Here are recommendations for two online services or cloud services I am using at the moment. Under review for about 6 weeks, pearltrees is new to me but I’ve been using Evernote for a couple of years. Both are great for everyday use but there are particular ways they are good for teachers and tutors and for students.
pearltrees (Free or Premium is $44 a year)
Pearltrees showed up on StumbleUpon quite a few times over the last year or so. At first I ignored it but now I’m an enthusiastic user. It is a curation or collection tool in some ways similar to Pinterest or Scoop.it. For me it’s likely to replace my bookmarks bar.
As a tutor, there are several things I love about pearltrees. Firstly, like Evernote, it is a web based application and can be accessed from multiple devices as it syncs across them. It looks good and allows for collaboration; personal learning networks or students working in a group on a school project can collaborate to bring together information.
Pearltrees is essentially an online bookmarks bar. A bookmarks bar has limited functionality; it can sync across devices but as it is icon only it can look a little boring. Also the bar at the top of the browser can get crowded so not all bookmarks can be seen at once. Pearltrees uses thumbnails rather than icons, is viewed as a webpage and looks quite beautiful with its branching graphic. It brings your entire collection of web favourites together.
Collaboration is great too. I have an international Education Team working with me to collect web pages of interest on one particular Pearltree. These are other Kip Centre owners and people I have met on twitter who are education professionals. As we find pages of interest, we add them to the ‘tree’ that we curate together. It’s super simple to add a page to the site by installing the ‘pearler’ a widget which sits in your bookmarks bar and will pick any visited page with a click.
One last great thing about Pearltrees is that it can show similar subject areas. Click on a pearl and then click ‘Related pearltrees’ in the menu and access to the subject grows fantastically!
Premium is $44 a year but that does enable privacy.
Evernote (Free or $35 a year/$4 a month)
I think I also found Evernote on StumbleUpon but it has become so embedded in what I do I can’t quite remember! This is an essential tool for taking notes of any kind, whether spoken, typed, emailed, plucked from the web (using the Clip to Evernote widget), or photographic.
Notes are again synced across devices so there are no backup issues and can be ordered by date, by tag, or by notebook. To be honest, search is so good these days and storage so generous it seems pointless to organize anything. Just keep everything and label it well. Folders are dead.
Evernote does do some of what pearltrees does but collects all your personal notes as well. I use it to take notes in meetings, save documents, keep a diary and jot down ideas. The killer moment for me is in saving photographs. The search function searches text within the image. See a book on someone’s shelf and want to remember it? Given a business card? Photograph them and save them in Evernote and even if you don’t tag or title the note, search enables you to later find the title of the book or the business contact. This is witchcraft!
The Premium model enables private notes, loses advertising and increases the monthly upload cap but I still think it’s a bit steep.