Skip to main content

Why students OneNote

So my good friend and colleague Anjuli Ahooja and I were fortunate enough to host a student panel on learning technologies at the STAO (Science Teachers Association of Ontario) and teachers in the audience asked the following questions.  I tried to keep to actual student quotes.

"I use Google Classroom... What is the advantage of using OneNote ClassNotebook?"
  • "I've used both ... this [OneNote] is more seamless"
  • "Google is so dependent a lot on internet connection, because they're internet based software and systems they have limited functionality in terms of the things you can be creative with... we're able to do more things" [OneNote works without need for continuous wifi]"
  • "Because you have so many resources at your fingertips, you're able to use them all in one common space... I feel a lot more engaged and I'm a lot more easily able to integrate aspects into one common note instead of having multiple [files]"
  • "Because you can just plop the essay in...and the teacher can write just directly on top of the page"
"What about the learning curve? How hard is OneNote to learn?"
  • "It's quite simple; everything is in one place, accessible from one location...Not that hard to navigate...Not a massive learning curve at all" 
  • "Once you get the software, everything is there; there's almost nothing to learn"
  • "We had a set-up session - it's not very far from how you use technology at home ... the learning gap is not that big"
  • "I thought it was going to be difficult -- I managed to work my way into the technology without too much trouble"
"How has OneNote changed your learning?"
  • More resourceful, more collaborative - post questions in the OneNote Collaboration Space to have other students help answer them.
  • More freedom in how I want to learn, in how I want to access resources
  • "I'm a disorganized person; everything is in one place. I don't have to spend any extra effort to organize it. All of the lessons you need [are there]."
  • "If I miss a day, having everything there, it breeds a level of independence and self-driven learning"
  • "You don't need to be in the same space at the same time [as your friends]"
  • "You can take down more detail [using technology]"
  • "Ease and efficiency"
Now, I did notice that student co-mingle OneNote together with Outlook and other aspects of the Office365 suite.  They see it almost as one object growing out of OneNote and they don't really see where OneNote ends and the other pieces begin.  Which I suppose is a compliment :) 
It was also surprising on how much the teachers in the audience wanted to ask the Anjuli & I how we do things (what's your workflow? what's your workload?). When we put the panel together we specifically made it a student panel so that their voice could be present, their perspective and I suppose it reflects that the teachers were thinking beyond, to what they could do.

The number of times both the students and the teachers said "write" to describe what they do in the classroom.  #DigitalInk is really at the heart of what we do.

And the best moment? As the student was talking about how he pulls content into OneNote to remix (using the Windows-Shift-S screen clipper), he unconsciously swiped his finger diagonally in front of him (twice!), mimicking the action he does on his pen-active tabletPC.


Popular posts from this blog

So you want to hack your OneNote Class Notebook

Taking a brief break from my "Getting Started with OneNote Class Notebook" series (you can start that one here )... This is a little advanced so if you're not comfortable setting permissions inside of Office365 you may want to avoid this.  Or set up a Class Notebook to play with so that it doesn't affect any existing Class Notebooks.  Yeah, the latter is a good option. One of the great powers of OneNote is that you can do some really neat permissioning of the Section Tabs. When the Notebook is created, of course, it gives you an "open permissions" on the Collaboration Space and student-read-only on the Content Library.  And then each student space is wide open to each individual student. But we've found that occasionally you want to mix up the permissions a little.  For example, you could create a space in a student section for your private notes that the student couldn't see, or maybe you want a tab in the Collaboration Space that students cou

Desmos, OneNote & Replay

So using Desmos activities are a great way to encourage exploration and discussion in math class -- if you haven't tried them, I encourage it.  They're collected at  But ... Desmos doesn't give you quite enough.  It doesn't have a way of capturing the work that the student does within their space, and it doesn't allow for annotation of class contributions as we come together to discuss.  Well, not surprisingly, OneNote comes to the rescue.  Using the Windows shortcut Windows-Shift-S it is really quick to snag the Desmos screen and pop it into a waiting OneNote page.  From there, we can grab our pen and (using wireless projection) talk about what all the different responses mean and where to go from there. (An aside : one of the nice features of Desmos activities are the way you can hit PAUSE and it will pause all the screens of the students working.  I always give them a heads up "10 seconds to pause..." and it's refr

Equation Editor comes to OneNote (Win10)

Folks have been waiting a while to get Equation Editor into OneNote (Win10 version... it's been in 2016/Desktop for forever). Now, the funny thing is this won't make a huge deal for me. I tend to just write my equations out, and if it's for more serious distribution I tend to write it in Word.  But for others, this may improve the way they work in OneNote.  And I also think I'm not allowed to call it Equation Editor, but I'm going to ignore that. Make sure you've updated your OneNote (go to the Store and check for any Downloads & Updates). I recommend folks visit the Store regularly to get any updates. I'm never sure how often it looks for updates on its own and Microsoft has moved to a continual, if gradual update process for all of its apps. To start entering equations, click on the INSERT ribbon and then on EQUATION.  You may think, "why not just click on the Math button?" but that is to translate digital ink or text writing into a mat