Monday, September 10, 2012

Evernote for student field research projects

One of the interesting things I note as I read others’ blogs is a feeling of frustration with the imperfect nature of the technology at hand.  Indeed at times I had the feeling this summer as I played around with Evernote as a paper-writing tool, that it was far more trouble than it was worth.  My sense is that some of these apps, particularly ones that are trying to be more comprehensive, work well on a laptop or desktop, but have yet to have their full functionality manifest in the iPad version.  This has been my experience with Evernote.  I have downloaded pdfs, made notes in attached files and linked relevant web pages, among other activities.  However, I find the iPad as a device to write a paper on not conducive to the way I work and think and whenever I was using Evernote on the iPad, I also had my laptop open (and attached to a second monitor) so that I could write more fluidly, flip through pages and have multiple documents in my line of vision.  Thus, I’ve pretty much given up trying to use Evernote as a comprehensive paper-writing device and I will not be modeling it in my thesis class as  per the original plan.  Given my distaste for actually writing on the iPad, I can’t really see how any app is going to be workable for that aspect.  However, I have found that Evernote is a great ethnographic research tool for students and I am modeling it in my qualitative methods class this fall.  Evernote’s multiple “pages” (Mac’s file equivalent) offer great places to store interviews and transcripts (99 cent apps to record interviews); it links easily with webpages that are relevant to their research; allows for pdf management and notetaking for their supplementary readings; has an easy “notes” section for random musings on the project, etc.  Each student task for the larger project can be easily categorized and organized, making Evernote a much more valuable tool for on-site research than as a paper-writing device.  I will continue to explore other paper-writing/organization apps that can perhaps be enhanced by iPad connectivity rather than being the sole source for writing productivity.

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