It did not take me long to realise, after starting my training in instructional design and e-learning technologies, that the amount of research, websites, texts and case studies in the field can be quite overwhelming. I struggled to find a way to organise the immense amount of interesting information I was coming across, and I tended to worry that I was missing out on quite a lot simply because I was not able to categorise and organise the data and information properly and then kept forgetting about interesting websites or articles. Simple bookmarking did not do the trick, as I tended to work on various devices and in various places, and besides I also needed a way of quickly noting down my thoughts on what I read or did.
And then I came across this website on 30 Recommended Apps for Online Students. Apart from some obvious picks like Dropbox (how was life possible before Dropbox??), Google, Wikipedia and Dictionary.com, and equally obvious though perhaps less known ones like Wolfram Alpha, there was one that seemed to tick all the boxes.
Evernote. Does everything what it says on the tin. You simply download and install the app on all your devices and all content you put in there syncs beautifully across all of them. You can also share your content with others – great for collaborative learning and projects.
Evernote also allows you to organise your content in folders, called ‘notebooks’, to which you add files, called ‘notes’. The notes can be anything from a typed note (something like a Notepad file) through images and audio/video files to websites or ‘cuttings’ of them. The ‘cutting’ functionality is absolutely fantastic: it requires installing an add-on, called ‘Web Clipper’, in all your browsers, and you can copy not just links (like in the normal bookmarking feature) but entire webpages or, even better, specific articles or highlighted parts of them. In this case, you do not have to worry about the page disappearing from the internet: its content is securely saved in your Evernote notepad.
I am still playing around with the app, but so far I am very satisfied with the free product. There is an option of upgrading to a premium version, but I cannot see the value of it at the moment.
I can see many uses of software like Evernote for learners. It can prove great for research purposes, and the sync function is indispensable for today’s learners who use various devices and study in various locations.
More info on the app can be found here.