Saturday, August 22, 2009

I first found Microsoft OneNote on the first laptop I bought, just about 10 years ago. I used it a bit then, but truly fell in love with the program when I started using it with my Tablet PC. One of my most favorite things about OneNote is that it autosaves while you are working. This has been a lifesaving feature in the classroom. At least 3 times last semester, I accidentally hit the power button on my tablet, and restarted the computer in the middle of teaching a class. Now I did have to stall a bit while waiting for the computer to restart, but when I opened OneNote back up, I had only lost maybe the last 60 seconds of my work. Now that is cool!

I also love that I can copy information from anywhere and store it in OneNote. When you copy and paste into OneNote, you will also get a link showing where that information was copied from. This is great if you are researching and collecting ideas from the web, but forgot where you found that awesome thought in your surfing. I like to be able to go back to a website and see if they have any other ideas I might like. It can also be great when you need to cite your references. The paste function puts it right there with the stuff you copied.

You also have an option to print documents to OneNote. This is how I get my "handouts" into OneNote before presenting a lesson in class. I then write all over that document in OneNote just like my students are writing on their copies.

OneNote functions like a 3-ring-binder, but you don't have to have paper or worry about hole punching. This image shows the logic in how OneNote is setup:

I store EVERYTHING in OneNote. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but I do have loads of information in my OneNote notebooks.
  • For school, I have a separate notebook for each class section.
  • I transfer past semesters from their notebook into my Past Semesters notebook, so I can always look back a what was done in class.
  • I put receipts in another notebook. Remember, you can print to OneNote? Anytime I make an online purchase, I print the receipt to this notebook. I have a copy that can be printed out on paper if needed, and if not I haven't wasted any paper.
  • I have another notebook where I take notes in various meeting at school (department, division, committee, etc...)
  • There is another notebook for conferences. I take my tablet with me to conferences now and take my notes on the tablet in OneNote.
With so much information in my notebooks, sometimes I forget where I put something. No need to fear, there is a wonderful search function. Search for a word and it will look in every notebook, not just in the typed text! It can search for text in images, in your inked work, in audio files that you have recorded in OneNote, basically everywhere!

OneNote notebooks can be shared on multiple computers. The way I use this mostly is that I store my notebooks on a USB flash drive. Once I have opened a notebook from the thumb drive, OneNote creates a backup copy on that computer. Any changes made will be synced back to the original the next time I plug in my USB flash drive. I make sure to do this after I leave school and then when I want to work on my personal Tablet PC, I plug in the USB flash drive. The school changes are then synced to my personal copy at home. Any changes I make here are synced to the drive and back at school once I plug it in there. There are ways to do this online as well, though I haven't tried them out yet.

There is a built in screen-clipping function that comes with OneNote. Just press the Windows key and S and it activates it. Clip what you want and use it, not only in OneNote, but anywhere you can paste an image. I've made some nice training materials using this feature as well as used it to answer student questions. Anything you can view on the computer screen can be clipped and pasted to use elsewhere.

Do you have any other favorite OneNote wonders? Share them in the commments, please!

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Rose Jenkins said...

Great info, Elizabeth. I will be sure to share this with some others. I think this would be great to use with an interactive whiteboard.

MathFaery said...

Thanks Rose, I think it could be fun with an interactive whiteboard, too. If you try it out, you'll have to let me know how it goes!

Megan Arthur said...

I <3 MathFaery and OneNote! I've started using tabs in my lecture notes for the classes I'm taking. This way I have one for Theorems, one for Proofs, one for Definitions and one for Examples. And if I'm not mistaken, you can also search for tabs, too. I'll let you know how this goes after a few days of classes.

Thanks for all your help at the conference!

Clint H said...

Another great function in OneNote is the tag feature. You can tag notes, diagrams, etc. You can also customize the tags to say what you want them to say. And most importantly you can then search by tag. I would have my students tag HW problems and in-class work if they thought it would make a good test question. When the reviewed for the test, they could just search the section for the examples they already tagged. When the final exam rolled around, they could search their entire notebook for the tags and create their own personalized review sheet.

The integration with Outlook is pretty cool too but that might be a blog post of my own!

learner said...


Which TabletPC do you use and when did you buy it?

I'm in the market for one.


MathFaery said...

Hi learner, I have a Gateway tablet that I bought 2 years ago. Sadly I don't think Gateway makes a tablet anymore. I would check out That is where I did all my research before choosing the Gateway.