Friday, April 5, 2013

Oh Evernote, Wherever Have You Been?

Ever since I was a child, I have been fortunate to have a decent visual memory.  I had an easy time remembering things that I saw.  Unfortunately, I took this gift for granted and only realized that I was actually a visual learner as an adult.  Between working full time, going to school, being a mother and dealing with everything else in my life, I just have not been able to remember everything that I have needed to.  If I hear something without being able to process it visually, it's as if it never existed to me.  I even sought the advice of a neurologist as I was fearing that I was suffering from dementia.  I just couldn't remember everything I needed to remember.  His response to me was that it's impossible to remember everything.  Fortunately, I have found something to help me remember important things and get me organized.  Meet Evernote.

Evernote is a web tool that allows users to bookmark, record voicemails, take text and voice notes, upload pictures, docs, PDFs and files, and capture images and information on the web as well as a software download on your computer or as a plugin for your browser and also as an application for your mobile device.  A lot of ink has been shed on this topic and just one click in a search engine is enough to get hundreds of links to guides and tutorials about Evernote.  

As of now, I am still new to using Evernote.  I am using it to clip pages and articles from the web that I will need to refer to in the future.  If I had been printing these articles out, this would have been well over 100 pages.  According to Rob Walker of Bloomberg Businessweek (March 4, 2013), "It happens gradually, devoted fans insist. Once you get it, they say, you live and die by Evernote, the five-year-old, everything-in-one-place personal organization application that is hyped by its creators as your "external brain."'  I have heard several of my colleagues express similar opinions about the app as well.  The more you use Evernote, the more it's going to benefit you.

Ted Barnett, who works as chief operating officer of digital publisher Byliner, heard of the app from a friend in 2009 and was attracted to the idea that he could enter and access his data, stored in the cloud, from any smartphone, tablet, or computer.  "I have a terrible memory," Barnett says, explaining that he used to rely largely on physical notebooks to keep track of ideas, until he started adding those to Evernote.  Then he added a cheat sheet of parents' names at his daughter's school.  Now, at the end of a work meeting, he'll photograph the whiteboard, store that picture in Evernote, add some thoughts and questions, and send it around to his team.  Basically, the more Barnett used Evernote, the more he thought of new ways to use it.
Sounds like a win, win, right?  So what else can Evernote actually do?  And how can Evernote help teachers in education?

There are several reasons why we should embrace Evernote in education and here are some of them:

  • Evernote makes it easy for everyone to easily remember things big and small using computer, phone and the web.
  • It is a great organizational tool for teachers and students. Evernote automatically processes and indexes anything one captures on the web and it makes this content searchable. It also allows users to add tags and organize notes into different notebooks.
  • Evernote keeps all your important information in one place
  • Class notes, schedules, assignments, lesson plans, research or anything related to your schoolwork can be easily added to your Evernote account
  • Evernote automatically syncs all your notebooks to the cloud and everywhere you have Evernote installed.
  • Evernote has apps for all kind of smartphones meaning you can access your notes everywhere you are.
  • Evernote has browser extensions for the major browsers making it down to earth easy to take notes and organize bookmarks right from your browser.
  • Evernote allows users to easily share their notes with others via email, or popular social media
  • Evernote has a special section for education called Evernote for Education where you can learn about how teachers and students are using this tool. (It appears that you will need to subscribe to the premium version in order to access this feature.)

Here are some of the many ways that teachers can use Evernote in education:

  • The first and foremost usage of this tool for educators is to take notes  in class or when attending a lecture , a conference, a symposium, wherever they feel the need to capture and save ideas for later review.
  • Teachers can get their notes organized into different notebooks
  • They can use it to create to-do lists and work logs via recording tasks completed in Evernote, along with the beginning and end times.
  • Teachers who are running a classroom blog can use it to write post drafts to be published on their blog when they get access to internet connection
  • Teachers can organize their classes in Evernote using tags 
  • Store all the teaching materials to use during the whole year , one example is the grading templates such as  grade sheets or student assessment forms.  
The list goes on an on. The more you use Evernote, the more ways you will find to use it.  There are many ways students can use Evernote in education as well.  A couple of examples include students taking handwritten notes in their class and using a camera to capture an image to keep in their Evernote.  Students can also create different notebooks where to organize and keep their assignments, class projects, docs, files, school events and many more.  

Overall,  I have found Evernote to be a very beneficial web tool to help met get organized.  I am currently subscribed to the free version, which means that I must have an internet connection in order to sync and access my notebooks.  If I need to access my notebooks offline, I will print and/or save them as PDFs and open them with another app, such as iBooks.  Subscribing to the premium version will allow me additional storage space as well as saving my notebooks to be access when I am working offline.  

Another recommendation is to install the Evernote bookmarklet into your web browser, so you are able clip the pages, websites, and other information from your smartphone.  These notes will go directly into your Evernote notebooks and you will be able to access them from your accounts on other devices.  

"Evernote says it has 50 million users around the world (a third in the U.S.) and is adding 100,000 a day.  Operating on a "freemium" model, the company makes money primarily from the silver of that user base that pays $45 a year, or $5 a month, for a souped-up version with more storage capacity." (Bloomberg Businessweek)  

If you don't have Evernote yet, whatever are you waiting for?  Download it and start using it today.  Trust me, you will be happy you did!

Information for this blog has been compiled from "The Cult of Evernote," Bloomberg Businessweek, March 4, 2013 and from "The Ultimate Simplified Guide to the Use of Evernote in Education" by Med Kharbach