Over the last few weeks, we have focused on using Zoom and MS Teams for live teaching sessions and how to set up meetings, groups and breakout rooms or channels.

This has been to create spaces where synchronous teaching can occur in online spaces. They are available below if you previously missed them:

Now we turn our attention to other tools that can be used whilst teaching. This week, we look at some of the features of OneNote Class Notebook. The notebook can be used via MS Teams. Or, inserted into a virtual learning environment or accessed via Office 365 online.

Let’s look at how notebooks were previously used in education.

The high school experience of yesteryear

As students, in the pre-digital high school era, we all had notebooks or jotters for different subjects at school. We filled these blank notebooks with information.

Sometimes we copied written content from the board at the front of the classroom. We drew diagrams. We maybe had handouts / activity sheets which could be stapled or taped in. Due to technology limitations, notebooks only held text and drawings. They couldn’t contain audio or video.

With physical notebooks, this involved a lot of writing and a lot paper. These notebooks were problematic. They got carried around in schoolbags and sometimes notebooks may have been lost, never mind the weight of schoolbags.

From past experiences of going through high school, as learners it was our responsibility to ensure we had the right notebook for the right class and that its content was up-to-date.

Credit: Toa Heftiba
Credit: Toa Heftiba

Why did we copy information into our notebooks? Studies show that writing things down increases a students’ focus and students think more deeply about a subject.

In education, writing helps with the understanding and processing of information. It increases concentration and enhances knowledge retention, thus leading to improved memory.

Nowadays, there are quicker ways to capture information which is paperless and accessible with an internet connection.

Let’s look at a digital alternative: OneNote.

What is OneNote?

Think of OneNote as you would a physical notebook where you would store thoughts, ideas, to-do lists and maybe your schedule, etc., pretty much like a filo-fax.

OneNote is a digital notebook where you can create and store all of the same content as per a physical notebook, and more! OneNote allows you to also capture many medias: audio, draw or write using a tablet. You can use multiple devices to add content to OneNote. Content is saved on the Cloud.

Content can be organised as required, i.e., drag and drop notes and other content into sequence and/or create and organise sections to improve structure. You can also move sections to different notebooks, etc.

To work collaboratively on projects, you can also share your notebook with others .

How does OneNote differ from OneNote Class Notebook?

A OneNote notebook can be created by individuals for personal use. It can be a shared or private notebook. The individual decides.

A OneNote Class Notebook is created by a teacher who adds other teachers / students. A number of sections exist by default including: Content Library, Collaboration Space and Student Notebooks.

Please click the image below to access the Microsoft video guide on OneNote Class Notebook.

Microsoft video content - Collaborating in the classroom with OneNote Class Notebook
Microsoft video content – Collaborating in the classroom with OneNote Class Notebook
OneNote is a game-changer

Consider a OneNote Class Notebook like a physical notebook. It allows content to be added in any digital format: text, audio, video, drawing, photo, etc. As you can imagine, it’s already more engaging and interactive!

In OneNote, you can add sub-sections (to the Content Library and Collaboration Space), such as Topics, Diary, Assessment, Quizzes, etc. Teachers use the Content Library section to create read-only materials. Students can copy these to their notebooks. Students can complete the work in their own notebooks.

The collaboration Space can be used by students to create group content and again, a copy inserted into individual student notebooks.

As a teacher, you can see all of the Class Notebook and each of the students notebooks attached to it. Students can only see their own work.

A Teachers area can be created if there are multiple teachers sharing a notebook. This allows for lesson planning.

Advantages of OneNote
  • They are paper saving – digital notebooks don’t need printed
  • OneNote decreases shoulder strain – OneNotes are stored in the Cloud, there’s no schoolbag
  • All your notebooks are accessible via Office 365, making them available 24/7 and you can’t lose or forget to bring a notebook to class
  • The teacher has full access and can view student progress and engagement
How do I access OneNote?

Staff and students, at Queen’s University, can access Microsoft Office 365 via Queen’s Online.

Queen's Online screen to access Office 365
Queen’s Online screen to access Office 365

The Office 365 Apps page should appear. Select Class Notebook.

Office 365 Apps
Office 365 Apps

NB: There are three OneNote options: Classroom, Staff and individual.

When you access O365, you are presented with the screen below when you choose Class Notebook:

Class Notebook options
Class Notebook options

Here, you can create notebooks, add/remove students/teachers and manage notebooks. Do consider naming conventions for ease of finding the right notebook and student group.

If you have students added to a notebook via this process, you can share the notebooks’ link on Canvas (or other virtual learning environment). It is advisable to create a quick link area in the learning environment. This provides a quick access area to shared notebooks per modules subject.

When notebooks are accessed via links, they will open in separate browser tabs. Students could change between the virtual learning environment and notebook tabs to complete work.

Using OneNote Class NoteBook in MS Teams

If using MS Teams for tutorials and group work, you may have set up a Class in MS Teams and decided to add a OneNote Class Notebook. The Class Notebook tab is available by default.

Once students are added, a Class Notebook can be set up in the Team. This can be a new notebook or an existing notebook.

MS Teams - Class Notebook example
MS Teams – Class Notebook example

Students that are added to the Team are automatically added to the notebook. This will be held in the MS Teams Sharepoint site. As a teacher, you have full access to it and students access to their own work.

Helpful resources from Microsoft

The benefits of using OneNote are many. OneNote is better than traditional notebooks as it captures more media types to suit different learners needs. How content is added can vary greatly. Again, with a choice to suit learners preferences.

The benefits of OneNote include:

  • It keeps student work accessible, organised and available at the touch of a button
  • Content created by teachers can be quickly shared with students
  • OneNote can be used as a portfolio for assessment
  • Improves transparency and auto-saves work
  • Integrates with other MS Apps, i.e., calendar, OneDrive, etc.
  • It is usable across many devices

OneNote is a great teaching and learning tool. However, it might be overwhelming to first time users. It’s important to orientate new staff and students with this product. It’s also important to set boundaries and expectations around the use of products.

Next week

DigiKnow will look at the using discussions in online environments. We will explain how discussions can be used to engage learners and build relationships in virtual spaces.

Please do join us next week to learn more and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @MDBSelearn.


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