OneNote is a basic work processor for taking text notes. It does do much more than take text notes but text notes lie at the heart of this application. It has the most basic of word processor tools with fonts, text alignment and formatting options. These tools should be familiar to just about anyone that has used a word processor like Microsoft Word. OneNote uses text boxes and text styles to format notes on pages. This opens up formatting and styling possibilities that make this more than just a tool for taking notes.

In the Homework section for a Biology notebook we will add a page and title it “Animal Classifications”.

OneNote for use with Class Notebooks is part of Office 2016 with Office 365 for education and business. OneNote is available in two formats for Windows. They include the Desktop version and the mobile version. We’ll be looking at both versions. Let’s begin with the Desktop version.

OneNote Desktop Version

Click on Windows Start, and find the OneNote application. The Desktop version is titled OneNote 2016.

one note 2016 app

The Class Notebook application is used to create class notebooks and to manage the settings for these notebooks. The content of the notebooks is created with the OneNote application. OneNote is available as an installable application for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. These applications are a way to work on OneNote with various devices and keep the notes synced with the Office 365 cloud account. The applications allow us to work on notebooks when there isn’t an Internet connection available.

There are several notable differences when working with OneNote Online, on tablet devices like the Surface, iOS and Android devices. Having said that, we are also more likely to use a variety of devices when working with OneNote and knowing how to use the application on each device can inform us of the benefits of using OneNote on specific devices. All the features are not consistent across all device applications.

OneNote Online for Office 365

To open OneNote, click on the Office 365 apps launcher.

office 365 apps launcher

At the end of the year we may be tempted to delete class notebooks. I’ve usually found it more valuable to hold on to the notebooks for at least one year. This is because I’ve been asked to recall or retrieve student information, notes, assignments or assessments from a previous year. Archiving class notebooks is an excellent way to remove them from the class notebooks list and keep them accessible for future reference.

To archive a class notebook open OneNote. Click on the application launcher and select OneNote.

class notebook tile

Be careful when choosing to rename notebooks. This might cause confusion for students and other teachers that have access to the notebook. The link in OneNote for recent notebooks will be broken and students will need to go to the Class Notebooks section to open the notebook with the new name.

To rename a class notebook open any notebook with OneNote. Click on the apps launcher and click the OneNote tile.

class notebook tile

Sections in student notebooks can be renamed for all student notebooks in a class notebook. This provides an easy way to make sure all student notebooks have consistent sections that are all named the same.

Having section names that are all named the same may not always work in all situations. In a classroom, we may a student who’s native language is not English. In these situations, it might be useful to be able to rename the sections for students so they appear in their native language. Students can rename their own sections but as teachers, we often like for things to be a little consistent. Naming these sections ourselves helps when providing students instructions during a lesson. Renaming sections can be part of the differentiation process.

To rename an individual student’s notebook section, open a class notebook, and click on the student’s notebook to reveal the sections.

class notebook sections

Right click on a section and click on rename when the contextual menu opens.

rename section option

Provide a different name for the section when the section name dialog box opens. Click the OK button to save the section name change.

renamed section

Rename the remaining sections as needed.

all sections renamed


During the class notebook creation process, several sections are created in each student notebook. These sections include class notes, handouts, and homework. We can add sections to student notebooks after the class notebook is created. We can also change the names of these sections at any time.

To change the name of sections in a student notebook, open the Class notebook application and click on the Manage notebooks tile. All the class notebooks created will be listed along with the student sections available for each student notebook.

Class notebook student section

Click once on a section name to edit the name for that section.

New section added

Change the name of one or more sections and click the save button. The names on all the affected sections will be updated on all student notebooks.

New section name


The collaboration space is automatically created when a new class notebook is created. It’s available to all students that have access to the class notebook. This is where students can go to work on assignments, share information or have discussions. There may be times when the collaboration space might not be needed or when it would need to be locked so students don’t have access.

To lock down this section, open the Class Notebook app and click on the Manage notebooks tile.

manage notebooks tile

Scroll to a Class notebook and find the “Lock Collaboration Space” option. To lock the space click on the switch once.

lock collaboration space option

The switch will change color and the text will change to read locked. This section will be locked for students but teachers will still have access.

collaboration space locked

The collaboration space can be used to have students work on projects. Locking the space at the end of a project can give teachers time to grade projects without students making changes.


As teachers, we often plan and develop lesson plans with other teachers in our grade level or with teachers in our department. Other teachers can be invited to be part of a Classroom Notebook. These teachers would have the same access to the Class Notebook as the teacher that owns the notebook. Invited teachers would not be able to delete the original Class Notebook. Only the owner of the Class Notebook would be able to delete it. Teachers can also be removed from a Class Notebook.

Adding Teachers To A Class Notebook

To add teachers to a Classroom Notebook, click on the apps launcher.

office 365 apps launcher

A teacher only section in OneNote Class Notebook is an area that is not viewable by students. It is available to all teachers in a Class Notebook. This section is valuable for teachers to prepare material that will eventually be distributed to students. It can be used to share ideas, notes and materials for lesson plans, curriculum and activities. Sections can be created within this area and then shared with students through links or by copying the content of the section to the content library section.

To create a teacher only section, click on the apps launcher and select the Class Notebook tile.

class notebook tile

Click on the Manage Notebooks tile.

manage notebooks tile

Click on the option to enable the teacher-only section.

enable teacher only section option

Click on the link to open the class notebook in OneNote online.

teacher only section enabled message

The teacher only section will be listed below the other class notebook sections and above any student notebooks.

teacher only section in class notebook

The teacher only section is like all the other sections and notebooks. New sections and pages can be added as needed.

getting started page


In a previous lesson, we learned how to create additional sections in all student notebooks. We can create individual sections for individual student notebooks. Being able to create individual sections in individual student notebooks helps differentiate content for students and provide learning opportunities for students with special needs.

A section can be created where we provide simplified or alternate content for some students based on their Individual Learning Plan and other students can receive challenging material to accommodate Gifted and Talented students. This is where we can provide differentiated instructions, lessons or material.

Click on the apps launcher and select the OneNote tile.

class notebook tile

Several sections are created in student notebooks during the process of creating a Class Notebook. The sections include Class Notes, Homework, Quizzes, and Handouts. We can add more sections to all student class notebooks in the Manage Notebooks application.

Click on the app launcher in Office 365 and select the Class Notebook tile.

class notebook tile

A class notebook has a section called Welcome, which is automatically created. Sections can be created to help organize content for teachers and students. Teachers can create sections anywhere in a Class Notebook. This includes creating sections within student notebooks. Students are limited to creating sections in their own notebook and in the Collaboration Space notebook.

Click on the apps launcher and select the OneNote tile.

class notebook tile

One common part of students in our classrooms is that they come and go throughout the year. Students invited to the Class Notebook when it was created will inevitably change because students will leave and new students will arrive. It's very easy to add and remove students in a Class Notebook.

To add or remove students from a Class Notebook click the apps launcher in Office 365.

onenote online notebook

Class Notebook is part of Office 365 for education and OneDrive for Business. Teachers and students need an organization account to access OneNote Class Notebook. This is usually an email, which is created for teachers and students. Office 2016 does not need to be installed in order to use Class Notebook. This application is available as a cloud service. The cloud-based service provides the most basic of services as compared to the application option.

Class Notebook can be accessed with the OneNote application once it has been created with the Cloud service. OneNote is available for a variety of devices. These devices include Windows desktops, laptops, Surface tablet, iPad, iPhone, Chromebook, and various Android devices. OneNote syncs notebooks with Office 365 cloud service when it's connected to the Internet. This means that notes are stored on the device and synced to the cloud when Internet access is available. When Internet access is not available, the notebooks are still editable. OneNote syncs updates to Office 365 cloud when Internet access is available.