The 21st Century Classroom – part II



Written by Gareth Owen
24 September 2017

Whilst there can be no argument that both outstanding and creative teaching have been practiced well before the technological era, it has never been enough for a school to merely prepare students for their exams. A narrow (whilst hugely important) perspective such as this fails to provide the students with a full and rounded education, one that (amongst other things prepares them for the world of the future).
In this series of posts I am going to examine a series of questions including:
• Why the Microsoft Surface Pro?
• How can the Surface Pro and One Note benefit evolve student feedback?
• How can the Surface Pro and Office 365 benefit the teaching and learning in my classroom?
• How can I utilise the Surface device and wireless connectivity to the projector?
• How can I use Office 365 tools to encourage collaboration between students?
• How can I use Office 365 tools to encourage collaboration between staff?
• What other tools within Office 365 can I use?

In this post I am going to examine the second question, how can the Surface Pro and One Note benefit evolve student feedback.
It has been heartening to see many staff (both teaching and administrative) adopt OneNote and Class Notebook even prior to the Surface Pro roll-out; and more heartening still to hear a handful of members of staff mentioning to me how fantastic a tool they think it is in terms of disseminating information to their students.
I describe OneNote as a digital ring-binder folder, one that you can created tabbed sections using those coloured pieces of card. Work you do in whatever form can be put into the folder for safe storage. The difference here is that within OneNote you can have as many folders or “notebooks” as you need (one per class for instance), you can share access to notebook with anyone else and have others share their notebooks with you. It’s quick and easy to copy pages or whole sections into different tabs or even notebooks, and of course with OneDrive support, these notebooks are available from any smart device with internet access.
For teachers, the real potential step-forward in terms of distribution / collection of work, monitoring and assessment comes through the Class Notebook tools. Class Notebook can take under a minute to set up (per class) due to the Oakham School development team adding a function within the OSIS “Set Actions” menu to copy the email address of all students in a class ready to be pasted into the appropriate menu. Once set-up you provide a Notebook with a read-only content library (to provide resources to your students), a collaboration space (for students to share and pass work between each
other), and of course a personal space for them to store their documents. Class Notebooks can of course also be shared between teachers, and even allows a teachers collaboration space (hidden from students). Each of your students sees their own folder, the content library and the collaboration space, where as you as the teacher see the content library, the collaboration space, and all students folders.
The real power of Class Notebook however comes from the near real-time two-way connectivity between student and teacher, student and student, or teacher and teacher. Any documents that the teacher uploads, moves or copies into the content library is instantly available to all members of that Class Notebook, and equally any work that the student is producing inside their Class Notebook, or have upload to it are instantly available to the teacher. This means no more waiting for a week to take in books or folders to mark. It is all there for you near-instantaneously. And the potential for marking and feedback is where I believe OneNote and Class Notebook excels.
Teachers can use their Surface Pen to write directly on the work (as if using paper and pen). For this I prefer to remove the keyboard and turn the Surface Pro upright in “Tablet Mode”. I can select the colour and pen thickness through the “Draw” toolbar, as well as highlighting options. Furthermore I can utilise the Surface pro’s microphone and (if feeling brave) video camera to insert multimedia feedback right there onto the page. This has the potential to increase the quality of the feedback (and possible likelihood of I appropriate attention being paid to it), whilst decreasing the time it takes the
teacher to complete. Best of all, as soon as the marking is on the OneNote page, the student has it available to them, rather than having to wait until the next class. This connectivity therefore supports what the Common Room is trying to achieve with the flip-lesson methodology.
OneNote and Class Notebook also allow files to upload to the document, or if the teacher prefers the student can upload a document file to their Class Notebook folder (for instance after the final lesson of the week). With uploaded document files, the teacher can open up an offline version of the file and utilise office tools like the “Review” tab in Word to add comments and track changes before saving (and automatically uploading) that feedback to the Class Notebook.
In either scenario what you have is an opportunity to immediately access student’s work, once the marking is undertaken this feedback will immediately be available to the student and be a permanent record that logs over time student progress and development through the quality feedback that you have provided. Of course any log of student progress and feedback received is only a matter of clicks away when it comes to evidencing just how good a job it is that you are doing.
Please attend the red book sessions on OneNote and Class Notebook to learn more about how to use these software tools and how easy they are to create and maintain. Potentially a teacher can have all their classes’ resources, student work and the feedback given stored on the one tablet device, just as students could have need, have created, and had returned. As such I firmly believe that this piece of software is firmly worth the efforts and growing pains associated with any change and would recommend to staff to adopt it with at least one trial group in the 2017-18 academic year. Of course, all the resources can be copied into any new content libraries required for your classes in 2018-19 in just a few simple clicks.

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