Using Evernote to record a lesson

I mentioned this on Twitter last night, and quite a few people were interested in it, so I thought I should write a blog post about my use of Evernote in my class this week.

We’re in the midst of a close study of Animal Farm, in preparation for the crafting of a text response essay. There are no bells and whistles about my delivery of content this week. This is old fashioned class discussion, with a lot of teacher talk happening as we dissect the novel, looking for key plot developments and pertinent quotes that we might be able to use in the upcoming (sight unseen) essay. The students are marking up their novel as we discuss events and there’s an awful lot of sharing taking place.

Yesterday, two students were absent. They were going to miss some critical information, so I opened up my desktop version of Evernote, created a new note, and clicked on the microphone icon. This opened up the option for recording. I made sure my inbuilt microphone on my computer was turned up and pressed record. 77 minutes later I stopped the recording and emailed it to the students. Because I’m emailing through Evernote, the huge file that it is sends and arrives in the student’s school mail.

Five minutes later I got an email from one of the students saying thanks. I checked with her today, and she said the recording was fine, she just had a little trouble hearing some of the responses from students who were further away from my computer. Today, all the students were present, but I asked if they would like me to record the lesson. They did, and at least 8 of them asked that I email today’s recording onto them when our lesson was over. I love that they can revisit what we covered, and maybe cross check that they marked up in their novel what we identified as relevant.

Evernote has to be my favourite notetaking and organisational tool. If you’re not yet an Evernote user, you should be. My students were fascinated by it when I told them what I was doing yesterday, and many have investigated it as a result. It has so much potential in school settings, and is something I would like to see students have the option to use. Teachers too!

Explaining Evernote

Image representing Evernote as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

I’ve had an Evernote account for some time now, and really think it is one of the best organisational tools available. I love that it exists as an account I can access from any computer, anywhere. I love the desktop version that sits on my Mac. I love the web clipper add on that I use with my Firefox browser. I especially love the Evernote apps I have downloaded to my iPhone and iPad that enable me to get access to what is stored on Evernote and also enable me to add to the account easily. I love that everything syncs so quickly, and that I can use it without an internet connection knowing that it will sync once an internet connection has been established.

I created this screencast recently about Evernote and thought some of you who know nothing about it might benefit from watching it. It is by no means an exhaustive account of what it can do, because truly, I know I haven’t explored everything it is capable of doing. I ran a Staff PD about Evernote and Dropbox after school last week, and people who came were very impressed with the potential it has for education, and their own personal management of data. I would love to see us introduce Evernote to all of our students, and start them really thinking about how they can use it to manage class projects, or save data from whiteboards or even their handwritten notes. It is part of my plan to try and get this happening at my school, and staff members who attended tonight’s session seemed to be in agreement that this would be a positive thing.

One thing that people are wary of is storing their data in the cloud (on an organisation’s servers). There has to be a certain comfort level you have with releasing your data to someone else to store it for you, and people do get concerned that other people (hackers) might be able to access their documents or notes. Dropbox has been under fire in the past week, for a bug in their system that caused a security glitch that allowed people to log into any Dropbox account by typing in any password at all for a period of four hours. Even prior to this unfortunate ‘glitch’ Dropbox have been criticised about their levels of data security.

I think we all have to be mindful that when you host your data elsewhere, and for free, you have to accept that with convenience comes some cost. That cost may be that companies hosting your data could give some of it to Government agencies if it’s requested. It may be that you leave yourself open to hackers who seem intent of late to usurp the claims made by cloud storage companies that data is safe. I certainly love the convenience of being able to access data across multiple devices, but I’m certainly not going to be storing any sensitive documentation there that I wouldn’t want anyone else accessing.

This is part of the game that is the World Wide Web now. Know the rules before you start playing is as good advice as any I’m guessing.