THE GREAT OneNote DEBATE

from Ignite, Summer 2021

For: Mr White

When my Politics class asked me to write an article expounding the wonders of OneNote, I was, of course, overjoyed - who wouldn't be. However, I was then saddened to hear that this was being done in defence of OneNote as one of the class was writing an article dismissing this wonderful creation; the rabble was being roused. No matter how much I tried to defend this wonderful piece of software, the class were entrenched in their views and no amount of evidence would change their mind- how ironic for a Politics class. So, it is to you, the people, that I make my case.

 

OneNote is simply a fantastic tool to use due to its versatility as an educational device. A easily and quickly accessible whiteboard, it is open for collaborations. You might say, that since it never ends it is the epitome of education without limits; there is no need to rub ideas out and it is ever extending in all directions. Information can be beautifully ordered, (you can even select the colours of your tabs for delightful coordination), secured in the content library, and copied into your own personalised areas for adaptations.

 

In a world of guided home learning, it provides a simple way to set out a lesson, and suggest structuring notes until my students become adept at doing so themselves. I can distribute new sections that, to the chagrin of my Politics class, update immediately and also create card sorts and distribute worksheets with the minimum fuss (less time clearing away paper). Collaboration spaces allow you to work on documents simultaneously without having to open new software or platforms. Additionally, you can do maths! Actual, proper maths using it!! If this wasn’t enough, I can mark on the computer, I can leave audio notes as feedback, I can share students work with others at rapid speed, and you can all review each other's work! The versatility of pages and subpages make the organisation even easier; you can add lines to your page should you wish to write with a pen on the computer, and to top it all off, you can make a table by typing and clicking shift. Revolutionary!

 

I have no doubt Milly will make claims such as 'it doesn't update', 'it is the same as office/word/Teams', 'it is pointless', 'you can't trust it' and other such tropes. Yet OneNote does everything you need, and whenever new technology is introduced, our reaction is often to retreat because it is new or different. I would suggest in this instance, fighting back the fear of unfamiliarity and the temptation to be flippant about its utility is worthwhile. If we take the time to engage and utilise this great piece of software, it can revolutionise how you approach work (and make it much quicker).

 

Not only this, but it is also the greener option...

Against: Milly

 

Let me get this straight; I have nothing against the concept of OneNote. As much as it pains me to say this, it has the potential to be a great piece of software. Mr White can go on for what feels like forever, or at least a good twenty minutes of our Politics double (I’m not complaining!), singing its praises and endlessly promoting all the great features OneNote supposedly has; a whiteboard that goes on forever, an easy collaboration space, beautifully ordered pages and, you can’t forget, the subpages. I’m all for trying out new technology and embracing these seemingly genius components, but alas, the fact still remains; these are all theoretical. OneNote does not actually work.

 

When I finally mastered how this dreaded minefield of a software works, I was a good few months into my a-level – believe it or not Mr White, not everyone seems to be a tech genius and immediately pick up all of OneNote’s weird quirks like you. The truth is that OneNote is an excessively complicated piece of software that, quite honestly, you need one of those ‘Dummies for…’ books to use. And I’m saying this as someone who is fairly good with technology.

 

As for the so-called collaborative aspect. Sure, it’s great that everyone can type onto the same page at once, but when all our different textboxes end up piled on top of each other like a bizarre wordsearch, everyone just ends up questioning why we couldn’t have used the classic class email chain instead.

 

A supposed selling point of this mess of a programme is its endless page; I would argue that this is OneNote’s chief downfall. One accidental click and my whole page has shifted, sending my well-crafted essay miles away and requiring a good ten minutes of scrolling to find where in the Microsoft cellar it's wound up. I miss the days of a standard A4 page where I wouldn’t have to embark on a tedious journey to find the image I just pasted in, as it was delightfully just sitting there, exactly where I wanted it. A strange thing to miss, but that's exactly what OneNote has done to me.

 

So, as I sit there in Politics with my OneNote frozen after one of its many glitches, and Mr White comes over to tell me I need to update it for the fourth time this week, I find myself wistfully thinking back to the days of the good old, plain and simple, Microsoft Word. Take me back.