Study Toolkit - the 2015 edition

October represents for me the start of a new study year with the Open University. Nine months of part time studying, my fifth year out of six. It has been tough and challenging and at times I have questioned why I am doing this. 

To make the stressful period more fun I revel in the stationery items I can use. However this year my study toolkit takes on a slightly different set-up. From October I will be taking a course in a completely different subject area - Design thinking: creativity for the 21st century. This means a lot less reading than my previous courses and probably less analogue note taking. In light of this I am expanding on my first study toolkit post, and creating the 2015 edition. 

My 2015 study essentials  

My 2015 study essentials  

MacBook Air 

This course is primarily carried out online. My beloved 11" MacBook Air will be used for the main online tasks, uploading images and completing my written assignments. 


When I don't need to be on my Mac my iPad will be the second in command system. At some point in the next few months I will be upgarding to an iPad Air 2 to allow me to take advantage of the new features in the recent iOS 9 update. 

The Notebook

Of course being the stationery nerd that I am, I will have a notebook for any note taking that may be required. This time round I will be using the recently launched Shenandoah edition Field Notes memo book. I wanted to use a small and portable notebook that is easy to carry around and can be used alongside my digital tools.

iPhone (soon to be 6s Plus)  

I found an interesting YouTube channel from someone who has taken this course last year. A requirement is taking photographs to record your work and feed back into an online portfolio system. This particular person decided to take this one step further and to video his work. Borrowing, ok perhaps stealing from this idea, I have decided I will use the iPhone's time lapse feature to take multiple pictures of me doing particular tasks and activities. I am not very comfortable sitting in front of a camera and talking without waffling so this seems like the next best idea to me. I will upload these videos to YouTube and send on to my tutor. 

Travel Tripod and the Glif 

Both of these are essential for use with my iPhone. Using the Glif alongside the tripod means I have a ready to go set-up for time lapse filming when needed.  


This will be an important tool in the absence of physical books on this course and perfect for studying on the go with the iPad. I usually prefer reading from physical books and taking notes with pen and paper - shocking I know - but this year and with this course I will be forced to embrace more digital tools. 

OmniFocus 2 for iPad 

My current tasks

My current tasks

This is a new addition to my workflow. I used the original OmniFocus a long time ago on the iPad but I wasn't using it for a designated purpose and therefore quickly got bored. However as time has gone on and I have taken on projects OmniFocus seems like it could really help me out. Plus the app has changed significantly from the version I used. I will add my study tasks, assignment preparations and reading lists into OmniFocus to keep track of everything. This will also be useful for all projects I have on the go, so will not only be used solely for studying tasks. I will have this on my iPad and iPhone to begin with as I use these a lot more during the day, when random thoughts are more likely to pop into my head. 


I have this on my iPhone and iPad and I really like this tool for thoughts and ideas on the go. I have small lists within the app and I use these to capture ideas when a notebook is not handy. I also love using this app for long-running lists that outlive a notebook, such as blog ideas or reading lists. 


Day One 

Day One is a great tool to capture and remember memorable moments and photographs. I have used this semi-regularly for some time but I think this could be a useful tool for my latest course. One way to develop and learn is having an understanding of how you work and Day One will be perfect to capture my study progress as well as anything I create. 

iA Writer 

I use iA Writer as my Markdown editor of choice. I will use this to write my assignments and then export the plain text files once complete ready for submission. I really like the layout of iA Writer. I use this in dark mode usually on full screen. I have the apps on both my Mac and iPad and share documents through Dropbox so I can pick up and edit documents on both devices. 

In Summary

Obviously on top of this list of study tools, pens and pencils will come into play. I am not outlining these items in this post as these will change throughout the year. My monthly loadout posts will give all the details about the tools I am using during that particular month.  

I am aware as time goes on that this list of study essentials will undoubtedly change, in particular with the apps, but for starters I think this is a pretty solid set-up. If anyone has any recommendations for apps useful for studying please let me know.