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It would be fair to call MOOCs a phenomenon (Phenomenon: Something notable: something that is out of the ordinary and excites people's interest and curiosity). They have created an enormous amount of interest and curiosity – and jumped up to the top of the agenda for ‘EdTech futurists’ and any reports that look at what’s the next big thing. A lot of the attention has focused on the MOOCs coming out of the US – like edX and Coursera – which some of the big Australian universities have signed up for (The University of Melbourne aligned with Coursera, whilst The University of Sydney aligned with edX). But it’s not a one-way street across the Pacific - there have been plenty of local MOOCs developed within Australia.
Deakin University’s open learning space, Deakin Connect, is a purpose-built platform developed in conjunction with a Microsoft partner, Janison, which enables Deakin University to innovate in assessment, as well as online learning. Rather than try to test and measure student success, the course prompts learners to create and share rich evidence of their attainment of learning outcomes. Peers can award credit badges, signifying that they believe the participant’s exhibit shows mastery of learning outcomes. These can be shared on social media platforms including LinkedIn and Facebook.
I’ve attached a case study (see below) which explores why the Deakin University approach has been different to other universities, and how they have been able to focus on the educational outcomes they have been aiming to achieve, rather than compromising their educational journey to match somebody else’s technology. And their results so far – with registered participants from 80 countries, and having learners pay a fee for their work to be accredited by Deakin University (one of the first in the world to make a successful step towards a new accreditation business model through the MOOC).
As Wendy Palmer, Head of Learning Design from DeakinPrime, says in the case study:
In the case study, Wendy also talks about the learning journey, for both DeakinPrime and the MOOC students:
Content curation was the other major focus of the project. Rather than write lots of online learning, we’re actually using the system as a means of elegantly ordering information that’s already out there, pulling it together into a structured learning journey. Janison’s Course Builder really helped us to do that very quickly and simply. I’ve worked on many other Learning Management Systems and what I can do in an hour on the Janison CLS, I know would have taken me days in other systems. So, not only do we have an excellent system for elearning we also benefit from rapid deployment…
A lot of the MOOC learning systems are in the format of just a video with associated multiple-choice questions. One week we decided to try this format for one of the modules. We got a real backlash on the discussion boards with comments like: ‘We’re so disappointed, we didn’t think this was that sort of course’. We had actually planned to use this format more. We ended up changing from multiple choices to an FAQ format, and then directing users to resources so they could research them further if they wanted to find out more. We didn’t receive any negative backlash from that. The system enabled us to adapt really quickly to learners’ expectations and requirements. We have the flexibility to change the courses as we progress and to give our users the learning experience they need.
The DeakinConnect MOOC is built upon the Janison Cloud Learning System (CLS) which provides a platform being used within Australia for learning management, distance learning and online assessment, in educational, government and commercial organisations.
Read the full DeakinConnect MOOC case study
On 14/15 May 2014 we’re running a training event for developers of education applications and services in Sydney. It is a two-day detailed training workshop that will help partners to develop for the Office 365, Office and SharePoint platform. The workshop is for developers and architects, and will mix integration theory with hands-on development practice. Although this workshop is primarily for commercial developers, it may also be of interest to developers within education institutions who develop apps and services for a wide base of users.
The timing of this training is important, as the existing large number of Office and Office 365 users in Australian education institutions (both students and staff) is expected to increase rapidly as a result of our announcement that the Office Professional Plus suite is available for students free of charge through qualifying institutions (details here) for their school and home computers (as well as their iPad, Android and iPhone devices). In Australia, that could mean a leap in education users of Office, and offer new opportunities to create apps that support students, teachers, schools, TAFEs and universities.
Apply for participation in an App DevCamp for Education Partners and work alongside Microsoft experts to learn how to build apps for Office 365 and SharePoint.
The new Office has a focus on cloud, making it easier for partners to build applications that integrate with Office and Office 365, and bring these to market and to users through an online store. For education customers and partners, this is good news. Customers will be able to add custom apps within their personalised Office environment and partners will benefit from a new opportunity to build and sell education apps for the many millions of Microsoft education customers around the world. For Education publishers and content partners, this offers the potential to build apps which can co-exist with the rich tools of Office applications. Education ISVs have the opportunity to extend their solutions by building apps that support specific processes in education – whether it's to handle approval of staff cover; to manage assignment submission; to extend the functionality of a LMS by building apps for SharePoint; to build and publish lesson plans; to manage the booking of resources; to build a ‘parent permission’ app which allows a parent to say ‘Yes’ with one click when reading a form….a million and one relevant, simple, single-button type controls. Building apps for Office and SharePoint is a good opportunity.
The new Office has a focus on cloud, making it easier for partners to build applications that integrate with Office and Office 365, and bring these to market and to users through an online store. For education customers and partners, this is good news. Customers will be able to add custom apps within their personalised Office environment and partners will benefit from a new opportunity to build and sell education apps for the many millions of Microsoft education customers around the world.
For Education publishers and content partners, this offers the potential to build apps which can co-exist with the rich tools of Office applications. Education ISVs have the opportunity to extend their solutions by building apps that support specific processes in education – whether it's to handle approval of staff cover; to manage assignment submission; to extend the functionality of a LMS by building apps for SharePoint; to build and publish lesson plans; to manage the booking of resources; to build a ‘parent permission’ app which allows a parent to say ‘Yes’ with one click when reading a form….a million and one relevant, simple, single-button type controls. Building apps for Office and SharePoint is a good opportunity.
If you are building education apps, we would like to offer you the opportunity to apply for a place at this DevCamp provided specifically for our education-focused ISVs and Publishers.
The training is designed for developers/architects building apps for Office & SharePoint (for both on-premise and Office 365 customers) and will offer the opportunity for delegates to meet with subject matter experts from Microsoft.
There is no fee for the event itself. Microsoft will provide lunch and refreshments during the 2 day event. You are responsible for any other expenses including accommodation and travel to/from the event.
To register for the Sydney Edu DevCamp, please click here. Once completed, you will be contacted with confirmation of your place. Space is limited, so register early.
Date: May 14-15, 2014 Location: Sydney, Australia Level: 300 Audience: Architects / Web Developers in the Education sector
Microsoft and University of New England would like to invite colleagues from other universities and TAFE Institutes to the first Australian hosting of the Technology Enriched Instruction workshop on April 3 and 4 2014 at the UNE Futures Campus in Parramatta. Attendees with a range of teaching experience and roles are welcome to this free workshop-based event, which is designed to be of interest to anyone who would like to be well informed about key developments in learning, teaching and technology.
As co-hosts, Microsoft and the University of New England have designed the event to help showcase both global developments and local enthusiasms, providing opportunities to explore developments from a range of perspectives and contexts. This workshop, based on the TPACK framework, is designed to help TAFE and university faculty improve their use of technology in their teaching and instruction. It assists educators to develop competencies that will enable them to plan systemically for the selection, utilisation and evaluation of technology tools and resources in a pedagogically appropriate manner.
Day Two of the event will provide insights into trends and technology use in higher education lead by the co-hosts, Microsoft and UNE, which will also include a Futures Campus tour and a closing panel debate titled “Content knowledge isn’t important anymore.”
Day 1 8:30AM Welcome & overview of the day 8:45AM Morning workshop session Lunch 12:45PM Afternoon workshop session 5:00PM Wrap-up and evaluations 5:30PM Evening networking and refreshments
Day 2 9:00AM 21st Century Skills. 21st Century Careers. 21st Century Learning 9:45AM UNE Office 365/Lync Project Overview 10:15AM Futures and the role of technology 11:00AM Video futures and higher education Lunch 1:00PM Spotlight on online assessment 2:15PM Panel debate 3:30PM Event close
More information about TEI, and the supporting programmes at http://www.pil-tei.com
Make a date: Register for the Australia TEI Forum
The benefits of cloud computing for public sector organisations run right across the public sector, including education. But as executives explore the opportunities, they often become concerned about data security and the privacy risks associated with online services – and justifiably so.
We’re running a webinar tomorrow (12 March) at 2PM AEDT, where we’ll tackle the sensitive issue of data privacy head-on to reveal both the potential pain points and how your organisation can mitigate the risks.
The ability to offer new services. The potential to improve operating efficiencies. Deepening customer engagement. There’s no disputing the upside of the cloud. But balancing individual privacy, corporate security and state sovereignty in this brave new world can prove challenging. In the webinar, our cloud experts will: Explore the potential risks cloud computing presents Share our experience in how real the risks are Offer insights on how to overcome them Reveal what’s needed to undertake a cloud-risk assessment – and how to share your findings with managers
The ability to offer new services. The potential to improve operating efficiencies. Deepening customer engagement. There’s no disputing the upside of the cloud. But balancing individual privacy, corporate security and state sovereignty in this brave new world can prove challenging. In the webinar, our cloud experts will:
Two senior Microsoft Australia employees will share their experiences of compliance and security, explain the impact of cloud computing and shed light on data privacy, security and sovereignty.
Chief Security Officer, Microsoft Australia Shaun Tipson
Senior Attorney, Microsoft Australia The webinar runs tomorrow, Weds 12 March, at 2PM AEDT.
If you’re designing learning activities, or curriculum planning for 21st Century skills, that require students to demonstrate or develop 21st Century skills, then there’s some help in the form of a new app for Windows 8. 21st Century Learning Design is a tool developed to help teachers in assessing where their current and planned activities develop 21st Century skills, and guides teachers with structures and further learning resources that will help curriculum planning for 21st Century skills.
21st Century skills development is being rolled out in schools across Australia to help teachers prepare for the PISA test in 2015 (which will assess students’ collaboration and communication skills) and curriculum planning for 21st Century skills in the new National Curriculum.
Students around the world need advanced skills to succeed in the globalised, knowledge-based world of today. 21st Century Learning Design helps teachers design lessons and learning activities to build students’ 21st century skills. The professional development program is based on rubrics developed and tested in one of the largest ever international studies of 21st Century Skills – the Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) Research project.
In the Windows 8 app, materials are presented in an easy to use, highly interactive way. It will help teachers to identify and understand the opportunities that learning activities give students to build 21st century skills. Each learning activity is any task that students do as part of their school related work - it can be an exercise that students complete in one class period or an extended project that takes place both in and outside of school. The rubrics incorporate a research-based methodology for coding learning activities to ensure you are embedding 21st century skills in your teaching practices, and the Rubric for Student Work provides a framework to assess students’ development of 21st century skills.
Explore the dimension of 21st Century Learning Design, through rubrics and dimensions.
Evaluate your content against all or some of the dimensions.
Receive detailed breakdowns of your understanding of the dimensions.
Export your assessment results to detailed Word documents.
To aid curriculum planning for 21st Century skills, the app helps find exemplar units of work with strong 21st Century Learning Design aspects
Microsoft has partnered with two Australian Professional Learning providers to offer 21st Century Learning Design training for your school. This training is contextualized to Australian school needs and curriculum focus. Both Design | Learn | Empower and Expanding Learning Horizons would be happy to discuss your training needs and tailor a learning experience to suit your school. If you would like to find out more about the 21CLD Program from Microsoft directly, you can also email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
PowerBI is one of the most flexible ways to visualise data that I’ve seen (it’s just been released as part of the Office 365 service). And, what’s even better for me, is that it uses Excel as the starting point – which means that I’ve already got 90% of the skills needed to work with it. (I know I work at Microsoft, and therefore people expect me to be uber-geeky, but my technical confidence and competence is lower than many around me at the office, so I rate myself as a typical business user of technology, not a power user).
It allows you to quickly combine different sources of data (eg Excel spreadsheets, data sources within your organisation, as well as data from the web and from the Azure data market) and create a visualisation – like a conventional line chart or histogram, a scattergram, or interactive maps. To me, the beauty of PowerBI is that I can do this myself – and share what I’ve done with others.
Where I’ve found it really comes alive is when you can combine your internal data with data from other sources. I’ve seen examples of retailers connecting live tweets, foursquare checkins, weather and socio-economic data, connected together with sales data for individual stores. In some countries with strong open data programmes, there’s a wealth of data that would help build powerful analyses, and create data-centric stories.
One good example of visualising open government data came from our recent PowerBI competition, where Chris Webb from the UK used published data about road accidents to see what trends were appearing, and where there were particular patterns in the data.
Chris recorded a video as his entry, that shows how he went from a big set of CSV files to a visual analysis that ended up showing the road accident risk that exists for school children immediately before and after school. Unlike Australia, the UK doesn’t have 40km/h school zones, but perhaps this kind of story-telling with data might create the demand for them.
I’ve been working on creating some visualisations of Australian education data, but it’s a lot more challenging. In higher education there’s a wealth of published data through ABS, the Higher Education Statistics uCube and MyUniversity.gov.au – all of which can be modelled and connected.
But it only works in scenarios where there’s a commitment to open access to data. In the school education sector, it’s a different story – there seems to be a real paucity of publically available data for the sector. On the data.gov.au website, there are just 12 results for datasets on ‘schools’ – and there’s no national data there (and nothing of value relating to learning). Other data sites, like myschool.edu.au are designed to stop people using them to create data visualisations. But am I missing something? Is there a treasure trove of education data that could be visualised, published by the Australian federal or state governments? Or am I going to have to resort to worldwide comparisons using OECD & UNESCO data?
In the meantime, here's an example of using the PowerMap side of PowerBi to map some international education data.
We made an announcement at the end of last week about the name and easier access to the online versions of Office. I think this is important for Australian students and teachers, as it is now much easier for students and staff to be able to use Office on the web. Anybody can do it – they don’t need an Office subscription, nor do they need their school, TAFE or university to set up Office 365 Education access. So a student can login to Office Online* and start creating, editing and sharing documents, either alone or with others – from almost any device and without a subscription service (all they need to do is create a Microsoft Account, which can be done with any email address).
* Office Online is the new name for Office Web Apps, and includes the browser-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
* Office Online is the new name for Office Web Apps, and includes the browser-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
The Office team have put many of the details on the Office blog, and here’s a quick snip from there:
Sure, some of you are already using the online versions of Office. And with the recent addition of real-time co-authoring and more of the most commonly used features coming online over the last several months, we hear that you’re liking it. But we also know that many of the one billion Office users haven’t tried it yet and we want to change that.
Today we are making two changes. First, we’re renaming Office Web Apps to Office Online so you know where to find our free online experience. We heard from customers that the inclusion of Apps in our name was confusing. Are they something I install? Do I go to an app store to get them? No, to use them all you need is a web browser. Ah! You say. So it’s like Office, online. Yes, exactly. Office Online.
Secondly, a lot of you don’t know that we have an online version of Office because you just couldn’t find it. If you’re already using Office Online on OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) or on SharePoint at work, great. We’re glad you found it there. You can still use Office Online just like you always have. But we’re making it easier to find for the rest of you by introducing Office.com, a discoverable and shareable web page so that you can start using Office Online right away.
So now you have lots of different ways of ensuring that your students and staff can use Office:
Read more about Office Online
Related Office Stories
Office 365 - Ignite Technical Training in Sydney–April 2014
Office 365 - Ignite Technical Training in Sydney–April 2014
What skills do I need for the future?
Student Advantage–the best way to get Office for student BYOD devices
You can see all related blog articles about Office here
You can see all related blog articles about Office here
We’re continuing to build the list of integration resources that we provide for Moodle, so that schools, TAFEs and universities can integrate their Moodle platforms more securely with the rest of their existing infrastructure. This is a common goal for central IT teams, where they want to ensure their users (both staff and students) are able to move seamlessly between their different systems, and their data isn’t locked into a single platform. For example, rather than having learning resources locked away within their Learning Management System it’s possible to use the content management of SharePoint, and storage space of OneDrive (the new name for SkyDrive), to ensure that users have access even when they are not using Moodle directly, or to provide content management such as version control for staff. In the past I’ve written about the SkyDrive/OneDrive plugin for Moodle and the Moodle kit for Windows Azure.
The latest plugin from Microsoft integrates Moodle with Office 365 and OneDrive. This allows teachers to create courses and assignments in Moodle that can be read, edited, and submitted by students in SharePoint.
The download package incudes:
Download the Moodle and Office 365 integration resources and guidance
Related Moodle Stories Combining Moodle with OneNote and SkyDrive to raise standards Linking SkyDrive and Moodle together Hosting Moodle in the Cloud - why now? Moodle in the cloud–a Moodle 2 kit for Windows Azure You can see all related Moodle blog articles here
You can see all related Moodle blog articles here
We announced recently that Yammer for education customers will be free of charge this Spring (that's, Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, or as we would call it in Australia, Autumn), through your Office 365 for Education subscription (which is also free). Which means that educational institutions are able to have a communication system (through Office 365’s email and Lync service), collaboration and document storage (through Office 365’s SharePoint and OneDrive), and secure social networking and collaboration (through Yammer) – all of which is free.
The beauty of Yammer is that it can be fully integrated into your user database – so you create a private place for just your users to collaborate and mingle, and can enable and disable users easily. And then within Yammer you can create public and private groups – so staff can have private planning and discussion areas that others can’t access. Or groups of students can be placed into individual communities, for classes, subjects, sports and social groups etc. It also has a range of apps for mobile devices, so your users can access it on the go from their iPhone, Windows Phone, Android phones etc
There has always been a basic free version of Yammer that users can sign up to individually, and create communities and groups, and some education users in Australia have already been using that for some time (some of them with hundreds or thousands of users). But when you want to have organisational control over your users, then in the past you would have had to paid for the full Yammer Enterprise version. But soon, that’s the version that education customers can get free.
The major difference between Yammer and other social networking systems is that your Yammer network is private, and controlled by you. You don’t have individual teachers uploading lists of students to third-party websites, and managing them outside of your existing systems. Instead, your IT team have full control over your users in the same way that they do for other systems in your school, TAFE or university. Adding and deleting/disabling users is all done centrally. And you have control and visibility of the content and conversations that are happening.
Some of the key features of Yammer that are relevant for education customers are:
Once Yammer Enterprise is available, Office 365 Education tenant administrators will receive an activation link in their Office 365 admin portal. You then visit the Office 365 Admin Portal to begin the self-guided provisioning process. There’s a complete Yammer Activation Guide here. There are also additional resources on activation and provisioning from Yammer.
Learn more about Yammer
We’ve just announced that Miami Dade County Public Schools in the USA will be providing 100,000 Windows 8 devices for their students by August 2015, starting this term with HP and Lenovo computers for 13,000 primary and 15,000 middle school students. It is part of the bigger programme of technology initiatives in partnership with Microsoft, which includes their 350,000 students getting to Microsoft Office for use on their personal computers at home or school, and the use of the IT Academy programme to provide a new job training programme.
A recent IDC Study, which scanned more than 14 million job postings, found that the most in-demand skills for the top jobs through 2020 are the modern skills such as communication, problem solving and teamwork, coupled with the technical skills of Microsoft Office. In fact, Microsoft Office is the No. 2 skill employers are looking for in the highest-paying jobs, and No. 3 skill in all jobs.
Although in these announcements people (and journalists) often focus on the ‘new things’ like software and devices, what is underpinning the whole initiative is a clear focus on improving teaching and learning. As Margo Day, from Microsoft in the US, says in the announcement:
Now, make no mistake — we know technology on its own will not close this education gap; it alone won’t improve test scores. Yet, it is powerful when used effectively. The empowered teacher and flexible technology combination can be a magical mix.
We applaud (Miami-Dade County Public Schools) for carefully looking at the needs of its teachers and students before making the decision of which technology solution to implement. Microsoft is committed to helping teachers at Miami Dade learn new ways to teach with technology. It’s critical to help teachers reduce the time they spend on administrative tasks such as grading homework. With the use of tools such as shared OneNote Notebooks, this is finally possible. Ultimately we want to help teachers spend the most time doing what they do best and love to do most: teach.
For the students, it was wonderful to see Miami-Dade deeply consider the diverse needs of its student population and avoid a one-size-fits-all technology solution.
Miami Dade is the 4th largest US school district, so this is a significant programme, and it follows on just two days after our announcement of a partnership to support wider access to technology for US public schools. That initiative includes a partnership with device manufacturers to lower the cost of Windows devices for schools, as well as teacher and student training resources, and even the provision of advertising-free internet search through Bing for Schools.
Visit the Microsoft Education Newsroom