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Well, the school year is getting underway and you want to set all of this up, but how? Great question! A lot of folks prefer to begin with a paper and pencil Interactive Notebook and then as the year moves on they make the switch to a Digital one. I have done this in the past and it works really well.
There are a couple of advantages to this. First, and most importantly, this gives you a chance to assess your students and their abilities. Will they be able to handle using a computer this much, do they have special accommodations, what skills do they (or don’t they) have? Secondly, you can assess your school’s tech. This is almost as important as the first consideration. Do you have OneNote? Does it need to be added? HINT: OneNote is free! And, while it comes with Office automatically some school tech departments do not install it in order to save space in their image. If this is the case you can use what you learn here to make a strong case for adding it back in! Lastly, you may need time to walk through the steps of setting up your instructions and, if necessary, your shared server folder (more on this in a later post).
When you are ready to launch you need to find out how and where they will save their work. OK, actually they won’t save, OneNote does that automatically – another great feature! There are basically three options of where to have students put their DINO: OneDrive via a school account, a private OneDrive account, and a shared folder on your school’s network. Let’s look at all three to see what will work for you
OneDrive via a School Account: Do your students have the ability to save/access the OneDrive that allows OneNote (and all other Office programs) to save to the cloud? If so you will have them share their notebook with you and viola! you are good to go! Directions for this will be in a separate post. The easiest way to determine if their student accounts have access to OneDrive is to either look in their “My Computer” and see if it is there. If you don’t see it I would suggest you still ask your building / district tech department. It may be that it is available and just not active. It is worth the trouble. Having student access to their OneDrive is by far and away the most ideal situation!
Private OneDrive / Live Account: If they do not have access to OneDrive via a school account you can try to get them signed up for a Microsoft Live account. This would seem easy enough, simply go to www.live.com and begin the New User procedure. However, there is a catch. Your students must be 13 years old or older. If they are not I recommend getting admin and parent permission for them to sign up. Potentially there is another issue, one that I have run into in the past. Some districts do not like the idea of students accessing cloud storage that is out of their control. If this is the case you may find that access to Live.com is, or will become, blocked. If this happens you will have to move their notebooks to a local server (if they give you time to do so before blocking access) or you will have to start over. I consider this option the least desirable of the three options.
Shared Folder on the Local Network: With a little help from your tech department you can set up a folder that has permissions such that student’s OneNote notebooks can be written to and shared (see screen shot below). This is handy, but not ideal. It means that a student can not access the notebook from off-site, and should they wish to access it from on-site at a computer other than their normal one, they have to go to the folder and open it from there. And, should you have a student inclined to mischief, they can open other student’s notebooks and prowl around in them, or worse. They can, however, share them with you which allows you to see and provide feedback to them.
So, once you think you have determined what means you and your students will use to create your DINO’s (Digital Interactive Notebook in OneNote) you are set to go! In up coming posts I will be talking about the initial launch, great get-to-know-OneNote activities and some resources to help you get to know it as well. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, once you DINO you’ll never go back!
Simply put DINO stands for Digital Interactive Notebook in OneNote. There are lots of interactive notebook options available to teachers today. And, what really pleases me is that more and more teachers are exploring these options. They are a great alternative to pencil and paper notebooks…when grading time comes, they are a whole lot lighter too!
Some folks like to use a wiki, which is nice for written content and attaching files to but can be cumbersome when formatting and sharing plus the learning curve for students can be steep, especially for younger kiddos. Similar issues hold true for other types of sites, such as Google Sites. I used Sites for years with both my middle and high school students. However, both my students and I found that they can be very limiting, especially in the formatting and file management areas. My other frustration with Sites was that it seemed that the interface and the server settings were continually changing, necessitating time consuming re-learning for the students and re-creation of instructional materials like screencasts and screenshots on my end.
There are also some companies, notably TCI, that have a dedicated digital interactive notebook. Some of these are quite good, and are specifically designed around their content. The downside is that they are not free, and should your district have it, the next one you work at may not. Personally I love TCI / History Alive and use their material all of the time, but I have adapted it to work in DINO.
I believe that using OneNote is the most flexible and intuitive way to create a digital interactive notebook. As you will see in future posts adding content, any content, is as simple as dragging and dropping, commenting on student work can be done at any point on the page (not just in a comment box at the bottom of the page), sharing is as easy as entering an email address, and should your school have tablets students can use the powerful OCR to write and illustrate anything – lab reports and math problems come to mind, but why not art projects and shop class designs?
These are but a few examples of what can be done, and will be shown here in the future. So keep checking in, or like this site and you’ll be notified automatically. Please pass this along to anyone you know of who might be interested creating a digital interactive notebook, they’ll thank you later!
Have a great day,
There are few things students like to do less than take notes. Especially when they are done poorly and with no evident purpose. And shame on us, the educators, for making it so.
Notes can be fun, engaging and yes, interactive. Especially when we move the way we take notes into the 21st Century. Our students, by and large, are digitally engaged. Why fight it? We can do so much more than getting out a piece of paper and something to write with as a solution to having students engage with the materiel.
Over the years I tried several alternatives to pencil and paper notes: from blogs, to wikis, to websites and had yet to find something that is intuitive, has few limitations and that students can access through a variety of learning styles. Then I was shown Microsoft’s OneNote. Quite simply it changed how I worked, and is now changing how my students work.
In this blog I will be documenting the advantages of what I call DINO – Digital Interactive Notebook in OneNote. My DINO system can be set up easily, expanded with out limit and will broaden your teaching effectiveness from the get-go.
Keep checking in to go through the set-up, expansion, evaluation and optional tricks and tips sections as they become available. There is always more to DINO, so please do not hesitate to inquire further.
All the best,