Initially, I expected to use the iPad primarily for classroom presentations and student paper grading, but much to my surprise, I rely on it mostly for reading documents and articles. In fact, I now prefer e-reading to hard copy review. There are now a few dozen document viewer apps, however, GoodReader is my dedicated app due to its versatility and functionality. The app has fundamentally changed the way I consume and organize articles and in the future, will change the way I teach primary source documents.
GoodReader is an excellent file manager. You can view files (PDF, Word, HTML, PPT, JPEG, etc.), download files from the web and e-mail, access files in online storage, and e-mail files. GoodReader’s built-in browser makes accessing PDFs of articles from online research databases especially convenient. Once downloaded, the document goes directly to My Documents where you can perform a number of organizational actions including making new files, folders and subfolders, renaming or password protecting the document, and creating links. A critical feature is GoodReader’s ability to define remote and local servers to sync with such as Dropbox, Google Docs, and Gmail to directly download files. You can sync entire folders or individual files separately. GoodReader downloads documents quickly and you can zoom in and out, scroll, switch light modes, search text, create bookmarks and outlines, and switch between landscape and regular view. I might add that since no bars or buttons block the text, the full screen reading is easy on the eyes. In essence, GoodReader can serve as the [Mac OS] Finder and Preview for the iPad.
In addition, GoodReader has a complete set of PDF annotation features, which is great for the organization of my secondary source research as well as the development of primary source readers for teaching. The annotation features include typewriter text boxes, popup comments (“sticky notes”), text highlights, freehand drawings, lines, arrows, rectangles, ovals, cloud shapes, text underlines, strikeouts and text insertion marks. You can create an annotated copy if you need to save the original unmarked text. Although I will likely use iAnnotate for paper grading in the future (see Kristi Upson-Saia’s post on grading with iAnnotate), I will stick to GoodReader PDF Annotations for management of my research and teaching files. The feature will allow me to manage my historiographical research in a much more systematic and accessible way. Annotations on the primary sources I use for course readers in lower-division surveys will allow me to insert content-based questions that will help students read more actively and to think beyond the standard template of questions we use for primary source analysis. As I learn more about the complex app, I expect to expand my file management system and eventually become absolutely paperless.