NEAC, Transforming Education

Learning without limits

Sharing Curriculum Materials – One Note for All

Have you ever considered the many ways in which we as teachers go about sharing our lesson materials and curriculum with each other and more importantly with our students? Many schools have already established protocols for sharing documents in areas which essentially become storage areas, in many cases duplicating files and folders already saved in on their systems. This causes many an IT technician to tear their hair out at the huge drain on memory it causes on the school servers, with constant pleas each July and September for staff to delete and remove unwanted files.

Some schools will have allowed remote access to their servers enabling students and staff  sharing permissions to view and add files from home, and the more diligent staff will set extra work and require students to download working files using this system, but this is compliant on the systems and resources students have at home. It also relies on staff giving specific instructions as to where the files themselves are stored, which directory / folder etc and can result in files not being organised or spread over a number of paths. Add to this the issue of different platforms with different software issues used at home and the excuses for not completing work and not being able to access information are multiplied!

Microsoft’s One Note has been around for quite some time now, and although is loaded on most computers, has not been used to its fullest by the majority of teachers because of their lack of knowledge about what it can do. Previously seen as a purely add on piece of software for taking notes in meetings, a quiet revolution in schools using One Note is proving that it is a very powerful sharing and teaching tool.

One place for all

One Note has developed into a one stop shop for all the resources needed to share materials for that lesson. Previously, the teacher would have to have individual files open, ready for use, which may include a video, a power point, word document and a Pdf file perhaps. Swapping back and fore to deliver the lesson, the sharing of these files would mean multiple locations and a deal of duplication. Now, the teacher can use One Note to add all the resources in one place. Files can be attached quickly or easily, and instructions inserted for their use. Even more powerful, the teacher can now structure the One Note Page to include a whole lesson plan and resources as they are intended to be viewed. The insert command allows for headings, text adjustment, pictures, web links, scanner printouts, dates and time stamps. Even more powerful is the ability to record voice and video pod casts as well as file printouts to make the lesson even more accessible. File printouts take a snap shot of the actual file contents and inserts them into the page. This means that even if the end user does not have that software, they can still see the contents. A Mac user without Key Note can now view the teachers actual power point slides (albeit without the animation)!

Easy Organisation


One Note is essentially a folder, but within that folder there are sections, and within each section there are pages. Sections and pages can be added easily with one click and each page is infinite, meaning that you can put as much information on it as you wish. Text is shown in floating box’s which can be moved quickly and adjusted for different sizes and the usual word processing tools. A typical lesson would be on a page, each page making up a series of lessons for a module of work, classified as a section. Each section or module can be saved under a folder for that class. Alternatively, if the teacher has more than one class following the same course, the sections can be named after the class. Pages and Sections can be copied and duplicated, so that lesson content and resources can be quickly moved between classes, and also means the teacher only has to prepare the page or section once, saving time. The smoothness of the operation means that whole curriculum materials can be quickly organised and stored for access, without the need for huge amounts of memory or share drive organisation. A teachers’ complete teaching resources can be saved in one place, and shared very easily. The ability to access the single folder from any where using OneDrive means that files no longer have to be duplicated on memory sticks or emailed about.

Annotation without IWB

One Note has always and the ability to use drawing tools for diagrams as well as key board for typing. The extensive use of IWB has meant that these tools can now be used for annotating live in the classroom, with the ability for One Note to automatically save the notes. Hence teachers can use it for keeping off the cuff notes and instructions but with the ability to save those notes for review and to improve the delivery of the resource next time its used. If the software was loaded in as a “File Printout”, they can then use the drawing tools to highlight and annotate directly over the resource and save the annotations. This way, expensive IWB software can be avoided, and if schools wish for teachers to work from the actual board, Interactive Projectors can be purchased.

Sharing and viewing files

One Note also has the ability to share files in various ways. Once imported into a One Note page, section or folder, resources can be shared by email, saving them in the school’s shared area’s, or by the web using Microsoft OneDrive. What this means is that all resources for that lesson can now be viewed from these same source, including any annotations made in that lesson, as well as extra notes added by users after viewing. No longer does the Excel, Word, Powerpoint or PDF have to be stored separately as the files are automatically attached to the One Note file during the construction. The same file can be used to teach from as well as to review at a later stage, and even gives the publisher the control as to who can view and contribute to the resource.

Access for all

One Note built in spell checker, translator and ability to record voice and video now means that those with different learning abilities can access the main stream curriculum. Verbal instructions means that poor readers can now hear instructions on what to do with a simple click on the sound bite, or even view the teacher given instructions through the video application. Having the ability to translate the written word means that students with ESL can view the instructions on the page in their own language. This can be either added by the teacher or student shown how to highlight and use the application for themselves.

Microsoft and Mac

The ability to download One Note free for Mac’s and Tablets now allows everyone to have a copy of the same software. Many schools and parents have complained that the different platforms available can cause issues if resources are created in one format and then cannot be accessed by others using a different format. Now the ability to down load the same software in all platforms means that all can view the same files.

A quiet revolution is going on, allowing more students to access the curriculum easily and giving teachers a powerful and easy tool to use in the ever increasing demand to raise standards. Check out One Note yourselves, or contact NAEC for advice and training.