Webnote: A registration-free note board with a few extras

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Webnote is not new to me and I have to admit that the aesthetics of the site put me off at first. Recently, I took another look at it since it is another site that doesn’t need registration. As I played with it, I discovered some of its hidden secrets and was pleasantly surprised at how useful it is. For those who regularly use Lino.it or Wallwisher, you may want to pay attention. Here is how it works:

Steps:
  1. Go to Webnote, type the name of a new page in the ‘Create or Load a Workspace’ box and click on ‘load’. If it is available, you will be given a blank wall. If it is taken, you will be taken to that wall and you can add to that note space.
  2. In the new workspace, you have the toolbar along the top with a yellow box on the far left. Click on the yellow box and a new note appears in the workspace. Double-click in the box and you can type in your message and click on a colour to change the colour. If you want to delete the note, click on the red ‘X’ in the top-right corner. If not, click outside the box to leave edit mode.
  3. To move a note, click and drag the note to another place. To resize a note, hover the mouse over the edges or corners of the note to get an arrow. Click and drag when you see the arrow to resize the box.
  4. To save the space, click on the disk icon to the right of the yellow box on the toolbar. To load a previous version of the space, click on the double-arrow circle to the right of the disk icon and a new box will appear in the workspace with a dropdown menu in it. Click on the dropdown menu to choose the version you would like to go back to and click on ‘load’. A warning will come up to make sure you want to do it. Click on ‘Leave page’ to go back or click on ‘Stay on page’ to cancel. You can always go back to any page you have saved even if you revert back to the first page saved. Just click on the double-arrow icon again and choose the time you want.
  5. To track the changes that are made on a page, click on the orange ‘XML’ button on the toolbar. This will take you to the RSS feed for the page (you will need to have a default RSS reader for this to work). When someone makes a change on the page, the RSS feed will alert you to the changes. This is a really great feature for groups that are working on the same page.
  6. To find something on the workspace, you can use the ‘Filter’ function. Just type in the box to the left of the ‘Filter’ button on the toolbar and click on ‘Filter’. The notes that meet the criteria will stay bright and the others will be go dim. To return to normal, clear the search box and click on ‘Filter’ again. You can also filter by colour of the note. To do that, just type in ‘color:’ and then the colour you want. For example, to see all the yellow notes, you can type in ‘color:yellow’ in the search box and click on ‘Filter’. This will dim all the boxes that aren’t yellow. This is useful if you use the colour of the boxes as a reference criteria. For example, you can make the all arguments for something in yellow and all the arguments against in purple. Another thing is that students could each be assigned a colour in the group to know who added what information.
  7. To bring a note to the forefront, click on the note and it will come forward. If it is hidden, use the coloured boxes to the left of the search box. Clicking on the square that represents the box you want will bring it to the forefront.
  8. Notes can also accept HTML. That means you can embed just about anything into a note. An example may be a YouTube video or Flickr image. Just get the embed code and paste it into the note box and the image or video will appear automatically. You can also make live links to other webpages or embed QR codes to other pages.
  9. To add information from a webpage, you can use a custom bookmarklet that you can put on your browser toolbar. Just hit the ‘b’ key while you are on the Webnotes workspace and a new note with a link will appear. Drag that link to the toolbar and when you visit a website, highlight some text on the page and click on the bookmarklet to create a new note in the original workspace. This also works for html code such as the embed code from YouTube. Just highlight the code and click on the bookmarklet to add a new note with the embedded video to your original workspace. This is a fantastic way for students to gather information for a project. They can surf and collect information by just highlighting the text and clicking on the bookmarklet. It even puts a link to the original page at the bottom of the note for referencing.
  10. To create a larger workspace, just move a note off of the browser window and the space will automatically expand with scrollbars.
I have to confess that I didn’t like Webnote at first, but now that I have used it after learning all of the features, this is going to be a staple in my classroom. It doesn’t look the nicest, but for a free tool that doesn’t need any registration at all, it works really well. I could see this being used as a bookmarking tool, a collaborative discussion board, a simple class lesson board, or a mindmapping tool all without having to register. To have others add to the page, just give them the URL and they can change or add as they would like. If someone makes changes while you are on the board, a red note appears to alert you to the changes and gives you the option to see the changes before saving.

Have you used Webnote before? What did you think about it? Was it useful? Did I miss anything? If you have any comments, please add them below, send me a Tweet at @nathanghall, or email me using the contact page on this website. Thanks! 

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