Why Online Note Taking & Archiving?

When students are gathering information from a variety of websites, they need to have some way to keep track of this information, and be able both to organize it and write notes to themselves about it. There are a variety of online tools that provide options not only for keeping track of URLs of favorite websites (like social bookmarking tools), but also that provide a visual image of the site. Many of these tools let students “clip” screen shots of videos, photos, and textual information. They can write notes about the website, or simply open a blank page just for notes to themselves. Many tools also archive audio clips as well. By tagging the archived information – with as many tags as they would like – students can organize this information into “folders”, “collections”, or “notebooks”. Students can then search by keyword, title, or tag for each bit of information. A comprehensive tool like Evernote even indexes the hand-written words found on photos or other images. Because all of the information is stored in the “cloud”, it is possible to access the account, and all the information in the notes, from any computer or hand-held device. Some tools allow students to share folders and information for free, a terrific collaborative tool; for others you need to purchase an upgrade in order to share.

Online Note Taking & Archiving Tools

The first step is to choose an online tool that has the features that will be important to you and your students. See some of the suggested possibilities below. As already stated, if it is important that students be able to share their information for group work, be sure to use a tool that provides that service for free. Demonstrate for your students first how to write a note on a blank page, then how to “clip” a website for archiving and give the note tags. Also show them how to set up folders or collections, and how to keep their information organized for future reference. They should also discover how easy it is to make notes on the archived sites, or to create a new note for their own thoughts and ideas.

We also have an entire page devoted to Note Taking Apps for any device on EdTechTeacher.org

Here are some sites to try:

  • Springpad – “Save. Organize. Act.” “Notes. Really, really smart notes.”
  • Zoho Notebook – “Create. Aggregate. Collaborate.” Create pages. Add content like audio, visual, notes, etc. Share your notes and pages.
  • Google Notebook Collect notes and information from the web. Download the Google Notebook Extension in order to collect images. Access from any device; share with others.
  • Zotero – “Collect, organize, cite and share.” Sync to all your devices. Includes drag-and-drop features.

Online Note Taking & Archiving Tutorials

One of the most popular sites for note-taking and archiving in education is Evernote. Evernote is a way for you to capture everything, access anywhere, and find things fast! Here is a tutorial that describes many of Evernote’s capabilities.

Introduction to Evernote

EdTechTeacher Evernote Tutorial

Evernote for Windows

Evernote for Mac

Zoho Notebook video tutorial

Google Notebook tutorial

Introduction to Zotero

You can also view a Zotero tutorial on their homepage.


Evernote is an online note-taking and archiving tool that helps you keep track of all of your information in an easily-accessible way. Evernote exampleWhen you use Evernote you can write notes to yourself, clip Web site URLs, copy and paste sections of Web sites, post screen shots, and keep track of all sorts of videos, photos, images, audio clips, and textual information. Each piece of information can be tagged and kept in Notebooks (like folders in a word processing program). You can search by keyword, title and tag. Evernote even indexes the hand-written words found on photos or other images. And because all of the information is stored in the “cloud”, you can access your account, and all your information, from any computer or hand-held device. Evernote says that you can “capture everything”, “organize it” (or let them do it), and “find anything fast”.

When students use Evernote, they can create different Notebooks for different courses and projects, tag items in their Notebooks, comment and take notes on things that they are learning, and get themselves organized without worrying about losing lots of papers. If some students have difficulty taking notes (either because of a broken arm, or due to difficulty processing information quickly enough in class), they can take photos of the notes from the whiteboard, tag them, and keep them organized for later study. Evernote has great potential uses for differentiating instruction for students who need it.

See the Evernote homepage to set up an account: http://evernote.com/

How to Integrate Online Note Taking & Archiving

Students will need to have their own accounts in the chosen tool. Evernote can be accessed either directly on the web, or through a downloaded application. If your computer (or other device) has the application, there is an icon in the toolbar that makes sending notes to Evernote very quick and simple. Once students have set up their accounts, try using it in some of these ways:

  • Students can use the combination of “notebooks”, titles, and tagging to organize classroom notes, as well as research for projects. They can also set up separate notebooks for personal information, and begin to transfer good habits from schoolwork to their lives outside of school. This is how teachers can help students become life-long learners.
  • Teachers can take a photo of notes on a board and post the photo to a shared “notebook”. The Evernote search feature can read hand-written notes and provide great search results! This is also a useful feature for when students are absent, or when students have a disability that, for some reason, prevents them from writing, like a broken arm.
  • Teachers can turn typed classnotes into a pdf and post to a shared notebook, or just copy and paste classnotes into a blank note.
  • Students and teachers can share weblinks with each other, and learn from their comments on those links.
  • Teachers can share pdf files of primary source documents with students.
  • Students can save pdf documents that they find for their research in library databases.
  • Groups of students can work within a shared notebook, each of them contributing information for a particular project.
  • Students can develop a to-do list to help them stay organized.
  • Students and teachers can record and share audio files.
  • In Evernote, it is possible to have notes emailed directly to your notebooks, or to create an RSS feed to your notebooks.
  • If students and teachers are working with Twitter, it is also possible to have Tweets sent to your notebooks.