One Note

What is OneNote?
Microsoft OneNote is a digital notebook that provides its users with a digital platform where they can gather all their notes and information. It allows its users to work collaboratively with peers and colleagues by sharing their own notes and information with others. This Computer program is available in Microsoft Office (desktop version), in (where it can be used online), and as a mobile phone application.

Tool and Application

Vocabulary Notebooks in the Academic English classroom.

Microsoft OneNote can be used as a platform to create a wide variety of vocabularies. We can support these ‘vocabulary notebooks’ using images, sounds, voice recordings, and videos. In this way, we can customize our notes to make them more engaging and appealing to our sight. Some researchers have used Microsoft OneNote to analyze if this software can help EFL students to learn the most used English words in academic contexts. Results have shown that OneNote may help students on learning new vocabulary, however, some students may feel reluctant to the use of technology to study.

Information management in education

Freshmen and sophomores students may feel very stressed due to information overload in their college years. Tools like Microsoft OneNote may serve as digital note-taking software that can aid these students to manage these large amounts of information. Furthermore, the collaborations options that this software offers can also help students to deal with large amounts of data.

Researchers have found that students perceive OneNote as ‘very fascinating’ and enjoyable, especially when lectures are done in this software.

How to use Microsoft OneNote

The first thing to do is to go to our OneNote profile. To do that, you need to go and download the desktop version or start using the online version. You can register either with your Gmail Account or Facebook Account.
Once we are registered, the following page will appear. Here we can click in ‘+New’ to create a new folder.

Once we have created our new folder, we can start working in our sections and subsections. As can be seen in the example, the ‘animals’ folder is divided into mammals, birds, and reptiles. In the mammal’s subsections I added a definition, 3 mammals, and a voice recording in which I am pronouncing the items.

In terms of language learning, Microsoft OneNote has a very interesting tool called immersive reader. This tool can be useful for language learning due to its capacity to show the pronunciation of the words as can be seen in the following video.

Video by
Bisera Ristikj


Opportunities for communication and/or collaboration

One of the strongest points of Microsoft OneNote is the social element that brings to the table. Students can work collaboratively sharing their notes with their peers, allowing them to give and receive feedback, criticize the work of others, create discussions, etc. Students can act as ‘editors’ and are required to check other students’ entries, changing anything they were not satisfied with.

Microsoft OneNote could be a very good option for students who preparing themselves for their finals. They can share all the information they have gathered throughout the semester and write it in OneNote creating sections, chapters, adding multimodal materials, etc. In this way, OneNote may serve as a collaboratively digital notebook.

In words of Walker and White (2013), note-taking activities are useful for students because they provide the students with “an opportunity to work together to prepare a presentation and a report, thus preparing them for some of the group activities that they may need to undertake in their further study”.

Ideas for English language teachers

Digital Storytelling

As English teachers, we can create environments in which our students can put in practice their writing skills. Storytelling is a good way to achieve the development of this particular skill. By telling stories, students can express opinions, emotions, thoughts, and they can create their own literary universes. On the other hand, Digital storytelling allows students to support their stories with videos, images, sounds, audios, drawings, and narration, turning a simple written task into a multimodal activity.

Microsoft OneNote provides students with a set of tools that expand their notion of multimodality. Students can start creating written drafts on OneNote and receive online feedback by their teachers. While working on their drafts, they can add images or drawings of their characters and setting of their story. They can create an introductory video of their favorite/main character of the story and embed it on OneNote. Once their final draft is ready, we can ask our students to produce a narration/voice recording of the story they have created. Language learners can use the ‘immersive reader’ tool to listen to the pronunciation of words they do not know or have not heard before.

Ideas for language learners


Due to the big number of tools that Microsoft OneNote provides, this software can be used by students as a tool to create digital mind-maps. These forms of maps are considered to be very useful for language learners, especially when they are dealing with large amounts of information. Mind maps allow students to plan and organize their ideas by creating visual representations of their thoughts.

Studies like the one made by Buran and Filyukov (2015) suggest that these types of activities enhance English language skills such as reading, writing, plan-making, problem-solving, and speaking in public.

In OneNote, students can add images, voice recordings, videos, and hyperlinks to their mind-maps. These elements can help the student to make their maps more interesting, engaging, and customizable. Furthermore, by working with others, students can make large ‘mind-mapping projects’ through collaboration.

Alternative Apps

Evernote and Bear (iOS) are some of the most famous options for note-taking.

Evernote was one of the first tools developed to create digital notes. It is a multiplatform application that set the standards for future computer programs and applications related with note-taking. One of its strongest points is that is able to identify texts within images.

Bear is a very good option for those who are used to apple products. Its most distinguishable trait is the markdown tool, which is a ‘smart formatting tool’ that do the job of ‘decorating’ your notes with headings, italicized texts, footnotes, bullet points, etc.

About the Author


Ristikj (2016). Using OneNote Learning Tools in the foreign language classroom. Retrieved on April 23, from

Turner, J. (2011). Using Microsoft OneNote for collaborative vocabulary notebooks in the academic English classroom.

Armstrong, C., & Llorin, J. (2015). Using Shared Microsoft OneNote “Binders” to Create a School Environment for Sharing, Continual Formative Assessment, & Information Organization. In The Impact of Pen and Touch Technology on Education (pp. 241-247). Springer, Cham.

Jeschke, S., Knipping, L., Natho, N., Schröder, C., & Zorn, E. (2009). Information management in education using Tablet PCs and OneNote. In SEFI 2009 Annual Conference-Attracting Young People in Engineering. SEFI.

Buran, A., & Filyukov, A. (2015). Mind mapping technique in language learning. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 206, 215-218.

Christiansen, M. S., & Koelzer, M. L. (2016). Digital storytelling: Using different technologies for EFL. MEXTESOL Journal, 40(1), 1-14.

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Walker, A., & White, G. (2013). Technology Enhanced Language Learning: connecting theory and practice-Oxford Handbook

Casanave, C.P. (2017). Controversies in second language writing: Dilemmas and decisions in research and instruction (2nd ed). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Sauro, S., & Sundmark, B. (2016). Report from Middle-Earth: fan fiction tasks in the EFL classroom. Elt Journal, 70(4), 414–423.