Liberating “Liberating Genius”

Angela Maiers and Mark E. Moran have written a fantastic guide for implementing Genius Hour in the classroom. The guide walks you through the first 20 days of exploration, plotting out in an easy to follow guide, how best to prepare students to think deeply, explore their passions, and launch into what will be a passion-based project. It is required reading for teachers looking to add this component into their classroom, which should be the majority of us. If you have a OneDrive account (think:,, you can hit up this link to get your own copy.

The problem emerges if you only have a OneDrive for Business Account (which is everyone at HWDSB, along with any other educational institution that subscribes to Office 365 as their email provider).

<Nerdy_Aside>: OneDrive and OneDrive for Business are two completely separate services. Unlike Google — which shares infrastructure between their commercial Gmail/Google Drive offering and Google Apps for Edu — Microsoft’s commercial and business tools don’t play nicely together. In some apps, you can identify which service you are looking to use, but in others, you are forced to a Microsoft Account login page, where your organizational account will fail: it’s like trying to sign into Twitter with your Facebook credentials. This is the case for the Liberating Genius book at the above link</Nerdy_Aside>

I have an email address, so I could access the document; but when I started thinking about how to distribute the guide out to teachers within the board, asking them to sign up for an @outlook account when they already have a board-provisioned O365 account that can open OneNote (the software used to access the file in OneDrive (confused yet?)) seemed like a roadblock.

I thought perhaps the solution was to upload the file to my board OneDrive for Business account, and share it in that way, as a link. Getting the file into my Board OneDrive was an adventure that required a Windows machine (not my customary axe), an exported OneNote.onepkg file (a kind of proprietary zip), the OneDrive for Business Desktop Sync tool, and a few other hurdles between network drives that I’m still not sure I could navigate with much more aplomb a second time around. I won’t bore you with the gory details other than to say I lost count of the number of times I muttered something about how much more seamless this would be if I was working in Google Drive. Remember all I’m trying to do is create a read-only document so that you can create a copy.

I put the notebook up into my OneDrive for business folder and then created a shared link:

If you click on that link, you should be taken to OneNote Online, to a read-only version of the file. If you just want to read the book, then you could stop here; but the app is so superior to the online experience, you really should pull this into your own OneNote app.

In the top corner you should see an Open in OneNote link to open the document in the OneNote app. From this point forward I’m plotting out instructions on how to get this document on an iPad. It’s probably easier if you are living in an MS-centric world, although even on a Surface, I struggle between the disparate accounts.

When you are creating the template so you have your own copy, the section headings are as follows:

  • Liberating Genius
  • Days 1-7 Accepting Your Genius
  • Days 8-13 Accelerating Your Genius
  • Days 14-20 Acting Through Collective Genius
  • Genius Hour

Why go to the trouble of creating your own editable copy? According to @lbayne out on Twitter — who was incredibly helpful in getting this sorted out — the whole point of putting the document is OneNote is so you can mark it up, add sections, delete sections, and make it your own. I think that is awesome, and would love to explore using OneNote to create PD materials in a similar way (once distribution isn’t such a headache) .

At this point you are probably wondering if it’s just easier to create a new email account, which perhaps it is. I know that the last thing I need in my life is an additional email account, so I hope this process is helpful to some of you.

Published by jarbenne

Jared Bennett is the Student Information System Consultant at Hamilton Wentworth District School Board.

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