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May, 2008 - FE blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The FE Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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May, 2008

  • FE blog

    Learning about Learning Styles

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    A few years ago, you couldn’t go to an education conference without hearing all about learning styles (Auditory, Visual, Tactual, Kinesthetic & Verbal). Now it’s as though it never happened – conferences are all talking about personalisation, policy and practitioners. Even though it’s no longer trendy, there are plenty of people still working on improving learner engagement in education through developing a better understanding of the influence of learning styles, and how they can be exploited.

    One of the people that continues to work in this area is Ole Lauridsen, of the LearningStylesLab at the Aarhus School of Business, Denmark. He’s worked with the Microsoft Partners in Learning team in Denmark to produce a booklet about OneNote and Learning Styles.

    If you’re interested in learning styles, it is definitely worth a read – with some excellent background on learning styles (based on the Dunn and Dunn model) , along with an analysis of how tools in Office can help a student. It also refers to www.learningstyles.net, where you can take a personal Learning Style assessment

    I learnt something about my own learning style (and why I learn in that way) from the booklet. For example

    Firstquotes

    Some people learn best when they have new and difficult information presented to them step by step
    in a logical sequence; they are called analytics.

    Others (most people) learn best when they have new and difficult information presented in large
    chunks on the basis of which they can then investigate the details themselves; they are called globals.

    Finally, there is a group of people, called the integrated, who do not prefer one way rather than the
    other; they can approach new and difficult information both analytically and globally.Endquotes

    I’m clearly a ‘global’ – I really like investigating and coming to my own conclusion, because then I feel more of an investment in the result. As I continued through the guide, it made even more sense.

    • “The leading principle for globals is F&C: Fun and Color”
        Well, I like F&C, even though I’m bad at choosing colours
    • “…they often like to work with mind mapping (sometimes combined with text boxes) rather than step by step tables”
        That describes me to perfection. I really hate flowcharts!

    LearningStyles

     

    You can download the booklet from here


  • FE blog

    Make reading easier for learners with visual impairments

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    A while ago I wrote about the announcement of the work that Microsoft were doing to develop a DAISY XML translator. The DAISY Consortium was set up to help those with visual impairment (or ‘print disabilities’) to access digital content easily, and enhance their use of the materials. We’ve been working with DAISY to develop a Word plug-in which allows Open XML documents to be translated into DAISY XML, which has become a globally accepted standard for digital talking books – for example, it’s used by the RNIB’s Talking Book Service.

    DAISY stands for Digital Accessible Information System, which lets you work with digital content in many ways, synchronising audio with display output, generating braille versions, or allowing text to speech conversion.

    The free Word Add-In has now been released, and adds a “Save as DAISY XML” option to the Word menu. The convertor is released as an open source project, and can be downloaded from the Open XML Community site. The beauty of this software is that it makes a specialist facility available within the core of Office – offering a broader reach for solutions that help visually impaired learners. It makes it easier for all staff in a college to be able to prepare materials in a way that could be used by all learners.

    The Save as Daisy XML function works with Word 2007, Word 2003 and Word XP.

  • FE blog

    Extended ODF support in Office 2007

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    WordSaveAsMenuWe’ve just announced that Office 2007 will get native support for ODF with the release of Office 2007 Service Pack 2, early next year.

    You can already save files from Office 2007 in 20 different formats – of which, my favourite three are:

    • Office Open XML – which is the new standard format for Office 2007 files, and the one I use most often because it automatically understands all the fancy new stuff in Office 2007 – like SmartArt & the improved picture formatting in PowerPoint.
    • Office 2003 format – which I use to share files with people using older versions of Office. And some people can’t read these files because their desktop Windows is so locked down that they can’t install the Office update, which is a free download for Office 2000/XP/2003 to open these files.
    • PDF – just a couple of times, I’ve saved documents in PDF format – mainly Word documents. Whilst I know other people who publish their PowerPoint presentations as PDFs, I don’t do it. It’s more open to share the native PowerPoint files so that you can use & modify them yourself. It’s always a bit frustrating when somebody else’s brilliant slide is only available as a PDF image…

    There’s already a convertor to convert files between Open XML and ODF – we’ve worked with the SourceForge.net community to make this available. And a free plug-in for Office 2007 which adds the “Save as PDF” option to the menu.

    What’s been announced today is that the Office 2007 Service Pack 2 will have native support for Open Document Format (ODF) v1.1, PDF & XML Paper Specifications (XPS), when it is released in the first half of 2009.

    This is all part of working more closely with the interoperability groups who are working on interoperability between document file formats – like the DAISY format for accessible publishing (DAISY blog post)– and with organisations like the Interop Vendor Alliance (website).

    I guess you’re asking yourself what this means? Well, if you'’re keen to use ODF, you’ll get a menu item next year that will add “Save as ODF” (and until then they can use the other ways above). But as most common Office applications – eg Open Office & Google Apps - already support .doc format, it’s probably not need it in many circumstances. Perhaps when sharing files with international colleagues?

    There’s more detail of this announcement on our PressPass site

  • FE blog

    SharePoint Showcase - Presentations Now Available

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    Last week the Education team hosted a SharePoint Showcase Event at Microsoft in Reading. The idea was to present a different partner solution for SharePoint every 12 minutes! A bit like speed dating. The format seemed to be popular, at least from the feedback we got on the day! With 23 partner presentations there was inevitably a great variety of solutions to see and if a particular presentation wasn't particularly relevant, the next one would be along shortly.

    For those of you that couldn't attend the partner presentations are gradually being posted on a SkyDrive at:

    http://cid-2fbbe67743d5177d.skydrive.live.com/browse.aspx/SharePoint%20Showcase%20May%202008?uc=6

    Enjoy, as many of them are walkthroughs and screenshots of actual products.

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