Microsoft OneNote Changing Computer Science Learning

Over the past year Abbas Attarwala, lecturer in computer science with BU’s College of Arts & Sciences, has changed his students’ learning experience through the use of Microsoft OneNote, supplemental online videos and workshops. OneNote is a note-taking application that allows him to make his classes interactive, switching between lecture slides and hand-drawn notes, diagrams and equations. After a lecture, one can upload the handwritten notes from OneNote back to the students.

Microsoft OneNote on smartphone“I like my classrooms to be interactive and I try and make the learning experience of my students nonlinear,” says Attarwala. “I do use slides in my lecture, however slides are static and on many occasions important content is not easily understood by students.”

To other professors considering OneNote, Attarwala recommends the use of a writing tablet with stylus support, like the Wacom tablet. He also mentions that once familiar with the technology, the software requires little to no setup time prior to lectures. The technology, says Attarwala, allows him to deviate from the structure of his lecture slides and re-emphasize important concepts.

Practice problem on Microsoft OneNoteAdditionally, last semester Attarwala introduced “workshops” to his CS 131 syllabus. The workshops take place once a month for one to two hours, and Attarwala uses them to teach students an advanced topic or new technology in math or computer science. Students can gain a greater perspective on the course material, as well as add their knowledge of computer science and mathematics technologies like Haskell, Prolog, Git, or LaTeX to their CV.

“I am very fortunate that my BU students are so passionate and have responded well to these workshops,” says Attarwala. The success of the CS 131 workshops led him to expand workshops to his CS 132 and CS112 classes as well.

Professor Attarwala also provides additional content for his students through YouTube videos. His videos supplement his lectures, and work through sample problems in a style similar to that of Khan Academy. Boston University supports teaching through video, and has introduced a new platform called, which provides unlimited space and private channels for faculty content. For more information contact us at or attend one of our upcoming training sessions.

Follow this link for a YouTube video in which Professor Attarwala uses Microsoft OneNote to review a concept.

Microsoft OneNote is available for faculty and students to download as a part of Boston University’s Microsoft Office package.