When I last wrote about the Moodle integration with SharePoint, it was only with SharePoint 2003.
The new web parts developed to help you to integrate Moodle into a Learning Gateway based on SharePoint 2007 have been released, and are now fully available on the CodePlex Moodle page, our "open source project hosting website". CodePlex is an initiative for 'communities'n building solutions using our technologies. You can download work from current projects, join existing project teams, or start your own new project. Although it is Microsoft that has kick started CodePlex, there are an increasing number of non-MS projects starting up.
Last year, quite a few universities asked us for materials that they could use to let their students know about the Ultimate Steal offer (Office Ultimate 2007 for £38.95). And universities and colleges including Bristol, Kent, Stirling, Queens University Belfast, Salford, QMU Edinburgh, Bradford, Middlesex, Loughborough, Homerton College and Derby put up announcements last year on their student portal, or on their VLEs. This year, with staff also being eligible, we’ve already started to get queries from people asking for materials.
To make it easier for you, we’ve created a range of graphics banners (all looking like the above) which you can download and use. They are all on my SkyDrive folder, or you can download them using the links below – the numbers represent the width x height:
160 x 600 - Right click to download
250 x 250 - Right click to download
300 x 250 - Right click to download
468 x 60 - Right click to download
728 x 90 - Right click to download
And if white’s really not your colour, then how about the “Grab It” banner above?
640 x 164 “Grab It” banner - Right click to download
Many universities didn’t want their students to miss out on the offer and emailed them to let them know about it. If you want to take this option, there’s a standard email template to get you started
Email template - Right click to download
We have some packs of flyers and ‘door hangers’ available – just like the one on the right – that some universities have used. The door hangers were used in student accommodation, and the flyers have been placed either around campus, or specifically around the IT departments.
If you'd like a pack of flyers etc, drop me an email with an address I can send it to.
And that’s a good question (Of course, I would say that, because I just wrote it!).
Here are some of the reasons that universities have told me that they’ve wanted to tell their students:
Last year, the buzz about The Ultimate Steal made its way around universities pretty quickly, but it’s fair to say that it was in an uneven way. This year, perhaps we can work better with you to make sure that none of your students pay too much for their copy of Office when they buy it.
Thanks to some research I’m doing on behalf of a university in North East England, one of my colleagues in the US passed on details of the University of Kentucky and the project to implement a unified communications platform. This has surfaced both a Microsoft and Gartner case study.
In summary the Gartner study shows how the university implemented a Unified Communications solution to:
The Gartner case study is stated as being explicitly for the UK, which is interesting to note. Naturally, the technology deployed is my current favourite – Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007. In the UK, getting on for forty universities now have the software licences to deploy OCS across their campus which means that these could already be achieving the savings, efficiencies and enhancements that is written about in the case studies. In addition to this, those universities could also federate to enhance communication and collaboration with other HE institutions, research partners/funders, employers and students.
Gartner’s assessment is here: http://www.enablingtechcorp.com/Portals/0/case_study_university_of_ken_165580.pdf
Microsoft’s write up is here:
The Microsoft Mobility Briefing July 10th 2007
Microsoft Campus, Reading, RG6 1WG
In conjunction with several leading figures in the field of Mobile Learning, the Microsoft Education team would like to invite Educational professionals and IT professionals to explore the developments and potential of the Mobile Learning in light of exciting changes to both the technology and the broader Educational landscape.
10.00 – 10.25 Arrival, coffee & registration
10.25 – 10.30 Welcome, Introduction and agenda
An introduction to the briefing, and setting of the agenda for the day.
10.30 – 11.15 Keynote speech
Professor Angela McFarlane is one of the foremost contributors to the field of Mobile Learning. Professor McFarlane is the Professor of Education & Director of Learning Technology at the University of Bristol. Having worked for Becta and as a teacher, she brings a diverse range of experience that contributes to the strides she has made for ICT in Education.
11.15 – 12.00 The future of Mobile Learning
Jason Langridge is Microsoft’s Mobility Manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Jason will be looking at how Mobile technologies have matched the challenge put forward by learning, and how future developments will go further, and bridge the shortfalls.
12.00 – 12.55 Lunch
12.55 – 13.00 Introduction to the breakout rooms
You can participate in one, two, or three of the below breakout sessions, or use the time for further networking. Each session will last for approximately 30 minutes.
13.00 – 14.30 Breakout rooms, session 1 (Each Breakout session last 30 minutes)
A) Jason Langridge, Microsoft. A dive into the technological developments Microsoft has made in Mobile technologies.
B) Paul Butler, SMIS. Paul is the Strategic Director at Sandwell’s Schools Management Information System unit, and will be discussing the recent PiE (PDA’s in Education) project.
C) James George, Samsung. James will be discussing Samsung’s strides in Education and discussing the much publicised ‘Q1’ devices.
D) Sheila Crew, Bristol LEA. Sheila Crew and Andy Menzies will be discussing their experiences of their PDA project at Bristol, spanning 160 teachers and 350 students – the results were included in a recent Becta report.
14.30 – 14.45 Coffee break
14.45 – 16.15 Breakout rooms, session 2 (Each Breakout session last 30 minutes)
E) Graham Brown-Martin, Handheld Learning. Graham’s vision at Handheld Learning is simple “Within the next 5 years every learner will have access to a mobile digital companion that may be used as a powerful learning tool.” Understand how Graham believes this is feasible.
F) Gerry Gray, Courtmoor School & Jo Verrier, Newline Learning. Two very different schools share their experiences of mobile learning. One at the beginning of the journey, the other ½ way to achieving 1 - 1 ratio of mobile device per student. These two practitioners share their experiences, and offer advice and guidance.
G) Dave Whyley, Wolverhampton LEA. Dave will be discussing the well-regarded Learning2Go partnership project in Wolverhampton. Understand what has been learnt from the largest collaborative mobile learning project for pupils in the UK.
H) Aidan Pryor, Steljes. One of the key partners of the Learning2Go partnership; understand the strategy for one of the leading organisations in the mobile learning arena.
16.15 – 16.30 Wrap-up, prize giving, and close of briefing.
Your opportunity for an open Q & A session, a wrap up to the day, prize-giving and close to the briefing.
Microsoft Campus, Thames Valley Park, Reading, RG6 1WG.
0870 60 10 100
To confirm your place, please email Lewis Isaacs: firstname.lastname@example.org
Microsoft is pleased to offer special pricing on Surface RT directly to schools and universities for a limited time between 19th June 2013 and 31st August 2013. Our mission in education is to help schools and universities, students and educators realise their full potential. One way we do this is by offering software, hardware and services at affordable prices to education institutions.
Surface RT is a terrific tool for teaching and learning and we want students and educators to have the best technology on the market today.
Our exclusive direct to institution pricing is as follows:
Please note, this offer is exclusively available direct to institutions, and not to students or educators directly. If you have any questions regarding the offer, or would like to place an order, please contact email@example.com
The order form can be viewed/downloaded here.
But up until now, it's been called Windows Live SkyDrive Beta. I've just received an email telling me that it's been officially released, and the size has been increased to 5GB of free storage!
Anybody can get a SkyDrive, as it's free - just sign up for it using your Windows Live/Passport ID, and you too can have 5GB of file storage online, with file storage areas for private, shared and public files. Gone are the days of moving files between home and work with a USB drive (which inevitably got lost somewhere between the two places).
Imagine - all of your students currently carrying their data around on a USB memory stick (and busily plugging them into USB ports all around your campus), could be using this. What would it cost you to give every one of your students 5GB of Internet-accessible storage on your network?
We include SkyDrive in our Live @ Edu service, which means that you could automatically provide accounts to all of your students, linked to their university email address.
More info on SkyDrive
Around a year ago, Microsoft issued a press release announcing its intent to deliver Office 2008 for Mac. Well, it seems that Microsoft is now even closer and there is a preview article on Computerworld with quotations from the Microsoft Mac Business Unit here.
For a more detailed overview of what's under the bonnet on Mac Office 2008 then please visit this site. It has some great graphics of the new release plus access to the Mactopia newsletter.
The official release for Mac Office 2008 will be at Macworld where you can join Microsoft if you're lucky enough to be over there.
I know of one University that has been on the beta for Mac Office 2008 and is ready to start installing the final release once they're able to get hold of it. IMHO one of the main features of this new release is that it is all about re-connecting users with the power of Office. As well as this, there are some significant updates to the components in the suite which should impress.
I'm not a Mac user but I look forward to having a tour of Mac Office 2008 with friends and getting their opinion of the new version.
When I wrote about the Ultimate Steal, I said it was for university students and staff with a .ac.uk email address. There’s also a requirement that if you’re a Higher Education student, you must be enrolled in an undergraduate or postgraduate level course. And although that was straightforward for most students, it turned out to be quite tricky for Open University students. With the nature of their studies, it sometimes turned out to be difficult to work out whether somebody was actually doing a degree or not!
So this year, after some negotiations with our dear lawyerly-friends, we have made a leap and extended the offer out to ANY registered Open University student who has one of their ‘open.ac.uk’ email addresses and also to all OU staff.
Which means that, if you’re an OU student, regardless of which course you are on, and how many modules you’re currently studying, you’re eligible for the Ultimate Steal
When considering the future impact of technology on teaching and learning there is an element of crystal ball gazing. That being said, working for an organisation such as Microsoft offers me some unique insights into the plethora of new technologies that are becoming available, which, in turn, allows me to make the odd educated guess on this subject. We are all learning, though, and it would be great to get your thoughts and suggestions in terms of how teaching and learning will be impacted as a result of emerging technologies.
Before looking into the impact of future technologies on teaching and learning, though, I thought it would be useful to look at some examples and scenarios of how we are going to be using technology in the near future. Microsoft's Productivity Future Vision, shown below, does an interesting job of showing how some of the technologies we are already using, such as mobile, touch interfaces and location based services, are going to potentially evolve and add even great value to our lives in the future.
With some of the examples shown in the video already being realised both in our day to day lives and in the classroom, there are also number of trends developing that are creating the perfect environment for some significant changes in terms of teaching and learning, but also learning environments themselves.
The current economic climate, and the resulting budget cuts, is one of the most significant trends currently impacting the sector. As a result of the budget cuts, and the challenges and opportunities associated with these, schools are being required to do more with less.
Furthermore, with the changes with the global economy as a whole, education, more than ever, needs to evolves and become more relevant. STEM based skills are a prime example of this. The IDC predicts that in the next decade, 77% of all jobs will require technical skills yet there are many countries that are not producing STEM graduates to fill those jobs. With this in mind, the education sector as a whole, combined with industry partners, clearly needs to step up to the challenge to address these gaps!
Another core trend that is impacting the sector, and society as a whole, is the concept of social connections. Through web apps such as Facebook and Twitter, the world is becoming increasingly interconnected and economies and cultures intertwine more and more. It is not uncommon, for example, for students and faculty in completely different geographic locations to connect virtually.
Additionally, social media now dominates as a real time feed for news, stories and world sentiment and you only need to look at the Arab Spring uprising to see the real impact of the power of social media.
A third major trend impacting the sector, and arguably most relevant to the topic of this post, is technology itself. Recent advances in technology have created a wide range of new and exciting ways to engage with content and interact with our devices.
Natural User Interface (NUI) is a great example of this and the Kinect device has helped brought NUI to a mass audience that is extending much further than just gaming. The video below offers a great overview of this.
Touch and gesture is another major technology trend and you only need to look at how children as young as 2-3 can pick up a touch based device and instinctively navigate around the environment. Amazing!
Additionally from a technology trend perspective, the cloud is a massive development and is changing the way that we consume and purchase software and services.
The impact of many of these trends on education and learning is huge. The cloud and more ubiquitous connectivity is driving a significant increase in the blending of informal and formal learning. Driven by the digital content revolution, powered by eBooks and apps etc, many students are studying when and where they choose and , in many cases, coming into the classroom already pre-wired with content.
Web services such as the Khan Academy, MIT Open Course Ware and a personal favourite, the Code Academy, is helping drive this. We still have a long way to go, though, in terms of how are taking advantage of technology within the classroom.
Advances in cars, planes and even mobile phones have not been replicated in education, with some exceptions clearly. This is quite a broad brush statement, but if you look at a classroom from a 100 years ago and compare with one today, its almost like a game of spot the difference. They are almost identical.
In some ways, our current use of technology in the education is actually a way for telling us far we haven't come.
Outside of the classroom, students use a wide range of devices to stay connected. When they step into the classroom, though, in many ways its like boarding a plane. They file in, buckle up, put their seat tables up and turn off all their devices. They are cut off from the outside world for the duration of the class and the use of social media and mobile devices, in particular, is off the table.
Back to the Future
Even when we do look at how technology is being used in the classroom, much of the recent developments have been around automating/digitising traditional ways of learning. While these uses, such as eBooks, add value, I would argue that we need to go beyond just automation and digitisation to realise the full benefit of technology in education.
Social connections and the web should play a key role in achieving this, but, if managed effectively, technology should actually be changing what we learn and how we teach.
Role of the teacher
So if young learners are coming to class/lectures already pre-wired with content and connecting with peers all over the world, what is the future of the teacher in all this?
With so much amazing (and not so great) content available, the role of the teacher is changing to act more like a curator or guide. The aim of which is to develop opportunities for young learners to have a more emotional connection with their learning material. With this in mind, the role of the teacher is more important than ever!
But what about the role of the device on all this? You often read headlines along the lines of 'digital devices have improved attainment in a particular school by 20%'. When I read that, I must admit a little part of me dies inside.
It wasn't the device that made the learner smarter. It was the teacher and student that improved attainment. The technology just serviced the journey.
Therefore, It could be said that technology and bad teachers has no impact and little scale, whereas technology and great teachers have the ability to help the learner achieve their full potential. Food for thought...
So what's the next step?
Creating emotional and personalized experiences using technology rather than simply digitizing traditional methods is going to be key.
There are many example of how technology is being used to create more engaging and emotional connections with learning materials, a great reflection of which is gaming in education. Gaming focuses on emotion. You can have funny games, scary games, adrenalin inducing games, and I believe that we need to get to this same place with the use of tech in education.
Games offer a wide range of benefits that are well suited to education, such as challenge, progression, reward and access to personalised real-time experiences. What's not to like!
Furthermore, within traditional education, failure is seen as a negative thing. In games, however, failure is seen as a positive part of the gaming experience. With a new game, you die/fail often. With experience, you improve until you eventually become an expert and conquer the game. Why is it not the same in education? A radical change in the assessment process would be needed, but this would be more reflective of the workplace and would be particularly relevant in a world that is needing to encourage and nurture more entrepreneurial tendencies.
In her book, Reality is Broken, Jane McGonical talks about the need to play more games to address global challenges, including education. Jane explains this concept far better than I can in the video below, and I highly recommend taking the time to watch the first 3-4 minutes in particular where she talks about the 'epic-win' face.
That’s where we need to reach with education in general and technology can play a significant role.
Impact on Teaching and Learning
Ultimately, technology is going to have a significant impact on teaching and learning. The power of the cloud and more consumer orientated devices are going to make anytime, anywhere learning more commonplace and accessible to all. Furthermore, with access to free, or very cost effective, learning content now becoming ubiquitous, the role of the teacher is going to evolve and become more important than ever.
With a eye on making education more relevant to the workplace, and with a focus on STEM based skills, building emotional and engaging connections with learning materials is going to be the key part in the next phase of development for teaching and learning and gaming in education is going to be a underlining theme throughout!
This blog post is based on the presentation I delivered at the recent Capita SIMS Independent Schools conference. The slides from the session are shown below.
With the recent announcement of the Kinect SDK there will, I am sure, be some great examples of interesting uses of Kinect within education appearing over the coming weeks.
In the meantime, I thought I would share the following videos of the Kinect in action. Impressive stuff!
Have you come across any interesting examples of the Kinect in action? It would be great if you could share what you have found in the comments below.
Also, how do you think Kinect can be best used for teaching and learning?
Furthermore, if you work in HE and are interested in the Kinect SDK, why not sign up to our launch event (21st June) to learn more.