App Review: Evernote
by Joey Feith
What is it?
Evernote is one of those apps that become such a big part of your workflow that you forget how you got anything done without it.
At its most basic level, Evernote is a note taking app. However, what makes Evernote so great is how it takes the notes you create, syncs them with your Evernote account in the cloud, and, therefore, makes your notes accessible from anywhere. Evernote allows you to create notebooks to help organize your notes, and has a built in search feature that helps you find jotted down ideas quickly.
When creating a note in Evernote, you can include text, audio, and pictures. Speaking of pictures, Evernote has built-in OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology that allows you to search for text in the pictures you take (which comes in very handy once you start using the app to “scan” documents).
Not only can you organize your notes into notebooks with Evernote, you can also sort them by using including tags when create a new note (tags make the app’s search feature that much more powerful).
Evernote also works great with several other apps, some of which the successful startup has purchased (e.g. Penultimate, Skitch) to add to its features. There is also an Evernote web clipper that can be installed into most major browsers that allows you to turn web pages into “clipped” notes which you can then annotate, tag, and sort into your notebooks (a great feature when doing research for your next unit plan).
On top of all of this, Evernote offers free accounts (which will, in most cases, offer all the functionality you would ever need). Also, did I mention that the app is beautifully designed?
What are the app’s best features?
Although Evernote offers a wealth of amazing features, I’d have to say that its most stand-out features would be its cloud-sync functionality, its built-in search feature, and its ability to handle text, audio, and picture notes.
Where does the app fall short?
The only time I have had issues with Evernote have been when I haven’t been able to access my notes while offline (offline notebooks is a feature reserved for premium accounts only), and the fact that Evernote does not allow you to save video notes.
How is it useful for #physed?
A while back, I read a great blog post on how teachers are using Evernote to create instant, digital portfolios for their students. Since then, I have been documenting my students’ work in #physed using my Evernote. I take notes on my students, pictures of their work, and even include the occasional link to a video of a student’s performance (i get around the “no video notes” drawback by uploading student videos to Dropbox, copying the Dropbox link, and pasting into my Evernote note). Always making sure to properly tag my students in the notes that involve them allows me to keep their Evernote portfolios both thorough and up-to-date.
Evernote is a great tool that serves as a second brain for both research (e.g. curriculum planning) and assessment (e.g. student portfolios) in #physed. If videos notes were somehow made possible (although I can’t imagine the stress it would put on Evernote’s servers) and if the process of creating, naming, and tagging notes was just a bit simpler (I’m being fussy here), Evernote merit a full 10/10. Still 9/10 is pretty darn good.
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