Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Note Taking Tools

The other day I wrote about Personal Learning Environments (PLEs). I mentioned there are several tools, commonly known as Web 2.0 tools, which people can now use to help them establish and maintain their PLEs. Over the coming days and weeks I am going to be writing about many of these tools. The first group of tools I want to address is note taking tools. As the name indicates, these tools can help users improve their productivity at taking notes. I used to be one of those people who wrote out all his notes with pen and paper. If I decided to use technology, I would fire up Microsoft Word and take notes with it. Or maybe if I did not have my laptop with me, but had access to another computer connected to the internet, I might compose an email to myself using webmail and take notes with that. Both of those methods were improvements over pen and paper; however, they were a far cry from what is currently available to those who desire to be most productive.

Now days I use Google Notebook as my primary notebook tool. I like that it is a web-based tool - one of the many Web 2.0 tools - and available to me from any computer when I log in to my Google account. Of course I usually have my notebook computer with my wherever I am. However, in those instances when I do not have my computer with me I can easily log on to another computer and access my notes. I can also easily share my notes with others and they can collaborate with me. This provides huge benefits that are not as easily achieved with a non-web-based tool. Google Notebook also allows me to have multiple notebooks and to search all of my notebooks similar to how I search the web with Google. One of the most attractive things for me initially was that it is free. I really dislike spending money on software only to find out it does not do what I wanted it to do.

Of course there are a number of other notebook tools available. In her Directory of Learning Tools, Jane Hart lists over 40 Note Taking/Sharing and Whiteboard Tools. I also looked at some other Web 2.0 tools which combine note taking capability with other functions. I briefly tried both Backpack and Zoho; they seemed more complicated to use than Google Notebook, though admittedly I did not spend very much time with either of them. Perhaps if I were to give them time I would find that they had extra functionality which I could use. Then again, maybe I would not.

For now I will keep using Google Notebook. If you don't currently use a notebook tool, try it out.

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