Back to School: An Evernote Scavenger Hunt [Education Series]

Posted by Kasey Fleisher Hickey on 16 Aug 2012

Posted by Kasey Fleisher Hickey on 16 Aug 2012

  • Names: Anne Burke, Undergraduate Instruction and Outreach Librarian; Adrienne Lai, NCSU Libraries Fellow; Adam Rogers, Emerging Technology Services Librarian
  • University: North Carolina State University
  • Location: Raleigh, NC
  • Website:

When we first heard about how librarians at North Carolina State University were using Evernote to help new students get acquainted with the university library, we knew we wanted to learn more. Turns out, Anne Burke, Adrienne Lai, and Adam Rogers came up with a clever scavenger hunt, leading students to discover the nooks and crannies of the library, as well the library’s digital archives, staff, and various resources. They did all of this using Evernote and a fleet of iPod Touches. Read on to learn more about the NCSU Libraries Scavenger Hunt and see how you could recreate it at your school!

A new approach to orientation

North Carolina State is a very large state university and our library can be intimidating for new students. It’s open twenty four hours a day for the majority of the school year and is used by thousands of students daily. In May 2011, we were looking for a way to acquaint students with the library facilities, resources, and staff, but we didn’t want to just have them sit in a classroom. Instead, we wanted to get students out of the classroom setting and experience the library in a mobile way. We wanted to rethink the old way of library orientation and do something more exciting.

The idea for a scavenger hunt was born and the next step was to identify the best app to make it happen.

Evernote comes out on top

In our search for the perfect scavenger hunt app, we came across two major challenges: many of the apps were prohibitively expensive for our project, and some were great for leading people across a wide geographic area, but wouldn’t really work for our activity, which would take place all in one big building. Given our time frame and budget, we wanted to move quickly and find a tool that wouldn’t force us to pursue funding. Evernote, with its free and affordable Premium products, turned out to be a great solution.

Scavenger Hunt implementation and goals

In order to make the scavenger hunt a reality, we deployed Evernote on a fleet of iPod Touches that we distributed to each student group. Each class of 20 students was broken up into teams of four and given clues for for finding particular things in the library. In the past, we would have done this using a pencil and paper, but with Evernote, it was all digital.

We had three major goals for the students:

  • Become familiar with our space
  • Become familiar with the library collections, services, and Website
  • Become familiar with a new technology

Prior to the actual scavenger hunt, we set up a brief orientation for the students to familiarize themselves with Evernote. We offered some instructions for how to create a new note, how to snap a photo, and what Evernote is, as well as why we were using it for this purpose. To make the scavenger hunt work, we created a separate Evernote account for each team and made sure to share the scavenger hunt notebooks with a single Evernote account that the librarians would be able to access. The students were instructed to create a new note for every clue they found within a 25 minute timeframe. Some of the clues included having students find the reference desk and take a picture with the reference librarian (so they’d know who to ask questions in the future), locating a specific book, and finding important library landmarks.

As the students created new notes, they were automatically time-stamped and synced to Evernote everywhere, so the librarians were able to see the clues coming in while sitting at their computers. We have a master Evernote account that the librarians are logged into back at the classroom on their laptop and iPad, so we can see updates to all Shared Notebooks. Some notes were photo notes and some required students to type out an answer to a question, so they were able to interact with virtually every note format in Evernote and save all of their notes in one place.

At the end of the scavenger hunt, we awarded prizes and candy to the winning teams (those who found the most clues) and also gave each student a handout on Evernote, so they’d be able to use it in other ways throughout their academic career.

What we learned

Ultimately, the aim of the scavenger hunt was to get students involved in the university library, get to know the staff and the vast amount of resources they have at their fingertips. By doing it in such a creative way, we found that the students didn’t just learn, they had fun!

We noticed that students loved seeing themselves hamming it up around the library, and really enjoyed taking photo notes. A few teams found creative ways to capture their clues — one team took audio notes. We’ve now done the scavenger hunt with over 90 classes, and, beyond being a popular activity with the students, it’s become very popular with the faculty. Research shows that students learn better when they’re moving around, doing things themselves, and that is exactly what they were able to do with Evernote. We’re excited to kick off a new round of scavenger hunts this fall and looking forward to finding new and interesting ways to use Evernote to help students learn.

Evernote for Schools

Learn more about using Evernote in an education context by visiting our microsite for schools. You’ll find an array of resources including videos, case studies, guides, a discussion forum, upcoming webinars, and more. Don’t forget to follow @evernoteschools on Twitter for the latest updates.


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2 Comments RSS

  • Christine N. Davis

    Oops, typo in the link in your final paragraph tries to redirect to – note the misspelling. Please update!

    • Kasey Fleisher Hickey

      Thanks, Christine. It’s been updated!