Solutions Lab 12 – Providing rich & quality feedback via OneNote

Evidence shows that students and teachers can benefit from providing real time feedback. Teachers can instantly identify knowledge gaps and provide more emphasis on topics where it is needed. Real-time feedback informs the student on the current task whilst also provides them the ability to identify where they can improve performance on future tasks.

In this session Kirsten Balding, Applied Sciences (VE), explained how she has re-imagined the physical lab environment where staff are on hand to provide students with real time feedback on student laboratory logbooks via a conversation and written feedback. Kirsten implemented the use of OneNote and Collaborate Ultra to model the supervisor conversations that normally happen in the physical lab. This model has proven to provide accountability and confidence building and lets the students and teachers finish off the task efficiently. She reports that teachers and students are loving this new model as they are able to continue to give rich and quality feedback in a timely manner.

Part of the MS Office suite, OneNote has proved to be a great solution for students to upload their work and get realtime feedback from educators. It is a collaborative space, enables set up of a class notebook – all students in one place, and has some nice features like writing on top of images (stylus and typing) using Draw, maths equation drawing and answer checking (very cool!). Kirsten demonstrated how she has setup OneNote to provide her students with a collaborative space where they can come together as a class but also have access to their own private NoteBook. Students can collaboratively draw on images, solve and check math equations, complete drag and drop activities and it also provides rapid dispersal of documents and ‘artifacts’ to/from students. In lab classes in Diploma of Laboratory Technology and the Certificate IV of Laboratory Techniques we usually give rich feedback on student laboratory logbooks mid semester and end of semester as a conversation with written feedback. Teaching staff do that by writing on the logbook and asking students to add things like forgotten units or missing or NQR answers to questions. Using OneNote students are able to add missing information on the spot, and can get often the assessment task completed at the time. Teaching staff can be in Collaborate Ultra having a synchronous conversation, and getting things fixed as we do it – just like being in the same room (but it is a little slower). The following is Kirsten’s personal evaluation of OneNote:


  • Lets you draw/write on notebook pages, images, word & pdf documents in real time by anyone with access… without having to reupload
  • Lets you set up checklists with checkboxes (handy for assessment purposes)
  • Write a maths equation/mouse or stylus and get it converted into text – includes error correction
  • Lets students check their answer to equations once they have the formula set up
  • Drag and drop images/files onto  page to brainstorm/create resources
  • works well as a standalone, or with CU or MS Teams for a conversation


  • Is a bit different to other packages, so takes a little to learn – intuitive once you get how it works/what it does
  • Can be a bit slow when the whole class is using it at the same time.
  • Has a few quirks – like the page nearly loads, but then goes blank. A page reload always fixes this.
  • Doesn’t display contents of excel files, but you can upload a file & then download it to see it/give feedback


Kirsten reports that staff and students love it except when it is being slow… It enables us to do what we do in the real lab, giving rich and quality feedback in a timely manner. This is a fun way to assess logbooks compared to the old way –  getting deeply frustrated ploughing through a giant pile of submitted logbooks with lots of missing information – slow turnaround for re-submissions. This approach, of private (or small group) consultation lets teaching staff model supervisor like conversations similar to what students will have in a real lab. This approach provides good amounts of accountability and confidence building, and lets teaching staff finish off the task efficiently.

The recording below is an edited version of the webinar Kirsten conducted.

Additional Resources:



  • There is more information about the integrated maths assistant here, also the different types of maths functions you can use here.
  • If you use inking (writing with a stylus or mouse), students can ‘replay’ how you built up the annotations – in real time and with your voice, learn more here.
  • There are lots of useful tips which come out on this Twitter channel
  • Adding students:

HP RMIT Laptop with Stylus

  • The typical laptop provided by ITS at RMIT, you would have also received a stylus (it looks like a pen). This video will introduce you to your pen and how to set it up. Note: If you find your pen isn’t working when you are trying to synch it, the battery (an uncommon AAAA size) might be a problem or contact ITS to report the issue.

Other educational ideas

  • You can use OneNote to build ‘escape rooms’ where students complete tasks to find clues, solve problems and ‘unlock’ the next phase. An example of an escape room can be found here. Here’s a presentation on building an escape room in OneNote below.