A while ago I wrote a post about how I use Evernote and Skitch to allow my students to have some control over what goes into their digital portfolio. Since I wrote that post I have refined my process a bit and both Skitch and Evernote have gone through some updates.
I was also going to include how to I use Printopia to print, save, and send content created on an iOS device directly to Evernote but decided this post was going to be long enough. I plan to have a post explaining how I use Printopia to do that in the next couple days… stay tuned!
The most significant change since my last post was the update/overhaul Skitch has had. Since Skitch is made by the same people that make Evernote and it seems they felt the two apps should interact in more of a seamless fashion. While this didn’t work well with the way I had things set up, with a little tweaking I was able to get things dialed in. In this post I will be explaining how I have set things up to work for me. It definitely isn’t the only way to make things work, but I have found a way that works for me and thought I’d share it.
To get started I installed Evernote on my MacBook Pro computer as well as the Skitch app on my students iPads. (This will work on any iOS device or computer for that matter). Both are free but I pay for the premium Evernote service which is 45.00 US per year. This gives you 1GB of uploads per month.
First, the major difference with the latest Skitch update is that Skitch now syncs all notes with every device logged into the same account. With the old Skitch anything created in Skitch would stay on only the iPad on which it was created unless you decided to send it to Evernote. The difference now is that anything that is created and saved in Skitch will show up on any device signed into the same account. So therefore if each student created something in Skitch as soon as they save their work it will show up on every other device logged into the same account, ie all student iPads. That means that everyone can see everyone else’s work. In addition it begins to get unruly very quickly if you use Sktich often to document work. For example if you have a class of 20 and each student creates 5 notes a week that means that each student will have 100 notes in Skitch at the end of the week. Their notes plus every other note created by every other student… not ideal.
What I did to make things a bit more manageable was to create one shared folder in Evernote that syncs with Skitch. Since all students are signed into the same account all their work syncs with just this one folder on my computer. To set this up is a cinch. When you sign into Skitch for the first time it asks you if you want to sync with a “notebook” in Evernote called Skitch. Just say yes! If you have another destination you want the notes to go to you can alway change which folder you want Skitch to sync with in the Skitch settings at any time. Never fear, the developers have made Skitch and Evernote more flexible than ever!
Another change I made was to creat a “stack” of notebooks. This is as easy as grabbing a notebook and dragging it on top of another notebook. Once you do this you have created a “stack” or group of notebooks. You just keep dragging notebooks into this stack until you’ve added all your student notebooks. This is nice as you can collapse or expand the list within a stack which can make viewing your notebook list a bit cleaner. This allows me to keep all portfolio notebooks in one place and organized.
Another change was that I created a stack of “offline/local” notebooks (portfolios) rather than “online/synced” notebooks (portfolios). This is important becuase when I move the synced Skitch notes from the “shared/online” Skitch folder in Evernote to an offline/local notebook in Evernote they disappear from the iPad on which they were created as well as everyone other device synced on the same account. I have found this to be a great way to deal with all notes showing up on all devices. Once I have moved the notes to each students “offline/local” portfolio they no longer show up on the iPads. Nice and clean! I have found when I move the notes to be an ideal time to add “tags” to the notes as well. (more on that in my previous post) If a student wants to see their work all they have to do is ask me and they can view it on my Mac.
One hiccup I ran into with this is that you can’t change a notebook from a synced/online notebook to an offline/local notebook once you have created it. No worries as it’s very easy to move the entire contents of a notebook in one fell swoop. I simply created a new “offline/local” notebook for each student portfolio. I then opened their “online/synced” notebook/portfolio, selected all the notes at once and shot them as a batch right into their offline/local notebooks/portfolio. Super easy! You can just as easily move things back into a shared notebook/portfolio if you want to at any time.
So far this has been working well. The kids have got the hang of it and are coming to me with stuff they’ve created on their own and asking if they can add it to their portfolio. Very cool! We even had a grandmother come to visit the other day and the kids showed her how the process worked. They took turns AirPlaying their iPads on the whiteboard using our Apple TV and walked her through the process. She had taught kindergarten at one point and was completely blown away.
My next post will be about using Printopia to print, save and send work to Evernote from an iOS device. In the mean time please share how you are using Evernote in the classroom or any other eportfolio examples.