The future of technology in education means many things to many different people. eBooks, natural user interfaces, touch screens, gaming in education and the consumerisation of IT are all themes that are voiced when the topic comes up for debate. A hot topic, for sure!
Gaming in education and the consumerisation of IT in education, in particular, are topics that we are going to cover on the blog over the coming months. BETT 2012 will definitely be an area where we will be expanding on this further. Keep an eye out for our special BETT themed series of blog posts.
While not dedicated specifically to education, our latest Productivity Future Vision video presents an exciting and inspiring glimpse into the technologies of the future. Many of which have a direct correlation with the trends that are developing around the future of technology in education.
Check out the video below:
My Christmas list would be pretty long if some of these technologies were available now. The translation glasses and transparent fridge are my personal favourites!
In the space of a year, Kinect for XBOX 360 has come a long way. Quickly becoming the fastest selling consumer electronics device of all time and recently crowned T3 gadget of the year, the innovative device is now used for a wide range of non-gaming applications.
The recent release of the Kinect SDK has seen the creation of some inspiring education applications and we are also seeing some amazing uses of the technology within the health care, research and science sectors.
With regard to education in particular, we will be focusing on how the Kinect is playing a key role in the gaming in education trend that is currently building momentum across the sector. A dedicated series of posts on this topic will be featured on the blog leading up to BETT 2012.
In the meantime, though, we thought we would share the following video that showcases some of the exciting ways that the Kinect is being used outside of the gaming arena. Powerful stuff!
I have lost count of the number of times I have watched this during my lunch break and nicely presents how technologies such as natural user interfaces are going to play a part in shaping the future of technology in education moving forward.
We would love to hear what you think of the video and the concepts presented. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
And why would you need to know anything about it for your school?
Basically it’s all about the data you have in your school. Where is it? How is it used? How can it be structured to be more useful to you? How can it work for you?
Data is everywhere in your school. From the staff room notice board, emails right the way through to the worksheets given out to students in lessons. Wherever you can read something useful, it should be easy to find for anyone in the school.
Alex Pearce, Most Valuable Professional (MVP) has given some thought into a couple of ‘’roles’’ you would come across in a school and how data is used and why it is important to them.
Timetable Cover Manager
As you will know the Cover Manager position is very important for any school, ensuring a teacher is in every classroom whether it is another teacher from the school or calling in a cover teacher. Their job is all about data and passing data to the right people at the right time; ensuring students are taught and looked after in the classroom.
The kind of data they might receive includes short and long term notice of staff absence, cover work, members of staff on training courses whilst the data they would be exporting would include cover sheets, cover work and timetables of brought in members of staff.
A Management Information System (MIS) for the school would hold all of this type of information in one place and prevent any miscommunication. What if a teacher didn't get that message to say they were needed to cover a lesson?
Using SharePoint, Lync and Exchange, the Cover Manager can easily pass on the information that is required. Cover work can be emailed to them and then uploaded to a Cover Site within SharePoint. When a cover member of staff then needs these resources, they know they are stored in a central location. If a member of staff is given short notice to cover a lesson or group, they are confident that they can teach a class as the work is already available and they don’t have to track down the cover work. To get hold of someone quickly, rather than send an e-mail with the chance that it won’t be read straight away, Lync can be used to send an Instant Message (IM) asking if they can cover a lesson last minute.
SharePoint can also be used as a workflow engine to send timetables from the external cover member of staff to be approved by the Cover Manager and then if necessary an invoice can be sent on to finance to be paid.
Year 11 student
One of the most important years for any student in education is Year 11, GCSE year. Ensuring the data they have is accurate, up to date and always available is so important and will help students stay relaxed, preparing for their exams. They need easy access to all their lesson resources over the last 2 years for revision, exam timetables and communication with a teacher.
Throughout the year, a teacher will use hundreds of resources for teaching; some students will be missing due to illness, whilst other resources are just lost. Students should be allowed to easily find these resources and with SharePoint, can easily be done using two main features, search and navigation. A students can logon to SharePoint and use the navigation to find the subject, then year and then the resource they require as long as it has been uploaded in a well-structured way, all part of information architecture.
The possibilities of search within SharePoint in a school are endless, and this will be another post in the future, but imagine a search engine in your school for all your data. Students can perform a search for the subject they are looking for and find documents that are stored within SharePoint, your old intranet site and shared documents area. All of a sudden, data is easily found and accessible to anyone who requires it.
How many times are students losing their exam timetable (I know I did) and having to request for it to be printed off? Why not allow them to see their timetable in SharePoint or in their Exchange calendar? This way they can access it over the internet when they are panicking about if they have an exam that afternoon and they have no credit on their phone to text a friend.
The Head Teacher
Having an overview of all the schools lessons, student behaviour, predicted grade and value add are all important bits of useful information for a head teacher. They are always opening emails, speadsheets and the school Management Information System to see how each subject is doing. They can intervene if necessary, but also help them with any reports for governors, the local authority or Ofsted. They want the information fast, accurate and all in one place so they can turn on their computer and see everything they require.
SharePoint is a great integration tool already integrating with other Microsoft products such as Lync and Exchange, but it can also be used to integrate with Management Information Systems and other e-learning products.
Using WebParts (similar to widgets and gadgets), SharePoint brings all that data onto a single page in your environment allowing you to see the number of student absences that day and then breaking it down into year groups. They can then see all the school tracking sheets stored in SharePoint using Excel Web Accessing, Internet Explorer or any other browsers to see how classes are doing.
If you take anything away from this blog post I hope it is for you to think about your data in your school and how it used. Evaluate all the different bits of information around the school from display boards, to staff briefings and learning assets and how each member of staff and student may use this information. What is its search ability? Is exemplar work up on the wall useful for students doing homework at home or is there a process that can make signing off purchase order quicker and easily managed using a workflow in SharePoint? What other technologies can you use to improve communication and handling of data such as Microsoft Exchange, Live@edu and Lync?
Magnifying Glass – Image found here
With many industry experts stating that the future of technology in education lies with the user, Consumerisation of IT (COIT) is now firmly on the radars on both suppliers, such as Microsoft, and the institutions we passionately serve.
COIT is not without its challenges, though, and the definitive answer to making COIT palatable for both users and the providers of IT within schools, colleges and universities is not a clear cut one.
While students, especially those within FE and HE, want to bring their own devices on campus and use them to connect to their institutions network and systems, there is still a need to offer physical machines on campus. This hybrid approach will no doubt be a reality for some time yet.
Despite this, there is clearly a requirement from the users of technology to have more flexibility in when and how they use a mix of personal and institutional devices to carry out their studies, and it’s the industry and IT professionals responsibility, working together, to make this a reality.
Locking down systems and preventing access is no longer realistic, particularly at a time when HE students, in particular, are demanding more from their learning experience.
Furthermore, with the budget cuts being realised across the sector, COIT offers potential cost saving benefits that educations leaders will find hard to ignore.
It is, therefore, all of our responsibilities to embrace more of a can do attitude towards COIT and discover and embrace solutions that students so passionately require, while also maintaining the security of the institutions core networks and systems.
The ultimate answer is going to require a mix of cultural change and technology solutions, of which the vast majority is already available.
The cloud, combined with client based software, offer flexibility and choice regardless of the platform used by the institutions learners. Furthermore, with the enhancements in virtualisation technologies, such as App-V, it is now possible to easily recreate institutional environments across Windows, Apple, Linux and mobile platforms, such as IOS and Android.
Furthermore, a pure-play web solution, using HTML5, also offers a highly elegant option for IT professionals to offer apps to their wide range of users in a highly feature rich and secure environment.
Ultimately, the technology is available now to make COIT a practical reality for all institutions. Cultural change is, however, needed to make this truly possible. Only with these two elements in place, are we going to see the COIT available to all.
To help further address the topic of Consumerisation of IT in Education, we have produced paper that offers some advice on how institutions can embrace COIT. The document is available on our SlideShare account. The document is also embedded below.
Let us know what you think in the comments below. Alternatively, join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #coit.
We live in a time where great ideas rule the world. Combine that with passion and tenacity, and there's nothing standing between you and rocking the future.
TeenWebConf is an annual event founded by Callum Hill and Henry Moulton, and looks set to help people from all kinds of backgrounds and levels of experience bring their ideas to life.
From its conception TeenWeb Conference was intended to be a single day in the year where young people can network as well as to find information, direction, focus and help with entrepreneurship and, more specifically, the web. Hosting a variety of speakers, from different working backgrounds and industries, there will be something for everyone to take away. The main aim of the event in terms of conference content is to provide inspiration, presenting speakers that have been successful and can offer the best advice for young entrepreneurs.
We're excited to be supporting an event that brings together inspirational speakers, a great panel, and outstanding networking opportunities for young people!
Tickets for the event are on sale now - and if you get them quick, they're cheap too! It's aimed specifically at 11-25 year olds with a passion for technology, entrepreneurship, and generally doing awesome things to change the world. Some of our team will be there, along with some fantastic people.
What are you waiting for?
Grab yourself a ticket. Go on, be awesome. We dare you
Originally posted on the UK Student blog.
This blog post was written by freelance writer, Gerald Haigh. Gerald writes regularly for the Microsoft Education blogs.
The SharePoint- based learning platform LP+, from Learning Possibilities, is already well known in many UK schools and authorities.
This autumn, however, sees the launch of a new and considerably improved version, titled LP+4. The new version makes effective use of SharePoint 2010 and also provides students with access to a range of other familiar Microsoft technologies such as Excel and PowerPoint.
LP+4 is cloud-based, hosted remotely by Learning Possibilities, which means it’s available on any web-enabled desktop or portable device, bringing fully to life the concept of “Anytime, anywhere learning.”
Helping to drive the development of LP+ and its roll out into schools is Tom Rees, head of Harrowden Primary in Northamptonshire. Tom is well known for his commitment to harnessing technology for school improvement, and his secondment to Learning Possibilities, as Director of Learning, is an imaginative move that will help win the confidence of potential LP+4 users across the sector.
LP+4 in the Classroom
Recently, I sat with two groups of pupils, already familiar with LP+ as Tom Rees has introduced them to the Beta version of LP+4.
At Harrowden Primary, Tom’s own school, Year Six children welcomed him to their classroom as a friend and made ready to deploy their already considerable online expertise. And at Southfield School for Girls, the staff had lined up an equally knowledgeable Year 11 group in the computer suite.
For me, sitting and watching, it was a fascinating experience. On reflection, though, I was struck by how much more comfortable both groups were actually using technology than they were listening to someone telling them about it.
During the introductory presentation they were impeccably behaved, keen to please. It was when they turned in twos and threes to their desktops and laptops, though, that the real buzz of engagement and concentration took over.
That, surely underlines two principles that underpin any effective classroom tool – that children prefer to engage with learning on their own terms, and that it has to be easy for them to do so.
Tom asked both groups to try out three “Web 2.0” features of LP+4 – “Discuss”, “Wiki” and “Blogs”.
These three, like all areas of the platform, are easily reached from a menu bar of one-click buttons, and the children at both schools were quickly absorbed. At Harrowden the children worked on laptops, netbooks and tablet devices to write a story collaboratively developed as a Wiki.
At Southfield, blogging was the popular choice. Within what seemed like seconds, two students had produced a well reasoned and grammatically accurate heartfelt protest about the air-conditioned coolness of the computer room.
One aim of the sessions was for children to experience the friendly feel of the new platform. When a student logs in for example, instead of finding a school page, he or she is presented with a personal page, with their picture and links to their own documents, and a social networking style ‘wall’.
In that sense, say Learning Possibilities, “LP+4 has moved from being school-centric to user-centric.”
The children certainly noticed that, because it’s how most young people experience the internet outside school. Social networks are the internet for many young people. The comment, “Like Facebook” was heard more than once from both groups.
What was most often mentioned about their learning platform, though, by both children and staff at these schools, was the way it enables seamless working between home and school. The children I met use LP+ quite naturally as part of their regular internet experience.
At Southfield, ICT coursework is now completely paperless all the way to examination level. At Harrowden, teacher Matthew Coleman explained to me that for him it’s a matter of capturing enthusiasm and preserving momentum between school and home.
“If I send homework home on a worksheet it becomes an onerous task by its very nature. But if it’s something they can add to a wiki, or write as a blog it becomes much more interesting and engaging.”
He looked round the room as the children worked on their wikis and blogs in LP+4 and added “You can see the engagement and enthusiasm, and how keen they are to be involved with it. In a normal classroom situation I could take that excitement and go with it instead of anything else I’d planned.”
LP+ and School Improvement
Teachers and heads are aware that technology can play a significant part in school improvement. They aren’t always sure, though, exactly how to convert that belief into practical reality. That’s where the effective learning platform steps in, promoting collaboration, communication, home-school links, assessment, and motivation. It opens up learning, takes pupils seriously and non-judgmentally, and reassures them that learning is for them to embrace, enjoy and share wherever they happen to be. If all that happens, then school improvement, however it’s measured, inevitably follows.
There’s good evidence for that in the story of Little Harrowden Primary itself. The school has shown dramatic progress in measured achievement over the three years since Tom Rees became head and installed LP+ as the cornerstone of a broad commitment to the use of technology for learning.
The story’s been told in detail on the Microsoft Schools Blog and it’s worth reading. It tells how SAT scores across all subjects have risen significantly year on year, attendance has improved and Ofsted has shown approval of the school’s use of technology.
Of course there are other factors. A change of head teacher is a significant variable in itself. But a great part of Tom Rees’s effectiveness lies in his commitment to ICT in general and to his deployment of LP+ in particular.
As time goes on, we’ll be looking at how schools use the features of LP+4 to support children’s learning. For us it’s a really super example of the flexibility of SharePoint 2010, used here by Learning Possibilities as the powerhouse of what really is a complete learning environment. It’s also a textbook example of how a cloud service can make easily available a wide range of familiar Microsoft technologies.
There are many ways to get SharePoint 2010 in your school, whether you’re using it as part of a package from a supplier, using a hosting company to host your own SharePoint or using your EES license to host your SharePoint internally.
All of the successful SharePoint implementations I have seen are those that have integrated SharePoint into their daily school lives and don’t use it as just another web page that student and teachers use if they want to. There are loads of great examples of how schools use SharePoint in their school and have a 100% adoption rate but how can this be done for your environment?
I often talk to different schools about this very subject and I split the conversation into three different sections, management, learning and social. These three can be tackled by the school one at a time or all at the same time but each of these can help you integrate SharePoint into your school.
Whether you are looking at going with a third party hosting solution or building your own SharePoint, consider the following and ensure you can achieve these with the solution being provided.
Any process in your school, whether it’s the approval of staff external training, hiring of equipment from IT or keeping the staff calendar up to date it, has a process from the request to information staff of the change/approval. SharePoint can help in any of these and any other process that comes to mind. Let’s take a look at how two of these processes can be used within in SharePoint.
Example - A member of staff requested some Maths training.
Navigate to the CPD site on their SharePoint and click on ‘’new request’’ which opens up Microsoft Word. They fill in the request and click ‘’save’’ which saves the document back to the CPD site. In the background, SharePoint is doing its thing and has emailed a copy of CPD Request to your manager for approval. They then open their email and get a link to the document which opens up in Internet Explorer using Office Web Applications and shows them the request you have made. They are happy and so they click ‘’approve’’ in SharePoint which sends off the email the finance department letting them know to send a purchase order to the training provider. During this time, two other emails have also been sent, letting the Timetable Manager know that you will not be in school on that training day and therefore need to arrange cover. The other email is to let you know that your course has been approved and you can attend.
Example - You want to borrow some digital cameras from the ICT Support department.
Navigate to the SharePoint page they have setup. You click on ‘’digital cameras’’ which loads a page that looks similar to your Outlook calendar and you look for you the time you want. You can see that another member of staff has them already booked at that time so you decide to use them the next lesson. You have to fill out an online form that includes the date and time and the room you require them in. When you have submitted the request, an email is sent to the ICT support team who approve the request. The day arrives for you to use the cameras but you are worried you don’t know how to use them. Help is at hand. Go to the same SharePoint page the ICT Support department use to book the cameras, see that they are still booked and there is a help wiki that’s been setup on the cameras which shows you everything you need to know.
Pupils are given out worksheets all the time in class which, 9 times out of 10, are generated in Word or printed off the internet. Why give them something that can be lost, screwed up in the bottom of the bag or used as an excuse for not doing their homework?
SharePoint is a great tool for document storage and management. You can store any type of document and even edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in your internet browser without having to have these installed on your computer or smart phone.
Documents can be tagged allowing you to easily find content with a same relevant name. As the English teacher, you can upload content for your Romeo and Juliet topic and tag all the documents with Romeo and Juliet included. With the right setup, it will automatically tag the documents with English and Shakespeare.
There is always and underlining question where to use social networking in a school. Personally I believe that students use it every day out of school, so we should be doing the same within the school and integrate into their education. SharePoint can help in many ways with an educational stance.
During the learning section of the post we talked about the ability to tag documents. In SharePoint 2010 we can use these tags within the User Profile services.
A student can subscribe to one of these tags allowing them to see content as it is uploaded. As a student, I am working on Romeo and Juliet in English and I see Romeo and Juliet in a Tag Cloud. This then allows me to see all updates made to this tag, giving me more information on each of my subjects as other use it in the school.
Each user has their own ‘’profile’’, allowing them to upload an image and give some general information about themselves. SharePoint allows us to manage this so don’t be worried if you don’t want photos. One of the features is the ability to say you are an expert in a subject. Link this to your tagging (like Romeo and Juliet) and a student can then use SharePoint Search to find the most relevant documents, the ability to filter and the most relevant member of staff who can help them on that subject.
Whatever the learning asset, document or process it can be done in SharePoint, don’t be afraid to ask someone on twitter or on a community forum such as Edugeek or the SharePoint User Group.
Covering a diverse range of topics from cloud computing to gaming in education, the ITA Summit offered an action packed day for delegates eager to learn more about all the latest developments with IT Academy over the next 12 months.
All the slides from the event are available on our Slideshare account.
All the sessions were highly interesting and engaging, but a couple of standout sessions for me included the following:
We hope these slides are useful and please don’t hesitate to drop us a line, or leave a comment below, if you have any questions – Tim
Cloud computing promises new career opportunities for IT professionals. In many cases, existing core skill sets transfer directly to cloud technologies. In other instances, IT pros need to develop new skill sets that meet the demand of emerging cloud job roles.
Our latest whitepaper, literally hot off the press, titled ‘Cloud Computing: What IT Professionals Need to Know’ provides an early look at emerging roles and the skill sets that IT professionals and Developers should look to acquire to build cloud computing solutions.
The whitepaper, which can be viewed below, is part of our on-going cloud in education series. The document can also be downloaded from our Microsoft Education Slideshare account. Presentation slides from events, and other useful documents, can also be downloaded from here. We will be updating the account with new content on a regular basis, so be sure to check back regularly.
Let us know what you think about the whitepaper. We would love to get your feedback!
Thanks – Tim
Originally posted on the Microsoft UK Teachers Blog
We are pleased to announce that we have been able to add an extra workshop to the the fantastic list of professional development opportunities at this year’s Forum.
Bringing classrooms together with Skype
Ever wanted to collaborate with other teachers, classes and experts around the world to help your students learn? Chances are your budget does not extend to a class trip to Florida to discuss weather patterns or a visit to the Maasai in Tanzania. That’s where Skype in the classroom comes in.
In this interactive workshop, Jacqueline Botterill, head of social good for Skype, will explain and demonstrate how over 17,500 educators from over 170 countries are already using the free online community to connect with each other, find partner classes and share teaching inspiration. Jacqueline will be joined by some of these teachers to provide practical advice on how to get started with Skype in the classroom, what equipment is recommended and the benefits of connecting with other classrooms.
Our free places for this event are going fast. So book yours today and join us for this great professional development event from Microsoft UK Partners in Learning.
Don’t miss out, register today – Registration now open
The 8th Microsoft UK Partners in Learning Forum is a one-day conference, free of charge to all teachers and educators who wish to attend. The workshops and keynotes this year have a STEM ‘flavour’ and address the theme of ‘Teach more, learn more, inspire more.’
This year the Forum is being held at the Microsoft Headquarters, Thames Valley Park in Reading on the 24th Nov 2011.
We have a rich agenda that includes as Keynote speakers, the world renowned Ian Livingstone OBE, Life President of Eidos , Alex Bellos, the author of the popular science book Alex's Adventures in Numberland and Ollie Bray, the National Adviser for Emerging Technologies at Education Scotland
In addition, delegates will be able to choose from a range of workshops. I would suggest that you sign up as soon as possible as places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
Using the Kinect SDK/Kodu in the classroom
Classroom Teachers Ray Chambers from Lodge Park Technology College & Nicki Maddams from Hartsdown College, give hands-on practical guidance on how to programme and create games in the classroom
Everyone is a Maths genius, can computer science/technology prove it?
Dr Chris Imafidon – is one of the “World’s foremost scholars on leveraging informatics for learning and exceptional achievement. This workshop will discuss how computer science/technology exposed the myths of natural Intelligence, genes, gender, IQ, age, background, post-code.
Computing: The Science of Nearly Everything?
Dr Tom Crick, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC), looks at the big question: How are we developing and encouraging the next generation of technology innovators in the UK?
Be a Maker: learn to build gadgets with .NET Gadgeteer
Dr Scarlet Schwiderski-Grosche from Microsoft Research.Do you like computer gadgets? Would you like to learn how to build and program gadgets to your own design? Then this workshop is for you!
Medicines and innovation – the missing link
Kandarp Thakkar - STEM Ambassador Programme - This workshop will introduce the STEM programme and give some ‘real-life’ case studies of successful use of this programme in delivering high quality university admissions.
Guerrilla Teaching & Learning
Daniel Raven-Ellison is a guerrilla educator, co-founder of The Geography Collective and creative director of Mission:Explore. Join this workshop to receive initial training in how to be a guerrilla teacher and learner.
Who’s afraid of the big bad ‘network’
Dan Roberts from saltash.net community school, presents light-hearted perspective and interactive & engaging discussion which considers the challenges & issues of schools using social networking, how these can be overcome?
Also, find out who are the recipients of this year’s Microsoft UK Partners in Learning Teacher Awards.The awards will be presented to Teachers who have submitted projects that illustrate the innovative use of technology to enhance teaching and learning. Not only will they receive award recognition, but have the chance to be invited to the next Partners in Learning Forum and win a Xbox 360 and Kinect package for their school. These projects will be on display at the event.