During my time at the Microsoft Innovative Educator training, we spent a lot of time covering OneNote, and with good reason!  Our trainers claimed that OneNote is Microsoft’s best kept secret, and I would have to agree.  In all of the computer/technology courses and workshops I have attended over the span of my education, OneNote has never come up as a topic for discussion.

As I began to learn all of its bells and whistles during my training, I couldn’t stop my mind from spinning as to all of the many ways I could implement it in my school.  Historically, my school has completed weekly SPED reports, of which the main goal is to help keep classroom teachers, counselors, and interventionists all on the same page regarding student performance.  The method of completing these reports has changed over the years, with our current system being run out of Microsoft OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive).  There are folders upon folders of student work and teacher reports, making it next to impossible to find a specific document quickly.

My vision for next school year is to move all of these reports to a single OneNote binder, hosted through OneDrive.  That way, when one teacher updates their report with an exam study guide, each interventionist or counselor can instantly access it, without having to go digging through folders upon folders.  Teachers can also search the entire binder for a single student, pulling up every instance of their name within seconds.  While it will take a good amount of “up front” work (and teacher training!) before the school year begins, the organizational and time saving capabilities of OneNote will definitely make it worth it!

Have you ever used a single OneNote document with a large group of people?  How did it work for you?  Leave a comment below!


The Microsoft Innovative Educator Program


For the past two days, I have been attending the Microsoft Innovative Educator Training workshop, hosted at the Microsoft offices in downtown Chicago.  Now, normally, I somewhat dread going to technology trainings, since many of them are not very “hands on,” however I was pleasantly surprised by this one!

To start with, this training is not necessarily marketed towards classroom teachers, but rather teacher trainers, such as building or district level technology educators/integrationists/coordinators.  Attendees must first submit an application for admission to the event (see the application here – trainings are coming up in San Francisco, New York City, and Dallas), and then are notified whether they have been accepted.  Once a teacher is accepted into and completes the program, they then commit to train a minimum of 100 educators in their home school/district.  In some cities, there may be a high level of competition for spots in this workshop, however in our two day session, there were only seven people.

In having a smaller group, however, it seems that we were able to get through a lot more material than normally scheduled.  The workshop itself was mainly centered on OneNote, a tool that MIE Trainers David Squires and Benson Kwok (click to follow them on Twitter – they’re great!) claim is Microsoft’s best kept secret – and I totally agree!  As someone who has never really “dug in” to OneNote, I was amazed at all of the cool tricks this program could do.  From recording class notes and tutorials, to acting as a hub for teacher meeting, it seems as if OneNote is pretty all encompassing.

Throughout the workshop, I found my self already thinking three to four steps ahead, planning ways in which OneNote could make my staff’s live so much easier and efficient.  Luckily, we are already a Office365 school, so transitioning to this will not be too difficult in the future (I love Google, but I think it might be hard to convert a “Google Faculty” to move solely to OneNote!).

How have you used OneNote in your classroom or school?  What do you like/dislike?  How does it compare to Evernote?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

(stay tuned for more great things I learned from this workshop…)