Reviewing New Digital Tools Pt. 2

As part of a new ongoing series, members of Northwestern IT's Teaching and Learning Technologies Team will be reviewing new digital tools, primarily add-ons which can be enabled in Canvas, to rate their potential usefulness to instructors. [Review Part 1

Our next entry focuses on Notability and WordReference

Instructors: please note that these tools were reviewed as part of an initial evaluation and are not currently supported by Northwestern IT. 


What is it? 

Notability is a fantastically simple note taking and document annotation app for iPhones and iPads. It can import PDFs and PowerPoint files. I found it to be particularly useful in two main academic settings: 1) when reading a case study or research paper, and 2) taking notes on the slides from lecture.

What we think about it

First, when reading a case study or research paper, I often want to highlight or underline sections of text or write a little note to myself on the paper. With Notability, you can read the papers on your iPad and still do all that. The controls are intuitive and easy to use.

Second, for students, Notability allows you to import lecture slides and take notes directly on the slide. circling the important part or writing in additional comments that will come in handy later on when studying.

Notability also allows you to record audio while annotating a document. When you go to playback the audio, your annotations will be timed to the audio that was recorded when the notes were written.

Watch a short demo video:

Notability costs $9.99 as of the publication date of this article and is only for iOS devices.

Rating: 4.5 /5



What is it?

WordReference is a website started in 1999 and an app (available for iOS or Android) that provides free bilingual and English dictionaries. It has a strong focus on the languages of English, Spanish, French, and Italian, with special emphasis on the pairings of English-Spanish, English-French, English-Italian, Spanish-French, and Spanish-Portuguese. It also offers bilingual dictionaries for English to other languages, including German, Dutch, Swedish, Russian, Portuguese, Polish, Romanian, Czech, Greek, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Arabic. 

What we think about it

WordReference is an extremely thorough source for all things language and should be a go-to resource for any student studying another language. Since it’s been around for 20 years, it has had plenty of time to expand upon the basics of dictionaries and second-language study, even including heavily used language discussion forums. Entries for its languages are extensive and often cover related words as well as the word searched.

WR logo
Rating: 4 /5