Flex 5 – Evernote as a Portfolio Tool
Students with specific learning needs can struggle with issues related to the complexity and range of large technologies the encounter during their studies. They may find organising work and resources provided in different electronic formats a complex process that is difficult to manage.
There is some evidence that Evernote can be used with dyslexic students to organise their learning (Eide 2015). I was unaware of the problems with students with specific learning needs may have and the technologies they use within their learning in and teaching. Soon (2013) highlights how Evernote was used to support a severely dyslexic student studying a Botanical course. Through a number of meetings with eight students whom I recruited for a pilot study on using Evernote as a Portfolio tool, I discovered that four of the students struggled t envisage how the use of technology cold aid their learning. They were currently using up to six different applications to organise their learning.
The group had not used Evernote previously to organise their learning, collate and share resources previously. My experience of using Evernote previously had convinced me how this single application could provide a solution compared to their previous use of technology. The students were positive about the possibility of using just one application to aid their learning.
I discovered from them new methods of using Evernote, students as change agents I believe is an essential part of the student experience in HE. This pilot provided the opportunity for me to collaborate with students and eventually the publication of a case study on the positive impact technology can make.
The enthusiasm of those involved in the pilot was refreshing to see. Highlighting the technology and allowing the students to reflect on their own learning experience was a major impact.
The students were invited to discuss their experience of using Evernote within their learning environment. Chicago State University (2015) in an online article state that ‘discussion allows students to engage in the process of discovery, critique and application’ and the students themselves to direct the discussion to be involved and engaged at the heart of the discussion. The initial work I carried out with the students had been essential to explain what Evernote was, how it could be used, thereby building student confidence to use it effectively.
Student feedback was very positive abut their experience using Evernote and by the end of the pilot had become accomplished Evernote users. They have also recommended using Evernote to their peers, explaining its versatility and usefulness in different learning contexts.
A number of students struggled in the beginning few weeks how they would specifically Evernote to their specific learning environment and therefore aid to organise their resources. Student feedback included:
‘In the beginning my Evernote was very sparse as I was struggling to work out how to use it’.
Due to the various study schedule of the students engaged it was not always possible for the pilot group to meet together to discuss and share good practice using Evernote.
I was available for support via a number of different channels to support students with any issues or problems they encountered.
The pilot project provided the opportunity for students to enhance their student experience using technology.
Trying to manage students from different programs to meet and share good practice is a major issue.
Students learn at different speeds and methods, facilitating this aspect of student engagement with support is important.
A number of points are:
- Contact tutors of those of future pilot projects to ensure they are aware of why a particular student may not be attending a lesson.
- Tutor engagement of specific students to determine the effectiveness of using Evernote within the classroom
- Interview students on an individual basis to determine their digital skills
- Develop an aim for the pilot collectively with the students and relevant staff
- Disseminate the success of the pilot with relevant parties