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  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Microsoft Global Education Forum - Changed Forever by Student Leaders


    Article originally posted on the Teachers Blog, by Stuart Ball.

    Last week were at the Microsoft in Education Global Forum in Barcelona. Before I write about what went on during the week, I wanted to share with you the experiences of those who turned out to be the most influential people there. The students form Saltash,net community school.

    For the last nine years Microsoft has provided a Global Forum for Education in which Teachers, School Leaders and Ministers of Education share the very best practice from around the world and award the best of the best internationally.

    This year’s Global Forum in Barcelona was different. For the first time in the history of the Forum, students took part as educational experts in their own right. Four students from Community School presented their ideas to ministers of education, school leaders and teachers from over 100 countries. They judged awards, provided a help desk and guidance for teachers, were interviewed by Anthony Salcito; worldwide head of education at Microsoft, interviewed Steve Beswick; the head of Microsoft Education in the UK and launched a worldwide student leadership project for schools all over the world. Together with their teacher Mr Scott Wieprecht they were presented with an award at the final Gala dinner by the Catalonian Secretary of State for Education.

    The students; George, Amy, Jack and Rowenna from years 8 and 9 were photographed, videoed and interviewed all week like the Global superstars they are. James Bernard, Head of Global Partnerships at Microsoft was one of many to make a special point of thanking each of the students for the transformational role they played at the event.

    Day by day at the event


    Four teachers and four students flew from Bristol to Barcelona on the day before the conference.

    On day one the students presented the now award winning project devised by Scott Wieprecht called the ‘OffPerts’: a student-led expert group that investigates features of Office 365 and produces guides for students and teachers. The students devised, shot and edited videos and these soon gained the attention of Stuart Ball: Education Programme Manager for Microsoft in the UK who has supported the group ever since, inviting them to be the first students to present at a product launch in the UK and then the Global Forum in Barcelona.


    On day two the students presented their personal experiences of being involved in projects at in which they provided assistance to teachers when each student in the class had access to a laptop / tablet for all their lessons. The audience was made up of over 150 global leaders in education who had come to the conference to plan similar projects on a larger scale. The advice of the students was used to inspire them as they started their two day workshop.


    Later the students demonstrated new software to teachers and school leaders from over 100 countries and listened to internationally renowned keynote speakers, some of whom they were able to ask questions. There was growing realization by the on looking media that the students opinions were based on their firsthand knowledge of leading innovative projects and so the queue for interviews and photos began getting longer and longer.


    On day three the students split into two pairs; Rowenna and George worked together with Spanish students to develop the essential features of future schools. They then presented this back on stage to the audience of global education leaders. This was highlighted as one of the best sessions in the conference by delegates. Jack and Amy each joined judging panels for teacher projects. They each listened to a range of projects and then debated their views with judges from Microsoft, School leaders and Educational leaders. The judges tweeted later how enormously impressed they were by the students and asked can they really be only 12 years old?


    On the final day of the conference, the student’s launched a project open to all of the mentor and showcase schools in the conference in which they offered to assist in helping student leadership projects develop all over the world by running monthly virtual student-led sessions.

    On the final day of the conference, the students pre-launched a global project, with the working title “Project Aspire”, to delegates on the schools track. The project, available to any forward thinking school in the World, would see schools regularly link up and exchange ideas about student leadership projects, and give suggestions of ways students could progress with there over a variety of levels.

    They attended a keynote speech by non other than the Prince of Spain and European representatives together with a panel of teachers and school leaders from around the world who agreed that the role of students was changing in education. Julio Fontan from the world famous Fontan school in Colombia stated that he had seen a shift in the role of students at this conference compared to the others he had attended which made him more hopeful for the future of education globally.

    After the keynote the students fitted in interviews including one with the Head of Microsoft in the UK; Steve Beswick. The students shared their ambition for a national student led conference to be held in Cornwall in 2015. Mr Beswick was extremely impressed and requested for them to send him a costed business plan.


    After the interview with Steve there was time to visit the world famous Sagrada Famila which the students averaged as 7.5/10 compared to 8/10 for the cable car.


    On returning to the hotel the students discovered that their interview with Anthony Salcito for his Daily Edventures blog earlier in the week had impressed the boss so much that it had earned the honour of seating at the top table for themselves, the four teachers from and Stuart Ball at the Gala Dinner.


    And finally, the suspense of the awards ceremony where, in front of over a thousand delegates from the world of education, Mr Scott Wieprecht from had his student-led OffPerts project honoured with an award presented by the secretary of state for education to loud applause from the audience.


    Later we returned to the stage for more photographs with some of the people who made the whole event possible. Thank you to all of the students for an amazing week after which the Microsoft Global Forum will never be the same and thank you to all of those who worked so hard to make this happen including staff from; Scott Wieprecht, Grant Taylor, Sam Owen, Ben Rowe, Isobel Bryce, David Jones, Kellie Alders, Katie Boothman and Dan Buckley; and staff from Microsoft; Stuart Ball, Steve Beswick, Anya Ruvinskaya, Maria Langworthy, Razan Roberts, James Bernard and Nasha Fitter.



    Day five should have seen an exhausted group of students and teachers but no; fired up by their success, the students were planning how to take the OffPerts project to the next level and introduce a UK wide and global project later this year.


  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    CreateBook: Free until the 21st March


    Great news to kick start your Monday! The Tablet Academy's amazing new eBook creation app for Windows 8, CreateBook, is going to continue to be free until the 21st March.

    Since its recent launch, educators and students have been busy creating media rich eBooks that include video, text and audio.


    With an intuitive interface, CreateBook is great for creating everything from narrated story books to multimedia revision guides. Furthermore, with the ability to easily preview and share your books, export password protected content and instantly export screenshots of your books, CreateBook offers a comprehensive eBook creation experience that is proving to be one of the most popular education apps within the 'New and Rising' category in the store.

    We love this app and highly recommend grabbing this while its free. Let us know what you create using CreateBook by sharing an update in the comments below. Even better - share your actual books via Twitter @microsofteduk.

    Look forward to seeing what you and your students come up with!

    CreateBook: Download from the Windows Store today

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    A presenter’s dream: using your Nokia Lumia to connect to the interactive whiteboard


    It doesn't get easier than this… I have found myself with an overwhelming need to share this cool video which beautifully demonstrates how easy presenting can be for teachers, lecturers and students thanks to the power of technology and Windows devices in education.

    Challenges of presenting

    So I'm sure most of us would agree that one of the last situations we want to find ourselves in is the flustered, sweaty hiccough of our technology failing us during a presentation. In my opinion, the only dignified space for heart rates to be racing that high is in the gym. If you're in the situation of single-handedly presenting and managing your device and slides (most likely), it can be limiting in terms of freedom to 'walk and talk'. I also believe it cuts into your ability to concentrate 100% on what you are saying, as you may be worrying about the potential occurrence of a technical fault, particularly if AV is involved with embedded videos!

    Truly 'Mobile'


    Phill Ruffell, a lecturer at North Hertfordshire College is challenging presentation limitations with his Nokia Lumia Window's Phone which he uses to be fully mobile while presenting - that's right, no HDMI cables needed!

    You'll see from the video that he can simply connect his Windows phone to the interactive board by downloading the 'Nokia Beamer' app on his phone and then flashing up a QR code via on the interactive board with his pc. All he then has to do is scan the QR code on his phone and his Windows Phone is synched!

    He can then effortlessly propel his PowerPoint presentation via the Office 365 app on his phone, which will automatically be synced up to his docs on his PC through his Office 365 account and Microsoft account.

    I'll stop there and let you learn from the pro himself..

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Broadclyst Community Primary school go GLOBAL!


    All week school leaders have collated and collaborated at the 9th Annual Microsoft in Education Global Forum. It’s been a fantastic week and one that was made very special when mentor school Broadclyst Community Primary School took centre stage to take part in the ‘Pitch Competition.’


    Inspired by the Dragon’s Den, schools were given the opportunity to present a business idea to a selected panel – the pitch – and convince them that it is relevant and doable with the goal of transforming learning and student outcomes in their school. The winner gets to tap into funding and investors get to tap into ideas and connect with some of the most innovative schools in the world and partner with them to improve student outcomes.

    Last night we heard from the 6 finalists (79 countries took part) who pitched to judges Tamela Noboa, Chief Strategy Officer, Discovery Channel Global Education Partners; Sandra Licon, Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director, Microsoft Citizenship and Public Affairs.

    They recognized 3 winners: Broadclyst Primary School, UK; Gayaza High School (Uganda); Schloss Neubeuern ,Germany.

    Broadclyst Primary School came first and were awarded the highest amount $25,000 for their business model:

    Idea: Global enterprise challenge, where students from schools around the world connect to run an international company. This will include international companies, each with a different product, competing to become the most successful company globally with cross-school and cross-country collaboration.

    Why they were chosen: Gives students awareness of cultural diversities, an understanding of world markets and currencies along with the core skills of communication, collaboration, teamwork and problem solving. This will bring together students from many countries to work in one global challenge.                                                


    The highlight of the pitch came directly from the school when two amazing young ladies, Poppy and Jess, were beamed into the auditorium using Lync to assist the one and only Jonathan Bishop (HT) sell the idea to the judges.

    Poppy: ‘‘I think that it was a great experience being able to Lync call Barcelona and be able to give our point of view on the Enterprise Project. It was quite nerve racking but I felt confident talking about the Project because it is something I have really enjoyed doing. I loved seeing ourselves on the big screen and it felt great to be involved in an international conference with people from around the world. It really is incredible that we won and I think it proves that if you work hard, you see the rewards.’’ 

    Jess ‘‘I found the whole experience extremely exciting as we were able talk about our Enterprise project to people that didn’t really know what it was about. It was a great learning opportunity as we got to speak to a large group of people even though it felt quite daunting. It was brilliant to see ourselves on the big screen and it felt like we were famous! It really is incredible that we won the competition and it will be amazing to see how the Enterprise Project develops globally in the future’’

    WP_20140313_17_16_15_Pro (2)Jonathan Bishop: ‘‘The event was an amazing opportunity to share what we have been doing at Broadclyst through an Enterprise project bringing together children from different schools into a collaborative project. To take this now to the next level and make it a truly global enterprise project will be really exciting. The children involved benefit tremendously from these international links but this project will get over a 1000 children working together across 20 countries. The ‘pitch competition’ was certainly a test of my nerves but it was not only good fun but just brilliant to meet the judges and have the support of everyone at the MS Global Forum. I never dreamt that we would get through to the final let alone have our ideas accepted and receive the full $25,000 funding to make the project a reality. The hard work now begins and I am looking forward to working with all our partners in turning the ideas into reality. If there are any schools who would like to be part of the competition then please do get in touch.’’

    Look out for further blog posts on Broadclyst Primary School and the exciting journey they are about to embark on!

    Follow the Global Forum Anytime, Anywhere! The Facebook app is , on our Twitter feed (; #MicrosoftGF and #MSExpertEducator), or on our YouTube channel. Experience the competition, discover the big announcements and news, get inspired by the best of worldwide education!
  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Student Advantage: Office for all


    Any institution worldwide that licenses Office for staff and faculty can now provide access to Office 365 ProPlus for students at now additional cost. At BETT 2014 we literally spelled out our latest offer, Student Advantage, in chalk!


    Watch the video below as the artist showed visitors to our stand how schools, colleges and universities can now get Office, on up to 5 devices (PC or Mac) for all their students.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    BYOD: School Discussion Paper


    Written by our colleagues in Australia, this discussion paper examines potential deployment models from teaching, learning and IT management perspectives with a view helping institutions to realise their 1:1 learning objectives.

    Some of the references are specific to the Australian market, but this paper sets out to define and investigate current BYOD and to determine the most suitable BYOD model for your situation. It is intended to stimulate discussion around what constitutes best practice 1-to-1 learning.

    The full discussion paper can be viewed/downloaded below:

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Communication & Collaboration


    Guest post written by Education writer Gerald Haigh

    The more I come into contact with Office 365 the more I realise the importance of the two ‘Big Cs’, ‘communication’ and ‘collaboration’. They’re linked, of course, but not completely, because you can, for example, have communication without collaboration. So when I was serving the Queen on National Service, the orders pinned on our notice board were models of clear communication, as in, ‘Signalman Haigh will report to the guardroom at 0600 carrying a rifle, a banana and a feather duster’.

    OK, I made some of that up, but you get the drift. What the orders did not say was, ‘Gerald, could you look at this document about your guard duty and suggest any changes you’d like to see? Signed, your friend and colleague, the Regimental Sergeant Major’.

    Orders represent communication without collaboration, and they’re common enough even, dare I say it, in schools. Collaboration, on the other hand, cannot happen without communication, The people intent on collaboration need to be in easy contact, and up to recently that meant being together in a room, or, if that wasn’t possible, passing papers around by mail or fax, or email, or by being available to each other by phone or other electronic means.

    Of those options, the number one choice was to have everyone in a room. That’s why highly paid decision-makers have spent hours on motorways and trains in order to have face-to-face meetings. The other options – phone, fax mail – were always second best.

    Then came digital communication, the cloud and a whole new way of improving communication in the cause of efficient collaboration. And right there, at the cutting edge, is Microsoft’s Office 365. And what’s the key difference between Office 365 and more traditional channels of remote communication?


    I’d say the clue is in that word ‘channels’. Phone, radio, fax, all provide channels – lines, along which communications can buzz happily to and fro.

    Office 365, though, allows several kinds of communication to proceed alongside each other, looking sideways as well as out and back. People can hear and see each other, interacting, intervening, showing, sharing, editing and creating documents, generally doing what an IT director described to me recently as ‘Collaborating and connecting in a digital space.’

    That move from ‘channels’ to a ‘digital space’, to which everyone involved has anytime, anywhere access is crucial. While good channels provide efficient and speedy zooming to and fro, a digital space gives elbow room, choice and flexibility. Costs are lowered, efficiency goes up. Face to face meetings are still often the best, but now there are viable alternatives, which carry advantages of their own, especially when it comes to organising, tracking and recording what’s happening.

    All of that is undeniable, but then I remembered something I wrote for the TES in 1998, in a history ‘special’. It was about the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the way the organisers pulled together in the specially built magnificent Crystal Palace in Hyde Park , 100 thousand exhibits provided by 14 thousand exhibitors from 28 countries across the world. I was knocked out by the achievement of those Victorian administrators, and when I wrote the story, I described it as,

    ‘A tour-de-force of enterprise, vision and courage in an age before telephones and when postal services in many parts of the world were often indifferent to say the least.’

    That was collaboration at a distance with knobs on I’d say, given the difficulties. And why did it work? Because there was, said the organisers (led by the tireless and highly able Prince Albert, Consort to Queen Victoria) enormous tolerance and good will on all sides. Everyone wanted it to succeed. Delays, glitches, misunderstandings were dealt with calmly, always with an eye to the greater good.

    And there you have it -- the easily overlooked essential ingredient. Collaboration is not first and foremost about technology. It’s about people working together willingly and purposefully. So, just as the Microsoft message has always been that learning comes before devices and software, so collaboration won’t be transformed by technology if hearts and minds aren’t in collaborative mode in the first place.

    ‘Great Expectations’ TES 17 July 1998

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Equip your students with the tools and skills they need for Microsoft Certifications


    Great new flyer from our friends in the IT Academy team on how a combination of Student Advantage, IT Academy Training and Certification can help provide the tools, training and support learners need to secure a job.

    To learn more, view or download the full flyer below:

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Windows Azure in Education: Target Tracker Case Study


    Part of Essex County Council, Target Tracker develops software for schools. Its Primary Target Tracker application—which provides information to support learning—ran on Microsoft Excel. To stay ahead of its competitors, Target Tracker rebuilt the solution using SQL Database in Windows Azure. The firm now has an application that scales to meet the needs of thousands of schools in England and overseas.


    To learn more about their journey to Windows Azure and the benefits Target Tracker have enjoyed since making the move, view or download the full case study below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    ICT Professional Apprenticeship Scheme Workshops




        Places are limited so please make sure to book your place soon!

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