OneNote, Publisher, Moodle…

Microsoft OneNote:

If there is one piece of tech that I have been craving to learn more about, it is OneNote.  I started using it myself over a year ago, and then had learners use it in the lab last summer.  With any new software or app, it takes some getting used to.  But its possibilities are endless!

It is an organizational app that functions as a multi-page notebook where you can:

  • organize and divide subject areas into pages or tabs
  • upload Word or PowerPoint or Excel (or anything, for that matter)
  • record video and audio (yes, and it works! at least the audio, haven’t had cams to try the video)
  • save to The Cloud; if you have a Microsoft account and OneNote at home, this gives you access to your OneNote files from anywhere!
  • draw pictures using the draw tool like an interactive white board
  • print notebook pages if you need to
  • send yourself (or others) an email copy of a particular page or an entire notebook

My group is currently working on their Company Project, and they are in the process of organizing their OneNote as an electronic portfolio, showcasing the entire project, including their rough notes and recorded components (they need to record a 30 second radio ad and a 2 minute Thank You speech).

OneNote usually sits quietly in the Microsoft Office suite, unnoticed, developing a considerable inferiority complex.  What with PBLA taking us by storm, I think that this is a practical and simple way to collect artefacts.  Remember, the notebook can be printed off for the actual binder, but organizing it into OneNote means that the material has been saved and digitally archived.  Also, it’s something of a challenge exporting recorded voice samples into a paper-based portfolio… (I’ve heard that some teachers have been digging up another kind of artefact, the tape recorder, and the hunt has been on for Maxells…  Let’s just be happy that we never could record on an 8-track.)


What a wealth of resources, just sitting there waiting to be explored (and then copied and pasted or uploaded into OneNote!).   Artefacts just waiting to be dug up and explored…

There are templates for flyers, business cards, resumes, business forms, announcements, calendars, greeting cards, brochures, newsletters, invitations, signs, etc.  Using click and drag functions, it is user friendly.  Most learners can get the hang of the basic features, and then they often explore the more advanced functions themselves (adjusting the colour schemes, finding images online and then cropping or cutting backgrounds to fit the task).

The Learning Management System

The LMS has become an integral component to the course, and it is used every day.  Learners have Company Groups and use the LMS to share ideas on “wikis”, to check news, to participate in discussions, and to ultimately submit their Company assignments.

They set “SMART” goals every week – one learning goal and one personal goal, using the SMART process.  This is part of making students accountable to themselves; I weigh in to give them advice and encouragement, and to let them know that a goal that hasn’t been met doesn’t mean that they’ve failed.  We review what the challenges were.  Was the goal realistic?  What can they do to meet the goal for the next week?

QUARTZ Update:

I have not yet jumped into Quartz, at least not since my initial foray.  Maybe I should take my own advice and start setting weekly SMART goals for myself!  From my initial impression, I think I would save myself some headaches by having the material completely mapped out before inputting it, rather than developing within Quartz itself.  At least, not until I get to know it a little better.  My CLB2012 is getting a little ratty! But I guess that ‘s a good thing…

Tic Toc Tech

And Now For Something Completely Different

It seems like just when you’ve managed to get a handle on a particular element of technology, it’s replaced with something new. Now, I don’t subscribe to the hands-in-the-air  oh-woe-is-me I’ve-done-it-all-for-nothing philosophy.  (My subscription ran out last year and I never renewed…) I believe that whatever I’ve picked up from one piece of tech, I can transfer to another. Ususally…

What I’m yammering on about is The Online Organizational Tool.  You know I’ve been using Planboard, and while I’m still far from being an expert, I’m getting more and more comfortable with it. And I also found out that the Ontario Teachers’ Federation uses and promotes Planboard.  Plus Planboard is a Waterloo-based company, and I’m all for supporting local businesses.

Quartz Is the New Planboard

As it turns out, there is another Online Organizational Tool that has been developed (or is being developed) specifically for ESL instructors.  This is called Quartz.  It has some features similar to Planboard, but it also comes preloaded with a rather intimidating amount of CLB resources, including:

  • all CLB competencies and levels, at least CLB 1-8
  • Samples of tasks at all levels
  • breakdowns of grammatical, functional, sociolinguistic, textual knowledge (forming checkboxes that you can select depending on your lesson)

I’ve looked through it, and have entered some information.  My initial impression is that it is cumbersome and not very user friendly.  I’m not a tech genius (despite the t-shirt), but unless the app is extremely straight forward, it is likely to be met with resistance.  As it is, ESL instructors are, shall we say, disinclined, to invest their 30 minutes of daily prep time in an organizational app.

But I may be being premature here.  I do plan on giving Quartz a fair chance.  In fact, I will be documenting my experience with it in this blog, including keeping a strict time log.

Keep in mind, I have received no training on Quartz – and there does not appear to be a training manual available on the site itself.  Just ride this puppy and see where it takes you…  That’s usually my approach, anyway.  I save the instructions for when I’m stuck.  There is an actual course on Quartz, but it’s for selected instructors only.  So, I’m sure their feedback will help guide and shape the training that is likely to come.

Here I go with another tech tool.  For any other ESL instructor doing the same thing, May the Quartz be with you…

(yeah, my inner geek is showing…)