Thursday, August 1, 2013

Summer Learning Series-Giving Evernote A Try

This is the eighth post in my Summer Learning Series. These are short posts with tools, tips and resources for you to try something new this summer or something you can take to the classroom in the Fall. First was Collaborative Learning With Edmodo and then we followed up with Learning With Hashtags. Then we looked at TED Talks. We moved on to Twitter chats. Then our last post looked at some pretty neat things you can do with YouTube. Last week we  took a look at Diigo and how to curate the information you are finding this summer. Then we examined the things to consider if you want to use Twitter in your classroom or your school in the coming school year. Today we look at a tool I can't live without, Evernote. 

I'll admit it.

I have to be one of the most unorganized people on the planet. I have notebooks in just about every bag I carry. Multiple calendars and I still miss appointments. Slips of papers as reminders with some string of illegible thoughts on them, that, when I find them, I don't have a clue what I was thinking when I wrote them.

I have more than 10 different types of projects going on at anyone time. A book, book chapters for others, keynotes to write, presentations to prepare, consulting, product review, and on and on and on. Not to mention my projects with my district.

Organization isn't really in my vocabulary.

Well, let me say, it wasn't in my vocabulary.

But it is now, thanks to Evernote.

I had tried Evernote in the past. Installed it and looked at it and couldn't really find a use for it. I would uninstall it and go on my way, unorganized, missing appointments, stressing about putting things together. But that is all in the past. I use Evernote everyday. I can't live without it. So much so, its on every phone, computer and in every browser I come in contact with.

Ok, so what is it?

To boil it all down. Think of Evernote as this giant filing cabinet. In it you put all the different notes, clips, photos, scans, just about anything. You can organize these notes into notebooks. Really what you use it for is up to you.

Here is a small view of some of my current notebooks.

So I have notebooks for work, personal and other work I do. And I nest notebooks. I like keeping things separate. That has really helped with my organization. I also use the To-Do notebook as my list of upcoming and current projects and responsibilities.

I keep Evernote open on my computer at all times. I never know when I am going to need it or when it could come in handy. Inside one of my notebooks you will see all my notes.

In this notebook are notes for 3 presentations I did at a district technology conference. I plan out my slidedeck, resources, videos, everything, can go right in the note for that particular session and I have it no matter where I am. I can scan in items, add Word docs, exe files and loads more to a notebook or note. Did I practice a part of my preso that I wanted to save the audio for? No problem! I can even include audio as part of my notes. (That works even better on a smartphone.)

You can also install the Evernote Web Clipper extension and save portions of websites or just some text from a blog post that you want to use somewhere else. You can also connect Evernote to your Twitter favorites and whenever you save a favorite it goes into a notebook. (That is one of my favorite features.)

There are lots of uses in Education too. Here are some of my favorite resources:
One idea for use is portfolios. Because of Evernotes ability to accept lots of different kinds of inputs (text, images, audio, files, PDF, etc) it makes it a perfect edition to the portfolio-based classroom. The same is true with teachers. If you are an administrator, think about it. Since notebooks can be shared, you could create a notebook for each teacher, share it with them, and use that as a place to gather evaluation materials throughout the year. Simple and elegant. 

Evernote is 100% free. You can download it as many times as you want. There are versions for both Mac and PC and it works on your smartphone too. There are, however, monthly upload limits for things like images and PDFs. You can pay for Evernote Premium (which I do.) that gives you lots more space, the ability to search your PDFs, the sharing option and more. For $45 bucks a year, well worth it if you ask me.

Best thing to do now is go download it and start small. Use it for a project or two that you have going on. And I would bet in a month or 2 you will say, just like I do that I can't live without it!

Do you use Evernote? How do you use it? What are your favorite resources? Leave some comments below.
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