The Secret Gem

Communication is a critical component of education. With the advent of the Internet, a global network of networks, the way we communicate has changed dramatically. Instead of working exclusively in a classroom, teachers and students can connect, work on project, share information, and learn on flexible schedules that fit the student’s own personal schedules. The secret gem that supports this is OneNote. I say “secret” because most people who have computers already have the program and don’t even know they have it never mind how useful it is. It runs on all operating systems and will even work on a cell phone. It is also available free of charge so there are no barriers to access. You can run it on a $35 Raspberry Pi.

OneNote is a program for taking notes, gathering and storing information, and sharing the notebooks in a convenient place. OneNote makes it easy to find information in your notes and it will even search for words in audio and video files. OneNote has optical character recognition built-in so it will convert handwritten text and text in pictures to editable text. Since OneNote stores information as a database you never have to save it as it saves automatically. The program supports storing many types of data (text, pictures, sound and videos) and supports many different input technologies such as keyboard, pen/tablet, voice, and video.

A useful add-in for OneNote is the Class Notebook (2014). One year after its introduction the Class Notebooks the use has exploded with over 400,000 teachers and 3.5 million students being added to Class Notebooks. Teachers, students, and schools have been creating amazing content with Class Notebooks, changing the nature of the classroom with new interaction, feedback and collaboration models that were not possible with other software programs.

An example of the utility is that “Interactive Content” can be related where the teacher and students can place text, pictures, and videos in a lesson which can be seen, reviewed, and annotated. This can be used for presenting information as well as for taking quizzes which provides a convenient way to provide feedback to the teacher and to the students. Notebooks can be both public for all users and private where the teacher can help students having problems.

The interface has three environments:

  1. Collaboration Space: where everyone can share (teacher and all students),
  2. Content Library: the teacher adds information for all students
  3. Student’s Notebook: where just the teacher and individual student work.

From an educational point of view, taking advantage of convenient initiative technology that supports Science of Learning concepts and provides a way of studying and learning on any device, anywhere, at any time is worthy of incorporating into education. In that OneNote provides a collaborative environment for a repository of educational information which can be collaborated on and feedback can be provided and obtained quickly will facilitate learning. 


3 thoughts on “The Secret Gem

  1. Hello, I read your blog and I enjoyed it. Honestly, I know I have OneNote, but I never truly understood how awesome and useful it could be. Thank you for sharing this information about this “Secret Gem”. I believe that communication is absolutely important, and having means of sharing information that could be useful to the rest of the class (and in an easy manner) should always be known. If more students (especially those who get A+ on everything) share their notes and how they study, and other information that they have, then I believe that students may be able to learn better


  2. I’m having troubles finding research connected to this topic, but I still wanted to comment on this blog regardless. Your talk with week was really really interesting!

    I also never really realized the possibilities a software like this could offer for students in a modern world. And this is coming from someone in the generation that was supposed to know the digital world better than other generations.

    But thank you for the blog post and the talk, it’s all been very insightful.


  3. Actually, while replying to another blog, I found a source that might be more relevant to your topic!

    Suwardy, T., Pan, G., & Seow, P. (2013). Using digital storytelling to engage student learning. Accounting Education, 22(2), 109-124.


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