Originally posted on the Live@edu blog.
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could use your BlackBerry to access Office 365? Well, now you can! Yesterday RIM officially announced that BlackBerry Business Cloud Services was available for Office 365 customers.
The service is available today in over 50 countries. Customers can go to www.blackberry.com/cloudservices to get started.
Part 2 of my Learning Without Frontiers 2012 Conference summary.
Last week I attended the Learning Without Frontiers 2012 Conference. My post yesterday introduced my initial 3 (of 5) core points gained from the conference. My final 2, and a short conclusion, are presented in this post. As mentioned yesterday, this only skims the surface and I would highly recommend viewing the video content from the conference when it is made available on the conference website. Some amazing content was presented!
Point 4: Conrad Wolfram (Wolfram Research Europe)
Conrad Wolfram, the founder of Wolfram Alpha , spoke about, with some passion, the subject of Math(s). He argued that there is currently 2 subjects relating to maths. Maths in society, that is more popular than event, and maths in education, which is more despised that ever.
Maths in education is currently mostly about calculation. In digital age where most people have access to powerful computers in their back pockets, this approach is out-dated and unappealing to most students.
Maths is important for a number of significant reasons. It is the foundation for most technical jobs and also encourages logical thinking. Furthermore, maths is ultimately about asking the right questions and knowing how to find the right answer.
Pure calculation and making students into 3rd rate computers is not going to develop students who can do and offer these things. Maths is bigger than that!
The current efforts to improve math education is not working. Conrad argued that better deployment of the wrong subject (pure calculation) is not the way forward for maths curriculum. Instead, maths, even at an early stage, needs to be made more relevant. Working out by how many friends you are separated on Facebook, for example, is going to engage more students than the current approach seen in maths education.
Conrad went on to say that computers are dumbing maths down and needs a radical overhaul to ensure its relevance and value moving forward.
Its hoped that initiatives such as the Wolfram UK Programming 2012 Challenge will help raise awareness of these requirement and help inspire the changes needed.
Point 5: Mark Surman and Michelle Levesque (Mozilla.org)
Mark and Michelle gave a very interesting talk on the topic of making as learning, or more specifically, web making as learning.
In an effort to inspire and build the next generation of web makers, Mozilla have been pairing film makers and other members of the creative industries with developers to create unique digital first versions of their movie content.
The web is like Lego, building blocks that are designed to be pulled about and used to create new things. Mozilla's project is all about embracing the concept of the web being like Lego and encouraging folks to remix!
I love the analogy of comparing the web with Lego and will be watching their efforts in this area closely.
All in all, and as mentioned in the opening to this post, Learning Without Frontiers 12 was an amazing conference. Great speakers, inspiring ideas and an opportunity to be exposed to new and often conflicting perspectives made LWF12 one of the best conferences I have attended for some time.
That being said, though, I am not sure that it took full advantage of the opportunity to address the future of education. There is no doubt that the conference had the opinions and ideas needed to start making a difference. I can't help but think, though, that delegates will have left Olympia wondering how they can take some of the ideas they heard and start making a difference in their schools, colleges or universities. The conference lacked the practical elements required to drive change and, with the odd exception, was very heavy on the theory. I appreciate that this is the aim of the conference, but its time to stop talking and actually start doing.
It seems like the will is there and there is pockets of great work being carried out, although I think the community needs to now come together to start mapping out the practical next steps needed to stimulate and drive a Napster like shift in the education sector.
All members of the community, from government to newly qualified teachers, now need to embrace the challenge that is presented to us and be bold enough to define what the future of education looks like.
I hope that Learning Without Frontiers, as custodians of this community they are building, considers what happens between now and the next conference to encourage the practical realisation of the ideas presented at the conference.
I am passionate about this topic and look forward to playing my part in the future of learning.
What do you think? What do we need to do next? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Originally posted on the UK Microsoft Faculty Connection blog
Visual Studio is a ideal tools for schools, colleges and Universities for inspiring future developers, to enhance the experience Microsoft has released Visual Studio Achievements, with the achievements students talents and learning are recognized as they perform various coding feats, which unlock achievements and earn badges which can be shared and displayed on social network profiles and web sites.
Some examples of individual achievements include Regional Manager (have more than 10 regions in a single class), Close To The Metal (use 5 preprocessor directives), Stubby (generate method stubs 10 times) or Interrupting Cow (have 10 breakpoints in a file). All in all, there are 32 achievements awaiting to be unlocked, all of which are listed here. Here's what the 6 different badges look like:
The Six Categories of Achievements
With the Visual Studio Achievements Extension, achievements are unlocked based on your activity. Your code is analysed on a background thread each time you compile. In addition, the extension listens for certain events and actions that you may perform in Visual Studio, reporting progress on these events to the server. When you unlock an achievement, Visual Studio lets you know visually with a pop-up displaying the award. Each time you earn a badge, a unique page is created with your profile picture, the badge and a description. Students can then automatically tweet about achievements they earn and/or share them on Facebook.
Get Visual Studio for FREE via DreamSpark
Last week, I attended the Learning Without Frontiers (#lwf12) conference in Olympia. Aside from Olympia now starting to feel like my second home after spending the early part of this month there at the BETT 2012 show, the conference was arguably the most inspiring and motivating I have attended since Thinking Digital a few years ago (FOTE gets a mention here, also).
Much like Herb Kim of Thinking Digital, Graham Brown Martin and his team have done a brilliant job at curating an amazing line-up of speakers to address the core theme of the conference: The Future of Learning.
With the underlying theme of trying to create an environment that can stimulate a Napster like shift in education, speakers such as Microsoft's very own Anthony Salcito, Noam Chomsky, Ray Kurzweil, Ellen MacArthur and Conrad Wolfram, to name a few, presented some inspiring and often controversial views and ideas about how to transform education.
To recap the content from all of the presentations would probably qualify me for the longest blog post in the world award. For the sake of brevity, though, I will try and summarise the 5 core points from my perspective, made from a selection of speakers across the 2 days. This only skims the surface and I would highly recommend viewing the video content from the conference when it is made available on the conference website.
Also, if you attended the conference, it would be great to hear what you thought where your core points and ideas presented at the event. Leave your thoughts in the comments below. I look forward to continuing the conversation over the coming weeks.
This blog post covers part one of this summary, with part 2 to following tomorrow.
Point 1: Anthony Salcitio (Microsoft)
I am not just highlighting some core points made during Anthony's presentation because he is VP for Education at Microsoft. I personally felt that Anthony's presentation was both thought provoking yet practical, and the fact that Sir Ken Robinson referenced it during his summary means I can't be far off the mark.
Anthony spoke about a number of pragmatic and game changing ideas, but his thoughts around the fact that technology should be used as a service to teachers and students and not be the core focus, really stuck with me.
Technology to support teaching and learning should be at the forefront of our agendas moving forward. Technology, combined with great teaching, is what is going to drive change and improve attainment for students in the future.
Technology and bad teaching is going to add little value and has very little scale at a time when learning is no longer a linear process. Students now come to class with content already pre-wired. It is the teachers role to make that content come alive and add meaningful context and discussion. Technology, when used effectively by great teachers, can give real scale and impact.
The paradigm of learning has changed and simply digitising the old methods of teaching and content delivery is not going to provide the Napster like change the conference was trying to unleash.
The personalisation of learning and creating an emotional connection to this learning is what is going to create the transformation needed.
Anthony, during his presentation, discussed a number of different methods and techniques that can help transform and enhance the emotional connection to learning. Gaming, and the gamification of learning, was a core element of this.
Jane McGonical, in her brilliant TED talk 'Gaming can make a better world', discusses some of these ideas and was referenced by Anthony is his talk. The video is well worth taking the time to view below.
Games based learning requires and builds skill as the game develops, and the gamer creates an emotion connection with the game. With points and reward built in to the game, games based learning essentially creates a new category: the incentivisation of learning.
When gamers play a game, at the beginning they die a lot. Yet they slowly become an expert at the game as they play more often and learn more about the environment and dynamics of the game.
This approach to learning could have a massive impact and is in stark contrast to the traditional methods of teaching and learning that focused on content, retention and assessment.
We must not forget, though, that students and teachers are the future. Not technology.
I have probably done a really bad job at trying to highlight some of the core points from Anthony's presentation, but will post the video from LWF12 to the blog when its available. I will definitely be watching it time and time again!
Point 2: Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky, in a recorded introductory video to the conference, discussed some fairly controversial ideas regarding how to positively change the future of learning. I didn't agree with all of them, particularly his views around the impact that technologies such as the internet has had on society. That’s maybe something for another blog post, though.
Noam's opening remarks covered a fairly wide range of topics, but ultimately focused on curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.
He discussed that we need to create an education system that encourages creative exploration, independence of thought and the ability for people to push the boundaries forward. He argued that we wont get the economic and technical gains society needs without graduates that can achieve this.
Noam went onto talk about that significant changes to how the education curriculum is structured are needed to support this goal. He discussed assessment, in particular.
Noam felt that tests can be a useful benchmark, but beyond this doesn't tell you much. You can study for a test and then 3 weeks later you have forgotten everything. In this sense, assessment managed in this manor is just a set of hurdles and is relatively worthless. Searching and enquiring is more significant than passing tests.
Noam felt that an education system that rewards discovery and independent thought, not standardisation, was needed to build the foundation for a strong economic future.
How do you feel about some of these ideas?
Point 3: Ellen MacArthur
Ellen gave a motivating talk about her experiences of sailing around the world and the lessons she learnt.
Sailing solo around the world presents some very unique and dangerous challenges. With a boat that is built for speed, rather than safety, luxuries such as sleep and 'turning off' for a few hours are soon a distant memory when you are 2,500 miles from the nearest port. Extreme concentration and the full awareness and management of the resources available to you are key to survival. On the boat, the battery is like a heart beat and 5 seconds is all it takes for disaster to hit. What is available on the boat is all you have and the management of these is key!
When Ellen successfully completed her goal, she thought back to the finite resources on the boat and drew comparisons to the earth. Much like on her sailing adventures and the resources on her boat, what we have available on the earth to sustain future generations are also finite.
This led to Ellen leaving professional sailing and launch the Ellen MacArthur foundation that aims to focus on one thing - all our futures.
Societies use of natural resources have spiked since WW2 and are clearly fundamental to life, today. These are finite, though, and will eventually be used up. So if these can be eventually used up, what does society do? Use less?
If this is the case, what are we aiming for as a society. To do less? If so, how do we inspire young people?
Ellen argued that we need to think differently when it comes to manufacturing the things that we need and use in the future. Designing for disassembly, that would allow for products to be broken down and used to produce the next car or carpet tile, would offer the environmental protection the earth needs combined with new economic opportunities.
A system level change is needed, though. In the case of the automotive industry, for example, consumers would purchase miles rather than a car. You would essentially lease the miles and then give it back to the automotive company to breakdown into the next car. Bold steps, but arguably necessary given the facts presented by Ellen during her talk.
A practical expression of this ideology is something called the circular economy, which promotes a continuous circle of production and recycling/re-production of goods.
With the mission to re-think, re-design and build a better future, the foundation is working closely with governments, businesses and, most importantly, young people to encourage a generation to see things differently and safe guard the future of our environment.
Part 2 of this Learning Without Frontiers themed post will follow tomorrow.
For schools, colleges and universities looking for a powerful tool for their students to help them better collaborate on group projects, SkyDrive and Office Web Apps is the ideal solution.
Those looking for a web based solution often think about Google Docs. While tools such as this may work well for simple tasks, they may not have the features you need to create professional documents. You can also have formatting issues when you move between these apps and Office.
You could also use a “file cloud” like Dropbox, but these tools aren’t really designed for collaboration, and they don’t let you work simultaneously with others on a document.
Faced with these choices, many people decide to work independently and email files back and forth. This makes it hard to know if you’re working on the latest version of a document, and sometimes you can run into attachment limits. It also can take a lot of time to piece together different Word documents or PowerPoint presentations from multiple email messages.
With SkyDrive, you have a better option. Students can store all their files in one place, so everyone can access the latest version. They can also use free Office Web Apps for basic editing from any browser.
More specifically, SkyDrive and Office Web Apps allow you to more easily manage the following:
SkyDrive and Office Web Apps make sharing easy. Learn more about how your students can start embracing these powerful tools, also offered as part of Live@edu, today.
Recently, Premier teamed up with Microsoft Services to discuss Microsoft Premier Support and how it’s helped universities save money, simplify their deployments, and avoid costly downtime while helping students, faculty and staff to be more productive using Microsoft technologies. During that session we had a great discussion with London Southbank University and how they’ve utilised Microsoft Premier Support in their environment.
You can watch the video South Bank University Premier Presentation 15th Dec 2011 and hear about London Southbank University’s experience of working with Premier Support, in particular:
· Their experience of a business critical situation and the resources applied by Microsoft to solve it promptly. · How they reduced organisational risk following a co-ordinated programme of Premier Support Risk Assessments and Health checks · How they saved money through migration assistance for Live@edu Policy
· Their experience of a business critical situation and the resources applied by Microsoft to solve it promptly.
· How they reduced organisational risk following a co-ordinated programme of Premier Support Risk Assessments and Health checks
· How they saved money through migration assistance for Live@edu Policy
What is Premier?
Premier Support is a flexible offering that can be tailored to your requirements. It includes three distinct categories of support:
Seamless support for both your cloud-based and on-premise IT environments, minimising your risk of integration issues or service interruptions. Faster issue resolution, keeping costly downtime to a minimum. And a single point of contact for both strategic and operational support.
Want to learn more? Join our Lync Meetings in February and find out how Microsoft’s Premier Support could deliver tangible value to your University.
Dates and Times of LMs
The URL’s for these LMs are as follows:
Friday 10th February 2012
Introducing Premier Support for Education Customers – 11:30
Delegate Registration Link here
Tuesday 14th February 2012 – 15:00
Introducing Premier Support for Education Customers – 15:00
Delegate Registration Link here
In the meantime, you can find out more here.
Originally posted on Anthony Salcito’s Education Insights Blog.
I’m back in the office after a quick trip to Las Vegas for CES. I love to walk the show floor each year to see all the new gadgets, not just because it’s fun to tinker with new technology, but because I like to get a first look at the new innovations that could be most useful when applied in education. There are a lot of new Microsoft products that are available to schools now or very soon. Surface 2.0 has just shipped, the Kinect for Windows Software Development Kit (SDK) and a Kinect for Windows sensor are coming on February 1st, and Nokia phones built on Windows Phone are out now.
Our hardware partners are building some cool PCs and Windows 7 runs super-fast and super-long on them. They’re building rich input devices, with mice, keyboards, and pen inputs – some go from a laptop to a tablet in just seconds -- satisfying those students who want the best of both tablets and PCs in one. There are also a lot of new form factors designed to appeal to students that are lightweight with rich screens, and that are very flexible with support for gaming and use things like voice and touch commands to enable a very immersive experience. Ultrabooks were the star of the show. You can see the latest Windows 7 devices here and in the embedded video below.
I am really excited about all the choices schools have when it comes to determining what device they want to bring into their institution. As we know 1:1 learning is going to become more rampant with the shift to digital content and the need to make sure kids are prepared for college and career. We’ve learned a lot about technology’s effectiveness in schools and in 1:1 programs in particular, and I encourage school leaders to think holistically about the learning environment before they jump to buy technology for technology’s sake. I met with JP Sa Couto and Critical Links at CES. They help schools think about all aspects to create the most effective learning environment. They have done a lot of research and investment in looking at everything from the school furnishings to lighting to looking at ethnographic studies to literally determine how a device best fits into a school.
Schools want devices for different activities….reading digital textbooks, taking notes, creating presentations and papers, the ability to plug in an array of peripherals and 3rd party solutions, and centralized IT management and security. And as data-driven education improves, schools need to be able to analyze what students and teachers are doing with the technology and link the outcomes to assessments and personalized lesson planning through business intelligence and learning management systems.
There are a lot of great new tablet PCs and laptops designed especially for education that can withstand the rigors of heavy use during the school day, including getting thrown in backpacks and dropped on the playground.
At CES, Lenovo was showing off the newly released Lenovo Classmate + . It’s a rugged PC laptop that converts into a tablet, sports a drop resistant exterior, spill proof keyboard, reinforced steel hinges, 10.1 inch touch display with pen (optional HD), 10 hour battery life, multiple USB ports and VGA or HDMI output to monitor. The Lenovo X130e is also a good choice for K12 schools made rugged with rubber “bumpers” and reinforced hinges to take a long school day.
Dell’s Inspiron Duo continues to win praise from students and teachers alike because its innovative flip hinge design makes it very easy to go from touch to type in seconds. The 10.1 HD multi touch screen, student sized keyboard and rugged design make it the perfect device for schools that want a HD tablet and a laptop in one device.
For university students who want a computer that’s light, fast, durable and stylish, ultrabooks are all the rage. The video below showcases the latest hardware from Asus, Acer, Toshiba, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and Sony.
The Nokia Lumia 800 Windows Phone is now available as a reward with the Windows Phone UK Developer Reward Programme.
By simply joining the UK Developer rewards programme Educators and Students can get rewarded with loads of other fantastic prizes for building Windows Phone App and publishing it on the Windows Phone Marketplace.
The programme concludes (Sunday 5 Feb 2012). So There is no better time to start building and publishing your Windows Phone app. It’s incredibly easy with 5 simple steps:
So download the tools form DreamSpark and Register and start building & publishing your Windows Phone apps today.
Enter to compete in the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2012 Windows Phone Challenge and create software that can really make a broad impact in the world.
Get started on your solution today.
Get your questions ready! Join Windows Phone Challenge Captain Jukka Wallasvaara on 22 February at 15:00 GMT or 23 February at 05:00 GMT via Live Meeting and ask him about competing in the Windows Phone Challenge. Follow these instructions to join Live Meeting. The Live Meeting sessions will be recorded and posted on this page under the Helpful Links. Find out what time it is your country/region.
Originally posted on the Microsoft UK Faculty Connection Blog.
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First in a series of guest posts from Adrian Edgar, Independent Education Consultant. Director of ICT and SMT at Culford School for 7 Years.
Last week I was lucky enough to be part of the Microsoft Education team at BETT 2012. I spoke on the subject of using OneNote 2010 and SharePoint 2010 MySites. In this blog post, I’d like to recap some of the key points and show some of the great ways we have developed use of the software.
OneNote addresses the three core aspects that underpin effective learning. Pupils can capture their thoughts quickly and record their work. This could be typed notes, pictures, drawings or indeed, written notes. As long as pupils get in to the habit of using their OneNote notebook as their central portfolio, collecting and organising work becomes second nature. Rarely can you say that a piece of software aids organisation in such an effective manner.
Finally, and the most important aspect is the ability to simply share work and collaborate. This could be two or more pupils discussing work, but it is just as likely to involve the other key players in the process. Teachers and Parents can be given rights to read or contribute to the notebook and if you link this to a SharePoint library or SkyDrive share, the opportunities are endless.
Rather than focus on the core aspects of OneNote I’d like to discuss the fantastic way we can integrate the use of SharePoint Libraries, Outlook scheduling and tasks in order to help pupils plan and organise their time.
The first part of the process is to share the notebook and then grant contribute rights. In this example, I’m going to use SharePoint 2010 My Sites.
First step is to create a new document library under the students My Site pages
1. Start by making sure you are in the My Content section before you begin the process
2. From My Sites, click on Site Actions and Select New Document Library
3. Follow the instructions to complete each section as shown below
4. Click on Create to complete the process. You should see the new library created on the left hand tool bar. The new document library should open and display the library toolbar ribbon
5. It’s at this stage you can assign the correct permissions to the library
Now that we have our new homework library, I’m going to make sure the correct people have permission.
Once you have created your new library it should open with the Library Tools ribbon as shown. If not, simply look for the ribbon tab on the left next to Site Actions and click on Library.
1. Look for the Library Permissions icon on the far right. Click on this icon.
2. More than likely, this library will inherit permissions from the level above. Simply click on the Stop Inheriting Permissions button and agree to the dialogue box.
3. Now you can remove all the permissions you don’t need and add your own.
Be careful when you do this. Make sure you keep your permissions to the library. The example below uses a fake student called Lucy Jones.
4. Tick the boxes next to the permissions you want to remove and then click on Remove User Permissions.
5. Now you can add permissions for the teacher to contribute to the library. This will assign permissions to any document uploaded to that library.
The final stage of this section is to assign collaboration rights to the teacher. For this example we are going to use the name, Mrs T Green.
1. With the same Library Permissions ribbon open, confirm that you can see the indicator stating that the library has individual permissions. If not follow step 2 above.
2. Click on Grant Permissions on the Permission Tools ribbon. The dialogue box below will open.
3. In this example I have allocated Contribute permissions to Mrs Teresa Green. I could have also used any of my Active Directory groups and assigned permissions to all staff.
4. Scrolling down the page, I have the opportunity to personalise a message explaining the permission I have granted.
5. Click OK to complete the process. The SharePoint server will email your welcome message.
In the next part of this post I will show you how to go one stage further now and set up a sharing collaboration process between teacher and pupil.
In the meantime, the slides from the OneNote session at BETT 2012 can be viewed/downloaded below.