statcounter tracker
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

    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

    Video conferencing in Australian schools

    • 0 Comments

    The Polycom education newsletter has just dropped into my email inbox, and I wondered if you already know about it? The Microsoft partnership with Polycom extends the use of video conferencing and audio conferencing in education across a wide range of scenarios, from remote 1:1 teaching, to professional development and whole-school video conferencing. (And every time I pickup a phone in our office for a Lync call, it’s a Polycom handset that I use)

    Polycom EdBanner

    The newsletter comes out every few months, and looks at projects underway in education. Polycom have a wide range of partners that deliver sessions via video conferencing for schools, and which includes the National Museum of Canberra, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Literature Live. In 2012 they are adding History SA, Opera Australia and Fremantly Press

    Some of the highlighted info in this term’s newsletter include:

    2012 is the Year of…

    Apparently, as well as being the Year of Reading, 2012 is also the Year of Sustainability for All, the Year of the Brothers Grimm and the Year of Languages. And the Polycom team have lined up events to match with these, so that schools can connect their curriculum to activities outside of school. For example, the Year of Reading will include an opportunity to connect with WA authors and illustrators as part of the 3rd Annual Polycom Literary Festival in conjunction with Fremantle Press.

    • World Languages Week - 6/9 March

    DeforestACTION LIVE

    This is a joint project between the Microsoft Partners in Learning network, Taking It Global, the Centre for Global Education, Polycom and AARNet, with a goal of connection 100,000 students around the world for a series of live global events. The project is initially focusing on the forests of Indonesia, where widespread illegal deforestation has made the country the number three emitter of greenhouse gas in the world. Five schools will get the chance to join live videoconferences with the team in Borneo, whilst other schools can take part in the live streaming.

    • DeforestACTION - 28th March

    World Earth Day

    There are two scheduled events, with Green Cross Australia leading ‘Sustainability for all’ for upper primary students, and Questacon leading ‘The Science of World Earth Day’ for Middle and Secondary students.

    • World Earth Day - 20 April

    The VideoConference School

    Abbotsleigh School, in northern Sydney, uses video conferencing for students to take virtual excursions, learn from remote experts, connect with students in other countries, as well as for staff to collaborate on research grants and carry out professional development sessions.

    The team at Abbotsleigh run their own blog - The VideoConference School - with examples of how they have used the system in their curriculum.

    If you want to join any of these activities, or find out more, the links and contacts are all in the newsletter. You can also find out how to contact their education team who put these programmes together.

    Learn More

    You can download the Polycom February Education newsletter (PDF) here, and, even better, sign up to get the Polycom Australia Education newsletter directly here

  • Education

    Windows Live Mesh - 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.

    Windows Live Mesh

    Live Mesh icon bar

    Access the stuff on your computers from almost anywhere. With Windows Live Mesh, you can finally stop emailing files to yourself, carrying them around on a USB drive, or worrying whether the version you have with you is the latest. This is especially useful for teachers, as they are often using multiple computers - perhaps a school laptop, a home computer, and then another computer connected to an interactive whiteboard.

    With Windows Live Mesh, you can keep up-to-date copies of documents, photos, and other files synced together on all of your computers, whether they are PCs or Macs. In addition, the system can sync your folders to the 5 GB of free storage space you get with SkyDrive (as well as across your computers) so that you can also work with your files on the web from any computer. You can even run programs and browse all the files on your PC from anywhere by connecting remotely. And keep your favorites in Internet Explorer and your Microsoft Office settings up to date on all of your PCs by syncing your programme settings.

    Sync folders between computers

    If you have two or more computers with Windows Live Mesh installed, you can sync folders between them (peer-to-peer). When you sync folders between computers, any changes you make on one computer will be made on the other whenever the computers are online at the same time. The contents of the synced folders are saved on all of the computers, so you can still work on them even when you're not connected to the Internet. All data transfers are encrypted between the computers.

    Sync folders to the Cloud

    You can choose to sync any of your folders to the Cloud too, which means you can then access them on any other computer. This would be handy when you’ve got files on your laptop, and you want to access them to a different computer plugged into an interactive whiteboard, or where you want to be able to access your files on a colleague’s computer.

    Connect to a computer remotely

    With the remote connections feature in Windows Live Mesh, you can work on your computer from a computer in another location. For example, you can connect from your school computer to your home computer and access all of your programs and files as if you were in front of your computer at home.

    Sync your Office and Internet Explorer settings

    If you regularly use two different computers (eg your school laptop and a home computer) you can set Windows Live Mesh to sync your Internet Explorer favourites between the two computers - that’s really handy if you’re preparing a lesson on your home computer, but then want the website list available on your school laptop the next day. The same idea works for Office settings (eg a customer dictionary or slide templates)

    Where can I find out how to use it?

    The Windows Live Mesh page has a step-by-step overview for each of the uses above. There are also a series of tutorials for Windows Live Mesh on 7tutorials.com, including:

    Where do I get Windows Live Mesh from?

    Windows Live Mesh is part of the Windows Live Essentials suite, which you can download from the live.com website here

  • Education

    Learning Suite - 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.

    Learning Suite

    This month I’ve shared Free February Appy-ness, with a new free application from Microsoft for teachers every day. Any other year, I’d have saved the best until last, and the 28th Feb would have been the day to share it. But, darn it, this is a leap year, so there’s one more day to find an app for. Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.

    So for my penultimate moment of February Freebies, I’ve come up with something very useful - a way to get some of the 27 apps that I’ve already listed onto your classroom computers easily!

    For every piece of software I’ve listed this month I’ve given you a download link, so that you can pop off and get them. But what if you want to install a bunch of them onto all of your student and teacher laptops? That’s where Learning Suite comes in…

    Learning SuiteThe Learning Suite is a collection of many of your favourite free Microsoft applications in a simple download application. It allows users/IT managers to select the applications you wish install and tells you which ones you already have.

    It doesn’t have all of the apps I’ve listed, but it does have some extra ones - like Community Clips - that I haven’t listed!

    Another useful feature is that as we add resources to the Learning Suite in the future, it will automatically update itself every time you run it. Enabling you, your colleagues and your students to have access to the latest free resources from Microsoft as and when they appear.

    Where do I get the Learning Suite from?

    You can download the Learning Suite directly from the Partners in Learning website

  • Education

    Photosynth - 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.

    Photosynth

    Photosynth logo

    Photosynth takes your photos, mashes them together and recreates a 3D scene out of them that anyone can view and move around in. Different to static photos and video, Photosynth allows you to explore details of places, objects, and events unlike any other media. You can’t stop video, move around and zoom in to check out the smallest details, but with Photosynth you can. And you can’t look at a photo gallery and immediately see the spatial relation between the photos, but with Photosynth you can!

    Create a collage quickly and easily

    For an idea of how it can be used in the classroom, take a look at some of the best:

    Or you can explore the world’s 250,000 Photosynths from a map - with the Bing Photosynth map, including over 5,000 of Australia alone.

    One of my personal favourite ideas is the Photosynth produced for Wootton Bassett School’s art exhibition. Ts is a great use for Photosynth - taking a 3 day school art expo, and making it permanently available to everybody.

    Where can I find out how to use it?

    There are easy step-by-step instructions to create your first Photosynth on the website, and there’s some good tips in the Photosynth tutorial on the Photoprosumer website.

    My personal tip to make a fascinating, immersive Photosynth is to keep changing your camera perspective - move around the thing you are photographing - rather than simply making it a flat panorama.

    Where do I get Photosynth from?

    imageGo to the Photosynth website and click on the ‘Create your Synth’ link at the bottom of the page

  • Education

    Windows Live Photo Gallery - 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.

    Windows Live Photo Gallery

    Photo Gallery header

    Share photos in your 25GB of storage online for free, and faster than you can say ‘online photo albums accessible from my phone’. Photo Gallery tools help you organise and edit photos, then share them online.

    It’s easy to import photos from your camera, organise them into albums, and edit them. The powerful photo tools built in let you create stunning panoramas, movies, slide shows, and more. When you're ready to share, publish your photos and videos to your favourite websites directly from Photo Gallery.

    Create a panorama

    Capture an entire mountain range in a single photo—select the photos you want to use and Photo Gallery stitches them into a panorama for you.

    Merge shots with Photo Fuse

    Did someone blink when the flash went off? Choose everyone’s best pose from several different shots, and Photo Fuse will merge them together into the perfect group photo. This is absolutely brilliant for class shots, or when you need to take a picture of a group of students on a trip/in a play etc

    Slide show adventures

    Show off your class trip or school play photos with a slide show that looks polished and professional. Choose your favourite theme and Photo Gallery puts it all together for you.

    Where can I find out how to use it?

    There’s a step-by-step guide for using Photo Gallery here for each of the uses above. There are also a series of simple guides on the Windows Live Essentials website.

    Where do I get Windows Live Photo Gallery from?

    Live Photo Gallery is part of the Windows Live Essentials suite, which you can download from the live.com website here

  • Education

    Windows Live Writer- free software for teachers in February

    • 1 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.

    Windows Live Writer

    Windows Live Writer splash screen

    At long last, we’ve reached the programme I *love* to use. Windows Live Writer. It’s the most brilliant programme for helping students (and teachers) to blog

    Live Writer is a programme that allows you to write blog posts offline, and then upload them onto your blog (and it works with all kinds of different blog platforms, like WordPress, Blogger, Community Server, SharePoint, Live Spaces, Joomla and lots of others).

    I’ve noticed that over time, I’m using Word less and less, and Windows Live Writer more and more. I guess it reflects two things:

    • Most of the things I write are designed to be published on the web – often on this blog
    • I love software that makes it really easy to publish on the web

    And that’s where Windows Live Writer comes in. If you, or your students, write for a blog, then read on…

    What is Windows Live Writer?

    Basically, I think of it as a word processor for blogs. It lets me write an article or blog post, easily add images, links and videos, and then publish it onto my blog. And because it’s an application on my laptop, I can write my blog posts offline, and then when it’s finished I hit publish. When I used to write blog posts directly in the blog website, I’d often accidentally hit the wrong button in my Internet browser, and lose all my work.

    imageAnother problem it solves is that of consistent formatting of information on your blog. Often, when editing posts online, I’d paste in a bit of text from somewhere else, I’d find it was published with bizarre fonts and formatting. Live Writer solves that and strips away the kind of formatting you don’t want (like funny fonts) but leaves in the things you do (like bold and italics, and especially hyperlinks).

    And it makes it easy to put fancy pictures into your blog posts, because it automatically formats and uploads them – all with one click of the “Publish” button

    Where can I find out how to use it?

    Without a doubt, the most comprehensive guide, which includes the use of Live Writer in education was produced by Kevin O’Shea at Purdue University, and a close second is the Live Writer guide on the UK Teachers blog.

    Ben Rowe, from Saltash.net Community School in Cornwall has also recorded a Windows Live Writer video tutorial starting from the download and showing how to use it.

    Where do I get Live Writer from?

    You can download Windows Live Writer free as part of Windows Live Essentials suite.

  • Education

    Mouse Mischief - free software for teachers in February

    • 1 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.

    Mouse Mischief

    Mouse Mischief Banner

    A simple idea: Let your students interact with your PowerPoint presentation, and use that to be able to draw them deeper into their learning, and for testing their understanding of it.

    Mouse Mischief integrates into Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 and Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007, letting you insert questions, polls, and drawing activity slides into your lessons. Students can actively participate in these lessons by using their own mice to click, circle, cross out, or draw answers on the screen.

    Three reasons to use Mouse Mischief in your classroom

    • Actively engaging students and supporting collaborative learning
      With Mouse Mischief you can spark student curiosity by incorporating interactive technology into the curriculum. Students have fun learning while seeing visual representations of their answers on a shared screen while using colourful mouse pointers (like a robot, snowflake, guitar, and many more shapes). You can enable collaborative learning when using Mouse Mischief in Team mode; in Team mode, all members of a team need to work together to agree on an answer before it can be selected.

      • Improving classroom management and overall student participation
        With Mouse Mischief you no longer need to wait for raised hands; you can immediately see your students' answers on the screen. Mouse Mischief helps make it easy for all students even those who are often quiet in class to participate regularly without the fear of saying the wrong answer. This can allow you to have better visibility into the progress and comprehension of your entire class so you can adjust your lessons on the spot.


          • It’s familiar to use and easy on the classroom budget
            Because Mouse Mischief integrates into familiar PowerPoint technology, you do not have to spend time learning new skills to use it. Additionally, you can set up your classrooms to play Mouse Mischief lessons without purchasing expensive hardware; many schools already have mice, and both mice and USB hubs are available at many stores where computer accessories are sold.

          Where can I find out how to use it?

          From the Mouse Mischief website, there are a ton of helpful links to use. There’s a video guide to setting up and using Mouse Mischief, along with videos for using the student participation features, and for creating multiple choice and Yes/No question slides. If you prefer to read documents, then there’s the Quick Start Guide.

          Once you’ve got the basics, it’s worth looking at all of the Mouse Mischief lesson templates, to see if there’s something there that will get you started.

          There are also Mouse Mischief articles on the Microsoft Knowledge Base

          Where do I get Mouse Mischief from?

          It’s best to download from the link on the Mouse Mischief website, but if you want one less click, then download it directly here.

        • Education

          The NSW Science ESSA test - the background monitoring service

          • 1 Comments

          Yesterday I wrote “Why put assessment in the Cloud?” about the project last year for students in New South Wales in Australia to complete the statutory Science examinations online - replacing a paper-based system that had been used for years. As well as the time-saving and paper-saving, one of the other significant benefits was the ability to track activity on the test in real-time - how many schools were logged on, how many students etc.

          At the time it was pretty exciting - Janison, who’d created the ESSA testing programme with NSW DEC, had created a Windows Phone application, so that anybody could watch the data in real time wherever they were. I was down in Melbourne on the first test day, and it was great to be able to show people live information - “Look, there are now 15,000 students logged in!

          The only downside to the live metrics was that they were just that - live - so by the end of the week the charts were gone.

          But Janison have been even cleverer (is that a word?) by creating a website where you can see a snapshot of the day on 22nd November 2011. You can browse it just like we were able to in real-time during the test, and see exactly the same metrics.

          Link to the ESSA live testing metrics review website

          There are all kinds of interesting stats. I’ve kept some of the screenshots I took on the 22nd, to give you an idea of the live service. And the stats come from all of the service users, across public and private schools:

          The number of active students logged-in to the ESSA test

          image

          The number of students who had completed, or were still in progress

          image

          Technical information - in this case, the main Internet browsers used

          One of the surprises for me was that the minimum screen resolution was 1024x768, with 80% having a horizontal resolution of 1280+ pixels (not shown below, but you can see it on the site linked above)

          image

          Logon activity

          image

          Active students

          image

          Total number of cloud instances

          image

          This is a bit geeky - in essence, it shows how many virtual servers Janison deployed to run the testing. And it makes the point - This is why you use the Cloud - because you can just activate 200 servers in the Windows Azure cloud at 5 o’clock in the morning before the test, and then switch them back off afterwards. And only pay for what you use. That’s the beauty of using the Cloud for assessment - you only pay for what you use, and don’t need to build a dedicated server farm full of hardware to run a test.

          Learn More

          To find out more about this, read yesterday’s post  “Why put assessment in the Cloud?
        • Education

          WorldWide Telescope - 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.

          The WorldWide Telescope

          image

          If you could travel the stars where would you go? Let your students decide which planet they want to visit first using this online interactive planetarium.

          WWT is a powerful virtual telescope that helps students visualise and understand our vast cosmos. It inspires learners to explore, to ask questions, and to practice the scientific skills that astronomers use to build our understanding of objects that are literally across the universe.

          Young children can learn about the causes of night and day by manipulating the real-time model of Earth in our solar system. Middle school children can use it to understand seasons and Moon phases, as well as distance scales in the universe. High school students can learn how astronomers have pieced together the life cycle of stars by observing breathtaking nebulae, white dwarfs, and red giants. Tertiary students can explore important maps made by astronomers that help us to understand how gravity influences the shapes and structures we see in the universe. Every student can use it to tell and share their own stories of what they have learned about astronomy and space

          Where can I find out how to use it?

          There’s a WorldWide Telescope Ambassadors Program to enrich interactive learning. It’s an outreach initiative run by researchers at Harvard University, WGBH, and Microsoft Research. Ambassadors are astrophysically-literate volunteers who are trained to be experts in using WWT as teaching tool. Ambassadors and learners alike use WorldWide telescope to create dynamic, interactive Tours of the Universe, which are shared in schools, public venues, and online. Ambassador-created Tours are being made freely available and will ultimately form a comprehensive learning resource for Astronomy and Astrophysics. You can learn more at http://www.wwtambassadors.org

          The other place to look is the Education page on the WorldWide Telescope website. Amongst other things, there is also a set of resources for classroom use, developed in the form of curriculum guides, lesson plans and additional resources to assist teachers and students launching into an exploration of the universe through the lens of the WorldWide Telescope. Since it uses the most current data taken from celestial imaging, users can easily pan and zoom into specific areas of outer space for fine tuned investigations. Images are taken from the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as numerous telescopes here on Earth.

            Want to go further in using it for teaching - you need a dome!

            imageThere is a do-it-yourself option for creating a planetarium for about a thousand dollars, using supplies from local office and hardware stores and a special first surface spherical mirror.

            Many students never have a chance to go to a bricks and mortar planetarium to learn astronomy, so the team created a virtual planetarium with WorldWide Telescope. However, outer space is still best experienced in an immersive environment like a dome, so they have published a set of plans that enable schools to build their own small planetarium that will allow 15-30 students at a time to experience a high-quality digital projection of space. The investment is less than $1,000 in building materials, plus a laptop and projector, along with some household tools and ‘sweat equity’ (ie there’s work involved!).

            One of the principal benefits of having an on-site planetarium is that WorldWide Telescope will allow students to create their own shows to share what they have learned with the rest of the school- completing the learning cycle. You can download the instructions to build your own here.

            Where do I get WorldWide Telescope from?

            WorldWide Telescope is available as a programme to download, or a web-based virtual telescope.
            You can get both versions at the WorldWide Telescope website

          Page 3 of 4 (38 items) 1234