Monday, July 14, 2014

External Reviews - Using two Notebooks, Link to Page and Send to OneNote

We're just about finished here at the Park City Mathematics Institute (PCMI) and the afternoon professional development workshop creation process has only a few days left. The last big stage was actually this weekend when each group's work was sent out for an external review; those reviews have been coming in all weekend.
Using two OneNote Notebooks (one publicly readable but not editable and one for each group that they had complete control over) has worked extraordinarily well.  The participants can get at all the information that we present each day in the public NoteBook while at the same time they can read & write in their group NoteBook.
For the external review, participants had to supply their Facilitator Guide and a PowerPoint, along with any of the other handouts.  They've been building the Guide right inside of OneNote using a table to format the plan.  The PowerPoint, on the other hand, was created using the Office WebApp in OneDrive -- this allowed participants to work on the PowerPoint simultaneously and on the variety of devices they have (PCs, Macs and iPads).  They used the Word WebApp in OneDrive to make the handouts, again so that they could work collaboratively.

I had already created a "For Cal" section with pages for each miletone; they put an internal link to their Facilitator Guide Page in their own OneNote -- to do this, they Right-Click'ed the page name and chose COPY LINK TO PAGE and then pasted that link on their "W2 External Review" page.  It meant that I could just go to all their "W2 External Review" pages and click on the link and then copy the OneNote table directly into a new Word document to pass on to the Reviewer.  

For the PowerPoint, they created a Share Link in the PowerPoint WebApp and paste it into their Review Page.  Again, all I had to do was click on the link, their PowerPoint opened on the web and I could click Download to get a copy to send to their reviewer.

Now, I wish I could have use OneNote to distribute and collect the external reviews but I had a large number of reviewers and there was no guarantee they were ready or willing to work in a OneNote structure.  Yet.  Since OneNote worked so well this year with the participants, when we do the same thing next year, we'll ensure that the reviewers have had some experience with OneNote so that we can provide all of the content and have them put their comments directly into the pages.
In my "public" Notebook (we tend to just call them 'OneNotes' rather than Notebooks) I put the collection for each group so that the other groups could see what everyone else had done ... and it was easy for me to go back and refer to their work in its digital format.  Then copy the table from the OneNote page and paste it into a Word Document to send off to the external reviewers... no formatting issues at all even though they had embedded images inside the table.

The external reviewers then sent me back a variety of content -- some like using the Commenting inside Word, some just wrote a long email.  So that got put in the group's OneNote -- and here the SEND TO ONENOTE worked amazing.

Open up the document -- and the reviewers sent back both Word and PowerPoint files -- choose PRINT and then set the printer to Send to OneNote.... OneNote then pops up a Notebook selection and I tell it which Notebook and which Section I want to put it in.  It's also smart -- it knows which Section you had been working in and suggests it as the first choice.

As you can see from the image below, it puts in a printout of each Word page along with the comments along the right.
A little thing that was curious - in Word, the Reviewer's full name appeared in the comment but when it gets printed-out, only the reviewer's initials appear.

For those who sent an email, it was a simple copy-and-paste into a new page in the group's OneNote.  They now have access to all the reviewer's materials (some added comments to the handouts and PowerPoints as well).

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Excel Surveys

One of the activities in Reflecting on Practice today involved developing question stems that would promote math talk.  We wanted a quick and easy way of collecting the sample question stems each participant had created -- a survey lets us distribute the typing and simplifies the redistribution for tomorrow's task.

In the past we would have used GoogleDocs because it puts the responses into a spreadsheet for easy analysis and distribution.  But, since we've been using Microsoft OneNote extensively, the majority of the participants have managed to get a Microsoft account and have started to use the OneDrive Web Apps for Word, Excel & PowerPoint.  Alongside the web-versions of the desktop apps, OneDrive offers the Excel Survey tool and already participants have been playing with the opportunities.

It's relatively easy to get started.  Click on the CREATE button in your OneDrive and you'll get the opportunity to create an online survey, with the entries going directly into an Excel spreadsheet.

Now, this is not a tremendously sophisticated survey tool with conditional branching but in an academic setting, it works very well for data collection.  You can grab numbers, text/paragraph, date/time, yes/no or multiple choice from participants -- and it all gets put into an Excel spreadsheet, with the column headings as your question -- and the Excel WebApp lets you filter your response on line.

After you create your survey you can create a link to send to your participants; again, I use to provide a shortened, customized link that can then be shared with your participants.

You can also go in to the Excel WebApp and edit your survey in case you (as I did) made a spelling error on the survey or add another question.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A one-off OneNote Notebook for a specific PD session

Each day as part of the 3-week Park City Mathematics Institute (PCMI), we have a 75 minute session called "Reflecting on Practice".  We take the 60-or-so participants and break out into three smaller rooms of about 20 each, further subdividing them into 4 tables.

Each year we look at a teacher move and delve deeply into how and why.  This year's topic is "Discourse" or, more colloquially, "math talk".  In planning these sessions we have an obvious focus on good pedagogy - teachers learn by watching good models.  We are deliberate in our choices of how we have teachers collaborate, how they present their work and how they receive feedback.  Over the three weeks we try to showcase a variety of approaches and technologies.

Today's class asked participants to create a task with their partner that would specifically introduce a common error in the mathematics they taught (we run from Elementary through Secondary) and provide strategies for the teacher to deepen the conversation around the error.

Normally in an activity like this we would have used poster paper so that they could then put their tasks & strategies around the room and do a gallery walk, then bringing out themes and challenges that arise.  But, since we were asking teachers to create tasks for topics they would actually end up working on with students, we knew we wanted to keep and distribute them.  Teachers love to have a reservoir of good questions.

For this, we decided to use a shared OneNote Notebook on my OneDrive that would be visible across all three rooms. I created a Section for each Room (labelled with their facilitators' names) and then three pages for the three groups that may be at each table.  The partners would use a shortened address (I tend to use to get at the Notebook on any device and then put all of their content on their page.

As I mentioned on the earlier post, our participants have worked enough with OneNote now that they are very comfortable with the interface.  They brainstormed together on their devices using text; if they had a pen-based computer they included drawings and a few groups drew on paper and then snapped a picture with their smartphone and pasted the image in.  The facilitators watched as the tasks developed and tagged pages that would later be brought forward to individual rooms for discussion.

The feedback from using OneNote has been great; they have referred to it as an online whiteboard, an electronic notebook.  They have really liked the ability to be physically in one room while being able to see the content from another room - with poster paper, that's pretty much impossible.  They also now have access to the material when they get back to their home schools.

It would be nice that, after sharing an edit-anywhere link the owner of the Notebook could then "lock down" the Notebook after the exercise so that there's a snapshot that can't be changed.  I did download a OneNote package so that should any teacher accidentally remove content I can replace it.

I've use OneNote like this for conference sessions and it works really well to collect user content and feedback but it's usually limited to folks who are familiar with OneNote.  To use it with a group of now-experts has been a rewarding experience.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

How long does it take? Working with OneNote and the OneDrive WebApps

At Appleby College, we've been using Microsoft OneNote for a l.o.n.g time now ... and structured shared OneNote Binders for two full academic years now.  Folks often ask how much time it takes for teachers to get accustomed to working with OneNote and shared documents in general.  Since we have the advantage of a 1:1 tablet program and a background with the software, it's hard to be fair when describing how long it takes for teachers to become comfortable enough to use it in the classroom in front of students and to bend it to their pedagogical and administrative needs.

Well, we started using OneNote last week at the Park City Mathematics Institute (PCMI) to help with professional development creation.  Of the 50 or so participants, only a handful had used it before and for the vast majority it was brand new to them.  So far, they've spent 8 hours using OneNote and shared collaborative Word documents & PowerPoint presentations through OneDrive and the WebApp.  I can definitively say that 8 hours, using a series of practical activities that only tangentially required them to interact with and add to these applications rather than "training" is how long it takes -- people are already taking their own initiative and trying different things with the WebApps and determining when and how to use the desktop applications with shared files.  As well, people who have taken the additional step of using a pen within OneNote have commented on the power it provides them, in particular in a subject like mathematics.

There are a few issues with Macs but iPads (with all their limitations) are working fairly well although the browser implementation on the iPad does get a little wonky.

If you're planning on working with teachers through a PD course, at a conference or even in day-to-day school life, you should give OneNote and the OneDrive WebApps a try.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Teacher Professional Development and Microsoft OneNote

During the first three weeks of July, I have the amazing opportunity to work at the Park City Mathematics Institute.  It is, without exaggeration, the best professional development opportunity for teachers of mathematics.  Participants spend three weeks thinking deeply about mathematics and mathematics education.

There are three main aspects of PCMI:

  • learning mathematics
  • reflection on practice (RoP)
  • becoming a resource to others.
I'm part of the team for RoP and in charge of the third aspect, in which participants consider a gap in professional development back at their home districts and work in small groups to help fill that hole by developing a rich PD seminar on that topic.

It is not easy to develop professional development.  Teachers who haven't written PD have to patiently learn how to write (essentially) lesson plans for someone else.

This year, I used Microsoft OneNote to facilitate the process.  We have a central OneNote Notebook through which I lay out the daily schedule, supply all the resources, and provide access to the waypoints that each group creates.  The participants have full read access to everything but not write.  I would have liked to have had the deeper permissioning of Appleby College's OneNote Binder, but not having SharePoint meant I was only able to have group-level permissions.

I also created a OneNote Notebook for each group to work in. For each group Notebook I set up two sections, one for "Notes" and the other "For Cal" ... the former had a couple of blank pages already set up (so they could start brainstorming) as well as a page with our PD Facilitator Guide template -- they can collaboratively fill that in and then eventually copy & paste the table into Word for final editing.  The "For Cal" section had pages for all of their checkpoints set up in advance (they have to submit "homework" about every two days so that their progress can be review).  Having this dedicated dropbox area really helps with collecting the information when you want it.  I then just copy & paste the checkpoint pages into my group Notebook so now every group can see the other group's progress.  We felt we wanted to keep all the rough notes private.

Last year we used shared GoogleDocs for this process -- but fortunately, Microsoft rolled out OneNote for a variety of devices this spring.  And the OneNote web-app provides quick and easy access if the full application isn't available.  As they started their projects, OneNote was a nice collaborative brainstorming space. It then became a development space and resource library.  It's so quick & easy to just attach any kind of image, document, video.

The feedback from the participants has been excellent; many did not know of OneNote, including participants who came with Microsoft Surfaces or other Windows tablets.  The iPad app and web apps have helped to keep everyone up to date, and for PCMI support and administrative people it's been convenient to say "here's the link" and they can see what's developing day-by-day.

One caveat: ensure participants have a Microsoft Account before they arrived.  A few participants didn't do that and Microsoft has a daily limit of Microsoft Accounts from a particular network.