Create your own multimodal notebook for use in online collaborative inquiry

Evernote is a "free" tool that can be bused for numerous purposes in your classroom, research, and personal life. The service is free, but they do offer a premium service that offers a couple more options. The biggest challenge is getting started...and deciding what you want to use it for. I view Evernote as my online, multimodal notebook.

What Common Core State Standards are addressed in the use of this tool:

(Grades 6-8) - Use technology, including the Internet to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.

(Grades 3-5) - With (some) guidance from adults, use technology to interact and collaborate with others.

(Grades 6-12) - Use technology interact and collaborate with others.

(Grade 7) - Use technology, including the Internet to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas clearly and efficiently.

So how do we use it now...I use Evernote on my MacBook Pro, Android phone, iPad, and the web interface. Basically start an account, install it everywhere you can...and then start using it. The big question is...WHAT DO YOU WANT TO USE IT FOR?

Here is the "foolproof" way to get started with Evernote...

1. Sign on at Evernote.com and start up and account. Download the app to your phone, computer, tablet, etc. Sign in on each instance of the Evernote that you install.

2. Organize your Evernote system. I set up two notebooks in Evernote: INBOX and ARCHIVED. Anything that I do in Evernote, or send to Evernote goes to the INBOX. I then take a little bit of time each week to tag each note based on overall "themes" or "topics" of the note. Some people tag their notes with "@work", or "@school" to denote where they would need this information. I prefer to tag with information about the note, so I would tag the initial draft of this tutorial on Evernote with "tutorial", "Evernote", "MA NLI."

You can also use a SHARED notebook in Evernote. This will allow you make notes public, or collaboratively edit notes. I do not use the shared options in Evernote. I prefer Google Docs if I want to collaborate with others.

3. Now that you have a system set up, you need to start using it. Whatever notes you put into Evernote, or save into an ARCHIVE folder...it'll automagically be available on all of your devices...even the website.

Here is how to populate your Evernote notebooks. A quick advisory note...I have been using Evernote for years, and as a result I try to use it for more, and more...and more...

I suggest starting off with one or two uses that make sense to you...and then adding on more...and then devising your own uses...

Use it for basic note-taking. Previously I used to carry around Moleskin notebooks and would feverishly jot down ideas, comments, and things to address later in my notebook. As a result I have about a dozen notebooks at home in which I have notes from literature reviews, conferences, interviews, etc. I now take notes for everything in Evernote. I start up a note on my phone if I have a talk with someone at a conference. I take notes at department meetings on my laptop. I review notes and take snapshots of whiteboard sketches on my iPad. Evernote allows you to take snapshots and add it to a note...they also allow you to audio record the notes for any meeting and attach it to your note as well.

Use it for bookmarking. I read online a lot. I find numerous things I want to save for later on. Previously I would bookmark pages, and then switched over to Delicious, and then Diigo. I left all of these behind and now save pages into Evernote. While using Chrome, I have the Evernote Web Clipper or Clearly installed. When I come across a page that I would typically bookmark, I save the entire page into Evernote. I now have a note with all of the text and multimodal content of the page. I also have the link back to the page itself...I also have the ability to tag the note and group it with other notes on the same topic.

Use it with Skitch for images and annotations. Skitch is another great tool that was recently purchased by Evernote, and is being quickly folded into Evernote. Skitch allows you totake snapshots of webpages, pictures, etc. and annotate them. I use Skitch to take screenshots of webpages and annotate them to show students and teachers where I want them to read, or click on a page. These images in Skitch can be saved or added right into Evernote for access and sharing later.

Use it for going to a paperless system. I have a ton of paper that I try and store all around my house. I have receipts, worksheets, conference handouts, meeting notes, etc. All of these sit and collect dust in my file cabinet and never, ever get used. I've recently started using my cell phone, iPad, or scanner to scan these papers into PDFs, and load into Evernote. Now I can tag these scanned images into Evernote, and index and search them whenever. Evernote also uses optical character recognition (OCR) on images, and will identify text in scanned images when you search for it.