OneNote Unchained

I’ve always said in recent years that the only thing keeping me interested in the Windows platform was OneNote.

Over the past five years or so I’ve gradually re-invested in the Apple platform after abandoning it for the Windows machines of various 1-1 notebooks programs over the years including Toshibas, ACER, Fujitsu, IBMs and others. I bought an iPod, then an iPhone and an iPad and then a Mac Mini. Back to the Mac; since my first computer at work was an Apple 2, and the first computer I bought was an Apple 2C, so sleek and modern at the time. I had a Mac Classic all those years ago.

So I was pretty interested to see Microsoft finally release a Mac version of OneNote this week. At last! And free! OneNote has been my favourite Microsoft Office component on Windows for a long time, (it’s my central teaching tool) and now it’s on the Mac, syncing via OneDrive.

The Mac version isn’t quite as full-featured; is pretty light on features: it lacks tight integration with Outlook, for example and I can’t see sub-sections or a way to move stuff around.  But it’s finally there and a worthy developing competitor of Evernote at last. It’s on the Mac App Store and went to No. 1 straight away.

Makes me want to go out and buy a Macbook, which I’m sure isn’t exactly what Microsoft intended!

If you haven’t heard about OneNote, check out some of the links below:

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External links:

5 Ways to make use of OneNote for Students

4 Tips for Students using OneNote

OneNote is a note-taking Power Tool (Lifehacker)

Teaching and Learning with OneNote

Office 2010: the movie

Okay, so not many of us actually LIKE Microsoft, especially in the bloated operating system department, but most of us spend a lot of time with their tools, and I’ve been twittering away about the new OneNote 2010 and it’s exciting sounding capabilities for a while now. OneNote is one tool that’s already become embedded in my practice and that of my students.

So it was good to see a sense of humour in this ad for Office 2010, in the form of an adventure movie. Bring it on!

Andrew Douch on redefining classroom

I was at a network meeting this week where Andrew Douch presented on ‘Redefining classroom’.

Andrew is an innovative classroom teacher who has been the recipient of several big awards, including 2008 Microsoft Australia Innovative Teacher of the Year.

A Biology teacher in a regional High School, Andrew traced his personal journey with learning technologies, with a particular focus on podcasting. He began with a class website, added a discussion board the next year, got into podcasting his course (he now gets around 30,000 downloads per episode) and finally into using SMS, Voicemail, Skype, mobile phones and Ning.

I could almost feel the reservations in the school leaders in the audience around me (‘hmm, but what if…’ and ‘there’s no way that I could get that going with my teachers’ etc…). Douch is a charismatic character and obviously loved by his students but he freely admits he’s also been given great freedom in his role as an ‘innovator’.

However, the mood changed when he put up his Biology results as seen in VCE scores: almost all his students above the ‘expected’ grade and a clear and consistent improvement in overall achievement through each year of his implementation of these technologies. As Claxton was saying the other day, ‘it’s not either or’.

Andrew also told us about the number of students beyond his own classroom that regularly listen to his podcast, ask questions about the course or interact in online discussions. He raised an idea that I’ve heard before; that in the not too distant future students will increasingly ‘shop around’ for expert teachers and will want to attend their classes virtually. It raises implications for teaching and for schools, and redefines the classroom.

I haven’t really played around with NING an will take a look, but I did come away inspired to look again the possibilities of audio and podcasting, something I’ve let go in the last year or so.

Andrew talked about using the applications and tools that students wanted to use, were already using and applications you didn’t need to nag them to get into.  After testing hundreds of web 2.0 applications he also told us about his own personal checklist of what a tool should do: will it be time neutral or save time?, will it do something new or better?, is it a space-pen or a pencil (in other words why build an expensive video conferencing suite when you an use Skype on a laptop?), will it getter results?, is it a desire path for students?

Andrew Douch blogs HERE