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As a followup to a recent tweet about OneNote, I just wanted to say: I miss you Notebook Creator!
What brought this on? The short version? I moved. Moved to a school that is a Google Apps For Education school. That, and as I have been going through the ISTE presentations – goodness there are a lot! – I have seen many for OneNote.
The thing is, I could easily, and happily, present on the benefits of OneNote for the classroom. I would love to be sharing this knowledge here at home as well. I truly have not found any tech tool as versatile and useful for my classroom. Having lost it as a tool, and moved to a school that has a slight anti-Microsoft taint, has been really hard.
I have also found that a lot of folks don’t know that all of the Office suite can now function just like a Google Doc – online and shareable. The don’t know how much more versatile OneDrive is compared to Google Drive and how Classroom Notebook Creator works. What they do know is that Office for Education costs, and costs big. It would be nice if Microsoft took a clue from Google in this regard.
And while the Google stuff works well, especially for the little ones, when it comes to the older students and staff I feel Office is the way to go. Ideally, as in my last school, you would run both, thus exposing students to more choice. Empowering students to try new ways of doing the same old thing is key in student engagement. Who wants to use the same old Slide when you could try it in a new style, or Sway or Prezi?
So if you are at ISTE I’ll be the guy walking slowly past the OneNote presentations, a small tear running down my cheek as a long sigh escapes my lips. Who knows, perhaps they’ll be selling those cool purple t-shirts?
As much as we would like to think that here in the US we have everything we could want or need and that the internet is a right and a necessity. However, there are a lot of folks with out internet. According to a recent Pew Research survey roughly 15% of Americans do not have internet, and of those 25% are from families that make less than $30,000/year. This becomes even more relevant when you work in a school that has a high Free and Reduced population.
In my school we are moving to a 1:1 Laptop program that will let students take their assigned laptop home. This is a great idea, but for those kids that do not have internet at home this only meets their needs half way. There are options for cheap internet such as the Comcast Internet Essentials program that offers cheap internet, but sometimes it is not cheap enough. So what can we do? One option is to set up assignments that can be done offline.
The video below is one that I crafted for our staff. There are many, many types of lessons that could be done offline, this is just to present one option. Hopefully it will inspire people to think of the non-connected, how to design lessons that are accessible to all and have discussions about best practice. Feel free to add your ideas and thoughts below to help this conversation grow.
So I got my classes set up and going in their new notebooks created by the Classroom Notebook Creator – what a difference! You can tell this is a new product as there are a few things that could be improved, however, it is so much easier than the old way of having students create their own notebook and then sharing it with me.
For those of you that may not have used Classroom Notebook Creator, it allows you to create a three-part notebook for your classes. Part one is the Collaboration Space: An area that students and teachers can all access and collaborate in. Part two is the Content Library: This is where the teacher can put any materials that they want their students to have. It can not be modified by students, only copy and pasted into their individual sections (sometimes – more on that in the Cons section below). Part three is the student’s notebook: This is a space only you and the student can access.
Setting up the notebook is a very simple process that takes very little time, and at the end you get a link to send to students that when they click it, it automatically opens their notebook – if they have OneNote, if not you have to modify the link – more on that below. From that point they can see the Content Library, Collaboration Space and their individual Notebook. From the teachers point of view you see the Content Library, Collaboration Space and all of the student notebooks. The folks at OneNote have really outdone themselves and made something that is very useful for teachers and students.
Everything is in one place for the students and adding material, feedback, comments, etc. for the teacher is very easy.
Setup is a breeze! As long as your OneNote Classroom Notebook Creator App is tied into your schools network database it will automatically pull up your students as you start to type their name or student ID number.
Cross-platform, Online or Offline, even on your phone, access is so easy.
When you are grading student work you have to click the “Navigate to Parent Section Group” green arrow to get back to the list of other students. It would be nice to have the drop-down list of student notebooks from every level of the notebook.
The link that is generated for the notebook has a prompt that wants to launch OneNote, to provide students a link that opens their notebook online you have to remove the prompt from the beginning of the URL. Perhaps generating both links when the notebook is created would be useful to folks.
If students are using their notebook in OneNote Online they can not copy/paste material from the Content Library to their individual notebook. This is a HUGE problem for students who do not have OneNote at home, or, as in the case of some classes in my district, they only have Chromebooks and therefore can not get OneNote.
In summary I really like the functionality and easy of use/set-up of OneNote Classroom Notebook Creator. More importantly the students find it much easier to get work from the Content Library then the old way of having to download and then merge documents. I too find it easier to pass out papers through the Content Library – though the inability to copy/paste in OneNote Online needs to be addressed. One last thing I wanted to mention is the ease with which new students are added, just open the app, tell it which notebook and the name of the student, and they are in. While I have not met the team that created this app they obviously had the educator in mind when they did. To them I say thank you!
So I have just set up my classes using the new(ish) app from Microsoft: Classroom Notebook Creator. And I have to say, I could not be happier!
They most definitely do not oversell the ease with which a set of class notebooks can be set up. In my case I have four classes that each needed a notebook. I simply started the app and got under way. As it is linked to our district email system I could simply enter the student ID numbers and it would pull their information and add them to the class. I decided not to use their suggested student sections for my classes and made new ones, one or each unit of the course. The only slow part of the process is when it is creating the notebooks, but that was not too bad. From there I chose to take the share link and put it on my class website. Any time a student wants to access their notebook they visit that page and it will open their personal notebook (after signing into their Office account) – two minutes tops! Should they choose to stay in the OneNote Online version they can, or they can open it in OneNote.
Adding a new student was equally easy, in fact I added one and copy/pasted over the work he had missed from the Content Library into his notebook in less than a five minute passing period.
The reduction in time for me, whether it is in setting them up the first time or in adding content is so much faster than before. I really can’t think of an easier way to make using OneNote in the classroom.
Am I gushing? Well, it is worth it!
Reason #5 to love using a DINO (Digital Interactive Notebook in OneNote) it that it does not weigh a thing.
I came across a colleague the other day who was grading a project very similar to the one mentioned in my previous post “Voice Grading…”Say” What?!?!” but their project was in an AVID paper “Interactive” notebook: i.e. – a comp. book. She and I were both headed out the door to spend a few hours grading. Here is the difference, all I had in my hands was my lunch box. She, on the other hand, had to borrow a cart from the media center in order to get them all in her car. Really, the picture says it all:
I think I’ll stick with my digital notebook, thank you!
So I just finished my first adventure in grading using the voice recording feature in OneNote. Let me set the stage and you can decide if this would work for you:
My students made a Colonial Era newspaper that had four parts: An opinion article from King George III, and Editorial, a Traveler’s journal about experiences with everyday colonial life and a Letter to the Editor. They wrote the articles in a template I provided in OneNote so everything was in one place and it looked like a newspaper.
To grade the articles I had to use the following steps – which sound complex and could be significantly shortened if my district would adopt OneNote Classroom Notebook Creator but be that as it may it was still not too bad.
- Click the link that students previously emailed me that allows me to open their notebook – NOTE: this link, to work for step two, has to be generated by the File > Share > Invite People method.
- Open their notebook in OneNote Online and then click the Open In OneNote option.
- Read their articles and make initial marks to the documents using the Draw tools…I’d love to have a Surface Pro 3 for this step, let me tell you!
- I like the highlighter so I use that and then click at the top of the page. Doing so inserts the audio file in step 5 at the top where the student can easily find it.
- Go to Insert > Record Audio and narrate my observations to the student.
- I re-highlighted my previous marks while doing the recording. This way when they play back the recording OneNote automatically highlights the point at which I am speaking in relation to what I marked.
This last point is one that I would like to particularly emphasize. When my students click on the audio file and it begins to play every mark I made while talking is automatically selected and highlighted so that the student knows that that particular point is what I am talking about with out having to guess where I am referring to. In addition, every individual mark has a separate Play button so that they can refer to that specific edit without having to listen to the entire recording. This is quite simply one of the most powerful student-feedback tools I have seen. And to be blunt, those who advocate Google Docs have nothing that even comes close to matching this level of student involvement in self-evaluation.
So, to wrap up, this went really well, I felt that I could convey a lot more information than I would have with written feedback, and the added benefit of inflection and vocal emphasis makes the feedback that much more effective. I have had many student tell me that they preferred this to the norm of hastily scribbled notes. My only wish would be that when they access it fro home in OneNote Online that the playback would work in the browser rather than having to be downloaded – which also drops the highlighting feature during playback.
Ever want to write in your OneNote notebook on the SmartBoard and have it converted to text? Normally using a SmartBoard the ink is added as a layer over the notebook and is not actually a part of it. However in one quick step you can write on your notebook and have it converted to text. Simply click the Draw tab and then select Draw With Touch. After doing so select the color pen you would like and then write whatever your heart desires. When finished select the Inf to Text button and there you go. To see how it went for me check this out.
The OCR in OneNote is quite good and chances are you won’t have to correct all that much. This is great when you are doing activities where the kids are writing on the board and you want to have their work recorded. It is also great if you like to grade student work at the SmartBoard (yes, some folks do do this).
Note: my non-touch netbook does not have this feature, but my PC which is connected to a touch device, namely the aforementioned SmartBoard, does.
As I alluded to earlier, I made a video of this process, enjoy!
Have a great day,
This is a quick write-up on what I have found regarding students sharing their DINO notebooks with me. For me there were two main options: Invite People and Get a Sharing Link. I have gone with the later, for now, and here is why:
Invite People is great because it allows the invitee to open the student’s notebook in either the web browser or in OneNote itself. This is an advantage as there are way more things you can do in OneNote itself than you can in the web version. For instance, if I want to draw arrows, or circles to emphasize a point I can only do that in the program itself. The down side to Invite People is that it sends you an email with a link to the students notebook – all well and good until you have a hundred emails sitting in your mail that have to be individually open to get the link. Now, as you will see in the video I propose a solution to this using either Excel Forms or Google Forms, but it is a lot of initial work for you, the teacher.
Using Get a Sharing Link is nice in that it gives the students a link that they can copy/paste into a Excel or Google Form you give them and viola, you are ready to go! However, this link takes you to a version on the Web App that you can not open in OneNote. Why Microsoft made this distinction I do not know, but now you know that this is an issue you can choose whichever option works for you.
In the next week or so, once I get my netbooks back from MAPS testing, I am going to have the students email me the Invite People link so that I can see just how much extra work it is and if there is an easier workaround…perhaps through Mail Merge? I’ll keep you posted.
For a more detailed and visual version of this post check this out.
All the best,
For those of you who are visually oriented I have started making short videos that accompany some of the topics on the site. They are located under the Video tab at the top of the page or you can go directly to the YouTube page through the icon on the bottom-right side of the banner.
So far I have one for creating a notebook and one for sharing the notebook. These are meant to be quick overviews. There is a lot more that could be discussed in each one, and should there be a request for something specific I am happy to oblige, just make a comment below or email me.
So, it is the big day, at least in my class, and it is time to get students into their notebooks. What did I do to get to this point, you ask? I found a couple of students, they could be student aids, kids you have a good relationship with or just a couple of kids who happened to be in study hall without a lot to do, and tested the setup and directions on them. Why use students and not just test it on your account? Well, I would guess that just about every school in the world has different permissions for teachers than it does for students. On more than one occasion I have said to a student: “Well that worked for me…”. So now I use their accounts to test things, as long as they are good with it.
So, in my district there are still a few kinks to work out on just how students will get to OneDrive, but we did find a work-around, and wouldn’t you know it, that was OneNote!
Because OneNote automatically syncs to the web it wants to establish a connection to OneDrive. Now, while it would not connect to OneDrive the first time we opened OneNote (the account type was not recognized) it will open anyway. At that point we just created a new Notebook, and because this is a district machine, on a district connection the district OneDrive was available. From that point we were in, and now students could access OneDrive because it identified the student’s account based on their OneNote notebook.
So, that was way too much detail, and chances are your setup could be much different, but the take-away from this is that it is always best to find a student or two that you can do a little trial and error with – you’ll be glad you did when you are trying to do it with a class of 30!
Now that the students have their DINO we are ready to get down to the nuts and Boltz (that is my school – couldn’t help the pun) of daily classes in DINO.
If you have questions on how I got them up and running, classroom techniques for getting 30+ kids logged in at the same time or anything else please post them!
Have a great day!