Evernote: “Remember everything.”
Evernote promises to help users develop “a superhuman memory” by providing a repository for their ideas, inspirations, and inventions. Evernote’s elephant icon draws on the publics’ general perception that elephants never forget. The website’s design is simple and uses active voice in an attempt to empower users: “capture anything,” “access everywhere,” or “find things fast.” Evernote uses social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, enabling users to archive their “tweets” or postings to their Evernote account. Evernote seeks to appeal to a worldwide audience by its “change language” feature that enables users to switch the website standard language of English to more than fifteen others.
Summary of Features
Evernote is a data collection program that allows users, or in my case educators and students, to collect, save, and share samples of their work across multiple media: text, audio, video, websites, and photographs. Evernote enables users to “capture” web clippings, type notes in notebooks, and attach photographs, video and audio, and PDFs of handwritten notes to typed files. All types of files are searchable. Users can manually organize notebooks by date, title, size, or URL, or they can let Evernote organize the files for them. In addition, Evernote can use metadata such as tagging to further enable searching.
Evernote runs from a network server, or cloud, that can be accessed in three ways:
- The Internet via a browser: Firefox, Safari, Sunfire, Internet Explorer (www.evernote.com)
- A desktop application for Mac or PC
- A mobile application on the iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Palm, and Windows Mobile
Evernote for the web comes in two versions: a basic (free) version that limits uploads to 60MB month, and a premium version, which costs $5 a month/$45 a year and limits uploads to 1GB a month. Evernote applications for the computer and the mobile devices are free.
Evernote appears to deliver on its promise to provide users with a repository for their ideas; in a way, it operates like an external memory. Evernote surpasses using hardcopy or word processing versions of students’ or their own work in five important ways:
- The data is available on more than one device at any one time
- Any changes made on one device are uploaded to the cloud and synced to all devices the next time the application is opened on them
- The data is quickly and easily searchable using handwriting recognition software or via metadata tagging completed by the user
- Evernote is platform free and therefore encourages sharing of files; the program avoids any issues of cross-platform compatibility between Mac and PCs.
- Educators and students can access Evernote anywhere via their mobile devices, therefore lessening the effect of limited technological access in some schools.
Evernote’s cloud upload speed is very fast, yet its download speed from the cloud can take some time, especially when it comes to video. To avoid any delay or error in downloading files, educators should download on a wireless network. In addition, when using Evernote on mobile devices, this lag time in downloading is amplified. My recommendation is that large files are best downloaded via wifi before watching.
Evernote enables users, or in my case educators, the platform in which to create an electronic searchable/shareable portfolio of their own and students’ work, and of the work that occurs in the classroom, in more than one type of media. Those limitations aside, the methodology behind Evernote appears to conform to the acquisition/communicative paradigm in that data is not just acquired by the user and stored in the cloud, it can also be shared using social media, thereby drawing on Web 2.0’s social and interactive features.
Evernote makes use of Web 2.0 features by enabling users to share notebooks. Applications for schools are many. I currently use Evernote to do the following: sharing resources among educators, e-mailing students or stakeholders reports/grades, providing a cloud for students to post their own work, and finally, as a tool that overcomes limited technological access.
One disadvantage is that Evernote’s creators assume a certain level of digital literacy in its users. Although directions for registering for an account and typing notes are offered in a straightforward manner, to fully use Evernote’s multimedia features, users are expected to know how to shoot video and record audio, how to upload a file to the Evernote cloud via e-mail or download the file to a computer, then drag the file to a note on the Evernote desktop app. Digital literacy assumptions aside, Evernote’s website does include a noteworthy blog where users can find the answers to their questions from real users’ blogs.
I use Evernote in the following ways:
- An electronic portfolio of my students’ work in text, audio, and video
- An electronic filing cabinet for class administration (rosters, syllabi, lesson plans)
- An electronic filing cabinet for teacher resources (websites related to technology in language teaching)
Evernote’s uncluttered environment and simple green and white design would work best for visual/spatial learners, yet it’s ability to store and organize information could also compliment both linguistic and logical/mathematical learners. Evernote’s appeal broadens when you use the app on a mobile device, such as the iPad, as its touch screen would also appeal to kinesthetic learners. In this way, Evernote’s design and multimedia capabilities could, in theory, reach learners often neglected by a textbook’s static interface, or allow learners to demonstrate their understanding of concepts in a multi-intellectual way.
Conclusion and Rating
Overall, Evernote delivers on its promise to provide a repository for different types of multimedia. While its download speed is a little slow, its mobile capacity and multimedia integration make it a powerful organizational tool.
Scaled Rating (1 low – 5 high)
Implementation Possibilities 5
Pedagogical Features N/A
Sociolinguistic Accuracy N/A
Use of Computer Capabilities 5
Ease of Use 4
Value for Money 4
Overall Evaluation 4.5