Evernote’s utility as a knowledge management platform makes it perfect for use in an educational environment where everyone is engaged in the pursuit of lifelong learning from the teachers to the students.
Kingswood College, a coeducational K-12 college in Australia, had been looking for a learning content management system to replace paper booklets and handouts, where they could upload and organize different educational content. Evernote was suggested by the Head of Innovation, Judy Taylor as a potential platform as it was easy to understand and adopt. Greta Caruso, Head of Cultures Precinct, worked together with Judy to develop and test ideas with Evernote.
In 2014, Kingswood College officially deployed Evernote Business for use in their school due to the following reasons:
- The flexibility of the online workspace allowed for the uploading of files or the creation of notes from scratch
- There were multiple ways of organizing the way notes were listed
- The three levels of organization, notebooks, notes and stacks were clear and simple
- Collaboration through sharing notes and notebooks in Evernote Business created transparency without clutter
Since then, Kingswood College has developed huge banks of resources and a knowledge repository for collaborative learning and work between teachers and students including answers, tasks, explanations, models, assessment, templates, dates and timelines – virtually entire courses. They created a “How-to Evernote” notebook that is specific to the school and context of Evernote for education. Kingswood College has been able to leverage Evernote’s customer support and active online community for advice and best practices on setting Evernote up as a learning content management system for both teachers and students alike.
Evernote for Education
Here’s how Kingswood College successfully implemented Evernote for use in schools.
1. Consistent Protocol for Naming Stacks
When it comes to setting up Evernote for use in schools, consistency of the structure is absolutely key and frees the teacher up to be creative with what they do later. “This has proved vital. It gets even more important when I ask my staff to upload their work to the “Kingswood College” section. As a line manager I need to be able to see what people are doing and a search will not work unless I am sure of the title of what I am searching for,” says Greta Caruso. Consistent naming makes it easy to find these notebooks again in the future.
“Getting a clear and consistent organisation structure would be one of the first pieces of advice I would give any school.”
2. Published Course Materials
A course materials notebook is published for each subject in the English, Humanities and Languages subjects in the school following the naming guidelines at Kingswood College. It contains vital notes and information forming the bedrock of the course. According to Greta, “The teachers and students can see timelines, assessment tasks, feedback sheets etc. It keeps the kids on track and means that they can never claim that they did not know about an upcoming test or assessment task.” Each note is also numbered to facilitate navigation.
3. Paired Visual Cues for Context
Along with a detailed course syllabus and strict naming protocols, Kingswood College tries to include one very clear, self-explanatory image with each note. Greta recommends this to any schools setting up Evernote as the students rely heavily on the visual cues with each note, and describe the notes with reference to the images rather than the name of the note. For example, the school uses the same image for every “Table of Contents” notes. Indeed those who work in online learning environments are finding that students navigate their pathways much more effectively if given visual cues.
4. Lesson Planning
The teachers in Kingswood College plan for lessons in notebooks called “Teacher materials”, which contain ideas for lessons, other assignment tasks and tests. This notebook is not shared with the students. In these notebooks the teachers collaborate on items in development, and that has meant the learning resources are the product of many minds working on one task. The process involves collaborative cyclical improvement whereby teachers develop and improve resources as they go along. Once ready, these notes are moved over to a notebook where students can view them at the appropriate time.
A key feature of Evernote is the ability to sync information across various devices. Kingswood College has seen a lot of success in adoption when the students install Evernote on their phones so it is with them constantly. “One thing that really worked is that one class was studying the poetry of John Keats. Each student selected a poem and then rehearsed and recorded it on their phones. They were then able to upload their reading of the poem to Evernote directly from their phones. They were then able to listen to each other’s reading and make more sense of the poems,” said Greta. It was very intuitive for students to speak into their phones for these recordings. They were better able to interpret these poems, understand the pacing from the audio notes and comment on these recordings.
“I think that’s got a great deal of potential. We haven’t yet explored it to its full capacity.”
5. Classroom Management
To assist students in following along with the lesson plan and navigate to the right note that they are using in class, teachers would project their Evernote notebooks on a widescreen. This enables everyone to both metaphorically and literally stay on the same page.
An additional benefit of using Evernote in class has been to monitor if students are following along with the lesson plan for the day. For example, teachers can tell which students are or are not viewing the notebook so they can assess the level of class participation. Real-time tracking of viewers is really important in the classroom. This feature has worked well in administering lessons to students who may have missed examinations due to illness or injury.
For example, a student athlete who was hospitalized was able to complete her assessments remotely. A set time for the task to be taken was scheduled, and the task was released to the student at that time. Teacher and student then messaged each other over Work Chat when that time came around. The teacher was able to monitor when the student accessed the task, which brought a lot of transparency into the testing process.
6. Project Management for Self-Improvement
Aside from using Evernote for planning lessons, first year teachers also use the notebook for training and self-improvement. It is legally mandatory for first year teachers in Australia to embark on a project under the supervision of a senior teacher to demonstrate how they are teaching. These junior teachers are now documenting their professional progress through Evernote in notebooks. When they come across any interesting websites or areas they are interested in developing they can clip the information into Evernote. These notebooks are then shared with their mentors who will guide them through suggestions and help prepare these junior teachers for the interview where they will graduate to becoming full-fledged teacher.
7. Digital Portfolio
Teaching aside, some teachers at Kingswood College are also using Evernote to create digital portfolios and centralize their professional experience through a master document that collates all their relevant work and experience. They can then use Evernote as a transportable digital portfolio which makes it professionally attractive.
“I have never heard anyone say that once they have started using Evernote they want to move away from it. I feel like once people are using it, that is the end of all arguments.”
For more information about Evernote, you could visit our Facebook page or follow us on Instagram @Evernote_SEA and Twitter @EvernoteSEA.