When I started my graduate studies I decided to invest in an IPad rather than a laptop. I was very interested in being able to use the various applications that potentially would make my life as a student easier. I bought a Bluetooth wireless keyboard and was very pleased with the results of bringing my IPad to class. My IPad became an all in one tool for research, note taking, and writing. I had messed around with Evernote when I first started looking for note taking software, but I ended up settling for an application called Notability that allowed me to annotate .PDF files. I was very pleased with this application and never went back to messing around with Evernote.
When I was reintroduced to Evernote through this Digital History class I became pleasantly surprised with Evernote’s capabilities. The feature that really stood out to me was the ability to have a shared notebook. Shared notebooks allow for other people to share in your findings. I feel like this provides great potential for crowd sourcing a project. It was interesting to not only be able to share a notebook with others, but to add search tags making it easy to track down certain notes. I feel like I have just scratched the surface as to the organizational capabilities that Evernote offers. I personally would love to be involved in a large scale historical project were the sharing of notebooks would really shine through. The features in Evernote are vast and it really allows you to organize your notes in a way that paper notebooks just can’t offer.
While Evernote’s sharing and tagging capabilities are very impressive the tool I found to be most useful was the Evernote Web Clipper. This nifty little browser add-on allows you to clip either URL’s or full web pages into Evernote with the simple click of a mouse. For my research project regarding Butler, NJ history I was able to go out to the web and quickly do web searches and rapidly save information to my notebook. This allowed me to keep searching without having to stop to copy down the information. The ability to clip a whole web page allowed me to go back after the fact and search through what I had found. I feel that searching for information is like going down the rabbit hole each click taking you deeper and deeper, and closer to what you are searching for. Evernote with its Web Clipper allows you to focus on your search and worry about everything else later.
One of the few issues I did have with Evernote Web Clipper was that it was not available on the IPad as an application download. I was forced to add it to my Firefox browser on my desktop computer in order to enjoy that feature. This was one limiting factor that I hope they will fix in the future. It would be wonderful to be able to use the Web clipper on the IPad as this is what I use on the go for all of my research. Now while I am sure that Evernote is a wonderful tool for many you want to invest fully in its features I personally did not rely on it. I feel that my classes right now do not really allow for me to take advantage of Evernote as a note taking tool as the classes themselves are primarily focused on projects. I will in the future bring my IPad and Evernote into more seminar based classes to really try to take advantage of its capabilities. When I am reading a secondary source or doing research I still prefer to be able to highlight the physical book, or E-Book. While this is the case I can see the benefits not only writing out your material with citations, but also tagging them to make re-finding the information that much easier.
Overall with Evernote’s vast selection of tools and add-ons I would most definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a powerful note taking software/application. For people who are looking to do historical research or any research work for that matter would not be disappointed in the many doors using Evernote opens to them. Sharing notes with colleagues, writing drafts, clipping in information from the web all becomes easier with Evernote. It is a tool that I will be continuing to use and I am sure there are some surprises left for me to discover as well.