Growing up we can all probably remember going back to school shopping with our parents. The bulk of that school shopping consisted of purchasing various notebooks, from single subject to multiple subject notebooks. As the school year wore on, I would use all the blank pages, occasionally have a page that would fall out and get lost or damaged.
Today’s students can use digital notebooks, one such digital notebook, mySchoolNotebook is both an online website and an app that can be downloaded to both Apple and Android devices. If the use of the internet and all its distractions are of concern to both educators and parents, mySchoolNotebook can be used offline through the app.
When the student logs into the tool, there is an option to create a new notebook. The tool allows the student to name the subject and teacher that notebook will apply to, once the notebook is created topic sections can be added by typing the name of the topic in the text field. Additional topics can be created by clicking the add a topic button. After creating the topic, the student can then add lessons to the notebook. Each lesson is grouped with a singular topic for example a student may use history as the topic, but separate the lessons by American History and European History. The tool does have limited word processing capabilities, such as the ability to change font type, size and color as well as justification and the addition of bullet points. When clicking the pencil icon, the student is given the ability to add in note graphs and hand drawn shapes, there is a limited number of predefined shapes available which can be incorporated into the notes.
The mySchoolNotebook tool allows students to incorporate innovative and creative thought into what can be seen as mundane, school notes. The tool allows the integration of relevant media into the notes such as charts, maps and pictures that can help the student to further their learning goals allowing the student to reference additional supplements that can be used in conjunction with the notes taken, because notes are often used as study aids, providing additional references within the notes helps with organization, and can be used to provide additional help to further understanding of a topic.
Within ISTE creativity and innovation is the first point in the standards. This tool does allow for that creativity and innovation by allowing a student to create notes in a way that best suits their learning style. Instead of expecting all students to listen and regurgitate what they heard onto paper, this tool gives them the freedom to create other methods to demonstrate their understanding of the material presented such as diagrams that can be used as mind maps.
Currently in curriculum notetaking is a personal endeavor. While some students engage in sharing notes, this is usually for emergency reasons, such as a classmate missing school. Notes aren’t currently used in a collaborative manner. Promoting and supporting collaboration can be a valuable and easy means by which to increase student engagement.
This tool does allow students to share their notebooks through email and there is an option to allow the notebook to be viewable in a Google search based on the name of the notebook. ISTE promotes students being knowledge constructors, within ISTE the understanding is that, “Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others (International Society for Technology in Education , 2017). Sharing a notebook does not correlate to the student doing all the work for the classmate, but that collaboration may open other students to ideas, concepts and theories not before realized.
The ISTE does encourage student creativity and collaboration, but tasks educators with the facilitation of this creativity and collaboration. Within the ISTE the standards set forth state that the educator should, “promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understand and thinking, planning, and creative processes” (International Society for Technology in Education , 2008). This goes with allowing the students to create notes that are outside the thinking of traditional note taking and then allowing those notes to be shared among the classmates. The educator can challenge the students to
While I do believe that in its present state mySchoolNotebook is a wonderful tool, there is room for improvement. There is the ability to import files into the notebooks, but what I would like to see is a more robust interface within the tool itself. Instead of needing to go to a separate tool, the ability to create charts, mind maps and process diagrams would be helpful. This allows the student to keep their focus on one tool and not worry about creating in one place to import in another, while still allowing that creative unique expression that can be invaluable in helping a student to further their understanding of the topic.
In pen to paper notetaking I understand that the student can’t import a spreadsheet or any other type of file and the tool allows for greater organization, but allowing a student that may be using this on a mobile device to create augmentations such as charts and mind maps within the app would make the ease of use greater and could allow for greater innovation as the student may receive inspiration outside of the classroom and can take advantage of the tool to note that inspiration. Also, the import media functionality does need some development. Currently when media is imported it’s attached to the notebook, similarly like an email attachment. Allowing the option to integrate the media into the actual notes would allow for a seamless transition for the student between the typed notes and the supplements.
For the educator, this allows their students to explore the world outside the classroom, without worrying about if they’ll be able to take the notes as needed. Also, allowing for greater flexibility within the tool helps to alleviate the worry of having the data or internet connection necessary to use the upload features.
International Society for Technology in Education . (2008). ISTE Standars Teachers . Retrieved from ISTE : http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-teachers
International Society for Technology in Education . (2017). ISTE Standards Students. Retrieved from ISTE: http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/for-students-2016