Today, we are moving Learning Tools for OneNote out of preview (announced in January) and into general availability (English only). Learning Tools for OneNote was initially released as a customer preview back in January of 2016. The concept came from an internal Microsoft “Hackathon,” where a group of people who were passionate about inclusively got together to design tools to help people with learning differences. The result was a set of tools that ultimately help all people. The Hackathon project won the grand prize, and the prototype was built into a product and released earlier this year.
Since the initial release, we’ve been amazed and humbled by the positive reaction from students, teachers and many others from around the world. We’ve seen press reviews such as Jordan Shapiro’s in Forbes, “Learning Tools For Microsoft OneNote May Be One Of The Most Disruptive Education Technologies Yet,” and the Dyslexic Advantage Community named Learning Tools a “Top Dyslexia App of 2016.”
More importantly, we’ve seen the results and impact from people who have been using Learning Tools. We’ve seen reading speeds dramatically increase, as seen in this video with Special Education teacher Lauren Pittman. We’ve heard stories of dyslexic students who insist that they only want to read materials using Learning Tools and a teenager with learning differences express a passion and desire to read for the first time in his life. We’ve seen Learning Tools being used by emerging first-grade readers in Florida, as seen in this video. A teacher in Macedonia uses Learning Tools to teach English to her young students. English Languages Learners (ELLs) have also been using Learning Tools widely. We believe Learning Tools speaks directly to Microsoft’s mission of empowering every person on the planet to achieve more.
New improvements for Learning Tools
In addition to the general availability of Learning Tools for OneNote, we’ve added a new set of capabilities, including:
- Localized user interface—Localization of the Learning Tools toolbar in over 35 languages.
- Dictation—Four new dictation languages (Spanish, French, German and Italian).
- Color themes—Now includes new yellow, green, blue and pink, which have been specifically designed and tuned based on research.
- Switching reader languages—Improved the ease of switching between text-to-speech languages in the immersive reader.
- Multiple language support—Ability to read back multiple languages on one page, such as English, Spanish and French on the same page.
- Speech controls—Simplification of speech controls and a new menu for all of them.
- Easy download—Easy instructions to download more text-to-speech languages. This will depend on your Windows version.
Localization of the Learning Tools toolbar in over 35 languages.
Dictation—Four new dictation languages (Spanish, French, German and Italian).
Color themes—Now includes new yellow, green, blue and pink.
Simplified audio and speech controls, improved ease of switching between text-to-speech voices and easy instructions to download more text-to-speech voices.
We hope that you enjoy these new improvements for the new school year! You can download the Learning Tools General Availability at www.onenote.com/learningtools, or if you already have it, you will see an update button appear within the add-in (see below). More details can be found in our Getting Started help article. Send any feedback to LearningTools@onenote.uservoice.com, or reach out on Twitter: @OneNoteEDU.
—The OneNote team