw it out in case. iCloud is the perfect place for this to pile up and not in my backpack. In many cases, as paper is handed to me it’ll be recycled the same day after being scanned. Something I’m quite excited about. And I’ll be able to check and produce copies of it without leaving it at home etc which happened before.

    Taking Notes in Lectures is a huge part of university. Lots of apps exist for doing this, Apple’s Notes with table support and handwriting etc is actually now sufficient too! But there’s some great apps out there. You’ve got MS Office and the iWork suite at hand, but OneNote and Notability are two prime examples of great note taking for each of your modules. I’m going to go with Notability. It’s flexible, and it has a voice recording feature that tracks the place on the audio and your notes for listening to again. My personal choice, but there’s an abundance of options for you to choose on iOS. And of course they all link to iCloud or OneDrive too so if my iPad is stolen or broken I can login from a friends computer or even my phone to access important files.

    As I said, I’ll be carrying and using a keyboard with the iPad. And I’m using a supermarket rip of of Apple’s smart case at the minute which takes up little space on the narrow lecture hall desks providing a nice little way to quickly type notes - I’m a fast typed which helps and I enjoy typing whilst looking away too and challenging myself to stay accurate. I found with written notes, they were rushed and sometimes un readable even by me which was annoying. Typing eliminated this. I always wondered why the Apple Pencil would be a good idea as I found working with hand writing to be a PITA and time consuming! Except for diagrams and art. Hopefully the K380 isn’t too loud. Some people using cheap HP laptops had keys with what I assume was cheap build quality and even light typing made a loud, annoying noise. At least with the iPad, you can buy another keyboard to suit your typing comfort requirements if one doesn’t do the job. On a laptop, love it or leave it. It’s fixed on.

    For essays and written reports I’ll use Microsoft Word for ease of sharing with Windows users. It perfectly appears on other peoples screens as it appears on the iPad - and when you used advanced features on the desktop versions and work on them on iPad, it knows how to handle them too. Over time, Microsoft is adding more and more desktop features. And if you need something it doesn’t have, every university has library PCs with desktop Office and other apps so don’t feel like this is a reason to ditch the iPad! People often forget they have that option. Most of you will get Office 365 and 1000GB free of OneDrive space with your university around the world I think, so take advantage of it!!! Don’t worry about printing either, or owning a printer as your university library has a printer you can use. Log onto iCloud and press print and you’ve saved the headache of buying, filling and maintaining a printer.

    Between Scanner Pro, Notability, iCloud Drive, Microsoft Office 365, iWork, etc the iPad is a real productivity machine. For university, it is superb. It’s convenient. And it’s also got all my personal business there too - Apple Music, Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Bookmarks and more - on the one, beautifully crafted glass and gold aluminium machine. I seriously think more people could follow suit and have a much better experience than a cheap Windows PC. Or maybe even a less valuable computer vs. An expensive new Mac to work on and pocket the savings for other things.

    Hopefully this inspired or provided some value to you, and thanks for taking the time to read it. As always, interested to hear your thoughts. Have you decided to do the same? Any suggestions?
     
  2. TinaBelcher macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2017
    #2
    I just started school with the intention of using my iPad Pro, and my teachers told me off about using it. So annoyed.
     
  3. yep-sure macrumors 6502

    yep-sure

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2012
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #3
    I use my iPad Pro for almost everything for my university study. Writing notes, watching lectures, reading/marking up PDFs, writing essays, etc..

    There is only ONE thing that I can't do on my iPad Pro, and that's actually submit an assignment via TurnItIn. The webpage doesn't have scroll bars on the iPad for some reason, so I can't scroll down to the submit button! It's ridiculous, but that's the only thing I use my MacBook Pro for now. I wanted to sell it, but it seems I can't.

    Hoping iOS11 Safari fixes the problem, but it's not likely.
     
  4. pika2000 macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2007
    #4
    I would agree that the iPad can be a great note taking device. Imagine if Apple add pencil support to a new mini....

    But generally, yeah unless you know all the software needed for your courses are available on iOS, it is very difficult to go ipad only for now. Heck, it's not until recently that universities and book publishers are starting to be Mac friendly in terms the type of software they require and support.

    We are still quite some time before the education beuracracy embrace a new platform.
     
  5. mk313 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2012
    #5
    Have you tried other browsers on the iPad. I had a similar issue with my schools webpage, and for some reason it worked in chrome on iPad but not safari. We didn't use turn it in though so. The functionality might be different
     
  6. Cascades42 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
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    UK
    #6
    What? That's crazy.

    I had a maths professor who said he didn't like the vast majority of technology ask me to go to his office hours and spend 20 minutes showing him the iPad with the Apple Pencil - and now he has one. Instead of using the blackboards he projects an iPad Pro, and uploads the note in PDF form to our class site afterwards.
     
  7. Abazigal macrumors 604

    Abazigal

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    Singapore
    #7
    This.

    The onus is going to be on the user to ensure that his iPad works properly in all the required scenarios, since the school isn't required, and shouldn't be expected to bend over backwards to support your choice of device.

    I am a teacher who has managed to integrate my iPad Pro into my teaching workflow. It took a ton of experimentation and trial and error, but I enjoyed the journey, and while I haven't been able to do away with my computers yet, it has well been worth it.

    Wish the OP luck in his iPad endeavours!
     
  8. yep-sure macrumors 6502

    yep-sure

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    #8
    I've tried Chome, to no avail. Thanks for the suggestion anyway!
     
  9. Cascades42 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Location:
    UK
    #9
    It might be worth trying iCab - you can set your browser profile to anything you like (such as Firefox on Windows) which for some reason often helps in situations like this I've found.
     
  10. TinaBelcher macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2017
    #10
    I understand why it would be foolish to use an iPad during a test or exam, but to tell us we should exclude it all together as our daily computer bugs me. I hate using my MacBook Pro. It feels slower because I have to drag my finger around the touchpad to reach certain stuff, while on the iPad everything is a click away. Good you educated your math professor!
     
  11. yep-sure macrumors 6502

    yep-sure

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    Location:
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    #11
    Thanks, I'll give it a try.
     
  12. sracer macrumors 603

    sracer

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    Location:
    Land of Bongos and Beatniks
    #12
    There are a variety of reasons why an instructor would steer students away from an iPad (Pro or otherwise)... many of them good reasons. But of course it is highly dependent upon the particular institution and/or the particular courses students are taking. Here are just a few:
    • Online resources that require browser plug-ins.
    • Reports/Papers that have specific formatting requirements.
    • Specialized software used by a particular course.
    • Limitations/restrictions of the on-campus network.
     
  13. BornAgainMac macrumors 603

    BornAgainMac

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    Location:
    Florida Resident
    #13
    Get a cheap Windows PC and have it running in your home and remote into it from your iPad Pro. I use Splashtop but there are others.
     
  14. Brammy macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2008
    #14
    I had the opposite problem with Canvas. I could submit, but it was reading the instructor's inline comments on a submitted paper that was the problem. He used the markup feature in Canvas. Like you said, the scroll buttons were off. I couldn't even get to the button to let me download the annotated PDF file.
     
  15. SB-MBP thread starter Suspended

    SB-MBP

    Joined:
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    Location:
    N. Ireland
    #15
    I know Word, PowerPoint and Excel are quite limited vs. The desktop versions..
    And that TurnItIn (we use that too) might not work - though I’m going to try it when I get the chance..

    These aren’t deal breakers for the iPad only lifestyle (in my opinion) but let me tell you why;-

    Because you have 24/7 access to library PC’s so the few times a year you need to upload to TurnItIn, drop in and upload it. Maybe even drop in and spend a bit doing your formatting on Word such as contents and bibliography. Because iPad’s Word can perfectly work with these things once they’re implemented - though it is a real compromise that you can’t do 100% of the job on the tablet.

    Personally for me, I can drop into the library and I’m willing to tolerate the inconvenience - since I’m on campus anyway so often. I understand others might not, but if you’re itching to go iPad only, above is a way to do it despite the great points brought up that might put you off.

    I’m all for constructive criticism of the iPad lifestyle, because it can lead to solutions or at least make it clear to undecided buyers before spending the hard earned cash :)
     
  16. sracer macrumors 603

    sracer

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    Land of Bongos and Beatniks
    #16
    That wouldn't be "iPad-only" then. That is still relying on another computer to accomplish your coursework. Using your definition of "iPad-only", it is possible to be "iPhone-only" as well. ;)

    "iPad as primary data entry device" is perhaps more accurate.
     
  17. SB-MBP thread starter Suspended

    SB-MBP

    Joined:
    May 11, 2013
    Location:
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    #17
    Yeah, technically speaking.

    But back when I had MacBook’s over the years and my iPhone as my only devices, I had to use Windows PCs at school and work daily so it just depends how far you want to take the term ‘only’.

    But yeah, you’re right. It does technically depend on another device. But you only need to invest in and own one personally
     
  18. Mainsail macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
    #18
    I read this thread with great interest, and I wish the OP best of luck. Please keep us posted on how it goes: the good, the bad, and the ugly......there is always some ugly when you try something new.

    I am not too hung up on wether you are strictly iPad only or use the library PC from time to time. The point is that you are doing the lion's share of your University school work on the iPad, and it is the only device that you need to purchase.

    However, I am curious about one thing, and that is the use of Excel and Spreadsheets on a tablet. I have a MBA in Finance, and 20 years ago spreadsheets were commonly used for class. Of course, things may have changed. My son is double majoring in Econ and Math, and he says that they primarily use R and STATA. Anyway, I would think a laptop would be considerably better than a tablet for building spreadsheets. I have built a few spreadsheets on my iPad. It helps to use predefined templates when possible, and keyboard shortcuts also make navigation a lot easier. Nevertheless, the iPad would not be my first tool of choice for spreadsheet development.
     
  19. Altis macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2013
    #19
    I rarely see iPads on campus. It's mostly generic-looking Windows laptops and MacBook Air/Pros (though mostly in the Arts/Social Sciences for those).

    I'm in Engineering so the iPad is not even a remotely useful device for what we do. The software we use and even many of the websites we use won't work on an iPad at all.

    With an iPad, you'd need at least the keyboard, at which point I start to wonder what you're gaining by using an iPad over a MacBook.

    The MacBook has a keyboard+trackpad, larger screen, can run any software you need (including Windows), can be docked to a larger monitor + keyboard/mouse, can use USB devices/drives, etc... The multitasking is leaps and bound more practical and quick to use.

    I suppose that's why I pretty much never see them. I see more Surface products but even then only few and far between.
     
  20. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    #20
    The issue is, will an iOS device fit the needs of your classes. Its been a very long time since I was taking college classes, it predates tablets by decades.

    Anyways, if a given class requires certain apps to be used, and those apps are not available on iOS then you're stuck needing to use a PC from the labs or library and are constrained by their availability.
     
  21. Mainsail macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    Be careful of false economies. Yes, you can buy a base iPad for $300, and a MacBook Air on sale will run about $800.....$500 savings. However, consider the following; an undergraduate degree will cost at least $100K (tuition, books, dorms, etc.) at most public Universities. So, you will be saving about 1/2 of one percent of your education cost by using an iPad vs a MacBook. You don't want your costly college education hampered by not using the proper device. Besides, it could cost you way more than $500, if you have to retake a class or can't carry as large of a course load because you are using the wrong equipment.

    I am not necessarily saying you won't be able to succefully use an iPad in lieu of a laptop. If you find that you are constantly fight it, then give yourself permission to change directions. A big part of being a colllege student is learning how to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances.
     
  22. sracer macrumors 603

    sracer

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    #22
    IMO that is NOT the point. The OP started this thread out stating pursuing an "iPad-only lifestyle". If using library/lab PC's on campus is part of that lifestyle, then that undermines the whole stated purpose. And if it is NOT iPad-only, then it would be prudent to take a step back and see if another device can serve the purpose better.

    It is a worthwhile endeavor to examine how one uses technology, think different, explore new approaches to old tasks, and if new devices can serve those purposes better. But in the end, it is (or should be), about "getting things done" and not about the tool used to perform those tasks.
     
  23. Mainsail macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    I am not taking this iPad only thing quite so literally. Someone might say I only want to own a hybrid compact car because they believe it meets almost all of their day to day transportation needs. However, occasionally they need to borrow or rent a pickup to haul some stuff to the dump. Others might believe that you need to own a pickup because you never know when you might need it. That's fine. Both approaches are valid. I would question the wisdom of the decision to buy a pickup if you only use it twice a year. On the other hand, I would question the decision to purchase a hybrid compact car if you work in construction and daily need to transport stuff in the bed of a truck.
     
  24. cardfan macrumors 65816

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    Mar 23, 2012
    #24
    MBA in taxation and CPA. Yeah, I couldn't even begin to simply use an ipad although my college days predate them. We simply have little use for them. The only saving grace for a Mac is the ability to run windows when needed. I would say don't get hung up on wanting to use certain tech or trying to bug bosses or professors about it (they don't appreciate it). Ipad pro's aren't expensive, if you want one for college, go get one. But have a laptop. I'd like to think Apple provides a dual approach to be used in unison.
     
  25. SB-MBP thread starter Suspended

    SB-MBP

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    N. Ireland
    #25
    So far studying an Accounting degree (accredited by all the big UK and Ireland accounting bodies btw - so not some Mickey Mouse course in case it seems that way) and there’s nothing yet that requires more than basic Excel functionality - even iOS basic. No need for Sage or anything else that I may not know about yet.

    It’s literally theory - writing out manually, you know, the old way of accounting to understand the fundamentals and being tested on them through written exams. Same with all business degrees at my university too. I get that in Computer Science when you’re tasked with building databases etc there’s no way the iPad could work. But in the UK, degrees like mine certainly don’t require those software packages. I’d imagine art etc and other non science and non computer intense topics are the same. From my work experience, working as a Chartered Accountant in practice - not as an owner or manager - but as an employee, will also not require you do work at home or require a ‘personal’ device as such - I know this because one of them managers was a senior accountant who only had an iPad at home which seemed to reflect her technological interest! (Had a dumb phone Nokia too! But it worked for her).

    Since February I was without Mac, and my brief time with a new ThinkPad came after my last university exam. So I was iPad only during my second semester of Year 1 and had no issue whatsoever! I just happened to be at university when I had tests of BlackBoard Learn and did them there, not because I had no faith in the iPad, but because I just got out of a two hour revision lecture and it was fresh on my mind! But this year, I’m making a point of *trying* to use the iPad, and I’ll feedback my result.

    All I can do is continue to relay back my experience as it goes on - I welcome all criticism and objections as well as people who are agreeing with me.

    But as of now, my view is still that the iPad is 100% capable because I don’t depend on specialist software. I can imagine in ten years time max, ALL of the specialist software being native on iPad. But I’m aware we’re not there yet!
     

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