OneNote Redefines Educational Apps: Part 1

As term one kicks into gear, we will continue to post a series of ideas of how to integrate amazing tools into your day to day classroom and school activities to save you time and engage students in new and different ways. We’ve already posted a couple of ideas of how to use the Office Mix, now it’s time to introduce OneNote to anyone out there who isn’t sure where to start with this tool.

OneNote has been around for a long time, and has really become an indispensable part of many teacher’s classroom over the past 10 years. You could safely say that OneNote has redefined the benchmark for exceptional educational apps. In the whole spectrum of education, OneNote will make things easier, more efficient and collaborative. It is a powerful note-taking app. Not just notes as in handwritten scribbles (although that method of taking notes is one of its strengths), but multimedia content added in many ways. OneNote has the potential to transform the way that users go about their business – personal, professional and educational.

OneNote can be used by students, teachers and even parents who need to keep their hectic lives organised. There are way too many features to highlight here, so I will try and frame the app for you and list the ten features that you can use 2016, Term One, Day One, Lesson One!

Spiral notebooks are handy because they are really big and have dividers to separate sections of pages that are related; Math, Biology, History, etc.

notebook diagram

OneNote works the same. One Notebook contains Sections which are shown at the top of the Notebook as tabs. Click on a tab to open that Section. Each Section contains Pages. Pages are seen on the right of the app. OneNote can hold an amazing amount of data as the Notebooks, Sections and Pages have no limit. So, as the diagram shows, you can have all your content well organised with this structure. And that brings us to use Number One – an online teacher’s class notebook containing student names as Sections and their notes in the pages.

Another analogy for OneNote is that of a continuous sheet of butcher’s paper. You can zoom out a long way and create mind maps or plans. Many teachers present their lessons from OneNote and zoom around to display the relevant sections of the page. This form or butcher’s paper can contain embedded multimedia files, including video and audio. OneNote feature Number Two is a concept map of your upcoming term. Insert text, audio, images, video and hand drawings around the central topic, then zoom, pan and slide the OneNote page around to explain what the students will be doing during the term.

OneNote has various tools that are the same as or similar to Word or PowerPoint. However, one powerful feature, and Number Three on the list is the Tags function. As your Notebooks multiply, with more and more Sections and Pages, you need the ability to find content quickly. Enter tags.

onenote tags

There are many types of tags that you can place throughout your Notebooks that cater for many different types of uses of OneNote. If you take a glance to the right, you’ll see a screenshot of the tags in question and they will in turn give you some ideas about how to use OneNote. You guessed it – Number Four! You can use OneNote as a student workbook (made easier by OneNote Class Notebook Creator), and by placing tags in line with associated content, students can easily search for those important bits and pieces. So before you ask me ‘What do you mean?’

I’ll give some examples:

  • Add a ‘To do’ tag in line with a task
  • Tag a ‘Web site to visit’ so the students know to look for more information
  • Add a ‘Question’ tag at the top of your question section
  • Place an ‘Idea’ tag where you want students to think creatively
  • Add an ‘Important’ tag to vital instructions or information

I’m on a roll, so here is Number Five. Why not use OneNote as your diary / notepad / planning notebook. You can add ideas, to do’s, comments, web sites, phone numbers, videos, resources and internet content in your personal Notebook, and add the Tags to make it easy to search for your stuff. You can even write your notes and idea with a stylus if you have a touch device (may I suggest the Surface Pro 4?), which makes it easier to breathe life into your stream of consciousness transcriptions and build a concept map.

So, five down and five to go. Check out the next post to see five more ways you can use the OneNote educational app in your first term of 2016.

Guest post this week is from Matthew Jorgensen who is a Teacher Ambassador with the Microsoft Australia education team. Find Matthew on Twitter, @jorganiser, on Twitter here.