Evernote for Educators #1 – Online Physics Agenda

Standard

Since the school I currently teach at has not yet employed a Learning Management System (LMS) [1] or  a School / Student Information System [2] that involves students (eg; in regard to assignments, worksheets, announcements, & grade book, etc…) and the students are expected to depend on their physical agenda which was not effective with some students, and since most students have a smartphone or access to a computer and an internet connection I started thinking of a way to solve this issue using technology.

Surely, I had to keep all students on equal footsteps especially for students who might be behind the class due to being slow writers or simply late because of being distracted.

On that basis a few months ago I decided to try out something new in my physics classroom. Since I was heavily using Evernote for note taking and organization and sharing some of these notes [3] (as a matter of fact I am writing this and other posts on Evernote) I decided it would be great if my students could check their agenda online.

Moreover, I thought this would also give parents an easy way to check what their children hav taken in class, what they have for homework, that quizzes or exams were distributed & require their signing, and if they have a quiz or exam. As a matter of fact I am mainly using this online agenda to post details and due dates about

  • Assignments
  • Quizzes
  • Exams
  • Handouts in PDF (though they are handed copies in class)
  • Corrections to assignments and assessments
  • a detention list

To do this I created a new notebook, named the “Online Physics Agenda – school-abbreviation grade-abbreviation” and added it to the stack of notebooks (a premium feature) that I created for this particular school and started adding notes to it. Each note is an agenda page for a particular date. I’ll detail how I organize notebooks in a future post. Each note I create has the following title format

2014-04-23 Short meaningful title – Due April 28 (Monday)

where 2014-04-23 is the creation date of the note. I am aware that each note has the date in its metadata but I wanted the date to be obvious to parents & students without the need of clicking or sorting.

Though I’ve enjoyed this system but I still write the agenda in class and ask the students to write it down at the beginning of each class. In this manner both students who miss to write everything or were absent can check it online. This also gives another important advantage, keeping all parents up to date on their kid’s responsibilities.

For students & parents to access it I had to, obviously, provide them with a link. Since links from Evernote are often long and take the following form

http://www.evernote.com/pub/username/original-name-of-notebook/

I had to shorten the link and make it easy to access the notebook. I opted to shorten the URL with goo.gl (another alternative is bitly) which returns the link in the following form

http://goo.gl/some-random-letters

What makes the Google url shortner useful is the statistics that it offers and QR code it generates for the shortened link. To check it append “.info” (without the quotations) to your shortened link like this

http://goo.gl/some-random-letters.info

Since at first I didn’t know about the goo.gl statistics page & QR code it generates I generated a QR code using the QR Code Generator (available as a Chrome app for offline use).

Finally I printed out a note that includes the shortened link (without the http:// part)  “goo.gl/some-random-letters”, the QR code and a note that informs the students of two Android & IOS Barcode reader apps if they wish to scan the code.

Important notes that I wish to surface (when sorted by tittle) are prefixed by an exclamation mark (!)

Having done this I have also informed the principal about it who liked it and I requested that the parents be informed. Even students liked it and asked whether it’s for all subjects.

So far this initiative has been semi-successful for the two main reasons:

  1. the statistics show that just part of the students are actively checking the online agenda.
    I believe this is mainly because it’s the first time someone tries it at this school and students haven’t built a habit of regularly checking their online agenda. This (building the habit) is something I am already working on by requiring them to check it every Friday and gradually increasing their dependence on it.
    I will employ next year from the start of the year and that it will be more successful when they are told about it from day one.
  2. The Evernote notebook sometimes takes too much time to load and sometimes it doesn’t even load fast enough. Some student have complained about that but I am not why this is happening not just to shared notebooks but also to the main or sign-in pages.
    To make the notebook faster at loading I stopped adding images to the notes which tend to  slow the loading of a note, and instead I am using PDF’s which require a click to open or download.

Of course this is not a substitute to the student agenda, not this year at least, but  a compliment which is especially useful for absent students and student’s parents.
Other than that I will be suggesting this idea to other teachers particularly the English teachers.

Here are some more articles for students on Evernote for Education and Learning

If you like the idea & wish to try it I invite you to play with Evernote for sometime.
Register using this link and earn a month’s worth of Premium features for free which I paid for with an annual subscription (there’s a monthly subscription too).

  • Do you use Evernote for similar purposes? Please share your experience in the comments.
  • Do you have another way for naming notes such that students & parents don’t miss some notes when other notes are updated?
  • Did you like the idea and are interested in trying it with your students? Register to Evernote using this link and let me know how things turn out.

Footnotes

[1] LMS like Moodle
[2] SIS like SchoolTool or Fedena
[3] I will a future post on what I was using before Evernote and why I moved.

#AKB#


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