Tips and tricks for cutting edge educators

An important part of planning a successful 1-to-1 student laptop program is determining which software is optional, which is preferred and which is a prerequisite for students and staff.

I like to challenge decision makers to be ruthless in this categorisation process and qualify something as a prerequisite only after strong debate and rigorous interrogation of the learning potential or personal productivity value of the software.

Selecting the right software is as important as selecting the right hardware and in many cases schools don’t need to buy extra software to maximise the learning experiences of their students and staff.

Microsoft OneNote is one of those products that always seem to make the prerequisite category in effective 1-to-1 programs, and OneNote 2010 will be more powerful again. Here are ten reasons why I believe this is the case, and why, in my opinion, OneNote is probably the single most valuable learning productivity software available to schools.

  1. It is the ultimate note-taking tool, bridging the book and digital paradigms. Whether you’re taking notes, compiling research for a project, or keeping an electronic folio of digital assets, OneNote has no peer. Notes taken in OneNote can be linked to audio (perfect for recording lectures and synchronising with notes), or linked to related documents (web pages, PowerPoint slides etc).
  2. OneNote provides a shoulder to shoulder experience any where, any time. We know the power of sitting together around a piece of paper, sketching ideas, sharing concepts, mapping thoughts.  But how do we experience this same free flowing sharing when we are too far away to reach the paper.  For example, if we’re on the other side of the world?  With OneNote and Tablet PC, people from all over the world can collaborate on the same piece of ‘digital paper’ as if sitting next to each other at the same desk.
  3. It supports complex teamwork and collaboration, allowing multiple users to create or share documents together in real time from anywhere. The easy to use collaborative features of OneNote are perfect for brain-storming; team projects (where a teacher can see exactly what each individual contributed and when), collaborative research, peer review / evaluation and more. OneNote makes Wikis alone look very old fashioned.
  4. It caters for multiple learning styles and needs. OneNote handles audio files, video files, text, picture and other forms of media, catering to visual, kinaesthetic and auditory learning styles. The pen function supports handwriting (perfect if you have a tablet PC) and even converts handwriting to text. These functions also make OneNote perfect for Maths, Science, graphic design, art or any other task that requires more than a keyboard to input.
  5. New education add-ins available in OneNote 2010, like the Maths Calculator add-in, makes teaching and learning more exciting and powerful. There is a suite of new educational tools and resources. It even includes a whole workbook of educational examples from other teachers, learning ideas and learning productivity ideas.
  6. It can explicitly facilitate higher order thinking processes so learning can occur within a structured thinking framework. For example, many teachers are setting up shared notebooks to reflect Edward Debono’s lateral thinking strategies (the topic of a future blog), creating a usable scaffold for students to operate within.
  7. It is available anytime, anywhere, allowing for a classroom unbound by time and place. Your OneNote files can now be accessed or shared with anywhere from Windows Live (the Cloud), regardless of what computer you are on or even whether you have OneNote installed.
  8. It helps keep you organised, with seamless integration to Outlook and the ability to quickly and efficiently search for notes, resources or ideas. You can even search for notes written by hand.
  9. It complements all other programs and becomes the Ultimate Aggregator with always on tools like the OneNote snipper (screen capture) tool (Windows+S) or the notes tool (Windows+n). Combine these features with the "Print to OneNote" function and OneNote becomes a digital repository for all your work in all your programs.
  10. It takes care of referencing, so you don’t have to spend time compiling a reference list or bibliography – OneNote does it automatically from a variety of sources.
  11. It is fun and engaging. The simplicity of the book metaphor and the power of the features listed above make OneNote a fun and exciting way to increase productivity.

Microsoft OneNote 2010 is like a really good movie. Once you’ve seen it, you can’t help rave about it.

But unlike a good movie, the more time you spend with OneNote, the more exciting it becomes.


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