I’m interested in if it is possible to replace all aspects of an exercise book with an ipad workflow for students and teachers. Personally this works well for me as I dislike carrying around a class set of books and have been known to forget to take them in occasionally….

For it to work effectively the workflow must do these crucial things:

  • Not creating copies – I want to mark a file and return it without a copy being made.
  • Sync easily – Just like books, files can be forgotten to be handed in, I want to see the virtual books synced automatically.
  • My marking – I want to mark naturally using a stylus
  • Allow for mixture of handwriting, pictures and typed text

So far I have tried the following and my evaluation is made solely on the above criteria for book replacement.


This is a flexible solution in that pupils can use PCs, Ipads and android devices to submit work. It works on pdf & docx files. You can set a hand in date and even mark the work through the site or app. However the ipad app does not allow for handwriting marking and works best for individual assignments.

Plus points

  • Work is set as assignments and can have links and videos embedded with the instructions. Students hand in the work and if marked on a pc then good marking ability.
  • Pupils get a notification when their work is marked.
  • Best for marking if done on a pc/mac, ipad app is limited.


  • Great for individual assignments but not for sharing a book file.
  • No auto sync. You can see if and when students have submitted work however.


I’ve asked my students to have 1 file only and add class work to it each lesson. This is opposed to starting a new file for each lesson. It was rapidly becoming hard to mark individual files for one student let alone 30! So instead I’m interested in having one file that is shared between me and the student that I can mark any time.

In the settings you can set notability to automatically sync your notes via a number of cloud storage providers. One thing I’ve tried is to sync using a webdav server plugged into a device I’ve talked about before called a ‘MeDrive‘ by Kanex. I am able to save files to it but retrieving them as a teacher to mark is problematic. This is the kind of model I want to work too as as the student edits the work it is automatically backed up and I can see it.

Plus points

  • Automatically syncs up files without user intervention
  • Notability is perfect for writing class notes and popular amongst students


  • The synced files cannot be edited on my side and fed back to students. I will continue to try and get around this.
  • Organisation of large volumes of files would be hard. If each student had one file (book) and named it then it would be perfect.


This is perhaps the closest I can find so far if used in conjunction with notability. The teacher creates the class and the assignment in the app. A code is generated which the students add to join the class. Then within an app that they have created their work with, they press ‘share with’ & select Showbie. They can then select the class (if more than one teacher using it) and the assignment folder they want to submit the work too. If you choose to upgrade ($99/year) you can mark directly onto the work.

Plus points

  • Good for organising large volumes of student work.


  • The marking can only be seen within the app, you cannot push it back to students with the marking showing.

Untested with students but hopeful.


A collaborative word processor that delivers on the sharing side in spades. Just like google docs, you can collaborate and both work on a document at the same time. It also has a chat option next to the document to allow commenting. If it allowed for handwriting it would be the winner for me so far.


My Dream app

The simplicity of ‘Paper‘ by 53

The ability to subscribe to each students ‘book’ file and it to appear in alphabetical order in my ipad.

Update instantly when changes are made

Allow for written and voice feedback

Link my marking to a database that records results along the year like ‘iDoceo