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Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

  • Education

    How to help students remember more


    My colleague Travis Smith is an ex-deputy principal, and an enthusiastic pedagogue. His time is spent obsessing about how to enhance teaching and learning with technology, and the ways that it can support deeper learning by students.

    One challenge is that we need to focus on helping students remember more of what they are taught, and there’s evidence that some of the current ways that they choose to use technology isn’t helping students remember more (including the research that showed that students who use laptops [keyboards] to take notes learned less than those who took notes using paper [and pen]) – see Research says the pen is mightier than the keyboard – and other useful education research nuggets.

    Last month he talked at one of our seminars about the power of the pen for enhancing students’ learning, specifically in the context of the digital pen on the Surface Pro 3. His talk, “Weighing the evidence: Why the pen is mightier than the keyboard”, was an hour, which wasn’t long in the room, but it’s probably longer when you can only watch it on YouTube. So the team have created an edited highlights version, which is less than 15 minutes, and provides a compelling case why students will benefit from digital pen and digital paper. As Travis puts it “Paper isn’t going away. It’s just getting smarter”.

    This short video is definitely worth watching, and sharing with colleagues…

  • Education

    Why a Surface Pro 3 is different


    For some reason, this advert was out nearly 3 months ago but I never noticed it. Maybe it's because at the time I didn't have a Surface Pro (in the same way that you don't notice how many identical cars there are on the road until you get one that's the same). Or maybe at the moment I'm following a lot of teachers on Twitter that have started to discover what having a device with an advanced digital stylus can mean for learning. Either way, this ad from the US means much more to me now:

  • Education

    Adelaide workshop on learning technolgoy



    We're running a workshop for teachers and school leaders in Adelaide in late November, and based on feedback from previous events, I can recommend it as a great way to get up to speed with ideas for how the technology already in your classroom can help boost teaching and learning (plus there’ll be new ideas with new technology too!).

    Not in Adelaide? There will be others around the country, so I’ll keep my eyes open for the list as it’s published.

    Workshop the latest technologies for learning

    Students learning on their own smartphones and tablets and in the cloud. Schools managing their own data and technology platforms. With so much changing in your school, deciding what's right for your students takes careful consideration.

    Talk through the issues and explore new technologies in this practical hands-on workshop, guided by experienced educationalist and Microsoft Education Master Trainer Pip Cleaves.

    She'll help you wrap your head around new thinking using Microsoft technologies in your classroom, with proven approaches and the latest devices. Workshops are complimentary and devices are provided so you can experience Windows 8 and Office 365 in action

    You’ll get the chance to meet Microsoft's latest tablet: the Surface Pro 3 and see how you can use it to fire up new learning experiences at your school.


    8:30am Register and get your device
    (Good news: It’s a hands-on workshop. Bad news: you only get to borrow the device for the workshop, not take it away Sad smile)
    9:00 - 9:45 Why does technology matter and why should your school care?
    9:45 - 10:45 Hands-on: Windows 8 devices
    10:45 - 11:00 Morning tea
    11:00 - 12:00pm Collaboration, creation and problem solving using Office 365
    12:00 - 12:30 Lunch
    12:30 - 1:45 Hands-on: Office 365
    1:45 - 2:00 Preview: Microsoft Surface Pro 3
    2:00 - 2:30pm Q&A, next steps

    About the facilitator


    Pip Cleaves is well known to many in NSW Department of Education & Communities for her work as a teacher and professional learning consultant in the Hunter Central Coast Region and State Offices for both the Digital Education Revolution 1-to-1 Laptop program and the Connected Classrooms Program. She is also a Microsoft Peer Coach Master Trainer, Adobe Education Leader and Microsoft 21st Century Learning Design Master Facilitator.  Through her company Design | Learn | Empower, Pip continues her journey to support schools, teachers and students to integrate 21st century skills and technology into their learning.

    Date and venue

    Tuesday 25 November: Education Development Centre, Milner Street, Hindmarsh

    Make a dateMake a date: Find out more, and register

  • Education

    Paradyne briefing for schools in Melbourne–12 November



    The team over at Paradyne are running an education briefing at our offices in Melbourne early in November, which will cover Office 365 Education and the ways that other schools are using it to support their teaching and learning goals.

    They are also going to feature Docusign to talk about one of my pet hates – the permission slips that come home from school which require me to (1) find the slip (2) find a pen (3) give the form back to my daughter and (4) keep my fingers crossed that the form reaches school. I know permission slips are frustrating for schools too, for almost the same reasons as they are for me, and also because staff spend valuable time record keeping, chasing and general permission-slip-time-wasting-stuff. If your school is currently sending permission slips home for parents to sign (or even worse, for me as a parent, emailing them home and expecting parents to print them, sign them, and then send them back) then you might get an insight into how you can make everybody in this loop happy!

    And they’re also partnering with the Staples team to show off some of the cool new Windows devices that have hit the market ready for next year.

    Amazingly, they are going to get that all over with by lunchtime, so you’ll be back in school for the afternoon!

    Agenda for the Paradyne Office 365 briefing for schools

    8.30am - Guests arrive - greeted by the smell of coffee

    8.50am - Welcome by Travis Smith, Microsoft

    9.00am - Overview of Paradyne and Office 365 by Paul Krasey, Paradyne

    9.20am - Description of classroom solutions by Daniel Anderson, Paradyne

    9.50am - Advantages of digital permission slips, DocuSign

    10.00am - Real education examples by David Humphreys, Brighton Grammar on Office 365, OneNote and Windows 8, and Launceston Church Grammar School (Lync video recording) on Yammer and SharePoint - personified their SharePoint with Go247

    10.30am - Hardware solutions by Staples - Surface Pro 3 & Lenovo tablets, using pen, showing live changes, examples of students using this hardware and the tie to software/solutions

    11.00am - Conclusion and thank you by Paul Krasey, Paradyne

    11.10am - Q&As and individual conversations

    12.00pm - Event concludes

    Make a dateMake a date: Find out more, and register

    Wednesday, 12 November 2014 - 8:30 AM to 12:00 PM
    Melbourne, Microsoft Offices, Level 5, 4 Freshwater Place, Southbank

  • Education

    Perth and Melbourne Education Partner Training - places still available for December



    Invitation to Microsoft Education Authorised Education Resellers

    This event is for Microsoft Partner Network members and Microsoft Authorised Education Resellers

    We’ve had consistent feedback from our partners that our education-focused training for you has been hitting the mark, and you’d like to ensure that it reaches all of the people in your teams, as well as keeping you completely up-to-date with changes in the market and our education portfolio and strategies. This month we've been running interactive workshops in Sydney and Brisbane, and the final two are just around the corner in the next two weeks. We’re heading to Perth on 4th December, and Melbourne on the 11th, alongside the Office 365 Ignite summits.

    The format that we've been using is a roundtable discussion, and with the help of slides, whiteboards and customer stories, have been able to cover each attendees individual agenda.


    Growing your reach in a changing marketplace.

    Education is in the midst of historic transformation and the rise of technology in the classroom is creating tremendous opportunity for our partners. Just about every government and school system in the world is considering digital access programs and, starting in 2015, new global standards will assess how well schools are helping students develop 21st Century Learning Skills, including critical thinking, technical aptitude and collaboration, driving education institutions globally to look for solutions that will help them effectively integrate technology.

    Microsoft and its partners are uniquely positioned to enable this transformation by providing creative and robust solutions across enterprise management, security, support services, and learning solutions. In this training, focused primarily on sales readiness, participants will deep dive into the Education opportunity, learn the Microsoft vision, as well as how partners can grow their business by selling and deploying solutions across Windows, Office, and Azure to accelerate common education scenarios.

    A single day covering cloud solutions for education built on Office 365 and Microsoft Azure.


    The day will start with an overview of the global and Australian education marketplace, and how you can respond to the hot topics that are currently top of mind for education decision makers within the schools, TAFE and universities market.


    During the morning, we will take a deep dive into Office 365 Education, and how you can help customers tap the communication, authoring and collaboration capabilities, as well as exploring the integration opportunities that will help you sell and deploy solutions in the education market.


    During the afternoon session, we will review customer-specific scenarios, to help you to quickly identify appropriate solutions for different segments of the education market, and meet the customers’ requirements. This will include a look at third-party solutions for specific scenarios. The afternoon will close with a look at how the Microsoft Azure cloud helps you to deliver customer solutions.


    There's still a few places available around the table. Use the links below to sign up:


    Microsoft Perth – Wednesday 3 December
    Microsoft Melbourne – Thursday 11 December

    This event is for Microsoft Partner Network members and Microsoft Authorised Education Resellers

  • Education

    Open Data in Education–Sydney Open Data Day



    Two of our partners, Socrata (based in Seattle, they’re an organisation with deep expertise in open data) and Altis (a Sydney-based data  specialist who have completed a huge range of data projects with Australian education organisations) are running the “Sydney Open Data Day” briefing on 6 November, with a special focus on education data.

    Sydney Open Data Day

    The briefing is a fast-paced hour, at 11AM on Thursday 6th November, at Australia Technology Park (in Eveleigh) Sydney. It’s an opportunity to learn about open data initiatives and programs in NSW and the US. During the session, Rustum Abdurahman of the NSW Department of Education & Communities will discuss how Open Data helps to: 

    • Break down data silos by making data available and consumable 
    • Streamline access and understanding of data for citizens and internal stakeholders
    • Publish the NSW Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation open data, for use and innovation by the developer community

    Keynote Speakers

    Rustum will be joined by Kate Harrington, Strategic Policy NSW Open Data, & Chris Rieth, former director of Open Data and Open Performance for the State of Maryland. Chris and Kate will be sharing their experiences implementing and managing an open data initiative.

    For an idea of the kind of Australian data that’s published through the Socrata system, take a look at the NSW CESE Datahub (where they publish data such as school lists, school locations, student enrolments, and even a list of school calendar websites) and the City of Melbourne Open Data hub (where there’s data like the locations of public artwork, bins, public transport routes, and even parking sensor data – but unfortunately no education data yet)

    Make a dateHope to see you there: Register for the Sydney Open Data Day on 6th November

  • Education

    Reimagine Sydney - a briefing about change and digital disruption


    There’ still an opportunity to register to attend the Reimagine event in Sydney on 29 October, at the Royal Hall of Industries from 9AM-12:30PM

    The briefing isn’t just for education customers, and offers a learning opportunity from the experiences of transformation happening in other industries.


    The briefing will cover the Microsoft vision for platform and productivity – how we will empower people and organisations to do more and achieve more. But technology is only part of the story, because as the impact of technology changes so does the role of IT itself. And the IT people within an organisation become responsible for a digital transformation, and working with others to support the cultural change that technology enables (and requires!).

    This challenge exists with every organisation, whether it’s a big bank, an electricity company, or an education organisation like a school or university. And so we’re seeing new job roles emerging – like Chief Digital Officer and VP of Student Experience. These new roles are often being filled by people with a deep understanding of technology, backed by the skills to effectively manage visionary change.

    At the event, three invited speakers will share their stories of change:

    • Sean Elwick, Head of Information Services at Aurecon, will share his view on the disruption to the role of IT, and how he personally lobbies for digital change within his organisation.
    • Anthony Stevens, Director of IT Operations from KPMG, will share how their business has empowered its people to be more mobile, more responsive and more productive in order to create great experiences for their customers.
    • Belinda Thompson, BDO’s Chief Information Officer, will share how the company is using the cloud to support its people and better connect with its customers – and what it all means for her team’s relationship with the business.

    To find out more and register for either of the Reimagine events, then use the links below:

    Make a date

    Register for Reimagine in Sydney on 29 October

  • Education

    PhotoMath: Should you ban Windows Phone in the Maths classroom?


    Remember when calculators were banned in the classroom, because it made calculation too easy? Well, in the same spirit there’s going to be a maths teacher somewhere that will decide to ban their students from having a Windows Phone in their maths classroom. And all because of PhotoMath and how it makes it too easy to solve mathematical expressions.

    It’s really simple to use….

    Point your phone at a maths equation:

    Photomath (1)

    PhotoMath shows you the solution:


    Photomath (2)

    ..and the steps to solve it:

    PhotoMath (3)

    OneNote and stylus to the rescue for creating complex equations!

    Thanks to OneNote, I’ve also found it can solve complex equations…

    First, I hand wrote the complex equation that I wanted straight into OneNote (with my Surface Pro 3 stylus)…


    …then I used the OneNote “Ink to Math” function:


    ..and OneNote inserted it into my document as text:


    …which I then (maybe bizarrely) scanned and solved with PhotoMath

    Apparently, X = 5 over 2, with 11 steps to a solution:

    PhotoMath (4)

    There are three thoughts running through my head now:

    1. I’m actually going to be able to help my daughter with her HSC maths homework (but I’m never going to reveal how!)
    2. We’re hitting Arthur C Clarke’s Third Law:  “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”
    3. If you’re a maths teacher and your students discover the app, what are you going to give them to do as homework? Maybe you’ll ask them to create mathematical expressions that they can solve, but PhotoMath can’t?

    Learn MoreLearn more about PhotoMath or just download it straight to your Windows Phone here

    Footnote: The microblink team behind PhotoMath have also released an SDK for Maths Equation Solving, so I can imagine we might see this functionality being built into other apps too!

  • Education

    How OneNote helps students with assignment, notes and getting organised


    Yesterday I shared a video (How OneNote makes a classroom difference) from Carey Academy in North Carolina, who shared how they were using OneNote to support new ways of teaching and learning. Today, I’m going to share the next part of the story, which is their students’ perspective on how they use OneNote to support their learning through things like note-taking and helping organise assignments.

    The thing I noticed in this is the way that the students talk about how it helps them to take control of their own learning – like the student who talks about handing in their homework assignments:

      imageYou can just do your homework. You don’t even have to turn it in. They [teachers] can just look at it at 8 o’clock in the morning when it’s supposed to be due.  

    And the other student who’s taking advantage of the fact that OneNote syncs your notes and content across all the different versions, as it runs on Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android phones (and even watches):

      imageI have OneNote on my personal computer, my school computer, my tablet and my phone.  

    Here’s the full video:

  • Education

    How OneNote makes a classroom difference


    I spent some of this weekend with the Microsoft Expert Educators from Australia and New Zealand, as they gathered together to discuss the future of teaching and learning (to see some of the things they talked about, take a look at their #mseduweekend conversation on Twitter). One of the tools they kept coming back to was OneNote – as a note taking tool, as a learning tool and as a presentation tool.

    There’s a bunch of developments happening with OneNote at the moment, and before I write about those, I thought it would be helpful to share a couple of videos on OneNote, and how schools are using it. The video below is less than 2 minutes, and provides a good introduction to the ways that OneNote can support new ways of teaching and learning.

    Learn MoreGo to the OneNote for Teachers website for useful resources for teachers

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