I’m doing a little series on giving timely feedback to students during remote learning, with a focus on OneNote, Forms and Teams. So Day 103 of 365 Ideas for Microsoft 365 will show you how to use the dictation and audio notes features of OneNote.
A Brief History of OneNote
OneNote was originally designed to be a digital binder. Rather than being a place to create content, it was a place to collect, organize and store things you made elsewhere. OneNote has grown into so much more; I write all my articles and even my book in OneNote. Nevertheless, that is it’s legacy. OneNote (along with PowerPoint) has also tended to be where innovative new tools in general and especially accessibility features show up first. In fact OneNote was the first Ed Tech tool for the general population that I am aware of that had both text to speech and speech to text. (TTS and dictation.)
Dictation- (Speech to text)
Dictation is easy to find- it is right on the Home tab in the ribbon.
The dropdown lets you choose from 19 languages. Well, languages and dialects. That includes 5 versions of English, 2 Spanish and 2 French. So, it’s still 13 different languages. Once you have chosen your language ,press the dictate button and wait a second for it to activate. You will see a red circle indicating that it is recording, or in this case dictating, and as you speak the words will appear on the page. Click dictate or just stop talking for awhile and dictate will turn off.
“I’m not sure how long you have to stop talking for it to stop dictating. However it does insert punctuation when you say comma or when you say period, for example. I just dictated this paragraph to see how the punctuation works!”
Universal Design for Learning
Dictation is a great example of Universal Design for Learning because even though it was originally created for people with disabilities, I’m sure you have found situations where you have used dictation whether you have a writing disability or not. For a teacher grading assignments or giving feedback it can be handy to be able to speak rather than type out because teachers, like most other people, typically speak faster than they type. It also allows you to give feedback while you’re on an exercise bike, for example. Since I have the OneNote app on my phone, I could even provide feedback via dictation in OneNote at a red light. When my wife is driving, of course.
Audio recording in OneNote
Audio recording does exactly what it sounds like. Click on the Insert tab on the ribbon and you’ll find the Audio button. When you click it, wherever your cursor is, this icon will appear.
Also, in the ribbon, the Audio tab will appear. You will see that tab in this video.
Audio Recording use for Students
As noted in the video, the audio recording will follow you around on the OneNote page, adding a small speaker icon wherever you type, draw or write. When you play back the audio, those locations are highlighted when the audio reaches the point that was being recorded when you were working in that location. You can also click on those small speaker icons to play the audio from that location. The audio tab allows you to fast forward or rewind either 15 seconds or 5 minutes. This makes OneNote a great tool for taking notes during a lecture-style presentation. Turn on the audio recording of your teacher or professor, or any class discussion, and then take notes via typing, drawing or writing without having to worry about writing down every little thing. When you go back over your notes, hear the conversation or lecture in context.
Audio Recording Use for Teachers
This also is another great way for teachers to provide feedback to students. As has often been noted, emails are far more likely to be misinterpreted than phone calls, because of the power of the voice to communicate meaning, emotions and intentions. Doesn’t it make sense when a teacher is giving feedback, particularly if it includes corrective feedback, that we should want to use the best form of communication available? All the benefits we already mentioned about the convenience, efficiency and accessibility of dictation is true for audio recording as well.
When it comes to giving students feedback, you can place your cursor near the place in the student’s work that you want to comment on and create your audio comment. Click stop when you are finished. Need to make another comment in another spot? Move your cursor there are repeat as needed.
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If you like this style of directions and screenshots, walking you through ideas for using Microsoft tools in your classroom, check out my book,
All the Microsoft Tools You Need to Transform Your Classroom: 50 Ideas for using Microsoft Office 365 for Education available on amazon in both Kindle and paperback.