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The Teaching Space Podcast

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Feb 15, 2020

Episode 83 of The Teaching Space Podcast explores three note-taking apps for teachers and trainers.


As a child, I was obsessed with notepads. As an adult, I am obsessed with note-taking apps. I’ve been trying out three ‘new to me’ apps lately so I thought I’d share my findings with you. These are not intended to be detailed reviews by the way - I want to give you just enough information to decide whether you want to try these tools out.

You’ll note (pardon the pun) that Evernote is conspicuous by its absence. I’ve tried Evernote several times in the past, and for reasons I cannot quite put my finger on, it just never seems to be the right fit for me, despite that fact that LOTS of people love it. Evernote does many things fairly well but doesn’t seem to me to do anything REALLY well.

Three Note-taking Apps


I think this one will surprise a few of you. OneNote is a Microsoft app and I am a dedicated Apple girl. However, I am studying with the Open University and they use Office 365. I need a suitable place for my reflective learning journal, study notes and professional development plan. They recommended OneNote so I thought I would give it a try. Here’s what you need to know about OneNote and a few things I like (this is a non-exhaustive list):

  • It’s part of Microsoft Office 365
  • It’s a digital notebook and allows you to have multiple notebooks
  • It’s easily accessible on all platforms and includes apps
  • Collaboration is easy
  • It handles typed and written (with a stylus) text well
  • You can include voice notes
  • There’s a class notebook option (I have not used this)
  • It looks like a notebook with fancy dividers
  • You can link between notes


SimpleNote is described as ‘the simplest way to keep notes’. It is light, clean and free. It is available for iOS, Android, Mac, Windows and Linux. Here’s what you need to know and a few things I like (this is a non-exhaustive list):

  • It includes seamless syncing across all devices
  • Tagging of notes is intuitive
  • There are collaboration options (sharing lists, publishing notes online etc)
  • Great backup
  • Markdown support
  • It’s free!
  • As well as having lots of apps it is a web-based tool (so few note-taking apps are, so this was a real plus point for me)


Bear is the Apple option. I’ve just started using Bear for outlining podcast episodes, newsletters and articles as I’d become a little frustrated with how Ulysses handles links (amongst other things). Incidentally, I still rate Ulysses highly, but will likely only use it in the future for long-form writing (for example, when I tackle my second book). Here’s what you need to know about Bear and a few things I like (this is a non-exhaustive list):

  • Bear is beautiful
  • It has an interesting hash-tagging approach to organising your notes (very intuitive to me and allows nested organisation)
  • It supports markup
  • You can export to HTML (useful for me when preparing show notes)
  • It includes to-do functionality
  • Focus mode is an option
  • Cross-linking notes is supported
  • It handles images well (useful for blog posts, newsletters etc)
  • There is a free option but otherwise, it is subscription-based (Bear Pro is $14.99 a year with a one-month free trial and you need Bear Pro to sync across ALL Devices)

The Winner?

I’m going to cheat and choose two. I am currently using OneNote for all my OU work, but outside of that, it is Bear. I thought it would be SimpleNote, due to the web access element. This is because I use Microsoft/PC at work and a Mac at home (all my personal devices are Apple too). But Bear has more flexibility in terms of export options, how it handles images, and note organisation. I am considering using OneNote at work actually, but for now, I tend to jot down notes in a Google Doc, as needed.

Wrap Up

What about you? What are your favourite note-taking tools? Let me know; I would love to hear from you.

Support the Show

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Questions? Comments?

If you have any questions about this episode or thoughts you’d like to share please join The Teaching Space Community: At the time of recording, the community is free to join. It’s just launched so I’m very keen to get some members in there to test it out and give me some feedback.

The show notes for this episode include any links I’ve mentioned; you can find them at

Thanks for listening and I hope you’ll join me for the next episode.