Microsoft Class Notebooks in the Communications Classroom

An early-view article in the TESOL Journal by Pamela Everly examines how Microsoft’s learning management platform the OneNote Class Notebook (ONCN) can facilitate speech activities in a listening/speaking or communication focused classroom. Pamela says the following:

ONCN’s capacity for handling multiple data types, providing individualized content, and delivering multiple computer‐assisted pronunciation technologies on demand increased the flexibility and efficiency of delivering content, practice opportunities, and teacher–student interaction.

(Everly, 2018)

Via https://doi.org/10.1002/tesj.421

The feature she focuses on allows students to record themselves in a private notebook to which only the student and teacher have access. The teacher can then play the audio from the page and write notes as she listens.

A nice caveat of the system allows the student to playback the audio from the teacher’s comments at the location where the teacher started typing.

The Best of Both Worlds

A teacher adds comments with the draw feature to documents in the notebook.

Functions that accommodate writing, drawing, and inserting scanned images make the notebooks a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) that feels like a traditional notebook. This allows students to work in a medium they are comfortable with, while still saving work in the cloud and facilitating a paperless class environment.

Where it Falls Short

The platform has its flaws. For one thing, the collaboration page (i.e. the section of the notebook in which the teacher and students should be able to work simultaneously) doesn’t sync fast enough. This results in extraneous pages the teacher will have to delete as a result of conflicting changes (This may be a deal breaker for teachers accustomed to the instant syncing of a Google Doc.) Nevertheless, this was little more than a nuisance in my classes this past semester, and given that each student has her own folder that only she and the teacher can access, I found myself using the collaboration page less than I expected.

In sum

Despite the drawbacks, I plan to use the ONCNs next semester. Keeping the resources, student folders, and collaboration pages in a single application saved me time, and I like that the software accommodates students who prefer different modes of content creation (i.e. drawing, typing, writing in a book and scanning it, etc.)

References

Everly, P. (2018). Expanding pronunciation instructional time beyond the classroom: Microsoft Office 2016 OneNote Class Notebook as an interactive delivery platform. TESOL Journal, e00421.

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