As Technology has evolved over the last 10 years, the need for developers, of any type of software, to personalise their products to an end user they’ve never met has become fundamental to the usefulness of a product and its overall success in a heavily competitive market. The design behind Windows 8 devices has been shaped around this consumer expectation and can offer both students and educators a learning experience that’s tailored to their wants and needs.
Students can take a blank canvas approach to their work, and populate their start screen as well as their desktop with useful educational resources to facilitate their lesson and home work tasks. Such resources include the ever growing collection of Education based Windows 8 Apps available in the Windows Store, and what’s more many of these top Apps are absolutely free. The scale of learning focused apps covers a wide variety of categories. For pupils studying a range of subjects, even at KS2 and KS3, time is valuable to the overall academic success of a particular student.
Applications that can enhance productivity are welcomed across all sectors, but here are some fun and interactive offerings that student’s will enjoy using in the classroom. And best of all… they are free!
Mind Mapping – We’ve all used this method of brainstorming at one time or another to help get the ideas in our head onto paper and share with others or purely for self-clarification. One great app I’ve used is M8 Mind Map
M8 is really easy to use and presents an uncomplicated canvas for your thoughts, ideas and notes. Students can synchronize their maps across devices with its integration feature. It’s one of the more basic mind mapping tools, but for younger students a great foundation for presenting their ideas.
Annotation & Note Taking – As an educator working with digital mediums, you’ll proably use PDF’s among other forms, to document work and send around to students. The only downside to this, is students having to copy and paste text key text or references. Welcome Drawboard PDF.
It’s pragmatic design allows you to view and markup PDF Documents, and avoids wasting paper by having to print out important documents for students to work upon. You can upload or create a new PDF using the range of illistrative built in tools such as text markup, highlighter, underline, strikeout and squiqqle lines. What’s more, using digital means you can simply erase any notes within seconds should you make any mistakes.
For Note taking it really doesn’t get much better that OneNote. This is an App I use on a daily basis and for anybody else who liked to categorize their notes, it couldn’t be easier with the movable tabs across the top of the screen.
In addition to breaking up your notes by tabs you can also create as many separate notebooks as you like and as they are always visable at the side of the screen, they are easily accessible. Certainly saves fumbling around with lots of pieces of paper while trying to search for something specific. Speaking of search there is also a Search functionality should you forget where something has been saved. Similar to the Drawboard PDF, you have the option to use an array of tools to illustrate your notes, these include a range of drawing pens and the ability to take pictures from the camera on your device and insert into your notes. Another favourite feature of mine is snap view. Should you need to reference a website or take notes whilst watching a video, you can snap OneNote to the side of your screen with ease.
Presentations - An App that I personally don’t use regularly, however for students I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate for classroom learning. The Record Voice & Pen App allows students or teachers to create presentations collaborating voice and video in an instant. Alternatively, students can start with a base recording , and simply draw on pictures or paper to annotate and highlight key facts. There are so many editing possibilities with this handy application.
Guest post from Dave Foord, Tablet Academy Trainer
Education is currently going through one of the most fundamental, rapid and exciting transformations ever, and what is most exciting is the transformation is for once being driven by the consumer (in this case the learner).
The transformation that I am referring to is the use of tablet devices in education. Many won't see this as being anything special as we have been using computers and laptops in education for years, but these technologies had significant weaknesses - mainly they were big, heavy, required power cables, took ages to start up, and were a headache to book or manage. The net result was they bought benefits to the learning experience but at a cost, and sadly the technology rather than being an enabler, sometimes became a barrier, and most teachers would naturally never use them to their full potential for fear of failure.
So why is the tablet so different? Put simply, it removes the barriers listed above and allows the technology to enhance learning without getting in the way. A teacher can ask learners to use the devices for part of a session, then put them away, then get them out again, then put them away etc. The devices allow genuine mobility, in that you are no longer confined to the restrictions of the 4 walls, or even the exact times that you have been timetabled with that group. The fact that tablets have been designed to be very easy to use, means we don't have to spend hours teaching students how to use the systems and the software so can focus on the subject in hand instead - all in all (in my opinion) the most significant technological improvement to education ever.
I mentioned earlier that this was being lead by the students. In the past many technological advancements in education have been driven by government e.g. Money to colleges to buy a VLE, money for schools to invest in loads of interactive whiteboards (but forgetting about training), requirements created by Ofsted expectation etc. The thing with tablets, is we have no choice but to embrace them, as learners own them (or at least smart phones) and will want to use them - and if what we provide is not good enough they will just reject them and use their own devices anyway, which although brings huge cost saving to an organisation it can create a headache for a teacher trying to plan activities for a multitude of devices, sizes, and operating systems.
For the last few years the tablet market has been dominated by 2 systems: Apple or Android, with most in education going for the Apple option, and both having their weaknesses. Luckily a third player in Microsoft has entered the market, and this offers a level of choice that has to be good for education, and I predict that within a 18 months will be the most popular organisation owned tablet system within education.
There are various reasons why Microsoft is so attractive:
It will just slot into most organisations existing systems, and as long as they have a site license for the Microsoft educational tools (which most have) then you have the easy access to the full range of tools that will cover most of educationist needs.
The real killer advantage of Microsoft over it's competitors is it will work really well when the devices are used by multiple different people, as all the learners have to do is log into the device at the start of the session with their Microsoft account (SkyDrive) details - they then have access to all they need, they can save their work, then logout at the end of the session.
The Microsoft tablet is dual functionality. With the keyboard and mouse attached you have a nearly full PC environment (enough for most educational needs) which is ideal for working on things like assignments where there are reasonable amounts of typing. Then you take the keyboard off, and you have the touch screen controlled device that is excellent for mobility and quick looking up of information.
And finally cost - at the moment the Microsoft tablet is retailing at less than the Android and Apple alternatives - this makes this more affordable both for organisations or students wanting to buy their own devices.
The most important thing for organisations to consider has to be an investment in quality staff development and CPD activity. We have (hopefully) learnt from the mistakes of the past, where organisations bought equipment (e.g. Interactive whiteboards, voting pads) but didn't train staff - the result was expensive cupboards and boards being used as projection screens. Some organisations have staff in house that can train others, but there are always limitations of this model - so investing in expert external staff development is proving to be money well spent, and this is where The Tablet Academy comes in. The Tablet Academy is made up of educators who have extensive experience both within education (many are still teachers) and in a training capacity. The company has been founded by educators who are passionate about teaching and learning and the ethic is to provide quality training and support at a reasonable price. The Tablet Academy is completely independent and offers training and support for all tablet devices so are able to offer complete support even when a mixed economy of devices are used.
As an educator and a Tablet Academy trainer, I am very excited about these changes and opportunities - things that I wish I had had during my years as a teacher.
Dave Foord, Tablet Academy Trainer, will be on our stand at the AOC Conference on 19-21 November on stand F14.
How has DreamSpark made a direct impact on your life and how do you feel this has enhanced your employability?
This is hard to answer as I’m still in University and haven’t had a placement offer yet. Picking one of the two stories I have for you, it has to be the Search for a Star competition being run by Aardvark Swift Recruitment. This is a competition for students in their final year of a programming (games, cs) course. A month or so ago myself and two friends all applied for the competition and we took the initial first round test after encouragement from our teacher. Now, a year ago I’d consider those two friends to have a much larger knowledge of programming than myself. They’d both done programming at College, I’d started at University.
Thanks to DreamSpark and being able to make games with the Windows Phone Dev Kit and receive excellent support from the community, I’ve managed to really quickly develop my programming skills and also been able to take what I learn at University and really hammer it home by implementing things in XNA games.
When we took this test, we were told it was going to be really hard as we hadn’t been taught all of the answers to the questions. And for my friends, that was the case – they got stuck on several questions. Thanks to DreamSpark and the work I’d been able to do by myself, I was able to confidently answer those questions having already learnt and used these advanced techniques. I’ve moved through to the second round of Search for a Star and am sure my continued work with DreamSpark and Visual Studio will help take me further than I ever could of hoped without it.
What do you now achieve through the services of DreamSpark that you think could not have been easily achieved without it?
For me, being able to make games is important. With DreamSpark, I’m given the opportunity to do just that, for free. That’s pretty important as a student. Getting access to the Windows Phone version of Visual Studio and being able to make XNA games with a great amount of student support around is absolutely brilliant. Now, on the side of my University work I can build up my portfolio and get games out to the world. XNA is such a familiar game engine (something that the iPhone and Android development systems really cannot provide).
Can you describe to us how you feel DreamSpark has supported your skills development and how more tangibly use has supported you achieve better coursework and examination success?
All the Visual Studio offerings are a massive help: Windows Phone in particular allows making small games a pleasure and a great help at expanding my programming knowledge and best practices.
Everything that I’ve learnt through using C# with WP has been directly transferable back to every module that I program with C++ in.
To find out more about DreamSpark opportunities, visit the website: www.dreamspark.com
It’s been a busy time in the Microsoft Education department, so here’s a recap of all of our Further Education blog posts that were released this week, follow the links to go direct to each post.
Have a great weekend.
Association of Colleges Annual Conference and Exhibition 2013
T&L e-zine: Using Windows 8 in Physical Education
DreamSpark Student Review: Richard Walters, University of Oxford
DreamSpark Student Review: Alexander Disney, Sheffield Hallam University
There are many cases, in my experience, where DreamSpark has impacted on my employability. There are also many cases that I can foresee where DreamSpark could have an impact in the future.
One such example that stands out to me particularly came from my use of and experimentation with Windows server 2008 R2.
During my first year at university I started playing with various programs in order to learn about their practical usage and the problems they could solve in various situations. This happened to become a bit of a hobby as the year progressed. One piece of software that I was yearning to learn more about, was Server 2008. I had previously used it during my time at college, however it had eluded me.
It wasn’t until I realised that Sheffield Hallam university computing students are able to access DreamSpark, that I was able to get my hands on a copy of Server 2008 R2. Since then I have been testing various setups and delving into the readily available services like Active Directory and DNS for example. Without access to or the existence of DreamSpark I would not have been able to further my learning outside of university, as purchasing a copy of Server 2008 R2 was out of the question on my student budget.
Improving my employability is not the only thing DreamSpark has done for me. I also benefit from the use of DreamSpark on a day to day basis. I now run a file sharing and media server, shared between my course mates in my student house, using the very copy of Server 2008 R2 provided by DreamSpark. This has given me a real life experience of using Server 2008 R2 that I can bring to potential employers in the future.
I am currently in the process of looking for a sandwich year placement and as a result have been reading through hundreds of job descriptions. Many of these specify knowledge and competency in the use of Windows Server as a required skill to have. Without DreamSpark I would not have been able to gain competency in the use of Windows Server, and therefore would automatically fit less job descriptions.
“I believe that DreamSpark has provided me with the potential to stand out from the crowd, making me more employable
How would you describe the level to which DreamSpark supports examination results (i.e. the effectiveness in DreamSpark supporting better coursework and tests)?
I believe it is important for DreamSpark to keep doing what it is doing as provision of MS products can help support examination results. I believe this because the use of DreamSpark provided software helps better understanding of the potential exam topics, especially in my experience in the computer networking field. I also believe DreamSpark would greatly help the examination results of other people studying other aspects of computing because of the wide range of software available.
Describe the effectiveness in the way DreamSpark motivates learning?
In my personal experience of DreamSpark I have been motivated because of the availability of software through it. Without this availability the motivation to learn the software would diminish greatly because of the usual cost of software. In other words, providing free software allows the mind to explore, without any hindrance.
Describe the effectiveness in the way DreamSpark supports student confidence and chances of success in their careers?
This area is where, I believe DreamSpark stands out. The potential for students to gain confidence using various software packages is directly related to their chance of success in their future careers. The fact that the software packages are easily available and free will allow students to practice use of them, allowing them to gain confidence of their use in a future career. This may even providing them with the chance at a higher job position due to their wider soft skills set than other similar candidates, who might not have taken advantage of DreamSpark.
For one or more elements of DreamSpark listed below, can you briefly identify a situation where you believe that your work has transformed the way you engage teachers and students?
Operating Systems: e.g. Windows 7, Windows Server 2008
My work with Windows Server 2008 R2 helps me engage with my fellow students through the use of the file sharing server I have set up. The use of Windows Server 2008 R2 has also helped me engage more with the teachers because I will ask them for help should I get stuck, this shows them I am willing to learn and better my understanding.
Applications: e.g. Visio, Project, OneNote
As mentioned in a previous example, the use of these software packages has really helped me engage with my fellow students and teachers. Visio and Project in particular have helped me engage with my fellow students because I have been able to effectively organise them and help them with network designs and project management.
Skitch allows you to annotate using your finger or stylus. Learners found this fun and it was a good method to assess prior learning.
With Flash Quiz you can create a number of sets with as many questions. Leon found this a great method to assess learning at the end of the lesson.
OneNote can be used as an e-portfolio. The example below shows how a PE class is using it to track progress throughout the year.
PE coursework required learners to describe how to perform a fitness test. They used WMM to do this and found it quick and easy to use.
Leon used a range of fitness apps to help track and monitor blood pressure, reaction times and encourage competitiveness.
As part of their Anatomy & Physiology module, learners have been uploading pictures of muscles and adding text and audio to serve as a revision tool.
Educator Spotlight: Leon Annett
My name is Leon Annett and I am an educator in the Further Education sector.
*I have been asked to take part in a 3 month pilot scheme ‘Teach with IT, ’ to explore how technology can be incorporated into my lessons, help classroom engagement and discover the potential for students to use the devices in the future.
The trial is in association with Intel, Softcat and Microsoft. The device I will be using for the trial is the Dell XPS12 and the operating software will be Windows 8.
I am originally from Kent and I am employed by Coleg Gwent in South Wales and have been since 2008. I am also an external verifier for the awarding organisation OCR.
I am a visiting university lecturer delivering levels 4, 5 and 6 modules in Clinical Exercise Physiology, Physical Activity and Health.
I am a curriculum leader and oversee the programme planning and delivery of a range of programmes, specifically in sport, public services, outdoor activities and youth work.
I have a passion for quality and developing teaching and learning. My main goal is to improve the quality of the courses that are delivered to learners, ensuring that they are fit for purpose and that they improve the chances of learners becoming employed in the field in which they study.
Please visit my twitter page for my blogs and the Education resources page to access tools I use which I hope will be of help.
Since I am currently a PhD student and have not yet applied for a job, I cannot give any direct evidence on how DreamSpark has enhanced my employability. However, I can discuss two areas where I think this will have a positive impact as I soon enter the job market.
Firstly, thanks to DreamSpark I have significantly improved my programming skills. I have built and published an app in the Windows Phone Marketplace, which required me to learn C#, the .NET Framework, and the Windows Phone SDK. Previously I have only coded in C and Matlab for various academic projects. There is a vast difference between coding for scientific work and building a software application, and I feel that my skill set has been greatly enhanced. For example, I have learnt techniques such as object oriented programming, which I have since used in my academic work. Moreover, in building an application I have had to consider such things as the end-user experience, visual design, user interface, etc, which are not necessarily required in my scientific work.
Secondly, I now have experience of having a product available for consumers to purchase. Consequently, I have registered myself as self-employed in the UK to declare any earnings I receive from app sales. I have needed to consider both marketing and customer relations, and in the last few weeks since the app's release I have learnt a considerable amount in these areas. I have written to various websites asking for reviews or promotion of my app, and have been fortunate to have been featured in some of these. I have also written a guest post on the Microsoft UK Students blog discussing my experience in building the app. I will soon make the app free for a limited period to move it up the rankings and increase its visibility, which in the long term will hopefully lead to higher sales. I will also consider publishing a free, ad-supported version of my app in the future to increase the total revenue. In addition, I have responded to customer feedback and have already updated the app based on this. This entire experience, and in particular the initiative I feel I have shown, will reflect positively on me as I apply for jobs.
I have now published an app, Calculator², in the Windows Phone Marketplace. This is a paid app with a trial, and in the first two weeks has been downloaded 362 times with 45 people paying for the full version. Without the services of DreamSpark I would not have even contemplated developing an app on any platform. Also I have acquired new programming skills, which have improved my academic work allowing me to produce and analyse scientific data in a more versatile and effective way.
It’s that time of year again when College Chief Executives, Principals, Chairs, Governors, Clerks, and Senior Management from Colleges and institutions across the UK gather to discuss the current and emerging government policies within Further Education and potentially influence them.
This year the agenda covers a range of compelling subject areas to ignite discussion around core industry ideas. For example implementation of 24+ students loans; the changes to funding for 16-18 year olds; and how your budgets for 19+ students will be handled after the Spending Review. This year there will be an emphasis on feedback and delegates will be one of the key players helping one million young people in the 16 to 24-year-age group currently out of education, employment or training, change their future. The following organisations and departments will be in attendance:
The exhibition will give delegates an opportunity to engage with over 100 suppliers from the College arena in a relaxed environment. Microsoft and Intel are pleased to be exhibiting over the 3 days and if you are planning come along we encourage you to come and say hello.
Mike Morris, Head of Further Education at Microsoft and Julie Penman from the UK and Education team at Intel would be delighted to meet you at Stand F14.
If you would like to find out more or to register for this event, have a look at the AOC website for further details.
Need to go back to school when it comes to Technology? Have you heard about the Tablet Academy?
Upgrade your Windows and get a new view on your world! (Guest Post)
Is Technology always the best option?
Students can stand out from the crowd with Microsoft Office Specialist qualifications
Partner in Learning Case Study, Lodge Park Community College
DreamSpark Student Review: James Mundy, Sheffield University
I was first introduced to the DreamSpark program whilst studying Physics at university. On the second year of this course, I did a module of programming in C and discovered a real passion for it. I began to spend more and more of my free time learning how to code having purchased some books and wanted to try my hand at developing for the Windows Phone after hearing some really positive things about developing for the platform.
After downloading the software development kit and familiarising myself, a friend recommended the DreamSpark program to me where it’s possible to download professional grade development and design software that I could use to design and build better Windows Phone apps and other software.After registering using my university email address,
I was really surprised by the amount of software available all completely free ranging from Microsoft Robotics Studio to Kodu Game Lab all completely free.
I was really surprised by the amount of software available all completely free ranging from Microsoft Robotics Studio to Kodu Game Lab all completely free.
I began by downloading Visual Studio Professional and Expression Studio and have used them in my projects ever since. One of the programs I use the most, Expression Design (featured in the Expression Studio), has allowed me to design quality vector graphics which I would normally have been unable to do due to the price of other vector drawing tools available.
Using these software packages has allowed me to continue to build on my knowledge of app and software development. The growing skills and interest in this area played a significant role in my decision to switch courses from Physics to Software Engineering which I made at the beginning of this academic year. I feel I am now doing something I really enjoy and have found an area I really want to work in when I graduate.
Besides this, using the software and my still quite basic skills I created some fairly successful apps which so far have generated over 5,000 downloads. Since these were released I have been working on further improving these and have also set up my own app development company (having also been joined by two friends) through which we are hoping to release some great apps we have in the pipeline.
All the above, I believe, have significantly enhanced my employment prospects and have inspired and encouraged me to pursue something I really enjoy. I am now a better programmer who is improving all the time and am also now familiar with a number of the tools I would make use of in a career in Software Development, though for now I hope to remain working with the team I have assembled. I also feel that these changes can largely be traced back to my experiences and the software I downloaded using the DreamSpark program.
The DreamSpark program has allowed me to download and experiment with professional, high quality software at no expense to use both for University and my own personal projects. Being on a limited budget I would normally have to carefully consider using a piece of software due to its price, possibly resulting in me getting the cheapest version or maybe not at all.
This program has allowed me to download some of the very best tools available for developers at no expense and with no risk.
This program has allowed me to download some of the very best tools available for developers at no expense and with no risk.
normally this type of software would be well out of my budget. DreamSpark has also allowed me to start my own student-run business and develop apps and software without expensive software start-up costs, we can download software on the fly and try out new ideas within a matter of minutes and at no expense which I feel has been invaluable to the venture so far.