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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

    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

    Achieving Accessibility in SharePoint 2010

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    imageVision Australia have just released an excellent detailed report about their experiences delivering an accessible implementation of SharePoint 2010, and including an assessment of SharePoint 2010’s conformance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

    As they say in their introduction:

     

    Accessibility is becoming increasingly important for organisations in Australia. There are over 4 million people with a disability, expected to increase with our aging population. With the shift to increased use of the web for a range of services and information, organisations have a legal obligation under the Australian Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to ensure web content is fully accessible. There are also commercial advantages to ensuring web content meets the defined accessibility standards and best practices.

    Most recently the Australian Government’s Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy requires government agencies to achieve WCAG 2.0 base level of conformance (Single A) by December 2012, and medium level (Double A) by the end of 2014.

     

    As they document, SharePoint Server 2007 did present  some challenges to meeting full accessibility needs. Their paper reviews the significant improvements that have been made in SharePoint 2010, assesses conformance with WCAG 2.0 Double A standards, and provides guidance on how an accessible solution can be achieved using this platform:

     

    Some of the accessibility improvements from SharePoint 2007 include:

    • enhanced keyboard access to all functionality including the new ribbon interface;
    • changes to overcome technical conformance issues that occurred with master pages and controls in MOSS 2007;
    • improved page reading sequences and representation of tabular data; and
    • new accessibility features such as WAI-ARIA roles and attributes to enhance the experience of assistive technology users.

    Out of the box SharePoint 2010 is much more accessible through the inclusion of WAI-ARIA. When used with the latest versions of browsers and assistive technologies the standard SharePoint interface is in many cases fully accessible.

     

    The paper also covers the use of SharePoint 2010 as an enterprise solution, as it can provide the interface to multiple business systems. As they say, properly configured and governed SharePoint 2010’s accessibility can then be delivered across multiple systems rather than having to address accessibility considerations for each system individually:

     

    This overall platform approach means that users will see a common interface across multiple systems. This results in a simpler learning curve and reduces training and support requirements – which can be significant for users with a disability.

     

    If you are responsible within your education institution for providing accessible systems for your students and staff, this is a valuable free resource that will help with your planning

    Learn MoreDownload the Vision Australia report on SharePoint 2010 and Accessibility

  • Education

    ZoomIt - 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.

    ZoomIt

    ZoomIt icon

    ZoomIt is a brilliant little accessory, written by a Microsoft colleague, Mark Russinovich, to allow you to focus and highlight on areas of your computer screen. Mark originally wrote it for technical presentations, such as demonstrations of applications, and to highlight parts of the screen, but I’ve found it to be really useful on an interactive whiteboard, where you need to enlarge part of your screen so that pupils at the back of the class can see it. And you can also annotate onto the screen, using pen input from your whiteboard or a tablet PC.

    You can zoom to an area on the screen so that you can show students where to click in an application, or to zoom onto a particular image. The other handy feature for teachers is the ability to set a timer on a blank screen with one key click (brilliant for the “You have 5 minutes to…" times).

    ZoomIt works on all versions of Windows from Windows XP onwards.

    Where can I find out how to use it?

    There’s a ZoomIt video on YouTube, but not much else - a reflection of how simple it is to use. An easy way to try it is to run it temporarily without installing it (see the Run ZoomIt option on the page below), and then just click Ctrl and the 1 key to activate it.

    Where do I get ZoomIt from?

    ZoomIt is a free download from TechNet here

  • 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.