Apps: 14 Tips for Teacher and Lecturers

Tips for Teachers and Lecturers about Workflow, Apps and everything in between

Apps Teacher ZoomNote DevonThink

Question from Michael on 05 April 2017

Hello Steffi, I have discovered your blog at Lars Bobachs blog -) and will post my questions there as well:

Which App-Setup /under the conditions "less is more and "as less as possible but as much as necessary) is for me as teacher/lecture the best and efficient solution?

My current situation:

(with my old iMac 2008, Ipad 2 and Iphone 4S). Yesterday, I bought a iPad Pro 12.9'' and the pencil will arrive tomorrow. I like to be paperless and I like to summarise everything on my Ipad. Calendar, Mail and Browser work on heavy-duty.

I have to access my files which are documents in RTF/DOC/PDF etcetera, Videos, Tables, Photos - everything for preparation of the lectures or administration documents.

Many documents will be adjusted on MAC and updated - also video and pictures.

Currently, everything is stored on Dropbox but is almost on it's limit for storing data.

Important to note: I have to access documents on the school server using the browser for downloading those. That works just great with the file system on MAC.

Moreover, I write short and long text, also notes and essays. For longer text documents I have used until now Nisus - on of the MAC classic word processors. For notes on the iPad I use QuickDraw until now.

Everything goes to Dropbox and many time manually.

Additionally, there are special apps i.e. „Digital Schoolbook“ (Mac-App and IOS-App), glossaries for foreign languages etcetera. I am not sure if I can use the Pencil in those apps too. I like to do almost everything on my Ipad Pro including the Pencil. Also, I like to change and improve my workflow.

My question to you / your readers of your blog:

  1. Which App-Setup would be suitable?
  2. I am not really sure about the storage location: Dropbox got too smallish because of the vast amount of documents stored.
  3. Shall I replace Dropbox completely or does it make sense to use another Cloud at the same time? (parallel setup)
  4. Shall I use another Online-backup solution like Backblaze or WebDav (of which I just heard of but have no experience)?(On MAC, I use TimeMachine on an external hard drive)
  5. Many of my documents will be changed and updated over and over - also video or image files Important to me: I have to download and upload documents from the school server using my browser. On my MAC it just works like a charm.
  6. Which text apps for notes and essays are the ideal choice?Shall I use more than one App i.e. Goodnotes/ZoomNotes and Ulysses or Scrivener?
  7. I have to access documents in RTF/DOC/PDF etcetera, video sequences, tables, photos - everything for preparation of the lectures or other administrative documents.
  8. Everything goes into Dropbox
  9. I am a MAC user since 30 years and really do like to use my Ipad 2 at school as my favourite device. I am going to increase my usage more and more especially in regards to our 65’’ displays
  10. on which I can mirror my Ipad
  11. Therefore, I have downloaded „BaiBoard 3“ to test this app on my Ipad and Pencil as Whiteboard app. But I ask myself, if that would be work with Goodnotes/ZoomNotes too
  12. Zoomnotes seems to be the favourite app by teacher/lecturers. It is said, that it can apparently much more (but it is confusing)
  13. I like to change and improve my workflow
  14. I will use the Easter holidays in order to get a new orientation

Thank you so much or all your tips!

I do not like to do any trial-and-error situations anymore like in the past and return to the „old“ ways which are just moderate but not perfect. Best regards, Michael


My main working app is TeacherTool - a pupils/teacher management app/database - very expensive but mighty and really nice to work with -;)

Apps Teacher ZoomNote DevonThink

Answers on 05 April 2017

Hello Michael,
thank you for your recent contact and your question on my blog.

Wow, there are many questions - but that is exactly the reason of having the „Steffi-Help-Page“

Fist of all, congratulations to your buy of the Ipad Pro 12.9’’ and the ApplePencil as well as your intention to change your entire workflow and improve everything.

To your questions, I can give you the following hints and tips:

1. App-Setup

DevonThinkProOffice (DTPO) and DevonThinkToGo (DTTG)

Handwritten and text notes
ZoomNotes (see below and it is not confusing …. )

Text and word processing
Depending on what you like to achieve you can use: (more details below):

Take photos of documents

Calendar and contact management with BusyMac
BusyCal IOS



2. Storage location - Dropbox too small

As far as I am aware, you can buy some storage space for Dropbox. This will cost you EUR 15 per user and month, thereas you have to pay for a minimum of three users. Hence, you will be at EUR 45 pcm.

Already, after ten months an own cloud with 8 TB would have been amortised and you would be „break even“. That means, that under a year you are start to save money. The advantages are:

You know where your data are located
you know where the data of your pupils are stored - directly with you!
Access world wide including IOS Apps like DS File, DS Photo, DS Cloud (which will synchronise everything you have on your Ipad)

3. Backup

Ipad backups with DS-software is easy to do and everything will be stored on your own cloud - does not matter where you are.

Sure, there are several other software programs for MAC which are easy to use. Let me know if you need more information about this.

4. Changes/Updates of documents, videos and sequences

For handwritten or text notes ZoomNotes is the perfect choice.

Do you want to update files using the Internet DevonThinkProOffice (DTPO) is your choice for a Document Management System (DMS). DevonThinkProOffice will also support all file types and can work with them. It’s „little brother“ DevonThinkToGo (DTTG) for IOS works perfectly in your own cloud but also in others.

Get your documents updated - structure them easily and find them adhoc when and where needed.

5. School server: get your files (down-and uploads)

Unfortunately, I do not know what you will down- or upload onto the server. I imagine there will be updates of time tables, administrative documents and so on. You will be able with DTPO and DTTG to update these documents and have them on your finger tips.

I use it for all German laws - and which are tons of papers - which will be updated automatically once the government will change them or add new laws and regulations.

6. Text-App

Question: Do you know markup? If your answer is yes, then Ulysses is your choice for text without too much format options.

I use it for my blog and all HTML documents - after I have adjusted some bits, I can use now underlined words as well.

Do you like to write a manual or book? Scrivener will be your choice.

Do not forget the already included software - like Pages on your Ipad.

I use all to be honest depending on my aim to accomplish.

7. Access for RTF/DOC/PDF, Video, Tables, Photos

Access or Import?

ZoomNotes can do both and export too. You are also able to use tables and photos.

8. per Hand in Dropbox

That sounds very time consuming.

Why do not you use DTPO and DTTG? Both will sync your documents and you have them wherever you are.

9. Ipad - Your favourite tool

I am happy to hear, that you like your Ipad and can use it in your lectures. Look forward to your ApplePencil which is just amazing and works with ZoomNotes perfectly - especially on your big Ipad!

BTW: ZoomNotes does not call ZoomNotes because of the zoom windows - but it calls because everything can be zoomed in and out without decreasing the quality of your digital ink, photos, text. Your handwritten notes are just perfect in-spite of the level of zoom without getting pixelated.

10. Mirror Ipad to your screen

Mirroring, sharing, lend: Again ZoomNotes.

Why do not you send your preparations or works to your class using PDF or email or using Airdrop or just export everything as an image file?

Your pupils will be amazed and get an added value out of the lectures.

11. Whiteboard "baiBoard 3" GoodNotes/ZoomNotes

to be frank - without going too deep into my partner program- use ZoomNotes as Whiteboard.

There are many advantages to GoodNotes which I know too and ZoomNotes is the only one supporting WebDav perfectly.

Just in case you do not want your own cloud - but ZoomNotes will work with other clouds too and has more advanced features - therefore, my winner is ZoomNotes!

12. ZoomNotes: It seems it is much loved by teacher/lecturers - but is is confusing

I am really happy to learn, that ZoomNotes is popular with teachers and lecturers. However, it is not true that is is confusing!

The truth is, that you need to invest time and have to learn in order to use it efficiently. ZoomNotes will adapt to your workflow and not - like so many other apps - the other way around!

May be I should do a course for teachers „How to use ZoomNotes“ at your school and can give your colleagues some hints and tips how to use it efficiently and structured.

Just ask people if they know what a sub-page is or workspaces are. Probably you will not get an answer - but I will help you to get structured.

In any case, ZoomNotes enables you to:

  • Use your Ipad as Whiteboard
  • Templates to your needs and ideas - does not matter what you want
  • Workspaces are work environments which can be adjusted to your likings. So you can easily give your Ipad to your students securely without having to fear that they will see what they should not
  • Handwritten notes, explanations, images, audio, animated font/ink and videos - Everything is possible and there are not any limits!
  • Just use a little video and play in front of your students to get their attention and to improve your lecture
  • WebDav and all other Clouds
  • Auto-Backup using WebDav or where you like to have it
  • Sort, structure your data
  • Import files directly into ZoomNotes
  • Annotate all your documents
  • Take audio notes
  • Use stamps to structure your work
  • Bookmarks are available
  • Structure your notes and preparations.

Well, I will stop now :-) Otherwise I will write until next week. Just have a look on the videos of ZoomNotes.

The fact is, ZoomNotes is a mighty software with loads of well-thought functions which you can use to amaze your students.

Just imagine how cool your lectures can be with a little animation:

Here are some example how to improve your lectures

- Geography

Documents will be shard -> You got everything prepared - Show your students, with or without audio, a video of the US. Afterwards an animated map will be shown and all important Capitals will be marked automatically.

- Art

Just use a drawing and take a video how an animated pen will draw your work further.

Here is a video how it works with Popeye for your inspiration. Just to to 4:30 minutes to watch the result.

- Maths

Prepare a curve discussion and let your students be astonished how easy it is - just use ZoomNotes as Whiteboard and stream to their screens.

Just have a look at my posts about ZoomNotes:

[accordion title='Help articles' open='true']


[accordion title='Posts about ZoomNotes' open='true']


13. Workflow: Amend, change and improve:

Calendar, mail and browser under heavy-duty?

I do not know how your current setup looks like but assume that your calendar and emails are on Exchange server or POP3 or IMAP.

Your calendar of choice

is BusyCal and BusyContacts as an addition.


It is easy: Both have a perfect layout and you can filter out appointments, to-dos etc.

BusyContacts is the contact management which works together with BusyCal.

Due to the filter options you can „breath“ again in regards to your appointments. BusyCal has also a to-do-list available.

If you need a more specific to-do-manager, I recommend 2Do for MAC and IOS . It will work with BusyCal together and synchronises back-and-forth.

Your email program could be:

AirMail or Spark.

AirMail has the advantage it will work nicely with DTPO, DTTG, BusyCal and BusyContacts together.

All of them use the x-callback-url-scheme which you can enter into almost any program. The advantage is, that you just have to use the URL instead of loading and attaching entire files, resulting in more space available - especially under IOS.


Safari is good and works with DevonThink together i.e. with an extension you can easily clip webpages into DevonThinkProOffice or DevonThinkToGo as PDF, web archive or just as bookmark.

14. Easter holidays to use to get your new orientation and structure

Hence, there are between nine and 12 days available which you like to use to restructure your entire workflow.

My recommendation to use your time efficiently:

a) Status quo

Use a mind map like Scapple to get a picture of your status quo.

Scapple is developed by the the same developers who engineered Scrivener. There is a test version - good for a fortnight - available.

Take your time (two or more hours) to develop the current workflow. As a structure I recommend:

  • Worksflow
  • From where do you get data?
  • Hardware used
  • Connection to the Internet and where do you data being stored i.e. school server
  • Software on MAC
  • Software on IOS
  • other software to be used

You can connect all the structures to see you current time consumption.

b) What do you like to achieve - what is your ideal model?

It is plain as a pikestaff, that your will not get a 100% satisfaction. Having said that, it is worht a trial to get close to the 100%.

Here are a couple of themes to consider:

  • Data protection and security
  • What will happen if Dropbox changes their terms and conditions; so seen last December with Evernote?
  • How fast can you change to another provider and how long does it take to be „online“ again?
  • Synchronisation
  • Work more efficiently and time saving with fast search of documents and references
  • Hardware
  • Export and Import functionality
  • Presentations: How should it work and what should been seen by your audience?
  • There is nothing more annoying than seeing the email of the wife’s presenter demanding something, like „Call me now!“
  • Annotate of documents

c) Optimisation of your plan (2 hours)

d) Implementation

What do you like to do with the resources availble and what do you need?

This will be the most difficult part! But you can count on me!

Conclusion: to cover all of your demands, there will be:

TeacherTool-App, Version 5

Personally, I was no aware of this app at all. But it seems it is worth the price.

An app with weighted average of marks, group and several possibilities for courses and material seems to be nicely made. There is also a siting plan with the name of the students available. - That is something for me as I cannot remember names …. :-)

The export of data in PDF to ZoomNotes and DevonThink are no problem at all - therefore you would be able to synchronise these data.

AES256 bit

DevonThink works also with AES 256 bit encryption, like TeacherTool does too, hence they will fit nicely together.

Get more space on your Ipad by using x-callback-URL-Schme which is supported by AirMail, DevonThink. The beauty of it is that you do not have duplicated content on your Ipad. All links will also work on your MAC after synchronisation.

AirPlay you probably will not use anymore once DevonThink will cover all document management.

It seems, that backups and exports of data are only available using Wi-Fi or iTunes or by email. Is There an option to use WebDav to send over the backups?

If not - do not worrie - but I believe to have all data at one place is good praxis.

You will also be able to use iTunes to import the data into DTPO as both understand AES 256 bit encryption with passwords.

What really bothers me is the fact that you like to use your Pencil with this app thought it is text based only. May be you can give me a hint how do you like to use the ApplePencil.


Document-Management and research tool, word processing (with or without format, plain text), updates automatically your data if and there needed.


Handwritten or textual notes, presentation, whiteboard, planning, sharing, word processing.


Calendar management


email management which will work with DevonThinkProOffice, DTTG, ZoomNotes, BusyMac and 2Do together.


Specific for planning of projects and tasks

Password Manager

I recommend Enpass, which works also with WebDav and encryption. All your passwords and user data are not going into any cloud but your own.

The desktop version is for free and for IOS, I believe it will cost your around a EUR 10.00.

Unfortunately, 1Password changes it policy and went to subscription only. I think it does not make sense to have passwords etcetera stored in a cloud of a third-party provider.

Depending on your needs, there can be Ulysses or Scrivener bring additional value if Pages is not suitable.

I hope, I could give you a little inside and was able to help you a bit.

If you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact me - even if you like to use Dropbox. :-)

All Apps mentioned I use on a daily base, therefore I can give you valuable tips and hints.

Post about BusyCal, BusyContacts, DevonThink, ZoomNotes as well as planning of your own cloud you will find on my blog.

if you are interested in buying DevonThinkProOffice or any other solution of DevonTechnologies just let me know upfront. DevonTechnologies supports my readers to get a better workflow within their own cloud, hence I can provide some discounts - just to say that.

I hope you have a lovely evening,

Best regards,