Monthly Archives: November 2012

Group vs. Individual Accounts for Students

When you decide that you want to take the leap and start using Evernote for portfolios one of the first major decisions that you have to make is weather you will create individual accounts for each student or if you will make a group account in which all your student accounts live.  Or do you want to do both?

This is a very important decision as it sets you off on a course that determines just how you and your students interact with the portfolios themselves.  Before you make this decision there are several important questions to ask.  I’ll cover these main questions and then give some pros and cons of each option.

  • What is the purpose of the portfolio?  Portfolios can be developed for a variety of reasons.   Portfolio as Storage/Collection. Portfolio as Workspace/Process .  Porffolio as Showcase/Product.  Portfolio as Assessment tool.  I believe portfolios can and should be used for all of these reasons, but how you and your school determine  its use will determine how you want to set up your portfolios accounts.
  • How do you want students interacting with the portfolio?  Do you want students to be using it on a daily basis at school and at home?  Do you want students to be able to make choices about what goes in their portfolio or is that something that is done by the teacher?  Or perhaps that is done jointly with staff?  Do you want students to be able to scan materials into their accounts from more than one device?
  • Who should be responsible for uploading artifacts?  Are you going to have students doing most of the uploading of artifacts?  Will teachers serve that role? Perhaps parents will help adding artifacts?
  • How much technology is available in the school and at home? Does the school have an abundance of technology that students have access to?  Are students able to access technology, especially the internet from home or mobile devices they have themselves?
  • What are the ages of your students and how capable are they of using technology (such as computers, scanners, mobile devices, tablets, etc) in the classroom?  Will students (especially younger ones) be able to access and maintain their own accounts or will they be better served with notebooks within one account?
  • What issues of privacy are in existence at your school?  Can  or should students have access to each others portfolios?  Do you want to keep the portfolios private or do you feel that open sharing of work is important?
  • What kind of financial support is there for student portfolios?  Can the school support the cost of Premium Evernote memberships for each student?  A class?  A grade?
  • Do you believe students should take their portfolios with them beyond the classroom or their present school?

There are no right or wrong answers here, but having thought through how you will be using your portfolios is vital in helping you decide if you want to go individual, group or a mixture of both.

As a context for my comments I feel that I should clarify how I have used the portfolios and how I have made decisions about what works best in my environment.

One of the biggest reasons that I started using online portfolios was to give students more control and voice in their own learning.  I wanted the portfolios to be the vehicle through which students could be the authors of their own learning narrative.  With that in mind I wanted to give them as much control and access as possible to their own accounts.  I wanted them to be able to access them both inside and outside of school.  In addition, I wanted to make sure that the maintenance of the portfolios, in the long run, was up to the students and NOT the teachers.  I didn’t want to make the portfolios an additional workload for myself nor for other teachers or adults.  If I am suddenly in charge of uploading and maintaining the portfolios they won’t last long.  It would be easier just to keep paper portfolios as the uploading of images, audio, video, text, etc can be time consuming if you are doing it for a large group of students.  With that in mind I will say that I  have always been an advocate for the individual accounts.  However, everyones environment is a different one and you should choose for yourself. And now for some pros and cons. I am sure there are many more to fit into each group.  Let me know if you think I have missed some.

Individual Accounts: (each student has their own personal account)

Pros: Student controlled so less teacher uploading.  Easier to use tools like the Lexmark Scanner that work best with individual accounts.  Easier access for students.  They have their own password and don’t have to worry about having teachers log them in.   Long term viability as students see the portfolio as their own.  Easier to take the account with them to new schools, college, life.  Students can download their entire account for safe keeping at home.  Easier for students to share with people they want to.  If using the Premium account they have a lot of storage space.  Students can access accounts on their own devices.

Cons:  Teachers have less control over what goes into the accounts.  Teachers have less control over who sees/shares the accounts.   If you want accounts to be shared with full capabilities you will need Premium accounts which cost more. Harder for teachers of younger students (pre-k through 6 or 7 year olds) to add work to accounts.  Harder for teachers to add work into student portfolios (they need to log in and out)

Group Accounts: (students have a shared account (usually controlled by the teacher) but separate notebooks within the account.

Pro: Teachers of younger students can more easily access and control the accounts.  Its a cheaper way to have Premium sharing for a group of students. You can cluster students together by class or grade (for instance all the kids in one class or grade all have the same account and that is passed on from teacher to teacher) and pass them on more easily.  You can restrict access to student accounts if that is important. It can save some time when teachers are uploading student work as they don’t have to be logging in and out of individual student accounts (they can upload to one account and a specific notebook).

***One teacher I spoke to in England was using a joint account for all his students and each student knew the password.  Each student had access to all the other student portfolios.  This was a policy that the school was following as they believed that students should be able to see each others work.  They had built level of trust within the school culture where they felt that students would mess with other student work.  This might bring up issues of privacy within many schools but it is an interesting way to consider the portfolios.

Cons:  Teachers need to be willing to give students the group password or constantly logging in and out of accounts (if you have different groups in a particular class.  For instance if you teach a multiage classroom and have accounts based on age or class.  In that case you might have several accounts).  The Lexmark scanner’s touchscreen account access becomes useless.  There is the potential that teachers become in charge of adding some or a lot of student work , especially if there are required artifacts to be uploaded by each student (this isn’t sustainable).

A mixture of group and individual:

At my school this year I am experimenting with both group and individual.  The school is embarking on its first year of using Evernote as portfolios and the administration felt that the group set up would be the most appropriate.  Within each classroom there is a single grade (kindergarten and 5th) or two grades (1st/2nd and 3rd/4th).  Each grade is given an account with each student having a notebook.    In addition I will be giving each of my students their own account (I work with 3rd and 4th graders).  The group account notebook will be the “presentation” account and the individual account will be used for their ongoing and work in progress learning.  The group accounts and individual accounts will be shared together so students can “share” final pieces into their presentation account from their work in progress account.  It will be interesting to see how this will work in the long run.  I’m sure I will be blogging about it.




New clarity to Evernote Policy

In Evernote’s new policy they create clear language around use of Evernote in schools, specifically in regard to COPPA (Children’s online privacy protection act). This new language is intended for the growing educational users.

Here is language from a recent email:

Important Note: New Legal Page and Changes to our Contracts Coming Soon

We spend a lot of our time improving our products to make them easier to use and more friendly. Now we’re applying that same thinking to our Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and legal relationship with our users. On December 4th, we will launch a new Legal Page at that will collect the important legal documents relating to the Evernote Service and our products. We are also making some important revisions to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, making them easier to understand and reflecting our expansion from our California roots. You can review the new terms by following these links:

Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
If you read these new contract provisions and disagree, and do not wish to be bound by them, then you can close your account before December 31, 2012. If you agree with us and accept these changes, then you need not do anything; your continued use of Evernote will indicate your acceptance of the new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

This post highlights the important changes to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, but we first want to emphasize something that hasn’t changed: Evernote’s Three Laws of Data Protection.
Your data is Yours
Your data is Protected
Your data is Portable
These laws continue to be our core guiding principles for protecting our users’ data. In fact, we have made a number of changes that are designed to clarify these Laws and to provide additional information for our users to enable them to understand how to protect their data and how we collect and handle your data and personal information. These are the significant changes we want to highlight for you:

Easier to Read

The first thing individuals will notice when reviewing our new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy is that they are more conversational with less legal jargon. We hope that the updated description of how we operate the Evernote Service and the respective commitments between Evernote and our users are much easier to read and understand.

A Global Company

As part of our effort to better support the needs of our users around the world, we have established a company based in Zurich, Switzerland called Evernote GmbH. This wholly-owned subsidiary will be managing our business and the Evernote Service for our users who reside outside of the United States and Canada, and will be contracting with those users under Swiss law. The Evernote Service and all of its servers will continue to be operated by the California-based Evernote Corporation. For our users in the European Economic Area, this means that Evernote GmbH is the data controller for data protection purposes.

Preparing for Evernote Business

As we announced at the Evernote Trunk Conference in August, we will soon be launching Evernote Business. We have updated our Terms of Service to reflect how existing Evernote Service accounts will co-exist with Evernote Business. Existing Evernote users who are invited to join an Evernote Business account will find that their existing account gains a number of enhancements, most notably the ability to access and share notebooks with others in that business. Evernote Business accounts will be managed by an Administrator who has rights to allow or restrict an individual user’s access to the business’ notebooks, but the Administrator is not provided any information about any user’s personal Evernote account. (We will not even tell an Administrator if an individual user’s account exists.) Nor can the content in an Evernote personal account be accessed, viewed or otherwise affected by an Administrator.

Evernote in Schools

We’re thrilled with the number of educators and administrators around the world who have shown interest in using Evernote in their schools, so we have modified our contracts with respect to use by underage individuals who might not be old enough to enter into a contract on their own, including specific guidance for schools in the US where we want to ensure that the requirements of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act are satisfied.

Planning for the Future

We have established a policy not to disclose our users’ content to others, even next of kin, after a user’s death or incapacity. We have included this within our Terms of Service and encourage our users to decide whether their content should be available to others, and plan for this eventuality. We have also provided more guidance on the process by which user accounts are closed and how users can delete content from their accounts.

Resolution of Disputes

We have revamped our dispute resolution process by introducing arbitration provisions that will enable users throughout the world to resolve disputes they may have with Evernote more expeditiously and less expensively.

Using arbitration to resolve claims means that users will not be required to travel to California (or Switzerland, for Evernote GmbH users) to file a lawsuit and appear in court and, if the amount of the claim is less than US$10,000, the arbitration may even be done over the phone or internet, depending upon the circumstances. In an effort to resolve all disputes promptly, we are also including a provision that requires both parties to use good faith to initiate the arbitration proceeding within 30 days, with a mutually acceptable arbitrator managing the process.

Our changes will provide users outside the US an option to have their dispute resolved through arbitration, but under a special US law, we are requiring users in the US to use binding arbitration as the exclusive means for resolving disputes and to agree that such claims will be resolved only between them and Evernote (prohibiting participation in class actions or similar representative actions).

We feel strongly that requiring arbitration of disputes on an individual basis will enhance our ability to work with our users to resolve disputes, while ensuring that an individual user maintains control of the issue raised and resolution desired – and that this will happen much more quickly than the long months or years that class action matters typically require. Because we are requiring arbitration for US users (and others subject to the US Federal Arbitration Act), we will pay the arbitration-related fees for all claims up to US$10,000 and even in cases involving more than that amount if those fees would be prohibitive compared to litigation costs, unless, in either case, the claim asserted is determined by the arbitrator to be frivolous. We appreciate that this is a significant change, so we will permit existing Evernote users who do not agree with this change to “opt-out” of the arbitration agreement by notifying us via the methods described in our Terms within 30 days of December 4, 2012 (the effective date of our new Terms).

Please Read Everything

We strongly encourage everyone to read our new contract terms carefully, in their entirety. The content placed into Evernote is important, and all of our users should feel completely comfortable entrusting it to the Service. This post does not describe all of the changes to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy and is not, after all, our contract with our users. The provisions in our Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and the other documents are the binding contract terms. We hope our users agree that these terms are an improvement and, as always, we welcome input and feedback. Thank you for your support.

The Evernote Team

Bringing Portfolios Home

As I continue to research and experiment with the possibilities of e-portfolios I have brought my own family into my work. 2 years ago when my 5 year old daughter had written a full sentence completely on her own (KSLBHINRK, which translated is “Castle Behind Rock”) I realized that I wanted to find a way to keep not only her writing and the drawing that accompanied it, but I also wanted to record the explanation of her thinking. It was then that I first created a notebook within my Evernote account just for her. Later I also created one for my son.

Two years passed and I didn't do much adding to that notebook. That all changed when she entered the first grade this year and I wanted to give her teachers some access to the work that she was doing at home. As they are using Evernote for Portfolios in their classroom I wanted to create a two way dialogue of my daughter (and son's) ongoing discoveries and growth. In addition, my wife and I decided to give her a used i-touch. She is a huge fan of books on tape and this tool would allow her to have a large collection of books close at hand. In addition she has always used our camera and phone to document her creations and explorations and we thought that having her own camera would allow her to continue this work at a pace that worked for her. I created an Evernote account just for her so she could begin to create her own portfolio. While she hasn't fully embraced the portfolio work on her own, she loves for me to document her and is more than happy to narrate any pictures that I take.

Below you will see an example of the kind of documentation that I am doing at home. It is something that I feel is vital to the ongoing exploration of portfolio as a tool for better understanding my daughter, as well as sharing her important work with others that care about her. I have invited her grandparents to share her notebook, as well as her teachers. While her grandparents are delighted to see what she is up to, her teachers are excited to get a glimpse of the girl they only get to see in a classroom setting. In both cases the adults in her life get to know her a little bit better and use that knowledge to support her and talk with her. The example below showed her teachers that she was transferring knowledge that she was gaining in her first grade class beyond the classroom walls. This kind of insight deeply supports the work that her teachers are doing and acknowledges to my daughter that adults care about what she is doing and that it is worth recording and sharing.

Imagine this kind of shared documentation and opportunity for reflection being done throughout the educational life of a child. Imagine how much more we could support each child if their parents and teachers were part of an ongoing conversation inside and outside of school. How might this kind of collaboration change the educational life of a child? How might this kind of collaboration begin to break down the false barriers between school and home learning?

This is just a first peek into the possibilities that lie within an ever deepening and expanding use of e-portfolios.


The Doxie Scanner

Most of my posts center around the use of Evernote for portfolios and/or the tools that go with them.  Today, however, I wanted to write about a tool that I have been using a lot, not so much with my students, but just as a teacher and a user of Evernote.

The little Doxie scanner is unique in both its size, weight and wifi capabilities.   With the help of the Eye-Fi wireless SD card this little scanner is a gem.  I carry it around in my backpack and use it to scan any number of personal and teaching related documents.  Because the scan is saved on the device itself and in the wifi card, I don’t worry about having to connect it to my computer.  If there is wifi around it will upload my images right into my Evernote account.  It’s amazing.

Now, all those little slips of paper, or documents I get at staff meetings, or insurance forms no longer need to be worried about.  In a blink of an eye I can insert a single sheet into the Doxie and I know that it will be uploaded quickly and easily.   At the same time, if I want to make multipage documents, I just plug the Doxie into my computer and download the images where they can be “stapled” and then uploaded to Evernote.

This is the only real drawback of the device, its inability to scan multiple documents.  But that’s why I have the larger SnapScan.

The portfolios that I do use it a lot for are my 4 year old son and my 7 year old daughter.  They are prolific drawers and painters and writers and as long as their creations are on a 81/2  inch wide piece of paper we are golden.

It isn’t the workhorse that the Snapscan or Lexmark are (in terms of portfolios use) but it serves a great purpose in keeping me paperless AND organized.  Now I have no reason to say that I can’t find that one little document.  With the Doxie and Eye-Fi in my backpack, I can always scan it and forget about it until I need it again.