836- digital notetaking- BLOG Post

Unlock Your Second Brain: A Guide to Choosing the Best Digital Notetaking App

Explore the top digital note-taking apps to streamline your workflow and enhance productivity.

Today, I'll share six apps fodigital notebook appsr digital note-taking and my experiences with each. I'll also give you a peek at my first testing of Google NotebookLM. I'll also give you tips on creating a workflow that works for you.

The Notetaking Apps I'll Cover

The apps I'm covering in today's “Tech Tool Tuesday” include Evernote, Notion, OneNote, LogSeq, Apple Notes, and Google Keep as well as Google NotebookLM. We all need to find a system that works for us and we need to choose tools that align with our individual preferences and workflows.

This show is also being posted to YouTube ad on the 10 minute teacher podcast. I've also included a transcript below that I have checked for errors. I hope you enjoy picking out the notebook service that works for you. If I didn't include yours, just message me on social media and tell your story!

YouTube Video - Unlock Your Second Brain: A Guide to Choosing the Best Digital Notetaking App

10 Minute Teacher Podcast - Audio Podcast - Episode 836

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    This transcript was AI-generated by Adobe Premiere Pro and checked by me. If you see mistakes I missed, please leave a comment and let me know. 

    Unlock Your Second Brain: A Guide to Choosing the Best Digital Note-taking Apps

    [Introduction]

    Speaker 1: This is the 10 Minutes Teacher podcast with your host, Vicki Davis.

    [Selecting the Right Digital Note-taking Software]

    Vicki: Hello, this is Vicki Davis. Today I'm talking about six apps for digital note-taking. In this show, I will cover digital Note taking notes on selecting your own system. I'll cover six different software programs I have used, including Evernote, Notion, OneNote, Logseq, Apple Notes, and Google Keep, and aiding a workflow that works for you. Note that I do release these on YouTube and I will have some screenshots, although this will be perfectly fine to listen to as an audio podcast. You can just go to the Cool Cat Teacher channel on YouTube.

    First of all, let's talk about selecting your software. First of all, growth is a decision requiring action. That's why I do innovate like a turtle, and twice a week I learn new things for 15 minutes, and any time I'm learning something new, I am taking those notes and putting them into my digital notebook. So even if I take notes on paper, I will snap a picture and put it into my digital notebook so that I have it. I do use Evernote, but I have tested all of these tools.

    Remember, simple is better. It needs to be accessible to you on your computer, on your phone, on any device you use. And if you take regular notes on paper, you need to be able to pull those in and hopefully search those as well, particularly if you are a professional and you do end up taking a lot of notes like I do remember that consistent system SMS save time. So many of us spend time looking for things, but you need to invest in a workflow that works for you. No guilt. You don't have to jump around to a bunch of different tools. If a paper notebook works for you, use it and be unapologetic about it. I do think that digital notes do help us because we can have them in our pocket available 24/7 when we have our smartphone with us. I prefer having a digital backup even if I take notes on paper.

    [Evernote: A Comprehensive Review]

    So let's start talking with Evernote now. Evernote is like people love it, People hate it. I've been using it for a long time. Every time I try to leave it, I end up back in January 2023, it was acquired by a company called Bending Spoons, a very reputable software company out of Europe. They have over 100 mil users on all their apps, so they did just release in January 2020 for a new interface. They fixed search. It is reliable and is a pretty interface. Now they did double their price. You can now collaboratively edit so I can take a picture on my phone and the editing that document in Evernote. One note about it though is I can record audio, but it doesn't do audio transcription.

    Now they have promised razor sharp A.I. features coming soon, so I'm hoping that they will be able to take the voice notes and then do a transcription. But for now I typically will transcribe those voice notes before I pull them into Evernote so that I don't kind of like lose what's in there. But it'll be interesting to see what happens.

    Evernote does support tasks. Personally, I do all my tasks and to do list because it's so easy to lose access to where those tasks are. But the powerful thing is those tasks can be linked directly to a note. Now I have the Evernote Pro version, so I actually generate a link to the note and put it in my to do list so that I can reopen that Evernote immediately.

    I also put it on my meeting. Today's in such document, an image search is available on the free plan as well as the pro plan. You can also use services like after tea if this, then that and Zapier to send things to Evernote. So I have it. Send a copy of every blog post to an Evernote note automatically and archive a lot of my digital world.

    Digital rot happens to us all and then we lose things. And I don't want to lose those things and I want to be able to reference and search those inside of Evernote. There's a tiny little bit of API now in Evernote to tidy up your notes, which doesn't really work great if you have long notes. But again, they're promising, quote, razor sharp A.I., so it'll be interesting to see what happens with that.

    They did add 14 new features to the free plan. However, now you have 50 notes that you can have in your Evernote and you can use a lot of the features like email to Evernote and you can search to text, which means you can take a picture of like all your book cases and then search for where that book is in your Evernote notes. Like that's an example of the kind of stuff you can do with knowing where things are. If you have a lot of books like I do, that's a very useful feature. Also, if you label things and put things in closets and such, you can even find things that way. So it does do visual search and you do have access to that in the 50.

    So I would suggest if you think if you're thinking about it, set it up, do those 50 notes and also check out my friend Frank books, YouTube channel. He has a lot of information on the revamped Evernote and I do plan to have him on a future show for you.

    [Notion: The Collaborative and Customizable Platform]

    Next, let's talk about a notion now. The one I stayed with the longest besides Evernote was notion with my students. This is my replacement for Wiki spaces. So any time that we are creating collaborative websites, I always take my students into notion. I have a lot of students who are using notion now just on their own. It is a very wiki like environment but very powerful, very customizable and it does have some third party integrations for that voice memos situation I talked about with Evernote and it has some very pretty powerful AI tools.

    In fact, A.I. is built right in. So if a student has access to notion, they can use generative AI right there. And but this is the capability with everything. I mean, it's in Google Docs in the consumer version, it's everywhere. So the positives of notion, it's very easy to set up is flexible. There's tons of templates, a lot of support community, lots of YouTube videos about how to use notion and it has a lot of different systems with templates for notion.

    So pick your workflow, pick your system, and there's a lot of templates. My issues with it were two things. First of all, everything I pulled in from Evernote could not be searched, so the search was really broken. And the way it's set up is it's really easy to end up with like an island of data over here, in an island of data over here, and they don't really connect very well.

    So that was a problem with maybe because I don't want to think about it, I just want to be able to throw it in my network and find it. The other thing is, is that I was losing tasks because of that same thing. I might have tasks over here and tasks over there. So while it's very powerful and very customizable, if you don't understand about databases and don't keep everything in one type of database, then it's a really easy to end up with stuff kind of everywhere.

    So for super sophisticated folks, it might be a problem. But if a student has a simple notebook, they actually love it. It's great for keeping book lists and there's all kinds of features with notion, so you might want to check it out. It does integrate with Google Drive so you can share your notes with others. And here's another cool feature.

    It integrates really well with websites and embedding. So it would be really easy to create a class website with a tools in it or an AQ or tech support. If I was supporting a big school and I had to have a ton of things and I didn't have specific software for it, notion might be something I would look at for that.

    [Microsoft OneNote: Ideal for Education]

    Now let's talk about Microsoft OneNote. So this is my recommended note taking system for students and for teachers through Microsoft Classroom. So you can easily give handouts to students. They can hand work back. So when I want to have like a class notebook and then I want to have everybody have their own notebooks and I want to be able to supervise and see how they're taking notes.

    OneNote is pretty much the only way to go for that. Inside Microsoft Classroom, it's not quite as wiki like as notion. Think more student notebook so they have subjects. Now you can type anywhere on the page, which is really awesome. In the other ones don't really do that. It's easy to capture video audio and I can have it open on my iPad and take notes by hand as well as open on my computer and pull in PowerPoint notes that I can take notes beside.

    So it's super, super flexible, great for college kids. And in fact, I had a student, he's now a doctor come back to me. I taught her in 10th grade. She started using OneNote then and she said the best thing I ever taught her was digital note taking in OneNote, because when she got into med school and even in college, she had a lot of notes and so she was able to pull those PowerPoint notes in and take notes beside them.

    So she ended up graduating with highest honors. So Microsoft, OneNote, definitely worth checking out, and whole schools have done OneNote implementations and it's very, very powerful through Microsoft Classroom. Now, if you're worried about, you know, what, if apps go away, there is an open source alternative. There's actually two. One that I've tested I'm going to talk about is called log Seek, but it's spelled l, i, g, c, Q, but pronounced log seek.

    [Logseq: The Open Source Alternative]

    Okay. Six stands for sequence. So that's why we pronounce that way. So it's open source. And basically what it does is it creates a bunch of text file so that you don't ever lose anything. And privacy is far, so it lets you manage tasks, knowledge and it is a very powerful tool. It works on Mac OS, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, it works on everything.

    It has flashcards that will tutor you in all kinds of things like it would import my read wise. And so if you like to to write in markdown, you don't want to lose anything. It is a great system. It is open source and supported by a really cool community. Kind of like the power note taking open source tool Obsidian.

    And you can take it anywhere with you so you can sync with iOS, although sometimes it's clunky to set up. And so then there's also Google. Keep an Apple Notes. I do teach Google keep if students are doing research, but Google kind of comes and goes with apps and I don't want to lose anything. I lost a bunch of stuff from Google Notebook and I just don't want to do that again, which is why basically I went from Google Notebook and then was really back to Evernote as I have been working on this podcast, Google has released something called Notebook Ilium that I do need to mention.

    [Exploring Google Notebook Ilium and Other Alternatives]

    Now they call it, quote, a notebook, but I don't know that I would really consider it a notebook. It's almost more like a custom GPT that looks like a notebook where I can preload PDFs, ask it questions and save notes. So I don't really know that our classify Google notebook ilium as a notebook. Although Tiago Forte, who I've already mentioned in this show, it really highly recommends this as is the future of notebooks.

    But honestly, while I as part of notebooks, I'm not sure that I'm seeing it yet. The other thing with Apple Notes and Google Keep is it's really I found hard to search. It's just not as powerful as other tools. So while it might be nice, you know, right now on my monitor, I have like a note on Apple notes that's just kind of like a Post-it note, a sticky.

    So I use that. But the Apple notes and the Google keep in my experience, aren't the greatest. Now, that said, be simple. Use a workflow that works for you. And I know people who have a great workflow with Apple Notes, so I would suggest finding YouTube video. Finally, somebody who uses Apple Notes or Google Keep if you really want to do those systems.

    [Developing Effective Note-Taking Habits]

    And so the last thing I want to talk about is your habits for notes. So you want to have a capture habit. Now, everywhere, all my file folders, I have an app inbox, so that's where I put stuff I don't have time to file, but my goal is to file as quickly as possible. Again, to give Forte's building a second brain.

    He has a system he calls pair of, but I've adapted it to be path projects, areas of work, topics of interest and history and whether in my Google drive on my Mac folder system OneDrive to do list Evernote I have an inbox where I put things that I may process later. This line should line up with your other system.

    So I use the same folder structure everywhere in the way I file isbut where I'm going to use it. So for example, when I clip something cool about I that I'm going to put them on newsletter, I'll put it in my newsletter folder when I finish using it, and I think I might want to write a blog post.

    I'll put it in my 80 days of age. I now using tags in Evernote. I can always find it under the tag, but I try to file it by where I will use it next. That is a game changer for me. So digital notes are important in choosing a system that works for you. That is simple, that works with your workflow, can really help you be a lot more productive and save a lot of time as well as your student's note taking is something we should teach.

    And pretty much all of these systems have Cornell built into them. But soon we will be seeing some generative AI summarization. Even when we do, the process of taking notes is very important. And I do want to emphasize something with math and science. I've seen some research that talks about how we need to basically be taking notes, using our hands and handwriting for math inside science because we retain it better.

    So if so, can they take a picture and put it into their notebook system? So do what is a appropriate based upon the research and your experience as a teacher. Remember, teaching is a form of art and a work of art. So you want to do what works for your students and help them develop a note taking system of their own.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: This episode mentions an affiliate program. This means that if you choose to buy I will be paid a commission on the affiliate program. However, this is at no additional cost to you.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

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    Vicki Davis

    Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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