Sticky notes exist in physical and digital forms. In physical form, a sticky note (or Post–it note) is a small piece of paper with a strip of glue on its back, which can be attached temporarily onto documents or other surfaces.
The basic advantage of using sticky notes is that they can be easily stuck, removed, and even re-positioned elsewhere without leaving any residue. The original shape and colour of these notes were yellow squares. Today they exist in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes.
Sticky notes are still used extensively by individuals or groups in order to:
- Remind: of anything from important meetings, events, deadlines; basically anything that you do not want to forget.
- List: any checklist to keep track of tasks, priorities, processes; basically anything that requires monitoring and pursuing.
- Scribble: anything in verbal or visual form for practically any purpose; basically the sketch of a new product design to a flower for your daughter’s birthday to a thought of the day.
- Style: any colour, shape and size are available; a wide selection can be made to match your personal preferences, your work environment or that task at hand.
- Manage: any arrangement is possible with the added advantage that it is not permanent; a vast number of possibilities are available depending on your requirements in terms of content, project aim and team members involved.
In digital form, Sticky Notes is an application that allows you to create virtual notes on your device. Versions of this software exist for Windows, Android and iOS laptops, tablets and smartphones.
The possibilities it offers range from formatting a note’s text, changing its color, and speedily resizing, collapsing, and flipping through notes on your desktop surface. These added functions can be performed even more efficiently and resourcefully if your device has a touchscreen.
The availability of multiple fonts and different text sizes make the application even friendlier to use. Digital versions of sticky notes allow for sharing on social media as well as for searching so you do not have to worry about the number of stickies you create. More specifically the features for different devices are:
- Quick access to create and edit sticky notes.
- Swipe between stickies for faster navigation.
- Set reminders with your preferred ring tone and custom volume.
- Set multiple colors and themes; multiple fonts and different sizes.
- Sort and organize, search and share sticky notes.
- Share your stickies to Facebook, Twitter, Email or SMS.
- Text to speech to read out your notes.
- Backup and Restore feature using your Dropbox Account.
In addition to device based applications, there are web-based applications that allow the creation and sharing of sticky notes: Padlet (https://padlet.com/) and Linoit (http://en.linoit.com/). They allow you to create a virtual free bulletin board which can be populated with online stickies. These stickies can have resources such as videos, weblinks and images as well as text. You can organise the board in any way you want. The board can be public or private and stickies can be moderated by the creator before being published. Only the creator of the board can delete stickies. Conversely, you can post sticky notes on other people’s walls. It is possible to adjust the privacy settings of the posts and edit the posts made by your friends or co-workers.
In most cases, all you need to do is to sign up for a free account. You can also connect your Facebook or Gmail accounts with it but for security reasons the user may need to think twice. Once you are signed in, you create a board. You give the link to the board and share it with your friends, colleagues or students. In general, all the people you would like to collaborate with. They can write a response or comment or suggestion from practically any place at any time that is convenient for them.
If you are interested in suggestions how to exploit virtual stickies in the classroom, visit Michael Gorman’s blog.
Why should I bother with sticky notes?
When designing a presentation, a storyboard can be an invaluable tool. However, it lacks in terms of the familiarity factor.
Sticky notes on the other hand, which score high in this factor, can be used for the same purpose in any of their forms. Users like and trust tools that they are familiar with. More specifically:
- Sticky notes rate very low on the cost scale simply because they are available for free (in any of their forms).
- People have used them one way or another regardless of their age or professional development.
- Sticky notes can be forgiving and manageable. In addition they seem to create a pleasant environment on the area they are used on.
- They guide you to contain your ideas either by minimizing the number of words used or by focusing on specific aspects of images and graphs.
- When arranged on a surface, sticky notes make the connections between ideas, as well as the ideas themselves, clear and visible.
Sticky notes in both physical and electronic form are very mobile. They can be easily rearranged on the working surface in a number of layouts to guide the presenter or the author or the project manager or the team member. Layouts can help reveal different associations or perform different functions:
There are four basic layouts:
- Lists: particularly useful when collecting information, ordering ideas or points or when deciding what to focus on.
- Clusters: particularly useful when detecting patterns in the data.
- Trees: particularly useful when concentrating on the whole picture or when examining the central idea of the topic.
- Maps: particularly useful when understanding relationships or phases in a process.
Different combinations of layouts are possible depending on your goal, your intended audience, the people involved in authoring, editing or reviewing the presentation.