Organising Class Material with Evernote – ELT Library January Blog Challenge

January 25, 2012

I’d been thinking about writing a post on Evernote and a couple of other web tools that I’ve been using lately when I came across the ESL Library January blog challenge, which is about how teachers use bookmarking tools. So, here’s short post on how I’ve been using Evernote to organise content for some classes that I’m currently teaching. You can also see a screencast that I made using Evernote here.

Evernote allows you to create Notebooks for storing information that you find online. When you come across something interesting, you can clip it to Evernote. The easiest way to do this is by clicking the Evernote icon in your tool bar. Here’s what Evernote looks like (Click on the image to see a larger version):

What I really like about it though, is that in addition to web pages, I can also store other kinds of notes. Notes can be added as text, photos, or voice recordings and they can sit along side the web pages that have been clipped. In practical, classroom teaching terms, I can have a clipping of a news report that I want my students to watch, a clipping of a picture gallery related to the report, and next to them both, the corresponding worksheet that I will use in class (which I had previously typed up in Evernote!). I might also have a document with vocabulary that has come up in class there too which I can easily access and add to. All those things together in the same folder for easy retrieval!

Here’s one of the worksheets that I mentioned:

I can also share these via email, Twitter etc. This is handy for sharing worksheets, for example, with students.

The desktop version of Evernote means that I can see my clippings when I’m off-line, while the Android Evernote app allows me to take photos, record voice notes or type in notes on my phone and save them directly into the corresponding Evernote folder. Here’s an Evernote Snapshot of (not the neatest!) board work (to be used in planning the next class), taken via the Evernote app on my phone:

Of course, Evernote is completely searchable and searches will even recognise text in photos!

There are also some other Evernote related products that, from a teacher’s point of view, are really nice. One in particular is the Clearly extension. This changes any webpage into a text-only version, getting rid of menus, ads and other stuff that you might not want your students to look at. It also makes them easy to print out or copy and paste. Here’s a comparison of a news article from the BBC before and after the application of Clearly:

So there you go, that’s Evernote, which, so far, has been pretty useful.