The Seven ‘One’ders of OneNote

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Seven Wonders of the World…

Wonders of the Ancient World:

NEW Wonders:


Did you know there’s a NEW set of wonders?

Prepare to be awed and amazed as you discover the Seven ‘One’ders of OneNote!!!

Being a bit of an organization freak, you can guess what attracted me to OneNote in the first place…


OneNote has pretty stunning organizational capabilities. I was able to put all my files (which were A LOT, I might add) for my classes into one binder and have it organized with ultra-efficiency. Unlike when my files were organized in folders on my computer, I can also include websites, videos, pictures, virtually anything in my OneNote that I use in my classes. I am able to organize everything into section groups, sections and pages. I can even add internal links to make finding things easier. Truly, the fact that everything is searchable in OneNote is an added bonus that means I’ll never lose anything again!

Here’s a great creative writing idea that takes OneNote’s multi-layer organizational and internal linking capabilities to a new level: create a choose your own adventure book! Find out the process from Pip Cleaves in the blog post OneNote and Choose Your Own Adventure Book.

This amazing feat can only be bested by the veritable Colosseum of collaborative capabilities that OneNote allows.


Collaboration is at the centre of 21st Century learning skills. While collaborative skills can be encouraged face to face during class, having the capability to continue collaborating outside the time and space of school empowers students to take charge of their learning. Furthermore, the sharing functions allow for limitless users and real time collaboration making sharing and working together on a global scale possible.

A few ways I have used OneNote to collaborate are:

  • An English department notebook which houses course outlines, units and lessons for all our English courses.
  • A teaching staff notebook containing meeting notes, resources, locker assignments, team rosters, health and safety memos, and much more that aid staff in day to day tasks.
  • A Global Collaboration project notebook shared with all participating teachers (Climate Action Project) in over 60 countries where the outline of the project, planning notes, resources and timelines were shared

If I could get back all the good ideas I’ve lost I could fill the ancient library of Alexandria! So conquering curation is the next job to tackle. Even the Colossus of Rhodes could take notes!


OneNote has become my go to curation tool. I can share to OneNote from any of my devices – PC, tablet, cell – and select where it goes so I am able to keep myself informed and organized! The OneNote Web Clipper allows seamless saving of anything on the web to OneNote. The clipper icon lives on your browser tool bar allowing you to easily clip to OneNote, organize and edit it, then access it from any device. The clipper also allows you to select only the article, recipe, or product information you really need from the webpage, thus eliminating clutter.

The OneNote Web Clipper window

Office Lens is another great tool that is really helpful for curation. It’s like having a scanner in your pocket. You can take a picture of documents, whiteboards, receipts, even SketchNotes and drawings and it will digitize them and can make them readable so the Immersive Reader can read aloud to you! Office Lens can convert the pictures you take of docs or whiteboards, etc. to PDF, Word and PowerPoint slides then you can save them to OneNote.

The Lighthouse at Alexandria is not the only thing shining a light! OneNote’s Learning Tools act as a beacon for student accessibility and differentiated learning.

Learning tools

OneNote’s Learning Tools add-in has been rated the top Dyslexia app for 2016 and Jordan Shapiro of Forbes Magazine says it is “one of the most disruptive education technologies yet.” Learning Tools features an Immersive Reader and a Dictate function. The Immersive Reader allows students powerful capabilities like Read Aloud, which reads and highlights text simultaneously greatly helping students with comprehension and focus – students are even able to select from various voices; and Font control, which allows users to increase or decrease font size, change font or background colour and widen text spacing, all of which can enhance reading fluency. The Dictate function allows students talk-to-text capabilities aiding them in authoring and increasing confidence.

While translation is not part of the Learning Tools add-in, I think it’s important to mention here. OneNote is able to translate over 60 language – including Klingon for you Star Trek fans! This is a fantastic resource for ELL and ESL teachers and students alike, just one more reason to love OneNote!

In short, learning tools are simple to use and very effective with proven benefits as seen in the chart below.

Feature Proven Benefit
Enhanced dictation Improves authoring text
Focus mode Sustains attention and improves reading speed
Immersive reading Improves comprehension and sustains attention
Font spacing and short lines Improve reading speed by addressing “visual crowding”
Parts of speech Supports instruction and improves writing quality
Syllabification Improves word recognition
Comprehension mode Improves comprehension by an average of 10%


For more information check out this article: New Research: Learning Tools Improves Reading Comprehension or Learning Tools for OneNote Improves Learning for All

The Taj Mahal, built by Emporer Shahjahan for his wife Mumtaaz, ranks as a jewel of Muslim art and architecture. The creative expression capabilities possible with Digital Ink ranks as our next ‘One’der.

Digital Ink

Digital Ink in OneNote allows for creative expression and so much more. The impact on learning is astronomical! According to an IDC report, Digital Ink in the Classroom, ink boosts education: teachers increase the quality of instruction by 88%, teachers save time grading papers by 50%, teachers save time preparing lessons by 67%, and students score 25%-36% higher on science tests.

With digital ink you can handwrite your notes, annotate documents, or sketch your ideas, even write your math equations! You can then convert your handwriting to text you can edit.

Replay is a newer feature of OneNote that allows you to record Digital Ink and turn it into a movie-like animation. It lives in the VIEW tab. You can move back and forth to watch thinking in action. Think of all the times you watched a demo and wished you could play it again…you can now!

China built a wall to keep invaders out, OneNote allows you to pick your own walls for safety and for fun!

Password Protect

The password protect feature in OneNote may be overlooked, but it’s a useful and powerful feature. Support staff in my board – people like speech pathologists, social workers and child and youth workers, love OneNote for the organizational and collaborative qualities available, but they need to be cognizant of personal information and safety of students first and foremost. The password protect function is a must in their daily work. They are able to keep sensitive notes and files organized and have the assurance of them also being protected. They can even share their notebooks and have certain sections “locked” and can choose to make them available on a need to know basis via a private password.

Password protect is not just great for safety of information, it can be fun too! Some very creative educators have used this function to run Escape the Classroom events with their students. What a engaging, fun way to review or learn material! Have a look at an example from Kyle Kirshenbaum, Escape the Classroom. Learn more from Alyssa Martin and Lin Lee with their Escape Room presentation and Instructional Guide

The Greek poet Antipater of Sidon, wrote of the Temple of Artemis: “When I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, ‘Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand’” just like the grandest ‘One’der of them all: Class Notebook.

Class Notebook

As if OneNote wasn’t incredible enough, Microsoft created Class Notebook with three sections. Each section has different authoring and viewing permissions to allow the best of all worlds.

Class Notebook comes with three sections:

  1. Content library – where the author can view and edit, but everyone else can only view
  2. Collaboration space – where everyone has the ability to view and edit
  3. Student notebooks – a student’s personal workspace. Only the student and the teacher can view and edit this section

Having sections with separate viewing and editing permissions was a stroke of pure genius in my estimation. I can create a digital textbook for my students specific to their needs. Not only am I able to organize and house handouts and lessons in the content library, I can embed videos, presentations, and all kinds of content. To make the idea of creating a textbook that perfectly fits your classes and students even better, Open Education Resources are now accessible right in OneNote (available with the latest version -1.8.4 – of the class notebook add-in). Over 300,000 standards aligned lessons and integral assessments via Microsoft Forms can be searched and inserted right into your content library. Talk about streamlining!

The collaboration space allows for whole class discussion or collaborative group projects. Teachers are even able to lock the collaboration space if required to allow for assessment of a group project perhaps.

The student’s personal notebook gives students the ability to ask questions and receive feedback as needed from the teacher while at the same time helping them to stay organized. Teachers are able to distribute handouts. sections or whole content libraries to all students with ease via the distribute function. Additionally, reviewing work is just as efficient with the review tab.

I’m sure it hasn’t been too difficult to tell that I LOVE ONENOTE!!! While it may not rank as big in the world as the Pyramid of Giza, I think the impact and possibilities that OneNote allows its users mean it won’t disappear like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

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