Microsoft OneNote: For Free

Some Notes.

OneNote is just one of a number of Note-Taking / Management programs / apps that have been around in one form or another since the dawn of personal computing (Probably. I haven’t actually checked) and I mention it here for two reasons:

Firstly, it’s something I’ve used a great deal over the years as a way of organising and cataloguing the notes I create for stuff like lectures, books, articles and, of course, these “popular blog posts”. In other words, I’ve always found it incredibly useful and I trust you’ll find likewise.

As you may or may not be aware, OneNote has always been bundled with Microsoft Office, a suite of programs that is itself as old as the hills, a fact reflected in the inclusion of both a database and spreadsheet as part of the basic package. And while I’m not decrying the utility of such programs (although it’s probably safe to say that when it comes to teachers and students they’re probably not first on the must-have list) I mention them because in order to get access to the programs you really wanted (basically Word and PowerPoint) you had to buy these as well.

Or shell-out the frankly-extortionate amounts Microsoft demanded for standalone versions of each.

This brings me, in a by-now-standard roundabout way, to the second reason: namely that the Microsoft marketing department has decided, for reasons at which I can only guess, to let you and your students have a free copy to use for as long as you like (it’s not a trial version and it doesn’t expire).

This is a version that site on your computer / phone / whatever and so doesn’t require an Internet connection. If you only want / need an online version (along with similar versions of Word, PowerPoint and, for some inexplicable reason, Excel) I’ve posted previously about how these can also be yours for precisely no money.

Some More Notes.

If you’re not entirely convinced about how useful OneNote will be in either your work or your studies, be assured it’s relatively simple to pick-up and use: there’s no steep learning curve for either teachers or students if you just want to take, organise and catalogue notes (albeit notes that can take a variety of formats – from simple text and graphics to video and audio).

On the other hand, once you get to grips with its numerous features there’s a huge-range of more-sophisticated stuff you can do with the information you collect, including sharing it with your students.

And if sharing and / or collaboration is something you’d like to explore in your particular classroom, it would be worth your while to set-up a free OneNote for Education account (you just need to use your school / college’s email address). This gives you, among other things, access to a range of different notebooks (the basic way OneNote stores data) for all of your students, plus teachers and any “team members” who’d like to keep tabs on what’s happening in your classroom.

Which is nice if you’d like to advertise all the good things you’re doing with your class, but also a little bit Orwellian for my taste.

And on that Note.

Happy New Year.

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