Tools for Learning Activities: OneNote

See DTS information regarding Class Notebook and TEL e-portfolios guidance before committing to use of these tools. The information in this article is correct at the time of writing, please check our TEL Blog for the latest information on Technology at the University of Reading.

OneNote is 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 has two versions, a generic version and a T&L focused version called Class Notebook. 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
  • Extremely customisable
  • Promotes transferable skills with Office products

Considerations and limitations

  • See DTS information regarding Class Notebook
  • Annotations are anonymous – requires trust in students 
  • Requires set-up
  • Requires a reliable internet connection
  • To collaborate remotely in real-time, requires students to access OneNote and communicate in a separate call/meeting application
  • Smaller screens may find navigation & annotation difficult
  • Annotation works best with a pen/tablet

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Page last updated on June 24, 2022 by jackiefairbairn

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