Microsoft Making OneNote More Elementary for Teachers

School's (nearly) out for summer, but Microsoft is already gearing up for the new class year with updates to its OneNote data-sharing cloud platform.


Instead of taking the summer off, Microsoft is getting to work on implementing some frequently requested features for the company's school-themed OneNote offerings.

Formerly the Microsoft Office suite's note-taking application, OneNote has evolved into a multiplatform, cloud-backed service that allows users to capture, organize, sync and share notes across devices. For educational institutions, the company has extended its capabilities to provide classrooms with collaborative learning experiences.

In October, Microsoft launched the OneNote Class Notebook Creator app for SharePoint, effectively turning OneNote into a teaching tool. Features include a content library and private workspaces for one-on-one instruction, among other tools to track student progress and manage assignments. The company followed up earlier this year with a new resource site called OneNote for Teachers and support for 29 additional languages.

Now, before the start of the next school year, Microsoft is preparing a set of updates aimed at making it easier for teachers to set up and manage their OneNote environments, and in more languages.

Set to be released starting later this month through mid-June, updates include making the self-guided OneNote Class Notebook wizard automatically available to all teachers and faculty covered by an Office 365 Education plan. Class Notebooks are being made more discoverable by appearing in the App Launcher's My Apps page. Simple URLs now represent Class Notebooks, making them more accessible to teachers.

OneNote Staff Notebooks for faculty is going global, with support for 45 additional languages and 60 new markets, Microsoft announced. "Plus, we heard your requests all the way in the Middle East and will soon be rolling out of OneNote Class Notebook and Staff Notebook in right-to-left languages, Arabic and Hebrew," wrote the OneNote Team in an Office Blogs post.

Also new is the ability to add students to a class notebook in a single pass via Active Directory Security Groups support. Plus, teachers gain the ability to remove students or fellow teachers from class notebooks. "This feature will only remove the permissions of the student, the student notebook will be kept in place so the teacher has time to package it up before manually deleting it or archiving it," the group stated.

OneNote will also play better with others, namely other providers of learning management software. Microsoft staffers noted that OneNote's "new and upcoming REST APIs will allow IT administrators to automate Class and Staff Notebook administration processes such as class roster management and movement of pages in and out of OneNote."

In addition, the company plans to add support for the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standard to OneNote Class Notebook. "This will enable integration of the Class Notebook Creator with all major Learning Management System (LMS) providers—including Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, Schoology, Sakai and Desire2Learn—as well as many other providers and any other LTI compliant learning platform," they said. With the upcoming integrations, teachers "will be able to launch the Class Notebook Creator, walk through the creation process, and add the created notebook to their LMS course, all without leaving their learning environment."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...