In numerical, mathematical or formula driven disciplines there is often a need to demonstrate techniques to students. Traditionally, black/whiteboards have supported this mode of instruction, with visualisers supporting this digitally in lecture rooms.


Given the extraordinary circumstances around Covid-19 and the University closure, this page outlines two simple remote teaching contingencies to capture and share handwritten content electronically. These are setups staff can recreate with the tools they are likely to have at their disposal in the current situation based around digital OneNote Notebooks and (improvised) visualiser rigs.

The Whiteboard function in Teams Meetings is not discussed here. This has a single canvas only that is limited in size. It is best used for simple and short scribbles only and not suitable a whiteboard/visualiser replacement.

Microsoft OneNote

OneNote screenshot showing handwritten text and maths symbols

Microsoft OneNote gives users a notebook made up of sections and pages with an unlimited canvas size. Drawn notes are vector graphics, allowing zoom and resizing of notes without loss. You can also make typed, handwritten notes/diagrams and insert/annotate images etc. With additional software (see details below), audio can be recorded to provide a voiceover to your written notes.

You will need

  • Microsoft OneNote installed (alternatively in browser from
  • Access to a large touchscreen device:
    • your own tablet or laptop with touchscreen (e.g. iPad, surface pro, drawing tablet etc, not advised on a phone).
    • a stylus for better written control
    • on campus (e.g. 8W GTA rooms), the monitors have an interactive screen that can be written on with a stylus.  Finding the stylus instructions
    • Alternatively, a graphics tablet can be used as a mouse/pointer input in conjunction with a computer.
  • Additional (software detailed below) if you chose to record or live stream.

Sharing OneNote Annotations Options

Sharing Option

Context and Route

Further Guidance

Screen record OneNote annotation and voiceover A. You want to pre-record a worked example/explanation with voiceover.

  • Launch OneNote fullscreen
  • Capture your annotations and commentary with a Screen Recorder (see further guidance for advice)
  • Upload to Panopto
How to setup screen recording for:

Teams Live Screen Share B. You want Teams Meeting participants to see your OneNote page, view any real time working & hear your voice.

Distribute OneNote pages

(to accompany to prerecording/live screen share)

C. You want to share notes to accompany a prerecording/live screen share.

  • Print to PDF forces the canvas to become finite and scaled to A4 page or overflow.
  • Do not use the "Share" button as this doesn't preserve handwritten notes
D. You want people to view/share an entire OneNote notebook to accompany to prerecording/live screen share.

  • Create a new Notebook/use an existing share Notebook where collaborators have full view (/write) access.
  • Write the content into a page/copy content from existing Notebook.
  • Distribute link to section/page/paragraph

Individual page sharing is not supported - you can only share a whole OneNote notebook!

Additional OneNote Guidance

 Microsoft help documentation

Make your OneNote notebooks accessible to people with disabilities

 Ultimate guide to OneNote

Using iPad as separate whiteboard in Teams (Blog)

Using MS Teams and OneNote to deliver lecture style content - Lancaster University Webinar (61:25)

Presenting in OneNote from a Microsoft Teams Meeting (1:29)

Visualiser rigs

Classroom visualisers show a webcam feed of your page and can be supported with audio capture too, which leads to natural explanation of your work as if the audience were looking over your shoulder.  Pre-recording and live streaming setup instructions will be detailed.

You will need

  • Access to a visualiser and microphone
    • The 8W GTA rooms on campus have visualisers and microphones (still open at the time of writing 26/3/20)
    • A "DIY visualiser rig". There are many different designs but regardless of the solution you opt for, please consider: stability, lighting/unwanted shadows and trading resolution/coverage. You should ensure your video is landscape.
    • For computer based recording you are best using a microphone/headset. For tablets/phones you should use a headset if possible (mics are not optimized for a device facing downwards).
  • For live streaming, both yourself and participants need good internet connections to avoid down-sampling the video stream (making content illegible).

Pre-recording visualiser videos with audio

Record the video using your tablet/phone/computer (in the latter case the built in Camera apps are typically sufficient).

Upload the video file to Panopto (instructions).

Live streaming a visualiser

  • On your visualiser device, join a Teams Meeting as a presenter with audio on and video disabled.
  • Optionally, also join the Teams meeting on another device with video only for an additional webcam feed.
  • When you want to begin the visualiser feed, launch your camera app on your visualiser device. Then share your visualiser screen of the camera app with participants.
  • Note: do not simply enable video in Teams as this will not appear full screen and focused for all participants.
  • Privacy note: if sharing screen on a mobile/tablet device turn off notifications and be aware that participants can see any alerts whilst you are sharing your screen.

General tips for using a visualiser

  • It is useful to have a preview of the video and test the full extent of the page.
  • Please be mindful of shadows (sources include your hand, body, head). The impact of this can be minimised with lamps from two angles.
  • Aim for high audio quality and low background noise. Use a microphone/headset where possible and minimise ambient (machine) noise, paper rustling etc.
  • Keep the camera steady and maintain alignment between shots.
  • Use pens that have sufficient contrast and thickness on camera.
  • Blog: Writing when teaching remotely - Steve Rowett (UCL)

Digital Accessibility

Designing and planning Inclusive and Accessible teaching is essential: any student must be able to access content and all learners benefit from these practices. Based on this checklist for Creating Accessible Videos, keep the following in mind:

  • Keep visuals simple
    • Use colors with good contrast thoughtfully
    • Use text that is easy to read (size, enough time to read text)
    • Avoid flashing content, camera shaking
  • Add captions to your video

 CLT Digital Accessibility Guidance

Checklist for Creating Accessible Videos (Bureau of Internet Accessibility)

General Tips & Pointers