PaperHelper…an app that facilities the educational writing process
I can’t remember the specific blog where I saw PaperHelper mentioned the first time, but when I read about the app, I wanted to download it. Simply stated, PaperHelper is an iPad app that features a basic word processor on one side and a web browser on the other. As a person works on a paper, they can look up references and then easily link the sources into their paper. Most research–at any level–is centered on the web these days. When a paper is finished, it can be exported via e-mail, through PaperHelper’s own cloud storage system, or printed. The text can also be copied and pasted using iOS core functionality and inserted into Pages for further adaptation.
This is a brilliant concept for education. Most educational writing does not require advanced text editing features, and one of the most frustrating things about writing a paper on the iPad is the inability to keep a web browser open while writing a paper, either for looking up information, copying and pasting (exact quotes, of course), and writing citations. The app offers a basic but effective “how-to” overlay that can be turned on at any time. You can store favorite sites, you an flip which side of the page you want the browser and word processor to appear, and there is a word count feature, too.
There are some areas that PaperHelper can improve upon. For example, in its most recent update, the app now can save various papers, but it is very easy to accidentally overwrite an existing file (there needs to be a confirmation box before overwriting). Additionally, the ability to underline would be great, Dropbox integration would be wonderful, and an easy way to start with a fresh document (i.e. “New Document”) would be great. I think many teachers require double-space and tabs, so the program could also offer those options…but as I mentioned, you can easily “select all” and paste into Pages. The ability to send the entire paper to Pages would be another welcome feature.
Ultimately, this is a basic application with unbelievable potential for education. Just because something is basic doesn’t mean that it isn’t powerful. This is a simple and wonderful idea for writing papers. The KISS principle is in effect with this app, and it works wonderfully. I’ve found it to be very useful tool in authoring blog posts, too. Best yet, the app is $.99.