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How to Use Class Notebook Efficiently
  • Post type:
  • Knowledge
  • Posted by:
  • Peter Powell
  • Published on:
  • 2/13/2018
  • Suitable for:
  • Teachers
  • Level of difficulty:
  • Intermediate
  • Office tool:
  • Class Notebook
Last modified: 3/14/2019 2:18 PM by Sarah Chao

​​​​​​​​​​​Before getting started

​​If you are using Class Notebook, but are encountering poor collaboration experiences, sync issues or interrupted connections, then this article will provide some guidance and tips to improve the collaboration experience​. Don't worry if you are just getting started with Class Not​ebook, knowing the following best practices and tips below ​will help get you started successfully.​ ​

​​Create a great collaboration experience

Microsoft recommends the following tips and best practices to help create the best participant experiences when using the "_Collaboration Space" section of the Class Notebook.

You should:

  • Use the online browser version of the Class Notebook app​ during class collaboration​

  • ​Organize​ the students into small working groups of up to 6 students

  • Create a separate "section tabs" or "pages" for each group of students to co-author in their smaller group

  • Consider setting up a page with a pre-determined area for each of the students can work on separately, this helps  to avoid students writing over each other when co-authoring 

  • Avoid attaching large files to the page. A 1 page document or PDF isn't usually a problem, but if you or your students are trying to share a large file; for example a PowerPoint file with a lot ​of video content, it is best to share a link to the PowerPoint file rather than attaching the file directly.

  • Take a look at this Class Notebook example​​ and please read the: Introduction to Class Notebook   


Best practices when making changes to Class Notebooks

Class Notebooks may not appear to sync changes as students make them or after a teacher has distributed new content. When these types of  issues occur it can be very disruptive to the classroom experience​.​ In addition to following the best practices above, here are some more important tips and detailed recommendations:

Always edit in the browser during class activities:

  • As noted above, all students should use the browser app (along with the recommended best practices) to ensure that simultaneous collaboration is as responsive, consistent and problem free as possible 

Before distributing handouts:

  • Close any Notebooks that are irrelevant to the current class if you are using the desktop OneNote app (ex. OneNote 2016). OneNote will try and sync ALL open Notebooks which can be detrimental to the overall experience.


When distributing handouts:


  • ​​​Distribute handouts and assignments using Class Notebook’s Distribute Page tool to streamline distributing content to individual students or groups of students.

  • ​Distribute materials to students after class ends or the morning of the class, so students can sync changes at home or just before class starts.​

  • Distribute only the necessary pages and PDFs you need for the next lesson from your Content Library to your students' section and collaboration space.

After distributing handouts:


  • Force sync your Class Notebook after you add or distribute new materials to speed up the syncing process. Right-click the notebook name and select "Sync this Notebook Now (Shift+F9)" to force sync. 

  • Encourage your students to do the same, force sync when they open their Class Notebook at home after finishing homework or are about to start class if using the desktop OneNote app.

  • Always double check the online version and sync status of the Class Notebook​ to ensure that your edits have been saved correspondingly​.

  • If your students are using the iPad app, instruct them to turn off Auto Sync Attachments on the iPad by navigating to the Sync page in the OneNote settings. All text and ink content will still sync automatically, but OneNote pages with rich content like images and PDFs will wait to sync until you visit the page. After that, the page you visited will begin syncing automatically.

  • During class time, try to stick to the same tab where the Class Notebook is opened​ in the browser. If using the desktop OneNote app, close any other notebooks that are not relevant to the current class.

A quick summary of 4 key takeaways

  1. ​Always have your students collaborate in small groups and in their designated page/section using the online browser during class time; avoid having the whole class work on the same page of a Class Notebook
  2. When using the desktop OneNote version (ex. OneNote 2016), teachers should proactively force sync after updating the Class Notebook content or distributing handouts and assignments to the students' section; students should also force sync if the Class Notebook has been previously opened from their home computers.
  3. Practice using links to large files (ex. PowerPoint, long documents or video clips) rather than attaching files directly to pages​.​
    • ​Upload large PowerPoint, documents to OneDrive in VSB Office 365 and get a link
    • Upload video clips to a "Stream" channel in VSB Office 365 and get a link
  4. A speedy and reliable network connection is critical in syncing changes or applying major content updates or distributing file heavy pages to a Class Notebook. Consider using a hard wired network connection if you are experiencing wireless problems​.

Additional resources by Microsoft

Microsoft also provides further troubleshooting instructions and information when it comes to sync issues in Class Notebook and OneNote in general:


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