Guest post by Gerald Haigh
“Only connect….”, the oft-quoted epigraph that E.M.Forster wrote at the beginning of his novel ‘Howard’s End’ (which is about failure of connection) is a favourite phrase of mine. It resonates in every conceivable context – and might even be a global mission statement for Microsoft. Be that as may, it certainly went round in my head on the evening of 15thMay as I dozed on the train on the way home from a remarkable day with Microsoft at Priory School in Portsmouth.
On paper, the programme looked straightforward enough. Steve Beswick, Microsoft UK Education Director, following up a conversation with a teacher from the school at BETT 2013, was scheduled to visit Priory with UK Partners in Learning Network Manager Mandeep Atwal. My job was to tag along, netbook at the ready, to with a view to writing this blog.
We were hosted, courtesy of head teacher James Humphries, by Geography Curriculum leader, Professional Tutor and Microsoft Innovative Teacher, David Rogers. The plan was to see technology at work in the classroom, talk to teachers, school leaders and, of course, meet students .
Very soon, though, it was clear that this was going to be much more than the standard school tour with set-piece classroom drop-ins and presentations. Priory is a place where the young people have things to say and questions to ask. As a result, the day quickly developed into a real learning experience for everyone, an inspirational glimpse of the boundless potential of our young people, and a rallying cry for all who are involved in bringing technology to bear upon their learning.
We certainly had the classroom visits. We saw tablets, OneNote, SkyDrive all working together to support investigative work on climate in two Year Seven Geography classes. The lessons were led, respectively, by teachers Sam Atkins and PGCE student Jonathan Parrott (who remained remarkably composed, confident and in control, with rather too many adults in the room). Then in another timetabled slot, Steve Beswick had a freewheeling discussion with the head and the senior team, of which more later.
Really, though, it was the sessions, staged and impromptu, that happened outside lessons which produced the real highlight moments. In between times, he found himself surrounded by eager young people. They all know Microsoft, and with access to someone from the top of the organisation, they weren’t going to miss the chance to ask questions and pitch ideas.
Mandeep, for her part, had numerous meetings with teachers, including NQTs, listening to them, introducing ‘Partners in Learning’ and pointing ways forward with Microsoft technologies.
Most memorably, perhaps, there was the presentation to us by three of Priory’s ‘Digital Leaders’ – students number of with a special interest in and knowledge of technology who are given the opportunity to contribute significantly to the school’s development of 21st century learning. In this case, we heard from Digital Leaders Robbie, Scott and John, from Year Nine as they gave an overview of the school’s progress with technology, including the move to ‘Bring your own device’ –
‘There used to be a “no phones” policy and now laptops, tablets and mobiles are widely accepted. We helped with that, and Mr Rogers was the engine to make it happen. It was a matter of convincing everyone, changing opinions. And now more school departments are investing in mobile technology.’
The digital leaders also told us about the Priory Bench – possibly the only school bench in the world I’d guess, with its own twitter account (‘ @priorybench I’m in the hall, come sit on me.’)
Detail aside, though – and there was plenty of that, well illustrated on the digital whiteboard, explaining just what the digital leaders have achieved – what impressed was the confidence, knowledge and optimism of these three young people. Quite clearly, for them, learning with technology needs no justification. It’s the only way to travel. Robbie summed it all up, speaking with real intensity about the desire to leave something permanent behind when they move on.
‘What we aspire to achieve from now to 2016 is to make a real difference in that small time frame, to promote the use of technology in the curriculum, and complete the transition of classroom learning to digital learning.’
All of that, of course, was truly exciting and inspirational, providing enough emotional charge to lift us through the following days. What’s important, though, is to reflect on what it all meant to the participants – to the children and the staff of Priory school, to the Microsoft people who were there and, of course to the wider audience in education, in politics and business, in UK and beyond. So taking them in turn –
Wins for students
The presence of Steve and Mandeep and the keen interest they took in them was a strong affirmation for the young people that what they learn at school is as important as their teachers say it is. It underlined the fact that there’s a serious world out there, that technology plays a crucial part in it, and, yes, there can be room for them, whether in Microsoft or elsewhere. As Steve told the digital leaders,
‘The way you are presenting to me is fantastic. The life skills you are developing around communication, being articulate, having opinions, putting points across. If I was interviewing you that’s the kind of thing I’d be expecting.’
The boys and girls had a lot of that from Steve, on more than one occasion and it went down very well. As David Rogers told me next day,
‘The impact on the children really opened their eyes to 21st century skills. That kind of face-to-face encounter even for a short time is so powerful They were really fired up. I would love to be the one doing their exit interview in Year Eleven, because they’ll remember the day as one of their highlights’
Mandeep and Steve could also point out that the work the digital leaders were doing could and should be collected and preserved and used not only later in CVs, but currently in qualifications such as MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate)
Wins for staff
I was able to be there when Steve met Priory’s head James Humphries and the senior leadership team. It was a fascinating meeting of minds. Steve emphasised the importance of 21st Century skills, and the Microsoft projects that support it. From his perspective, James Humphries agreed while pointing out some of the constraints around appropriate CPD to bring teachers up to speed, and the demands of the exam system,
’As long as we have to put students in a sports hall with a piece of paper then we have to teach them to do that.’
Steve had practical suggestions to make – about using ‘Getonline@home’ for improving access, the possibility of using ‘Pupil Premium’ to buy appropriate technology, and the short training videos available, for example on the Microsoft Education YouTube channel. He ended with a straight offer of help,
‘Tell me what you most need, and I’ll pass it on to the politicians when we meet.’
There were many gains for individual teachers, too. Mandeep spoke to a number of them about Partners in Learning, and showed something of the range of software that’s freely available. ‘Mouse Mischief’, and ‘OneNote’ were well received, and when I spoke to Maths teacher Laura Tilley after a session with Mandeep, she was full of enthusiasm for what she’d heard.
‘I couldn’t believe there’s so much. Straight away I think I’ll be using Mouse Mischief – it’s so interactive – and the add-in to Word that will enable me to draw accurate graphs for quadratic functions.’
Wins for Microsoft
The Microsoft team went away with lots to think about. Mandeep found new teachers, particularly, receptive to what she had to say about Microsoft technology for 21st Century learning. She felt she was able to provide something that – to her surprise -- was crucially missing from their initial teacher training
‘Everything I showed was well received. We have so much to offer for their professional development. That was the key take away for me.’
For Steve Beswick it was the children who provided the real boost. He was delighted by the interest they showed not just in Microsoft, but in the world of technology generally, and the opportunities it could provide.
‘It was just the energy and the excitement at what technology can do. And they weren’t just looking at making that first million. Even at 11 and 12 they wanted to do things for society -- to help people with disabilities for example.’
Without doubt, he concluded, there was a real demand there waiting to be satisfied.
‘Everything I’ve seen here confirms how technology can engage young people. They are so excited and they want more of it – more technology in school to help them with their learning. And added to that, of course, is the fact that they will need it for their working lives.’
And the broader lessons?
Employer engagement – face to face encounters with people from the working world – is a real stimulus for convincing young people and their teachers of the value of making themselves employable through life skills as well as qualifications.
Not every school, and not all departments within schools are on the same page when it comes to creative and purposeful use of technology for learning. There are implications for training that can only partly be addressed by educators, technology suppliers and business. Government needs to recognise that effective training calls for time, resources and expertise.
Students have great ideas about everything, but particularly about what they learn and how. Wisely led and mentored, they become an effective voice within and beyond the school, adding real value and contributing to the quality of learning.
(Currently has an illustrated report of the Microsoft visit)
(Word maths add-in) http://www.microsoft.com/enus/download/details.aspx?id=17786
Davod Rogers Blog
Mandeep Atwal’s blogs make a rich resource of what’s available, free of charge to teachers from the huge array of Microsoft products and initiatives.
What’s new to Microsoft Education?
Help your students develop the skills they need for tomorrow
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Originally posted on the Born to Lean Blog
Research shows that innovative teaching practices, along with the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT), supports student acquisition of 21st century skills. Those skills can mean the difference between being successful in school, or struggling every day; and having a career, or simply getting a job.
The Microsoft Teaching with Technology curriculum—hosted by Microsoft IT Academy and Microsoft Partners in Learning—supports educators' professional development as they seek to integrate ICT into their teaching and learning. The program includes self-assessment tools, online learning curriculum and summative assessments which align to the Technology Literacy Approach of the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (UNESCO ICT-CFT).
MCE certification: Demonstrate ICT competency in the classroom
Partners in Learning and Microsoft IT Academy have introduced Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE) certification, a professional development and certification offering that enables educators to demonstrate competency in integrating ICT into teaching and learning. MCE offers an opportunity for educators to differentiate themselves in the education field, and enhance their value for current and future employers.
We’ve long held that certification is a means of validating proven skills needed to be successful on the job. This year alone students will achieve over one million Microsoft certifications through IT Academy. We are pleased to be bringing that same opportunity to teachers allowing them to showcase their ability to integrate ICT into the classroom.
An effective and proven assessment tool, the MCE exam measures the ways ICT integration can be used to improve outcomes in six core content areas which align to the UNESCO ICT-CFT:
For education administrators, MCE represents a valid and reliable way to measure the effectiveness of their investment in ICT and professional development. Educators holding an MCE certification have the tools and skillsets to break though limitations of geography and resources, and begin to apply their knowledge to provide a rich, customized learning experience for their students.
Microsoft IT Academy’s Teacher Starter Kit Now Includes MCE exams!
Microsoft IT Academy educators' professional development opportunity has expanded! Starting in July, the Teacher Starter Kit will offer ten (10) Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) exam vouchers, ten (10) Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) exam vouchers, and ten (10) Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE) exams. From mastering Microsoft Office and entry level technology through incorporating technology into classrooms, the Microsoft IT Academy Teacher Starter kit has the breadth of certifications to support educators’ professional development objectives.
Learn more about Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE) certification:
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Building on the ‘Get to know Windows 8’ video we shared on the blog yesterday, I wanted to continue the Windows 8 themed series of updates and post a video on a useful new feature in Windows 8 called ‘File History’.
File History allows to securely set up and capture a chronological history of all the files in your document library.
The video below shows you how you can easily activate and set-up File History on your Windows 8 device.
Additionally, the video shows you how you can easy restore files using File History, if the worst happens and you lose some valuable content.
File History is truly a life saver. Set it up on your machine today!
Just in the process of rolling out Windows 8 within your institution and looking for some tips to help you get up and running, this useful new video has all you need to get up and running.
The video tutorial runs through some of the new features and shows you everything from the Start Screen to using the Charms, settings and more.
Keep an eye out for other useful video tutorials on the blog over the coming days and weeks!
The OffPerts, from Saltash.net, are an amazing group of young people with a passion for new technology.Together with their teacher sponsor, they have put together a fantastic set of tutorial videos on Office 365 Education, and plan to release tutorials on other technologies over the coming weeks and months.
Hosted on their dedicated OffPerts website, the students from Saltash.net have curated a useful set of videos, top tips and blog posts to help students and staff to get the most out of technology.
In recognition of the great work they are doing, and following a visit and presentation at Microsoft’s UK headquarters, BBC Radio Cornwall interviewed the OffPerts recently.
The full radio interview is embedded below.
We are big fans of the OffPerts and the work they are doing and look forward to following their progress!
Got an idea for a Windows 8 app for your class or institution but don’t know where to start? ZipApp can help.
ZipApp gives you the ability to simply add some data or hook up one of your existing online services, such as Twitter or an RSS feed, to create a Windows 8 app that complies with store rules, without the need for in-depth coding knowledge or experience.
To get started, and build an app in only 10 minutes, firstly go to ZipApp.co.uk and sign in with a Twitter, Google, Facebook or Microsoft Account. Once you are signed in you will be able to create a new app. It will ask for some basic information such as the App Name, and a description etc. You are then on your way to being able to share your app in the Windows Store.
When you build your app you get the source code so you can extend the application to your hearts content. Furthermore, with dozens of templates that are available, you can be confident that you will be able to find a design that compliments your institutions branding etc.
Additionally, you can sell your app, add advertising or give it away for free. Flexibility sits at the heart of ZipApp!
Get started today by visiting www.zipapp.co.uk. Let us know your ideas for an app or post a link to your app in the store in the comments below.
Following a recent conversation with a colleague, I just wanted to quickly share an interesting new eBook app builder that would be perfect for educators across the sector.
BookApp for Windows 8 allows you to quickly and easily create and post your own eBook style app to the Windows Store. To get started, simply download the free MyBookApp template and you are only a few steps away from publishing your own books to the world.
Windows 8, Visual Studio Express 2012 (free download) and the MyBookApp template are needed to get started. You will also need to follow the instructions on the site to actually create your app.
To learn more and to download the MyBookApp template, visit their website and get started today.
We would love to hear about any books you post to the store (post a link to the book in the comments below)
In my constant quest to maintain and increase the awesomeness of PowerPoint, I thought I would share with you some previous posts outlining some great features that you may not have thought of before.
PowerPoint Power Up #1– LiveWeb View add-in – add live pages to your slides.
PowerPoint Power Ups #2–Interactive text boxes in presentations – type directly into your slides during a presentations.
PowerPoint Power Up #3–Logos and Vectors – create image and drawing tools in PowerPoint.
PowerPoint Power Up #4- Mind control! – How colours and fonts affect your audience.
PowerPoint Power Up #5 –ZoomIT – use this great app to zoom in and out of your slides.
I have heard the great Prof. Stephen Heppell talk about how we teach children to present using PowerPoint. Now, we have all sat through excruciating presentations, especially at staff meetings. He suggests that perhaps we should teach students to perform rather than present. So, I have started thinking about this from the point of view of how students control and interact with their presentation and found a few great little apps that add a whole new dimension to presenting. So creating opportunities for students to think differently about how they interact with their presentation and the audience.
We have all seen the gesture control in Sci-films films like Minority Report, in real life, there is Kinect and there are some great resources available that could be utilised to control PowerPoint, such as those created by the K-Team . But, if you are looking for something a little simpler then try Flutter, this a great little free app for Windows that uses a webcam to recognise some simple gestures. Primarily designed to control media players, it can be used to move through slides in a PowerPoint presentation. This encourages presenters to move away from the PC and have their hands free.
Controlling PowerPoint with a games controller can offer a real performance dimension to presenting. First, download Xpadder. It’s not free, but at only $9.99 it’s great value. Xpadder allows students to program different functions to buttons and joysticks on a games controller. A single USB Xbox controller can used to emulate a number of key combinations in PowerPoint. Such as the Space Bar to advance a slide, P to access a previous slide or Ctrl+P to use the ink features. Mouse movements can be assigned to joysticks and if a background application is running such as ZoomIT, then functions of that app can be added as well. Collaboration between ‘performers’ can be expanded further if a wireless Xbox controller is used, then this allows up to four students to interact with a presentation. A whole different dimension can be added if an Xbox Guitar or Dance mat is used instead as a controller. This really opens up the whole idea of performing. Try it with your students.
Finally, here is one of those off the wall ideas that could possibly inspire you. Makey, Makey is a little board of electronics that allow students to create their own controllers out of almost anything. Such silver foil, plasticine, fruit (bananas are great), even pencil drawing. There is no programming involved as the board emulates a range of keyboard keys and mouse clicks. This makes ideal for students to build their own controller to control their PowerPoint presentations.
Here are some great examples from one of our award winning Partners in Learning teachers, Gareth Ritter.
A Banana Piano
A paper instrument
A floor Piano
Find out more great ideas like this.
Join the Partners in Learning Network – www.pil-network.com
Originally posted on the Born to Learn Blog.
Most teaching models in high school and college follow the age-old standard: first, lecture the students, telling them what they need to know; then, send the students home to apply what was taught to a project or a paper.
This approach was developed in the days when the educator was the only source of knowledge, before mass-produced books, the internet, eBooks, computers, multimedia and mobile devices made it possible for each student to have the entire world's knowledge in their pocket. Back then, educators held the knowledge and students listened to their lectures because there was no other way to learn new concepts and ideas.
But the hard part of learning is not listening to the lecture. The hard part is doing the work: practicing and performing the new task until you master it. This is where most students struggle because, as their questions arise, guidance is needed and educators are not available around the clock.
Many educators have come up with a new way to teach that takes advantage of information technologies. They have turned the old approach upside down, bringing the practice and performance into the classroom; and leaving the lecture-listening for homework. This way, they can support their students when they need it, and students can help each other figure out the tough parts. We might describe this as the F.L.I.P.P. approach:
Farm out the
Lecture as homework, then,
Inside of the classroom,
Perform the tasks to build skills
While this isn’t a particularly new approach, some teachers are finding great success with it; so I wanted to share what this could look like in a Microsoft IT Academy member school.
Let's take a simple example, like teaching a skill that's required in the Microsoft Office curriculum: opening and editing a PDF file with Word. Under the old approach, we'd teach it this way:
First, in class, the students would sit and watch as the educator lectured them and showed them on the big screen how to open a PDF file with Word. An educator would stand up in front of the students and show them how this works best with documents that are mostly text, and how some older PDFs won't open at all. As students watched, the educator would demonstrate how to use the editing and formatting features of Word to work with the content of the PDF until it was formatted correctly. The educator would show them an assignment for homework to be completed outside of class. The assignment would call for them to open a series of PDF files, edit the content, and practice these skills on their own until they were able to perform the tasks as they would on a certification exam.
An educator following the FLIPP approach, on the other hand, would teach it this way:
Find and assign the appropriate course and lesson from the Microsoft IT Academy eLearning library that shows students how to edit PDFs with Word. Using the Lesson Plan as a guide, the educator might also include online tutorials from Microsoft, a page from the Wiley Microsoft Official Academic Courseware (MOAC) book, or a page from a book sourced by searching through the eReference library. The educator might develop his or her own narrated screen recording of the process, as well. Students could study these resources on their computer, on their mobile device, or on their tablet.
Let students work with resources for homework. The educator could simply use the reporting capability in the IT Academy eLearning system to track the usage and progress of students and utilize the other resources as optional learning materials or post as assignments in an alternative Learning Management System. The educator might additionally assign students some simple editing exercises.
In class, the educator presents them with some difficult PDF-editing projects, which call for full mastery of the skill. These projects may be found on the IT Academy member site, in the MOAC curriculum, sourced from other educators, or created from scratch. The educator observes the students as they work, helping them as necessary. The educator might pair a more advanced student to work one-on-one with a student who is having difficulty, or assign different parts of the project to a group who would work together to complete the project.
Practice their craft with many different examples and projects typically found in business, the arts, or any other real world scenario, and expect that by the end of the lesson, each and every student would be able to competently edit PDFs in a variety of scenarios.
Perform the PDF-editing task with the level of competence required on the certification exam.
The Microsoft IT Academy benefits fit very nicely to a FLIPP environment. Many teachers have been adopting this approach with success - understanding the resources available, and that students may learn best on their own time, at their own pace, and when receiving teacher guidance when its needed most.
If you are not yet a Microsoft IT Academy member, learn about the importance of Microsoft IT Academy from other members.
If you are a Microsoft IT Academy member, sign In and go to Getting Started.