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January, 2013 - Education - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The Australian Education Blog
Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

January, 2013

  • Education

    You can't just airdrop technology


    A principal recently confessed that he'd ordered a bunch of tablets for a whole year group of his students…and hadn't yet told the teachers. I was reminded about the comment when watching Anthony Salcito (Microsoft's global Vice President for Education) talking at the TEDx event in Paris in November. He described 'air drop technology' where IT is simply dropped into school:


    Anthony's talk, which is only 12 mins, is on YouTube, and sparked off some interesting thoughts and reflections for me:

    And towards the end he makes a very clear point about three pretty important questions that should be present in every discussion:


    But we've got to be rooted in questions:

    • What are we trying to do for our learners?
    • What are we trying to inspire them to achieve in a society?
    • How do we embrace the world of technology in a way that empowers great teaching?

    Learn MoreWatch the video of Anthony Salcito at TEDx PanthéonSorbonne

  • Education

    Getting started with building a sophisticated student support app for Windows 8


    The Education section of the Windows 8 store is packed with new apps, as people are busy developing Windows 8 education apps. One of the things I've noticed is that many of them are intended to do just one job well – they're not really creating a whole learning journey for a student, but enabling specific activities. Yet one of the advantages of a Windows device over other tablets is that you can connect everything a student does together, and connect the data and experiences of their learning journey, instead of having to hop into separate apps for each part of their learning.

    Microsoft Learning Companion app screenshotTo demonstrate what's possible, and to make it easier for Windows 8 education app developers to create this experience for students, Microsoft have developed a sample Windows 8 app for institutions who are using Office 365 for education and Windows 8.

    The Contoso Learning Companion app for Windows 8 allows students and teachers to access their SharePoint/Office 365 for education learning environments directly from a Windows 8 device. This sample application is designed to be customised by our partners and customers, who can then release their own versions of it.

    • A partner or software developer can take the code from the Contoso Learning Companion, and continue to develop it to provide specific versions for their market - eg popular learning management systems, and/or their customer configurations of Office 365 for education.
      Under the licence partners can create what are called 'derivative works' from the sample app, and can distribute them free or for sale.
    • An education institution could create their own custom Windows 8 education app (or get a partner to develop it for them), based on the sample app and release it under their own name.
      For example, there could be a Learning Companion app for a specific university or school that has their full branding, and can be linked to their cloud services, their specific Learning Management System, and contains news feeds and information specifically for that university or school.

    Features of the Learning Companion App

    • Aggregated view of current events, classes, and study groups in SharePoint/Office 365 for education
    • Access to class and study group sites, and their respective, events, materials, and related features in SharePoint
    • OneNote integration for consumption and management of lessons and assignments via a class notebook

    Developers can customise the look and feel with institution branding or by integrating imagery as a background. They can also extend the UI by adding additional components, such as news feeds and other institutional data sources.

    Why develop an app, when there's a website already?

    The benefit of creating specific apps, rather than simply pointing your students, parents and staff to an Office 365 website, is that you can create a seamless integrated experience. Most education institutions have websites that are designed to do everything from recruit new students, to publishing official data, to connecting with alumni. And somewhere in there are the resources to support current students. Whereas with an app focused on providing support for current students, you can make it a much better (and more mobile) experience – for example, by keeping your users permanently 'logged in' to their data, and enabling offline use with OneNote so that the students can work when and where they need to, not just when they are within reach of a wifi signal.

    The other significant benefit is that the Learning Companion for Windows 8 provides a touch-friendly interface to support Office 365 for education (and potentially your LMS). It provides users with an aggregated experience that would otherwise require the user to access multiple sites via the browser.

    As the sample app also integrates into OneNote, the powerful learning support app that is part of Microsoft Office. Within OneNote, sections are created for the teacher to input the required lessons and assignments for students to access. Private groups are also created for each student—visible only to that student and the teacher—where they can keep their notes, work on assignments, and collaboratively work on assignments with teacher input. By using OneNote as the repository, the teacher is able to manage all student submissions at a glance.

    How to turn the Learning Companion sample app into a real app

    Once you've downloaded the sample code, you'll be able to change, extend and compile your own Windows 8 education app yourself. You'll need Windows 8 and a Visual Studio for Windows 8 application development, as well as a SharePoint or Office 365 setup (you can get an Office 365 trial account here). And, of course, your programming skills Smile

    Find MoreYou can download the source code for the Learning Companion free here

  • Education

    What Bill Gates' Saturday Essay made me wonder about university MOOCs


    Bill GatesBill Gates is no longer involved with the day-to-day business of Microsoft (even though my children still think that's who I work for), and instead spends almost his entire time on the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which focuses on global development and health. And last week he wrote an essay for the Wall Street Journal, titled "Bill Gates: My Plan to Fix The World's Biggest Problems". The underlying message – that measurement of progress is the critical factor – is clearly spelt out in a number of areas:


    In the past year, I have been struck by how important measurement is to improving the human condition. You can achieve incredible progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive progress toward that goal…

    This may seem basic, but it is amazing how often it is not done and how hard it is to get right.


    You should read the whole essay, as he talks about examples of how measurement is making a difference in education and health around the world (and doesn't avoid sensitive issues, especially in his education examples).

    But the basic message can be boiled down to two things:

    • Set a clear goal
    • Find a measure that will drive progress towards that goal

    What are the clear goals of MOOCs?

    And it left me wondering what the basic message means in the context of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course), a big emerging initiative across higher education at the moment, nationally in Australia, and internationally.

    Without doubt MOOCs are measurable – something that can be seen in most of the reporting on MOOCs, where the stories revolve the numbers of student signing up, participating, and actually completing the courses. But the 'clear goal' bit is more of a challenge. Some universities are using it as a marketing mechanism, for example to raise the profile of their university generally, and either increase the desire of people to attend their university, or worse case not reduce their intake (see MIT Tech Review); others see it as a new business model – for example, to expand their business by increasing revenue from assessment and certification of their non-core audience (see this TechCrunch article). But at the same time, the risk of a MOOC is that it devalues the core teaching and learning 'product' that students are buying from a university.

    So if the ideal mechanism is 'set a clear goal' and 'measure progress towards that goal', what are the goals for the university of the current rush to create, promote and enrol students into a MOOC? There doesn't seem to be much written about that in the current MOOC conversation.

  • Education

    Technology classroom wall poster


    imageHere's an interesting poster for your IT classroom walls, highlighted by Steve Clayton on the Next at Microsoft blog. Apparently it was created for the Microsoft careers team, to highlight some of the different career options linked to the many different technologies that we work with at Microsoft.

    But to me it's an opportunity for a great classroom poster to show students how wide and varied technology is, and how many parts of our lives it intersects.


    Learn MoreDownload a high resolution PDF to put up on your classroom wall

  • Education

    Where the Microsoft research and development budget goes


    Read the original PCWorld articleI've just finished reading a great article on PCWorld, titled "Meet Microsoft, the world's best kept R&D secret", about the hidden work going on in the Microsoft research and development labs – and some of the projects that are being delivered in return for the $9.6 billion being invested every year:

    • Blending touch and touchscreens
      Using cameras and personal projectors to transform normal objects into touchscreen computer surfaces – from cereal boxes, to room walls, to body parts becoming touchscreens.
    • Kinect
      Kinect, originally for the Xbox, is all about movement, rather than touch, and there's a bunch of projects that are using it in interfaces, games, new interfaces, and even robotics – like this project from Disney

      The added bonus with Kinect is that there's a publicly available Software Development Kit (SDK) that you can use to build your own projects.
    • Holodeck
      Taking the idea of home entertainment to a completely different level by turning a whole room into an interactive experience – creating a 360-degree screen and interactivity.
    • Foveated Rendering
      As displays get bigger, the computing power needed to display them gets massive – and if you want to draw a life-size rendering of a scene on a room-size display, you'll need more computing power than you can currently get from a home computer. Unless… you use foveated rendering…

    It all points to scenarios, like the ones from our Productivity Future Vision created last year, being with us sooner than we might imagine.

    It will be fascinating to see how some of these innovations are applied in education - either in real or virtual classrooms

    Learn MoreRead the original PCWorld article "Meet Microsoft, the world's best kept R&D secret"

  • Education

    How Deloitte made learning a game–Harvard Business Review


    Gamification of learning continues to be a hot topic for education (and as with most things within the education system, there's plenty of divided opinion on how it could be used in the classroom with students). But it's not limited to conventional education systems – we're also seeing gamification being used in the world of corporate learning too.

    I'm lucky to work closely with the team at Janison Learning Systems, in Coffs Harbour, who have used the techniques of gamification to enhance the Deloitte Leadership Academy, which has just been featured in the Harvard Business Review site. When you look at the line-up of logos along the bottom of the website, you can see the exalted company that Janison keep these days:

    Deloitte Leadership Academy - website footer

    Deloitte has seen it's Deloitte Leadership Academy grow through the inclusion of gamification techniques – missions, badges, leaderboards, online connections to widen the participatory group – and that's resulted in a 37% increase in the number of users returning to the site each week. There's a really good overview of it on the Harvard Business Review site, and a small tick list of three questions to ask before getting started with using gamification for learning and development, that I think is immediately applicable in education too:

    • What are your (business) goals?
    • Who is your audience?
    • How will you track success?

    There's a really important point right at the bottom of the article, which is important to keep at the front of your mind when thinking about gamification:

      The goal is not to "game" or manipulate target audiences, but rather to mesh behavioural science with social technologies to increase collaboration and engagement levels among your users.  

    It's that key phrase "mesh behavioural science with social technologies" that hits me – it's important to remember that it's about intrinsically rewarding the behaviours, and avoid the problems some gamification projects have had when they have veered off into rewarding the processes, not the goals.

    Learn MoreRead 'How Deloitte Made Learning a Game' on the HBR Blog Network

    This project is just one of hundreds that Janison have built – which might explain why their client list on their website runs to five pages – including a number of education projects like the NSW ESSA Online Science Assessment and the ACMA Online Cybersafety project.

  • Education

    Building an engaging Windows 8 education app for teachers


    Developing an education app is about designing an experience, before writing code. One way is to talk to teachers and students. Another way is to look at examples, and that's why we created 'App Idea Books' for Windows 8. They cover different areas – games, entertainment, news, productivity, sports, shopping and travel. And, yes, there's even a app idea book for Windows 8 Education apps.

    The app idea book is an overview of design scenarios for a Windows 8 education app for teachers and students.

    The sample Windows 8 Education app I wrote about earlier this month focuses on the technical 'plumbing' of building an integrated cloud-enabled education app. This work focuses on the design elements and interactions of a Windows 8 education app.How to build a teacher app for Windows 8

    Creating an immersive Windows 8 education app – the teacher experience

    In this first blog post, I'm going to look at the app experience for a teacher – how to help them to design and manage an online learning activity, and I'll post a little later today on the app experience for a student. The work uses Microsoft design features to create an engaging and immersive education experience for both teachers and students, which helps to simplify potentially complex processes, and puts teaching interactions at the forefront of the design.

    Draw users into the content of your app

    Beyond simply delivering the process side, you can use the Microsoft design language to easily access media from the file system, and use live tiles to draw users into your app.

    Sample home screen for a Windows 8 education appThe Teacher view gives an overview of the teacher's day, organised by their personal timetable. Selecting another class instantly reveals the relevant content.


    imageThe teacher views all of her current tasks in the assignment overview and selects the Add button from the AppBar to add a new assignment.


    Selecting students in a Windows 8 education appFrom the pannable assignment view she can add details about the assignment, add students and groups, include grading information, and associate resources for the assignment.


    The file picker in a Windows 8 education appThe teacher uses the file picker to add video files to an assignment.

    The file picker is a standard method of selecting files and resources in Windows 8, and means that users get a standard way of interacting with files, whichever application they are using.  


    Windows 8 education app design ideasAfter she has finished creating the assignment, the teacher publishes the assignment to the students.


    Using live tiles to alert studentsThe live tile for the  app receives a pushed update and it can then alert the student about the new assignment. This happens regardless of whether the student is running the app or not, and is one of the key benefits of live tiles.

    What the design ideas above illustrate is that it is possible to have large volumes of interactive content and media on a single screen, and use panning and touch to make it less confusing to the user (and much more attractive than conventional blocks or lists of text information). And the other key design principle it shows is how you'd start to develop the use of live tiles to engage users, and keep workflow going - the benefit of live tiles over conventional software models is that you don't need the software running to know if there are updates (unlike today's calendar or email software, which has to sit running in the background all day, consuming power and using up memory).

    Visit the App Idea Book for Windows 8 on the MSDN site for further links to techniques and resources


    Learn MoreNext: How to design a Windows 8 education app for students

  • Education

    Developing Windows 8 education apps–How Lucas Moffitt does it


    Lucas Moffitt - Windows 8 developerIn December, I came across Lesson Coder, a Windows 8 educational app to help teachers record their own lesson observations, and check them against the NSW Quality Teaching Framework. It's a professional development tool for both experienced and trainee teachers, and it made a lot of sense to use on a touch-enabled Windows 8 device.

    Over Christmas, I had the chance to catch up with Lucas Moffitt, the developer, to understand why he'd developed it, and what other projects he's got in the pipeline, and he's agreed to let me share the Question and Answer session:

    Lucas Moffitt – developing Windows 8 apps to help teachers

    Lucas has always been interested in programming, ever since as a Year 4 student a teacher showed him a programming tool he used to build education apps – and ever since then Lucas has been interested in both developing software and education. He went to the University of Newcastle and completed a double degree in teaching and design and technology. Since graduating he's carried on developing software and websites, now as a professional developer. As Lucas put it:

      I've got a real interest in the future of educational technology and using the experience learnt from my teaching course to help with developing apps for teachers and students.  

    I think this came from a module in 'teaching and technology' that Lucas took in his last year of the teaching course. He was disappointed to realise that teachers were often having to make do with existing websites and software that had been created for other purposes, and that teachers were then adapting to use in teaching and learning. And that would then lead to gaps in the ways that it could support teachers and students. It was at that point that Lucas saw the opportunity to change the model and actually develop apps specifically for teachers.

    Creating WordFiller

    His first app was WordFiller - a cloze test generator for interactive whiteboards, where students could drag words from a passage around on the whiteboard to match the text. Teachers can load a passage of text and then remove some words, and then the students would be picking up words and dropping them into the text using the interactivity of the whiteboard.

    After realising that many teachers didn't have access to the an interactive whiteboard in their classroom, Lucas moved on to create an interface that worked with Windows Kinect, so that students could use hand-gestures and voice commands to complete the task. It meant that teachers could achieve the same thing with a $200 Kinect device rather than a $4,000 interactive whiteboard.

    But if you're developing free software apps for teachers, how do you distribute it? Lucas answer was social media:

      In addition to my personal connections, and other trainee teachers on my course, I was sharing it with teachers across Australia through my Twitter account. I released the software on GitHub as a way to make it freely available – by releasing it on an Open Source licence, it meant that other people could see what I have done, and then either use the software as it is, or improve it.  

    After creating it, Lucas learnt that although many teachers will assert that they are tech-savvy, often they lack the confidence or skills to try something completely new that's not quite as simple as downloading an app from an online store.

    Lucas also had to learn about new programming languages for modern devices – in his case, C# – to make sure that he could get the software to fit the needs of teachers.

      The big difference was in spotting what teachers needed, and building an app for that, rather than trying to work out workarounds for existing software. Feedback from other teachers on the gaps in existing software was useful.  

    The next project for Lucas was to create the Teaching Resource Exchange –  a website where teachers could share classroom resources.


    I'd noticed that lots of teachers seem to act like hoarders (even myself) – they find great resources and put them away for future use. I felt that I could help other teachers by creating a place where teachers could store their resources, and at the same time share them with other teachers – not just single resources, but lesson plans etc. There are already similar sites that exist in other countries, but I wanted to create something more local to Australia – so that the experience of local teachers could create a more focused set of resources that support our classroom and curriculum.

    Of course, after the initial enthusiasm, the challenge I discovered was that teachers will still keep their resources to themselves, unless there's a compelling reason to share. In fact, many teachers seem afraid to share their lesson resources, because they think that their content won't stand up to public scrutiny – afraid that they might find that the stuff they create is shot down by other 'experts'. Sadly, it's easier for them to simply not share. I thought I'd cracked that with Teaching Resource Exchange by allowing for reflection, feedback and an improvement loop for resources.

    I've learnt a lot along the way, and so there was no effort wasted.  The site still operates and the content that was submitted is still available for all teachers to see and use today.


    The  first step in building Windows 8 education apps

    It was only in the last six weeks that Lucas started to look at Windows 8, and realising the potential of creating touch-enabled apps for teachers. His first step was to buy a Samsung Series 7 slate (it's also my computer currently), and start to play with the possibilities. As he already had knowledge of C# from his earlier work, the additional bits that he had to learn were the XAML skills to be able to create a polished touch app. Of course, deciding to build a Windows 8 app doesn't necessarily mean writing Windows 8 education apps, so I asked why the focus stayed on education:

      Of course, I looked at creating games, but the reality is that there are thousands of games apps out there for mobile devices. Whereas there aren't that many tools out there for teachers. Well, there's plenty of learning apps for a model where every student has a device, and the teacher can install individual apps for each student. But there are significantly less apps that are about helping a teacher do their job more effectively and efficiently using their own personal device.  

    Lesson Coder was the first app Lucas released in the Windows Store. It uses the NSW Quality Teaching Framework to help teachers or observers to record and review their own professional practice during a lesson. They can quickly enter data about a lesson and review it later for professional development purposes. It's also a good tool for lesson observers during teaching prac. It was created after Lucas had seen this in classroom practice, where an assessor comes into the classroom with a big binder of paper, and is ticking boxes and assessing in real time and providing feedback. Then, if they want to keep that electronically, they have enter it into a computer, which creates more work still. The goal of Lesson Coder was to reduce the whole process to get the result more quickly, and in a more useful way for both the observer(s) and the teacher.

    As soon as he'd announced it on Twitter, another teacher came along asking for a version based on Australian Teacher Professional Standards and so Lucas has now created that too, which will shortly appear in the Windows Store. The standards are used to assess a trainee teacher in order to graduate, so this will be really useful for anybody involved in teacher training - the plan is that an observer or a qualified teacher is able to record the teaching performance of a trainee (or peer-to-peer assessment) and provide detailed feedback against the standards. So if you were the teacher being assessed, you would be able to see how you were rated on each criteria, and importantly to see progress through time. And both apps can create a simple Excel spreadsheet with the results.

    What's the next Windows 8 education app?

    Lucas is now working on a few other Windows 8 education apps that can take advantage of the touch features of the latest devices. Class Seater is a way to create seating charts for different class groups. The idea came from realising that it was a great use for a touch interface, where it's especially useful for primary schools, where teachers often create and print charts. This way they are able to do it in real time, and move students around, without having to generate a new print out every time. And then he's turning his attention to his first app that will have both a free and paid-for version (all the others so far have been free):


    Essay Marker is the big app that I'm working on right now – and it's taking almost all of my free time. It's a tool for teachers who have to create, distribute and mark essay-based assessments. You can create an assignment in the app, share it in Word with students via SkyDrive, and then teachers mark all of the assignments, whilst matching the assignment to the marking scheme, and rubric.

    This will be a free app but I'll be able to create it with a limited number assignments, marking groups, and have advertising in it – and will then offer a low cost upgrade to a full version without the limits and adverts.

    This is a way for me to help teachers, whilst also getting something back for the time I'm putting in.


    Lucas uses Twitter to share his projects, and also to solicit feedback from teachers on his software and what improvements he can make.


    Of course, I'm learning that the world of teaching that's taught in a university course is very different from the practical world of teaching. I'm trying to help bridge the gap between what teachers are able to do in the time they have available, by giving them tools that make it easier to integrate new professional practice in an easy way.

    It's driven out of frustration – too many teachers I've met have been using technology because they are being forced to, not because they want to. So I'm looking at this saying 'what's the process I can make easier?', and then trying to do it in a way that helps teachers. Of course, I'd love nothing more than somebody giving me buckets of cash to sit down and write apps for teachers to help them – but that's not going to happen today, so until then I'm going to keep writing apps that help teachers, and see if I can find a model that allows me to develop apps that help teachers, and pays me to keep doing it.


    At the end of our conversation, Lucas last thought was about what he wanted more of: feedback. He's keen to get quality feedback from somebody who's actually got the chance to use his software in the classroom and through their feedback can help him to improve it.

    Learn MoreRead more about Lucas, and his projects, on his website

  • Education

    Australian case study - Using Lync to replace a PABX, to cut costs and improve productivity


    Although this Australian case study is of a local government customer, rather than an education one, I think that it's relevant because there are so many aspects of a council that match education institutions:

    • Hundreds of staff distributed across multiple sites (in Adelaide City Council's case, 700 staff across 19 different premises)
    • Expensive legacy PABX systems heading towards end of life (and costing huge amounts in maintenance charges)
    • Increasing need to replace travel with remote collaboration and conferencing
    • Need to replace dedicated video conferencing suites with desktop video conferencing
    • Flexible working style requiring anytime, anywhere access to facilities
    • High capacity data network already installed
    • Staff are used to bringing, and using, their own devices too
    • A need to reduce risk to service delivery in and after any change

    Pretty much all of those issues are identical for education institutions.

    Adelaide City Council Lync case study

    Adelaide City Council logoWhat the council have done is replace an ageing conventional telephone system with a Microsoft Lync unified communication system, linking telephone, video and audio conferencing, and their existing email system in Exchange. But it wasn't something that they could rush into. According to David Carroll, the Infrastructure and Operations Team Leader for Adelaide City Council:

      Before we deployed network-based telephony, we had to prove it would be one hundred percent reliable. Second, we had to create a business case that clearly demonstrated value for money. Third, our design had to be adaptable: we had two sites where staff used specialist cordless analogue phones that they did not want to decommission, so our network design had to accommodate them.  

    Many education customers already have Lync licences included within their EES agreements, or can get some of the capabilities within the free Office 365 for education service (although the telephony bit definitely isn't included free!). So the cost of deploying a system similar to Adelaide's won't be prohibitive – and the savings that can be made by switching from a PABX are a big incentive (Adelaide report that their annual phone costs are now a quarter of what they used to be):

      In addition, we have eliminated phone re-routing costs. Now, connections follow staff wherever they are and as a consequence we are a far more flexible organisation.  

    The list of benefits that the council report in the case study are impressive (you'll need to read the case study for the details behind each of these bullet points):

    • Improved productivity
    • Dramatically lower telephony costs
    • Reduced travel and emissions
    • Simplified technical support

    Learn MoreRead the full  Adelaide City Council Lync case study

    (If you want to find Lync partners in Australia, then Microsoft Pinpoint is the easiest way)

  • Education

    Building an engaging Windows 8 education app for students


    Earlier I wrote about building a Windows 8 education app for teachers, and here's part  two - building an interactive, engaging Windows 8 education app for students. We pick up where I left off earlier – where teachers have assigned an assignment to a group of students.

    Creating an immersive Windows 8 education app – the student experience

    The first thing to know is that the live tiles and notification system of Windows 8 means that students don't need to be running the app to interact with it – so if a teacher assigns work to a student then they'll receive a notification without having to dip into the app (and that notification can contain more than just a 'You have mail…' type of message)

    Sample Windows 8 education app for studentsIn our scenario, Steve the student is working on his Microsoft PowerPoint presentation when he receives a toast notification about a new assignment.
    This is regardless of whether he's running the app, so students don't need to run your app to 'just check' whether there's work waiting for them. You can use toast notifications for reminders, work assignments etc.


    Student assignment screen in the sample Windows 8 education appAs Steve taps the toast notification, the app launches and goes straight to the assignment page. The assignment page lists chapters from a textbook and a web article, along with the members of his group.
    A typical 'snapped view' scenario in Windows 8 education apps

    Steve views the assignment using snapped view and clicks on the web links provided.
    This mode of working is perfect for students, where they can run two apps side by side eg for notetaking.
    And for those students who (think they) can't work without background music, they can keep their music library on-screen at the same time as doing their homework.


    imageSteve views the web site while taking notes in the app in snap view.
    This is especially critical when curriculum resources include e-textbooks, as they'll often need to see their textbook alongside their other materials or the assignment notes.


    Using the Share Charm in Windows 8 education appsAfter reviewing his notes in full screen view, Steve swipes in the Share charm and sends the notes to his group members.
    The Share mechanism works by identifying which apps can share information through the Windows 8 contracts. What this means is that developers don't need to know about all the different ways to share information – the other apps that can share information provide the mechanism to do it. So if somebody invents the new Facebook tomorrow, your users will be able to use the Share charm without you needing to re-write your app.
    What the design ideas above show is that you can create a much more interactive experience for students on a Windows 8 touch device than you might on other tablets – and the app you create would run on any Windows 8 device – whether that's a non-touch laptop, or a Windows slate like Surface, or a home PC. Steve the student has a very different experience when using a Windows 8 education app because of the added interactivity provided through using things like:

    • Snap mode for running multiple apps
    • Toast notifications to draw the student back to the app (and to help teachers to connect with students)
    • Using the Share charm to make it easy for users to share information, without having to recode your software every time there's a new social network/LMS/cloud service

    Where to find out more about developing Windows 8 education apps

    Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas that you want to follow up on, so here's really useful links for you to continue on your journey.

    The first place to go is the Windows Store app development section on MSDN (and specifically this page for the advice on Windows 8 Education apps), and if you prefer your info offline, then download the Windows 8 Product Guide for Developers.

    There's also a clear set of design guidelines for the user experience in "Make great Windows Store apps"

    Learn MoreFinally, take a look at all of the other articles on this blog about developing Windows 8 apps for education

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