When Jonathan Copeland, a second year student at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, was selected as the winner of Evernote’s Twitter Back to School Sweepstakes, we knew we’d found a treasure trove of Evernote tips for students. Jonathan submitted not just one, but eight ways that Evernote helps him become more successful as a student. With so much Evernote joy bursting out of him, it came as no surprise to learn that Jonathan has recently become an Evernote Community Leader so he can continue spreading this joy to others around him.
Here are some ways that Evernote helps Jonathan become a more productive and effective student:
Tip #1: Save all course-related information into Evernote, then organize into notebooks and notebook stacks
Jonathan stores all his handwritten notes, PowerPoint and PDF presentations, and graphic design files in Evernote. He organizes everything from his information science courses into notebooks—first by class, then grouped as notebook stacks, by semester.
One of Jonathan’s favorite ways to use Evernote is adding multiple file attachments to a single note, and editing them with the original application, without leaving Evernote. To edit any of these files, he simply double clicks the file link. He considers this feature one of Evernote’s best-kept secrets.
Here’s an example of how Jonathan adds various graphics, web (HTML), and stylesheet (.CSS) files to a note:
PRO TIP: Use one of Jonathan’s favorite Evernote keyboard shortcuts, Command + J on his Mac, to search, then quickly jump to a recently viewed note or notebook.
Tip #2: Use audio recorded lectures to review for exams
This semester, Jonathan is taking a course in Programming Design Patterns. For that class, Jonathan relies on Evernote to record the lectures on his phone. When it’s time to study for exams, he re-listens to the lecture as a way to review the key points to keep the concepts fresh in his mind.
PRO TIP: Use your phone, rather than your laptop, to record lectures. This prevents the microphone from picking up keyboard-tapping sounds as you type.
Tip #3: Scan study notes into Evernote so you can review them later on your phone
When it comes time to review for tests, Jonathan prefers to create handwritten study notes, which he then scans into Evernote. This ensures that he has everything backed up and always available on any device. Jonathan doesn’t need to remember how he’s organized his schoolwork anymore and struggled to remember, in fact, the last time he lost anything. “I’ve used Evernote for so long I can’t remember [the last time] I’ve lost something,” he laughs.
Last semester, for example, when Jonathan accidentally left his Calculus notebook (with his handwritten formula review notes) at home, Evernote came to the rescue. His panic-stricken gasp quickly turned into a sigh of relief after he realized he’d already scanned his review notes into Evernote.
PRO TIP: Evernote Premium customers can get a more focused study experience, by viewing notes as a presentation on a phone or a laptop.
Tip #4: Create templates for recurring notes
Jonathan designed a template for taking class notes that he reuses each class session. He added structure to his notes using tables. Jonathan’s template includes the following sections:
- Resources: For useful links to online materials or attached files
- Key points: For jotting down detailed lecture notes (feel free to resize the columns the way you’d like to)
- Questions/Actions: For making a list of questions you’d like to research or ask the lecturer about later
- Summary of notes: For highlights of a lecture, should be lecture, right? presented as an outline, or for attached PDFs of class slides
Create templates for recurring notes, such as meeting notes, rough drafts with project milestones, and project task lists. Each time you want to take some new notes, simply create a duplicate of the template note.
PRO TIP: No time to create your own class notes template? Use Jonathan’s! Save it to your Evernote account and reuse it as many times as you’d like.
Tip #5: Use shared notebooks as a hub for group projects
Jonathan genuinely believes in the ‘sharing is caring’ principle when it comes to sharing information with others. Last semester, he shared all his class notes (along with PDF code file) in a shared notebook with more than 80 of his classmates so they could also study them.
Jonathan discovered that shared notebooks are not only useful for sharing notes with others, but a good way for groups to collaborate together on a project. Last year, he shared a notebook with his project group, with ‘Can edit’ permissions. Anyone in the group could save project notes, resource links, and works in progress to this shared notebook.
“I’ve used Evernote for so long I can’t remember [the last time] I’ve lost something.”–Jonathan Copeland
Here are some examples of notes you can save to a shared project notebook:
- A rubric describing the project and evaluation criteria
- A task list, broken down by weeks as a way to track progress
- Research articles from the web curated using Web Clipper
- Rough drafts or question responses
PRO TIP: If your project group has been assigned a set of questions, divide them up among the group members—one single note per question. Once everyone completes their individual responses, merge all the notes together as a single note before turning it in.
Tip #6: Make Evernote a personal knowledge base for both academic and extracurricular notes
When he’s not studying, Jonathan has many other hobbies, activities, and responsibilities. He plays bass guitar in a band, volunteers as a video editor and designer for the university newspaper, and keeps himself busy with a bit of freelance app-design work. His Evernote account, as a result, includes an eclectic collection of notes, with guitar chords and audio recordings of all the songs his band plays, saved alongside video gaming notes.
Jonathan says that for him, “Evernote is a game changer—having all of my files and work in one easy-to-find location [where] everything’s backed up and easily accessible.”
PRO TIP: Keep reminder list notes of books you’d like to read, albums you’d like to buy, or films you’d like to watch. It’s easy to add new items to these lists from your phone, no matter where you are.
Follow Jonathan Copeland on Twitter @jmcopel