Thursday, January 3, 2013

Clearly - a better way to read

I am a huge fan of Evernote as a tool for organizing ideas, work, and research.  I should probably post about that someday.  Today, I want to highlight what has become my favorite tool for making reading online easier: Evernote Clearly.   Clearly is a simple little addition to your browser.   Clearly makes reading on the web just that - clear.  You can see their great little video here.

This is much easier to see than explain.  Here is a fairly typical website:

Nothing unusual - there is the text of the article, but also ads, links, and all sorts of distractions.  Here is that same page after clicking the Clearly button:

Ahhh... so much better.  All of the distractions evaporate and you can focus on the text.

In addition to the streamlined view, Clearly offers:

  • Easy ability to change background color and text size.  Why squint or struggle when the view can match you preferred size and style?
  • The ability to highlight and add comments (see toolbar on the right).  If you come across something useful as you read - highlight it and it is automatically added to your Evernote account This presupposes you use Evernote as a note storage system - which you should consider doing.  As a bonus doing this with students - when a note is clipped, the web address is captured as well - no more "I forgot where I found that information" 
  • Related notes - in the shot above you can see that when I opened the article in the Clearly reading panel, the tool automatically did a search of my existing notes to see if there was anything similar.   This has the potential to be a very powerful tool for helping students make text-to-text connections.
As a tool for students, you will have to convince your district IT people to add the extension and Evernote as a tool.  Worth doing, but potentially a large undertaking.*  If nothing else - give this a test-drive for yourself and I'll bet you won't read the same.

*If you have made a pitch to your districti IT people to add Evernote or Clearly to the general student computer image - please send it to me and I will post it for others to share! 

Check out their video:

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