Note-taking

INTRODUCTION:

Online note-taking tools can be very useful to many people for a variety of different reasons. However, the group that we are focusing on is college students and the need to note-take easily and efficiently. Online note-taking is meant to make the process of note taking faster, more organized, more convenient, and also environmentally friendly. In addition, it is online note-taking provides a quick and simple way to share notes among friends.

To start this process, we first researched different note taking sites that were both free and available for Macs. We judged this on the aesthetic appeal of the website, ability to navigate the site easily, availability of tools that are similar to normal note taking, such as highlighting and different font colors, and ability to share notes with others.

We chose to test the process of sharing notes with others because it is particularly beneficial to college students. It is convenient to be able to share notes with other students for group projects or studying for tests. We chose three sites and tested the process of note sharing on each site, assessing how easy and accessible this particular process was. On each site we made sure to create notes incorporating different colors, styles, and sizing of fonts, bulleting, in addition to the sharing process.

TOOLS:

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http://www.evernote.com/

Aesthetic Appeal:
Evernote has a very professional lay-out that appeals to the viewer immediately. It is well laid out, easily showing all of the different elements of the site right away, including videos on how to use the site in different. ways. It was very easy to set-up an account, and right from the start we were able to understand how to work the site without much adjustment.

Site Navigation:
The site is extremely easy to navigate. Once you have logged in, it is very obvious as to how you create a new notebook. Once you have clicked the the button to create a new one, you can simply title it, and begin taking notes within it. When you sign in, you can automatically see all of the different notebooks that you have ever made so that you can quickly access the notebook that you need at the time. From there, the tools are very similar to those of computer programs such as Microsoft Word, so it is very easy to begin your notebook. There is also a set of buttons at the top of each notebook that allows you to easily add new note pages, edit your notebook, delete your notebook, print your notebook, or e-mail your notebook.

Available Editing Tools:
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Evernote has many options to edit your notes that are similar to those of Microsoft Word. These include changes in text size, color, and style, indentation, bulleting and numbering, bold, underline, and italics options, linking buttons, and a covenient To-Do box. They also include a space to put in tags for your notebook so that you can easily remember key words from your entries. This makes is very useful because you can quickly access all of your notes through these key words, as opposed to having to search through a spiral notebook for the page you are looking for.

Sharing:
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The ability to share notes with other people proved to be very simple on Evernote. There is a very noticeable icon on the left of the notebook at all times that makes it very clear as to where to go to begin the process. From there, you have to chose what to name your file, and then you have the ability to either "start sharing with the world," or to "invite individuals to access this notebook." From there you can pick the name of the end of the url code, you can add a brief description, and can chose how you want your notebook to be sorted. Overall, this process took only a few simple clicks and was very user friendly.

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http://luminotes.com/

Aesthetic Appeal:
The overall appearance of Luminotes is less professional then other sites because it does not seem as though as much time have been put into created videos and tutorials to show off the features of the site. They have quotes from happy users; however, the site does not appear as credible from first glance.

Site Navigation:
Overall the site took more time for me to get used to then some of the other sites. Regardless of this, it was still easy to create an account and begin note-taking. The buttons for some of the tools were ones that we had never seen before, so we had to experiment with them all for a while before we felt comfortable using them. The tool bar when you are writing notes is located on the left side, placed vertically, which I didn't feel as natural to me in comparison to when tool bars are located on the top, placed horizontally.

Available Editing Tools:
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Luminotes has very similar features to the other sites we tested, with many different ways to customize your text through color, indentation, etc. A part of Luminotes that we thought was very useful that we didn't see on the other sites was the ability to link one part of the notes to another, so that you can simply click on one idea and move to a different part of your notes where perhaps it is mentioned again.

Sharing:
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In terms of sharing with other people, Luminotes does a very good job of making it evident as to how to begin this process. There is a button of the left that says "share" and after clicking it it brings up a window which asks for the e-mail addresses of people to invite to view the page. It also asks if you would like these people to be invited as collaborators, viewers, or owners. If they are invited as a collaborator or owner, they are able to edit the notebook, as opposed to a viewer who cannot. Luminotes does not have the option to "share with the world" which makes it more a private note sharing site that would be good mainly for group work. Overall, this process took even less time then some of the other sites because there weren't as many steps to the process, mainly because the options are more limited.

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http://notebook.zoho.com

Aesthetic Appeal:
This site has a professional layout but does not appeal instantly to users. The homepage is divided into sections and subsections which, at first glance, is overwhelming and makes it difficult to find exactly what you are looking for. Although some of the options are interesting tools, for the purpose of note-taking only, this lay-out is not the most useful.

Site Navigation:
Overall, the Zoho site was complicated to get used to. This is most likely attributed to the large number of options that are available at the homepage. It is overwhelming to see all of these different options on one page, and makes it difficult to decipher which one you want. Regardless of this, it is still easy to set-up an account and get started on Zoho.

Available Editing Tools:
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The editing tools available are similar to all the other tools we looked at, where you are able to change font color, size, and display. However, there is a difference in how you type text. Individual text boxes show up that you can move to any location on the page. This seems useful at times, but for taking notes it can make the overall appearance sloppy and less organized, therefore, we think that it is less beneficial for note-taking purposes.

Sharing:
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Zoho has the ability to share books, papers, and images. The differences between the 3 types of formats to send notes in is unclear; however, the overall process is easy. You simply put in the e-mail address of the person whom you would like to share the notes with and designate whether you would like them to be able to work on the notes or not. Overall, the process is easy, however, the 3 different types, book, paper, and image, make the process slightly confusing.

CONCLUSION:

In conclusion, the program that we found most useful to college students is Evernote. We chose this site because it is the easiest to navigate right from the start, all of its tools are very helpful and easy to find, and it's sharing capabilities were easy to use and had different options that appeal to both the processes of public and private viewing. Upon testing this site out, it produced the most organized notes the fastest. One of the main criteria that we tested, the ability to share notes with other people proved to be very simple with Evernote and had more options then Luminotes. This site would be very useful for many things, for example, a group project where everyone needed to collaborate on ideas or for sending someone notes who missed a class. Overall, this site was the most helpful in every aspect!

Written by kmuntean and iskupsky
February 19, 2010

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