OneNote to Rule them All

OneNote is a free tool which works online through a web browser, or through apps for mobile devices, or as a desktop software (it’s also part of Microsoft Office 2013).

And it’s available to users of Microsoft Office 365 (so all Scottish school pupils and staff with Glow access have this as part of the features available automatically to them via their Glow login).

But what is OneNote?

It’s like a ring-binder where you can choose to have multiple sections (like card-dividers in a real ring-binder), and within each section you can have multiple pages. And it all synchronises on multiple devices should you wish it to do so.

How might OneNote be used in a classroom context?

So you may be a teacher who may have sections in a OneNote file for each subject, and within each subject pages for each pupil. Each page can contain text, photographs, comments, web links, audio or video so may be an evidence gathering tool for a teacher. A picture to show evidence of a piece of practical work can be instantly inserted via mobile device straight to a pupil’s page for a particular subject in the OneNote file.

Pupils could create a OneNote of their own and use it as a learning log, an eportfolio, a place to jot down their notes, links to resources, documents, websites, etc. And a OneNote stored online can be shared with another user – so a pupil may create a piece of work in a OneNote file for a particular topic, subject or teacher and share access to that so it could be shared only with that one pupil and their teacher.

The creator of the OneNote file can choose to make it so that the teacher can add comments to the document for feedback to the pupil, directly on the document. And in some versions they can also add an audio file of feedback straight into the page.

Here’s a video tutorial showing how OneNote might be used as a pupil topic research tool


OneNote – a Platform for Creativity, Collaboration and Communication  a blogpost by a learner and a teacher explaining how they use OneNote as a tool which both the learner and teacher can access and use to support learning and teaching.

Here’s a video by educator Lisa Cuthbert-Novak showing how her learners use OneNote to chronicle their learning journey in writing, particularly noting the reflections the pupils added to what they were learning as they added examples of their work, their thoughts on the process and links to resources they found:

Choose Your Own Adventure stories – this links to a blog post by Pip Cleaves describing how using the facility to add links to different pages in a OneNote file pupils can create stories with alternative texts for different junctures in a story for their readers.

Here’s a video by Tamara Sullivan explaining how learners in Sydney and Brisbane, who did not meet face to face, collaborated on a photo essay project using OneNote as the vehicle by which they could share ideas, tasks, photo-essays and comments by learners on the work of others.

These two links below also give an overview of the features of the different versions of OneNote, whether the online version, the full desktop software version, or the apps specific to different devices:

MessageOpsPlaylist of videos with short tutorials on the use of OneNote 2013 from Message Ops. Each video is short and specific to one task you may wish to do in OneNote, such as adding a new section, password protecting a page, adding an image, and much more.

So how do you get started using OneNote?

Here’s a link to a basic guide to OneNote Online:

OneNote Toolkit for Teachers – a site which provides guides, examples and hints and tips for teachers looking to use OneNote in a classroom context.  This comes from the Microsoft Educator Network


How to use OneNote for learners – tips and advice for pupils learning to use OneNote to support their learning. Also tips for teachers too.

OneNote Class Notebook

If schools are signed up to Office 365 then they also have the additional option to use OneNote’s education-specific class tool OneNote Class Notebook where a OneNote class file can be set up so that individual sections or pages can have different access rights or permissions. Just by adding a teacher and learners to a OneNote Class Notebook specific sections and associated different access rights are automatically added. There’s a content library section (teachers add content which learners can view but not edit); there’s a collaboration section (where pupils can collaborate together, adding and editing content); and there are individual learner sections (which only that individual learner and the teachers can see, making it ideal for assignments, or reflections).

Here’s a video by teacher Andrew Hay demonstrating how he uses OneNote Class Notebook

OneNoteAppIconOneNote Class Notebook is an Office 365 app (when first introduced it used to be required to be added via a sharepoint site, and first enabled by a site administrator – it is no longer the case that it requires IT administrator intervention, making it much simpler for a teacher to create and manage). It also changed its name from when it was first introduced (so you may see refernces online to it as OneNote Class Notebook Creator – it now has a shorter name, just OneNote Class Notebook).

Here's a short step-by-step guide to creating a OneNote Class Notebook for Glow users:

Here’s a video showing how a teacher can set up a OneNote Class Notebook from their OneDrive in Office 365:

Here’s a related interactive online guide to setting up and using OneNote Class Notebook – listen to the information, move on pages at your own speed.

OneNote and Assessment – this is a blogpost by Chantelle Davies describing how they see the use of OneNote for assessment with a focus on the audio and video features providing the facility for teachers to create a workspace for every pupil, to offer a content library for adding material, and a collaboration space, with which pupils can work in their space and teachers can give feedback in the same place. The work and feedback can be accessed anywhere any time.

OneNote for Teachers – a comprehensive site which details how OneNote can be got for any device, how it can be set up for use, examples of ways in which it can be used, help guides and much more – all within a classroom context.

Microsoft Office has also produced a visual walk-through guide “Getting Started with the OneNote Class Notebook: A Walkthrough for Teachers”

Class Notebook in Microsoft Teams: create and connect, all in one space
– a post by Casey Dickson of the micorostf Education Team highlighting the benefits of using OneNote Class Notebook which is built right into Microsoft Teams for Education – simply create a class team (which includes document sharing, discussions, and assignments tools for distributing and tracking work for learners) and you get a OneNote Class notebook automatically included with the same membership of your team (all of the staff and learners) also automatically transferred into the OneNote Notebook so no setup is required.

Examples in use of OneNote Class Notebook

EdinburghOneNote Class Notebook at Tynecastle High School – a blogpost by Martyn Call, acting Principal Teacher of Mathematics at Tynecastle High School, describing and illustrating with screencaptured images of how OneNote Class Notebook with a class of National 5 learners.

Maths OneNote for Teachers is a OneNote Notebook created and kindly shared by @MrAllanMaths of Bertha Park High School in Perth. This shows how OneNote is used as a teacher planner and is fully populated with resources for teaching maths at high school (specifically at National 5 and Higher). This provides an excellent example in illustrating how OneNote can be used by a teacher and the ideas adapted for any stage and curricular area:

OneNote Teacher Planner Free Download – created by Australian educators Pip Cleaves and Megan Townes. This is a OneNote Notebook provided with everything ready for you to copy to your own OneDrive and adapt to your own needs. In order to download your own copy Glow users just need to ensure they first enter their full Glow email address rather than just their username.


Using OneNote with National 5 and Higher Classes – a blogpost about the use of OneNote by Jacqueline Campbell, Computing teacher at St Mungo’s RC High School in Falkirk describing the use of OneNote by her with her pupils.


Click here to view a PDF export from a OneNote presentation where pupils from St Mungo’s RC High School in Falkirk shared their thoughts on the use of OneNote. This gives a flavour of some of the uses to which OneNote was put in their class, and teachers Jacqueline Campbell and Lynsey Mcnamee also shared how specific features of OneNote were used in different areas. Click here to view a video of views of some learners from St Mungo’s RC High School about OneNote.

EdinburghOneNotePrimaryClick here for description of the use of OneNote Class Notebook in a primary school in St Ninian’s Primary School in Edinburgh. This gives an outline of how the OneNote Class Notebook is used and gives lots of comments from pupils and staff.


OneNote at Kirklandneuk Primary School – a great presentation (using Sway) by Natalie Lochhead describing how OneNote is being used in Kirklandneuk Primary School – with screenshots of sections of staff and learner OneNote Notebooks

Islay High school 5th-year pupil Ryan Campbell’s Overview of OneNote – an excellent guided tour with description by 5th-year high school pupil of his use of OneNote.

Handy Tips for Managing OneNote Notebooks

Our Faculty OneNote – a blogpost by Cal Armstrong detailing the steps involved in setting up a school-wide OneNote Notebook and how to change permissions for different sections so that named staff can have different rights from the default settings – showing how to change from read-only to edit rights for sections (or the other way round). This is handy if there is a need for department/faculty/subject leaders to have edit rights on their area of responsibility, while others have read-only access.

Free OneNote Notebook teacher planner for downloading and adapting  – Rebecca Chapman created a teacher planner using OneNote and made it available for other teachers to copy and adapt for their own use in their own school. It includes sections for daily plans, notes, termly plans, checklists and more. Click on this link for a video illustrating how teacher Kate Masiello adapted this for her class.



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