Microsoft announces new updates for OneNote and Class Notebooks

Just recently, Microsoft announced a set of improvements to its Teams for Educations platform in preparation for the new school year. Today, the firm has gone over even more education-focused updates, this time for OneNote, and specifically, Class Notebooks.

In total, there are a total of thirty new updates and improvements to the products, starting with improvements to page distribution in Class Notebooks. For one thing, the ability to distribute pages to specific students is finally going beyond OneNote 2016, meaning you can distribute to specific people in the OneNote app for Windows 10, Mac, iPad, and OneNote Online.

Along with this capability, it's also possible to distribute pages to custom groups created by the user, select and distribute multiple pages to the same people at once, distribute section groups inside a page, and conversely, distribute pages into nested section groups in other pages. All of these capabilities will be rolling out to Office Insiders on Windows 10, Mac, iPad and OneNote Online today, and later this year, it'll also be possible to distribute sub-pages to users.

Microsoft is also bringing cross-notebook reviews to all the OneNote apps mentioned above later this month, meaning you'll no longer need OneNote 2016 to do them. Other news include the ability to turn OneNote's math intelligence on or off in certain pages, which is available today for Office Insiders, auto-mapping for classes in LMS platforms, and the ability to lock LMS pages after the due date for an assignment, both of which have rolled out to everyone.

Beyond Class Notebooks, Microsoft detailed some of the Teams integration, which was already briefly mentioned in the updates to that platform. Educators will be able to import existing notebook content into new class and staff team notebooks for new teams. Similarly, you can attach existing notebooks to PLC or Anyone team types, though you can't do this for Class and Staff notebooks due to data import challenges. The former capability is now available in private beta, while the latter is available worldwide already.

Turnitin integration is also now available in Teams, meaning the service will automatically check submitted assignments for signs of plagiarism and rate its authenticity. On another note, navigating a notebook in Teams now remembers the last page the user was looking at, meaning it won't be as easy to get lost. It's also now possible to use Office Lens to send photos into OneNote notebooks, including Class and Staff notebooks.

Finally, Class Notebooks will now automatically be renamed according to the name of the Team they're being added to. This only works if the Team is renamed prior to setting up the Class Notebook, though.

The last set of updates is for everyone using OneNote, and it includes some interesting additions. Starting with the Windows 10 app, OneNote can now generate practice quizzes based on an equation a student may be working on. These rely on Microsoft Forms and are embedded into OneNote, making it an accessible way to practice specific kinds of questions. The feature is rolling out to Office Insiders on Windows 10 today, but it's also coming to the web version in the summer.

Other news include the ability to use the Send to OneNote button in the Outlook app to send e-mails to the OneNote UWP app rather than OneNote 2016, and similar functionality is also available through an add-in for Outlook for Mac, and it's coming to Outlook on the Web as well.

The ability to create page templates is also coming over from OneNote 2016 to the Windows 10 app, and it's already possible to set any existing page as a template. The ability to create and manage templates is coming later in the summer. In July, the Windows 10 app will also support improved scaling to fit into a printout, just as OneNote 2016 does.

Microsoft is also introducing new Notebook creation steps in the Windows 10 app to make it easier to tailor notebooks to specific purposes right off the bat, and that's rolling out for Office Insiders now. The options for hyperlinks in notebooks are now in line with those in OneNote 2016.

Shifting focus to the OneNote for the web, the app now has a simplified ribbon, which can be turned off from the View tab. Most interestingly, it will soon be possible to share a link to a OneNote notebook, which can then be shared with other users to copy into their own OneDrive.

Finally, OneNote for Mac is getting a handful of significant improvements. Office files from Word, Excel, and PowerPoint can be printed into OneNote if you're an Office Insider, a dark mode is coming to the app, and it's now possible to insert a screenshot into the app, which will grab screenshots of all your open apps to add to your notebook. Finally, as previously reported, it's now possible to set images as backgrounds in the iOS version of OneNote.

That's a pretty big list of improvements, many of which seem to aim to align the feature set of the Windows 10 app with OneNote 2016, which didn't get an update along with the rest of the Office apps last year.

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