Microsoft Notebook: the horrible platform nobody asked for

Natalie Gordon

The distinguished Jon Bon Jovi once said, “Map out your future—but do it in pencil.” Learning, however, no longer involves a pencil. Instead, we learn on the internet. There are all sorts of apps and tools we now use in our virtual learning environment like Zoom, Google Apps, and Microsoft teams. One of the most common tools used at Wilson is Microsoft OneNote, a virtual interactive notebook. No matter how tech savvy or useful this digital notebook is, learning would be so much easier with a good, old-fashioned paper notebook. 

As a virtual notebook, OneNote relies on internet connection and WiFi. This alone is a huge obstacle for many students. We all know the struggle of refreshing a page multiple times because data won’t show up, or being unable to edit the page directly because the document is still loading. Each and every one of us has probably felt that pure hatred towards the grey loading icon in the middle of our computer screens. 

But it’s not just the internet that makes OneNote so tricky. The notebook also requires teachers to publish worksheets before students can start working on them. This means that teachers have to go through every worksheet and make sure student access is granted. Often, students end up having to wait for their teacher to publish the worksheet so they can actually start writing on it. Additionally, some OneNote pages do not actually have spaces or lines for you to fill in the answer, instead making you click multiple text boxes and dragging them to where you want to type. Sometimes the text boxes are too big for the space provided, or they won’t line up exactly under the answer, causing confusion for both the teacher and the student.

Paper notebooks are reliable. So what if the internet is sucky or your computer is slow? A physical notebook is always around. Also, paper notebooks are more effective. In their new study, “The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard,” Pam A. Mueller (Princeton) and Daniel M. Oppenheimer (UCLA) report that students learn better when they physically take notes with a pencil instead of typing them.

In order to learn, students need comfort and support. A paper notebook provides that. A glaring white screen isn’t healthy, nor is it helpful, and learning can be hard when you are mentally drained from staring at your virtual notebook all day. 

We just don’t get the comfortable feeling of pencil on paper from typing on a computer. But then again, this whole virtual school experience isn’t very comforting. With each day of virtual learning, OneNote becomes easier to manage, so hopefully,OneNote will someday feel just as natural as a regular notebook.