On Thursday, August 18, I attended the first ever Evernote Trunk Conference in San Francisco. I have been a light user since early 2010, but recently I have taken on so many projects that I have been searching for an organization system that works for me. I have heard of people using Evernote for all kinds of reasons up to and including "putting everything in Evernote." I wanted to learn more. At the conference, talking to people, and listening to the speakers, I started to think about how learning professionals could use Evernote to design and deliver better training.
Evernote is not just a place to record ideas. There are functions that allow instructional designers to keep an archive of great activity ideas and for trainers to actually deliver training. Below is a list of a few ideas that instructional designers and trainers could apply in Evernote immediately.
Get Organized First
First of all, let's not go thinking that Evernote will be your organization system. Evernote is a way of applying an organization system that you create. True, Evernote makes it easy to create an organization system based on its features, but you have to get organized first. Michael Hyatt writes a nice blog post about how to get organized in Evernote. I have based my initial organization system on his advice using a structure of Evernote stacks, files, and notes. Once you devise an organization system, you can get the most out of Evernote.
Keep Track of Ideas
Have you ever had an idea for a training activity pop into your head and later you can't remember it? The worst part about it is that you can remember that you had the idea, but cannot remember what that brilliant idea was. That can drive you nuts, right? Had you typed that idea into Evernote (using your phone) and tagged it, you immediately store it for later use. Think about it. You no longer have to remember the ideas you had, you just need to put it into Evernote. After all, Evernote's tagline is "Remember Everything."
At a more practical level, you can create a folder in Evernote called "Activities" and keep notes for all the training activities that you have ever used or ever want to use for easy retrieval. Ideas that pop into your head are not the only things you can track in Evernote. What about pictures?
Sitting at a break table at the conference there was a sign that read "Conversation Starter #13" that listed a fact: 75 percent of Evernote users use the service on two or more platforms. I thought it was a great idea to have conversation starters like this at each table. Strangers who meet up at a break table could read the fact and talk to each other about it; a great way to start a conversation. Before I attended this conference, I would have thought this was a good idea and forgot about it later, or I may have written it down in my notebook and never looked at the notebook again. But on this day, I took a picture of the sign and put it in Evernote. Done. Now, the next time I plan a training session in which I use multiple tables, I will search for this idea (an others) and remember it ... well, Evernote remembers it for me. In fact, I kept notes for this blog post on Evernote and added that picture to those notes. To show you how this works, I have shared that note, so you can see how I took notes on my iPhone for this blog post and that the picture is stored in that note.
Deliver Tips and Tricks
Yes, you can use Evernote to keep track of ideas and photos and even audio notes, but you can also deliver training using Evernote. One way to do this is to create a folder called Tips and Tricks in the name of your training class. Once you have created this folder, you can add notes with tips that your trainees might find useful. Finally, you can share your folder and your learners can view these tips in their browser or in their own Evernote account whenever they want.
A great applications of this is Ron's Evernote Tips. Ron Toledo published tips on how to use Evernote using Evernote. He shares this folder and anyone can add it to their Evernote folders. Whenever Ron publishes a new tip, it shows up in your Evernote Folder called Ron's Evernote Tips. A trainer can use this for post training tips for any training class. It is a great way to stay in touch with learners and keep the learning going after class is over.
As Many Ideas as Users
These are just a few ideas I had as I learned more about how to use Evernote. There are surely as many applications for how to use Evernote as there are people who use it, but one things is for sure, for people looking for a central place to store all of their ideas, notes, and inspirations, Evernote is a great place to start.
Bill Cushard, Chief Learning Officer at The Knowland Group, is a learning leader with more than 12 years experience in training and performance improvement at companies such as E*TRADE Financial, Accenture, and Time Warner Cable.