On January 27th, 'Xbox for Education', a joint effort between Xbox UK and DPE UK, began trading and marked a significant milestone in Microsoft's effort to further increase computational thinking and games development in young people and ensuring the Next generation has skills in coding as laid out by The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP Secretary of State for Education in England’s Computing Science Curriculum.
Xbox for Education (www.xboxforeducation.co.uk) is a programme for UK schools, colleges and universities offering low-cost Xbox 360's with a 3-Year DreamSpark subscription to make coding and development more accessible and on a platform students are familiar with, Xbox 360. DreamSpark provides the tools to help students design and create applications and games for Microsoft Xbox as well as Windows Phone and Windows 8. It equips students with professional developer software and resources to explore the world of computing and to develop their passions and skills – at home as well as at school. It also equips and supports teachers through the provision of software and lessons plans.
Operated by Exertis GEM, the UK's exclusive Xbox distribution partner, levels of authentication have been implemented - to access the website, educational institutes must enter their Microsoft Education Licensing number as well as the post code. The units are also only shipped to the registered institute's address associated with the VL number, and institutes are capped to 5 units per SKU.
The idea developed by Lee Williams, Lee Stott and Steve Clark, aims to long-term grow brand affinity to Microsoft and the Xbox brand at a key stage in student’s development. The programme also has incredible potential to grow, including the introduction of Project Spark as well as other Microsoft lines such as Surface For Education and with the Nokia acquisition, Nokia handsets for the development of apps and games.
Skills in computer programming and logical thinking are the key driver in changing the way we live our lives.
The multiple platforms that people can develop on today means anyone with basic programming skills, has the potential to influence an industry that is richer, more vibrant and further reaching than ever before. With the launch of Xbox for Education, Microsoft http://www.xboxforeducation.co.uk is supporting the growing ecosystem of developers, whilst Microsoft DreamSpark is inspiring tomorrow’s games developers, and helping students discover how games work and encouraging them to create totally new ones of their own. DreamSpark provides the tools to help student designs and create applications and games for Microsoft Xbox, Windows Phone and Windows 8. The Microsoft Platform equips students with professional developer software and resources to explore the world of computing and to develop their passions and skills – at home as well as at school. It also equips and supports teachers through the provision of software and lessons plans via Microsoft Faculty Connection Resources http://www.microsoft.com/faculty.
‘This is all part of a much broader vision at Microsoft to ensure that every school leaver is IT literate. This is why alongside others in the industry, we worked hard to ensure that Computer Science, and not just ICT, will be part of the curriculum from this year. September will see those first lessons take place in Primary schools across the UK and we have been working hard to support teachers to deliver it so we can inspire a new generation of young people.’ Steve Beswick UK Education Manager
At Microsoft we believe teaching coding and programming skills from an early age is of the upmost importance to prepare young people for a range of careers in a variety of sectors and it will also help ensure the continued growth and success of the UK developer ecosystem. This is why we recently launched Microsoft Ventures accelerator, a scheme which aims to help today’s technology startups achieve success tomorrow.
Today’s developer ecosystem has itself evolved beyond software developers to bedroom-hobbyists, marketers as well as IT professionals, whose roles are increasingly touching development. You need only look at the developer community where, according to City & Guilds, 48% claim to have only started developing in the past five years. With this booming interest in development we seen a new wave of ‘Brave Developers’ emerge - those who despite the uncertain economic environment are either teaching themselves app development skills or are becoming champions within their organisations in bringing new innovative apps to market. This is bringing hope to the UK technology industry, with over 95% of these Brave Developers expressing optimism about the future of the app development sector.
Whilst we too remain optimistic about the future of the UK’s technology industry, the lesson we have learnt is that for the industry to sustain its entrepreneurial spirit and success, we must engage the next generation today, and with the launch of Xbox for Education we are one step closer to achieving it.
At launch 2 SKUs are available: Xbox 360 E 250GB + 3-Year DreamSpark Subscription Xbox 360 S 4GB Kinect Bundle + 3-Year DreamSpark Subscription
No Microsoft SOA is offered, instead GEM acts as a reseller taking away retailer margins, and the three-year DreamSpark subscription (worth $200) is provided courtesy of DPE.
Launched at BETT and Educational Press, the programme has already picked up momentum and positive reception from UK educational institutes.
This new eBook, Office 365 Education in the Classroom, concentrates almost exclusively on how Office 365 Education can help the teacher and the student in their day to day work.
We look at a whole list of teaching and learning scenarios, describing some of the ways in which hard- working teachers might be dealing with them now and going on to show how one or more of the functions within Office 365 Education can make things easier and better.
The full eBook can be viewed/downloaded below:
We will be posting additional complementary content, such as demo videos, to the blog over the next few weeks.
In the meantime, we would love to hear what you think of the eBook. Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.
Blog originally posted on the Office 365 blog, December 2013,
We often hear from businesses that rely on Microsoft Office to get work done, but today we’re posting a conversation we recently had with Kara Page, a college senior majoring in biochemistry. Kara has been using Office since she was 13 years old and can’t imagine life without tools like Word, OneNote, PowerPoint and Excel helping her through college.
Q: You’ve been using Office for a long time. Can you share how you’re using Office to finish your biochemistry degree?
Kara: I spend a crazy amount of time in the lab and creating reports on research projects. Right now, I’m working on my thesis. One of my favourite professors shared a bunch of historical research with me, but it was all printed on paper in this massive notebook. I don’t want to lug around this huge research notebook–it weighs a ton–so I’m working on compiling everything into OneNote. That way I can access the research I need for my thesis much easier on my computer, and once I graduate, I can hand off my research digitally so someone else can pick up where I left off.
I also make a ton of PowerPoint presentations and data tables in Excel. Just recently I had to write two papers and do two 30-minute presentations for one of my biochemistry classes. It was a lot of work, but after one of my presentations on a neuroscience topic I’m researching, the other people in my class told me they thought my presentation looked so good and so professional. I took all the credit for it, but really it was the templates I used in PowerPoint–I just clicked the buttons.
Q: I’ve also heard you’re a real whiz with Excel. Can you share a little about how you use some advanced functioning for your reports?
Kara: I was attending a prep school in Miami when I started using Excel. I had a great teacher who started teaching us 13-year-olds how to use all these functions in Excel. That completely changed my life. I rely on Excel for a lot to this day, and I can see myself using it once I start my career.
Just the other weekend, I spent six hours on a lab report while everyone else spent all weekend on theirs. I created some graphs that would shift and change as I added my research, and my classmates were blown away at how easy it was. In Excel, you can make your data look really clean and change the styles. People are amazed at how fast it is and how little time it takes me to finish my reports.
I also don’t keep Excel a secret–when people ask me how I did that, I show them exactly how to create tables and graphs. Those advanced functions in Excel can take a while to learn, but if you learn how to use Excel in college, you’ll be set for life.
Q: Are there other ways you’ve found Office useful in completing your degree?
Kara: Office saves me regularly. I know I can work on a file and the formatting won’t get screwy, or I can have a teacher’s aide review my reports and track their changes so I can see where they made suggestions or updates. And I think that the new Student Advantage benefit will help save the day for a lot more students, too. Using Office is life changing for students–we can create better reports and better presentations if we’re given the right tools. It’s like a NASCAR driver using a race car instead of a minivan – you can do your best work when you have the right tools.
Q: That’s a great analogy. What about using Microsoft Office to collaborate?
Kara: I love Lync. It might sound goofy, but I love the little emoticons of the cats and dogs and sheep. I’m a teacher’s aide for a class that I teach to students in Ireland and Egypt, so I have a regular schedule of when I’m on Lync and available to talk to them and answer their questions. It feels really professional, and that way I don’t have them texting me on my personal phone or trying to talk to me outside of my office hours.
I also use Skype a lot. My dad lives in Singapore and travels a lot, so it can be hard to get in touch with him. But we get to see each other a lot using Skype. My little brother, who is turning 4 years old, even knows how to use Skype. It’s so cute, and he’s already better with technology than I am!
Q: What do you want to do after you graduate? Do you feel like you’re learning the skills you need for your career?
Kara: I definitely think knowing how to use Office and studying hard has prepared me for the “real world.” Last summer I had an internship at a research lab for the U.S. Army and it seemed so mysterious going into it, but then I realized all they work they do there is just Excel, and I know how to use that. Everyone I worked with during that internship used Office all the time, so it was great to know my skills will transfer to the working world easily.
After I graduate, I want to work for a health research organization like Genzyme where people are learning about rare diseases, or continue a family legacy in public health started by my grandfather. I want to get other people as excited about this field as I am, and I want to share my love for technology. Scientists aren’t necessarily known for producing aesthetically pleasing work, but it’s so easy to do using Office.
Check out the original blog post here, and watch Kara’s Video.
Case Study submitted by Scott Carrington, Head of Technology Faculty, Redden Court School
Redden Court School is a forward thinking and progressive secondary school. We seek to achieve the very best for all our students through the use of advanced technology and a rich variety of educational approaches. As a Specialist Academy for Mathematics and Computing, we continue to use our strengths in these areas to enhance the learning opportunities for all students and raise standards across the curriculum.
As an innovative school, we are venturing into the use of tablets, wireless technology and cloud computing to enhance teaching and learning within school and provide further opportunities for students to extend their knowledge outside of school. Our journey has started with the use of Microsoft Surface RT tablets but we plan to progress further by offering 1:1 and BYOD services in the near future. Please read our initial findings in the case study below.
Students are embracing the Surface RTs at Redden Court School. Below are some photos of a Key Stage 4 class working on their GCSE controlled assessment:
Some are starting to make use of some of the Surface’s features, such as the kick stand, on screen keyboard, USB drive and the split screen, which is particularly useful when working on the spreadsheet task.
Teachers are also becoming more familiar with the tablets and starting to use them as a visualizer for sharing good work on the screen and as a camera, which some of the more confident students particularly enjoy!
The use of tablets is certainly promoting collaborative learning, particularly through the touch screen functionality. The size and portability of the Surface tablets also allows for a more personal learning environment where students feel confident to share their work with each other and combine their strengths to complete tasks.
With most classes we have tried to give them 1 lesson a week on the tablets and 1 lesson on the PCs. This is to ensure that they develop the skills to adapt to a range of tools and it allows them to experience the benefits of both scenarios. It took a while for students (and staff) to get used to not being able to access the school’s network drive and their documents locally when on the tablets. However, they are gradually becoming more experience in saving work to their memory sticks or SkyDrive accounts through LGFL and Office 365. This is providing the students with a first-hand experience of cloud computing, which is a theory topic for the GCSE ICT. Office365 is also allowing teachers to set more challenging tasks for home learning as all students now have access to the Office suite at home.
Another benefit of Office 365 through LGFL SkyDrive is the ability for students and staff to share and follow documents which provides opportunities for full collaboration, such as adding, editing and commenting on each other’s work in the same document in real time. This is perfect for group work and class forums.
At Redden Court we firmly believe that as tablets continue to become more multi-functional, they will replace the need to spend/waste money on a range of equipment such as cameras, video recorders, microphones, smart boards, etc.
One of our favourite unique features of the Microsoft Surface tablets is the panoramic photo stitching facility. Not only do they provide a wider view of whole class learning but they also have a range of benefits. One of these benefits is highlighting key points of health and safety, which is a great starter for new students to the school. Another is from business perspective as we are able to upload interactive panoramic photos/videos of our specialist suites and rooms that can be hired during out of school hours.(see images below)
There are other features of the tablet that we have only scratched the ‘Surface’ with so far but we plan to embed them more into our lessons on a regular basis. This includes researching and experimenting with the app store and using the vast range of apps available.
Students are enjoying using the tablets and on the whole they have been a success. We certainly see the potential in the project and once we get through some of the technical issues, we will be able to fully embrace the use of tablets to enhance teaching and learning throughout the school.
Head of Technology Faculty
Redden Court School
Have You Registered for the Upcoming "College & Career Readiness Day"? Don't Delay!
We're just over two weeks away from College & Career Readiness Day, our special two-hour live virtual event on February 13 and 18. If you haven't done so, mark your calendar and register today. The Microsoft IT Academy team is gearing up for an informative, engaging and interactive event, featuring educators and experts who will deliver insights into guiding students to successful careers, as well as discuss the latest career prospects for technology-focused students. Your questions will be answered live, so don’t miss this special opportunity!
Choose the event time that fits your schedule and register today! Thursday, February 13 | 8:00 – 10:00 A.M. Pacific Time February 18th | 12:00-14:00 Asia/Singapore / 15:00-17:00 P.M. Sydney
Learn more and register today!
Wondering whether you should attend? Here are five reasons you need to be there!
Monthly Webinar Videos Now on YouTube You can now watch excerpts from past monthly webinars on YouTube, right from your desktop or mobile device. The ITA Webinar Series playlist features presentations from the IT Academy team and guests about topics that matter most to you. Be sure to check out the three newest videos from our December webinar on professional development resources and opportunities for educators:
Professional Development for IT Academy Instructors Heidi Johnson, Senior Product Manager for Microsoft IT Academy, provides an overview of training, certification, and other valuable professional development resources available to IT Academy instructors.
Using IT Academy for Professional Educator Development Katherine Schmit, Business and Technology Instructor at Kalama High School (Kalama, WA), provides an overview of professional development resources available to IT Academy instructors. Learn how certifications such as Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) and Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE) validate technology skills for teachers and students, and find out about training materials ranging from Microsoft e-learning to official courseware.
MTA: Foundations of Knowledge Justin Crompton—Information Technology Teacher/MCT, Academy at Central High Point, NC—shares the value of Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification, the foundation for technology training. Justin shares how MTA helps students prove their passion and fundamental technical skills as they explore academic and career options, and sets the course for advanced Microsoft training and certification.
Subscribe to the Microsoft IT Academy YouTube channel to stay updated when new videos are posted.
In Other News...
International Education Forums Promote Knowledge-Sharing, Honor Visionaries
The 2014 Education World Forum (EWF) and British Education Technology & Training (BETT) Show are wrapping up. This year's EWF theme, Empowering Ministers of Education with Transformational Change, an invitation-only event targeted at national ministers of education and their delegations, is designed to inspire top-down change. Last year’s EWF included over 100 education ministers, representing over 90 countries. Read about the event in this TechNet blog post by Anthony Salcito, Microsoft VP of Worldwide Education.
"While education reform requires hard work and support from many fronts—students, teachers, administrators, parents and policy makers—the national ministers of education have very specific and unique pressures and perspectives," Salcito says. "EWF exposes them to the ideas of global education visionaries, and then empowers them to advocate for change."
The annual Microsoft in Education Global Forum, taking place in Barcelona, March 11 to 14, will recognize and celebrate the achievements of educators who are preparing students for life in the 21st century. Attending educators, school leaders, and education and government leaders from 75 countries will honor this year's recipients of Microsoft Expert Educator and Microsoft Mentor School awards.
Stay Informed & Join the Discussion
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By highlighting your IT Academy accomplishments on the IT Academy Blog, you can help lead the way for other IT Academy members and students around the world. Send a brief summary of your success and any accompanying images or videos—along with your contact information—to the IT Academy team. We look forward to hearing from you!
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Further to our post on Friday where we posted the 1st batch of slides from the Microsoft Theatre at BETT 2014, I just wanted to share the remainder of the slides as promised.
Theatre Session 4: Kodu Kup
Theatre Session 5: How IT has helped transform teaching and learning and supports a new culture of learning excellence at Twickenham Academy
Theatre Session 5: Flipped Learning: How Wymondham High Academy Trust is using Office 365 Education, Yammer and Surface to transform teaching and learning
Theatre Session 6: Using Skype to create the global classroom
As always, please do not hesitate to get in touch via the comments below if you have any questions.
Now the planning for BETT 2015 begins…
Surface and similar Windows RT 8.1 devices are great for students and educators: They are ultraportable, sturdy, and inexpensive. Students can use Windows RT devices to watch videos, write reports, and collaborate on group projects. Surface even has a built-in kickstand and integrated keyboard, allowing users to learn and teach the way they want.
The deployment guide that can be viewed/downloaded below, describes how schools can effectively deploy Windows RT devices.
It can help institutions choose the right type of user account and to automate much of the configuration process. It also provides a selection of sample Windows PowerShell scripts for both shared and one-to-one scenarios that schools can then customise and extend to automate their device configuration.
At the BETT Show last week, we had a few people ask about deploying Windows RT 8.1 so, in addition to this guide, we will look to post some additional content around this topic over the coming weeks and months.
Let us know if there is anything specific you need us to address for you.
This year, the Microsoft stand at BETT Show brought a vibrant array of devices in education and exciting and zingy Windows Education apps to the itchy fingertips of delegates. From cloud-based planning app My Study Life, ideal for educators and students alike, to the queen of visual mind-dumping and brainstorming apps NovaMind Mind Mapping, visitors to the Microsoft stand were presented with fantastic tools (many free!) to engage in 'Flipped Learning' in the classroom.
However, the app I want to focus on today isn't a productivity tool or even a teaching management tool. This space is dedicated to creativity, and what more impressive a way for primary students, GCSE and A-Level students and even university students to bring to life a replication or perhaps a surreal representation of their artiste imaginations, than through devices in education with Fresh Paint.
What is Fresh Paint?
So for those of you whose first thoughts are, what is Fresh Paint, I will illustrate.
Quite simply, Fresh Paint provides canvas, paper, paint and brushes to create works of art with a sweep of your finger or, my personal favourite, with the stylus pen paint brush!
For those of you whose pallets may be absorbing the hints of green scepticism, I want to reassure you that as a painter and drawer myself, used to slathering oil paints onto a thick canvas with a pallet knife, I was utterly wowed by the genuine authenticity of the experience.
10 reasons to use Fresh Paint in Education
Fresh Paint for me is a strong contestant in the creativity category of the Windows apps store for a number of good reasons:
1. Touch Optimisation - Firstly, the 0-time lag in response for every stroke and swipe of a finger or brush on the touch screen is second-to-none, thus providing a seamless and realistic painting or drawing experience.
2. Art Tools & Mediums - The range of tools and art resources is fantastic! From water colours, to crayons, oil pastels, oil paints and charcoal, art students can choose whatever medium they fancy, in as wide or thin a stroke as they wish. Additionally there is a broad variety of pencils, brushes and tools to choose from which really do bring the expectations of that tool's effects to life. Of course, I shouldn’t forget to mention that some of the most effective and professional tools of all are fingers!
3. Canvas - You can also select many types of paper and canvas, from heavy-weight card for water colours, to bumpy textured canvas or smoother canvas. This further adds authenticity to the experience.
4. Mixing Pallet - I must admit that my heart fluttered a little when I discovered the accuracy of the mixing pallet. Observing a young child at the Microsoft stand at BETT Show effortlessly mixing (slapping) a cobalt blue and green together on the pallet to bring about a stormy turquoise sea colour was fantastic evidence of the app’s beautiful ability to transcend technological limitations in art.
5. Layering- You get a wonderful effect with layering on Fresh Paint. With oil paints, the motion of layering colours on top of each other is uncanny - a slight smudgy blend of colour yet with a clear textured layering would bring to life even the most 3d Fauvist style of painting.
As for water colours, colours bleed into one another, as an art student or teacher would expect and you can even 'dab' the colours as if with a piece of towel, to lighten and give water or lighting effects.
6. Drying Feature - perhaps the bane of many students’/teachers' lives is waiting for paint to dry in order to apply other mediums or textures when doing collages of mixed-mediums. Well this will never be the case again thanks to Fresh Paint's handy 'Drying' tool which instantly dries your work, with a tap of an icon, ready to layer onto.
7. Device Compatibility – Fresh Paint eadily works on all Windows 8 touch devices, from an 8" Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet, to a Surface, to the exquisite 27" Lenovo Horizon 27 all-in-one.
8. Bing and Photo Integration - A funky feature is the ability to choose a picture from Bing or a photo already taken, and use that as either a tracing image to 'fill in' for the younger students, or to integrate as a main feature of a work of art for more developed young artists.
9. Save budget - as I explored this app for the first time, I was brought back to summers when I would paint outside or messy school sessions when I would create projects for exams and course work. Both these experiences, fond in my memory, unfortunately required a good amount of money to finance them. Paper, paint brushes and paints do not come cheaply! A set of 10 small tubes of oil paint on Amazon cost £19.99 alone, while a large canvas (120cm x 150cm) can stack up to roughly £40. Just think of the budget schools and colleges could save with a device and Fresh Paint! No more chucking out of finite resources or paint brushes that have been ruined from terms of not being properly cleaned.
I want to point out here that I am not suggesting that Fresh Paint should render art resources obsolete in education. At the end of the day, there is a reason we visit and enjoy Monet’s finished works or even young artists’ works in a gallery, and not in the cloud. However, for certain projects and work such as collages, digital submissions, final project mock-ups, thumb nails, or work that students want to share through social streams, Fresh Paint is ideal!
10. Free App! - and the best news is that you don't even have to pay for the Fresh Paint app! So this is a really accessible app for all students and teachers to use, in Primary Schools, Colleges, Schools and Universities.
I want to leave you today with a challenge. Introduce Fresh Paint to the budding artist enthusiasts at your college or school and see how they take to the paints! Also, as it’s Friday, I want to leave you with a little perk for the weekend that was floating across my imagination last Saturday while demoing the Fresh Paint app at BETT Show.
As the weekend fast approaches, we just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you again to those who visited us on our stand at BETT 2014. It was great to meet you. We hope you had a great visit!
We had a number of requests, both at the show and via Twitter, to share the slides from the presentations covered within the Microsoft Theatre at the show.
With this in mind, here are the first three decks from the event. We will post the remaining slides to the blog next week.
Theatre Session 1: My Digital BFF
Theatre Session 2: The Future of Collaboration: How Windows 8, Lync and SharePoint is helping to transform learning within Broadclyst Primary School
Theatre Session 3: Inspiring the developers of the future: Everything you need to light up the imaginations of young developers
The rest of the slides from the event will be posted early next week. In the meantime, let us know if you have any questions.
Have a great weekend!
If you joined us at the BETT show at ExCel this year you'll agree that it was a device extravaganza. Showcasing the very best Windows 8 devices on offer. Our interactive classroom combined with an array of device stations allowed educators from all over the world, to get up close and personal with the latest technology. We know one size definitely doesn't fit all, and Microsoft partners will never create devices under that assumption. That's why our stand this year was all about variety and engagement and with over 150 devices at the disposal of 36,000 delegates over 4 days, it was a valuable opportunity for educators to fall in love with the possibilities surrounding touch technology.
Whether you made it to BETT this year or not, this blog should help familiarise yourself with a selection of Windows devices and demonstrate how they really can impact Education for both students and educators. I'll run through a selection of our devices broken down by their area on the BETT stand.
Interactive Classroom /Surface Area Our interactive classroom had to be one of the biggest successes of our BETT stand. Ran by the Tablet Academy and always packed with educators keen to learn how to navigate their way around a Windows 8 device, Including Michael Gove, Liz Truss and their families.
Here are some of my favourite Surface 2 and Pro 2 features:
Slightly biased but here at Microsoft Edu, we do love Surface. It's certainly a smart and sleek device that any professional would be proud to show off. Here are some of it's top features:
Front Camera & Back Camera, ideal for when using as a tablet to take pictures in and out of the classroom
Microphone, combined with video makes it easy to makes video calls.
Windows Button, easy access back to the desktop from the device itself
The Touchscreen, with its 16:9 aspect ratio and full-HD display, perfect for watching videos and interacting with apps (click here to see our educational apps available in the Windows store,
Typing Covers, unique keyboards that double as a protective cover. This way you’ll always have a keyboard with you (sold separately). See Accessories for info on the full range of accessories available.
Pro Pen, Take notes, draw and mark up documents using the digital pen. Great for edit PDF documents, saves on printing
Wifi & Blootooth, Surface supports standard Wi-Fi protocols (802.11a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 4.0. This means you can connect to a wireless network and use Bluetooth devices such as mice, printers and headsets.
Red Device Bar Area This area was mainly to highlight some of the accessories available for purchase with devices, but we did display a variety of devices to interact with, these included the Sony Vaio Flip 11a, Toshiba Satellite NB10T and Lenovo Thinkpad Helix, but one of my favourite displayed was the new 8" Toshiba Encore:
The Toshiba Encore is small enough to take everywhere with you without having the burden of a heavy or large device to pack into a small bag. The 20.32cm Tablet offers everything you need whether it's keeping up to date on emails, reviewing student work or taking some downtime enjoying all that Xbox has to offer. With the latest Windows operating system, 8.1 is compact with Office 365 so sync all of your work and play tiles, and your world is accessible in the palm of your hand.
Here are some of the top features:
Wide viewing angle, The wide view screen makes it easy to view content as it was meant to, perfect to use as an e-reader, but this device really excels when used for Skype video calls.
Vast performance, built with the latest intel atom core processor and Internet Explorer 11, this device brings to life graphics for work and play.
Expandable Storage, with up to 96GB with a microSD card combined with free SkyDrive means you should never get caught out with a lack of storage space.
Office Home & Student, The Encore includes Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013, with complete access to Word/Excel/PowerPoint/OneNote, with the ability to sync your Microsoft account to any other device you've been working on, you'll be free to be as productive wherever you choose to work.
Optimised for Skype, Whether you use Skype for meetings, class projects, connecting with students or calling your mum, Encore has been designed and optimised for a crystal clear video and audio experience, including dual microphones for noise reduction and even a months free skype premium calls to phones worldwide.
-Plenty of Ports, For when you want something other than the cloud for transferring files, the Encore offers a number of connectivity options including a micro-USB, micro HDMI to sync your content to the TV and a microSD card slot for photos or to increase storage capacity.
Green Device Bar Area Another interactive zone for BETT jam packed with devices including the Asus Aspire S7, Samsung Ativ Smart PC and the Ergo AS4 to name just a few. But one of my personal favourites that I've had the pleasure of trying out for previous events is the Sony Vaio Duo 13. For anyone who might consider themselves a device fashionista, you'll struggle to find anything more stylish and sexy than this. Designed to move as you do, the Duo Transforms from tablet to laptop in seconds using the SurfSlider hybrid mechanism.
Here are some of my favourite features:
Hybrid mechanism, I've mentioned it already but it's so sleek it's worth mentioning twice.
Touch Enabled, Tap and scroll through your device with ease
Full Keyboard, The expanded keyboard makes it more comfortable to use when you're working for some time and need the full functionality of a laptop.
Stylus holder, Something so small but really designed with you in mind, never lose the stylus with the pencil pot style holder.
Clip and save feature, similar to snipping tool found on windows 8, use the stylus along with the VAIO Clip app to get creative and colourful with your clippings and drop them into your documents. (as pictured left)
Device for life, This device I know from experience, is strong, the hybrid mechanism isn't flimsy as with some devices, and with 256GB of storage and 8GB of memory, combined with a free SkyDrive account for cloud storage, it really has everything you need.
Yellow Device Bar Area Finally onto our last interactive devices area. Again with some fantastic pieces of kit, including the Omnino 5, Ergo Microlite Touch and the Dell XPS 12 and many more, the standout for me was the Lenovo Yoga 11s. Reminding me of an old school notebook (the paper style) you just turn the page (keyboard) when you want to get creative and fully immerse yourself into the tablet. To convert back to laptop for full working functionalities, simply flip the keyboard back over. But it gets better, with two in-between modes 'tent' and 'stand' offerings the device is made for watching videos in the classroom to adjustable angles.
here are some of my favourite features:
360- Flip and Fold, (as pictured) flips from unltrabook to tablet in seconds.
Mot-ion Control, Use your webcam to flip pages, rewind/forward music, change volume and gesture other simple commands with the flick of your hand.
IPS technology, Never lose sight of your video/images from different angles, In-plane switching technology delivers clear graphics, no matter the viewing angle.
Voice Control, Set up your device with voice operated commands to perform tasks automatically for you.
Nokia Area As we are running through some of our top devices from BETT it would be wrong not to include an offering from our friends at Nokia, and trialling this particular device for the week, my top choice from the selection will have to be the Nokia 1020.
You've all heard everyone boast about the incredible spec (if not check it out in full here) so here are the reasons why I love this Windows phone:
It's Yellow, Okay that's not why I love it, but it's so bright and colourful makes a delightful change to standard black devices, Microsoft is all about bright and bold colours so we are big fans.
1MP Camera, When I compared some of the pictures I took with those taken by other people at the event, there was no competition. There are tons of editing options and you really can get creative and take some fantastic shots without having to lug an SLR about with you.(see image below taken with a Lumia 1020)
HD Video with Zoom, Anyone who makes videos with their smartphones will know how frustrating it can be if you have a video that won't zoom or that looses it's quality, the 1020 creates sharp professional looking videos, if you're keen, why not try out using a mini tripod (retailing for about £8 on ebay) – also check out the new Ellie Goulding video. How Long will I love you, was shot entirely from a 1020. Devices that pack so much power into something so small make it easy to get out and shoot so much more, class projects and learning materials are a doddle.
Windows Phone, Biased here of course, but having this incredible smartphone AND all the functionalities of a working tablet/laptop with all my documents to hand via SkyDrive made such a difference being out on site all week. Your professional and social life is all there at the tough of your fingertips. You'll never be caught out without an important document again
So there you have it, a selection of our top devices from last weeks BETT show. From this small sample combined with what we know about current trends, It's clear that Technology is constantly evolving to synchronise with our lifestyles, we no longer have to choose between a laptop or tablet, a one stop device for everyone is fast becoming thing of the past. Devices are being built, streamlined and finessed to tailor our every need, often before those needs even arise. Thank you to the Microsoft partners who dare to design differently and help shape the Windows 8 platform.