Anybody that has taught knows that certain well-known myths are just not true. For example, there is dinosaur living in a lake in Scotland (actually, I believe this one is true), woman are worse drivers than men and postcardteachers do not work in August. Today I can dispel at least one of these myths: teachers DO work in August.

To prove the point, we invited the Innovative Teachers we have worked with over the past three years to attend a kind of ‘Summer Camp’. (Calling the event a conference or workshop  just didn’t seem the right thing to do.) The Summer Camp took place at Microsoft UK headquarters in Reading last week.

We wanted to gather all these teachers together to create a number of new resources to share through the Innovative Teachers Network. Kristen and I have been asked many times whether we have any short, instructional videos about the technology and activities we talk and blog about. The answer (until last week) was always 'No.' When we direct people to how-to resources on the internet, the major criticism has been that they do not have enough of an educational context.

So the starting point for the group last week was to think about what sort of video resources teachers might find useful. We decided that to develop some examples of how teachers could use Office 2007 in their teaching. In a brainstorming activity, we amazed ourselves at the number of features in Office 2007 that have a direct and relevant use in education. For example, do you know about the Maths Add-in for Word, conditional formatting in Excel or action triggers in PowerPoint?

Each teacher was tasked with producing a video, using Community Clips to record the screen actions of using the applications, and Windows Moviemaker to do the final editing and add titles. In two days, we managed to produce 10 videos, the first in what we hope will be a series of about 50 videos. They will not all be about Office 2007, but will include many of the applications we have mentioned in our blog posts, such as AutoCollage. The completed videos still need a little tweaking, but we will have them ready for release in the next two weeks or so, with more to follow as they are completed. We think the results so far are pretty impressive and offer something different than your usual ‘instructional videos’. I’ll take this opportunity to thank all the teachers who attended for the their hard work, their time and their great company.

As ever with Innovative Teacher events there is always a little time for some fun. We held an impromptu traditional British holiday camp ‘Knobbly Knees Contest’, (in which Kristen came third, by the way), and we also had a sneak preview of what delights we can expect from Office 2010.

If any of you have some great uses of Office 2007 in the curriculum that you think are worth sharing and that could be turned in to a 5-minute video, please let us know by contacting me at v-sball@microsoft.com. We would love to hear from you.

And check back in September for the first Office 2007 videos from our Innovative Teachers!