Guest post – DigiLearn: Choose your own adventure in OneNote

Published by Caroline Carlin on

Author: Helen Hewertson – Lecturer in the School of Humanities, Languages and Global Studies

Do you remember those choose your own adventure books? In the 1980s they were very popular, as they allowed you to choose your own path within a story. After a couple of pages, you generally had to make decisions about what the protagonist was going to do next. Then you flipped to the page for that action and found out what the consequences were. There were many different endings and some of them ended with the protagonist dying because you made particular decisions. However, you could always flick back to the page you were on previously and make a different decision.

This is what inspired me to make a OneNote ‘choose your own adventure’. I used to love these books, and I hope I managed to bring about a similar sense of adventure with my OneNote adventures.


In order to do this, you set up a new section and then have your first page as your instruction page.  This is where you set the scene for your story and explain to the students what you expect them to learn and how you expect them to progress through the pages. The second or third page should start giving them some options to choose from. What is your adventurer going to do, and what are the consequences for these actions?

With OneNote you can easily create links between pages. You just right click on the page that you want to link to and select ‘copy link to page’. This will give you a hyperlink to the page in the document that you have selected. You can create a specific answer or action and then link that action to the page, which will continue the adventure. You just need to select/highlight the text that you want to turn into a link, right click, select link and paste the link to the page that you want them to go to. It could potentially branch off in many directions and have many endings, but initially it is better to start simple. So, you might just have one right answer or action that links the page where the story continues, and for the incorrect answers or actions you may link to a page that says within the context of the story. Something like: “Oh no you have been tricked by (the antagonist)! Please try again”, and a link that takes them back to the beginning of the story.

For example:

This is the library. It is the place where a lot of knowledge is stored. It is protected by the Book Dragon.

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The Book Dragon treasures the library and knowledge. But does get rather upset if people disrespect the books or try to pass off fake news as knowledge.

Your quest if you choose to accept it is to explore the library and test your knowledge.

Can you discern the truth from fake news?

Do you know what an academic source is?

Can you find the right research?

You are allowed to assemble a small party of adventurers to help you in your quest.

Each one of your party will have different skills and abilities they will be able to bring to the adventure. By working as a team you may discover more than working alone. But if you prefer to be a solitary traveller then that that is fine.

This adventure will not be easy, no adventure really is!

You will get the opportunity to make different choices and different decisions and go back and retrace your steps.

This adventure is less about the destination than it is the journey.

You may begin!

It is an asynchronous activity, that should engage most of the class. This type of interactive content is especially good for learners with ADHD, who can struggle to concentrate and focus online when they don’t have a teacher in the room (Koh 2020). Many of my learners don’t always have a lot of time, as almost 50% are mature students who generally have work and family commitments as well. So, don’t make these adventures too long, as they may only have 15 minutes to do an activity before being pulled away. I have sectioned off my adventures into small stories, with a ‘to be continued’ option, that then takes them to another story which develops another skill or aspect of knowledge. If they have plenty of time, they can work through each one of the stories one after the other – but each story does not take a long time to complete, so they can dip in and out more easily.

I hope that this has inspired you to create your own adventure! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


Caroline Koh (2020): A Qualitative Meta-Analysis on the Use of Serious Games to Support Learners with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: What We Know, What We Need to Know and What We Can Do, International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, DOI: 10.1080/1034912X.2020.1746245


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