Supporting notetaking in an online environment may require new tools and approaches to assist students.
Notetaking tech options are constantly evolving. We have reviewed some notetaking tools that will help students make the most of their remote learning.
There will never be a one-size-fits-all solution. Students may have their own preferred notetaking approach and tech preference. Each of these tools have their own benefits. If you have questions, talk with the Access Center Coordinator to help you determine the most suitable tool for your Access needs.
- Livescribe Smartpens
- AudioNote 2
- Sonocent Audio Notetaker
- Note Taking Express
- Notetaking Tools: Honorable Mentions
Livescribe pens record audio and sync the audio with your notes. Can’t remember exactly what the instructor said? Just tap on your notes to hear the recording play back from that moment in time.
- Varies depending on model.
- Echo pens can work on their own, but require a Windows or Mac computer to access the full set of features.
- Aegir or Symphony pens require a laptop or mobile device running the Livescribe+ app to function. Works with iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac.
- Echo pens are very intuitive and easy to use.
- Aegir/Symphony pens record audio via the paired device, which often provide better sound quality than the Echo pen.
- Pairing with Aegir and Symphony pens can be cumbersome.
- Limited options for organization. Need for a secondary device increases overall cost.
- Can’t import presenter files.
- $100 – 180 depending on model (price subject to change)
- These are available to check out for free, from the WSU Vancouver Access Center to students who qualify.
OneNote is Microsoft’s notetaking app and is available to students for free.* It does a little bit of everything. Record and sync audio. Type or handwrite notes. Convert handwriting to print. Import presentation files to include in your notes. Search for words in your audio recordings. Lots and lots more!
- browser (limited set of features in mobile apps and browser)
- Very powerful with lots of potential.
- Familiar layout.
- Great options for organization.
- Excellent formatting options.
- Collaborate with others remotely.
- Can be overwhelming for some students.
- Helpful functions can be hidden in various toolbars and not clearly labeled.
- Audio sync is not as responsive as other tools and is not screen reader accessible.
- Free (price subject to change)
Notability is an excellent, easy to use app that is available on Apple devices. Record and sync audio. Type or handwrite notes. Convert handwriting to print. Import presentation files. Export notes and audio to a variety of services. Search for keywords across your note library. Easily add photos to your notes.
- Easy to get started with and lots of cool features to help make the most of your notes.
- Simple, clean organization.
- Very accurate handwriting to print conversion.
- Work on 2 note documents side by side.
- Mac and iOS versions are 2 separate purchases.
- Few bells and whistles or limited integration with other apps.
- No Android version.
- $9 (price subject to change)
AudioNote 2 is a simple notetaking app that can sync recorded audio to your notes. It supports handwritten or typed notes. Easily add photos to your notes. Highlight important content. Easily share your notes out to different apps.
- Very straightforward and easy to use.
- Pro version includes time stamps in the margin when creating typed notes.
- Limited organization and features.
- Subscription required for additional features, including improved recording quality.
- Only one highlighter color, and highlighter can only be applied to typed notes.
- Free with ads.
- Upgrade for $10/year. (price subject to change)
Sonocent Audio Notetaker
Sonocent Audio Notetaker is a powerful tool that focuses on color coding chunks of audio to help students quickly identify which parts of their recording are most important. Sync your typed notes with the audio. Import presentation files. Capture audio directly from your computer. Extract audio by tags to review just the important information. Add photos or sketches with the mobile app.
- Companion app on iOS and Android
- Great for students who really want to focus on audio recording or thrive with color coding.
- Robust set of tools allows users to create highly detailed, interactive notes.
- Busy interface can be overwhelming for some users.
- No handwriting support.
- Some students struggle with dividing attention between tagging audio and creating typed notes.
- $149/year (price subject to change)
Glean is a new tool being developed by Sonocent. Glean is basically a slimmed down version of Sonocent that runs in the Chrome web browser. Record audio and add notes and tags as you go. Use Lightning Mode for a simplified experience, allowing you to devote more focus to the lecture while adding simple tags to the audio. It can even run offline!
- Simplified tools and interface is more inviting to tech novices.
- Simple tagging tools require minimal interaction.
- Import presentation files.
- Capture computer audio directly.
- Limited options for import and export.
- Limited set of tools might not be enough for advanced users.
- Beta until September 2020 (price subject to change)
Evernote is a notetaking app that is geared toward organization and working across multiple devices. Notes are all saved to the cloud, where they can be readily retrieved on whatever device you pick up next. Evernote can easily send notes to other apps or to collaborators. Add tags to documents to help you quickly sort through your files. Draw quick diagrams to illustrate your thoughts.
- Record audio while taking notes.
- Tag feature assist in organization.
- Easily add photos or scan documents into your notes.
- Attach files to your notes.
- Handwriting support is limited unless using a related app (Penultimate).
- Some features, like OCR of images, only available with subscription.
- Premium—$8/month (price subject to change)
WiseMapping is an open-source, browser-based mind mapping tool. You can use the tool without even creating an account. Pull up your maps on any device via the web browser. Export maps as JPEG, PNG, or SVG.
- Browser based allows access on practically any device.
- Lots of tools available to create complex maps.
- Helpful for visual thinkers.
- No content or sharing limits.
- Visual interface may not work for everyone.
- No ability to convert to outline.
- Free (price subject to change)
Note Taking Express
Note Taking Express is a notetaking service based out of New York. Users send audio recordings to the service and receive typed notes back within 24 – 48 hours (depending on account). Users can also send presentation files to be integrated into their notes. NTEhub app (formerly NoteTalker) provides additional features.
- NTEhub app available on iOS and Android
- High quality notes provided at a low cost.
- Great supplement to peer notetakers.
- Occasional inconsistency in turn around time.
- Have not tried the service for math notes.
- 24 hours is not as fast as using a peer notetaker.
- Institutional pricing $8/hr of audio (price subject to change)
Notetaking Tools: Honorable Mentions
Incredibly powerful notetaking app that can also create to do lists, schedule events, manage workflows, assign tasks, and so much more.
Price: Free. Additional features with subscription. (price subject to change)
Free app that lets you record audio from your online lectures and provides a written transcript at the end of class.
Price: Free. Additional features and storage with subscription. (price subject to change)
iOS notetaking app frequently compared to Notability. Improved organization features. No recording option.
Price: $8 (price subject to change)
Similar to Notability. Available on Mac, iOS, and Android. Audio recording, but no audio sync. Apple Watch integration.
Price: $10 (price subject to change)