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February, 2012 - Education - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The Australian Education Blog
Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

February, 2012

  • Education

    Mathematics Add-in for Word - free software for teachers in February

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    Find all 'Free Downloads' on this blog

    Some Free February Appy-ness with a new piece of free software for teachers from Microsoft every day in February. Many of these items are unknown heroes, but they all share two things in common: 1) They are useful for teachers or students and 2) they are free.

    Mathematics Add-in for Word

    Office logo

    Microsoft Mathematics Add-in for Word and OneNote makes it easy to plot graphs in 2D and 3D, calculate numerical results, solve equations or inequalities, and simplify algebraic expressions in your Word documents and OneNote notebooks.

    It works with Microsoft Word 2010, Microsoft Office Word 2007, and Microsoft OneNote 2010. With this add-in, you insert an advanced math problem (from algebra to calculus, physics, or statistics) and then click to simplify complex expressions or to solve. Use these advanced math computational and graphing capabilities to: Plot a function, equation, or inequality in 2-D or 3-D, and save the results, solve an equation or inequality, calculate a numerical result, compute the inverse of a matrix, matrix operations, list operations, and integrals.

    Mathematics Add-in in detail

    With the Microsoft Mathematics Add-in for Word and OneNote, you can perform mathematical calculations and plot graphs in your Word documents and OneNote notebooks. The add-in also provides an extensive collection of mathematical symbols and structures to display clearly formatted mathematical expressions. You can also quickly insert commonly used expressions and math structures by using the Equation gallery.
    The Microsoft Mathematics Add-in can help you with the following tasks:

    • Compute standard mathematical functions, such as roots and logarithms
    • Compute trigonometric functions, such as sine and cosine
    • Find derivatives and integrals, limits, and sums and products of series
    • Perform matrix operations, such as inverses, addition, and multiplication
    • Perform operations on complex numbers
    • Plot 2-D graphs in Cartesian and polar coordinates
    • Plot 3-D graphs in Cartesian, cylindrical, and spherical coordinates
    • Solve equations and inequalities
    • Calculate statistical functions, such as mode and variance, on lists of numbers
    • Factor polynomials or integers
    • Simplify or expand algebraic expressions

      Where can I find out how to use it?

      In addition to the step-by-step tutorial document for to the Mathematics Add-In, there is also a handy Teachers Guide to the Mathematics Add-In.

      And finally, there’s a video demo tutorial below, which walks you through the software and how to use it.

      Where do I get the free Maths Worksheet Generator from?

      The free Maths Worksheet Generator download available from the ‘Try It’ link on this page

    • Education

      Microsoft Dynamics CRM adds wide mobile device support

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      If you’re used to the normal release cycle of big products - like Windows and Office - you’ll have become conditioned to a release cycle that is typically every 3 years, with a few Service Packs in the middle. Overall though, release cycles are getting quicker - for example, with cloud services they can be every few months. This is great, because it means you can have additional features added to the products you are running on a more regular basis.

      One of the products to especially benefit from this, is Dynamics CRM - and it’s especially useful as end-users of these systems tend to be amongst the most demanding. They come up with questions like “How do I get social media in the CRM system?” or “Can I see my student recruitment prospect list on my phone?”. At the end of last year we released the 2011 Q4 update, which added enterprise social media integration. And we’ve just announced details of what is coming in the Q2 2012 release:

      Mobility for Dynamics CRM

      Microsoft Dynamics CRM on iPadThe update will include a new cloud-based, cross-platform native mobile client for Windows Phone 7.5, iPad, iPhone, Android, and Blackberry devices called Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile. If you’re using Dynamics CRM for student recruitment, it means that you can enable your recruitment co-ordinators and agents to access your systems online from anywhere on- or off-campus. So, for example, when you are hosting your university of TAFE Open Day, you could ensure that all your staff around the campus can look up students on their phone directly in a conversation, rather than having to hide behind a laptop screen, or scribbling notes and waiting until later to update or look up info. Or if you are using CRM for service desk management, you can ensure that your team can update their case histories in real time wherever they are on campus.

      Cross Browser support for Dynamics CRM

      Dynamics CRM already has a web client that works across multiple versions of Internet Explorer, and in the Q2 update, we’ll be adding support for Safari (on desktop, laptop and iPad), Firefox and Chrome. This is especially important in universities, as you expand your use of CRM out to faculty and more staff, as I know you have a lot less control over the devices and software that these staff choose to use.

      Enhanced Self-Service Business Intelligence for Dynamics CRM

      If “Business Intelligence” was the buzzword of 2011, then I’ve noticed that “Self-Service Business Intelligence” is likely to be the buzz phrase for 2012. And with CRM it’s pretty critical to get it right. Because we’re locking tons and tons of useful data away in our CRM systems, and the poor users who spend their time contributing data to the CRM system need to get quality information out. So the ‘self-service’ aspect is the bit that hands the control over to your users - to let them get the information they need, and mean that it doesn’t increase the workload exponentially for your analysts!

      Learn More

       

       

      Two places to learn more

    • Education

      Microsoft Mathematics - free software for teachers in February

      • 0 Comments

      Find all 'Free Downloads' on this blog

      Some Free February Appy-ness with a new piece of free software for teachers from Microsoft every day in February. Many of these items are unknown heroes, but they all share two things in common: 1) They are useful for teachers or students and 2) they are free.

      Microsoft Mathematics 4.0

      Example chart created by Microsoft Math 4.0

      Universally, mathematics is a major source of frustration for students. Teachers often find it challenging to keep all their students at the same pace when learning new maths concepts. Microsoft Mathematics can help students visualise problems and provide extra help when they are reviewing maths concepts on their own.

      From basic maths to precalculus, it can help you visualise mathematical concepts in a new way. It’s a free downloadable tool which includes step-by-step instructions and explains fundamental concepts. The wide range of tools to help students with complex mathematics includes a full-featured graphing calculator that’s designed to work just like a hand-held calculator and ink handwriting support to recognise hand-written problems.

      Includes a sophisticated graphing calculator

      Microsoft Mathematics Graphic CalculatorThe average cost of a graphing calculator is $90+. This one is free and works on your PC.

      Personal whinge from me on this - my daughters’ school gives every student their own laptop - and then insists that every parent spends an extra $250 on a graphing calculator. Grrr.

      Microsoft Mathematics has a powerful graphing calculator built in. That saves each student the cost of buying a graphing calculator and assures that they all have access to the same necessary tools.

      Microsoft Mathematics uses a Computer Algebra System (CAS) to help teachers share and solve more complex equations and functions. It’s capable of handling subjects including pre-algebra, algebra, trigonometry, calculus, physics and chemistry.

      Helps students by stepping through problems

      With its step-by-step approach to problem solving, Microsoft Mathematics shows the journey to the maths solution, not just the end point. For teachers, it’s like having a maths tutor available to their students when they get stuck on a problem. The step-by-step feature can help students improve their understanding of formulas and concepts as they do their homework.

      It’s useful for subjects such as pre-algebra, algebra, trigonometry, calculus, physics and chemistry.

      Where can I find out how to use it?

      There’s a full Microsoft Mathematics Teachers Guide, as well as a Step-by-step Guide that talks you through the whole software.

      Where do I get Microsoft Mathematics from?

      Like all the other software I’ve mentioned in this Free February list, it’s free, and you can download Microsoft Mathematics from here.

      Just realised I've done three days in a trot of software for maths teachers. That's enough! Tomorrow we'll go for something useful for everybody...

    • Education

      Work experience 'cuts dropout rate' according to the BBC

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      According to some research for the UK Education and Employers Taskforce reported by BBC News in the UK at the weekend, work ‘experience’ cuts the likelihood of students dropping out from education. That doesn’t have to be in the conventional way of formal work experience - it can be smaller things like hearing from an employer at a school event, or having a business guest invited to a lesson, or a visit to another workplace. According to the BBC report:

       

      The more young people come into contact with employers while they are at school, the less likely they are to go on to be unemployed, research suggests.
      Pupils who took part in four or more activities with employers were five times less likely to drop out of school or training, it says.
      Those who had no such contact were most likely to be not in education, employment or training.
      Activities included work experience, visits and enterprise competition.

       

      I know that many Australian schools have activities which involve businesses. And equally I know that many find it difficult to organise activities, because businesses can be difficult to contact. And it can be equally difficult for the business to organise activities for large groups of students (I remember the massive orchestration that was required for ‘work experience’ week in the UK, when around 100 High School students joined Microsoft for five days).

      So perhaps next time you’re asking a business for support, you should send them this BBC story to help your case!

      What I can do is also offer to try and help schools if they are looking for a business person to come along and talk to a group of students. In the past, when I’ve done those sessions, I’ve always walked away having learnt a lot, and having answered some tricky questions!

      I’m based in Sydney, but I have colleagues around the country, and connections to business people working in partners around the country too. There are programmers, marketing people, sales people, entrepreneurs running their own businesses - I just might know somebody that could be the person you’re looking for.

      If I can help, my email address is ray.fleming@microsoft.com

    • Education

      AutoCollage - free software for teachers in February

      • 0 Comments

      Find all 'Free Downloads' on this blog

      Some Free February Appy-ness with a new piece of free software for teachers from Microsoft every day in February. Many of these items are unknown heroes, but they all share two things in common: 1) They are useful for teachers or students and 2) they are free.

      AutoCollage

      image

      Inspire your students' creativity and help them better remember information by using AutoCollage to encourage both visual and verbal learning. With AutoCollage, you can engage your students in a fun and creative way by quickly creating a collage of images. Use it to focus on selected subjects, showcase school events, and much more. With just a few clicks your students can automatically create photo collages using nothing more than images from their phone, camera or online photos.

      Create a collage quickly and easily

      AutoCollage uses face and object recognition to swiftly create a collage of several images. You choose the collage that delights you and best displays the relevant content. With three easy clicks, you open, select, and save your image files, then AutoCollage does the rest by presenting your images in a perfect collage.

      Use AutoCollage to inject fun and creativity into any learning situation:

      • Increase class participation on a visually stimulating topic
      • Design teaching content to focus attention
      • Create compelling visual stories on complex subjects
      • Review learnings and prepare for reviews in a creative, new way
      • Create class memories of special activities or field trips

      Where can I find out how to use it?

      Stuart Ball, our Partners in Learning Programme Manager in the UK, has written two articles that give step-by-step instructions to using AutoCollage, and explains how it’s a great time saver when you’re faced with a class who’ve taken hundreds of photos and want to spend all afternoon sorting them. You can find Stuart’s articles here: Workshop 1 and Workshop 2

      Where do I get AutoCollage from?

      It’s free to teachers and students - you can get it from the Partners in Learning website

    • Education

      Chemistry Add-In for Word - free software for teachers in February

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      Find all 'Free Downloads' on this blog

      Some Free February Appy-ness with a new piece of free software for teachers from Microsoft every day in February. Many of these items are unknown heroes, but they all share two things in common: 1) They are useful for teachers or students and 2) they are free.

      Chemistry Add-in for Word

      Chemistry Add-in for Word

      The Chemistry Add-in for Word gives students and teachers an easier way to insert, modify, and present chemical symbols and data sources within the familiar Microsoft Word environment. Use it to help younger students explore the periodic table and gain a better understanding of the scientific language, and guide the more advanced students to author and share more sophisticated chemistry papers and assignments.

      Make chemistry documents easy to author, present, and share by harnessing the power of Microsoft Office and CML (Chemistry Markup Language)

      With the Chemistry Add-In for Word, you'll be able to insert and modify chemical information, such as labels, formulas and 2-D depictions, when creating papers with Microsoft Word. Designed for and tested on both Word 2007 and Word 2010, it harnesses the power of Chemical Markup Language (a chemistry-specific XML), making it possible not only to author chemical content in Word, but also to include the data behind those structures. Together, these technologies make chemistry documents open, readable and easily accessible, not just to other humans, but also to other technologies.

      With the Chemistry Add-in for Word, you can:

        • Improve classroom understanding of scientific information
        • Include chemical information in Word documents
        • Create 2-D views of chemical structures to promote visual learning
        • Enhance student creativity in class assignments and projects
        • Explore the periodic table to accelerate knowledge
        • Incorporate chemical structures into tests and quizzes with ease

      Where can I find out how to use it?

      There’s a complete Chemistry Add-in for Word user guide, which you can download here, and a video demo here

      Where do I get the Chemistry Add-in for Word from?

      You can find the link on the right hand side of this Microsoft Research page - under the Downloads title

    • Education

      Creative Commons add-in for Office - free software for teachers in February

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      Find all 'Free Downloads' on this blog

      Some Free February Appy-ness with a new piece of free software for teachers from Microsoft every day in February. Many of these items are unknown heroes, but they all share two things in common: 1) They are useful for teachers or students and 2) they are free.

      Creative Commons add-in for Office

      If you want to share your lesson plans or curriculum with other people, one of the useful things to be able to do is to add a description of what you’re happy for people to do with it.

      For example, you might be okay with other teachers using your awesome volcano illustration to teach their students, but you might not be happy if somebody used it to create a best-selling T-Shirt and Mug collection. Or if a textbook publisher used it in a book they sell without asking you. That’s what the Creative Commons licence was created for - allowing you to add a note to your resources telling people what they can do with it.

      CClicence

      You can read a lot more about the licences for Creative Commons on the Creative Commons Australia website. There is also an interesting case study of Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand, who have an institutional-wide approach to licensing open access education resources. And here in Australia, the University of Queensland use it to license their OpenCourseWare.

      The Creative Commons Add-in for Office allows you to save your files from Word, PowerPoint and Excel with the Creative Commons licence embedded into your document, presentation or spreadsheet. This is a great way to build the habits of sharing and collaboration, whilst keeping appropriate control over your work whilst encouraging other people to use it!

      Office logoEssentially, the Creative Commons Add-in for Microsoft Office is a small piece of code that adds a "Creative Commons" item to the File menu in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The "Creative Commons" menu item brings up a dialog that allows the use to choose a Creative Commons license for their document. The cool part is that the license is fetched from the Creative Commons web site via a web service exposed by Creative Commons. This web services allows the add-in to stay current with licenses should they change. You read more about the different types of CC licences here.

      Where can I find out how to use it?

      There are detailed step-by-step instructions for using the Creative Commons Add-in for Office, including screen shots of each stage on the Creative Commons website

      Where do I get the Creative Commons Add-In from?

      There are two versions of the Add-In:

    • Education

      HD View - free software for teachers in February

      • 0 Comments

      Find all 'Free Downloads' on this blog

      Some Free February Appy-ness with a new piece of free software for teachers from Microsoft every day in February. Many of these items are unknown heroes, but they all share two things in common: 1) They are useful for teachers or students and 2) they are free.

      HD View

      image

      So you’ve got a handful of digital cameras. And every student wants to take a photo. How about finding a way to get the students’ work to build up into one big image, rather than lots of individual snaps.

      What can it do?

      HD View is an image viewer that was created by Microsoft Research, which allows you to display and interact with very large images (the kind of images that have billions of pixels). And you can create these images yourself, and then publish them on the web so that everybody can pan and zoom around them.

      If you want to get an idea of what’s possible, take a look at the Harlem HD View (it will prompt you to install the viewer in your browser) or some of the European HD View photography from Bernhard Vogl

      http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/ivm/HDView/HDabout.htm

      How would I use it?

      The kind of examples where HD View comes in handy are:

      • You want to upload a high resolution image from a camera, and make it easy to view
        eg you have a 10 megapixel camera, and don’t want to just upload a small version of an image - eg to publish a high resolution photo or scan of a student’s artwork
      • You want to make a super-high resolution panorama
        eg you create landscape panoramas for geography lessons, using programmes like Windows Live Photo Gallery or Microsoft Image Composite Editor, where you want to be able to go from a wide angle view, right down to looking at individual geographic features in the rocks.
      • You want to put lots of different images together into a single image
        eg you have a panorama of your school art show, and you want to give people the ability to zoom right in; or your students create a timeline that you want to be able to zoom in and out of

      Where can I find out how to use it?

      In addition to the ‘Create your own HD View Content’ page on the HD View website, there are also so great tips on the HD View blog (like how to create the amazing panorama below from a video and a series of tutorials for the Image Composite Editor)

      HDView Snow Jump

       

      Where do I get HD View from?

      HD View itself is a plug-in for your web browser, which gets downloaded when people go to look at the content you create. What you do need to get are the tools you create the HD View images in - all the options, including the Photoshop add-in, are here

    • Education

      Interactive Classroom - free software for teachers in February

      • 0 Comments

      Find all 'Free Downloads' on this blog

      Some Free February Appy-ness with a new piece of free software for teachers from Microsoft every day in February. Many of these items are unknown heroes, but they all share two things in common: 1) They are useful for teachers or students and 2) they are free.

      Interactive Classroom

      Interactive Classroom

      This add-in connects a teacher’s PowerPoint presentation to students’ OneNote notebooks. During a presentation, teachers can:

      • Poll students with multiple choice, true/false, or yes/no questions.
      • Distribute the lesson to students with OneNote
      • Include real-time ink and text annotations.

      Students can answer and respond through their individual OneNote notebooks, hand-held clickers, or computers, and the results display in the presentation. Students also get consolidated notes that match those of the teacher so they can keep track of what they need to learn.

      You can see Interactive Classroom in action in the video below: