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For the past two years, I've been running a business of teaching private lessons to aspiring young percussionists in the school district that I graduated from. It's an enriching experience to give back to students that are in the same position that I was only a few years ago and it's just one more way to keep music running through my veins. To me, teaching (at it's initial stages) is simply a form of emulation with a dash of experimentation. When you're uncomfortable or unsure about what to do, you pull from your past experiences, all the while looking for new ways to approach issues. When I began teaching lessons, I taught each lesson in a fashion that was extremely resemblant of how my lessons were taught to me, but I started noticing a recurring trend. During each lesson, I would write comments and assignments in a student's notebook and send them on their merry way. Next week's lessons would result in one the following outcomes: The student would bring their notebook. The student would forget to bring their notebook. Two options. A 50% chance of a positive outcome. However, this chance, when mixed and matched on a weekly basis started to lead to a lot of disorganization. The student would bring their notebook. I could reference things we covered the previous week. The next note in the notebook would be in chronological order. The student would forget to bring their notebook. I would have a vague idea about what I told the student the previous week but ultimately have to guess. The next note was written on a loose leaf sheet of paper. The next note in the notebook would not be in chronological order. This meant that halfway through the semester, some notes were in the notebook, some were lost, and others were at home. When I took private lessons, I always had my notebook on me; I never even considered that this could be an issue! Not to mention that this disorganization also made it more difficult for parents to be involved in their child's lessons. As a result of all of this, I transitioned to using Evernote to teach private lessons this year. Using bit.ly and Evernote public shared notebooks, I've made a unique URL for every student with the following format: bit.ly/firstnamelastnamelessons Not only is this extremely easy to remember, it's extremely convenient to use. I have the URL, the student has the URL and the parent has the URL. All of us can view the lesson notes at the same time and all of us have a shared responsibility in using the notes. I can better track a student's progress throughout the year and remind myself of trouble spots to hit each lesson. Parents can question and encourage their child during their practice time. Students can reference my notes and their assignments from anywhere at any time. I'm also now able to be more versatile than ever during lessons. I can take notes on paper, then snap a picture and upload it. I can use an app called DocScanner to turn pictures of music into print-ready PDFs. I can also type out notes on my laptop, and if the battery dies, finish typing on my phone. I realize that my use of Evernote is nothing special or extraordinary, but I must say that the decision to move lesson notes to an entirely digital format has been successful and has saved me from tons of frustration. While some problems will never change (such as not ever looking at the notes), I believe the most important issues have been solved and as a result, I will be able to serve my students even better. If you work with students in a one-on-one environment, I highly recommend making the switch.
Reader Advisory: This is an opinion post, my opinion. I expect there will be a wide variety of opinion on this topic. In case you haven't noticed, all hell is breaking out over the massive changes Evernote made to the latest version of Skitch: See forum topic Skitch 2.0 - Mac to see the angry complaints. There are 74+ posts in less than 3 days from Skitch users -- ALL negative and ALL very upset by the changes Evernote has made to Skitch. Also, many of the reviews are negative. Here are a couple: Skitch 2.0 is like Skitch 1.0 without all those pesky "features" When Updates Make Things Worse: Evernote's Skitch 2.0 ... So, what lessons does Evernote need to learn from this experience? Evernote, you are not nearly as smart as you think you are. Evernote, you do NOT always know what's best for your users (without asking them) The design philosophy of "we build what we need for ourselves" doesn't always work, especially when you have tens of millions of users. No matter how smart you are, a small group in internal people can't fully anticipate the needs of large numbers of users without a lot of feedback and real end-user testing. Don't be so quick to dismiss feedback from your users just because you think you are smarter and know better. Sometimes, if you don't get your users feedback, it may be because you're not smart enough to see it without some serious thought. One of the hardest things for developers to do is truly put themselves in the place of normal, average users Reconsider your philosophy that fewer options is better, just to keep the UI simple. It is possible to have BOTH a clean, uncluttered UI AND many options. None of this is meant to imply that you should not be innovative or not consider bright new ideas others have not. Please do continue to innovate. But don't forget that the process of innovation is filled with failures. Therefore, you must thoroughly test your concepts, long before you release them into production, not only within your company, but also with a broad range of real end-users. Evernote, you've done this before. Like when you moved from EN Win 3.5 to 4.0. Ver 4 was in private alpha and beta, and then public beta, long before it became the released version. I know you can do it again, and be both innovative and successful. All of this is, of course, just my opinion. But it is shared with the best interests of Evernote and Evernote Users in mind. The Evernote concept is brilliant, and I rely on it daily. I think many felt the same way about Skitch. I just want to do what I can to ensure the main Evernote app doesn't follow the path of Skitch 2.0.