One thing that I want to do with this blog is share those resources that I have found most helpful. In interest of this, I decided to put together a list of iPad apps that I have found most useful during my Seminary education. Pretty much none of these are unique in that they are helpful only to the seminarian but together, they have helped me profoundly in staying organized and caught up on my work. Most of these apps are going to be pretty popular, run-of-the-mill apps; however, I hope that I can better explain how I specifically am using them for my Seminary education.
While I was never able to fully embrace the discipline of taking notes on my iPad (and not need to carry my laptop everywhere), I found the best note-taking app for what I needed it to do. This app allows you to take notes by normal text input (either on-screen or bluetooth keyboard) or by using a stylus to handwrite them. It also allows you to arrange your notes into different notebooks and even import a picture as part of your notes. But perhaps the most useful tool of all is that you can record audio of the lecture while you are taking notes and play it back later as you look them over. I found it very useful to have all of these tools combined into one app.
Every good seminary student must have a good Bible app. There are many out there. I really believe that YouVersion is setting the standard as an app for personal reading and devotion; however, I do not find it as useful for academic use and deeper study. For that, I turn to the Logos Bible App. If for no other reason, it is absolutely necessary for the language study tools that it offers, even in its free version. Specifically, it contains a very useful morphologically tagged and parsed version of the SBL Greek New Testament (internet connection and a registered account required for free use). Whether in exegesis for homiletics class, translation for New Testament, or merely personally consulting the text, having such good and easy-to-use tools at your fingertips is invaluable.
Part of being in graduate school is learning to manage your time. Such organization has never been my strong suit. Time management has been even more important to me since I am married and need to be able to prioritize my time so that I can actually get to see my wife on a regular basis. To manage my schedule while also getting my stuff done, I use the pre-installed calendar app and I use Wunderlist. Wunderlist is nothing more than a standard get things done to-do list app. Its beauty and usefulness for me comes in its good design and layout as well as its cloud sync across all platforms (my iPhone, iPad, and Macbook). No matter where I am or what I am doing, my to-do list is never more than a couple of seconds away. Also, I have recently discovered the usefulness of the shared lists feature, which allows you and your partners to work collaboratively on a list to get things done.
Dropbox is pretty much a standard app for anyone who wants to use an iPad effectively. Even Apple’s large investment into the iCloud has proven unable to dethrone Dropbox and its usefulness. Dropbox just makes managing files between different devices too easy. I am able to take a document on my Mac, drop it into the Dropbox folder, and it is available on my iPad or iPhone within seconds. Its usefulness for someone having to deal with a lot of documents, papers, and readings cannot be overstated.
This app will only be useful to someone who attends a school that uses the Blackboard management systems (yours may use Angel, Moodle, or something else). When I first downloaded the app, I really did not expect much, especially in light of the fact that it has generally not reviewed well at the iTunes store. However, it has proven to be extremely useful. When I launch the app, all of this semester’s classes are listed in front of me. Within a matter of a few seconds, I can pull up a copy of a syllabus, this weeks reading assingment (in PDF), read any correspondence that may have taken place on there, and check out any grades the professor might have posted. I was stunned at how well laid out the app ended up being and it is consistently an app I use most. In fact, its value can be illustrated by the fact that it holds a coveted permanent position on the bottom dock of my iPad apps (along with Mail, Wunderlist, Calendar, and Logos).
Finally, seeing that I am constantly being assinged to read documents that are in PDF form, I quickly realized that I needed an app that went past the small features that the Apples iBooks app provides. After reading many reviews and purchasing multiple apps, I have found the most useful to be GoodReader. All of your documents can be organized into various folders. GoodReader provides the necessary tools to annotate the document as you go along. You can highlight or underline. You can write text in the margins or place a post-it type note where larger thoughts can be written. Other shapes and markings are also avialable to help you effectively mark up a document. As I look around the app, I see there are several features that I still have not learned, but I have seen enough to realize that this app has helped me to stay organized and save trees by effectively reducing the amount of papers I need to print out, have, and carry around. By the end of last semester, I estimated that I had stored around 1,000 pages worth of documents in GoodReader, just for one semester’s work. I would never have been able to keep up with that many documents and the notes I made on them without being able to keep them in digital form.
What about you? Are there any apps that you have found or would imagine to be especially useful to the Seminary student (or graduate/college student)?