Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2016

Beyondpad

Busy interface obscures note-taking app's most productive features

Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
9-12
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Pros: An extensive tagging system offers tons of options for sorting and organizing content.

Cons: There's a sprawling array of features, and it's daunting to figure out how they all work.

Bottom Line: A novel but unfinished idea for organizing notes that's tough to recommend given other easier-to-use, multi-platform options.

Beyondpad's tagging system might be too big a time investment for students to master, so it's likely a better fit for teachers looking for a tool to help them create to-do lists and organize their notes with tags. Jot down project ideas, memorable quotes, and reminders for upcoming events. Or use the timer tool as a countdown when students are completing an activity in class.

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Beyondpad is a note-taking site with Chrome, Firefox, and Windows apps that lets users clip content (such as websites and images) and type notes. The notes can be tagged, color-coded, and sorted, and there are clock features for setting timers and countdown clocks. Some notes can be tagged in the "Trackables" folder, where users might store notes that track checklists for longer-term projects. Three other features -- Calendar, Insights, and Map -- are marked "Coming Soon," but there's no clear timeline when users might expect such an update. These features seem key to Beyondpad realizing its full potential as a "data-driven" note-taking tool.

Beyondpad is available as a browser add-on for Chrome and Firefox, and it's accessible from any browser. Users can create an account with their email address or use their Google, Facebook, or Twitter accounts to log in. The developer's website says that the app is "coming soon" to Google Play, and its source is available on GitHub.

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Between the timers and all the tagging features, Beyondpad has potential as a powerful organizational tool, but its sprawling feature set may be too unwieldy for the casual user. It's not especially intuitive how to use the features to their best advantage, and the how-to information stored in the "Tips & Tricks" notes is disorganized and hard to understand. Plus, it's a web-only experience, which limits its utility as a one-stop shop for creating, storing, and reviewing your notes.

Beyondpad hasn't been updated by its developers since late 2015, so it seems unlikely that the tool will change or get much better. There's also no privacy information or terms of service, so it's uncertain exactly where your data is being stored, how private it is, and how long the tool will be supported. Overall, students will likely be more comfortable with an app that syncs across multiple devices (such as Notability or Evernote) or a note-taking tool that's built into the app suite you're already using (like Google Keep or OneNote). 

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Overall Rating
2

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
2

There are some neat features, but it's so hard to tell how they work that some users might not stick around to sort out the best ways to use them.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

There are tons of ways to customize how you organize your information. There's good potential for this organizational tool, though some may find its many features daunting.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
2

The demo account and "Tips & Tricks" notes include how-to information, but mangled sentences confuse, and disorganized information overwhelms. The tool hasn't been updated since August 2015.


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

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