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Teacher Only spaces, Collaboration Space lockdown, subgroup creation and more with the new Class Notebook API updates

With the preview launch of our new OneNote Class Notebook APIs in February, we received a lot of interest and feedback from IT administrators and Microsoft Education Partners. The Class Notebook APIs allow IT admins, Partners and others to automate the creation and updates of OneNote Class Notebooks across a school or district. This allows for large time savings and efficiency for teachers, as well as school IT staff.

Read the newly updated MSDN article on the OneNote Class Notebook API for in-depth instructions, and be sure to check out samples at GitHub. We have a sample JavaScript web app that shows you the basics of calling our APIs using JavaScript and ADAL. You can also check out the sample app running live here to test out a couple of these new APIs right now.

What does the API do?

Anyone familiar with the existing OneNote API for Office 365 will find themselves right at home with the OneNote Class Notebook API for Office 365. Like the OneNote Class Notebook Office 365 app, the only requirement for teachers is that they have an Office 365 faculty license and their OneDrive for Business is set up.

Announcing a new web tool to test out the APIs

To make it easy for IT admins and Partners to try out these new APIs, we created a simple tool for anyone to use. For example, IT admins can use the tool to easily add a Teacher Only section group to the Class Notebooks of the teachers who ask for this functionality. Find out more about this tool on our MSDN article on the OneNote Class Notebook APIs.

New updates and scenarios for the Class Notebook APIs

  • New Teacher Only section groupThe Teacher Only section group is a private space where only the teacher can see what is inside—students cannot see anything. This has been a top request from teachers and schools. This API allows Teacher Only section groups to be provisioned by the new Class Notebook API, or you can also add a Teacher Only section group to existing Class Notebooks.

  • Collaboration Space Lockdown—A top request we had is the ability for a teacher to make the Collaboration Space read-only (or lockdown) to disallow any students from editing. This permission API allows the lockdown of the Collaboration Space as read-only but also allows the ability to easily unlock it.
  • Permissioned groups within the Collaboration Space—This is the ability for a teacher to create specific sections in the Collaboration Space that are assigned to specific students. This allows small groups of students to work together, but other students can’t change what other groups have done. It also allows sections to be completely hidden from other groups if that is desired. For more details, refer to our MSDN docs.

Example 1: Four groups of six students each. Each group of students is assigned to a specific section. Group 1 can co-author in the Group 1 section but cannot edit anything in the Group 2, Group 3 or Group 4 sections.

Example 2: Four groups of six students each. Each group of students is assigned to a specific section. Group 1 can co-author in the Group 1 section, but cannot even see that the Group 2, Group 3 or Group 4 sections even exist in the Collaboration Space. Similar to how in the Class Notebooks, students cannot see each other’s private notebooks.

  • Custom permissions for feedback and grading workflow—One of the most common requests we heard is to allow the lockdown of reviewed or graded pages, so students cannot change the content after the teacher has reviewed the work. Our new Permissions API allows for this type of scenario. Cal Armstrong from Appleby College has done some great examples of this to automate this workflow.

For example, teachers have the ability to create Turn in, Marking and Graded sections in each student’s private notebook. When a Partner or IT admin creates a OneNote Class Notebook, it has the normal sections in every private student notebook as it exists today. In addition, now each private student notebook has the special sections created with the new Permissions API. A Turn in section is a read/write section and is where students can drop work. A Marking section allows a teacher to move an assignment and add feedback privately. This section is hidden from the student, but the teacher sees it. The Graded section is read-only for students, but the teacher has read/write access. This allows the teacher to move graded/finished work into the Graded section for the student, but the student cannot change any of the work since it is read-only for the student.

  • Content APIs—Many schools are looking for the ability to mass-deploy curriculum into the content library of Class Notebooks. With this new Content API, OneNote sections can easily be provisioned along with new Class Notebooks. The first iteration of the API allows for .ONE section files to be inserted into the Content Library, and in the near future, the API will also allow using public notebooks that live on In addition, this new Content API allows an IT admin or Partner to customize the Welcome section, default Content Library section or the default Collaboration Space section.
  • Option to not send email when creating a Class Notebook—When using our new Create Class Notebook API, you can now specify whether or not to send the Welcome Email message. This helps cut down the spam mail when automating lots of Class Notebook creations.
  • Teacher Transfer Powershell script—Last month, we published a script and code sample to allow IT admins and partners to transfer ownership of a Class Notebook from one teacher to another. We put this script out to be used with the intention that this functionality will be built into Office 365 SharePoint Admin in the near future. To learn more, check out GitHub.

Partners and IT admins can learn more about these updates at the updated MSDN article on the OneNote Class Notebook APIs for in-depth instructions, and be sure to check out the JavaScript sample as well as the live sample of the JavaScript web app.

We look forward to hearing your feedback on this new scenarios!

—The OneNote team

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