Category Archives: Technology

Technology I use that supports the portfolio creation.

Penultimate and Noteshelf: great tools for documentation


One of the issues that I have had as a documenter of my student's work is that its always a struggle to find the right tools for the job. As a technology buff I am always on the look out for tools that have multiple uses, are easy to use, have design elegance and allow me to integrate them into my work flow. Over the years I have used photography (and in the last few years video) as a quick solution for documenting what is happening in my classroom. I have moved from film based cameras, to digital aim and shoot ones, to smartphones which allow me to easily upload to Evernote, Dropbox and the cloud.

While taking, storing and uploading pictures has become really easy, the same can't be said about an equally powerful tool, the narrative handwritten note. While a photograph can set the context and even record the evidence of a piece of work and learning, I always want to have a record of the conversations or the observations that I have made. Over the years I have tried notecards, notebooks, typing apps, photographing my notes into Evernote with the Moleskin notebook, and a variety of handwriting apps on my iphone and ipad. Nothing has stood the test of time because all of these solutions tend to “stand alone”. I want and need something that is a combination of documenting solutions.

I have been aware of Penultimate for many years and never thought much of it. It is touted as the “most popular” handwriting app but handwriting apps on the ipad always seem great theoretically but when you start using them, they have a major drawback, most styluses on the market are terrible. They are too fat. The rubber sticks so it feels like you are pulling a rubber thimble across the screen. It is hard to not have horribly messy handwriting. This all changed for me recently when one of my students gave me a stylus that her father was given to review for the New York Times but since he didn't have a tablet he had no use for it. The stylus, from Justgosmart, has the best “pen-like” feel of anything that I have used. It has a funny looking tip that gets a lot of attention when I use it but it is well balanced and even is magnetized so it stays in place when I set it on my ipad. The best part is that it writes smoothly. This great stylus opened up a new possibility for me in terms of using handwriting apps.

Justgosmart stylus

Once I had solved the stylus issue I started to experiment with Noteshelf, an app I found in the Evernote Trunk but hadn't done much with. I like its robust features. It has a multiple of pen color choices (you can even create your own colors), pen nib sizes and types of pens. Additionally it has a lot of paper templates that you can use. You can also send pages to Evernote. All great features. As an app it fits my needs in the classroom to document student work and conversations. With Noteshelf you can add photos as well, a big plus. This feature allows me to not only take notes but I also allows me to add context making images.

 

I really like all the options that Noteshelf provides, except one feature. I don't like how it integrates with Evernote. I can upload notes and notebooks to Evernote, but once they are there they can't be changed or added to. I have to import the entire notebook again if I added anything to it. This might seem like a small thing, but it isn't. I want my notetaking app to be fully integrated with Evernote. I love all the features of Noteshelf, but this was a deal breaker.

Penultimate, because it is now owned by Evernote, has the advantage of being fully integrated with my Evernote account. Every time I make a change in my Penultimate notebooks, they synched in Evernote. This is a vital feature when documenting my students work. While it doesn't have the same robust features as Noteshelf I don't find myself needing an unlimited supply of pen colors and nib sizes. I have found a work around to be able to make my own page templates as well.

Recently I have been using Penultimate to document the work and discussions that I have been noticing in my math classes. I can quickly snap a picture of work and make a quick note about it for later review. This has been invaluable when going over a lesson on my own or sharing thoughts and ideas with parents and other colleagues. (These notes can also be sent to my students portfolios by email). As the Evernote Education Ambassador I am also able to test out the latest Penultimate Beta apps that are in the works. This has been great because I get to offer feedback and also see what Evernote is up to as it improves Penultimate's usability. The next feature I would love to see is the option of adding audio recording as well. In that way I could photograph work, record conversations and make notes about what I hear and see. This is an amazing tool that I imagine will only get better.

A template I created using a screenshot and Skitch

 

An example of how I document student work

 

Adding more Video to Evernote


Here is a possible workaround for those people who want to add more video to their Evernote accounts. The limit on the Premium accounts is 50 mb, which isn't very much. That is under 2 minutes of fairly low quality Iphone/Itouch video. For the free version that amount is half, 25 mb. This workaround gives you the ability to have up to 50 minutes per note.

First of all you will need some kind of video compression software. Because I was just using my Iphone for this I didn't bother to look for compression software for Macs or PCs. If you do have an iphone you can get a program called Video Compressor. (The URL is attached above or here…https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/video-compressor/id482465886?mt=8)

In addition you will need to have Dropbox on your phone as well.

Steps:

1. Shoot your video.

2. Open up the Video Compressor app and select either the HD Quality or Low Quality. I made two test runs. The HD ended up compressing from 57mg to 11mg and the Low Quality ended up compressing from 57 to 2.2. The difference is not that great. The quality isn't very good in either of them, but keep in mind that the lighting I used was poor. I think the sound quality on the HD is a little better.

3. Once you have selected you will be prompted to choose a video from you camera roll. You will press CHOOSE to compress and then it will automatically dump the new version into your camera roll.

4. Next you will need to open up your Dropbox app and upload the compressed movie. Once it is transfered you will need to move to your PC or Mac (where you should also have Dropbox).

5. Once the movie has been transfered, all you need to do is open up your Mac or PC based Evernote, open a new note or existing note and press the attach (the paperclip) button and it will attach.

6. If you are using the Low Quality you will be able to add something up to 50 minutes long (theoretically at least. That is based on the fact that my 2:00 video was about 2.2 mg).

 

Sending e-mails to Evernote, a few tips


One of the basic ways to information into evernote is to use your evernote email address. Every Evernote account comes with an email address. You can find your email address by clicking on Tools->Account Info in the desktop client. Everything that is sent to this email address becomes a note in your default notebook in evernote. If you send a picture and text both of those things will be in the note. If you email an audio file that will become a note.

If you want to assign the email that you are sending to create a note in another notebook besides your default notebook, in the subject line of your email Include the @notebook. So lets say you wanted to send your email to the notebook called blog you can. Just send it like this

SUBJECT: This is the title @blog

BODY: what ever you want in the note.

Now if you want to add tags to the note you are creating you can do so by just adding #tagname. So again an example. We also want to tag our above example with the tag ideas. It would look like the following

SUBJECT: This is the title @blog #ideas

BODY: what ever you want in the note.

One thing to note. The notebook and tags that you assign via the subject line must already exist in your evernote account. You can not create new tags or notebooks via email.

How to install Evernote web clipper on the iPhone and the iPad


How to install Evernote web clipper on the iPhone and the iPad
by LORENZO ORLANDO CAUM

Evernote is a remarkable program for “remembering everything.” It is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. In this post, we will show you how to add the Evernote web clipper directly to Safari on your iOS devices. This will allow you to save parts of web pages or entire pages to your Evernote account.

We will need to create a bookmark and then go back and edit the bookmark to include the Evernote web clipper JavaScript code. The steps that we will be following are similar to the install steps for Instapaper on the iPhone or install steps for Instapaper on the iPad–only we will be inserting the Evernote web clipper code.

Installing the Evernote web clipper on the iPhone

First be sure you’ve had a look at the install steps for Instapaper
so you are comfortable with the steps.
The remaining steps will be completed via the iPhone only but keep it open on your computer browser so you can continue to follow the steps.

From your iPhone, go to “Settings.” Choose “Safari.” Be sure JavaScript is turned “On” and that Accept Cookies is set to “From visited.”
Next, launch this page via Safari on your iPhone –>; (Open lorenzocaum.com on your iPhone and search for this post on Evernote)
Now copy the code in this link (press and hold on the code and then release; then adjust the blue overlay so it coves the entire code, and tap “Copy.” evernote-web-clipper-code
Next, click on the share icon (square with a right arrow) at the bottom of your Safari page and click “Add Bookmark.” Without making any changes, hit “Save.”
Now click on the bookmark icon (open book) to pull up your bookmarks. Click “Edit” in the bottom corner of your window.
Select the bookmark that you just created. Change the name from Untitled to something of your choice–perhaps ‘Evernote’ or ‘Clip to Evernote.’ Next delete the URL shown and paste the new code that you copied in step 2 and hit “Done” located in the bottom right corner. Click “Done” located in the bottom left corner. Click “Done” located in the top right corner.
Those are all the steps! You’ve now installed the Evernote web clipper on your iPhone.

To clip a portion of a page: Highlight a section of the page that you want to clip and then hit the bookmarks button and choose your Evernote bookmark.

To clip an entire page: Hit the bookmarks button and choose your Evernote bookmark.

Note: the first time the Evernote web clipper is used, it will ask you to log in. Also, on the iPhone, the clipper appears slightly too large but it is still usable by rotating the device.

Installing the Evernote web clipper on the iPad

First be sure you’ve had a look at the install steps for Instapaper via thelink above so you are comfortable with the steps.
The remaining steps will be completed via the iPad only but keep it open on your computer browser so you can continue to follow the steps.

From your iPad, go to “Settings.” Choose “Safari.” Be sure Always Show Bookmarks Bar is set to “ON.” Be sure JavaScript is set to “ON.” Be sure Accept Cookies is set to “From visited.”
Open this page in Safari on your iPad –>; Open lorenzocaum.com on your iPad and search for this post on Evernote)
Now copy the code in this link (press and hold on the code and then release; then adjust the blue overlay so it coves the entire code, and tap “Copy.” evernote-web-clipper-code
Next, click on the share icon (square with a right arrow) at the top of your Safari page and click “Add Bookmark.” Ensure that it will be saving to the “Bookmarks Bar” and then hit “Save.”
Now click on the bookmark icon (open book) to pull up your bookmarks. Click on the “Bookmarks Bar” folder. Then click “Edit” in the top corner of your window.
Select the bookmark that you just created. Change the name to something of your choice–perhaps ‘Evernote’ or ‘Clip to Evernote’ Next delete the URL shown and paste the new code that you copied in step 2 (press and hold, then release, then tap “Paste.” Hit “Bookmarks Bar” located in the bottom top left corner to go back. Click “Done” located in the top right corner. Click the bookmark icon to make it disappear.
Those are all the steps! You’ve now installed the Evernote web clipper on your iPad.

To clip a portion of a page: Highlight a section of the page that you want to clip and then hit your Evernote bookmark.

To clip an entire page: Hit your Evernote bookmark.

Note: the first time the Evernote web clipper is used, it will ask you to log in.

Here is a video tutorial to guide you on installing the Evernote web clipper on your iPad

Going School Wide-Part 1


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(A pair of upper school teachers learning how to use the Ipod Touch in an Evernote introductory class at Trillium).

Over the past six years there have been all sorts of attempts to create a school wide online portfolio program at Trillium. The biggest hurdles have been the complexity of using the technology available and the ability of the staff to deal with the challenges they face with that technology.

Integrating new technology into any organization isn’t easy but it is made more difficult when people are resistant to it. This resistance seems to come in many forms.

#1. There are people who just don’t feel comfortable with digital technology in general. These are the people who are intimidated by it and even prefer to stay in the analog world. They need a lot of help doing basic things on the computer and the internet. Even when given support they feel uneasy.

#2. There are people who like the “old” way of doing things. They feel comfortable with the technology they know and don’t want to put in the time necessary to learn something new. They can be brought on board to new ideas but it takes some time and support.

#3. There are people who are resistant to more than technology. They might be technologically savvy but they don’t like others making them move to new things. They have a rebel streak in them.

#4. Putting in time to learn new things that other people are introducing often brings up resistance just because the time it takes. Committing additional time, especially in a work setting, isn’t easy for people. There are so many things that pull our attention and demand our time at work that people just don’t want something more to focus on.

#5. Resistance can come from administrators who are wary of costs, another “new” thing and the time and energy needed to introduce something to a group of teachers, students and families.

All these forms of resistance (and so many others) are legitimate and require thought and communication when attempting to introduce something new like Evernote portfolios to a school. My experience demonstrates this first hand. I have faced all these forms of resistance and learned that you can never “force” your way through it. You need to bring people in on the level they feel comfortable. That means having a good sense of everyone’s feelings and experience and then developing a strong plan to deal with issues ahead of time. If you can account for all levels of resistance and offer support to overcome them ahead of time you are going to be significantly better off in the long run.

Part of dealing with that resistance is finding allies for the project and building a base of support. While the lower school at Trillium (k-5) have been on board with the Evernote portfolio work, the staff in the upper school (middle school and high school) have put up resistance. Even when I presented many of the “wow” factors about using Evernote at a whole staff meeting it wasn’t enough to get people to commit to the time and energy required to make it happen.

One discovery I made was that while the school says that it uses portfolios to assess student work, we haven’t done a good job with creating a pedagogy around portfolio use. Some people use them and others don’t. Without the foundation of school wide portfolio use (in general) it was next to impossible to suddenly have ONLINE portfolios. It wasn’t until the school (with administrative leadership and support) committed to portfolios that we could start talking about Evernote as a tool.

What I needed to sell to the staff was that Evernote portfolios are not about more work for teachers but rather they put the job of documentation, reflection and presentation into the hands of students. THIS was a big seller. When staff begun to understand that this new technology frees them up and puts the onus on students a lot of resistance dropped away.

Eventually I was able to round up a crew of 4 teachers (2 middle and 2 high) and set about creating some portfolio allies. I would work with them and they would become the liaisons to the rest of their teams. It is always easier to learn things from the team you already work with. Resistance is significantly reduced in that kind of situation.

In Part 2 I will share my experience working with this smaller team.

Using QR codes


The use of QR codes in the classroom has begun to gain some traction recently. People are exploring its use in a variety of ways and I have begun to wonder how they could enable portfolios to be more easily documented or allow them to be multi-dimensional.

Don’t know what a QR code is? http://guides.boisestate.edu/QRcodes

As I explore this more I will add my discoveries to this blog but if anyone out there has some experience with QR codes let me know.

If you have a QR reader on your smart phone test out this link…

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Using Evernote habitually


The more we use Evernote portfolios in the classroom the more students turn to them as a place to be creative and stay organized. During my literacy lab today a group of students were working on second drafts of stories they were writing and one student decided to organize all his work by creating new notebooks for separate academic subjects. A third student was using an itouch to finish up a presentation on Jonny Cash that he was independently preparing for the class. (It was one of his goals). A fourth student was using an itouch to log her goals. These were all actions students took without prompting.

When I see this kind of spontaneous incorporation of the Portfolios into the life of the class I know that the tools are working well. It also gives me a chance to begin to see how students make their portfolios their own. I have never mentioned anything about creating new notebooks but one student discovered the possibility and realized it was a tool that HE wanted or needed to keep himself organized. Now, if others want to learn about that skill he will be available to teach them. In fact, today I will have him present his work to the rest of the class. It’s an important discovery and one others can learn from. This kind of self direction is what I hope this technology provides for my students, a freedom and power to control their learning on their own terms.

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