How Evernote+Skitch+Mobile Device has replaced my Document Camera and IWB

Disclaimer: What I am about to describe can only really be done on a Mac right now because Skitch is currently unavailable for PC (this is apparently changing soon).

This is not an argument measuring the pedagogical value of Interactive White Boards, although it may invariably lead your mind down that road (if you’re interested in that discussion, I suggest you add your two cents to Pernille Ripp‘s great post questioning their merit). Rather, it is about two things few people can argue against:

  1. The ability to digitally scan documents on-demand in class, make it viewable in large form, then write, erase, highlight on said document is an incredibly valuable tool.
  2. Many classrooms are currently doing this using document cameras and IWBs.

Here’s the thing:

Average cost of document camera: $500US (give or take a hundred).

Average cost of IWB: At least a couple of grand.

Total cost: At least $2500US (not including laptop and projector)

I used to have both of these things in my class, but find I no longer need them because of three things:

  1. Evernote ($0 on PC/Mac/iOS/Android/Blackberry/PalmOS/Windows Mobile 7)
  2. Skitch ($0)
  3. My Smart Phone (I would have one regardless)

Total cost: $0 (not including laptop and projector)

Let me describe to you an example of how I used my $0 technology just the other day.

It was math class. I was leading the students through a standard 3 part problem solving lesson. While collaborating in pairs, students used paper to draw out their thinking and explanations justifying their solutions. In the third part of the lesson, I invited partnerships to share their results with the whole class. To aid in this process, we digitally enlarged their papers so we could draw and write on them.

This is how I used to do this:

  1. Scan paper under SMART document camera.
  2. Open in SMART Notebook.
  3. Draw on SMART Board.
This is how I did it the other day:
  1. Opened Evernote on my iPhone.
  2. Took a snapshot of papers.
  3. Opened Evernote and Skitch on my MacBook.
  4. Dragged synced photo from Evernote into Skitch.
  5. Presented, drew on photo in Skitch.
  6. Dragged photo from Skitch back to Evernote.
  7. Tagged photo with subject, student name(s), and observational assessment comments.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m liking the new way better.


  1. If you had an iPad you could snap a picture and bring it into a $10 app called AirSketch to annotate. AirSketch let’s you wirelessly project from your iPad. It would take just seconds to go from student paper to screen!

    I’ll be trying this out this week. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Great argument, I love it and I had a little discussion about this in my pre-service class last week. So thank-you for confirming my argument to my student who was quite irritated that we were NOT going to learn how to use an interactive whiteboard in this pre-service tech class. Of course, I don’t even have an interactive whiteboard of any brand, go figure!! I have linked to your post from my blog, Technology, Bits, Bytes & Nibbles.

    1. I have integrated Evernote into my daily practice since I reviewed it (thanks for the suggestion Royan).
      I am currently using elearning software called Workspace (with a MOBI) to allow students to review and highlight their activities on the LCD. The MOBI runs on RF and allows for work editing on screen as well as movie and/or sound bite creation. The software is loaded with great tools (i.e., grid paper, compass, protractor, drawing tools, cursive translator, shape translators, etc..). It also allows for browser access through the software and reading assistance (highlighting, text manipulation, etc) of photos of the website chosen).

      Has anyone tried/set up an AllShare WIFI hub in their classrooms? I have tried it between my Android PDA and my laptop and it works well in general (except for a lag in video transfer).
      I am thinking of establishing a virtual workspace that could use prezi meeting to allow my students virtual freedom to work together on tasks from anywhere they can log in.

  3. An app like Splashtop Whiteboard would allow you to do most things an interactive whiteboard would do, but using an iPad, tethered to your laptop. This would mean that you can do all the annotations you require, from the iPad, whilst your laptop connects to the projector to display the image.

    Splashtop takes control of your PC (compatible with Mac and Windows), allowing you to essentially do anything on the iPad that your PC can do.

    It would be nice if Splashtop allowed more than one iPad to connect to the PC at a time, though: this would be great for collaboratively sharing things in class.

  4. Wow! As an education student who is not on the cutting edge of technology, I am amazed at the tools and resources available to teachers. I am learning so much about this in my EDM310 class, and your blog is just another great place to become informed! Take your post here for example. I have an iphone, but I never even thought of it as a tool I could use in a classroom. Thanks, Mr. Lee, for all the information you provide. I can’t wait to get into a classroom and put these things to use.

    I will be writing a summary of the blog posts I have commented on for my EDM310 class. Please feel free to look if you would like. The address is Our EDM310 class blog is

  5. What a great idea!

    I have recently upgraded my IPAD to the upcoming IOS 5 operating system. The new OS allows you to mirror your IPAD on to any screen or white board by connecting to the projector through an Apple TV device ($99). If your projector is an older VGA type you will need a HDMI to VGA adaptor (i paid $120 for mine) to connect the Apple TV to the projector. Once this is set up I use an app called Goodreader which allows me to draw, type, highlight etc. on any document I have uploaded (DOC, PDF etc.). This is while I am anywhere in the classroom as the IPAD is connected wirelessly to the projector. I am currently using this in class and it is really great!. Your idea of adding student work through a camera is awesome.

    Please note that IOS 5 for the IPAD will not be generally available until October. I have it because I paid to be part of the Apple developer program.

  6. If you have the equipment, the old way sounds easier.
    I like the idea of working on a large format board (old-school teacher at the blackboard style) when presenting the material.
    If you don’t have the equipment, then you do what you gotta do.

  7. This is the perfect blog for everyone who would like to understand this topic.
    You know so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I
    really will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a fresh
    spin on a topic which has been discussed for years.
    Excellent stuff, just great!

  8. Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thank you so much, However I am encountering troubles with your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I am unable to join it. Is there anyone else having the same RSS issues? Anyone that knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

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