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OneNote Shared Sessions for In-Class Groupwork
10/06/2007 - 20:44
Last semester I used OneNote's shared sessions as a way for my class to collaborate among groups during an in-class group exercise. If you're not familar with this feature of OneNote, it's basically a way to share the same notebook with multiple computers. Any of the participants can modify the notebook, add new pages, etc. and the results are broadcast to all participants in near real-time.
It's pretty easy to set up. More information on setting up shared sessions is here: http://personal-computer-tutor.com/abc4/v38/kath38o.htm
My class was pretty small, so I broke the students into three groups. Each group appointed a "scribe" who was given a tablet PC and had the job of taking notes and writing down progress on their exercise (which happened to be some code review and design of a user interface). Each group had a separate page in OneNote upon which they wrote down their solutions.
There are a couple of cool things here:
Overall, I thought OneNote's shared folders worked pretty well. I think there are a lot of other possible applications in the classroom. For example, it can be used in non-edit mode where the instructor broadcasts to all students. When the shared session ends, all the students have their own copy of the material. Unfortunately though, OneNote doesn't seem to allow users to make local annotations to shared notebooks. It's also an excellent tool for brainstorming.
With a large number of users editing a notebook at the same time the result will be chaotic though, unless the instructor imposes some rules of order. The only permissions are for everyone to have write access, or only the session moderator to have write access. Mischevious students could erase the work done by other students or even the instructor!