The 4 months of work that I did learning about Evernote was always with the intention of getting Evernote into the hands of the kids as soon as possible.
The major tool that needed to be acquired was the itouch. They aren’t cheap (around $200) but I was able to put out a request to families to donate money to purchase one or two of them and to my great surprise and delight two families actually purchased them for the class. The itouch is such a powerful tool as it is mobile, it is something the kids love to use, and it provides the ability to immediately upload audio, text and photos. This ability is vital when designing a user-friendly portfolio system. With more students owning phones and itouch type devises the cost of obtaining them will go down for schools. In the future it won’t be up to the school to provide the financing for the mobile devices as so many students will already have them.
Of course there are questions of equity and accessibility that come into play. For that reason the portfolio system will not be based on requiring students to have their own mobile devices. However, it looks like the direction for portfolios is heading that way. Here at Trillium it is clear that there needs to be a base level of financial support to get itouch or ipad into the classroom. I am not trying to sell these brands but they are the ones that I use and they are perfectly aligned for the kind of work that we are doing. (I will write more later how the itouch and ipad work in harmony for me using the IOS5 operating system.)
When choosing a portfolio system I really wanted one that students could access from school, home, on the go, anywhere that they could connect to the internet. Evernote allows that kind of access. But I also wanted a system that they could continue on with even if they were no longer at Trillium. I wanted it to be a system that could integrate into their lives and not just be a “school” based tool. As a larger goal I wanted students to see their learning, to see the work that they do at school, to be integrated into their lives and I want their lives to be integrated with their work at school. The paradigm shift is happening around the world where school and life are connected in a deeper and I think that electronic portfolios can be part of that shift. For these reasons I wanted students to have their own Evernote account, not just a “notebook” within my account. (This is also a possibility for those who want more control of their students portfolios. The kindergarten teacher at Trillium uses Evernote in this way).
Setting up an account for each child isn’t very complicated but it does take some time. In the past I have assigned the job to a tech savy parent who is ok with a bit of data entry.
Here are the steps I took. All this work was done on a computer not on an itouch or ipad.
#1. First I created a gmail account for each student. To open up an account you need an e-mail address and by making accounts for each child I would have some access to their accounts in the future if I needed.
#2. I opened up evernote accounts using account names and passwords that would be easy for the kids to remember. I made sure that I recored all this information.
#3. To active the evernote account I needed to log into their gmail account and click on the link sent by evernote.
#4. At this point the accounts are all ready to go. However, there are a few other things to do.
#5. Have each student (or a volunteer) “share” their Notebook with me. They share by adding my e-mail address to their their list of people to share with. Students can also share with their parents, grandparents, friends, etc. By sharing (in the free version) students allow others to “read only” their work.
#6. I use the Lexmark Pinnacle Pro scanner (which is integrated with Evernote) and need to add students Evernote e-mail addresses to this scanner. This allows them to send work directly from the scanner to their accounts. (I WILL COVER THIS DEVICE AND ITS USE IN ANOTHER POST).
#7. I copy and past each students personal Evernote e-mail address (found under settings in each account) to my contact folder which allows me to send work directly from my computer, phone or ipad.
Once these steps are finished the kids are ready to start uploading work.
In the first month I just wanted to get kids comfortable with the tools so I let them make many choices of items to upload. I didn’t want them to have to worry too much about reflection for the first few times. Once they got a hang of how to upload, how the software and apps worked (adding tags and titles), how to upload pictures, etc, they would be ready to do the more heady work of reflect on the work they did upload.
Below you can see two students using the hand-held devices. One student is logging on while the other student is lining up a piece of work to photograph and add to their portfolio.