How I Use It
I use OneNote on a daily basis. By sharing Class Notebooks, I am able to directly provide my students with daily PowerPoints, readings, graphic organizers, and other supplementary materials to facilitate instruction. Students "ink" (with their stylus) directly into graphic organizers, and are able to share them with their classmates for a variety of applications. The most basic and easily transferrable activity is using the Notebook to journal, annotate digital text, and respond to a variety of writing prompts. This allows for easy interaction between student and teacher, and for savvy students, allows them to more easily share their writing for comments by their colleagues. Using the Collaboration Space, I can create digital learning stations and small-group activities that the whole class is then able to fully access, making the sharing component of Jigsaw activities (for instance) even more effective. Similarly, students are able to collaborate - in real time - on concept maps, so that while one student is exploring definitions, another researches examples, and another creates a visual representation. Using the collaboration space for a whole-class brainstorm did not work as well due to norming and behavior management. Given the amount of freedom students are afforded, whole-class work in the collaboration spaces needs to have strict guidelines and requires a reasonable amount of practice in order to be fully effective, but the possibilities inherent in this type of collaborative space is exciting.
I think OneNote Notebooks - and the extension to Class Notebooks - is a fantastic learning tool that facilitates 21st century learning very well. The variety of ways the Notebooks can be used - from sharing content to creating presentations to brainstorming and collaborating - allows students to grow within the context of the OneNote notebook and not become quickly bored. It is certainly not a niche product. It allows for enough personalization and individualization that it can serve most academic subjects and learning fields. It could serve both students and teachers better by being a bit more user friendly in terms of finding and accessing available tools, although it is certainly more user friendly when compared to earlier Microsoft Office applications. This is a great tool that I look forward to learning more and more about.