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Microsoft CLC – Keynote – Hacking the Learning Tools for OneNote

October 21, 2015

CLC Graphic

2015 Connected Learning Conference

Long Live Learning

#MSFTCLC #LongLiveLearning

Keynote – Hacking the Learning Tools for OneNote
Pelle Nielsen, Valentin Dobre, Microsoft
OneNote Vancouver

Focus at OneNote Vancouver is education, empowering students and teachers to do great things with OneNote.


  • Culture of Hacking
  • Learning Tools Demo
  • Research on Literacy and Improved Learning

How does a 100,000 person company invent what has never been done before?

  • By adopting a growth mindset. Being willing to take on risk. Willing to be wrong. Willing to challenge assumptions, what is a good idea, what is a bad idea?
  • By empowering people to deliver their personal best
  • By understanding that amazing products are created through very individual, very human beliefs
  • By creating an environment that honors a new philosophy about how we work

What is the environment?

  • The Garage – your normal day to day job is not allowed in this building. Can come with an idea you want to work on, or come with other people to work with them. Tools are provided so you can be creative – pen and paper, or even a workshop to build something amazing
  • hack + marathon = hackathon (short time, intense focus). What is the goal of a hackathon?
    • Learning to accept “failure”
    • Celebrating every success
    • Reminding ourselves of what we’re capable of
    • Creating software to delight customers

How does this work in practice?

Setup in Redmond for a week, Vancouver OneNote worked with a Redmond team, ended up winning the 2015 Hackathon out of 3,000 other projects. Project involved extending OneNote to make it a more useful tool in education. Added reading comprehension, speech analysis, show the syllables, highlight various words that are nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. Reading comprehension – breaking down long sentences.

Valentin spent some time talking about the research in helping with reading comprehension. Examples include highlighting verbs, bracketing clauses, adding space between clauses and sometimes line breaks in the middle of sentences. 50% fewer reading errors than when reading text with an un-spaced layout. Placed an extra space between each word. Find a 27% increase in reading speed when using short line lengths.

What about faster word reading with syllables? Valentin showed an example of a very long word with no breaks, and the same work broken into syllables, and it was much easier to read. Demonstrates that adults have a 10% increase in reading comprehension when words are displayed in syllables.

These tools are intended for ALL students, not just those who need some additional help.

Still in very early beta, and lots still needs to be determined, but a good glimpse into what could happen in the near future.



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