OneNote has recently found a welcoming home in education. Faculty, teachers and students alike are finding the cloud connected nature of OneDrive a growing dependency in the changing landscape of education. As a result, Microsoft would like to expand OneNote’s capabilities to help address new and complex challenges that are occurring in both usability and education.
During Microsoft’s second annual //one week Hackathon competition, a solution from a team at Microsoft sought to address language barriers as well as learning disabilities with the use of OneNote. The project called OneNote for Learning is an extension that spans the collaborative spaces between OneNote, Bing, and Microsoft Research. According to Microsoft, the extension features enhanced dictation powered by Bing Speech, recognition services, immersive reading that uses Windows services of simultaneous audio text playback with highlighting and Microsoft Research’s natural language processing.
Vancouver-based OneNote Developer Sebastian Greaves helped developed the extension to act as gathering of tools intended to help solve significant problems.
“One of the key things we wanted to achieve is to make sure no student ever got behind in their education because of difficulties with reading. We wanted to make sure that was as little a barrier as possible, so they can focus on what they’re learning.”
The OneNote for Learning Extension came out of the Hackathon competition victorious over 3,300 other projects with 13,000 other hackers from around the world. Not content with just winning Microsoft’s Hackathon competition, Greaves, alongside Jeff Petty, the accessibility lead for Windows for Education and Mira Shah, the team’s user research expert, helped deliver an actual product.
“At no point did we think we were not going to ship,” Petty says. “OneNote was not interested in doing this as an experiment. Hackathon forced us to create a prototype they could polish to take it to schools in the fall.”
Thanks to their efforts, the free OneNote extension will debut this fall in several schools across the U.S. and France.