As the tile of this post suggests, I first started using Evernote at the beginning of my Creating Digital History class. At first, I was hesitant to use a digital tool for note taking. I had also been an old-school, notebook and pencil type of student. I did not consider the wide range of capabilities that the application allows for. Technology has not always been my friend, and I was hesitant to give up my standard form of taking notes. After a few weeks of getting comfortable with the digital tool, Evernote made me a believer.
Over the first few weeks of the semester, I transitioned from taking hand written notes to bringing my computer to class and typing them. Having my computer in class had added benefits in itself, let alone taking notes on Evernote. I had never previously brought my laptop to any class over my student career. This pulled me outside of my comfort zone, but it enhanced my experience in my Creating Digital History course. Professor Cathy Hajo’s seminar-style class is centered on lessons guided by her computer, which is hooked up to a large screen. Having my laptop in class allowed me to follow along on my own screen rather than only watching that of Professor Hajo. The main reason why I was so attached to my old-fashioned note taking method was because I felt that I better retained information when I wrote it down. In this digital history seminar, I certainly retained information better by following my professor’s lead on my own computer. Evernote gets credit for this because it was the reason I began bringing my computer to class to begin with.
Typing notes on Evernote supplemented my experience of following the class on my laptop. Note taking on Evernote capitalizes on many digital possibilities. Tagging is one of my favorite tools within Evernote. I always make sure to tag keywords on every individual note that I take so I can easily search throughout and group them together. For example, this very post started out as a simple note that weighed the pros and cons of Evernote with the tags “blog” and “evernote”. I also rely on the search bar if I forgot to tag a keyword in a note. This searches through every note for what was typed in the bar. Oh, the advantages of technology. I do not miss the search bar on my handwritten notes, which consisted of me aimlessly flipping through pages until I found what I was looking for.
There are more positive qualities of Evernote that I appreciate. One is that I made my personal notebook public and available through the Creating Digital History class website. This way I have been able to access my notes when I am away from my personal computer. This has come in handy when I have been on other devices in libraries and archives. Another thing that I like about Evernote is that there is no save button. The notebook is constantly saving and syncing with my computer. This way there is no save button to worry about clicking (or forgetting to click). Although I am not one to forget to save documents in say Microsoft Word, I always press the sync button just to be sure.
As glowing a report as this may seem for Evernote, I do have some complaints. I will preface my paragraph on the cons of the digital tool by saying: I am using the free version, which seems to have some limitations as opposed to paying for the full service of Evernote. One problem that I have encountered is a data limit of 100 megabytes per month. This is not an issue if only typing notes. However, for a time, I was uploading images into my notebook, and I quickly reached my monthly limit. It would not surprise me if this is one of the negatives that is rectified if using the paid version of Evernote. The second thing I wish to bring up is on maneuverability between notes. I have found it difficult to consult multiple pages of notes simultaneously. As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, I am not a technology expert, so this is something that I will leave to the grizzled veterans of digital history.
I use Evernote for every aspect of my Creating Digital History class. This usage has steadily increased over the course of the semester as I have become more comfortable with the digital tool. I type my class notes, research notes, and blog entries all into my digital notebook. This has created one convenient location for me to store and search through everything I need for this course.
I will close with a disclaimer: There are even more capabilities within Evernote that I cannot speak knowledgeably on. I have been told that there is an iPhone application for Evernote, but I do not have it. Also, there is a web-clipping tool that can make deposits directly into your notebook. Once again, I have not used it so I will not speak critically on either this or the smart phone application.