A few months ago (November 2010) I gave a presentation at our Computer Information Night(s), regarding the effective use of OneNote and Tablet PCs in a school environment. I have used Tablet PCs (primarily the Toshiba M405) for the past 3 years, and OneNote for 2 years and have seen a radical change in the way that I use and organize information.
Before beginning to use Tablet PCs in 2008, I had a “standard” laptop. Using folders and having multiple files for notes, articles, and other minor pieces of work, cluttered my ‘My Documents’ folder. Word documents full of class notes, over 10,000 words / 55 pages long, made it difficult to find information. Doing my mathematics work on paper / in exercise books, was messy and confusing, making it difficult to learn from notes, and previous mistakes. And then there was the amount of paper that was given out. I don’t have an exact number of how much, but considering that last year, a year during which I exclusively used my Tablet, I went through roughly 1,000 sheets of paper, the vast majority being handouts, it certainly was a lot of paper.
This became too much for in early 2010, so I decided to use my Tablet PC for all my school work. I was able to put feelings of being overwhelmed by paper, loosing or ‘misplacing’ pieces of paper, and the messiness of things everywhere, behind me, largely through the use of OneNote.
The three main reasons why I choose to use OneNote were:
- Easy to backup
Paper gets lost. Paper gets damaged. (Most) work on your machine isn’t ‘backed-up’ all the time. It can be lost through viruses, and is ‘stuck’ in this one location (on your harddrive). OneNote on the other hand, not only keeps all your notebooks (by default) in a single folder, making for easy backups of your work, but also makes it easy to synchronize your work with the Cloud, using Office Live – automatically synchronizing your work, and enabling access from multiple devices (through PCs, the Internet, and Windows Phone). See Shared Notebooks: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/onenote-help/share-notebooks-in-onenote-2010-HA010386952.aspx
- Easy to organize
You can’t easily find something in a pile of paper. Searching for a phrase in a collection of documents full of notes doesn’t always return relevant and timely results. OneNote, however, allows for quick and relevant searches throughout all you documents, including text, images, and ink. OneNote makes it simple to tag relevant selections of text, ink and images, making it easy to find (for example) all quotations in a History Notebook. See Tagging: http://www.addictivetips.com/microsoft-office/onenote-2010-tagging-guide/
- Easy to take brilliant notes
Taking notes on paper or in a Word document, frequently results in a collection of different documents of notes, completely separate from their context and relevance. OneNote makes it easy to take notes where the context is automatically saved. Also, by letting you write anywhere on a page, not restricting you to Top to Bottom, linear, content, as well as supporting inking, OneNote makes it easy to take brilliant notes quickly. See Linked Notes: http://www.onenotehelp.com/2009/11/19/take-linked-notes-in-onenote-2010/
So, with all my notes in OneNote on my Tablet PC, synced with Office Live, I have been able to organize my school life without being in a mess of paper, loosing paper, or being overwhelmed by paper.
I haven’t look back.