Since I have used most of the major Google programs, I decided to dig further into Google Keep. This was a good choice as I really didn’t have any idea what it was or how it could be used with my students. After a quick look around my first thought was why on earth do I need another way to takes notes. But this article helped me understand some of the great features available and why I should use Google Keep instead of the notes app on my iPhone.
When I found that Google Keep provides different colors which can be used to organize the notes under different categories. My primary reason for using the notes app is to keep brief notes when I’m attending a conference and don’t have paper or a computer with me. I often take photos and insert them right into my notes. But I also tend to use the notes app when I need someplace for a quick note like a grocery list or when I want quick access to something I will use infrequently like my son’s mailing address.
So how does all this relate to the color coding? For me, I would just separate my personal, work, and conference notes so that they are easily found. But for my students, they could use this as a tool when taking notes for a research project. I teach my students that when doing research, a fact that directly answers the question is important (say green). Then I explain that facts related to the topic but don’t really answer the question can be placed into two categories: interesting (yellow) or completely irrelevant (red). A good exercise would be to have students take notes on their topic and then ask them to take five minutes and color code them using this system. It would be a great tool to evaluate how well they understand the task. Then when they go to use the information in their final product, they can be sure to use all the notes labeled green and can fill in with the yellows if they find they need more information.
For those of us old enough to remember “before Google”, this is probably one of the most useful functions. I downloaded the app onto my phone which is where I usually take my notes at conferences, created a new note just to try it out and then opened Keep up on my computer and voila, my note was already there. How convenient with very little effort on my part.
Save to Keep Extension
When using Google Chrome, you can also add the “Save to Keep” extension. The extension lets you save a website as a note that you can go back to anytime you need it. I now there are things like Evernote but this requires me to have yet another login and although Evernote has more functionality, I never use it. Where this extension will be most useful to me is when I find something on Facebook or the web and want to save it for later. If I see an idea on Facebook, I often click save post and then can’t find what I looking for a later date. In Keep, it is easy to scroll through the different thumbnails to find what I’m looking for. Instead of saving the post, I’ll be clicking on the save to keep if it is external link.
Going back to research and students, this would be an easy way for students to keep all of their sources in one place so that they can go back to them if by chance they forget to include the source in their notes (yes, they do this all the time in middle school). It would be easy to teach students to click on the extension and it even lets them add a quick note to go along with the link.
Other Useful Features
Google Keep also has a voice recorder, handwritten notes option, the ability to add photos, and the option to makes notes in the form of a checklist. Although I probably wouldn’t use the voice recorder often, I like that it is still an option. The checklist option is pretty cool too and I would use it more as a bulleted list than a checklist but still very handy. You can easily share your notes with others in your contact list which could be useful. Lastly, the ability to pin a note to the top makes this app a winner for me. I can now pin my son’s college address to the top and will never again have a hard time finding it like I have in the past.
I will add this to my toolbox for students as a better way for them to take notes for their research project. It could help them with their organization and if nothing else, it could be a central location to keep their sources — just a click of the extension and their website is saved for them to refer back if needed at a later point. Looking forward to exploring this Google tool further and put it to good use.