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.
Originally posted on the Microsoft Research Connections Blog.
When Microsoft Research teamed up with the University of California Berkeley to create a digital tool for exploring the history of everything, we knew we had the potential to build a killer educational app. After all, a tool that can reveal the cross-currents of history, revealing the interdependencies that cut across disciplines, geographies, and cultures, would offer a major advance in the understanding of Big History—the history of not just humanity, but of life, Earth and, ultimately, the cosmos. Moreover, it would provide researchers with a tool to derive unique insights based on multidisciplinary connections between vastly disparate data sets.
On March 12, the resulting tool, ChronoZoom—a dynamic, zoomable timeline that starts with Big Bang and ends with modern history—won first prize in the Educational Resources category of the 2013 SXSW Interactive Awards. As described on the SXSW website, the SXSW Interactive Awards competition “uncovers the best new digital work, from mobile and tablet apps to websites and installations, while celebrating those who are building tomorrow's interactive trends.”
ChronoZoom was developed to make time relationships between different studies of history clear and vivid. In the process, it provides a framework for exploring related electronic resources. It thus serves as a “master timeline,” tying together all kinds of specialized timelines and electronic resources, and aspires to bridge the gap between humanities and the sciences and to bring together and unify all knowledge of the past. With the planned addition of in-browser content and authoring tools, we hope to enable educators and researchers to build timelines; explore rich, multidisciplinary contextual spaces; and to tell and share stories based on authoritative data.
Donald Brinkman, Roland Saekow, and Michael Zyskowski accept the 2013 SXSW Interactive Award for Education
The ChronoZoom project is part of the Outercurve Foundation’s Research Accelerators Gallery. The Outercurve Foundation, a non-profit, open-source foundation, provides software IP management and project development governance to 22 open-source projects. Developers can get involved by visiting the source code project on GitHub.
In his acceptance speech, Michael Zyskowski dedicated the award to Lee Dirks, who strongly believed in and supported the ChronoZoom project.
I encourage you to experience the power of ChronoZoom for yourself. But be forewarned—it can be addictive!
—Donald Brinkman, Program Manager, Microsoft Research Connections
The UK education team are huge fans of TouchDevelop. If you haven’t come across this before, TouchDevelop is a programming environment that runs on iPad, iPhone, Android, PC, Mac and Windows Phone and allows you to create scripts by simply tapping the screen on your mobile device. You do not need a separate PC or keyboard and scripts can perform various tasks similar to regular apps. It even works offline!
Any TouchDevelop user can install, run, edit, and publish scripts. With over 26K scripts already available, you can share your scripts with other people by publishing them to the TouchDevelop script bazaar, or by submitting them as an app to the Windows Store or Windows Phone Store.
The video below shows TouchDevelop in action.
To help both teachers and students start their TouchDevelop journey, a new eBook is now available as a free download.
For teachers, it walks in detail through all of the screens of the TouchDevelop app, and it points out similarities and differences of the TouchDevelop language compared to other programming languages that the teacher might already be familiar with.
For students and enthusiasts, the book can serve as a handy reference next to the phone. The book systematically addresses all programming language constructs, starting from the very basic constructs such as variables and loops. The book also explores many of the phone sensors and data sources which make creating apps for mobile devices so rewarding.
The full eBook can be downloaded via the following link - Download the book.
We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
For the last few weeks, thousands of students in dozens of countries all over the planet have been competing in the Imagine Cup Local Finals. They've formed teams, dreamed up big ideas, and then set to work making amazing software. This July, we're going to send several hundred of them, the best of the best, to St. Petersburg, Russia, for the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals.
At the awards ceremony on the 11th July, finalists will be joined by Doctor Who, Matt Smith, who will be hosting the finals, itself.
The Imagine Cup awards ceremony will be streamed live, and as a short taster for the finals, Matt asks the question: What’s next?
The Daily Edventures Web Show is now live! Celebrating the best classroom educators from all over the world, the Daily Edventures Web Show will share the best ideas and practices in education today in a fun and engaging TV show format. Each episode will address a different theme, such as game-based learning, one-to-one,accessibility or building teacher capacity.
Catch the latest episodes at Daily Edventures and, in case you missed it, you can watch the pilot episode below.
Got an idea for a future show? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. We look forward to hearing from you!
In another great tablet in education video, Mark Reynolds gives us a sneak peak at the Surface Pro. Scheduled for launch in the UK before the end of May, in this short video, Mark discusses some of the Surface Pro’s unique features such as pen input, great build quality, full manageability and the ability to run both Windows Store and legacy X86 apps.
Mark also demonstrates the difference between both the touch and type keyboards.
Not long now
By Nicki Maddams – Queen of Kodu Twitter - @geekynicki
As you’re probably aware we’ve been running the Kodu Kup competition since its launch in January and it’s nearly time for those entries to be judged! It’s an exciting time for us and we are looking forward to seeing all the hard work put in by the young people involved. Not to mention giving out some exciting prizes!
Many of you have been tweeting about the progress being made in your schools. We know some great work is going on at Shireland Collegiate Academy and can’t wait to see their games! We’ve also seen some good progress being made in Cliftonville Primary School, Christ Church Primary and Victoria Park School. If your school is doing some great work tell us about it through Twitter or Facebook!
So what have we been doing over the last few months? Well, there have been many different events across the country since the launch in January, as ‘Queen of Kodu’, (thanks for that nickname Stuart!) I’ve been visiting primary schools in East Kent as well as delivering training to teachers in the South East through various events. There is also has a range of Kodu tutorials on my YouTube channel called Kodelets. Here’s an example on how to ‘shoot enemies’ in Kodu.
In April we held an Easter “Koduthon” at Microsoft HQ in Reading and teachers were invited to bring groups of students along to work on their games and get extra help where needed along with a look at some of Kodu’s latest features! This was very well received by the children involved who also enjoyed a tour of Microsoft HQ! You can view some of the students’ games from the day here.
It’s not too late to get involved! You still have a couple of weeks to get your games submitted! Check out our Teachers Pack for more information! Don’t forget to tell us what you’re doing!
In the first in a series of device orientated HeadsUp videos, Mark Reynolds gives us a detailed, but non-technical, overview of the Acer W510 running Windows 8 Pro.
The Acer 510 is a highly portable dockable tablet, with 9 hours of battery life, that is available via Shape the Future for £395 and includes Office.
We will be releasing additional videos via the blog on an ongoing basis. If there is a specific device you would like us to feature, just leave your request in the comments below.
Originally posted on the UK Students Blog.
Richard Walters is a pretty cool guy.
A Physics graduate from the University of Oxford, he’d never built an app – or even thought about it – until he got a Windows Phone and as a student encountered DreamSpark, a free way for students to get all the tools you need to build apps. He built his scientific calculator app, Calculator², for Windows Phone and now has over 250,000 downloads. Not only that, but he ported the app to Windows 8 and in just six months has – wait for it – over 500,000 downloads. It’s the singular most successful calculator app on the Windows Store. How did that happen?
Richard got his Windows Phone when the Windows App Store was still in its infancy. As a Physics grad, calculators were integral to his life. When browsing through the available apps, he was disappointed to find that the selection ‘back-in-the-day’ was not great. However, building the definitive calculator app was not what Richard set out to do. He thought, “if I could build a calculator, I could build anything.” Using building a calculator app as a means to test his skills, Richard inadvertently built the most successful calculator app to date. He had to start from scratch – whilst his PhD was very numbers-oriented, he didn’t know about object-oriented languages and had never used C# before. However, downloading and working with the tools for developing Windows apps was much easier than he thought it would be, and he found helpful online resources in such places as MSDN and stackoverflow.
Richard initially built the app for Windows Phone 7 and then extended his repertoire to Windows 8. “It was very easy for me to port my Windows Phone 7 app to both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Particularly in the latter case, my code is 99% identical between WP7 and WP8, with the difference simply because of a few updated controls in WP8. At the moment I’ve duplicated the projects for the app for each platform, but one thing I’ll be doing over the next few weeks is setting up the code to share the same projects/files across each version so that it’s even easier to continue working on the app. Also, it was much easier than I had expected to handle the various screen resolutions and pixel densities in WP8 and W8.”
One of the biggest challenges for Richard was marketing the app. As he wryly observed, “as an independent developer, you can’t invest in marketing.” He initially released the calculator as a paid app with a trial. “This in theory should work well, but for new apps rarely does. If you publish a new app, it’s very difficult for you to get the ratings you need to become visible in the store.” He decided to release a free version with adverts to accompany the paid version without adverts. The free version has not impacted the sales of the paid version. On Windows 8 the app is free and ad-supported, but with an in-app purchase option to remove the adverts. He earns a lot more from the adverts and has had 30-40,000 daily impressions pretty much consistently since it was released. His marketing strategy included contacting WMPoweruser, WPCentral and various other community websites and cajoling them into publishing articles on his apps, as well as using social media methods like Facebook and cross-promotional premises like AdDuplex. “Often one article is enough to be a catalyst for a wave of responses; very often people will pick up on a new app and write their own reviews.”
Should he publish another app, it’s to his advantage that he already has a foothold in the market. He can advertise his new app in Calculator² and get a decent number of downloads off the back of his first insanely successful app. He’s looking forward to adding more features to his app, including a financial calculator and a graphical calculator for instance. “I imagine I’ll spend at least another year working on this app – a good exercise for my new job will be porting Calculator² to Android – before working on something new for Windows. My ultimate aim is to try my hand at developing a game.”
Richard attests his app’s popularity to its design. Before his app came along, the calculators in the app store were essentially clones of hand-held scientific calculators. “Mapping a traditional calculator to a phone screen is not a good idea, as the buttons are too small and mistakes are easily made without tactile feedback.” Richard threw tradition away by utilising the Windows UI and making the app in line with the phone itself. The Windows UI was particularly useful, as it strips away all the stuff that doesn’t need to be there. One of the tricky things was conveying the hidden buttons in the app, but not flooding the app with message boxes. Striking a balance was difficult, but gathering feedback from users has helped to continuously make improvements. “The primary function of the app is that it has be functional,” Richard said.
From Windows 8 design session to 500k downloads
He added all the features that aren’t used often in the app bar and incorporated live tiles – which show the calculation history – to allow the user to jump straight into different parts of the app. Specifically related to Windows 8 (along with live tiles) the snap mode is particularly useful as his app gets used often alongside other apps when doing calculations. The whole app can be navigated by keyboard and touch, complimented by the semantic zoom. He had no means of user testing the app during development, so relied heavily on his own instincts as to what worked best. He never wrote anything down or planned anything; it was literally a case of playing in Visual Studio to see what worked.
Richard didn’t have any preconceptions about working with Windows because he came to Windows 8 and Windows Phone with a clean slate. “The opportunity is definitely there to be successful,” he claims; evidenced in the huge number of downloads he has had since launch. He’s currently earning more from Windows Phone than from Windows 8; a lot of that is to do with the user base as a lot of people are much more used to buying apps on phones than they are on computers. “Hopefully that’ll change as more tablets get into the market,” he observed.
What also adds to this app’s success is its multi-functionality. Not many apps are calculators, currency converters andunit converters. Nor are all these modes calculators within themselves. The app doesn’t just convert one number to another, you can do a whole calculation within each mode.
App building gave Richard a new view on his career; while he was getting into app building toward the end of his PhD, he was becoming disenchanted with academia. He presumed up until this point in his life he’d continue to do scientific research in a research firm after finishing his PhD. From building the app he soon realised he thoroughly enjoyed software development and his eyes became firmly fixed on this as a future career. He didn’t know what his skill set was like compared to other people who’d been taught formally; he just knew he wanted to do it.
Richard once claimed “Windows changed my life” – and that’s not just relating to the success he’s had with his apps. “I went for an interview and as part of introducing myself started talking about my app building experiences. That conversation took up most of the interview and I felt confident afterwards that I had a good chance of being offered the job.” Richard now works as a Graduate Consultant Developer at ThoughtWorks.
“I would definitely recommend developing for Windows 8,” Richard said. “And Windows Phone is looking really good at the moment. The great thing about building apps is just designing something, having a play, and seeing the results instantly. Plus you learn a huge amount from the whole experience, not just in terms of how to code but also marketing, customer support, dealing with finances and much more.”
The US Windows team have been so impressed by Richard’s success that they flew him out to film his story – you can catch the video here (see Independent Developers).
If Richard has whet your appetite for some app development then here’s everything you need to get started:
>> Sign up for a Windows Store account >> Download the Windows 8 SDK for all the free tools you need to get started >> Build a Windows 8 app in 10 minutes with ZipApp
>> Sign up for a Windows Phone store account >> Download the Windows Phone 8 SDK for all the free tools you need
A guest post written by:
A recent graduate in English Literature and Language from the University of Oxford, Laura O’Connor now works at Microsoft as an Associate Consultant in Unified Communications. She is currently immersed in Exchange, Lync and O365. Outside of work, her interests lie far from the realm of technology; she enjoys going to the theatre, reading and writing.