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August, 2012

  • FE blog

    Free ebook: Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (Second Preview)

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    Originally posted on the Microsoft Press Blog.

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    We’re happy to release the Second Preview of our free ebook Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, by Kraig Brockschmidt, today. Here’s a description of the ebook from Kraig:

    Kraig here. Hello again! Now that the RTM build of Windows 8 is out and available to developers, along with upgraded tools, I’m delighted to offer the next preview release of my book, Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Since the first release in June, we’ve added eight more chapters, bringing the total to 12 out of a planned 17. The new chapters cover collection controls (everything you wanted to know about ListView!), layout (especially view states), commanding UI (app bars, message dialogs, and their friends), the all-important topic of managing state, a close look at input and sensors (a form of input, really), media, animations, and contracts (share, search, the file pickers, and contacts). The earlier preview chapters (1-4) have also been updated and refined.

    Writing a book like this has always been a journey of exploration for myself, and I’m truly grateful that I also have the opportunity to share the results with you. The process has involved many discussions with the Windows engineering team who created the platform, often taking me into far-off corners of the galaxy, so to speak. I’ve also been doing my best to follow app-building discussions both within Microsoft, on the MSDN forums, and StackOverflow so that I can try to anticipate and answer questions that will likely arise in your own mind. And with this over-abundance of information and experience, my goal has been to pull together a narrative story from start to finish, blazing a single trail through what can seem at times like a thick jungle. I would love to hear from you how successful I’ve been at this endeavor.

    As evidenced by its title, this book is about writing Windows 8 apps in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The earlier chapters are indeed very specific to that particular choice of language and presentation layer, along with the Windows Library for JavaScript.

    Somewhere around Chapters 7 and 8, however, we really begin to transition more into the WinRT APIs that are applicable to apps written in any language. I’m finding this especially true as I’m writing Chapter 13 on live tiles and notifications—very little of it, other than the code snippets, is unique to JavaScript, especially when talking about tile-updating web services written with server-side technologies like PHP and ASP.NET! My point in saying this is that while I’ve written this book ostensibly for web developers who are and will be looking to create apps for Windows 8 and the Windows Store, much of this book will also be very helpful to Windows 8 developers in general. And since it is now and will be a free ebook, you can’t lose!

    As the release date for Windows 8 has been set for October 26th, we’re now on the home stretch toward the final release of this full ebook, which we plan to have ready in time for the Build conference in Redmond (October 30- November 2). I hope to see many of you there! And for those who cannot attend in person, keep an eye on http://buildwindows.com because the conference will also be presented online.

    Happy reading, and coding!

    DOWNLOAD LINKS:

    You can download the Second Preview (PDF only) here (13.5 MB).

    And you can download the Second Preview’s companion content here (64.9 MB).

    (We’ll release the final version of this free ebook in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats.)

  • FE blog

    Higher-Ed Learning with Windows 8

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    Originally posted on the Windows blog.

    During the past few months, we’ve been talking about how Windows 8 enterprise ready by design. But what does that really mean for organizations? For one of our early adopters, Seton Hall University, it means they’ll be able to give their students the convenience of a tablet with the productivity of a PC. They’ll be able to connect and collaborate across devices – on a desktop, smart phone, laptop or tablet. It means they can give their students and faculty the experiences they want while also having the enterprise capabilities their IT department needs.

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    Based in New Jersey, Seton Hall University is working hard to create new and dynamic learning environments and wants all of their students to have access to the latest technology to prepare them well for the workforce when they graduate. In 1998, the university began providing full-time incoming freshmen with laptops as part of their tuition and fees. This award-winning initiative, called the Mobile Computing Program, has evolved during over the last 14 years, right along with the definition of what “mobile” means to our society. In less than two decades, the way people – and students – work and use technology has drastically changed.

    And I’m excited to share with you that the entering Class of 2016 at Seton Hall recently received a Samsung tablet or Ultrabook running Windows 8, a Windows Phone (Windows Phone-based Nokia Lumia 900) and access to Office 365 for education. That means more than 1,200 students at the university have access to the same technology and resources to pursue their education, with another more than 1,200 junior students obtaining access to the same technology later in August.

    The immediate benefits to both students and faculty are obvious: enhanced communication and collaboration across the university. And our colleagues with Microsoft Education and Microsoft Office have posted specifics on how students and faculty are leveraging this technology for academic success.

    But for the purposes of this blog, I want to focus on the Seton Hall’s business rationale for standardizing the school across Windows 8 and other Microsoft platforms.

    “From an IT perspective, Windows 8 provides us with the ability to manage thousands of devices on our campus network that other solutions are not able to provide,” said Dr. Stephen Landry, CIO of Seton Hall University. “From the student’s perspective, other offerings were great devices for consuming information, but students found it very difficult to create content on them.”

    The university sees devices like phones and tablets as companion technology. Previous technology only a few years ago made it difficult to streamline support these university-managed devices because students naturally have large amounts of data stored on them. In an environment that supports both tablets and mobile devices, students’ data – and the user experience – now lives in the cloud, making it easier for the Seton Hall’s IT department to support and troubleshoot issues.

    But it’s not just device support that makes Windows 8 a wise choice for organizations that manage thousands of users and devices.

    Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, had a chance to hear Landry speak at the 2012 TechEd North America in June. “Devices – whether they are notebooks or tablets – running Windows 8 are appealing to organizations because the operating system brings a strong security, management and integration element to IT departments that other offers cannot provide.”

    And Landry agrees. “As a CIO, you have to provide a secure and manageable environment for all of the devices that you’re supporting for faculty and administrators. Windows 8 comes with all the tools I need to make sure that I’m providing a secure and safe environment.”

    Windows 8 in education provides students with a technology ecosystem that not only provides access to digital content, but also offers a fully functional tool that allows for productivity and collaboration. Seton Hall is on the cutting edge of building the future workforce and by using Microsoft technologies, students will have the skills they need to be successful in the workforce. And as some of the heaviest power users of technology out there, students have no problem sharing their feedback and ideas to both us and Seton Hall for how this technology can be used.

    Want to learn more about Seton Hall’s implementation of Windows 8 and other Microsoft offerings? Check out the Customer Spotlight press release, and this video that shares the CIO’s perspective – but also looks at student and faculty’s initial thoughts on their new technology.

    And as we continue to see more early adoption of Windows 8 with our customers, I’ll be sharing stories – like Seton Hall University’s – that clearly articulate the value of Windows 8 for businesses and its many benefits for people and the IT departments that support them.

  • FE blog

    University of Aberdeen Saves £20,000 with Desktop Management and Protection Solution

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    The University of Aberdeen needed to replace its third-party antivirus software with a more cost-effective solution. It chose Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, which includes System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection, for managing device protection. The university not only saves £20,000—the antivirus software is included in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager—but the IT team has also gained efficient tools for the desktop environment.

    To learn more, view/download the full case study below:

  • FE blog

    “It is very difficult to be innovative when you are working alone; it is much better to bounce ideas off other people. This is how ideas grow and is vital for moving education forward.”

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    Originally posted on the Daily Edventures Blog.

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    Nicki Maddams knows first-hand the power of games in learning, and her Kodu in the Klassroom demonstrates why. When Maddams discovered Kodu Game Lab, she immediately saw the potential to engage her students. She then developed lesson plans and resources which are now being used throughout the UK and around the world.

    Maddams soon discovered that Kodu was not only helpful in teaching computing and ICT, but it also provided a terrific tool to raise the level of literacy for struggling and disengaged
    students. Kodu was used by the students to create story-telling games and, according to
    Maddams, “Their english teacher was amazed at the improvement in their behavior and work ethic.” After an in-school pilot, she invited local primary schools to take part in the literacy project. Nine and 10-year old students visited Maddams’s school once a week for nine weeks to learn how to design and create their own games, while writing the storylines and planning content for the games. They even blogged about their work.

    Maddams shared her project at Microsoft’s European Innovative Teacher Awards in Lisbon, and will attend the November Global Forum in Prague to share the work with an even broader audience. Today, she shares with us her passion for teaching and her thoughts on the vast potential for game-based learning.

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    Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?

    Within the subject I teach, ICT is often taught by non-specialists and therefore sometimes they may struggle with getting to grips with the subject. I frequently share my resources online through my website so other teachers can use these within their lessons and simply adapt to suit their needs. More recently in sharing the Kodu resources I have developed, I have received lots of positive feedback from teachers across the globe who are using my resources. This is particularly great to hear as it means more children are being opened-up to the world of programming from a young age!

    What has changed as a result of your efforts?

    More schools are using software that they may not previously have looked at. Not just in secondary schools but in primary as well, which is great to hear. Providing tutorials for teachers as well as the resources to teach the software has made it much easier for teachers to use new tools and technology in their classrooms.

    How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

    I try to make things as easy as possible for others; that’s why I share my resources freely through my blog. Hopefully this will take away the challenge for others who just want to focus on their classroom teaching and are not able, or do not have the time, to reinvent the wheel by creating lots of resources from scratch.

    How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

    Being an ICT teacher, the use of technology is an integral part of my day-to-day teaching. Most recently, the technology that has been particularly innovative is the use of Xbox controllers in my classroom when using Kodu Game Lab with the children. The most important thing is that technology should always be used as a tool and not simply used for the sake of ticking a box. I have an interactive white-board in my room but rarely use it
    as such because for me it’s often not relevant to what I am trying to teach.
    Our Math department, on the other hand, uses them frequently to good advantage.

    What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?

    Class size would be the main obstacle. Often students are required to share a PC as there simply are not enough in my classroom for the size of some of the classes I teach. In the UK, a number of schools that have been deemed as unfit for their purpose have been re-built in recent years. My school was on the list to be re-built but unfortunately our rebuild (along with a number of others) was cancelled due to lack of funding. As a result, many teachers in the UK are faced with teaching in rooms that are not fit for practice and not suited to children’s needs. For example, my classroom has leaked on occasions, quite dramatically, and gets so hot in the summer as there is no air-conditioning. It’s often quite difficult to engage the children when they’re wilting from the heat!

    What is your country doing right to support education?

    In terms of my subject, recently our Minister for Education has given us more freedom within the ICT curriculum and enabled us to teach more computing, such as programming, etc. This is great for my subject.

    What conditions must change in your country to better support education?

    There are frequent consultations at the government level regarding education, and the problems, as I see them, are that there are too many changes. Recently a lot of the guidance changed as to what should be included in GCSEs (General Certificate of Secondary Education) so the exam boards had to bring out lots of new courses to meet these requirements. The impact these decisions have on teachers is that we are then required to re-write our school curricula to match these requirements. In another couple of years, these requirements are likely to be changed again, leaving us to re-write resources again. In the news recently, the government suggested bringing back O-Levels and CSEs (UK standard tests) which were abandoned years ago because they were not suitable. I think it would be best to have fewer changes in education from a government level.

    What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?

    Computers play a huge role when looking at innovation as they offer so much flexibility with different types of software and hardware that are frequently becoming available. Games-based learning is becoming increasingly popular amongst teachers as it is a way of “tricking” the children into learning or a hook to gain the child’s interest in order to base a project around a particular game. I think this is a great idea as we all know children learn best when they are interested in a particular topic.

    What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?

    Networking is a great way to gain ideas and resources; Twitter (@GeekyNicki) is one of the easiest and most popular methods used by teachers as it is so flexible and easy to communicate with lots of people at once. It is a great place for gaining ideas for use in the classroom and also for sharing ideas and resources. It is very difficult to be innovative when you are working alone; it is much better to bounce ideas off other people. This is how ideas grow and is vital for moving education forward.

    What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?

    Game-based learning, as I mentioned earlier, is probably the most recent trend and it seems to have been quite successful, particularly in primary schools where children would tend to base all of their work around a particular topic. I have seen some great examples where children have used games such as Nintendogs, where they would play the game, looking after their pet, but also do creative writing, artwork and even learn about anatomy all based around the game. It is also possible for games-based learning to be taken to the other extreme where a teacher could pick games that are very loosely based around the subject they are teaching and leave the children to “play” for an extended period of time without necessarily checking on progress. Done correctly, games-based learning is an asset to education but it shouldn’t be used in the extreme.

    If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

    A piano (or maybe just any musical instrument)! This may sound a little strange but I have been learning to play the piano for the last year or so and learning has given me so many skills that are valuable and help me “learn to learn.” For example, to play an instrument you have to develop a lot of patience and perseverance as you are not going to be the world’s best pianist as soon as you begin. Understanding the values of perseverance would be a great asset to any child. Playing an instrument is also a great way to unwind at the end of the day and is very satisfying when you have learned a new piece. In teaching, the children who achieve best are the ones who are willing to persevere with a problem and show patience when things go wrong. There is nothing worse as a teacher than when you see a child give up at the first hurdle because a task is “too hard”! I believe that acquiring the core skills that come with learning an instrument will help any child become a better learner, and in turn they will be ready to take on any challenge, big or small.
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    Join the Partners in Learning Network and experience global collaboration!

    Innovate in the classroom, help your students build the skills they need for the future—such as problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity—with Partners in Learning.

    You’ll meet other innovative teachers for collaboration opportunities, get access to free teacher resources, and learn about great ways to improve your personal teaching practice using technology.

    Embraced by the theme ‘Your Ideas Matter’ the Partners in Learning Network is a community for you, by you, and further amplifies the great work that is being done every day by teachers and schools around the world. With this idea in mind, we invite you to try out this global online resource and community designed to encourage collaboration and the spread of ideas for the betterment of education worldwide.

    The new Partners in Learning Network is the next generation of the global network serving educators and school leaders in over 115 countries. To facilitate a truly global community of innovative educators, the site is now available in 36 different languages, thanks to the use of Microsoft Translator Services.

    Sign in, create an account and start connecting with thousands of educators worldwide here.

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    About Nicki Maddams

    Birthplace: Margate, Kent, England
    Current residence: Maidstone, Kent, England
    Education: BSc (hons)Computing
    Website I check every day: Probably Facebook and Twitter most days. I also check the
    Microsoft Teachers Blog regularly.
    Person who inspires me most: There is not one person who particularly stands out for
    me but if I were to choose it would probably be Bill Gates. Not only from a technical point-of-view but I am inspired by how much good he has done with his money in terms of his philanthropy.
    Favorite childhood memory: I don’t have one specific favorite memory but I have lots
    of fond memories of days out with my parents and grandparents, visiting tourist attractions around Kent, such as castles, zoos, museums, etc. One such highlight would be visiting Leeds Castle and having a picnic at which my grandfather toppled backwards in his chair leaving his legs in the air!
    Next travel destination (work or pleasure): My partner and I are thinking about
    travelling through Europe in the near future, possibly at the end of this summer holiday or possibly next year. We are hoping to stop off in Germany and possibly Austria then head down to Northern Italy before driving back through France. Of cause I will also be travelling to Prague in November for Microsoft’s Global Forum where I will be exhibiting my Virtual Classroom Tour, Kodu in the Klassroom.
    When was the last time you laughed? Why? I can’t pinpoint a particular moment as I laugh so frequently! It was probably yesterday evening. My partner Kevin makes me laugh on a regular basis as he is always doing something silly!
    Favorite book: I can’t really say I have one favorite as there are so many great books out there. I really enjoyed the Harry Potter series and recently the Hunger Games trilogy. Any of Dan Brown’s books are also very gripping.
    Favorite music: It would depend on my mood really. I like a broad range of music from classical to modern. I love almost anything from the eighties. The only music I don’t really like is grunge!
    Your favorite quote or motto:A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

  • FE blog

    “I see a lot of disruption get stymied by ‘the system’ or process blocks. Don’t wait for permission; rather seek forgiveness with your awesome results!”

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    Originally posted on the Daily Edventures Blog.

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    For Ben Betts, a classroom doesn’t require four walls, and in fact, learners may be better off without them. Betts, who is currently completing his doctorate in engineering while leading HT2, his learning technology company, mixes business and engineering acumen with a strong desire to change the status quo in education. The changes he advocates range from how kids learn to how they’re ultimately accredited for what they’ve learned.

    To address needed improvements in the “how” of learning, Betts and team have builtCuratr, a new learning approach based on peer-to-peer collaboration. The tool is free to teachers and worth checking out:

    Betts shared with us his views on what’s wrong with the current accreditation process, and how teachers can get up-to-speed on the latest in e-learning.

    Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?

    In online education we’ve been facing a couple of problems. Firstly, it costs a lot to create an online course. For example, MITx is sinking $60m into their MOOC (massive open online course) projects. So we came up with a method that relied more on peer-to-peer collaboration than it did on creating an expensive piece of e-learning – this has helped to radically reduce the cost of creating an online course.

    But participation figures in online collaborative learning are low – often people quote so called “power laws” to suggest that 80 percent of the work will be done by 20 percent of the students. This is a problem as we know that those students who are more active in a learning experience will achieve greater results than those who are passive. So we then worked to create a method that would actively encourage participation in an online learning experience, using techniques like ‘gamification’ to encourage students to try new behaviors.

    The work has resulted in both a new platform (Curatr) and a new method (The Collaborative Learning Cycle). Curatr has won awards in both the UK and USA for its novel approach and it’s implemented at a number of schools, universities and companies to change the way they do education.

    What has changed as a result of your efforts?

    Hopefully we’ve presented a way in which online learning can be both effective and affordable. But to be honest we’re only just beginning. There is a growing acceptance of peer-to-peer learning activities being a great way to facilitate online learning; but this isn’t the result of my work, it is the result of many researchers all over the world coming to the same conclusions.

    How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

    They can use our platform – Curatr is free for teachers. But they can also read and research the techniques in a number of ways – be on the lookout for ideas like Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, Gamification and MOOC’s. In fact, the best way to implement what we’ve learned is probably to take one of our courses or one that’s similar in structure.

    How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

    We now host accredited online courses using our techniques. So instead of using a more traditional LMS (learning management system) if you visit Warwick University online, you might just get to use Curatr. The platform also has a commercial arm and we’re experiencing fantastic growth which has led to our company doubling in size over the last three months.

    What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?

    Cost. In the UK, cost is probably the single biggest barrier, especially with fees increasing.

    What is your country doing right to support education?

    The UK is starting to embrace more quality online initiatives and certain pots of funding have been made available to support education using technology – the UFI Charitable Trust is investing £50m to improve adult education through technology, for instance.

    What conditions must change in your country to better support education?

    For me, the keys to accreditation need to be taken away from universities. Any company or person should be eligible to accredit a qualification and given the technology at our disposal, it’s now very easy for students to create and share personal portfolios of their learning as evidence of their education. It makes very little sense for a programmer to be accredited by a university when they could be accredited by Google, for example. But until that system is opened up to disruptive innovation, it is very hard for new avenues of education to open up in the UK that conform to the requirements of the job market.

    What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?

    Accreditation – the system is old and outdated. We still award degrees fundamentally based on the number of hours someone spent studying a subject. But we all know that hours spent in a lecture theatre are not the equivalent of hours spent experiencing something in the real world.

    What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?

    The Facebook mantra – move fast and break things. I see a lot of disruption get stymied by “the system” or process blocks. Don’t wait for permission; rather seek forgiveness with your awesome results!

    What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?

    I think adaptive learning as a trend is probably helping students. Systems like Knewton
    and Grockit are very clever and are starting to do the job of one-to-one tutors. But they remain expensive to build and maintain. So I wouldn’t want us to get too wrapped up in the computer as a tutor – people can still do a better job in person.

    If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

    An smartphone with a data plan.
    As far as I’m concerned, it puts a world of knowledge at your finger tips and gives you the perfect device for creating videos and other media that can show your learning. And of course you can use it as a phone, should you want to talk to someone! You don’t really need anything else.

    About Ben Betts

    With a decade of designing, developing and managing online learning projects, Ben is fast becoming a household name in the E-learning industry. He was named as one of Elliott Masie’s “30 under 30” thought leaders in learning for 2010 and was elected to the board of the eLearning Network in 2010. Betts is a frequent presenter both in the UK and globally, and has published a number of articles for popular industry magazines, including E-Learning Age and Learning Solutions Magazine.

    Birthplace: Nottingham, UK
    Current residence: Oxfordshire, UK
    Education: MBA, final year of PhD at University of Warwick, UK
    Website I check every day: Slashdot, BBC Sport
    Person who inspires me most: Right now? Probably Jesse Schell. You should totally get him to do this.
    Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Marrakesh (pleasure)
    When was the last time you laughed? Why? About a minute ago – my dog, Jasper, constantly makes me laugh.
    Favorite book: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
    Favorite music: Anything that I can tap my foot to
    Your favorite quote or motto: One thing at a time, most important thing first, start now.

  • FE blog

    “For learners it is very important to see that their work is valued by others, and they will respond to the challenges that sharing knowledge and skills with others involve by creating great work!”

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    Originally posted on the Daily Edventures blog.

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    Alessio Bernardelli is quick to attribute his success as an educator to those who shaped him along the way, in particular Stuart Ball (Director of Microsoft Partners in Learning Network U.K.) who was
    instrumental in his development as an innovative educator. “I was able and fortunate enough to have great role models who helped me step up and face a global audience through the development of my personal blog and personal learning network on Twitter,” Bernardelli notes. That act of sharing his ideas with a wider audience led to an opportunity for him to make an even bigger impact through his work as science lead at TES (billed as “the largest network of teachers in the world”). Bernardelli also tweets as @tesScience and promotes innovative resources and practices from the TES website, which has over two million members worldwide. Here, Bernardelli shares his pride in educators he’s mentored, the wonders of mind-mapping, and lots of practical tips and free tools for creatively integrating technology in the classroom.

    What has changed as a result of your efforts?

    My efforts have undoubtedly made me a more reflective and confident educator, who is willing to take calculated risks to push the boundaries of conventional practices and employ technology to inspire and enthuse others. As a result of my efforts, a number of teachers, both in my school, with the local authority and from my Personal Learning Network have started using technology in innovative ways with their learners. Quite a few of these practitioners went on to win regional, national and international awards. In particular, three teachers I mentored were in the UK Microsoft Partners in Learning Innovative Education Forum top 10 projects, two of them were selected to compete in the European Forum and one won an award at the Partners in Learning Global Forum. These three Educators are James Allan (Westmonmouth School, Pontypool, Wales) who was in the top 10 UK projects, James Kent (Torfaen LEA) who was in the top four UK entries and attended the European Forum, and Gareth Ritter (Willows High School), who won an award at the global forum.

    How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

    The greatest challenges I have faced when trying new ideas in education were usually the lack of resources and the restrictions that sometimes are in place in local authorities in terms of access to websites and social media. Many Web 2.0 tools, for example, are often blocked and it is not always easy to get around these blocks. It needs to be said that this is not always due to the unwillingness of local authorities, or schools’ senior leadership, as in many cases they can be really supportive and excited about the opportunity to showcase innovative teaching and learning in their establishments. But in some cases the tools you want to implement require, for example, quite a few ports to be kept open, or take up quite a lot of bandwidth, and that can be quite disruptive for school networks, etc.

    The trick is to try something different, not necessarily a different tool, but a different approach! An example is the ‘EM Spectrum TV Show’ that I created with my 14 to 15 year-old learners in 2009. The original idea was to develop a number of activities that would form a 30 to 40 minute TV show. Each group worked on a different activity and they all chose the tool and type of resource they wanted to produce. So, we ended up with a brilliant news report, a number of visual podcasts, web-tours to showcase useful games and websites to revise the EM Spectrum, revision songs, etc. We wanted to broadcast the show live from the school using our online TV Channel on Livestream, but the service was blocked by the local authority because to broadcast live we would have needed almost all the ports open and that was not possible. So, I decided to pre-record the learners’ work using mainly Community Clips and I then broadcast the whole show live from my house at 8.30 p.m. This meant that my learners could sit at home with their parents and watch the show. They were also using the chat on the channel page to interact with each other and with me as I broadcast their work. So, at first I thought I might need to call the whole project off, but with a little initiative we could turn a stumbling block into a stepping stone for success, as the involvement of the learners’ parents was something quite unique and very meaningful for these students. You can find all the details of this project as well as tips and tricks to support anyone who wish to try something similar in this resource shared on the TES website. I have uploaded many resources on the TES website and other teachers can use my profile page to access other innovative projects and tools.

    How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

    When I was the Head of KS3 Science (11 to 14 year-old learners), I used Office Web Apps to create a collaborative spreadsheet that contained the names of all the learners in year 7, 8 and 9 (equivalent of grades 6 to 8) and the assessments that each class was undertaking. Each teacher in my team could then upload their levels for each learner simultaneously, which meant no duplicate versions of the same spreadsheet, which could have caused data to be lost or missed out, less emails to update the team on the overall outcome of the department and it also meant that each member of staff, including myself, was held accountable for uploading their pupils’ levels. This, in turn, allowed me to identify needs and underachievement and act upon them more promptly.

    I have been using iMindMap for the last four years or so and, although I used mind mapping before with software like OneNote and using the Drawing Tools in PowerPoint on my tablet PC, my mind mapping skills have improved considerably since then. The simple interface and quick ways to add daughter and sibling branches in iMindMap are so useful that I can take notes in meetings directly as a mind map, which is a really great advantage, as it gives you an overview of all the issues discussed. Most of my planning is done on iMindMap and I often create presentations of great effect thanks to the 3D view presentation mode. I have used iMindMap with my students, too, and they found it really useful for their learning.

    I have been using the excellent TES website to develop my portfolio of resources and to share innovative ideas and teaching activities. The rating system allows all members of the community to leave a comment and a one-to five-star rating for the resources they download. This feedback is very valuable to me and to all the contributors on the website for various reasons. Firstly, they can act on resources that people have found problems with and improve them. This encourages users to become reflective practitioners who constantly aim to improve their impact in education. Secondly, seeing the comments and the number of downloads and views is really rewarding for a teacher who spent time and effort to create great resources and upload them on the website. This not only encourages them to upload more resources, but it also allows them to develop their own professional portfolio of evidence that can be used in their CV and with potential employers. A great example of this is Gerwyn Bish, who was a Post-graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) student this year. Gerwyn uploaded some really great resources and I started to notice his work, so I would regularly give five stars to his resources and promote them through the @tesScience twitter stream, as well as on the TES Science newsletter. Gerwyn used the evidence from his resources, i.e., the comments and ratings from the TES Panel, in his professional portfolio and he completed his training with great praises from his tutors and got a job as a Newly Qualified Teacher starting in September. I have also invited him to join my TES Science Teacher Panel and inspire others to use the TES website to develop professionally and as a space to interact with other innovative educators. You can see Gerwyn’s professional portfolio here.

    I use Twitter to promote the best resources from the TES website and from the sharemylesson.com website (TES sister website for the US) and to engage with the science community of educators and science communicators. I also engage in twitter chats like #asechat which is the chat for science educators in UK where a topic is voted by the contributors and then discussed for an hour each Monday evening. I have moderated the chat a few times.

    I used Livestream and WordPress when I worked with NGfL Cymru (National Grid for Learning in Wales) to set up the NGfL Cymru Live channel to broadcast the professional development events we organized for the educators who could not attend, or who would be too far to get to the venue. I also developed the NGfL Cymru Blog to promote the work of the network. The blog received over 10,000 views in the first three months since its launch and both the blog and the Livestream channel are still the NGfL Cymru’s main assets to reach out to teachers in Wales and beyond.

    What is great about all these tools and innovations is that they didn’t cost my establishments anything, as they are free tools! In fact, you can upload as many resources as you want on the TES website and build your lifetime portfolio, which shows your progression and development as an educator free of charge. This also allows you to have a portfolio that is not attached to a local environment, like any virtual learning environment from a college, school, etc. So, if you move schools, you can still bring with you the experience you built on your TES portfolio.

    What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?

    I think the biggest obstacle I encountered was in my first years of teaching when laptops where not as popular yet and most schools had computer suites full of PCs. But the disadvantage with those was that most of the time these rooms were timetabled for the IT Department, so I had classes that I could often take to use the PCs and others that I could never take, because the room wasn’t available at the time I taught them. But in my last school I was fortunate enough to have a set of 30 laptops in the science department, which was great, because we now didn’t even need to move from the science lab to use a computer and we could run experiments and record our findings in innovative ways using a laptop. I remember a group of girls using Photosynth to show a beautiful 3D display on
    circuits they had made or a group of boys explaining their circuit using Photo Story 3. Having laptops in the science lab opened up a wide range of learning experiences that my learners didn’t have the chance to explore previously.

    What is your country doing right to support education?

    The greatest innovation in Wales to support education, I believe, was the introduction of the Skills Framework 2008, which gave clear guidelines on the importance of developing thinking, communication, ICT and numeracy skills. The framework became also the underlying principle of the new national curriculum in Wales, which shifted the emphasis from a content driven curriculum to a skills-based one. That gave freedom to teachers to become more creative and develop schemes of work that addressed their learners and community needs more adequately, i.e., learning became more personalized. However, not all institutions made that step and some carried on doing what they had always done, but the principle of the framework was right.

    What conditions must change in your country to better support education?

    The mindset of teachers needs to move towards a more collaborative approach to education. That is why sharing resources and ideas through platforms like TES is very important, as it allows teachers to interact with other educators worldwide and learn new and effective ways to teach their subjects.

    Wales is a very small country and schools compete to be the best, so teachers are often under pressure to perform better and better and to outperform the schools in their clusters. This can sometimes lead to the situations where teachers don’t want to give away their “secrets” and can become reluctant to share good practice, because, at the end of the day, they need to get their school at the top of the band.

    What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?

    I believe the best opportunity for innovation in education is using the learners’ skills and enthusiasm to drive the curriculum. Projects where the learners are given the opportunity to decide how and what they want to learn turn them into more independent learners. We need to help our students to become creators of knowledge and not just consumers of knowledge. So projects like this, where learners are actively involved in developing and delivering innovative learning activities, and this one where learners became educators of teachers by producing video tutorials to show how to use certain features of a particular software, or the ‘EM Spectrum TV Show’ where learners became responsible for the education of students worldwide by developing a revision TV show to share with students online, gives children ownership over their own learning and that of others! The development of Web 2.0 tools, video storing websites, and platforms like the TES, which allows you to reach an active network of over 2 million teachers are the ideal tools to provide students with a real audience of monumental proportions. For learners, it is very important to see that others value their work and they will respond to the challenges that sharing knowledge and skills with others involve by creating great work.

    What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?

    Start blogging and reflect upon your teaching inviting others to join you in your journey. If you develop your personal learning network on the TES website and twitter, you will always find someone to help and give supportive advice and you will never feel isolated, even if you work in an unsupportive school.

    What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?

    The popularization of self-created video content and blogging is having a great impact in students’ progress and development of skills. In fact, many cannot just find a pool of great video content online, but they are more and more encouraged to develop their own content and share it with the world. In this respect there are two examples I am particularly fond of.

    The first one is my 13 year-old nephew’s homework on the Spanish Armada, where through a clever use of images, sound effects and humor, he created a very professional looking video. In the development of this video he used a wide range of higher-order thinking skills, as well as ICT and communication skills. The technologies he used enabled him to be creative and address his audience in a very effective way.

    The second example is a teacher (Gavin Smart) who asked his granddad to Skype with his 6th grade class to explain the causes and effects of acid rain. Gavin recorded the Skype conversation and edited the video by adding useful visual aids, and uploaded the video of his granddad here. I got so excited about this project that I wanted to reward this granddad by making his efforts as visible as possible, so I started the #mygrandadvideo hash tag on twitter and encouraged as many teachers as possible to see this inspiring project. This Skype session was very valuable for the learners because they could access real life experiences from someone who worked as a hydrologist and could share details and information their classroom teacher might not have come across, but it was a really
    valuable experience for the granddad, too, because he could still offer an important contribution to education and the school community. The video got over 2400 views in less than two days and that was another confidence booster for this very generous pensioner.

    Having mentioned blogging, I have experimented with an 11th grade class by setting a series of tasks where the learners had to write a blog/resource about the physics in their curriculum and I invited a primary school teacher to get her children to read and comment on the blog posts. The idea was that my students should try to make the information they were trying to explain accessible to their very young audience and, in my opinion, that was a really useful exercise, because in order to simplify complex physics topics like photon absorption and emission, they needed to first really understand the process thoroughly and then create mental models that could be used to teach these concepts to a 10 to 11-year-old learner. Modeling scientific processes invariably leads to better understanding and retention of those processes.

    Another attempt to blogging with young learners was setting up my eldest son’s blog. Matteo (7) is a very reluctant writer, but he gets excited about the comments he receives on his blog and seeing new spots appearing on his world viewers counter and that is good encouragement for him to continue writing.

    A trend that is getting in the way of learning, in my opinion, is teaching to the exam. Again, this is a consequence of the growing pressure to improve performance, but there is the risk that teachers become more and more reluctant to try new approaches to learning and teaching, new technologies and collaborations with other schools. I have witnessed teachers actively discouraging their learners from digging deeper into a topic they were interested in, because “You don’t need to know that for your exam!” I think these trends are becoming more and more popular in the teaching community in UK.

    If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

    I would give a tablet to every child, whether it is an iPad, an Android, or a Microsoft Surface, it doesn’t matter, but I believe the flexibility and enhanced interactivity a tablet is offering (especially to young learners) makes them a very effective learning tool. I have seen some excellent practice with iPads, but I am really excited about the potential of the Microsoft Surface, because I have always believed the lack of a way to effectively take handwritten notes on Android and Apple tablets is a great disadvantage. I have used tablet PCs for years and they have been one of the most useful tools in my teaching. For example, having the ability to add handwritten notes, diagrams and drawings in OneNote has been a very powerful learning and teaching tool. If I could get hold of a Microsoft Surface I would certainly promote its potential in education and explore the advantages of the stylus and of the Windows 8 OS, which brings this tablet much closer to a more powerful laptop, or PC, which is what has been missing in other tablets available on the market.

    But what makes tablets really useful and exciting is the fact that they can just be picked up and used with no delay due to loading time. Also, the integration of back and front cameras, together with their size and weight, makes them a very creative device. So, learners have a much wider and more creative choice when it comes to create their own notes and work. In fact, they can decide to create and edit a quick video on energy resources, for example, or use one of the many free apps for note taking and mind map drawing. Many of these also allow them to save and share their work online. So, merging these exciting features with more traditional and excellent software like Office and an operating system that is completely compatible and integrated with your PC/laptop could be the solution that many have been waiting for so long and the Microsoft Surface seems to offer that solution. So, exciting times ahead for learners and teachers!

    image

    About Alessio Bernardelli

    Birthplace: Parma, Italy
    Current residence: Cardiff, Wales, UK
    Education: BSc Degree in Physics and Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
    Website I check every day: http://tes.co.uk
    Person who inspires me most: Tony Buzan
    Favorite childhood memory:
    My dad was reading a story from a book and it was so gripping that I ask him to read it again the day after, but he told me he was pretending to read from the book, but he actually made the story up and couldn’t remember it exactly! That was pretty cool and made my dad look pretty cool, too.
    Next travel destination (work or pleasure): West Wales on holiday with my wife and four boys, but we like going back to Italy, too, and visit my mum.
    When was the last time you laughed? Why? Last time I laughed was today when I
    was recreating the story of Daniel in the lions’ den with my boys (we were recording a short animation) and Stefano my second boy kept adding melodies with his voice in different situations. He was really funny and cute!
    Favorite book: The Mind Map Book by Tony Buzan
    Favorite music: Pearl Jam, Dire Straits, Paul Simon, Lucio Battisti and Paolo Nutini
    Your favorite quote or motto: “I cannot fail, because in any situation I can learn something!” -Anthony Robbins

  • FE blog

    Saving money with Office 365 for education

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    eduGuest post from Gerald Haigh. Gerald writes regularly for the Microsoft education blogs.

    Office 365 for education is much more than a money saver. It has the potential to change and streamline communication and collaboration across the whole of an institution. It’s important to set that out at the start.

    However, short term cost saving is high on the agenda in schools and colleges, and the fact that Office 365 for education is free (for plan A2) to academic institutions, needs no on-site maintenance, and has the strong potential to make considerable efficiency savings is bound to attract attention.

    image

    So, even though it’s early days with Office 365 for education, IT leaders have to look ahead, and I decided to look at some of the stories and case studies that are already coming from early adopters.

    Immediately, it became apparent that invariably it’s the availability of free cloud-based email that’s the initial attraction. For The Schools Network (formerly the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust) for example, Office 365 for education solved the problem of how to replace an ageing email system in a climate of much-reduced funding. The removal of upfront server and licensing costs saved over £34,000.

    But that’s only part of the story.

    "We would have had to invest thousands to have ensured the level of uptime and support that Office 365 for education provides as a standard service," says Head of Information Services Julian Elve. "There was never a question of us matching that level of support ourselves. There was simply no budget to do that." http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Case_Study_Detail.aspx?CaseStudyID=710000000494

    It was a similar story at the 1,900 student East Norfolk Sixth Form College where IT Services Manager Eric Stone took the opportunity, with help from Microsoft, to be an early adopter of Office 365 for education last Autumn. They, too, faced the need to increase storage capacity for their on-site email system.

    “One of the main drivers for changing to a cloud based product was the saving on storage and backup,” says Eric. “We believe we saved in excess of £5000 in capital expenditure for additional storage, whilst providing the students with an improved user experience, simply by moving the email accounts over to Office 365 for education.”

    There’s a pattern emerging here which shows that Office 365 for education isn’t just a marginal cost-saver, a tweaker of the balance sheet, but is actually opening up new pages in the account books by helping institutions to make improvements that they otherwise simply couldn’t afford.

    Take the story of the 5,500 student Kilmarnock College, for example. There, the ICT Service team had looked at upgrading the Exchange Server that was providing staff email and found they’d have to find £15,000 for hardware, £10,000 in deployment costs in the first year, and then an annual maintenance cost of at least £2,000 per year. None of this was at all feasible, so moving to Office 365 for education both eliminated those costs and vastly improved the level of service. http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Case_Study_Detail.aspx?CaseStudyID=710000000987

    But each of these innovators know that taking on Office 365 for education in order to reap the efficiencies and cost benefits of email is just a first step. All the other Office 365 for education applications are there to be used. At Kilmarnock College, for instance, there are plans to use SharePoint Online, included in Office 365 for education to complement and enhance their existing online content management system. IT Service leader Brad Johnston doubts whether, with their existing staffing levels, they could have deployed on-site SharePoint in the same way. And Brad’s also working on introducing users to Lync Online,

    “We’re now telling our users that the emphasis on phones is no longer there because you have this whole communication tool built into Office 365,” says Brad. “It’s a million miles away from where we would be without it.”

    Eric Stone, at East Norfolk Sixth Form College is adopting ‘one step at a time’ strategy, so although the whole of Office 365 for education will be available, from September, administrators in the College will stay with the familiar Office 2010 suite for now. As Eric says, there’s nothing to be lost by waiting,

    “And students will certainly use Office 365, saving themselves some licensing costs.”

    So is there a catch? Apparently not. Reliability of service, for example, is typically better than with an on-site system. Eric Stone says,

    “I believe we’ve exceeded Microsoft’s best estimate. In the whole year we lost connection for just five minutes on one afternoon.”

    More of these stories will emerge, and as they do it will become increasingly clear that the most significant cost savings of all will come from increased efficiency – better communication and collaboration, more effective deployment of technical staff, instant and effortless availability of the most up to date software. In this regard it’s well worth taking a look at a significant report on cost saving with Office 365 for education prepared for Microsoft in June 2011 by Forrester Consulting, looking at Total Economic Impact (TEI) of Office 365 on small and medium sized businesses. It reports dramatic savings, with a return on investment (ROI) of 321%, and while the many areas of potential saving that it lists aren’t all applicable to schools, many of them certainly are.

  • FE blog

    Learn all about Windows 8 at one of our Camps during summer

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    Originally posted on the UK Faculty Connection Blog.

    Want to get up to speed on Windows 8 during the summer holidays? Here is a list of camps for you to attend. There are limited numbers at each event so if you want free training, app support and to get ahead of the curve with Windows 8 then you should sign up now!

    What to expect:

    The Windows 8 Camps have been designed to show you how to build a Windows 8 app. You can tailor the day to make it as personally productive and rewarding as possible. You can work on your own projects with assistance from Windows 8 experts, network with others and also have the option of attending short tutorial sessions on Windows 8 related topics.

    The Windows 8 Camps will cover an introductory overview session as well as a range of short tutorial sessions. Short tutorial sessions will include topics such as the basics of the OS and interaction with the OS, Metro style UX with examples in Store apps, The Store and the developer opportunity, the high level view of the platform - i.e. WinRT and the choice around implementation technology, and the tooling - the role of Visual Studio and Expression Blend. In addition, you will learn how you can publish your Windows 8 app into the Windows Store in advance of general release through the Windows 8 App Excellence Labs at this camp.

    The Windows 8 Camp will kick off at 9am and officially finish at 6pm, or 9pm for the hardcore attendees

    Before you arrive, please ensure you have downloaded:

    1) Windows 8 Release Preview installed and running on your machine
    2) Visual Studio 2012 Express RC installed

    Lastly, please let us know as soon as you can if you cannot make the camp as there will be many developers who are keen to take your spot. Please let us know (via written email) at least 2 days in advance if you are unable to attend the camp or a £20 administration fee will be charged. Please respect the trainers and your fellow delegates by turning up if you have registered and committed.

    Thank you and we look forward to seeing you at the Windows 8 Camp. Click here to register for an event near you!

    Don't forget we have lots of Windows 8 curricula resources available and additional resources see

    Curricula resources via Faculty Connection http://www.microsoft.com/faculty
    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2012/07/09/windows-8-curricula-and-resources-now-at-faculty-connection.aspx

    Windows 8 Camp in Box
    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2012/07/16/windows-8-training-camp-in-a-box.aspx

    Creating your first Windows 8 Metro Style Design Game
    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2012/07/16/creating-your-first-windows-8-metro-style-design-game.aspx

    XNA Developers and Windows8
    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2012/08/01/xna-developers-and-windows-8.aspx

    Get up to speed on Windows 8 in 6 weeks
    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2012/07/24/get-up-to-speed-on-windows-8-in-6-weeks.aspx

  • FE blog

    Windows 8 Release Preview Guide

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    With Windows 8 now at RTM and General Availability for our new operating system scheduled for October 26th, now is a great time to become better acquainted with the Windows 8 Release Review.

    To help guide you through  some of the new features of Windows 8, and the Release Preview in particular, we have produced an overview document that you might find useful.

    The full document can be viewed/downloaded below:

  • FE blog

    The 20 Best Blogs About Game-Based Learning

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    Guest post from Microsoft UK Schools Blog reader, Jasmine Hall, from Online Colleges.

    Overview of the top 20 best blogs that cover gamification/game-based learning.

    1. Gamification:

      Learn all about how games revolutionize more than just education through the extremely useful, insightful Gamification blog. Not only does it deeply explore how teachers and parents can utilize gaming platforms and developments in the interest of getting kids (and adults!) to hone their academic and practical skills alike, the site also goes into how they assist law enforcement and other initiatives.

    2. SeriousGameBlog.com:

      Read SeriousGameBlog.com in English or French when seeking all the latest news about game-based learning and other serious applications of digital gaming. Anyone interested in the market especially will find plenty of interesting reading here, and Succubus International’s decade of experience in serious gaming lends it considerable credence.

    3. Educational Games Research:

      Although this resource’s update schedule crawls when compared to some of its contemporaries, it certainly merits visiting when looking to find out what sort of conferences and other relevant game-based learning events are taking place. In addition, it also follows through on the title and posts information about the latest studies into the most and not-so-most educational games strategies.

    4. Serious Games Market:

      Anything and everything involving both game-based learning and serious gaming gets covered here, regardless of structure or application, making it a wonderfully thorough read. It’s especially interesting to catch up on how gaming can prove a valuable educational tool outside the classroom.

    5. PIXELearning Blog:

      One of the most comprehensive blogs about GBL boasts perspectives from several different writers and delves into all sorts of different and exciting corners of the concept. The eponymous company specializes in delivering learning sims and other gaming technologies at the most affordable possible cost.

    6. GALA Blog:

      GALA stands for Games and Learning Alliance, which should probably clue readers in on what they’re all about (PROTIP: It ain’t the Hokey Pokey). Multiple representatives from multiple serious gaming companies open up about their latest developments and approaches to the nascent industry.

    7. Pamela M. Kato, Ed.M., Ph.D.:

      Serious gaming expert Pamela M. Kato travels around the world to promote and discover the latest and greatest movements within game-based learning. She only recently took to blogging her experiences, readings, and research, but has nothing but interesting and highly informative things to share so far.

    8. David Renton’s Educational Blog:

      This popular edtech resource focuses mainly on the role gaming might very well play in a classroom setting, but looks into other digital venues from time to time for a broader glimpse at what all tech-savvy teachers have at their disposal. David Renton especially adores the Kinect’s educational applications, so anyone looking to harness its potential will likely find plenty to love and appreciate here.

    9. Ray Chambers:

      Like David Renton, Ray Chambers stands as a devoted acolyte of the Kinect, though his blog definitely covers other game-based learning strategies, though not nearly as often. Stop by here when looking for some of the best games and ideas connected to the device he adores — or even share something new and exciting from your own experiences!

    10. Cooney Center Blog:

      Of interest to parents and teachers of preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school students, the official blog of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop covers gaming and other digital media’s potential to get kids learning. Follow their progress in developing some great methods for harnessing the newest technological developments and participate in discussions about GBL’s possible futures.

    11. MyGamification.com:

      Hit up MyGamification.com for updated information regarding the latest gamification news, which impacts GBL in the classroom and boardroom alike. BigDoor Inc., which provides such services to Dell, MLB.com, Nickelodeon, and more, knows a few things about harnessing gaming for both promotional and educational ends.

    12. The UK Schools Blog:

      Microsoft’s UK Education Team illustrates how the company’s technology can be harnessed in order to provide students of all ages with engaging educational tools. While not exclusively about gaming, the ubiquitous corporation certainly provides plenty of excellent expert information on the subject.

    13. Bill MacKenty:

      This edtech enthusiast frequently covers gaming’s role in getting both kids and adults learning, though he doesn’t shy away from writing about other new media phenomena, either. Read through his posts for some fabulous insight into how all these developments fit together for a uniquely 21st century educational experience.

    14. Sealund’s Serious Games Blog:

      Both the blog and its accompanying podcast focus on Sealund’s serious gaming innovations and developments, which they hope provide maximum learning and engagement in its user base. Despite its somewhat erratic updating schedule, it really does offer up a great, detailed look at how educational games are created, developed, marketed, and utilized in the classroom.

    15. The Official World Education Games Blog:

      Thanks to the magic and wonder that is the Internet, schools now compete in international competitions testing students’ math and spelling acumen – even if thousands of miles and cultural boundaries galore separate them. All the events associated with the World Education Games, which partners with UNICEF, stand as excellent examples of serious gaming’s highly effective, incredibly enjoyable potential.

    16. Serious Games at Gamasutra:

      Despite Gamasutra’s status as a general resource for game developers and similar professionals, it pays more than lip service to the game-based learning community, offering up an entire section devoted solely to serious gaming. Give it a look when wanting to absorb all the most recent goings-on in getting kids learning and audiences enthralled using new media formats.

    17. Unity Technologies Blog:

      More tech-oriented teachers might want to try creating their very own educational games using Unity 3D, which simplifies the process and allows them to concentrate more on content than style. At their official blog, anyone curious about the platform can pick up further information about getting the most out of the product and how to utilize it for various useful purposes.

    18. Ian Bogost:

      Step up those GBL practices by learning a few things about the theory and practice of video games themselves, from a man who has studied the ways in which it has and might very well revolutionize politics, education, and more. Giving both Ian Bogost’s blog and website a look makes it easier to understand how all the intricate little components of technology and serious gaming fit together.

    19. Future of game-based Learning:

      With a title like that, it’s not too difficult to glean exactly what this blog hopes to share, but — for all those out there whose reading comprehension skills aren’t so hot — it’s about the future of game-based learning. Developers, educators, and others fascinated by the topic gather here to exchange ideas and information about what works, what doesn’t, what’s available, and (obviously) what’s to come.

    20. Center4Edupunx:

      Even visitors not adhering to the DIY and/or edupunk movements these days could still easily pick up some great pointers about using games and augmented reality for educational ends from the Center4Edupunx blog. Its content centers around getting the most out of GBL without compromising “creativity, whimsy … and a very limited budget,” making it great for the cash-strapped home or mainstream classroom.

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