Is this education’s biggest game-changer?

Speaking on the sidelines of this week’s EduTech conference in Brisbane, Cincinnati Day School teacher and One Note creator, Rob Baker told The Educator why he believes his invention is the most powerful digital learning tool ever made.

One Note, which went online late last year, has spread to more than one million people worldwide in less than six months – and about 800,000 of those users are in Australia alone.

“At Cincinnati Country Day School I really felt that we had the best kept secret on the planet in terms of educating kids,” Baker said.

“I think that every school can benefit from this because it really lets teachers and students focus on what they care about – great pedagogy, collaborating, problem-solving, making mistakes and learning from them.

“So I really believe that every school at every level can benefit from simplifying and streamlining everything that they want to do.”

Baker said cognitive load was something teachers “have spent a lot of time talking about”, adding the challenge was how to preserve class-time and “do more of what teachers want to do so students can grasp the concepts”.

“That’s what One Note does. It’s an awesome mashable wiki that lets you use all the modalities that mean something to you,” Baker said.

Expanding on the functionality of the tool, Baker explained how One Note allows teachers and students to use pen, touch, typing and a range of other integrated features designed to give schools the most versatile learning resource possible.

“Digital ink is a modality and it makes sense in a lot of problem-solving. Research says that about 80% of what you write and sketch and highlight in problem-solving is non-linguistic.

“That means you’re not writing sentences, you’re circling, you’re crossing out, you’re trying to get to the root of the problem so you can solve it. If you don’t have that functionality on your device then you’re going to have to do it somewhere else,” Baker said.

“Brain research says that cognitive load is where you want everything in one place so you can just focus on the task,” Baker said, adding that reducing cognitive load helps academically weaker students the most.

“Your high-performing students can probably overcome the limitations of trying to keep track of different things, but your kids who really need the most help are the weaker students,” Baker said.

“If you could bring everything together so they can use images, text, highlighting, drawing, sketching, and audio and video, then they really can focus on figuring out what they need to figure out and succeed.

“It looks like we were right. From the start, we really knew we were on to something.”
The next update to One Note, which is expected to be released in the coming four to five weeks, will make the program available in an app list to every teacher who has an Office 365 account.