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Teachers: There’s no reason to Evernote

evernote logo

Every once in a while, a trendy application comes out that makes me wonder, “Do we really need that?”

First it was Twitter. Now it’s Evernote.

Evernote, hardly a newcomer to online notetaking, lets you save and organize web clippings, photos, and handwritten notes, among other things. It wants to become “your second brain” or “your external brain.”

I don’t want any of my brains to be that disorganized.

Maybe it’s just that I’m a teacher and I can’t see myself walking around the supermarket taking pictures of sake labels, as CEO Phil Libin from Evernote seems to do, given this promo video. (He also likes ninja shirts.) (He also uses Evernote to remember where he put his car.)

Let me be fair: I’m all for organization, and Evernote claims to organize your life. Whatever notes you create — whether by typing them, clipping them from a website, or taking a picture of them — are accessible online from any device, including your mobile phone.

The problem is, the service encourages you not to organize your stuff. Sure, it lets you tag notes and create notebooks. But all their advertising suggests don’t! Instead, save everything all in one place and then search for it later! Evernote is “a tool for lazy slobs,” Phil says. Well, perhaps there are many people out there who can get away with loose organization systems, but teachers in general cannot.

Evernote’s photo + OCR capability makes things even worse, particularly if you have an iPhone. Because it can scan pretty much anything you throw at it, there’s no reason not to start taking pictures of all your student work. Yes, you can do this with Evernote, but that doesn’t mean you should. It becomes anti-organization overkill.

I’ve spent several hours over the last couple months trying to make Evernote work for me. After all, Lifehacker called it “the most popular note-taking application.”  But I just don’t get it. It’s clunky, it’s complicated, it just doesn’t work for me.

Of course, some people would say the same thing about Google Apps and Live Mesh, so I would be happy to hear from teachers who find Evernote helpful. Please let me know how you use it!

Please share your brilliant insights!