How can I keep the volume of information I’m going to find organized so that I can use it when it’s needed for the final exploratory paper and the personal learning mission assignment?
From the perspective of transferable skills, it’s probably safe to say that employers value employees who are well-organized, as evidenced by a recent search on the Indeed.com job site which yielded 398,872 job postings containing the word “organized.” In the context of job postings, “organized” normally means that the person is able to manage time well, meet deadlines, and retrieve information when it’s needed for a particular purpose.
The transferable skill for organization that we’ll be focusing on in CRIT 602 is retrieving information when it’s needed for a particular purpose. The key to being able to retrieve information when it’s needed is being able to categorize it and determine how information in one category is related to information in other categories. (If you’ve ever saved a document in a folder and then couldn’t find it later because you couldn’t remember which of two related folders you saved it in, you’ll know what we mean!)
Given the nature of Internet searches, organizing information for an exploratory critical inquiry presents a particular challenge. Information–in our case, lists of websites resulting from keyword searches–will first need to be organized into categories by each website’s relevance to one or more of the following:
- the parameters of the research assignment,
- the general CRIT 602 critical inquiry question,
- your own critical inquiry question,
- the annotated bibliography,
- the exploratory paper,
- the personal learning mission,
- resources or information you will want to refer to in the future for other courses or your career.
Then, once you’ve determined the relevance of a particular online information resource, you will need to evaluate the information for currency, authority, and accuracy. In other words, is this information about an emerging trend from a source with enough credibility that you can feel confident using it to make important decisions about your professional and academic development?
Using information from outside sources (as opposed to using information you’ve generated yourself) requires the additional step of citing the source of the information accurately so that your readers will know where the information you’re using came from and be able to locate it if they want to evaluate its validity for themselves. Not only do you need to have the information organized in such a way that you can retrieve it when you need it, you also need to be able to retrieve the source of the information. Retrieving the source of information you haven’t generated yourself is required for both academic presentation of information and presentation of information in the workplace.
Using an online tool to facilitate categorizing and organizing large amounts of information can therefore be very helpful, if not essential.
There are two basic categories of these tools: 1) personal content management tools that help someone organize just about anything that can be digitized and 2) citation management tools that are specific to research and scholarship. We’ve selected the personal content management tool Evernote for you to use in CRIT 602 because of its web clipper feature, which allows you to review search results and very quickly save a website or an article, categorize it, note why it caught your attention, and move on to the next one. Evernote is also one simplest personal content management tools to use.
Note for Google Keep and Microsoft OneNote users: Google has a similar personal content management tool called Google Keep, which interfaces with Google Drive; feel free to use it if you’re already familiar with it. In terms of set-up for the Evernote assignments, Google Keep uses labels to organize notes, whereas Evernote uses folders. OneNote, which is included with Microsoft Office Suite, can also be used to serve the same purpose as Evernote in CRIT 602.
Overview: Using Evernote in CRIT 602
You will be using Evernote as a Resource Management Tool to record:
- URLs of websites and articles you want to review in depth,
- Entries for your annotated bibliography.
- Relevant information & direct quotations you may want to include in your exploratory paper,
- Insights gained from the class discussions,
- Your analysis and reflections.
In addition, you are strongly encouraged to use Evernote as an idea journal and resource repository for future reference after you’ve completed CRIT 602.
Guidelines for Setting up Evernote
Step 1: Register for a free Evernote account:
Step 2: Download and Install Evernote:
Step 3: Download the Evernote Web Clipper:
Step 4: Set up the Evernote notebooks that will serve as your CRIT 602 Resource Management Tool:
After setting up your Evernote account and viewing Setting Up Evernote Notebooks, create the following notebooks:
- Ideas & Questions
- Annotated Bibliography
- Professional Organizations
- Professional Conferences
- Employment Trends
- Role of Social Media
- Information Resources
- Exploratory Essay
- Personal Learning Mission
Important Note: There are no graded assignments specific to Evernote. The use of a personal content management tool in CRIT 602, whether Evernote, Google Keep, or Microsoft OneNote, is intended to support successful completion of CRIT 602 assignments requiring the skills of analysis, evaluation, reflection, synthesis, and citation. In addition, the independent use of a personal content management tool is an opportunity for you to take your ability to categorize and organize information to the next level for application in upper-level courses and the workplace.
Image Attribution: Source/Notes: Critical Eye column, Yahoo! Internet Life, September 1998, p. 66 Photo Credit: Bob Kotalik AP