How OneNote supports digital literacy

Daniel Kerr

Daniel Kerr is currently a Computer Science teacher at Great Sankey High School in Warrington. After gaining a BSc honours degree in Web Development, Daniel successfully completed teacher training specialising in Secondary Computer Science. While teaching at Great Sankey, Daniel works alongside Microsoft as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert. MIE Experts advance the conversation about improving student outcomes through innovative uses of technology in teaching and learning. Daniel has attended the Microsoft E2 Global Exchange in Singapore to showcase how to transform pedagogy through educational technology and raising digital literacy.

Twitter handle: @_DanielKerr

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As a teacher of Computing at Sandymoor School, a Microsoft globally recognised Showcase School in Runcorn, Cheshire, promoting digital literacy is a curriculum area I have been developing during the last academic year with my classes. The three main strands within Computing are mapped against Computer Science, Information Technology and Digital Literacy. Each component is essential in preparing pupils to thrive in an increasingly digital world. Digital literacy is about pupils building their technical knowledge and skills to ensure they become confident and competent users of technology.

At Sandymoor, I have used the OneNote Classbook Creator from Microsoft to set up electronic exercise books for my classes to support pupils with their digital literacy development. OneNote has allowed me to implement a personal workspace for each pupil, a content library for online resources, activities and class notes and a collaboration space for pupils to work together in real time on virtual projects.

A screenshot of my Year 9 Computer Science electronic exercise book in OneNote.

The OneNote Classbook Creator is a valuable and rich classroom tool, as it enables pupils to take ownership of their learning. As pupils can access the electronic exercise book at any time, they always have classwork, homework and revision notes to hand. Each exercise book is created with its own unique web address, which can be shared with pupils and parents alike to demonstrate the progress that is being made each term.

One of the most beneficial features in OneNote that my classes have made use of is digital ink. This has assisted pupils with improving classwork presentation and thus building digital literacy confidence. An example of this in the classroom context is during my Year 7 Maths lessons, pupils have a technology learning routine in which they access OneNote, copy and paste the electronic learning materials for the lesson into the appropriate section tab and present answers with digital ink.

Digital ink is an innovative and dynamic way for pupils to evidence learning.

In addition to computer ink, the collaboration space that is built into OneNote is a further way to support pupils with developing essential digital literacy skills. Pupils can only view the classwork they complete in their personal area of the electronic exercise book, but the collaboration space is viewable by all pupils in a class. This space facilitates pupils to work together in real time while I can see edits and submissions to the pages as they happen in the classroom. The collaboration space can also be used as a way to showcase the work of individuals to give others in the class ideas and inspiration to include in their own projects.

A screenshot of the collaboration space in a GCSE Computer Science lesson.

As you can see from the above screenshot, the collaboration space can blend digital annotation, screen clippings from websites and text-based explanations to pull together the ideas and creations made by every learner in a class.

What is particularly powerful about OneNote is that pupils who require assistance can be easily flagged to enable immediate intervention to take place. As the teacher, I can differentiate the resources that are being shared within each pupil’s electronic exercise book and can change the content as and when required. This is achieved by being able to control which tasks and activities are distributed to individuals within a classbook. In just a few clicks, a new assignment can be sent to an entire class or just a few depending on the context.

The concept of electronic exercise books through OneNote is dynamic and highly effective in personalising the needs of learners and supporting them with digital literacy. Pupils who organise their learning experiences through OneNote can become increasingly independent and technologically proficient, which equips them for life in modern Britain.

Do you use OneNote in your teaching? Share your experiences below.

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