Microsoft OneNote for Education

18 months ago I went in search of a way to gather and arrange my teaching resources and materials in an electronic format to allow for greater flexibility in delivering these to my students.  The answer I found was Microsoft OneNote.  This program has allowed me to gather, organise and distill information as a digital notebook to all of my students across Years 7-12 Health and Physical Education.

The benefit it has over a paper notebook is that you can electronically search, reorganise and share any of the contents.  The following outlines the features of how I have used the notebooks to help enhance my teaching as well as student learning:

  • Provides one place for students to keep notes for all units of work, with separate tabs for each unit of work allowing for easy navigation between units and learning activities.  This has a major benefit for students with poor organisational skills as well as making it simpler to find certain areas of work when revising rather than flicking through pages of notes in a workbook.

Screenshot 2015-05-19 09.57.11

  • Able to provide individual images of each slide from all PowerPoints used in class to teach the course content.  This allows students to add their own notes beside each slide as the content is being taught.

Screenshot 2015-05-19 10.10.35

  • Includes every learning activity in an electronic format allowing students to complete all of their coursework in the notebook.
  • As the PowerPoint slides are able to be inserted as individual images it allows the notebooks to be presented in a format that flows with the normal progression of the lesson (i.e. present slides for a particular topic, complete the learning activities, move to next slides etc.).  This format also makes it easy if students are absent as they will be able to see the progression and know what work needs to be completed next.
  • Each notebook has direct links to internet sites, YouTube videos, ClickView videos etc. making it easy for students to access any resources that are needed to enhance their learning without having to go to another source (i.e checking their emails or school intranet) to find these links.
  • Vodcasts have been created and uploaded to YouTube with the links provided within the workbooks. This allows me to implement the flipped classroom, where students watch the videos at home and add their own notes to the corresponding PowerPoint slides in their workbook allowing us more time to implement inquiry based learning and allows students greater opportunities to apply their understanding through different learning activities.

Also Microsoft has recently released the OneNote Class Notebook Creator app for use with Office 365 opening up a whole new world of of possibilities to make this program an even more effective tool in enhancing student learning.  I have now been able to set up a personal workspace for every student, a content library for all course materials and a collaboration space for lessons and creative activities, all within one easy to set up OneNote notebook.

Screenshot 2015-05-19 10.29.36

This is how I am now able to utilise each section of my class notebook:

  • Student notebooks: This is a private notebook that is shared between myself and each individual student.  I can access these notebooks at any time, but students cannot see each other’s notebooks.  This allows me to keep tabs on students work and gives me the ability to observe their full learning process, from note-taking, to completion of all learning activities.  I’m also able to give the students feedback on their work from anywhere and at anytime, even while the students are completing the work in real time.
  • Content library: This allows me to add and then share all course materials with the students.  Students are not able to edit any of these materials within this section but are able to copy any resource into their own notebook for editing.
  • Collaboration space: This is an area for all students and the teacher to share, organise and collaborate.  It is used to encourage collaborative creativity between students with fast synchronisation on the pages. It allows students to work together both in the classroom and from home and share work and ideas together and allowing all students access to group work.

Using Microsoft OneNote has completely changed the way I deliver my classes and allowed me to interact with the students in a much more meaningful way at anytime.  The following is feedback from students and their experiences of using this innovative program:

  • “It’s very easy to use and helpful having everything we need in the one place and not having to look through all different documents”
  • “Great because it automatically syncs so you know your work is always there and backed up so you can’t lose anything”
  • “You can access the work regardless of where you are so I have all my work there and available no matter what computer I’m using or where I am”
  • “Makes it much easier to revise for assessment tasks being able to navigate work without opening multiple pages and books and having to keep going back and forth”
  • “Great that I can add my own notes directly next to theory notes provided by the teacher and having it all in one place”
  • “Everything is organised in a nice, concise and orderly manner”
  • “By having collaborative sharing it means I can talk about questions with other classmates as well as my teacher so it’s easy to get help whilst at home and see other people’s views or answers to help enhance my understanding”
  • “Receiving teacher feedback directly and quickly really helps my learning”
  • “Having everything on my computer has eliminated having to carry extra books in my bag to carry around everywhere”

Click here to view an introduction to using OneNote in your classroom.

Latest Comments

  1. David Gibbs says:

    Yes I agree very flexible and so easy to use. I love the way that my students can have their own section and I can see their work.


  2. JT says:

    This will be my second school year using OneNote as an integrated part of my curriculum. I love this software. It has so much potential to empower students, specifically ones who struggle with disorganization and forgetfulness. The desktop version’s interface has a very tangible feel to it, which I have found especially helpful for visual learner types. Call me a fanatic, but I honestly believe becoming OneNote-literate can change the lives of many high school students by allowing them to become more self-sufficient, organized learners, which will help them succeed in post-secondary settings in which they would otherwise struggle.


    • Steve Brophy says:

      Thanks for commenting JT and I totally agree with your thoughts on OneNote. As a school we are finding the ease of use of OneNote is allowing staff and students ubiquitous access to feedback, submitted work and learning progress. The interface is also not intimidating as many are already so familiar with Word and PowerPoint and this allows for learners to pick up OneNote skills quickly. Add in cloud syncing and you have one fantastic teaching and learning tool.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s