Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Thoughts on Google versus Office

This was a recent question posted amongst school educators
G suite versus Office 365. Thoughts?
Since I wrote a fair bit, I thought I'd also post it here:

If people are learning with a modern pen-based tablet pc, or are learning math, science, or languages outside of the QWERTY keyboard, then it is Office365 specifically because of Microsoft OneNote. There is nothing in the Google Suite that provides a 360 degree flexible, open digital learning environment. However, that flexibility & openness does require a bit more work on training for novices (and some handholding for those teachers who aim pedagogically for a, umm, less-than-21st century and/or paperless classroom) . I cannot teach without it, and its use has improved instruction and assessment school wide.

I have experienced that Google Classroom is really good at structured (and perhaps inflexible) document management, given its genesis on top of Google Drive. Teachers also seem dependent on a collection of 3rd party apps/plugins that extend functionality to the Google system; Microsoft tends to build that extension by themselves (likely since it's a smaller part of the market).

Now, if you're only running Chromebooks then maybe it makes sense to go with Google, but iPads are becoming pen-active.

I would also say that in the past 18 months Microsoft got its stuff together in terms of the rest of the package. OneDrive (their cloud based storage) now actually works and the online versions of the Office suite are better than their GDocs options (not to mention that you can pull them into desktop versions for more functionality). Microsoft's other apps in Office365 all bring something new, different and powerful to the table (Sway, PowerBI, Yammer) or lack some features of their Google alternatives but are quite functional (Forms, Video, Group, Planner). Having said that, the latter group are also under aggressive development, with considerable improvements every four months. Forms isn't even a year old and already it's nipping at the heels of Google Forms.

And then finally (since I could likely write considerably more) there is Delve, the Office365 intelligence, something completely missing in Google. Given the massive amounts of information in the cloud, Delve sorts through it all and presents it to you prioritized. I work with Google for several other projects outside the school and get frustrated trying to search for materials in 100G and ten years; Delve proactively surfaces materials for me from across the school often before I realize I need it. And it's completely individualized, so students get their upcoming assignments and critical dates automatically highlighted while teachers get report deadlines and policy documents, for example. It is also beginning to be able to offer feedback on how people use the technology in order to be more efficient, productive and healthy.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

OneNotes upon OneNotes...

We're just prepping for the start of the school year (we don't start teaching until the 12th) and I just thought I'd run through how enmeshed Microsoft OneNote is to our school.

1) Class OneNotes -- this is where it all started five years ago, so we have over 2500 Class Notebooks in our archive.  Each year, we run a script against our timetable and a Class Notebook is created for every class, with a Teacher Content Library section group (including a private planning space), a Group Collaboration Space section group (with a wide-open collaborative space along with the opportunity to add additional small-group spaces at the teacher's whim), and a section group for each student (with appropriate student assignment dropbox, private teacher marking space and a returned section which the student can't edit for marked work.  This is all spelt out here here and here.

But then there are all the other places we use OneNote that I thought we should mention.

2) Department OneNote
Every department has a OneNote -- it helps streamline the management of all the information that gets distributed both up from the teachers to the administration and vice-versa.  Curriculum, assessments, exams - everything about every course gets put into the Department OneNote so that if you don't know what's gong on, a quick search will show you.  What's awesome is that this is all available on our phones, too, so we can check up on policies and duedates anywhere!
The example below is from our Visual & Performing Arts Department - you can see along the left hand side all the sections over the past few years.  Well, not all, because it actually goes back to 2012!  And I love, absolutely love, that the very first section is a list of suggested Netflix shows with reviews from Arts faculty.  We encourage our faculty to use the tools for personal use, because there's a great symbiosis of skills development.

3) Advisor Group OneNote &
4) School Directors' OneNote (aka Principals' OneNote)
Our school has a large pastoral program - each teacher is assigned 8 or so students who they track from Grades 9 through 12.  It's an incredible thing to meet your students as they enter Grade 9 and then watch them grow and graduate in Grade 12.  Their academics, their extracurriculars, their social development, we try to capture evidence of all this.  Each week we meet to see how life is going and the teachers and students track their progress in the Group's OneNote, which is just a Class Notebook with sections aligned to the Advisor Program (goal setting, accomplishments, reflections, etc.)  This Notebook is active for all four years of their high school career so they have a complete record of things that went on outside the classroom.
To manage all this, there's a Staff OneNote Notebook where the School Directors (grade level principals, basically) are the "teachers" and each of the Advisor Group faculty is a "student".  This is the space for the principals to deliver content and have a space for collection of student info from each Advisor group.  As well, we add the community oriented directors (Morals & Ethics, Inclusivity, Social/Emotional) and Guidance staff so that the entire student-life is included.

5) Guidance OneNote
As a university preparatory school, our Guidance department is active from Grade 7 in finding out the interests and goals for each of our students.  To maintain continuity, we have a Class Notebook that contains all the students of each grade that they use for their Guidance class, with several Guidance teachers co-owning the Notebook.  This way, the students and Guidance can keep looking back on what their earlier thoughts were.  They also use it, in conjunction with the Advisor OneNote, to keep track of all of their accomplishments to record in their university applications.

6) Duke of Edinburgh OneNote
Another longitudinal Class Notebook, since the Duke of Edinburgh program runs the length of high school, and beyond in fact.  The DofE, as it's known, is an external award that highlights to students the benefits of "Service, Skill Development, Physical Recreation [and] Adventurous Journey."  But since it's an actual award, each of the students must be tracked by our DofE administrator to verify that they've completed all the steps for each of the three different levels of awards.  This is all done via a OneNote Class Notebook they have for each grade that the student continues to add content to.  The administrator then drags it into the student's "_R" section (read only for the student) so that the student doesn't muck it up and lose/edit something that's been confirmed.  For a very information-dense process, the OneNote has made it manageable.

7) Presentations of Learning OneNote
In Grade 8, our students spend all year reflecting on their progress from Grade 7 to Grade 8 and complete their year by giving a ~20 minute presentation on why they're ready for high school.  They meet regularly with a mentor preparing for this presentation, collecting content and practising their presentation skills.  To make things easier for this review process, we set up a OneNote just like it's a regular "class" but where all of the teachers & mentors can participate in the individual student spaces.

8) Service Trip OneNote
We send out about 1/3 of our 750-strong student body on international service trips, from Peru to Vietnam to South Africa.  Each trip is given a OneNote to provide all the preparatory planning material, all the travel information and to keep things up to date as the travel progresses.

9) PLC OneNotes
Every Monday morning our faculty meet for an hour in a self-selected Personal Learning Community group.  Of course, we use a class OneNote where the faculty can participate!

And there's lot more OneNotes running around campus.  I was surprised two years ago to find that our Medical Centre (we have two doctors and a cadre of nurses for our boarding students) have started to use OneNote internally.  Our Admissions, Advancement and HR are also starting to use them to track information - mostly because they interact with teachers with whom OneNote is deeply embedded.

I've been working on a series of OneNote Class Notebook blog posts for the 2016/17 school year: 

Creating your first OneNote Class Notebook
The first page of your Class Notebook
Putting content in your Class Notebook
--- this post
Distributing content in your Class Notebook (the video)
Facilitating Feedback in OneNote (Review Student Work)

Monday, August 29, 2016

So you want to hack your OneNote Class Notebook

Taking a brief break from my "Getting Started with OneNote Class Notebook" series (you can start that one here)...

This is a little advanced so if you're not comfortable setting permissions inside of Office365 you may want to avoid this.  Or set up a Class Notebook to play with so that it doesn't affect any existing Class Notebooks.  Yeah, the latter is a good option.

One of the great powers of OneNote is that you can do some really neat permissioning of the Section Tabs. When the Notebook is created, of course, it gives you an "open permissions" on the Collaboration Space and student-read-only on the Content Library.  And then each student space is wide open to each individual student.

But we've found that occasionally you want to mix up the permissions a little.  For example, you could create a space in a student section for your private notes that the student couldn't see, or maybe you want a tab in the Collaboration Space that students couldn't edit.

Here's how you do that:

Go to your OneDrive for Business and go into the Class Notebooks folder.

The URL will look like this:

Click on the far right of the URL and get rid of everything up to the Class+Notebooks

Now, type %2f and the name of your Class Notebook.  Since my Class Notebooks is named "MPM2D-2 2016" it means I have to type MPM2D-2%202016 and I get:

When you press ENTER you should now see the exploded version of your Class Notebook.

Notice that each Section Group is a Folder and each Section is File (ignore the "Open Notebook" file).
So if I go into _Collaboration Space you'll notice I have a Section called "Just Briana and Peter" ... right now, though, anybody could go in there.  We're going to make it just Briana and Peter...
Click on the selection button to the left of Just Briana & Peter and then click on the SHARE button along the top ribbon.  You'll get a popup window appearing
Click on the SHARED WITH option and then click on ADVANCED

You'll now see the permission on this section.  We want to "Stop Inheriting Permissions" because the Collaboration Space says everyone can contribute to it (and the teacher, me, has Full Control, which is why I can do this).  So click the Stop Inheriting Permissions button ... you'll get a warning about doing this, but go ahead.

Now, you have the ability to select students... so select the students that aren't Briana and Peter as I've done and then click on REMOVE.  They will disappear from the list and will no longer even see that there's a tab called Briana and Peter!

You can always go back into the permissions and re-inherit permission and it will become public again.

Let me know what you use this for!
And Microsoft has the habit of changing approaches so should this change I'll update the post.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Facilitating Feedback in OneNote

When we were creating the precursor to the OneNote Class Notebook, I was heavily influenced (well, I still am) by the work of Black & Wiliam and so improving the quality and quantity of formative assessment is cooked right into the Notebooks.  Likely the whole reason the Class Notebook exists in  its present structure in the first place is because of quotes like this from "Inside the Black Box":
Feedback to any pupil should be about the particular qualities of his or her work, with advice on what he or she can do to improve, and should avoid comparisons with other pupils. (Black & Wiliam, p.6)
And so we have a private area for the student to do all of their work that only they and their teacher can see, and in which the teacher is easily able to provide feedback in written, typed, pictorial, audio or video formats at any time.

Microsoft went a step further with their Class Notebook AddIn to make the process a lot easier.

Let's say you distributed one question to each of your students (How do you do that in 3 clicks?  Check here). So each student has a copy that they can work on in their private area.  Now you want to provide feedback on their work.  So I put the page with my question in each of the students' Unit 1 tab - so each student has a "Question 1" page in their Unit 1 tab (that's the power of Distribute Page).  They work on it.  Now, since OneNote syncs continually, I can actually watch their work progress -- but let's say I've designed this as their exit ticket and so I'm looking at them all outside of class.

You could click through to each student section, click into the right unit section and then click down to the page, then go back out to the next student section & so on & so on.  Workable, but not practicable.

Instead, go to the Class Notebook Ribbon and click on the Review Student Work button.  As before, OneNote is smart and knows which sections each of your students have.

We want Unit 1, so we click on that. We now get a floating popup "Review Student Work" listing all of the material in the students' Unit 1.  From the options, we choose which of the pages in Unit 1 we want to look at.  Our page was titled "Question 1" so when we expand that page, we see all the students we can assess.

Click on Briana's name and we automatically jump to Briana's Question 1 page.  We can give feedback by writing or typing or using the Audio/Video tools on the Insert ribbon.  Once we're done with Briana, we can click on Peter's name (the window keeps floating) and we jump right to Peter's Question 1 Page.  Because everything is stored in OneNote, there's no opening or closing of files, there's no emailing of comments -- all your feedback is exactly with the student work for them to see in context -- and you can deepen the comments by using audio or video right on the page.
Student solutions courtesty of Dekker & Querrelle, 2002, the orgin of the Quarter the Cross problem.

Remember you can do this quick-page switching while in class while they're working, since student content is always syncing between your and their computers.  This way, you can ask Stephen if you can project his solution to the class to have him explain and quickly jump to his page to enter into a discussion.

Feedback is one of the most critical, most effective and most often ignored steps in learning, and the Class Notebook and Tool makes it a lot easier for teachers to give rich and meaningful feedback easily.  Since OneNote is available on any device and can work offline, teachers can give students the comments they need when the teacher is available -- they're not tied to a device or access to the internet.

So far we've done:
Creating your first OneNote Class Notebook
The first page of your Class Notebook
Putting content in your Class Notebook
Distributing content in your Class Notebook (the video)
--- this post

Distributing content in your Class Notebook (the video)

In the previous post Distributing content in your Class Notebook, I went through the steps of distributing a page to each of my students (effectively handing out what I wanted them to look at).  What's nice is that it doesn't involve any email - everything stays captured within OneNote.
It's sometimes easier to see that in action, so here's a screen recording of that process, first creating a new section in each of my students' areas (calling it Unit 1) and then putting a copy of the problem to work on in each of their Unit 1s.

So far we've done:
Creating your first OneNote Class Notebook
The first page of your Class Notebook
Putting content in your Class Notebook
--- this post
Facilitating Feedback in OneNote (Review Student Work)

Giving content to students

Regardless of your teaching style, you're going to want to provide students with content - articles to read, worksheets to practice, diagrams to explore, maps to color, etc.  While OneNote allows the students complete freedom in constructing content within their own space, you as the teacher will want to give them things to work on or at least consider.  That's the topic for today -- "handing out".

For me, anything I hand out first gets stored in the Content Library - I want to be able to place the material in the right section and in the right page order to give it context to a student looking over the totality of the course.  If it's differentiated (i.e. not every student gets the same thing) we can use subpages, color or tags to provide that information to the student.  And this is personal and not policy, I always want to make sure that every student has access to the full breadth of content regardless of where they may be working and provide a structure that makes it meaningful when they're home alone.

First things first -- we need to add some capability to OneNote.  Remember, OneNote is a general purpose note-taking tool.  Architects, lawyers, doctors, police -- everyone uses it for their own reasons but teachers have particular needs.  That's where the Class Notebook AddIn fits.

Visit and download the Tool.  Close any open OneNote and run the install. If you're Mac, just update your OneNote.

When you restart OneNote, you now have a new ribbon along the top.  It's broken in two five sections (colors added by me):
Content (yellow, the topic de jour)  - this is how we will easily "push" as much content as we want to as many students as we desire
Review (orange) - the reason why we use OneNote in the first place -- how to easily provide feedback to students
Manage (purple) - these buttons just send you back to the Main Menu on the web we ran into when we first set up the Notebook.  When you press one of these, your default browser will open and you'll be able to quickly add students, coteachers or even create a whole new ClassNotebook (this can be convenient if you have a long-term project with a smaller group of students)
Connections to LMSs (green) - you can actually sync students & assessment data with your LMS, if supported!  I'm assuming you're not yet connected but it you are, it can be convenient.
Resources - Microsoft help & support.  They have been very responsive to teacher input and so you are strongly encouraged to provide feedback, a lot and often!  Seriously - we've floated suggestions to them and within a week there's an update to the Tool.
And... an Update button can show up!  Updates happen quite often so if you see the Update button appear, press it.

We're only concerned about pushing content out to students today, so let's do that.  You can push content out from anywhere in any of your OneNotes (the page doesn't have to be in your Content Library) but for the sake of this description, and to get used to putting things there, that's what we'll do.  You can push it out from a personal OneNote, a department OneNote or another Class Notebook. The idea is that information can come from anywhere but can still get to the student.

Last time, I used Insert Printout to put my Course Information Sheet into my Content Library.  I'm going to distribute that to all of my students (since they would normally receive a paper copy).  So I click into my Content Library and then click on the Course Information Sheet.
Go to the Class Notebook ribbon and click on Distribute Page (1).

Now, the OneNote tool is smart -- it knows which Sections the students already have (remember, I set up an A, R and Unit 0 section when I first created the Notebook).  So, all I have to do is select the Unit 0 option and every student will get a copy of the Course Information sheet page in their Unit 0 section automagically.  That's it, done!  Handing out has never been easier.  And students don't have to open anything, they don't have to download or log in -- the page appears in their OneNote.  OneNote does bold the Unit 0 and Page name to indicate to the student where there is new material.

You get additional options, too -- you can distribute to individual students, choose several random students (the pop up on the left), or set up groups (pop up on the right) for when you've created different arrangments of your class (as a math teacher, I will often have students working on different topics at different times - and this can be fluid so I can change these groups at will).

One of the suggestions we made was to make the buttons on the Content portion to be available on the right-click menu, and sure enough, if you right-click a page (or several pages) you'll notice you have the option to send those pages to the students without having to go to the ribbon.  I use OfficeLens on my phone (Android & iPhone/iPad) and the OneNote Web Clipper on Chrome & Edge to grab a lot of content (oh, that's a cool picture to discuss in class! or oh, I'm stealing that idea she just posted!, etc) -- it goes into my personal OneNote for review, but I can push things out to students from there with a simple right-click.  Any time we can reduce the number of clicks, we save time for the teacher to be doing the really important part of teaching, which is giving feedback.  And that's our next topic...

So far we've done:
Creating your first OneNote Class Notebook
The first page of your Class Notebook
Putting content in your Class Notebook
--- this post
Distributing content in your Class Notebook (the video)
Facilitating Feedback in OneNote (Review Student Work)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Getting things ready for students in your OneNote

So far we've created a Class Notebook *link* and made the first page our own *link*.  Now we're going to provide some content for the students.

The _Content Library is where all YOUR stuff goes; it's the Teacher space.  We used to have to photocopy material we wanted to give to students.  And then, for students who weren't present or who lost theirs, we used to have binders at the front of the room, file folders or those little plastic boxes to hold extras.  Now, we just put one copy in the Content Library and send it out to the Students -- if they destroy their copy, or just want another copy to work on, they can always grab another copy from the Content Library (since they can't change anything in the Content Library, when they pull a sheet out, they're only grabbing a copy).

So... in your _Content Library, clear out all the material that Microsoft has put in and create your first tab.  Right-click the "Getting Started" tab and choose Delete and then click on the PLUS sign and add your first section.  I called mine "Course Info" -- I'll put my course information sheet, contact information , office hours, textbook, etc. in there.

Now, I already wrote my Course Information sheet in Word (our school provides us with a template to fill in).  I am NOT going to copy & paste it into OneNote.  Instead, I'm going to use the "Insert Printout" to get an exact copy of what's in Word, as if I handed them it on paper.

So, go to the INSERT ribbon and choose FILE PRINTOUT (that would be the "1") ... you'll get a pop-up window asking you to find the file.  Once you select the file and click INSERT, it'll take a few seconds and then (2) the page will be renamed with the filename and (3) a copy of the actual file will be embedded in the page (so if you or the student double-clicked on the Word icon, it would open it up in Word) and (4) a printout of all the pages in the file will appear.  Since OneNote pages go on forever, regardless of how long the document is, you'll just get page after page (there is an option in Settings to put actual pages on different OneNote pages but that's seldom what you want).  You can add comments to the printout by using your pen (5), highlighting (6) or typing (7).  Since this is a printout, you can't change what's actually on the "page" -- which can be a good thing if this is a fill-in for students!

For the record, Insert Printout is the best way to use material you already have in Word, PowerPoint, PDF or other formats.  It gives the students an exact representation of what they would have received on paper.  Of course, when you have more time, you can re-create it in the free space of OneNote but remember, use your time wisely -- it's likely more effective to spend time giving them feedback than worrying about what things look like.

Now, you can go ahead and add more pages to this section, as many as you'd like in fact.  We've found it good practice to not add more pages than fit on a regular computer screen (so maybe 20-25 pages).  You can organize your pages into sub-pages (right-click the name of the page on the far right and choose "Make Subpage") but again, if you get too many, it isn't helpful.

Here's an example below... the teacher's first section "Course Foundations" is all about the course, she's printed out the Course Information sheet and then added pages & sub-pages to give other important course tidbits.  Her next section is the "Diagnostic" they start the course with, then the next tab is the first book they read, "The Things They Carried", and so on.

So, you can break your content up into logical sections.  How you do that is up to you, based on your course.  I thought I'd provide a few images from the top of our teachers' OneNotes after they're done a complete year showing all the tabs (sections) that they've used.  Think of these as the Hilroy binder separators that we used to use when we had paper.  These are high school courses but do notice the variety of approaches.

This first one is mine.  Now, I'm a mathematics teacher, so I tend to build my course linearly, starting with Unit 0 and working slowly to the Exam.
 This next one is French -- it's one of the few that work thematically, so they build across Ressources, Vocabulaire and Lecons on any given day rather than building on one unit and then moving to the next.

The next few are from English, Social Science and Chemistry courses -- they seem to work like Math in that they work on a piece of writing and then move on to the next.

This last one is from Music.  Like French, it is built across several tabs at a time and on any given day, students may be working in different sections.

So far we've done:
Creating your first OneNote Class Notebook
The first page of your Class Notebook
Putting content in your Class Notebook (this post)
Giving content to students
Distributing content in your Class Notebook (the video)
Facilitating Feedback in OneNote (Review Student Work)

Page One of your OneNote Class Notebook

So when OneNote Class Notebook was first designed, it was put together by teachers from several subject areas, each with different approaches to classroom, content and assessment processes.  OneNote was chosen specifically because it allowed teachers to maintain their digital spaces in the same way-- it's open, responsive and yet provides enough structure to prevent getting lost.

The first step when you open your Notebook is to get rid of all the debris -- Microsoft provides a lot of material to help you work with OneNote.  Read it through and then get rid of it before anyone else sees it.  Like your classroom, you want to make it your own space.  Right-Click the pages on the right and Delete them all.  Add a fresh new page instead.

You want your first page of the Notebook to welcome your students to the course, provide information on both the course & you, and give next steps on where to go.  Remember, they only see three tabs across the top -- the Collaboration Space (everyone), Content Library (read only) and their space (not shown in the picture above as I haven't added any students yet).  So when they go to the Notebook, let them know it's your classroom's digital space!

Having said that, what we did at our school was standardized a Course Plan page as the first page in the Notebook, but then, everyone at our school uses OneNote in their classes.

So below are a few examples of Course Plans - what's nice is that it's in a table so it resembles a Calendar and the structures helps to build the narrative of the course, the HW expected of the student is highlighted and a number of teachers provide hyperlinks to documents, webpages or pages within the OneNote (you can do that!) to help students find things.  And teachers make it their own through color coding and use of images - and in the last example, the teacher was using "tagging" of content to differentiate between formative & summative assessment.

This last example is not from our school but was posted on Twitter by @LemarrTreadwell ... it's quite pretty, but then he's a 4th Grade teacher :)  The blurred out area is all of his contact information (a great idea!)
If you're using OneNote Class Notebook in your school, tweet out a picture of your first page!  I'll collect more as I see them come across.  Remember to tag them with #OneNote.

Start a new year with OneNote

I think one of the biggest strengths of the OneNote Class Notebook was that it was started in the classroom and designed, from the bottom up, by classroom teachers in their classrooms.  Even after Microsoft took it on and began adding to its functionality, they have kept teachers very close to the developers and each addition goes through rigourous testing by real classrooms around the world.

So how can you get started?  First, you need an Office365 account.  Now, you may already have one for free from your school but if not, an individual teacher can get one on their own -- no administration needed!  Visit and click on the link "Sign up for a free Office365 Account"  (it will let you know if you already have one if you try to sign up for another one).  Use your School email to sign up for the account.

Now that you have your Office365 account tied to your school email, head back to the first screen at and click on CLASS NOTEBOOK SIGN IN.  The fun begins!

Before you start, you should have the email of at least one of your students - although you can start with a completely no-student notebook if you want.  You can add (or subtract) students at any time from a OneNote so don't worry if your classes are still changing.  They really only need the email to ensure during setup that only they have access to their work -- it's not needed to submit HW or take notes.  Everything in your class will now happen inside of OneNote -- you'll never return to email or files or folders or dropboxes or any of that 1990s era nonsense.

After you sign in, you'll get the main menu for setup. We only visit here to create or change the structure of the OneNote.  Again, almost all of our work is done inside of OneNote once we set it up the first time.


There are seven steps.  Well, only really 4 but seven things you click through.  
1.  Give the Notebook a name.  Hint. Include the course code, section & year! Don't worry about the name, like Mathematics or Physical Geography.  Inside of OneNote you can give it a long name but for administration, use the code!  You'll have another Notebook next year/term and will want to be able to easily tell them apart.  So for me, I have MPM2D-2 2016 instead of Grade 10 Mathematics Section 2 2016/2017.  Less is more.  Put your own name in and click NEXT.

2.  See, the next screen doesn't have you do anything -- it just lets you know that the Notebook is broken up into three main sections: Collaboration (everybody can do anything), Content (the teacher can edit, the students can only read/copy) and the individual student sections.  Click NEXT.
3. This screen asks for any co-teachers.  But it could also be a Head of Department, Mentor, or some one who teaches the same class, or even just a critical friend who you want to have access to your materials.  This is also change-able any time during the school year, so if you are going to be away for a week, you can add a teacher into the Notebook and they'll see everything you've done with the students.  At this point, you'll likely click NEXT ... or add a friend who'd like to see what OneNote is all about!

4. Now we add the students.  I find it easiest to have an Excel spreadsheet with all of their emails.  Add another column fillled with semicolons and then copy/paste from Excel into the box.  You can type them manually AND you can always add students later so this is something you can do in class (set them some work while you add their emails that you just collected).

5. The last thing is to decide which sections you want in each student section group.  Since you can always add more sections later, don't worry too much about this.  Hint: I would turn all of the suggestions OFF and add three sections: one called "_A" (where they will put any document they want you to look at), one called "_R" (where YOU will put any document you're returning to them) and then "Unit 0" (which is where all the administrivia of the course will go).  Everything after that you can push out during class or the students can create on their own.  Why the Underscores ( _ ) on the first two?  So they always appear at the front of the section :)

 6.  And the last screen shows you the overview.  Go ahead and click NEXT and boom!  Emails get sent to you and to the students you listed with the link to the Notebook.

Because OneNote is cross platform, the link always opens up on the Web ... but if you have OneNote installed on your device, you can click on the EDIT IN ONENOTE button and it will connect to your device and will sync from that
point on.  But it's nice to know that you can always get at your notes from any device.  As I always say, I can throw my laptop into the lake and pick up another device and keep learning.  It helps my school is on a lake, so the same thought may not work for you.

All you have to do is add content to the pages in the Content Library and every student can see it.  Anything the student puts in their section, you can see and give feedback on.  And you can all work together in the Collaboration Space.

Remember you can always go back to to add teachers, students or make structural changes to the Notebook, like adding a private teacher section.  But that's for another post.
And, you can make as many Notebooks as you want.  Have one for your school club, your sports team or your teacher PLC group!

Hint: Have your Head of Department create a Class Notebook with them as "teacher" and all of the members of the department as "students".  Use the Collaboration Space to develop course content and work through pedagogical questions while the HoD uses the Content Libray for administrative purposes and each teacher uses their section to work on professional learning.  Remember to include the year in the Name of the notebook for year-over-year!

This is the first post in a series showing how to setup & use OneNote Class Notebooks

So far we've done:
Creating your first OneNote Class Notebook (this post)
The first page of your Class Notebook
Putting content in your Class Notebook
Giving content to students
Distributing content in your Class Notebook (the video)
Facilitating Feedback in OneNote (Review Student Work)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Defying gravity

Andrew Campbell always encourages me to think about things, no less this time an utterance I boldly share from his Facebook timeline.
Prediction: Your TL will be full of reaction to the horror of the shooting in #Orlando insisting things must change. Nothing will change
Andrew, you're wrong. 
And you have to be wrong.
No, we're not going to get a rational approach to gun ownership in the US, no we're not going to remember that personal choice in religion stops at the end of your pew or prayer mat, or that engaging in political hate is any better than any kind of hate.
But I'll give you one change, Andrew.
I'm moving "gay" from the last in the list of descriptors to the first.  I always thought that being a learner, a teacher, a mathematician, a motorcyclist, a Canadian, an auxiliary Constable came before defining myself by who I chose to love.
But these fifty people were killed because of exactly that.  Now,  they were likely not going to be mistaken for living the kind of "gay" life that I enjoy ... They were enjoying what most people associate with being gay and where I utterly fail ...  Loud and expressive, dancing to music I've never cared for, worrying what they wore, gossiping about celebrity.  They were likely fabulous -  the gays the media celebrate, not the quiet, invisible gay that disappear into the heterosexual majority. But they were also learners, had jobs, helped others, had people care about them, and cared about others. But being gay was enough to kill them.
So I'm putting gay first.  And I'm going to work on fabulous. We lost fifty lives full of fabulous and I'm going to do my best to make it up to them, and for them.  I was once told by an administrator to keep my gay under wraps at school, that it was only for my personal expression on the weekend (like all my heterosexual colleagues do).  But in accepting that request, I did a disservice to my students and my community, I failed as a learner and teacher. By not clearly expressing who I am, I allow everyone off the hook...  They don't have to confront their homophobia, their fears, their assumptions and their prejudices.
This is career limiting and this puts me in peril in half of the countries of the world; this means people judge my statements and my actions on anything through a pink lens. So be it. 
You can choose your religion, you can choose your political ideology, you can choose what you say or do, but baby, I was born this way.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Why Google Apps Must Needs Die

There are two pillars in the education sector right now, Google and Microsoft.  Google has Google Appsfor Education which is made up of Google Drive (a file system), Google Docs, and a variety of other applications that work relatively well together.  Microsoft, on the other hand, has OneNote Class Notebook along with the rest of the Office suite, OneDrive (a file system) that also work relatively well together.

There is, however, an important distinction between the two.  Google Apps, with Google Drive & Docs at its core, is the last, desperate breath of the GutenbergParenthesis… the final phase of the (relatively) brief time in human history where knowledge, information, imagination, thought and creativity were held subservient to the linear progress of typeprint.  
Google Apps, tied to the discrete structure of the Drive and the typewriter-environment of Docs, keeps the students locked into the workspace of the earliest type-setters, albeit in a digital space.  There have been improvements in productivity and collaboration, but the cursor blinks relentlessly at the top of the page and moves in lines across and down the page. 
GoogleDocs purports to be digital but it remains stuck in the text-space of Gutenburg.  You can click around once you’ve added content but inexorably you return to the line.  Teachers create worksheets that students dutifully fill out in lockstep with the rigid margins and tabs on the page.  Their world, made up of point size, indents and carriage returns.  Students can work in the space together, but only by the Rules.

I contrast this with what happened before Gutenberg and what happens now with Microsoft OneNote.  Before Gutenberg, it was an oral history, there was communication steeped in performance, what text there was, was written by hand –and a personalized hand that reflected the writer and their intent --  text was illuminated with hand-drawn images in whatever space remained.  The sand, the slate, the cave wall was open to any initial input – and went on practically forever in all four directions.

Freedom of movement within the space they worked with, zooming in between or zooming out beyond, layering of ink onto ink, sketch on sketch, building ideas up.  While Gutenberg provided us a way to capture information and record fiction, he did also bind us to a sterile, rigid page; a Cartesian prison.  
Microsoft OneNote, although it uses the “page” as a naming convention, breaks through the Parenthesis by allowing the same vigorous freedom as the cave wall with the obvious digital advancement of images, audio, video, hyperlinks and any other modern content all within its own space, no additional apps needed.  Our students, like our ancestors once could, can place their pen anywhere on the page and begin to express their passions; they can spiral out or zigzag backwards.  They can write letters, scrawl equations, draw pictures, chart maps, inscribe their thoughts in a rainbow of colour, in broad slashes or narrow curves.  They can connect images with video, annotate graphs with arrows to written description, reflect on the contents of a PDF with scribbles of approval or disgust.   All in the same space without leaving to find another app.

And yes, they can type text in Microsoft OneNote. But text that is free from the top left of the page from its inception – at its core, the OneNote Page is designed by the student, not the man who pours the red ink in the Hilroy factory.  Or, more on point, the programmer at Google who decided the rate of the cursor flash.  Our students return to the flexibility their ancestors had meant to bequeath them, interrupted by 500 years of Gutenberg iron rule.

So, to move into the modern era, Google Apps will have to evolve away from the text it languishes in, or die.  The future, like the past, is written with the stroke of the pen, not the clack of the keys.  The students should live in a dynamic space, not dependent on the boxed letters caught in a QWERTY grid set before the student but rather free to write, sketch, doodle and design their learning through a natural extension of their hand.