Adding Video to Evernote Account (an update)


Here is an updated method of adding video to your Evernote account.  I comes from from John Marshall’s blog.

I regularly use Evernote to Video Journal. I like to record entries of around 5 minutes with the front facing camera on the iPhone. The problem is that the iOS versions of Evernote do not allow you to import video directly. Also the iOS photo app won’t let you email video longer than 30 seconds – so you can’t use your handy Evernote email address either. And even if you could manage to get your video to email, they are large and you’d bump into Evernote’s attachment size limits – or worse, use your entire quota if you are a free user. So what can be done?
For starters, you need to compress the video to something much smaller than the default size the iPhone records. Even that low res front facing camera creates files too large for Evernote to handle. I find that for video journal purposes low quality video is just fine – I’m more interested in saving space since I record a lot of it. I used to have a convoluted process that involved the Dropbox app compressing my video and syncing to my Windows machine which had an import folder setup to pull the video directly into Evernote. It all worked fine until Dropbox updated their app and took out the video compression feature breaking my process. I eventually figured out how to roll backDropbox, but shortly after my Windows machine died. Since then I’ve been limping along manually copying my videos from Dropbox to Evernote on my Mac and being very careful not to accidentally update the Dropbox app. Well I finally got tired of all this and decided to try and figure out if I could get the whole process working on the iPhone directly. As it turns out yes you can. There are multiple ways in fact, some easier than others, and all but one will cost you some money.
My Preferred Method
After trying out all of the methods mentioned in this post, I settled in on this method as my favorite. It requires the fewest steps and gets the video directly into the Evernote app without having to email it or round-trip it over the network.
I’m using and app called Video Slimmer. It is designed for both iPhone and iPad and is $1.99 US on the App Store. Here is the process:
  1. Record your video. (Keep it short, I tend to record around 5 minutes, you can do more depending on your compression, but 10 minutes is probably max).
  2. Open Video Slimmer.
  3. Set your video compression settings. For free accounts I recommend going with ‘Good Quality(50%), Smaller size’ and a video size of 240p. This will typically produce a smaller video of around 1mb per minute (Based on the front facing camera on the iPhone 4s). I believe the Evernote max attachment size is 25mb for free, but the real issue is the 60mb monthly limit. You can do the math on how much video you can upload a month. For premium users you can increase the quality up to 100mb per note. I generally just turn it up a small amount to around 2mb per minute average. I use: Better Quality(68%), Medium with a video size of 240p.
  4. Under Video Source – hit + and select your video.
  5. Tap ‘Slim Now!’ and after a short while your video will be compressed. The app shows the original and slimmed sizes.
  6. Tap the ‘share’ button and choose ‘Open in..’. From the share menu choose ‘Open in Evernote’.
That’s it, your compressed video is now in Evernote ready to be titled, tagged and bagged. Bonus: Using this method has two fortunate side effects: 1. The video is converted from .mov to mp4 which makes it a bit more compatible with other devices and allows it to be played directly in the Evernote Web client. 2. My portrait video is rotated properly so that the thumbnails on iOS are now correct and my video is no longer sideways when played in Windows Media Player. (Previously I had to open my videos in Quicktime on Windows in order to see them properly).
The Free Method
So what if you’re too cheap to spend the 1.99? Well it will take more steps, more time, and some bandwidth, but I found a way to do it for free. It involves the free Dropbox app (and an account of course). And since the Dropbox app doesn’t compress video anymore, you also need to get a free app called Video Compressor. Finally you’ll need an internet connection of some sort.
  1. Record your video.
  2. Fire up Video Compressor. You’ll be impressed when the title of the app says: “Vidoe Compressor”. Don’t be scared, the app works like a champ.
  3. Tap the Low Quality button and choose your video. – This will compress it to around 1mb per minute (again assuming a front facing camera on the iPhone 4S), and save it back to your camera roll.
  4. Open up Dropbox and upload this new, smaller, video to a folder.
  5. After it uploads, open the Video and ‘Star’ it. Now backup and go to your favorites tab and wait for it to download. (Yes it needs to round trip up to the server and back :| ).
  6. When it is done downloading, open it again, and tap on the little lower right hand icon (I think it is supposed to mean save), and tap ‘Open In..’. From the Share menu choose ‘Open in Evernote’.
  7. When you are done saving from Evernote, go back and delete the file from dropbox and optionally your camera roll.
And of course after saving it in Evernote – it will travel back up the tube again and onto the server. It’s not the most elegant solution, but it works, and it is free. You might want to wait until you are on WiFi though.
Alternate Method #3 – GoodReader
This method is similar to the Dropbox method but uses GoodReader. It’s not free, but if you already own it you’ll save on the dropbox round trip. You also need the Free Video Compressor app.
  1. Record your video.
  2. Fire up Video Compressor.
  3. Tap the Low Quality button and choose your video. The compressed version will save back to your camera roll.
  4. Open up GoodReader and choose ‘Import pictures’
  5. Choose the new, smaller video from the Camera Roll.
  6. Go to the ‘Downloads’ folder, tap ‘Actions’, select the video.
  7. Tap ‘Open in…’ at the bottom of the screen and choose ‘Open in Evernote’.
  8. When you are done saving from Evernote, go back and delete the file from GoodReader and optionally your camera roll.
Alternate Method #4 – Email it
Ok, I said you couldn’t email a video over 30 seconds long. Well what I meant was the built in iOS photos app and email client won’t. Don’t bother trying the Gmail app either – it won’t let you select any videos. It turns out that there are some apps out there that let you mail longer videos and will even try and compress them for you. I won’t give you the full steps here, but the basic idea is that you choose the video, let it compress it, and then send it to your special Evernote email address. I tried two apps for this. The first was Video Email. It is $1.99 US. I found the app to be a little clunky but it worked. On the lowest quality setting the video seemed to be around 2mb per minute. Also note that it seems to want to limit the max attachment size to 15mb. The second app is called InstaMail. This one is $0.99 US. It only has one video compression setting and it really won’t get the job done, so you should run your video though Video Compressor first. After that it works easy enough.
So as you have seen, if you are willing to jump through a hoop or two and possibly shell out 2 bucks, you can get low quality video into Evernote on iOS. It’s not perfect, but until Evernote decides to let the app import video directly it’s all we have.

Why Digital Portfolios


This is a short video I made that helps educators think about why they might want to bring digital portfolios to their schools.

6 Crucial Elements to Consider When Developing Digital Portfolios


#1. Portfolios need to be in the hands of the student.  From my own experience, and from research that I have followed, one of the biggest determinants in portfolio success (read that as “authentically integrated into a student’s learning”) is the autonomy of the student to create and manage it.  When school’s institutionalize it too much it becomes “just another thing that schools make us do.”  In addition, it shouldn’t become another thing teachers need to run.  A big part of this revolves around making sure that students see and use portfolios beyond the classroom.  They begin to document, reflect upon and share the learning that is happening in all aspects of life.  When that is happening in an authentic way you know that portfolios have really taken hold.  How we support students to be more in control of the entire portfolio process?

#2.  The use of tools that allow for easy documentation, storage of artifacts, reflection, assessment and presentation is crucial. (including text, audio, video, photos, and a variety of digital documents).  Use of mobile technology is key here.  “In-the-moment” documentation makes for much easier ongoing reflection.   The tools that are chosen should also be intimately tied to the long term vision of portfolios (see #5).  In an increasingly digital educational landscape making sure the “back end” is in place and strong is crucial.  There are no silver bullet tools that do EVERYTHING well, but a school should thoughtfully consider what specific digital tools will be most effective.  That could also mean that the school chooses some of the technology and student chooses some (especially as students get older).  Technology should sink into the background for it to be really effective.  What are the resources that are needed to ensure the larger vision?

#3.  Students are taught how to use the tools and are supported in developing reflection skills and personalized organizational structures.  Kids might get the technology quickly but the development of reflection skills and the ability to organize and think deeply about the artifacts they choose takes real work on our part as educators.  While the portfolios should be in the hands of the students educators need to see themselves as critical resource to ensure their success.  What do students need to know to integrate portfolios into their lives and how do we support them?

#4.  Portfolios are seen as both a place for process AND product.    That means there are levels of documentation (the collection of artifacts), there are levels of reflection (both short term and long term. This included assessment from teachers) and there are levels of presentation (the outward facing aspect that is shared with peers, family, as well as prospective schools or employers).  The most vital part in this process, and the one that ensures that the real power of portfolios is realized, lies in the opportunity and ability of students to reflect upon their learning.  As John Dewey said “we don’t learn from experience we learn from reflecting on experience.”  When students, teachers and families can reflect on long term growth, the big patterns and understandings emerge.   What mechanism are set up across a school to ensure both of the these aspects of portfolios are considered?

#5.   There is a clear and thoughtful long term vision and strategy for the development and implementation of portfolios.  When only individual teachers support student development of portfolios it doesn’t tend to have long term impact as it isn’t integrated into a student’s way of learning across their learning environments.  Real success requires larger institutional support and direction.   How can we support the portfolios process from early age to adult life?

#6.  Families are included in the conversation from the start.   A well thought out and developed portfolio program has the power to transform the educational conversation as the real work of students can be seen, shared and talked about.  In my years of using digital portfolios with students I have witnessed the significant impact that these tools have in the ways that parents think about the work that their children are doing.  In many regards it fosters a real dialogue about the learning that is happening every day.  In addition portfolios that allow for documentation of work outside the classroom allows teachers to see the abilities and knowledge of students in a broader, deeper way.  How do we open up the conversation to encourage all stakeholders in a child’s education to be involved in the conversation about their learning?

Using the Annotate Feature to Provide Feedback


One of my favorite features in Evernote, when it comes to collaborating and providing feedback to students, is the annotate button.  When an artifact is shared it can then be annotated using the tools found in Skitch.  You can annotate any note as a PDF or photo which allows you to write and draw directly on the work itself.  Once you are done annotating Evernote creates a new note with the entire annotation, a break down of each annotation and the name of the person who gave the annotation.  It keeps the original notes title but adds Annotated to it so it is easy to see what work has been give feedback.  At the same time it keeps the original work so it doesn’t need to be redone after all the annotating.

This is what it looks like after you have saved the annotated work.

        This is what it looks like after you have saved the annotated work.

You can also see the annotated work as a whole.

You can also see the annotated work as a whole.

Using Merge, Table of Contents and Presentation Options


 

 

 

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Two really great tools that appear when you command click on multiple notes are merge and Create Table of Contents Note.  The first one allows you to merge several notes all into one note.  This is very useful when a student has created multiple artifacts on one topic over time and wants to bring them all together.  After you have chosen your notes to merge and clicked the button a new note will be created.   The individual notes will be placed in the trash.  If you want to have the merged note AND the individual notes, just go into the trash and restore the individual notes. 

When you press the Create Table of Contents Note button your selected notes will be linked together in a new note titled “Table of Contents” which you can rename.  This tool is helpful for presentations and if you want to have easy and quick access to all the notes you have made on a specific topic.  Below the table of contents you will see snapshots of the related notes.  Having access to these snapshots is helpful in reminding you of what is in each link, especially if you haven’t referred to the notes in some time.

If you are a Premium user you have access to the presentation mode which can be accessed in the upper corner of the display window.  This allows you or students to create basic presentation in an uncluttered way show just what is in each note.  This is great for student led conferences.

Getting ready for ISTE


In my new position this year as the Academic Technology Coordinator I have spent a lot less time focusing on portfolios as I did in the past. I have been helping other teachers, many who are using Evernote, so I am learning some really interesting things. I will be heading off to ISTE at the end of the month and wanted to make some tools available for other people who might be interested.

#1. I am really excited about using Postach.io in conjunction with Evernote. While I have linked this blog as well as others to my current account, Postach.io is a much more seamless and integrated tool as I can create a notebook for all my “published” notes that allow for a much more public facing, blog-like, presentation. It also affords the reader to add comments to work, something that I’ve wanted to see happen in Evernote for a long time but hasn’t come about.

#2. While working with teachers who have been using Evernote in their classrooms, it has become increasingly clear that using Evernote to create what I called “sheltered portfolios” just isn’t a great idea in the long run. (Sheltered accounts are those where a teachers makes a notebook for each child inside their own account). There are two main reasons. First, it really limits the amount of items you can upload. Even if you have a premium account, things can fill up quickly. Secondly, if you are having students access there accounts all at the same time, a lot of synching problems start to happen. Lastly, students don’t have access to the accounts from home and so they just can’t make them their own. All big issues.

#3. People often ask me about “examples” of student work. Here are two links to partial portfolios so you can see what a 9 year old and an 11 year old did with their portfolios. These were both portfolios from students who were new to my class. These are the kind of things you might expect to see kids doing in their first year(s) of use. (There isn’t a lot of reflection upon past years work).

A. An example of some of the work in a 9 year old’s e-portfolio: https://www.evernote.com/pub/robvannood/9yearoldsportfolio

B. An example of some of the work in an 11 year old’s e-portfolios: https://www.evernote.com/pub/robvannood/11yearoldsportfolio

#4. Some Generalized Evernote Information that will help you get started setting up portfolios in your classroom or school as well as a note called Taxonomy of Reflection, which we will be using during the workshop.
https://www.evernote.com/pub/robvannood/EvernotefoliosISTE2014

Presenting at ISTE


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I’m very excited to have the chance to head to Atlanta Georgia at the end of June to speak at the 2014 ISTE  (International Society for Technology in Education) conference.  I will be presenting a workshop about the use of Evernote for Portfolios with a pedagogical twist.  I will link it to Bloom’s Taxonomy.  The title of my hour long presentation will be: Using Evernote and Bloom’s taxonomy to create dynamic e-portfolios.  Here is the description of the session I will be supporting:

In a world of ever increasing educational accountability and with a desire to reveal both the breadth and depth of student learning more teachers, schools and districts are turning to e-portfolios as a way to document, reflect upon and assess what is happening in the classroom every day.  However there are very few tools in the e-portfolio pantheon that are at the same time easy to use for students and teachers alike, have powerful capabilities to capture, document and share work in real time, connect seamlessly with an ever growing number of learning applications and are free or inexpensive for budget conscious schools.  The power of Evernote is that it achieves all of those requirements and does a lot more.  But having a great tool is not enough.  Educators need to understand how to use e-portfolios to support the entire learning process.  Having a strong understanding of how Bloom’s Taxonomy can be used to increase the effectiveness and learning capabilities of e-portfolios is essential. 

 Participants in this session will learn how they can use Evernote to document, reflect upon, share and assess student learning.  They will learn how to view e-portfolio use through the lens of remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating (Bloom’s Taxonomy).  They will learn how to access all the tools inside of Evernote as well as use external hardware to both create their own portfolios and help support the development of portfolios for their students.  Participants will leave the session with an understanding of how to go about setting up a classroom or school based e-portfolios system as well as with the skills to use Evernote to begin creating, and supporting their students in the creation of, high quality e-portfolios that begin to reveal the learning of the whole student.   

If you plan to come to ISTE 2014 please come find me.