It may just be the best thing you have never heard of, but if you take the time to learn how to use it, Microsoft’s free, multi-platform note taking tool will surprise you with how powerful it really is. So, here’s why OneNote is great for the classroom and beyond. (Note: Not all features are available on all platforms, or in the free apps, but all are available in the Office 2013 desktop version)
1. Availability: OneNote is a free download for Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Phone, Mac, iPads, iPhones and Android devices. You can even use the online web app, and of course it comes with all paid Office subscriptions. So, no matter what device you use, there is a OneNote version for you. You don’t get all the features on all platforms, but you get most of what you need. What’s more, your notebooks are synced via your Microsoft account so any changes you make will instantly be updated on your other devices.
2. Organization: Think of a OneNote notebook like a three-ring binder. You use sections to divide up your notes into manageable chunks of text. You can choose a color for each section, or let OneNote choose that for you. Within each section, you can add pages so that you can add the notes that you want to take. You can have as many pages as you want in a section, and merge or group sections. Password protection can be added to sections to hide teacher notes, or to unlock a section at a time as the teacher chooses.
3. Tags: Choose from dozens of tags to help you annotate and bookmark the best part of your notes. Students can tag paragraphs they want to ask the teacher about later or mark up the important parts of their notes, while teachers can use custom tags to highlight the homework in a shared notebook. All tags can be filtered and found quickly.
4. Search: Speaking of finding things, the search function is a great tool to find anything that you need. It will search through all your notebooks, or just the one you are working on, to find the notes you need. The search bar will search all typed and handwritten text, as well as any text that it detects in images.
5. Attachments: You can attach most common file types to a OneNote notebook. Audio, video, images, PDFs and more can be added to a OneNote file to keep all your resources together in one place. This is great for teachers who may want to use OneNote for a lesson planner, or as a digital handout for students. You can also add images from Microsoft’s online clipart gallery or search Bing for images.