Ditch Pinterest, Use Evernote for Homeschool Research

posted in: organizational | 8

Alright, we’re right at the beginning of our series on using Evernote for Homeschooling, but rather than jump into lesson plans and record-keeping in Evernote, I want to show you how to use Evernote as your inspiration board.

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Pinterest is the go-to site for keeping an inspiration board, and I’ve seen several people lately with posts on how to use Pinterest as your homeschool binder.

However, I don’t think that’s a great idea in the long-term. Pinterest is a fun public visual bookmark board, a way to see what other people want to share, but if you find information or resources you really want to have in five years or even two, you need it saved off the web. You need more than a link if you actually want to use a site in the future, because blogs disappear and sites go down and URLs change. I saved myself a note full of links I have loved for homeschool inspiration and now, 6 years later, less than half of those URLs still work. This weekend I found a service to check my Pinterest board links, and about 1/3 of the things I had saved now go to a valid URL. However, the blog articles I saved into Evernote, I still have.

So that’s what you should do. Anything you will actually want to reference in two or more years, save those articles or images or files into Evernote where you can pull them out of your own system and not rely on others keeping their websites up forever.

I still love Pinterest, and I save things there that I want to share or come back to in the near future. However, for serious saving, I save offline, and that is easy with Evernote.

There are several time-saving tricks I am going to show you in order to do this as fast as you can hit a Pin-It button. Instead of a pin-it button, you need an Evernote-it button, and they make one! It’s called the Webclipper.

How to install Evernote Webclipper

Go to the Webclipper download page and install the one for your favorite browser.

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Once you have the little elephant in your browser bar, you’re ready to go. When you click on the elephant while visiting a page, you can save the entire page – sidebar and all, just the article – like a screenshot, or a simplified article – reducing the article to a black and white clean copy. Whatever you choose, once you hit save, that article is now saved offline in your Evernote, where you can search for it and find it whenever you need it, even if the site itself folds or the article you liked was changed, moved, or removed.

It’s a safe keeping-place, whereas a link only (which is all you’re saving in Pinterest), is liable to not work later down the road, for one reason or another.

Not only that, but because it can now be pulled up whenever you search in Evernote, those articles will also be searched, so you will come across that resource when you’re looking for something similar. Say you search “history” – you’ll come across not only your own notes for history materials, but also blog articles that might inspire you to take a certain approach or strategy as you use those materials you saved.

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Smart Tips for Using Evernote Webclipper

When you want to save a blog post or forum thread or some other webpage, Evernote webclipper makes it easy. And you can adjust the settings to make it even smoother for you. First, click the gear at the bottom of the webclipper dialog box that pops up when you hit the elephant in your browser.

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Now you can tell the webclipper your preferences for how you want your default saving to work. You can have it automatically give it a tag like “article” or “research,” you can send all webclippings to a certain notebook, or you can tell it to use “smart filing,” where it will make a guess on the right notebook for this clipped note based on the words it has compared to the words within notebooks you have. With smart filing, it will also learn from your use where you generally save things and get better and better at filing your articles correctly for you.

Here are my customized settings:

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There’s even a shortcut key for the web clipper! With the shortcut key, you don’t have to go clicking that elephant button, you can simply hit ` (right above your tab button) and that dialog box will pop up for you. You can change that shortcut key if you want on that same options screen.

Evernote Webclipper is awesome

When you use this system to save your articles or research, it is available to you offline, it is available in the form you found it, it can be clipped in whole or in part, and it is searchable.

When you start shopping for history books, then, you can pull up Evernote and type history notebook:Homeschool Research and up pops everything you’ve saved about history in your homeschool research.

This short video will show you how simple it is to save a blog post straight into your Evernote with the webclipper.

Evernote is a great tool for homeschooling and research purposes, and the Evernote web clipper makes it even better. It’s just as easy as Pinterest, and your research is safer and more readily available for you when you need it.

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8 Responses

  1. Chris Reintjes
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    Clearly I am in need of this tutorial since I just saved this on Pinterest to come back to later :)

    • Mystie Winckler
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      Ha! Oh, I do still love Pinterest! But I use it more as a way to share than a way to save, though it’s good for short-term saving. Links are too unreliable for long-term saving, as I have learned the hard way.

  2. Megan
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    This series is great! I have had Evernote for awhile, but haven’t used it much and never thought to use it for homeschooling. I had no idea about the Webclipper, but you’re right… um… awesome!! THANKS for all the work you did to put this together to help other homeschoolers out! :)

  3. Karin
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    I have a question. When do you use Web Clipper and when do you use Clearly? I have never quite figured out how they’re different or when to use which. Clearly makes it look more like the simplified article choice you discussed. Very rarely does it not get the part you want. You can then put it in Evernote. Thanks for any help and clarification on this. SOOOO very much enjoying this series and anxiously await future posts. I really want to learn how to utilize Evernote for homeschooling.

    • Mystie Winckler
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      I actually haven’t used Clearly at all.

  4. Jeni
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    I’ve been using Evernote, but I’m getting some tips here that I didn’t know! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with the rest of us!

  5. Christine Smith
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    Great article! I also like that I can add highlights to article right from the web clipper with simplified article view. I keep a folder called “stuff to read” also, where I will clip bookmarks to things I haven’t read yet. I don’t save to evernote unless it has actual value to me whereas I will Pin stuff that simply has potential. One of my goals is to spend less time collecting pretty pictures a la Pinterest and more time reading quality articles from a carefully curated list and actually DOING fun things with my family.

    • Mystie Winckler
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      Evernote for value to save and Pinterest for potential – I like that!