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Learning and OneNote

In the Information Age, learning can be an overwhelming endeavor, especially if you're prone to distractibility and disorganization. Stay on top of your studies by taking a divide-and-conquer approach to information.

On the college campus, laptops have all but replaced notebooks in backpacks. Microsoft OneNote allows people to easily organize and access their work, which is a boon for people who struggle with organization, comprehension, and time management. OneNote's premise is that everyone learns differently, whether or not you've been formally diagnosed with a "disability." This software's focus is on the abilities of individuals — and using those abilities to help you improve your organization, comprehension, and time management skills.


Traditionally, students have used separate notebooks or folders for each course, which made student life complicated. But now add e-mail, online resources, calendars, and other digital information to the mix, and life can be plain overwhelming.

The very first time you launch OneNote, you notice that it acts like a physical notebook. But because OneNote is a main repository for all of your information, you carry all of your notebooks in your laptop, with each section filed in a way that makes sense to you. For each of your classes, you can createa section called "<Course> Notes," and add fresh notes to it each day. (You won't run out of space — and it's paperless.)

If you're a teacher or a parent, you can also create OneNote Templates to help your students in this organization. Office Online also provides OneNote notebooks to get you started with making your own customized templates. And when all of the documents are in the OneNote program, students can also search across multiple notebooks, sections, or pages for information. This includes handwritten, typed, and even spoken notes. Because it can be easy to lose track of information on the computer, with OneNote, information can be organized and searched to meet any learning situation. Once you're in OneNote, regardless where, you can use its search capabilities to find information in any of your notebooks.


OneNote also makes it easier to comprehend information. Sometimes, however, comprehending and taking notes together can be difficult. OneNote allows for audio recordings that can be placed directly into OneNote. For some of us, listening to a speech without writing allows us to process the information better. If you need to take notes on the information again, you can listen to the recording, or even search the audio recording for specific spoken words or phrases.

OneNote has great tools for reading and writing comprehension, such as spell check, dictionaries, and thesaurus. These tools function the same way as Word, but with the added flexibility of knowing where you are and what information is around you. Another valuable feature is "Research," which brings the Web's vast information directly to your OneNote file. By having research incorporated in OneNote, you are able to have your notes right next to the information you are researching.

OneNote can hold all kinds of different files, including pictures, documents, audio files, and more. You can put digital files (or scan paper documents or pictures) directly into OneNote. And every time you insert an item from the Web, OneNote will save that link, so you always know where you found it. Finally, when you search your OneNote file, it will recognize the text in the documents and look in the scanned documents for the query. For files that have nondescript text, like "Homework," or "Assignments," this can be particularly helpful, especially if you tend to miss key information while reading long documents.

Stay on track

Organizing and comprehending information is valuable, but if you can't stay on track, you can't use it. OneNote has many features that can improve time management skills, including task lists and scheduling with Microsoft Outlook. Built into the OneNote interface is the ability to create Outlook task lists. These task lists can give detailed information about what you need to get done, and can pop up when OneNote loads. For example, you could flag homework assignments during each class' notes with note tags to indicate that they're part of your homework list. By allowing unique task lists, you can divide and conquer different tasks, such as homework, quizzes, reports, projects, and tests. In addition, OneNote integrates into Outlook's calendar features. Outlook can then remind you, through sound or visual notifications that assignments are due, even when they are not actively in OneNote or Outlook. This notification can be extremely beneficial if you find it hard to juggle many different assignments.

This information-dense age has ushered in new ways of learning and collaborating, in the classroom, in the workplace, and at home. Whether you're a parent, teacher, counselor, or student, take some time to investigate OneNote.

A little OneNote can go a long way to improving your organization, comprehension, and time management.

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