Evernote as a Tool for Education

I made my own first tentative explorations with the Evernote App in early 2012. Within a relatively short time I was pretty convinced that I’d found a new set of tools that enabled me to be more efficient, to marshal and organise resources, thoughts, ideas and data.

I started out purely using it in my personal life. As time went on, I started to explore ways to use it professionally. As a leader, one of the best uses I found was as a readily accessible place to make short, rough notes relating to interactions with staff and teachers, classroom observations and anything that might be relevant at some point in time.

I remember (and I’m sure many others have had similar experiences) in my early career when annual appraisals used to come around. You would get ‘psyched up’ for the interview with the big boss, make notes and go in believing that there was good case for giving me the highest rating on the appraisal and therefore a good bonus! What then invariably happened was a wishy-washy discussion that ended with some vague comments about how ‘there should always be something to aim for’ as explanation for why i’d been given a rating below the top (and therefore a smaller bonus!). As if this didn’t irk enough, what was even more troubling was the fact that where any data or evidence was given relating to my performance it was usually no more than 3-4 weeks old. Thus, I was supposedly being appraised on a year’s performance and yet nothing more than a month old was ever brought forward as evidence – positive or negative. Of course, the main reason for this was that record keeping during and throughout the year was non-existent. So, when it came time for the annual appraisals and ‘big boss’ sat down to write them he had to dredge his memory – which clearly didn’t pick up too much that was older than a month.

The overall result – an appraisal system that actually demotivated me, left me thinking less of ‘big boss’ and falling back on my ‘inner compass’ to figure out how effectively i was performing in my job. If there was one positive that came out of all this it was that I told myself repeatedly that when (if?) I became a leader I would ensure that i kept notes and records all year so that when it came time to do annual appraisals they would be fair, open and truly reflective of tangible data across the whole year.

My experience with Evernote was that this was the perfect tool for this. It doesn’t matter where i am, whether I’m using my laptop, phone or tablet, it’s so easy to capture a few jotted notes each day. They can be in audio format, occasionally even pictures/ photos and each can be stored in a folder against that person’s name. They don’t need to be finely crafted documents – capture immediately is the essence.

I’ve increasingly come to believe that for a teacher this offers similar benefits to document what’s happening with a class of students and with each individual in the class. The results – an ability to get a ‘helicopter view’ of what’s working, what needs to be changed etc. Also, I reckon assessment reports of real quality will almost write themselves with real tangible evidence to back up the statements made.

I was also interested to come across the following links. The first comes from a teacher, showing how he’s used Evernote to organise an entire year’s course and curriculum material, assessments and supporting documents. It also becomes a direct communication tool with the student who access specific files and folders

The Nerdy Teacher – Evernote for Lesson Planning

The second has a few ideas about how students can use Evernote themselves to organise and plan their work, keep notes and prepare for academic achievement;

Evernote for Academic Achievement

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