Visual Note Taking in OneNote

Guest Post my Melissa Cahill


There are many reasons why I think the Surface Pro 3 is the best device for student use, but among my top reasons is the ability to use visual note-taking.

I introduced visual note-taking to my year 6 class with the below video. They loved the idea of writing and also being able to draw pictures. At the end of the activity students commented on how much better they were able to understand the topic as well as how much fun they had using visual note-taking techniques.

I first saw a presentation on the Surface Pro 3 by Steven Payne at Standout Education and what really stood out was the data on how the use of digital inking over typing improves memory retention, attention and problem solving. While many students can type faster than they can write with a pen, research studies have shown that typing isn’t necessarily the best way to retain information.

When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Collège de France in Paris.

“There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain. “And it seems that this circuit is contributing in unique ways we didn’t realize,” he continued. “Learning is made easier”.

I have always encouraged my students to choose the right device for the right task. Sometimes my students will use their devices, while other times they will complete work in their exercise books. With the Surface Pro 3 all of their information can be stored in the one place and it enables students to accurately hand-write while also giving them the ability to incorporate multimedia into their documents.

I have always taken an interest in how people learn and I often ask my students to think about their own learning styles and the conditions that they need to learn and remember content well. I feel that it is important to explain to students how they can make the right choices for when they should type and when they should physically write information.

A 2012 study led by Karin James, a psychologist at Indiana University, lent support to that view. Children who had not yet learned to read and write were presented with a letter or a shape on an index card and asked to reproduce it in one of three ways: trace the image on a page with a dotted outline, draw it on a blank white sheet, or type it on a computer. They were then placed in a brain scanner and shown the image again.The researchers found that the initial duplication process mattered a great deal. When children had drawn a letter freehand, they exhibited increased activity in three areas of the brain that are activated in adults when they read and write: the left fusiform gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior parietal cortex.By contrast, children who typed or traced the letter or shape showed no such effect. The activation was significantly weaker.

In my classroom students are able to bring in any device which makes OneNote the perfect tool, as it supports multiple platforms much better than other cloud based word processing product. However for students using a laptop or iPad they are limited to purely typing. The Surface Pro 3 gives students the ability to type and accurately write using the stylus. They then also have the option to have their handwriting converted into typed text.If you haven’t tried visual note-taking in your classroom I would highly recommend it. It can obviously be done in its simplest form with pen and paper, however add a Surface Pro 3 and the world is at their finger tips.

Guest Post By

Melissa Cahill – Loreto Nedlands

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Since graduating with a Bachelor of Education she has had a variety of experiences in the classroom. Both as a teacher and ICT Coordinator. She is currently teaching Year 6 where she successfully trialed and implemented a multi-platform 1:1 BYOD program. She has setup Office 365 for Loreto Nedlands including uploading users and creating class templates in sharepoint.