Dropbox and Notability are two powerhouses of iPad education. Notability is arguably the best notetaking app for students and Dropbox, second only to Google Drive, is the best place to store students work. At the Berlage Lyceum we’ve started syncing the two tools which enables teachers to always have insight into the students’ notes and assignments.
Basically, everything the students write in Notability is shared with the respective subject teacher so that they can easily check their, notes, exercises and homework. To me this is the ultimate iPad school experience. Students get to make the most amazing notes including pictures and audio and teachers are able to see whatever they’ve learned within seconds.
I first found out about this when I visited San Domenico Highschool in California with MacScholenGroup last spring.They used Box to store everything but as most of our teachers already use Dropbox we’ll use that instead. It is quite a strenuous ordeal to set it up correctly for all students so I’ve waited until the start of the new year to implement it. This week I’m visiting our 9 new first year iPad classes to set it up with them in one lesson as follows. I could only barely fit this into a 50 minute lesson with the classes I’ve already done. So if you’re thinking of setting this up, get some students or teachers to help you and make sure students do step 1-3 for homework.
How to set up Notability + Dropbox autosync:
1. Sign up for a dropbox account.
2. Download Notability app.
3. Download Dropbox app.
4. Open up the Notability app and start by adding subjects. You should make a different folder for each subject. Give them the name of each subject and add your name as well. For example “English, Suzanne”, “Geography, Suzanne”, “French, Suzanne”. This is necessary because you are going to share these folders with your teachers and otherwise they won’t know whose folder they are looking at.
5. At the bottom right of the Notability app there is a little gear icon. Tap on this to open the settings. Tap on “sync disabled” -> “Autosync to Dropbox” -> log in with your dropbox account -> tap “Sync to /” -> chose PDF -> select the folders you want to sync.
6. Your folders don’t start syncing with Dropbox until you add some notes to them, so make sure you have got notes in your folder before you continue with the next step. The files with autosync as soon as you go back to the main “bookshelf” page.
7. Log in to Dropbox.com via safari. You should now be able to see the subject folders with your name in them. Share the subject folder with each respective teacher (tap on folder icon with the rainbow on it). This way the teachers only see your folder for their subject and not all of your Notability files.
8. That’s it. Now whenever students write a note or do exercises on a PDF file sent by the teacher they are automatically sent to them. The student will no longer need to hand in, share or email any of their homework.
9. As the student’s notes are saved as pdf files you do not need to leave the dropbox app to check their work. Simply tap on the document you want to see and it will show up in the Dropbox app. You can chose to open the pdf file in Notability so you can mark their exercises and save it back to their Dropbox folders.
10. Make your own Dropbox folder and share these with your students. Notability allows them to write on pdf files so you can share exercises, or powerpoint presentations saved as pdf for them to annotate.
11. Put all of the folders that students share with you in one class folder so that they are all organised.
Play around with it. Happy syncing!