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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 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.