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Tools for Learning Activities: OneNote and Class Notebook

See DTS information regarding Class Notebook before committing to use. The information in this article is correct at the time of writing. TEL can provide initial orientation but not ongoing support for Microsoft products (please contact DTS for ongoing queries).

OneNote and Class Notebook are a Microsoft Office application that can be used for collaborative and individual work, with options for collaboration, document mark-up, and portfolio-style work.

OneNote and Class Notebook are two versions of the same tool. Class Notebook has some additional functionality, including discrete areas for individual student/instructor interactions.


  • Free (university subscription)
  • Online (browser-based)
  • App (Desktop, Android, iOS)

Key features:

  • Collaborative working in real-time
  • Document mark-up
  • Freehand drawing tools
  • Integration with Teams
  • Maths notation
  • Record audio, insert video, add files
  • Tag work for completion
  • Autosaves progress
  • Work privately or collaboratively in discrete areas (Class Notebook only)
  • Resource areas for access to files without the ability to edit¬†(Class Notebook only)
  • Instructor-only areas for discussion¬†(Class Notebook only)


  • Integrates with other Office products
  • Simple interface
  • Mobile-friendly
  • Saves automatically to the cloud
  • Collaborative worksheet-style sessions
  • Promotes transferable skills with Office products
  • Can set read/write permissions or read only. Can ‘lock’ to prevent further edits by editing share permissions.

Considerations and limitations

  • See DTS information regarding OneNote and Class Notebook
  • Previous reports of synching issues (students should be advised to work in a single browser tab).
  • Requires manual ‘invite’ of student participants, or can provide a universal ‘share’ link that allows anyone with university of reading credentials to access.
  • Annotations are anonymous – requires trust in students¬†
  • Requires a reliable internet connection
  • Smaller screens may find navigation & annotation difficult
  • Freehand annotation works best with a pen/tablet

Copyright information and liabilities

Guide last updated on June 24, 2022

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