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Teachers: I was wrong about Evernote

Evernote logo

One of my most popular posts is a negative review of Evernote, the personal digital assistant that many people use to organize their lives.

In the post, I argued that Evernote is unnecessary for teachers because the application discourages hierarchical organization and instead relies on tagging and searching to find files.

I’m sorry. I was wrong.

After more than a year, I recently went back to try Evernote again, and I have changed my mind. Teachers definitely should take a look at the program. Here are a few ways I use Evernote.

1. It’s good for random curriculum ideas. Instead of opening up Google Docs to create a more formal document, Evernote records my little ideas no matter where I am. (The phone app is really easy and helpful.)

2. It’s good for recording in-person conversations with students. If your grading program doesn’t allow for easy note taking, Evernote can easily substitute. Just make sure the student’s name is in the note (preferably the title), and you can have a running record of your conversations.

For phone or text conversations — more common with parents — I prefer Google Voice, where you can add your note directly to the received or placed call.

3. It’s great with a scanner. I’ve found that scanning student work as images or PDFs can reduce your desk clutter. I prefer JPEGs for written or typed work (to maximize Evernote’s sharp OCR technology) and PDFs for artwork.

There’s also plenty of teaching materials that come only in soft copy. When I get something I don’t want to file, I scan it into Evernote, and I’m happy.

4. It’s not hard to create an organizational system. One of my biggest gripes was that Evernote almost wanted you to shun organization. This isn’t true. You can have more than one notebook, or you can set up tags to create a nested system. Because Evernote is addictive, I highly recommend that you think of setting up your organization scheme before you go crazy writing notes and uploading files. Just because the program is supposed to be your “second brain,” I’ve always preferred having just one.

5. You can upload a lot. My free account gives me 60 megabytes a month for free, which isn’t much if you’re uploading a lot of art, but it’s a whole lot if you’re uploading mostly documents.

There you have it. I’m officially an Evernote convert. Feel free to leave comments about how you use Evernote as a teacher.


  1. Shane

    I love it too I have it on my iPad,optimus v android phone,iPod touch 4th gen,MacBook pro 09. I have 460 notes and aim a premium member I love note history I deleted an invoice by accident so the note history saved me it was for something that I have to return for service

  2. Trent

    I’m still a nonEvernote fan. A few months back I started researching alternatives and my favorite so far has been Centrallo. Newer app, but seems to be growing and growing. Several friends – including teachers – have joined me in the switch and love it. You should definitely give it a shot

    • Mark Isero

      Thanks, Trent. I’ll check out Centrallo. Seems like Keep is good for immediate things and Evernote is for archiving stuff that maybe I don’t much care to see again. (But Evernote is so slow on the phone.)

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