OneNote and Google Docs are not twinsies.


Starting out with another confession: I’m a supporter of any technology that benefits students. I’ve used Google Docs (along with other GAFE tools) for a few years as a teacher and more recently moved to a school that uses Microsoft OneNote. This post is meant strictly as a point of differentiation and to explain what I appreciate about OneNote.

Whenever I try to tell others about OneNote their response would usually be something like: “so it’s like Google Docs.” It’s really not.

How OneNote is not Google Docs

1. The Infinite Canvas
If a Google Doc is an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper, OneNote is a piece of paper with no borders. Out of space? Slide over and keep going. Let’s try to put the universe in perspective. Bart Simpson would have a field day with this.

2. It’s not a file, but it can be
The page, section, or notebook you’re working in can all be turned into a Word document, pdf or…

3. It’s not a file, but a notebook
The fact that it’s a notebook makes it more similar to a folder within Google Drive

4. Offline Access
Yes, Google Docs can be accessed offline if the right steps are taken beforehand, so I hope you’re planning ahead. With OneNote there’s no planning ahead and no extra steps necessary. It’s a program on your computer that doesn’t require internet access, but still syncs to the cloud like a web-based program when you do have access.

5. Linked Notes! (discussed previously)

6. Digital Ink
Not sure how I forgot this the first time around, but I’m glad I was reminded. This really is the game changer. Being able to write with a stylus within the document changes how you can communicate.

Obviously there are other little details that one can do and the other can’t, but hopefully this helps you understand the big picture differences.


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