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All week I've written about new Windows 8 apps for education from nsquared. They're all apps that are designed to be used with touch computers in the classroom, and you can have up to four children using them at the same time. It's a very different learning experience from a single child using a tablet on their own, as they can either collaborate to solve a problem, or compete against each other (or, as I found with a colleague, start competing and then end up collaborating when they feel sorry for you after you've lost five games in a row).
If you're going to have four children working on a single activity, then you might consider the large touch tablets (like the Sony Viao Tap 20 above, which is my home machine), but the apps will run on any Windows device, including small touchscreens or even multi-touch whiteboards. The apps I've written about already this week are nsquared's 'herding', 'letters', 'missing card', 'numbers' and 'snap'.
But I've saved the best till last:
Link This is a free app in the form of structured educational game, compared to the less structured apps I wrote about earlier in the week. It's designed to help students learn object recognition and differentiation, and improve their recall and spelling. nsquared makewords has the ability to switch between a range of content packs through the menu and download new content as it's released (the app is free, and then you pay for the optional content packs).
In the example on the right, the children are shown a picture of a whale, and each child has to hunt for the letters they need to spell the word, and then they drag them into the word board in front of them. The red dots count down remaining time, and students get points according to the order they finish. You can download the free app, nsquared make words, from the link above, on a Windows 8 computer. If you don't have Windows 8, then the link will allow you to see the listing information for the app.
Learn more about other Windows 8 apps for education
Another day, another free Windows 8 education app for primary schools from the nsquared team of developers in Sydney!
It's designed to be used with touch devices, and can either be used by one child, or up to four sitting at opposite ends of a Windows 8 tablet that's laying flat on a desk.
Link nsquared herding is designed to develop numeracy, pattern matching and object recognition skills.
Whilst it is designed for up to four players simultaneously it will depend on the device that you use - on a small touch device (like a Microsoft Surface) you may have enough screen space for two players. Each player has to collect the correct numbers of each target object and place them into their own playing area.
In the example screen to the right, the students have to collect 2 turtles and 4 starfish each. They do that by herding them - dragging them to their side of the screen using their fingers. The app is free, and there are different activity packs available as an in-app purchase - you don't need them to use the software, but you may find them useful as you integrate this into your curriculum activities. And besides, if it's good classroom software, it's a good idea to encourage the developers in Sydney to build some more by giving them some money for what they've already developed
CIOs are looking to cloud computing for delivery of ICT capabilities, and that is no different for education customers. In education, there's an emphasis on mobility, and supporting students and teachers using their own personal devices.
Microsoft has a free version of Office 365 – Office 365 for education – that's available for all Australian education customers that provides a suite of online services free to students, faculty and staff. This creates a very compelling opportunity for partners to generate migration and deployment revenue for customers moving from on-premise systems or competing cloud solutions.
For Microsoft partners who aren't yet active with Office 365 for education, we're running an introductory webinar next, Tuesday 12 Feb, on how Microsoft Office 365 can add value to your education customers and the services opportunity for partners, run by the Australian Product Manager for Office 365 for education.
Date: Tuesday 12th February 2013
Time: 1pm to 2pm (AEST)
The partner webinar will be run using Lync. You can join Lync Meeting even if you're not already a Lync user, by joining using the web client. Alternatively, you can join by phone by using our telephone conferencing system (call +61298702923 and use Conference ID: 92566341).
Add this webcast for Microsoft partners to your diary using this .ics file
Here's yet another free Windows 8 education app from nsquared. Like their other apps (missing card, numbers, and snap), it's ideal for pre-school and primary school children, and is designed to support collaborative learning – allowing groups of students to work together on a single Windows 8 touch-enabled PC or tablet.
Link nsquared letters is a free form application designed for children to use with or without guidance. It allows students to explore words in virtually any language that uses the Latin alphabet. And because it uses the multi-touch features of Windows 8 devices, it allows for many children to use it at the same time. So you could put a tablet flat on a desk, and have a group of four children around it all using it at the same time. The app is free, and there are different activity packs available as an in-app purchase.
Learn more about other Windows 8 Education apps here
In two weeks time we're hosting a webcast on Microsoft’s vision and solutions for Big Data, and to discuss the strategic potential of Big Data for organisations. In the business world today, senior IT people and their business counterparts are struggling to gain business insight from the unprecedented volume and variety of data they are capturing inside their organisation. And education is no exception to that – with the added complication that some of the key data is being kept on pieces of paper.
The webcast will be hosted by Jack Tang, our Director of Product Marketing for data solution, and Ron Dunn, who's our regional Parallel Data Warehouse specialist. Their experience is across a number of industries and during the webcast they are going to share some stories about how some of our customers have successfully tapped into their own data to uncover business insights from their structured and unstructured data.
The webcast isn't specifically for education customers, however the challenges I hear about from education customers mirror similar challenges for commercial customers (too much data, too many different sources, too many disconnected systems), so the content will all be relevant. Whether you call it Big Data, or Business Intelligence, or Learning Analytics, the ideas behind it are the same!
Register now for the one hour webcast on 19th February at 2PM
Here's another free Windows 8 education app from nsquared. Like their other apps, it's ideal for pre-school and primary school children, and is designed to support collaborative learning – allowing groups of students to work together on a single Windows 8 touch-enabled PC or tablet.
Link nsquared missing card is designed to help develop pattern matching and object recognition skills in young children. It's a multi-player memory game for up to four students to match overturned cards. The players can turn over their three cards to see which one matches the next in sequence. Once each player has decided on the card they think will be next, they keep the other two cards in their hand face down.
It's a great app for small group learning, and encourages your students to learn from each other. Multi-Touch interaction allows for multiple students to use nsquared missing card at the same time. The app is free, and then there are optional activity packs available as an in-app purchase.
The great thing about this app, and the other apps from nsquared, is that they are designed to get students working together. A few years ago I worked on a video showing the original Microsoft Surface in a primary school classroom in England (see video embedded below). Although it was very exciting to see students dive in and start collaborating on learning challenges, the major barrier was the cost of the interactive hardware needed to support this style of learning.
Now, with genuine multi-touch Windows 8 devices in the classroom at very low cost. The new Windows 8 slates are perfect for this activity, as you can lay them flat in the middle of a desk, and four students can gather around them.
In my last blog post I wrote about nsquared, a Sydney-based company producing education software that works with touch devices, and the first of their free apps for Windows 8 – nsquared snap. Today, here's their next free Windows 8 education app – numbers.
Link nsquared numbers for Windows 8 is a free-form application that can be used to teach basic mathematical concepts. It gives you number tiles, so that you can set free tasks like "How many ways can you make the sum of ‘9’, or ‘55’, or any other number you’d like to explore. And because multiple students can use it at the same time, you can also set team or collaborative challenges, eg how many ways can they create those same results?
The app is free, with different activity packs available as an in-app purchase. Like their other apps, this software is great for pre-school and early primary school use.
nsquared is a Sydney-based company that have been producing great interactive classroom software recently. Historically, they have created some great interactive education software for the original Microsoft Surface (the original table-sized interactive computer that is now made by Samsung, and called the SUR40 called Microsoft Pixelsense). At the core of many of their apps is more than one student working at a time on a touch-device, and learning collaboratively.
They've now taken all of their experience and started producing a range of free Windows 8 education apps.
Link Their first app, nsquared snap, is easy to grasp and allows up to four students to work on a single touchscreen at the same time, and is designed to develop pattern matching and object recognition skills. If you take a Windows 8 tablet, and lay it flat on the desk, you can have multiple students around it all playing the learning game at the same time - making use of the multi-touch screens that you'll find on Windows 8 certified devices.
Each player must take their turn individually, with a point being awarded when they successfully match a pair of cards. Only two cards may be turned over at any time in an attempt to find a matching pair.
It's a great simple activity for small group learning in primary school or pre-school, where you don't need to spend a lot of time explaining what students need to do etc. You can get it free from the Windows 8 store here