Evernote is one of my top 5 tools that I use every day. It is a database, which organizes and indexes my world. It is my digital filing cabinet for both school work and personal items.
For school, I keep all my Federal Programs documentation, emails from DESE, spreadsheets of various accounts, notes from meetings, recordings from conference presentations, and building reference documents (master schedule, phone extensions, bell schedules, etc). If notes are written on a whiteboard during a meeting that I want to keep, I can use my phone as a document scanner, taking a picture of the notes and emailing it to Evernote. Evernote will do its best to recognize the handwriting. In the future, I can search my account for a word from those whiteboard notes to have Evernote find it.
On the personal side, if I need to check a recipe while shopping in the grocery store, I can easily do that by accessing the Evernote app on my phone. When getting my car serviced, I can check receipts for warranties on my ipad. I no longer have a drawer full of manuals to dig through when I need to order a replacement part. Instead I enter a keyword into Evernote on my computer and it pulls up the appropriate page of the manual. I also use it to store copies of all my bills, documents from my daughter’s school and flash cards she needs to study, house paint colors, hotel reservation emails, gift lists with family sizes, etc.
There are many ways you can add items to your Evernote account:
- Create a new text note or checklist within the interface.
- Drag and drop a file into the Evernote software.
- Email a picture or file to your Evernote email address.
- Scan a document and send it straight to Evernote.
- Use the Web Clipper browser add-on to capture parts of a webpage and send to your account.
- Record video/audio with your device’s camera/mic using an Evernote app.
- Upload a file to the Evernote website.
Like Dropbox, Evernote will sync everything, or what you choose, to all your devices. You will find apps for your phone, computer, and tablet. Like Google Docs, it allows you to choose items to publish to the world, or share with selected friends specifying view only or edit access. Evernote will sync any changes to items made by friends using its Live Update feature. You can organize items into notebooks, index items with tags, and link to them in other digital objects (calendars, online documents, webpages).
Thinking back to my days in the classroom, I can see many ways Evernote could be used by teachers.
- Unit Notebook: Instead of storing unit resources in 3-ring binders or file cabinets, Notebooks could be created in Evernote to hold: teaching notes, scanned worksheets, links to online activities or videos, clippings of articles from websites, labs, checklist of needed supplies, scoring guides, pictures of displays or bulletin boards, slideshows, scanned samples of student work, and reflections on what to do differently next year. There is a limit on the size of files you can upload to Evernote so big files such as a video or Smart Notebook file may be too large. Instead, you could include links to items on the building server. These links would only work when accessed at school. This notebook could be shared with other teachers in the department allowing easy collaboration. A worksheet could be shared with a student/parent via email for makeup work. This resource could be accessed 24/7 from various devices.
- Student Files: I used to maintain a paper file for each student in which I documented parent communications, observations and anecdotal records, discipline incidents, student work samples, etc. We do a lot of this in SISK12 now, but Evernote could be used to fill in the gaps. For example, you could use the audio note feature to record a student conference or a student’s reflection on his/her work. Emails from parents or students could also be stored in these notebooks.
- Class Notes: A student scribe could use Evernote to take notes and record audio during a lesson, which could be stored in a published Evernote notebook that all students and parents could access.
- Field Trips/Events/Competitions: Rather than toting around folders of permission forms, parent contact information, or emergency forms, coaches/sponsors/teachers could scan these documents and organize them Evernote to be accessed via phone or ipad while away from school. You can set up notebooks so that they can be accessed on your mobile devices without an Internet connection.
- Meetings: Agendas can be stored in Evernote and shared. You can use the Note Link feature to paste a link to the agenda on the appropriate day in your digital calendar. For taking meeting minutes/notes, you can create a new note in which you type text as well as record audio at the same time. This note could be published online for all to read, or shared with just the group members.
- Reminders on the Go: At those moments when a paper and pencil aren’t convenient (walking down the hallway, driving, etc.), you can use the audio recording feature to save a quick reminder to yourself about something that you need to do.
- Online Bookmarks: You can store links to websites. You can organize these links in notebooks or index them with tags to make them easy to find. You can include clippings from the websites, or you own notes. You will be able to access these bookmarks from all your devices.
- Professional Development: Organize and share your notes from conferences and workshops. These notes can include audio recordings, links to online resources, sketches, images captured with your phone’s camera, and scanned handouts.
- Research: Evernote is excellent for collecting and organizing notes while conducting research. This could be while planning a unit, collecting articles and references from your professional learning community, planning implementation of a new program, investigating an instructional strategy or tool, etc.
When it comes to students, you can read how high school student Ryan Kessler is using Evernote, or watch this short video from The Montclair Kimberley Academy. You can also read the blog post, Evernote for Schools-Education Series Roundup.
A must-have to fully take advantage of Evernote is a scanner, which we now have in the Counseling Center for teachers to use (Handout on using scanner). When I scan a document, I can create a searchable PDF, which means when I enter a keyword search, Evernote will search through every word of that document, as opposed to the tags or title of that file.
Evernote offers 2 types of accounts, free and premium. Some of these features require a premium account which costs $45 a year. For me, it’s money well spent!