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Administrators help teachers, students reach learning objectives with OneNote

Today is the last day of ISTE 2014 but it has become clear from this year’s conference that schools are more connected than ever, incorporating laptops, tablets, and even phones into day-to-day instruction. But these devices need a strong information system to enable administrators to empower teachers to be effective in helping students reach learning objectives. For Cary Academy in North Carolina, that system is OneNote.

Digital textbooks in OneNote stay updated, save money

Cary Academy has used OneNote as part of its 1-to-1 learning environment for nearly a decade. The administration adopted OneNote because it felt intuitive for students and teachers. With OneNote, the technology fades into the background so students can focus on their lessons, not on learning how to use the tool.

Cary Academy chose OneNote for other reasons as well. From the beginning, it was intrigued by OneNote’s ability to serve as a way to create custom digital textbooks. Traditional textbooks are heavy and expensive, and they don’t keep up to date with today’s rapidly changing world. By empowering teachers to create their own textbooks in OneNote notebooks, the school saw a way to  keep students’ educational materials current while reducing the textbook cost burden on families.

ON_Blog_Admin_eTextThey also saw that using “OneNote textbooks” could deepen the learning experience in ways conventional textbooks can’t. One way OneNote textbooks can do this is by incorporating different kinds of sources. In addition to traditional text, teachers can embed Office documents, pictures, audio, video, and web clips. For instance, students in a Mandarin Chinese class can access audio clips to hear a native speaker’s pronunciation. Another way digital notebooks can deepen students’ educational experience is by allowing them to naturally interact with their textbooks, individually or as a group. For example, on the same OneNote page, students using a Windows tablet like the new Surface Pro 3, can practice their Chinese characters using a stylus pen. OneNote textbooks can also help improve assessment and evaluation. Teachers can access students’ notebooks and provide immediate feedback, rather than going through the tedious process of collecting homework, grading it, and then returning it days later.

Many of Cary Academy’s teachers choose to work together to create textbooks, which enables them to broaden and enhance their students’ educational experience in other ways. Some teachers, for example, create multi-disciplinary textbooks that encompass multiple areas of learning—for instance, tying together history, world culture, and language in a unit on the Silk Road. Math teachers collaborate on creating textbooks to show multiple ways of solving the same problem, teaching students that there is no one right way to arrive at an answer.

To encourage its teachers to create OneNote textbooks, Cary Academy offers competitive major resource grants. If a teacher is selected, they meet with the Institutional Technology Director and develop unique content and pedagogy. The grant program has resulted in approximately 20 digital textbooks in use at Cary Academy, in addition to countless other workbooks and smaller notebooks.

OneNote helping the administration run their school effectively

OneNote is not just part of students’ and teachers’ daily life at Cary Academy. It’s also a critical part of the day-to-day administration. The leadership team relies on OneNote to keep it on track with its goals. And shared notebooks allow administrators to collaboratively brainstorm when it’s convenient for them, set meeting agendas, and take notes.

Cary Academy is transforming learning, teaching, and administration with OneNote. We hope you will tell us your stories of using OneNote at school in the comments.


How to get your school started with OneNote in the classroom

Get started with enabling this OneNote solution by signing up for Office 365 at Once you have Office 365, OneNote Setup Tool for Teachers Beta is a SharePoint app designed to help teachers setup OneNote for their classes. Available in the Store for install by IT Administrators and setup by teachers, the OneNote Setup Tool for Teachers creates a class notebook with ideal teacher and student permissions for the classroom organized. It is organized in three sub-notebooks:

  • Student Notebooks – private notebooks that are shared between the teacher and individual students. Teachers can access these notebooks at any time, but students cannot see each other’s notebooks.
  • Content Library – a place where teachers can hand out course materials to students.
  • Collaboration Space – a space for anyone in the class to share, organize, and collaborate.

Send any questions for feedback about this new Beta tool and OneNote in education to – we’d love to hear from you!


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