Digital Annotation Using a Tablet and Microsoft OneNote

Physics Professor Phil Voss didn’t just wanted to teach, he wanted to create a studio setup where students can be active and engage with content, then easily access notes from the session. He did just that for his Physics 167 course at Albion College. While there are many different features to this setup, Voss has learned chalkboards don’t really mix. Instead, Voss uses a projector and a 2-in-1 laptop when he needs to ‘write on the board.’

“Using Net Projection my tablet screen is displayed on a pair of screens in the classroom," says Voss. "I ‘write on the board’ using Microsoft OneNote."

OneNote allows Voss to prepare a notebook before beginning a chapter. He creates pages with example questions, clicker-style questions, and space for working with equations during class. The program is advantageous because it allows Voss to pull in PDF documents, PowerPoint slides, and a wide variety of content that can then be annotated. During the class session, Voss can easily navigate to the section or page necessary and start annotating over his prepared work.

“The pen technology is fantastic, fast and accurate,” adds Voss. He continues to say one of the only issues he faces with this digital annotation is an occasional lag between writing and when that writing appears on the screen. But Voss reports this happens maybe once out of every six hours of instruction.

Once class is finished, and his prepared notes are covered in additional notes, annotations, and examples, Voss shares these with students.

“The best part is I share my Notebook with students so, while studying, they can reference all of the problems, examples, and equations I had written and worked through in class.”

While this has been a process of trial and error for Voss, he would recommend other faculty members try digital annotation. Voss adds that other than an occasional lag, the only other downside is roaming the room with a laptop in hand. However, he is adjusting with more practice.

If you are interested in exploring digital annotation, reach out to to find a setup that will work for your classroom and needs.