I’m a millennial to the core. Everything I do, from banking to making a shopping list, is electronic. I shun paper and digitize all the things.
Part of it is my insanely nerdy need to be as organized and efficient as possible. When I’m organized, my brain feels organized.
The other part is my concern for the environment. I’ve set a personal goal of lessening my impact on our planet, and not contributing to paper waste helps me meet that goal. 🌳
In my quest to rid paper from my life, my iPad has become my best sidekick.
I watch videos and take notes in waiting rooms. I brainstorm and draw while dinner is cooking. I check out e-books from the local library and read when I have a few moments to myself.
When I began to pursue web development as a career in 2017, adding an iPad to my learning arsenal turbocharged my time and efficiency. So today I’d like to share the apps that have helped me make the most of my learning time.
I’ve never been a great note-taker. My handwriting is messy and I type a lot faster than I can write. While I’d rather tap a keyboard than grab a pen, I can’t argue with science.
Research has shown that you understand concepts more deeply when you write them down. The fact that writing takes longer than typing is exactly what helps you learn.
For that reason, my typical learning process is:
- Watch video or read content
- Take handwritten notes on what I just learned in my own words
- Review concepts after I take a break
- Convert handwritten notes to a document in a note-taking app and add code examples
Here’s the apps I use to help me get this done. I use an Apple Pencil because I love the pressure sensitivity, but any stylus will work. You can even use your finger! ✍
Goodnotes is a digital note-taking app that lets you take handwritten notes, annotate documents, create templates, and more.
It comes with paper options such as graph, lined or plain. You can also pick from various notebook covers or upload your own designs.
A helpful feature I use a lot in this app is its awesome OCR recognition. You can search through your handwritten notes as if they were text.
You can get fancy with Goodnotes or just keep it simple. The beauty of this app is its flexibility, and endless inspiration can be found on their social media accounts.
After I take handwritten notes in Goodnotes, I let the material stew in my brain for a while. I review any concepts that aren’t clear to me, then I transfer my handwritten notes to Bear.
Price: Free version or $1.49 a month/$14.99 a year for extended features
Cardflow is an index card app I use for brainstorming, flash cards, and mind mapping. I enjoyed the free version for a long time, and recently purchased Cardflow+.
I can now draw directly on the board, add images, export cards to PDF, link cards to make outlines, and more. This app is great for the times when I’m having trouble grasping particularly tricky concepts. I can write out my thoughts and questions on cards and tease them out of my brain visually.
Price: Free version or $14.99 for extended features
Doing coding exercises without having a keyboard is tough. Luckily, I’ve found some apps with a great design that makes completing coding challenges on a mobile device a little easier.
These apps have been a big part of my success in completing two rounds of #100DaysOfCode. I open them up and do a little practicing here and there and before I know it I’ve met the “code for an hour a day” requirement.
SoloLearn has courses, challenges, exercises, and a great community. You can learn by yourself, ask questions in the comments, and challenge peers.
When you complete a course you get a nice certificate to show off, and the app has a code editor built in. SoloLearn has courses and resources on:
- And more. The list grows all the time!
Progate is a fun app with engaging graphics and interactive exercises. It’s level-based and keeps you motivated to progress through the content.
The lessons in this app are great for learners at all skill levels. I love the clear “lessons in progress” tab and the helpful slide library that allows you to review concepts at a glance.
At this time, Progate offers lessons in:
Price: Free version or $19.99 a month for more lessons and extended features
If you’re ready for deep-dives into front-end development topics, Frontend Masters is an excellent resource. Their courses are taught by industry experts and they add new content all the time.
Not only are the courses high-quality, their iPad app is easy to use. The app syncs your progress with the website and lets you download courses for offline viewing.
At $39 a month it’s definitely a bit of an investment. But it’s 110% worth the cost in my experience. Some of my favorite Frontend Masters courses are:
- Design for Developers by Sarah Drasner
- Mastering Chrome Dev Tools by Jon Kuperman
- CSS in Depth by Estelle Weyl
Price: $39 a month
I love Skillshare because you don’t have to buy individual courses. You pay $15 a month or $99 a year and you get unlimited access to the entire library.
Skillshare is great because of the variety of courses available. You can learn web development, design, freelancing, and more. Also, if you’re pressed for time Skillshare courses are often only a couple of hours long.
The iPad app suggests courses, saves your progress, reminds you go keep learning, and lets you access student projects and discussions.
A few of my favorite courses on Skillshare are:
- Emmet: Write HTML + CSS Like a Ninja by Rich Armstrong
- UX Design Fundamentals by Joe Natoli
Price: $15 per month or $99 per year
This post is iPad-specific because it’s the device I’ve seen asked about the most. I use a lot of these apps on my Android phone as well, so give them a try on your device and let me know how it goes!
Also, I’m always open to learning about cool new learning apps. So if you know about one I didn’t mention above let me know so I can try it out. 😎
I’m a Tucson, Arizona-based web developer. I’ve been blogging since the mid-1990s and I’m knowledgeable in all aspects of maintaining an online presence from design to code to SEO and content creation. I live in an RV with my husband and in my spare time I enjoy photography, hiking, drawing, and playing video games.