Evernote the ultimate lab notebook:

Using Evernote in a vocational science experimental investigation unit

This is a fairly brief outline for one way I have used Evernote with my vocational science students at college. I plan to do the same again next year if I teach the same unit. It also offers a lot of scope for further development in vocational and academic science. During preparation for a particular unit that required the use of a laboratory notebook I immediately thought of my students using Evernote to record their findings. As I thought about it more it continued to make sense. My reasoning was as follows:

  • Evernote keeps data safe, whereas physical notebooks are easily lost by students!
  • I would have to monitor the use of the notebooks by students. If students were working in a shared notebook* that could be done easily without them having to bring a notebook to me and show me what they had done, I could simply view their notes from my browser/desktop/smartphone.
  • An electronic notebook would allow for a wider variety of information to be stored. For example, most students have smartphones so they could take photos of their experimental set up and include them in notes, they could photograph experimental results directly, and they could scan tables of written results. (If they downloaded the Evernote app these would be even easier to do by taking the photos within the app.)

I also thought about how Evernote could be used other than just as a lab notebook to include the research phase of their investigation. Evernote serves as a solid platform for research gathering. Web Clipper could be installed on PCs at college to allow students a way of very quickly adding research to a notebook.

Notebooks could also be created for specific investigation types (e.g. Investigating vitamin C content of fruit juices) and then shared with all students doing that investigation. That would allow students to collaborate on research. Thus providing a way of training to collaborate and not plagiarise!

Feedback so far has been positive. Some students were a little resistant to set up a new account at first. But they certainly appreciate how much easier it has been to achieve some of the grading criteria rather than use a physical notebook. I have been a little surprised by the level of technical awareness of my students. Given the almost ubiquitous nature of electronic technology I had expected them to be able to figure out new systems fairly quickly, but it did take quite a bit of instruction from me to get them set up with Evernote.

I hope that this introduction to Evernote will have a positive effect beyond this one unit for my students. I would have found Evernote incredibly useful at university, I hope that my students will find it incredibly useful when they are at uni.

If you would like to know further details about exactly how I set this up and any pitfalls or difficulties with the set up contact me via the About/Contact page.

*Note, an Evernote premium account is required to create shared notebooks that other users can edit and create notes in.

Tables for collecting results

Collecting evidence by scanning documents

Collecting evidence by photographing experimental set up and results