OneNote in Education eBook – Chapter 6: Independent Learning

Regular readers of this blog will have seen that over the last few weeks we have been gradually working through our new OneNote in Education eBook via a series of blogs covering the individual chapters.

Created with the help of #MIEExpert Emma Hicks, the eBook helps to give an overview of how OneNote can be used in your classroom, and having covered a number of topics earlier in this series, we have now arrived at the sixth chapter, which looks at using OneNote for independent learning.

The whole eBook has been embedded below and can also be found on SlideShare, and if you'd like to refer to any of the previous blogs in the series, they are listed below:

Chapter 1: What is OneNote?
Chapter 2: OneNote Class Notebook
Chapter 3: OneNote for collective learning
Chapter 4: Assessment for learning
Chapter 5: OneNote for peer assessment


Chapter 6: Independent Learning

Independent learning greatly benefits students, however as all teachers are aware the challenge lies in how to monitor the quality of the work without taking up too much valuable class time.

With OneNote students continue to enjoy the increased sense of control over their work that independent learning provides. Their notebook becomes their own space and unlike their exercise book, it is easy to keep neat! Unlike waving good bye to the student and their exercise book at the classroom door and devising ways to try and monitor the work in the next lesson, with OneNote when the students arrive for class, I am one step ahead and already up to date with the progress of their work.

As you can see in the eBook, each student can see their work develop with each draft due to the organised layout of pages. In this instance after reading the students work all that was required was a quick prompt to push the student towards higher thinking. I did not have to wait for the hand in date to see this in class. This meant that when they arrived at my lesson, less time was spent marking the work and more time was spent improving it, making the most out of the limited contact time that I have at my disposal.

Furthermore the little and often approach to marking independent learning actually considerably lessened the amount of time needed to mark the work at the final hand in date. The main reason for this is that all of my previous feedback has either been completed or is visible instantly and does not require me to re-read work.

Independent learning on OneNote fits into the students’ schedule as they can access it anywhere on a variety of devices that they find engaging. As OneNote enables you to insert media in a variety of ways students can store their work and research in exciting ways. For example if interviewing someone or wanting to make notes quickly then they can record their voice and insert it into their page as a dictation.

If working from the OneNote app students are not restricted to working in internet zones which gives them the freedom to contribute to their work whenever and wherever they feel inspired to do so (you may be surprised). In media studies I have been impressed by student submissions that included live but relevant events that they thought would help them. One example was a student who recorded a flash mob fashion show in a shopping mall on their phone, which they later analysed for a representation of ethnicity project.

Independent learning on OneNote ensures greater accountability over students work. There is no lost work and students take responsibility over their pages as the teacher can see not only every contribution made but when these are made. With the accessibility of OneNote both on and off line, students have no excuse not to complete tasks and cannot forget to submit work as the submission is automatic. In addition to this each student log in and submission is time and date logged and accessible to the teacher at all times.

OneNote is a highly effective revision tool. After each lesson I upload all lesson resources onto our OneNote shared page for students to revisit in the run up to exams or to collaborate their learning. The OneNote search bar allows students to independently locate any resources that they may need during revision. This can include PowerPoint slides, task materials and even other students work and feedback (if this has been made accessible by the teacher). As a teacher you soon get an idea of which students are being proactive in their revision.


In Chapter 7 we will explore how OneNote provides a platform that allows feedback to be quick, varied and engaging and is effective and visible throughout students work.

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