I never thought I would say (or type) those words. For awhile I advocated GAFE at my school and pouted a bit when the decision was made to stick with Microsoft. Then again, I was surprised to hear that as of last year, there were 110 million Office 365 users in education and only around 50 million Google Apps users. While I still believe that Google is doing some great things in education, I am getting more and more excited about what I see coming out of Microsoft these days.
Last week, I attended the Microsoft Office 365 Symposium in Columbus, Ohio. As TechLead at my school, it's my job to stay ahead of the curve on new technologies and help guide the push to bring new things in. I really wanted to learn more about OneNote and how it can be used in education. (Ironically, I had mentioned to the organizers that I teach OneDrive in my computer classes, and I wound up presenting that during the conference.)
OneNote is a very powerful note taking app. Do you remember college? I don't know how you organized your notes, but I had a separate folder for each class. I went through reams of paper handwriting notes and shoved them in the appropriate folders. When college was over, I had stacks of these folders which followed me for years (mainly collecting dust till I decided to throw them away). Today, a college student can use OneNote, and one OneNote notebook could feasibly cover an entire college career. You can create separate notebooks within the major notebook, and tabs within those notebooks, and this could go on forever. Of course, there are numerous other applications for OneNote, but I'm seeing value in teaching this tool to our high school teachers who can teach it to their students. However,...
I found out during the conference that Microsoft recently released OneNote Class Notebook. Here is an extremely powerful tool that could make huge strides in how you manage your class. Before you read anything else, you need to watch this.
I first saw this video in the spring and got very excited but had no way to replicate it in my school. When they started talking about OneNote Class Notebook, I immediately tweeted Cal Armstrong (from Appleby College) about it. It seems that Microsoft took this idea and made their own version, which does some similar tasks.
I walked away from this conference with the determination to learn how to use OneNote and OneNote Class Notebook and teach these tools to my upper elementary classes. Once I am comfortable using it with students, I want to take the ideas to my colleagues with the hopes we can see the OneNoteLove spread across campus.
Microsoft has a number of other great innovations rolling down the pipe to schools these days. It seems that they have really started taking education programs seriously and are determined to keep a foothold in the education market. I'm looking forward to learning these new technologies and introducing them to my colleagues...and I'll continue to share them with you here.
As an extra bonus (if you want to all it that)...
As I mentioned earlier, I was offered the opportunity to present at this conference, my first time presenting in any way outside of my school. You can click here to see my digital handout, and of course you can enjoy the picture one of the people in the crowd took of me while I yammered on.