At last week's National Tax and Accountants Conferences there was quite an array of mobile technology in use both in and outside the main sessions. While trying in vain to keep up with one speaker's Powerpoint slides I had a Eureka moment and pulled out my iPhone - any smartphone would have done the job - and used the built-in camera to record the slides I felt might be worth revisiting later. Sitting a few rows from the front made this more feasible, I didn't need to zoom in too much so camera shake didn't affect readability. I can now summarise the Powerpoint slides at my leisure.
But I thought this looked like an ideal opportunity to test out the iPad as a tool to make CPD easier. Could it make note taking easier/better/quicker?
I took a few new apps with me on the iPad and found that Notability took some beating. This app provides several easy to use tools to make note taking in seminars and lectures much easier. You can type notes, add pictures, insert web clips, draw pictures or make handwritten notes, plus you can also make an audio recording of the talk and on playback the audio is synchronised with your note taking. I didn't use the audio feature at the conference (because it takes as long to play back as the original presentation - I just want to skim through my notes afterwards!), but the facility to take quick outline notes in bullet point format was very handy. At the end of the day it's dead easy to send the file to Dropbox and pick it up either on the MacBook or on my office PC.
I also had a go at Note Take HD, an app specifically for handwritten notes. Using a Boxwave iPad Stylus you simply use the iPad like a sheet of paper. It works pretty well - in fact so well that I have ended up using the Boxwave stylus for all sorts of data input on the iPad. It has made my typing more accurate as it prevents me hitting the wrong key with my big fingers!
Honourable mention goes to Penultimate, another handwritten note taking app. This has some great note organising features, and you can buy all sorts of extra stationery such as music manuscript, to-do lists and blank diary pages. Again, the Boxwave stylus makes this much more useable, but you could just about using it for writing with your finger on the iPad screen.
Conclusion - the iPad has become an indispensable aid at CPD events, and my notes are far better organised and accessible.
About Nigel Harris
I'm a partner with Burton Sweet, chartered accountants & business advisers, and run the Shepton Mallet office down in beautiful Somerset. Despite the name, Shepton Mallet is actually the home of Glastonbury Festival! I trained in audit and corporate tax with Grant Thornton and came to my current position in 1991 via small local practices and a stint with a training consortium.
I have the distinction of being one of the original members of the AccountingWEB editorial team, having been a freelance writer here for a year or so before John Stockdyk joined!