My students are currently working on two projects: a digital story and a research essay. Both of these assignments require ample amounts of research using a variety of sources – books, academic journals, and yes, even websites. This time around, I took a moment to show my students Evernote, a handy little tool for organizing, well, everything. Better yet, it’s free! If you’re not familiar with Evernote, check out this introductory video below and be sure to visit their website.
I find Evernote especially useful to students who are trying to organize a variety of media for some type of presentation or research project. Its great search features and innate organizational tools help even the most disorganized student to “keep it together.”
For these particular assignments, I like to encourage my students to create a notebook for their project “Research Essay” or “Digital Story” will all work well. This is where they will store all of the material that they find for their topic.
Next, I make sure that they have downloaded and installed Evernote’s webclipper. This allows you to save anything that you pull up online – images, documents, videos, etc. It goes right into the folder that you select.
Now you may think “I don’t want them to just use the web.” However, remember, that many traditional resources are now digitized! Virtually all academic journals are hosted online via repositories like JSTOR. Many books are also hosted digitally via institutional databases or resources such as Google Books or Project Gutenberg. Even for those resources that are in traditional “paper” format, students can take pictures with their smart phones (preferably using a document scanner like Genius Scan that will enhance the images and store them as a grouped PDF) and then send those materials off to the same Evernote folder!
One of the best features of using the web clipper is that it includes the information students need to cite their sources. A struggle for many beginning scholars is that they are just learning about citation and copyright. Often, they do not realize they are missing key information until later, when they are formulating a bibliography or works cited page. This can be detrimental if the resource is no longer available or, worse yet, they don’t know where they found it! However, with Evernote and the Evernote clipper, it’s now all at their fingertips on any device (their computer, smart phone, or tablet). It’s phenomenal!
Perhaps the greatest feature of using Evernote and Evernote webclipper is that it truly does save time and energy. Instead of copy and pasting content and URL’s (hoping not to forget anything) into another document that you then email to yourself or put in the cloud, it’s all simply one click. Literally! Click it (perhaps add some notes and/or a few tags) and you’re done! Finito! Fertig! It’s all stored for you to go back and read over, think about, and organize into a final working piece.
I can tell you, I’ve never seen a piece of technology picked up as quickly as Evernote when my students begin their work on a new research project. Now… if I could just get them as eager about it when organizing their general course notes…. Perhaps a post for next time?