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A free summer seminar for experienced high school journalism advisers

From the 23 teachers who attended this workshop in July 2019, we have included Solutions Journalism Story Ideas, other Story Ideas for a whole range of topics and Tech Examples of something they learned, many of these for data visualization, plus some resources anyone can use in the future for these topics.

5 Ways Student Journalists Can Use Google Keep

by Amy Medlock-Greene

Google Keep is an excellent, free tool for making checklists, gathering information, and collaborating with others on everything from shopping lists to recipes and research notes. It’s an awesome tool for student journalists to use as they work on the research and interviews for their stories. Here are the Top 5 ways student journalists can use Google Keep.

1. Gathering and organizing online resources

With the Google Keep Chrome extension or mobile app, it’s super easy to save links to websites and notes from those sites. If students are researching on their phones, they only need to tap the “share” button on the site and then choose Keep. Add a few notes about the source and the information, then choose a Label* for the source. Then tap “Post.” (*Side note: you’ll need to set up your labels in the Keep app or at prior to being able to select the label(s) at this stage. If students have a personal Gmail account and a separate school-based Gmail account, they can also swap between the two within the app or site.)  The process is basically the same for the Chrome extension. Click the “Save to Keep” icon on the web toolbar, add a note, choose one or more labels, and the note will automatically be saved to the Keep account that corresponds with the Google account you’re using with the Chrome browser.

2. Crafting and organizing interview questions

Launch the Google Keep mobile app or go to to begin a new note. Students can either use one note for all of their interview questions or (as is my preference) have a different note for each interviewee. Two of the best features of Keep notes are the ability to reorganize questions/ list items with a simple drag and drop and the ability to add collaborators. Students who are working in teams can share their notes with their teammates so they can all have access to/ work together on their interview questions. Simply tap the three dots in the lower right-hand corner of the note in the mobile app or the user+ icon on the website to add Collaborators. From the mobile app, you can also send the note to someone via text message or email. 

3. Recording interviews and interview notes

There are two parts of this feature, but one only works with the mobile app. Once you have a Keep note open in the mobile app, tap the plus sign in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. Then choose “Recording.” The app will transcribe your recording as you and your interviewee speak. The transcriptions aren’t always perfect, and you’ll both need to speak clearly and without extraneous background noise for the best results. The best part of this feature, though, is that the app saves both the transcription and the audio recording (making it easy for students to go back and verify the information). I encourage students to start a new recording with each question–this makes it easier to drag and drop the transcribed answer underneath its appropriate question. While the audio recording feature is only available through the mobile app, students can type notes in either the mobile or web version.

4. Collecting interviewees’ signatures

I require my students to have each of their interviewees sign their interview notes and include contact information. While I trust each of my students, this step cuts down on the potential for falsified quotes or interviews. While the web version of Keep allows you to add a Drawing to a Note, this feature is easier to use on the mobile app. Within the note, tap the plus sign in the lower left-hand corner of the screen and choose “Drawing.” After selecting one of the pen tools on the bottom of the screen (tapping each to control its thickness and/or color), the interviewee can use a stylus or their finger to sign their name on the screen. Tap the arrow in the upper left-hand corner of the screen to return to the main note page. The “drawing” of the signature will appear at the top of the note.

5. Extracting text from a photo

If in the course of their research, students receive a handout, brochure, poster or business card with text on it, Google Keep has a built-in OCR feature that will allow them to take a photo of the document and then choose “Grab Image Text” from the photo menu. Like the transcription feature, this isn’t perfect–but it’s a definite timesaver.


When students are finished with their research and/or interviews, they can then send their Keep notes to a Google Doc or use the Keep add-on to copy and paste text from the Keep note into their Google Doc.

With the collaborative nature of the Google Suite, students can share their Keep notes and Google Docs with their peers and adviser at any or all stages of the researching/ interviewing/ writing process, making peer editing and coaching much easier.

Overall, Google Keep is one of my favorite tools to use in all of my classes, but it’s tailor-made for journalism students.

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