At our recent Easter Camp one of the most warmly received free applications was Ribbon Hero. This simple plug-in for Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 uses a ‘game format’ to test and improve your skills in using Word, Excel PowerPoint and OneNote. In each application a task is set and you acquire points on how well you do in completing that task. Each task is based around a particular range of functions such as formatting text in Word or inserting video in PowerPoint, for example. Ribbon Hero helps and guides you if you don't know how to use these functions. It enables you to learn alot more about the functions and features of Microsoft Office.
As with all the best Hero movies, there is always a sequel and Ribbon Hero 2 is now available. This gives the infamous Office Paper clip character, Clippy, his second chance. Ribbon Hero 2 uses a comic style , with lots of animations and graphics that will have a particular appeal, especially to your students.
Both these simple games are ideal to learn more about the functions of Microsoft Office.
Application name – Ribbon Hero
Free download from - http://www.officelabs.com/ribbonhero
Requirements – Microsoft Office 2007 or Microsoft Office 2010
Application name – Ribbon Hero 2
Free download from - http://www.ribbonhero.com/
Some teachers and learners find themselves in environments that are less than ideal for learning. Teachers who are inspirational will inspire, whatever their environment and some teachers in inspirational spaces will fail to make the most of their learning space. But the environments we live, learn, work in have the POTENTIAL to change our mood, our receptivity, our engagement. Some places have a calming effect, others are stimulating.
This was recently a topic shared with many of our innovative schools in a LiveMeeting with expert schools designers Fielding Nair and was also discussed by teachers in a recent Twitter #ukedchat. It certainly provoked some passionate discussions. There is a lot of discussion online about learning spaces – check out Stephen Heppell and Ewan McIntosh, for example. Just looking at these amazing buildings makes me re-think the teaching methods I would like to be using.
But what is our own environment like? Does our environment affect the way we deliver learning to our students? Without the luxury of designing the learning spaces we are working in from scratch, we try to replicate the learning possibilities that inspirational spaces provide, often within the constraints of very old or inadequate buildings. And while the physical space we use for our learning is easily captured by a photograph, the virtual spaces we are using for learning provide a real challenge for us. Designing a virtual learning space that encourages anytime, anyplace, autonomous, collaborative learning is a big consideration as we harness the technologies available to us in the 21st century.
But do we have environment-led learning or learning-led environments? And how do the virtual and physical spaces complement each other? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Spring has well and truly sprung in the Microsoft offices in Reading this week, with the arrival of the very first Easter Camp for teachers. 20 teachers, mostly from schools taking part in our Innovative Schools programme, have been taking part in a professional development workshop held over two days in the school holidays. It’s great to know that there are teachers who are so committed to developing the learning of their students that they are prepared to give up a couple of days of their well-earned Easter holiday and that despite the challenges being faced by everyone in education at the moment, they can remain enthusiastic, committed and open to new possibilities. Teachers were introduced to a whole host of new tools – free, as well as being challenged about how to use the tools they already have in a creative way. That’s incredibly important in these times when budgets are an important consideration in schools. As we learn things truly thoroughly when we are challenged to teach what we know to others, teachers prepared instructional guides called Innovids to demonstrate a feature or use of one of the tools they had learnt about. The software used for the screen captures is a free download called "Community Clips”, which can be found here. The guides will be shared on the Innovativeteach Youtube channel – the first batch from Easter Camp are now available. Why not check them out? And why not get to grips with a new tool yourself by going through the process of making a video to explain it to your students or your colleagues?
Jeannie Nervais and Jen Blum
How to use Microsoft Photosynth
Live Essentials, Online
Making Flashcards for Drama
Making Phonics Flashcards
The Reference Function in Word 2010
Windows Live Writer
How to use LiveWriter
Microsoft Image Composite Editor or ICE for short, is one of those applications that doesn’t immediately spring to mind has having a role in the classroom. But it is a ideal for students to record places, geographical features and with it’s new features motion and movement in physics and P.E.
Microsoft Image Composite Editor is an advanced panoramic image stitcher. Given a set of overlapping photographs of a scene shot from a single camera location, the application creates a high-resolution panorama that seamlessly combines the original images. The stitched panorama can be shared and viewed in 3D by uploading it to the Photosynth web site.
A new new feature allows you to take stills from a video
Application name – Image Composite Editor
Free download from - http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/ivm/ice/
Requirements – You will need to ensure that you have the latest .NET frameworks and Visual C++ updates
James Marshall, from the Live@Edu team, tells us more about how to get started….
Ever wondered how to get the best out of the Outlook Web App in Live@edu? Over on the UK Live@edu team blog this week we’ve been posting short videos that take you step by step through some of the basic features of OWA. These videos are great for you to watch on-demand and learn how to use your Live@edu account more effectively.
Tips #1 – Getting started with Outlook Live: Evan Archilla introduces the Outlook Web App and some of the keyboard shortcuts you can use to navigate around more quickly.
Tips #2 – Searching, Filtering, Auto-Replies & Signatures: Evan Archilla talks about how you can search and filter your mail, and how you can set your auto-reply and signature from within OWA.
Tips #3 – The Calendar: Evan Archilla takes you through the steps to get to grips with your calendar, sharing it with others and creating meetings.
Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we post more tips and tricks about OWA, SkyDrive and the Microsoft Office Web Apps. You can always subscribe to our videos on YouTube, and follow the UK Live@edu team on Twitter, @ukliveatedu.
Not using Live@edu yet? Enrol your school today, free! http://www.microsoft.com/liveatedu
One of the most powerful tools in our own professional development is other teachers. Professional generosity – sharing ideas and feedback with our colleagues - helps us move forward in our own practice. It helps us tweak, refine and improve what we are doing in our classrooms. I know that sometimes I don’t have time to plough through the vast range of resources and tools that are available, so tips and pointers from others have been invaluable to me. I’ve referred many times to the YouTube channel set up by @innovativeteach and I’ve really enjoyed watching the latest batch of videos prepared by teachers for teachers prior to loading them up.
The latest innovids added focus on the use of Microsoft OneNote, Bing, Autocollage and Flashcards, as well as how to increase accessibility for SEN students. You can check them out here:
Recently I have noticed a shift in conversations, news reports and meetings in terms of talking about giving our students an education that is fit for the 21st century. Chris Lehmann in this video speaks about a ‘learning revolution’, where ‘Schools should teach us how to learn. Schools should teach us how to live.’ This is something I felt we were beginning to achieve, the changes in thinking about educational practise, as described by Sir Ken Robinson for example, were resonating in the schools and education policy. But, then the economic collapse happened and more recently the release of the PISA results.
Subsequently, I have noticed a change in how, what were ground-breaking ideas in education are being reported in the media. The banning of mobile phones, how Social media is to blame for poor grades, computer games should not be used in the classroom and one of my favourite reports, Computer games cause tooth decay! These reports have no references to how many schools have embraced this technology to the advantage of its students. They paint a very depressing picture of the use of ICT to enhance learning and are great evidence for the cynics and sceptics.
So has Education been fixed? Was it ever broken? Where is all this leading? Is a return to whole class teaching, testing knowledge and ICT as only a subject the only realistic way forward?
I would really welcome your comments and thoughts.
It’s been two weeks since the Microsoft Partners in Learning European Forum in Moscow, it’s only now I have had time to reflect and despite all the positives from that event, there is was one thing that frustrated me. Which was teachers not knowing about our free software. In some cases I saw teachers using paid for, and in my opinion inferior software. Is there anything better than Worldwide Telescope?
So taking my cue from those adverts with the Meerkats, I “stuck my head up” and began to find Teachers to tell where they could begin to find free software from Microsoft. Simples ! Or so I thought, but the nature of any free software, means its location is often spread across various places of the internet and teachers find out about it from sources such as Twitter, blogs and face to face networking.
So this has inspired Jan and I to write a series blog posts revisiting the free stuff Microsoft has and that the Partners in Learning team talk about all the time. Highlighting where to find it and how to make the best use of it in the classroom.
So lets start with two of our favourites, AutoCollage and Songsmith.
Application name – AutoCollage Free download from - http://uk.partnersinlearningnetwork.com/Resources/Pages/ArticleViewer.aspx?listname=ToolsAndPrograms&itemid=44 Requirements – You will need a Live ID and join the UK Partners in Learning Network to download AutoCollage. AutoCollage automatically creates photo montages from up to 54 images. Great to use in the classroom for recording school events and pupil activities. It can be used by students as visual record of their learning and it is a great tool for Digital storytelling activities. Find out how to use AutoCollage here Application name - Songsmith Free download from - http://uk.partnersinlearningnetwork.com/Resources/Pages/ArticleViewer.aspx?listname=ToolsAndPrograms&itemid=45 Requirements – You will need a Live ID and join the UK Partners in Learning Network to download. Songsmith is fantastic software that lets you (or your students, preferably), sing into your computer and it adds a background track and percussion of your choosing to create your own song. Songsmith isn’t just for music lessons. It’s is a great way to inject creative learning into any subject. Whether your looking for a fun way to help your students memorize multiplication tables or need to bring a history lesson to life, Songsmith can help you use music to encourage learning. Find out how to use Songsmith here
Application name – AutoCollage
Free download from - http://uk.partnersinlearningnetwork.com/Resources/Pages/ArticleViewer.aspx?listname=ToolsAndPrograms&itemid=44
Requirements – You will need a Live ID and join the UK Partners in Learning Network to download AutoCollage.
AutoCollage automatically creates photo montages from up to 54 images. Great to use in the classroom for recording school events and pupil activities. It can be used by students as visual record of their learning and it is a great tool for Digital storytelling activities.
Find out how to use AutoCollage here
Application name - Songsmith
Free download from - http://uk.partnersinlearningnetwork.com/Resources/Pages/ArticleViewer.aspx?listname=ToolsAndPrograms&itemid=45
Requirements – You will need a Live ID and join the UK Partners in Learning Network to download.
Songsmith is fantastic software that lets you (or your students, preferably), sing into your computer and it adds a background track and percussion of your choosing to create your own song. Songsmith isn’t just for music lessons. It’s is a great way to inject creative learning into any subject. Whether your looking for a fun way to help your students memorize multiplication tables or need to bring a history lesson to life, Songsmith can help you use music to encourage learning.
Find out how to use Songsmith here
If you download and use these applications, then why not share the links with two of your colleagues, and encourage them to do the same. Help us share these great free resources ……. Simples !
With the increasing popularity of blogging in schools, Microsoft Live Writer is a tool that makes the whole process very simple and intuitive. Microsoft Live Writer is part of the Windows Live Essentials free downloads and is just one of a family of very useful tools. It can be used to post to multiple blog accounts, draft posts may be saved locally or on your blog and posts can be scheduled to publish at a time of your choosing.
How to set up Microsoft Live Writer and add another blog
Select the Windows Live Essentials elements you wish to download. When you initially set this up, Live Writer will prompt you to add information about the name of your blog, its url address, your username and password. It’s a similar process to add a blog once you have set up livewriter.
To Use Microsoft Live Writer
Once you are set up, using Livewriter to blog is a simple process – I’ll take you through the basics to get you started but you will soon find other options in the toolbar that will help make your post look polished and professional.
"So kann ich Ihnen in jeder Sprache sprechen!"
"So kann ich Ihnen in jeder Sprache sprechen!"
The other benefit of Microsoft Live Writer is that blogposts can be prepared offline, ready to be posted once you have internet access.
Finally, all that remains is to:
Happy easy blogging!