When you think of Microsoft Office the same old applications always come to mind: Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Access (maybe Outlook if you use it for your mail client). But what about the other applications packaged in the Office suite? Many have come and gone (Frontpage anyone?) but very few become regular additions. Publisher was probably the first big application to be added to the “core four”. Originally a standalone app, Publisher finally became proper part of the office suite with Office 2000 and has remained there ever since. So what will be the next application to make the jump and become an Office regular?
If I were a betting man then my money would be firmly staked on OneNote. In case you haven’t encountered it before OneNote is a virtual notebook application designed to simulate a filofax notebook for jotting down information and brainstorming. Now while I can’t see it replacing our lovely Edge Hill diaries (aren’t the new ones slick?!) I do think it could become an important part of our note keeping processes. I have been playing with the software for a few weeks now and using it for keeping track of several projects we have in the works (including the office 2007 rollout) and I have found it to be very useful. As with most new software the biggest problem is remembering to use it all of the time. When it is so easy to just scribble on a post it note why do we need software like this at all? Well if your office is anything like mine then I’m sure you are familiar with the post it note graveyard that soon forms. I often lose little bits of paper (sometime with import things on!) so taking a few seconds to type it up and have it permanently saved on my F drive is making all the difference!
So let us have a little look at OneNote. Above you can see the tabbed layout of the virtual notebook, each of these tabs represents a single section which can contain multiple pages (think of them as dividers in a folder that split up the pages into sections). These tabs form the basis of organising the notebook, in my notebook I have different tabs for each project I’m working on and then pages of notes stored under each one. This is a very effective way of organising your notes and lets you keep all of the information relevant to a single project or task all in one place. There are also options for having a rough area for random thoughts or quick notes. Maybe you could have a section for meeting minutes or for brainstorming, the options are very open.
While I have yet to test the function out there is also an option for creating shared notebooks. These allow a team of people to all share the notebook on the G drive and collaborate on the notes inside. To me this is a brilliant way of working on large projects or for keeping staff or procedure guidelines. IT Services use a wiki based system for sharing technical documentation and it has been very useful for keeping track of what we are working on and for leaving instructions on how to perform specific tasks. OneNote could allow for a similar system with any team around the Campus with extensive (and searchable) notes allowing a new member of staff to have easy access to a huge library of useful information. Whatever happens I hope that people will try out this fantastic piece of software and have a look at what it can offer for themselves and their teams.