Systems of Support Supporting Educator Excellence through Technology and Strategy

Monthly Archives: April 2009

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Evernote – Remember Everything

I ran across a cool litte application called Evernote that I wanted to share.  You can check it out at  According to the site:

Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere. Did we mention that it’s free?

I have an office computer, laptop and home computer in addition to an iPhone and access to the internet about everywhere I go.  Evernote gives me a system for collecting notes, to do lists, websites, photos and more in one place.  Say I’m at a store and need to snap a picture of a product to check out later.  No problem, I just take the pic with my phone and add it to evernote.  It will show up on my computers, phone and evernote website when I log in.  Same goes for contacts, notes from a lecture and more.

From an educational perspective, think of how useful this would for students who are in seven class periods a day and have computers and/or internet capable phones at home.  I can see this being a very useful resource for them as they collect information for a report, story or other project.  In addition, for students who have poor organizational skills, this could be an excellent support.  A screenshot of the desktop version for windows is below, but this application works on the internet, mac and iPhone as well.  Oh, and it’s FREE for the basic version that should handle most uses.  The premium version on runs $5/month.

Evernote Windows Screenshot

Digital Text Resources

Finding sites with digital text (mostly free) is a job in itself.  However, this is one of the most important things overlooked when schools decide to purchase text to speech software.  I remember doing a 2 or 3 hour training on how to use such software, then asking participants where they were going to get their digital text to use with the software.  You would have thought I had asked how to solve a complicated mathematical equation.  Needless to say, I start my trainings off with this question now.  If participants leave thinking that they are going to have to scan in text books from beginning to end, I can pretty much guarantee you the use of the software will be around the same level as it was before you bought it.

I’ve included in this post a few places to check out.  The best thing to do is just CLICK HERE to download the Word document.  I can’t take credit for developing it, but it’s been past around so many times I cannot credit the original author.  I did however remove several out of date links and check the others to ensure accuracy.  This of course doesn’t include every resource out there, so if you can think of something else I encourage you to post it as a comment on this blog post.

Here are a few of the included resources along with descriptions (usually from the site itself).  Note that this is for free/non-copyright text.  Therefore they will not include links to textbooks or other copyrighted literature.  Those types of texts will many times need to be purchased separately or only used with students with specific disabilities.


Bookshare offers more than 42,000 digital books, textbooks, teacher-recommended reading, periodicals and assistive technology tools. It is free for all U.S. students with qualifying disabilities.

Project Gutenberg

There are over 27,000 free books in the Project Gutenberg Online Book Catalog


Free Online Literature with more than 2000 Classic Texts


AcademicInfo is an online education resource center with extensive subject guides and distance learning information. Our mission is to provide free, independent and accurate information and resources for prospective and current students (and other researchers).


Offers thousands of free books for students, teachers, and the classic enthusiast

Kids Corner

Contains a collection of Beatrix Potter’s books with text available in English, German, Japanese, and French.


The Intersect

A Library of “Supported Text” books incorporating resources and study strategies that help students learn more from what they read.


Alex catalogue of electronic text

The Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts is a collection of about 14,000 “classic” public domain documents from American and English literature as well as Western philosophy.

Page by Page Books

Offers hundreds of free classic books with frequent additions to the collection


Offers public access to over 27,000 books and materials (choose public access from menu at top of page to access). Paying a nominal membership fee of $8.95 per year allows access to over 100,000 additional books and materials. Reading lists prepared by the University of Hawaii sort books by grade level.


Provides free books and other materials covering a wide array of areas. Topics include history, garden, children’s books, how-to books, home repair and decoration and fashion.

Classic Reader

Offers a large collection of free classic books by authors such as Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare and many others. You can read, search and even add your own annotations to any of the classic books. A selection of author biographies and portraits are also available.

Cool Whiteboard Software

Just finished reading about how to integrate whiteboard lessons into online learning environments where the FREE software LectureScribe was mentioned.  LectureScribe is a software developed by Brian Dean, an assistant professor of computer science at Clemson University.

I viewed a demo of the software and found it very well put together.  Although it is recommended that you use a tablet PC or WACOM (input device you for computers that you can use a digitized pen with), you could always use a regular PC with a mouse (just know it may be a bit frustrating).

The software gives you multiple boards so that you don’t have to include your entire lecture on one board.  It also allows you to record audio.  When finished, it saves as a .swf or flash file, which is compatible with almost all web browsers.  From there, you can post it to your site, blog, eLearning course or whatever floats your boat. Currently the software is PC only.

Oh, and did I mention it’s FREE!  Check it out at