How to Set Document Alerts in OneDrive for Business

ONEDRIVE for business alerts

Working collaboratively in the cloud is a great convenience, and something that you can do very well in Office 365 if you use OneDrive for Business, as many schools do. However, sometimes it is nice for teachers (and students) to know when others have changed or modified a document that they co-author. To achieve such an outcome, you can set up document alerts. Here’s how.

1. Navigate to your OneDrive for Business page and find the file that you would like to set up an alert on. (You can set an alert on any Microsoft Office document).

2. Select the document by clicking on it, and then click the Files tab in the top left-hand corner of your screen to open the Files ribbon.

files tab in onedrive for business

3. Look for the Alert Me icon on the middle of the toolbar, (it looks like a bell). Click Alert Me and then choose Set alert on this document.

set alert on this document

4. The pop-up window that follows gives you a number of options as to what you would like to be alerted for and how often. These options include:

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How to Use the OneNote for iPad Drawing Tools

onenote draw tools for iPad

Recently, Microsoft updated OneNote for iPad to include the one thing that iPad users were missing most from their Windows versions of OneNote – Draw tools. Given the touch capabilities of the iPad, this is a very useful addition. For the classroom this means students and teachers have the option to use handwriting in OneNote, or annotate existing notes, images and more with the new drawing tools. Here’s how they work.

The drawing tools are accessed via the new Draw tab on the toolbar. If you don’t see a Draw tab, make sure your OneNote app is updated to the latest version. Tools available include a thin pen, a medium pen, a highlighter, an eraser, a selection of inking colors, pen thicknesses, and a variety of palm rejection options.

onenote draw tools ipad

To start writing, select the type of pen you want to use then choose a color from either the four default colors on the toolbar, or from one of the 16 colors that reside in the color wheel. Note that there are only four colors to choose from with the highlighter pens.

Next, choose pen thickness. You will see that line thickness varies depending on whether you choose the thin, medium or highlighter pens, but there is enough variety here that you will likely find the thickness you want from one of these pens.

The palm rejection options are a little more sophisticated than the horizontal guard you get in apps like Notability. In OneNote for iPad, there are different options for left and right handed people, and accommodations are made for a few different ways that you might hold your hand on the screen while writing on the iPad.

palm rejection onenote ipad

If you make a mistake, the eraser can come to your aid, but it might not work exactly the way you think it might. The eraser will remove entire lines at a time, as opposed to small parts of a line. For writing, this generally means the entire letter. Basically, everything you draw until you lift your stylus, or finger, will be erased in one fell swoop when you use the eraser tool. In essence, it works the same as the undo arrow. Both tools produce the same results.

To add text to your page, you don’t have to revert back to the Home tab. Instead, you can tap the text mode button to momentarily revert to typing. Once you are done typing, you can tap a pen to resume your drawing activities.

All in all it is a very successful implementation. In the future it might be nice to see the addition of a shape or line tool, but this is a great start and it adds some very useful functionality to an already great free app. The draw tools are perfect for annotating over pictures, screenshots, maps and more, but many will just use it for handwriting, and as research shows, there is nothing wrong with that.

10 Alternatives to InfuseLearning for Assessments

formative assessment tools for teachers

Yesterday, it was announced that InfuseLearning, the popular, free online formative assessment tool, will be closing its doors for good on April 3, 2015. Those that have used it know that it was a great tool for teachers who were looking to gather data on their students to help inform future instruction. However, of late, it did not work as well as it used to, and ultimately this looks to have led to its eventual demise. So, here is a roundup of some of the best alternatives to InfuseLearning.

1. Socrative – It has been around for a while, but the recent 2.0 update gave it a much needed facelift and some new features to boot. It’s free, multi-platform, and a great way for teachers to get data on how well their students understand the content. They also have a great resource page with training materials to help you introduce this tool to others.

2. Kahoot! – If you’ve been to an edtech conference in the last 12 months, the chances are good that you have already been part of a Kahoot! quiz. Kahoot is a gamified approach to assessment, and it definitely adds a fun factor to a traditional quiz. Like Scorative, it can be used on any modern device. Read more about Kahoot here.

kahoot

3. Google Forms – Google Apps schools have been using Forms to collect assessment data for some time now, and over the years Forms has evolved to become an interesting online quiz tool. There are a variety of useful question types that include the ability to add images and videos. Pair it with Flubaroo, and you have a powerful self-grading assessment tool.

4. Excel Surveys – Not a Google school? Microsoft offer their own version of survey tool called Excel Surveys. It is available to Office 365 schools, or anyone with a free personal Microsoft account via Office Online. It lacks some of the more useful options found in Google Forms, but there is still enough to make it worth a look. Read more about Excel Surveys here.

5. Plickers – If devices are not plentiful in your school, then Plickers is exactly what you need. If you’ve never used it before, you will be amazed at how it works. You print out a collection of four sided QR code-like markers for students. They select the answer they want to give by rotating the card to the letter they want to submit, and the teacher scans the cards with a smartphone or tablet to record student responses. Read about Plickers here.

plickers.com

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A Digital Worksheet is Still Just a Worksheet

digital worksheets

Recently, there have been a number of tech tools that have been created to help enhance teacher productivity and improve assignment workflows in the classroom. Take, for example, the excellent OneNote Class Notebook Creator. It is an ideal app for Office 365 schools who want to quickly distribute materials to a whole class, have students work in a paperless environment, while also providing a collaboration space for the whole class to work in.

Google Apps schools are flocking to Google Classroom – a management tool for teachers who are looking to consolidate and simplify the flow of electronic files. It lets you make a copy of an individual document and distribute it to students with permissions configured automatically so that only the student and the teacher can see the document. There is also a discussion feed for students to communicate inside your Google Classroom.

iPad classrooms are using workflow apps like Showbie as a way for students to turn in assignments created on the iPad so teachers can grade them and give feedback. Similar apps like Skaffl, Handouts, and Turnitin do much the same thing, while others are turning to cloud services like Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive to meet the same need.

Then there are the many learning management systems that were created to take your classroom to the cloud. Canvas, Moodle, Schoology, Blackboard, Haiku, BrainHoney and many many more exist because teachers are looking for simple ways to unify the experience of delivering content and working online with students.

However, there’s a problem with all of these systems. The problem is, that they make it too easy for teachers to do what they always used to do – assign worksheets that don’t challenge, engage and empower students in their learning. A digital version of a paper worksheet is still just a worksheet, and it is not taking advantage of the powerful technologies that students have at their fingertips today.

It doesn’t matter whether you are using Chromebooks, Macbooks, iPads or Surface tablets. A low-level worksheet is a low-level worksheet whether it is in paper form, a PDF, a Word Doc or a Google Doc. Whether they type on it, or write over it with digital ink, it makes no difference. I know it is quick, easy, and convenient to assign. I know because I did it myself when I was in the classroom. It doesn’t make you a bad teacher, but your students deserve better.

None of these tools are inherently flawed. In fact the majority of them are fantastic because they  offer multiple solutions to a very real digital problem. However, I would encourage you to use them in a way that is most befitting a modern digital classroom. Use them to collect authentic assignments that demand creativity. Use them as part of project based or inquiry driven learning projects. Use them to showcase learning in a way that can only be captured with an electronic device.

Consider collaborative projects in Office Online or Google Drive. Have your students write a blog post or create a website to showcase their learning. Have them create a screencast or an Office Mix presentation. Assign them a video project that combines other multimedia content or take advantage of stop motion and green screen effects to communicate their learning. Have them create a Thinglink, an interactive timeline, or a custom Google Map. Challenge them to some App Smashing (it’s not just for iPads by the way), tell some digital stories, create some Kahoot quizzes, or reach out for new ideas like augmented reality, QR codes, and makerspaces.

I know there is a lot out there, and I know it gets overwhelming, but it’s also incredibly rewarding and help is at hand. The chances are high that someone in your building is already doing this, and if they aren’t, there are thousands of educators on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ that will be more than happy to help you out and share their ideas.

Start small. Begin by replacing just one worksheet with an idea like the ones above and see how it goes. Watch the reaction you get from your students. As time goes by, continue to look for more ways to leverage the power of your digital devices and integrate meaningful digital experiences to demonstrate learning in new and innovative ways. Trust me. It will challenge your students, motivate them, and engage them in something deeper, and more meaningful, than any worksheet you can lay your hands on.

OneNote for Teachers: Help & Support for Educators

onenote for teachers logo

For me, OneNote is a peerless app that can quickly change the way students and teachers create and organize digital content. It is intuitive, powerful and works across all your devices. Whether you are an Office 365 school district or not, it is hard to ignore the potential that OneNote has.

To help support teachers in their use of OneNote, Microsoft developed a website exclusively for educators called OneNote for Teachers. It is a great resource that helps you get started with OneNote if you are a first time user, but also includes tips and tricks for experienced users by showing you how to deliver your curriculum with OneNote through tools like the OneNote Class Notebook Creator.

I use OneNote a lot on the iPad, and find it especially useful now that iOS 8 has allowed extensions. This lets me quickly add a website to a OneNote page from Safari, or send an image from my Camera Roll to add to my existing notes. I also use OneNote on my iPhone, on Windows, and will shortly be exploring the Mac version too. OneNote is free for all these devices and all my information syncs quickly and reliably.

onenote for teachers

Looking for more ideas? I have been developing an Office 365 training site for some of the teachers that I work with. There are resources and ideas on how to use OneNote on that website and you can view it at 365education.weebly.com. You might also want  to take a look at the Microsoft Educator Network, which has a searchable bank of lessons and resources that you can use in your classroom. You can also check out my Choose Your Own OneNote Adventure Stories learning activity that was added last month.

Office for iPad: Free for Everyone

Office for Everyone

Last week, Microsoft surprised a lot of people when they made Word, Excel and PowerPoint completely free for iOS devices. The apps themselves were always free for viewing documents, but editing access required an Office 365 subscription. Not any more. The subscription element was removed and now anyone with a free Microsoft account can view, create and edit Office documents on an iPad at no additional cost. They also included support for Dropbox so that you can open documents stored in Dropbox, edit them, and save them back to Dropbox.

Microsoft Word for iPad: Free

So, what is it like using Office on an iPad? It’s very enjoyable actually. Your documents, presentations and spreadsheets all format exactly the way you would hope they would with no strange views for a mobile device like the iPad. Everything is saved to your OneDrive or Dropbox account, so all your work is still available to you if you leave the iPad and start working on a desktop or Windows tablet.

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Sway: A Brand New Multimedia Presentation Tool

Sway logo

Today, Microsoft took the wraps off a brand new, multi-platform presentation tool called Sway. It lets you create dynamic content that pulls media from a variety of sources like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and OneDrive. There are a variety of styles and layouts to choose from but if design is not your strong point Sway will suggest some layouts for you based on colors it finds in your media. Everything you do is built with a simple drag and drop interface and you choose a variety of navigation paths for your viewers.

Finished creations can be shared with a link, embedded on a website, or shared on social media. Better still, your Sway presentation will adapt to any screen size  so that it looks great on all devices. Check out more in the video below:

Find out more by visiting www.sway.com where you can sign up to be on the waiting list for early access and see some sample Sways. I for one can’t wait to try this. It looks like an incredible option for the classroom and will have broad appeal due to the fact that it works on all modern browsers and has dedicated mobile apps on the way. A more in-depth look at Sway with a demo of how to build one can be found below:

Source: Office Blogs

How (and Why) to Add Links in OneNote 2013

We live in a connected world, so the ability to add links is a valuable skill for students and teachers alike. Here’s how to add links to notes in my favorite note taking app – the Windows desktop version of OneNote 2013. 1. Typing a URL The first method is by and large the easiest. All you have to do is start typing the URL of the website you want to link to and OneNote 2013 will detect that you are typing a web address and automatically hyperlink it. If the URL is on the long side, you can copy and paste it into OneNote and you will see that it also gets automatically linked on your page.

type links in onenote

2. Hyperlinking Text If URLs take up too much space on your page, or just don’t look right with the rest of your text, consider highlighting some text and linking that instead. Once the text you want to link is highlighted, go to the ribbon menu at the top of the page and click Insert > Link. In the pop-up box that appears, type or paste the name of the website you want to link to in the Address field, and then click OK. You can access the same linking option by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl + K on your keyboard, or by right-clicking on the highlighted text and selecting Link…

hyperlink text in onenote

3. Linking to Another Section/Page Another useful linking strategy is the ability to link to another section or page in a notebook. This can be useful for creating your own table of contents. There are a few ways to do this, but perhaps the most elegant way is to combine it with the method above. So, start by highlighting the text you want to link to another section or page. Then right-click on it, go to Insert > Link, or press Ctrl + K, to open the Link options menu. Now, navigate to the page or section you want to link to by clicking the “+” sign next to the notebook that has the page or section you need. Click the location you want to link to, then press OK. You can also get the link to a page, or a section, by right-clicking on the page or section you need and clicking Copy Link to Page or Copy Link to Section.

link to a section or page

4. Linking to a Specific Paragraph Need something more granular than linking to a page? Try linking to a specific paragraph. This can be a great way to direct students to the homework questions, or to definitions in a glossary. All you need to do is click on the paragraph you want to link to, then right-click your mouse and select Copy Link to Paragraph. Once you have the link you need, you can highlight some text, open the Link options menu, (like we did above), and paste it into the Address field. Anyone who clicks on the link will then be taken to a specific paragraph on a specific page.

Link to a paragraph in onenote 2013

Need an example of how all this linking can be put to good use in the classroom? Check out my lesson on the Microsoft Educator Network: Choose Your Own OneNote Adventure Stories.

How to Collect Data with an Excel Survey & Office 365 Education

How to Use Excel Surveys

Google Apps for Education schools have Google Forms for surveying staff and quizzing students, but you needn’t feel left out if you are using Microsoft’s Office 365. An Excel Survey does very much the same thing, and it’s easy to set up. You can even do it with a free, individual OneDrive account if your school does not use Office 365. Here’s what you need to know.


Note: An updated version of Excel Surveys – Microsoft Forms – is now available for schools who subscribe to Office 365 Education. See my blog post How to Use Microsoft Forms for more information.


Excel surveys are created online. So, you first need to log in to your OneDrive for Business account and click “new”. Select “Excel survey”, then give your document a name and click “OK”.

create excel survey

On the next screen you can enter a title for your survey and a short description or introduction for those that are filling out your survey. You can then click on the box that says to “Enter your first question here”. This opens a pop up box that gives you more options to do just that. So, enter your question, a question subtitle/help text (optional), and choose the type of question you want to ask. There are currently seven types of questions:

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10 Reasons Why OneNote is the Ultimate Note Taking Tool for Schools

Microsoft OneNote

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.

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