OneNote Class Notebook now available for all educators

Guest post by Helen Gooch, Microsoft Fellow and Master Trainer. Connect with Helen Gooch on the Microsoft Educator community.

Have you heard about the OneNote Class Notebook? It's a digital notebook that has a personal workspace for every student, a content library for handouts, and a collaboration space for lessons and creative activities. If you are not yet using it in your classroom, we have great news: now all teachers can use the OneNote Class Notebook, even if you do not currently have Office 365.

How? In three easy steps:

1. Go to
2. Sign up for Office 365.
3. Create your Class Notebook and invite your students using their school email addresses

Just in case you want a little more help, here are the steps — in detail with pictures — to walk you through the sign-up process and ensure you're up and running as soon as possible.

Step One: go to

Once you click on the link, you will see this screen. Notice the Class Notebook Sign In. If you have Office 365, click on the purple bar and you are ready to create your class notebook. (If you don't already have Office 365, go to Step 2; otherwise, skip to Step 3.)

Step two: Sign up for FREE Office 365

If you do not have Office 365, click on the link at the bottom and sign up for a free Office 365 account. You will not need your IT department to get started.

This is the next screen you see. Once your valid school email address is entered, click the green "Get started" button. Office 365 goes to work setting up your account.


Step 3: Create your OneNote Class Notebook

Now for the real fun. Go to the App Launcher and launch the OneNote Class Notebook app-located in the lower right corner of the App Launcher. The Class Notebook wizard walks you through six steps to create your first OneNote Class Notebook. First, start by clicking on the nine small rectangles in the top left corner. We call that the App Launcher (a.k.a. "Waffle"). Next, click on the Class Notebook icon as highlighted below.

You will be prompted to name your class notebook. You might consider something along the lines of "Subject/Period/Teacher." Remember, your students may have multiple notebooks from several teachers.

You will then see a screen reminding you that the Content Section Group belongs to the teachers. You have edit rights and can add or change content. Students can see your content and copy from it, but not change it.

The Collaboration Section is set up for teachers and students to edit. This is a great place for group work, brainstorming and problem-based learning. The last part of every notebook is the student section, which teachers can see and edit in every student's notebook. The students can ONLY see and edit their own notebooks.

Next, you will add any other teachers who need visibility into this notebook. Maybe a Special Education teacher, or perhaps an ELL educator needs to monitor progress of a student in your class?

Now it's time to add your students by simply entering their school email addresses. (They will receive an e-mail invitation to set up an Office 365 account. Once they do that, you can add them to your Class Notebook.)

It's now time to set up the notebook sections for your students. Think about your grading categories as a start. Sections you identify here are set for all students. If you need to add a section like Science Labs or Journaling, simply click the "add" button near the bottom. If you want to delete a default section, simply uncheck the box. Students may add additional sections for just themselves. Think about how amazing that feature is for differentiating instruction and adapting to various learning modalities.

Now you can preview your notebook by toggling over to "Student View." Make sure you include all the student sections you want.

In the final step of the wizard, you are given a link to the notebook. Just click the notebook link to open your Class Notebook in OneNote, and your students will receive an email asking them to accept your invitation to join the Class Notebook. Make sure they accept it so that they can access your notebook.

Need more direction? The OneNote team has even more tips and help on their OneNote in Education website. Now, all you need is time to develop the content you want to use with your students. Never fear though, you just need to incorporate tools like Screen Clipping, and insert files and links to bring your content into your new Class Notebook.

OneNote is constantly being improved, and just recently the following key updates were added:

  • Class Notebooks. Co-teachers can now add or remove students to a Class Notebook.
  • Staff Notebooks. Staff leaders can now remove staff members or notebook co-owners and co-owners can now add or remove staff members to a Staff Notebook. In addition, Active Directory security group and Office 365 Group support is now offered.
  • Legacy SharePoint Store app for the OneNote Class Notebook Creator/ This provides the ability to remove students easily.
  • Legacy SharePoint Store app for OneNote Staff Notebooks. This provides the ability to remove staff members.
  • OneNote Online. The top requested feature, Image Crop, was added as well as the ability to unpin notebooks from the notebook list.

If you want to read more about these updates, visit the Office Blogs. There are always new features discussed here. And, make sure to check back soon as OneNote will continue to innovate, and we'll be sure to share how teachers can make the most of this transformative teaching and learning tool.

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