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To Chris Gerry, innovation isn’t about making small changes – it’s about complete systemic alterations that rebuild and redefine learning. In fact, during Gerry’s 18 years as high school principal – notably as Executive Principal of the Future Schools Trust, which encompasses Cornwallis Academy and New Line Learning Academy – he completely rebuilt three schools. “I have been interested in how the teacher work model can be re-formulated to enable teachers to work in teams rather than in social isolation,” says Gerry. “Isolated individuals tend to see their social skills decline over time as they lack feedback. I have developed larger spaces where pupils have technology to assist them and teachers work in teams.”
With this model in mind, Gerry led the building of a sophisticated metrics model that measures risk factors for children who are not being successful, and attempts measured interventions to ensure that they are. Additionally, he has focused on measuring student social skills – self-management, work ethic, the ability to work in groups – and correlate deficiencies in these spheres with academic performance. Taking these and other measures together, Gerry and his team built a “Business Intelligence” system that uses numbers to assess school performance in a variety of domains on a day-to-day basis. “Insights gained from these approaches have enabled the schools to make significant progress as measured by more conventional exam performance,” says Gerry.
Today, Gerry heads up The Skills Lab, which “brings ideas and people together to test new initiatives in education. The aim is to create smart, simple and practical tools that facilitate cultural change in education to allow young people to develop the skills they need to access wider life opportunities.”
Here, Gerry shares his thoughts on the best way to reform schools in times of financial austerity, how to best use technology in schools, and what “innovation” really means to him.
What has changed as a result of your efforts?
The shape and feel of education within these schools is different but the whole system is designed to usher in more online learning for students as we shift the role of the teacher from ‘sage on the stage’ to ‘guide on the side.’ Larger flexible spaces enable that shift to take place.
Additionally, schools with this design are cheaper to build (by about 24%) and – potentially – cheaper to operate.
How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?
Innovation in school has traditionally been weak because few people think of changing all the variables in the process. Looking at space, technology, metrics, management, experience and outcomes as a total system enables more effective modernization of the whole rather than individual pieces. The issue in many school systems around the world is that there is a poor grasp of cost and local schools have limited autonomy to act. The educational bureaucracies that support schools can be very slow-moving. The UK is fortunate in having a very minimalist bureaucracy beyond the school itself. The country has also supported schools by giving them their own budgets and enabling the schools to hire and fire at their own discretion. This has produced quite agile institutions.
Change does involve risk and one reason we see so few significant innovative approaches is that – in the words of John Maynard Keynes – ‘Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputations to fail conventionally than succeed unconventionally.’
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
Yes, hugely. All our schools have had 1:1 computer access for some years. Recently that has shifted to mobile devices within an all-wireless environment. We have also invested heavily in screen and projection technologies.
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?
The current government has shifted focus away from skill acquisition towards more traditional knowledge acquisition. I believe this is a mistake as employers do not complain about historical knowledge, but they do complain about a lack of basic skills, self-anagement skills and work ethic. With an economy where more than ninety percent of workers are employed in the service sector, we are surely missing something by not focusing on these areas.
What is your country doing well currently to support education?
Funding remains positive despite recent cutbacks. Increasing the autonomy of individual schools via the Academies program has also been positive. An insistence on academic rigor is no bad thing either – except note my comments above.
What conditions must change in your country to better support education?
We have to start teaching and measuring skills.
What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?
Systematic remodeling of the education system through the deployment of new ways of thinking combined with a shrewd understanding of costs. We have to do more with less and be more effective. In austere times, societies tend to become more conservative in their thinking when in fact these are the times to embrace substantial and significant reforms. In the US it is notable that looming state bankruptcies have forced some rethinking with the consequence that 3 million US students are today receiving some of their learning online. This ‘disruptive innovation’ – to use Clayton Christensen’s term – needs to be seized upon and thought through. Additionally we have to think how a 19th century model can be brought into the 21st. That means changes to curriculum, assessment, where and when students learn, how they learn and links with the world of employment.
What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?
If you are interested in change, then get to a position where you can influence it.
What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?
Online developments are helping. I think that without substantial institutional rethinking more students will question what schooling is for. This works disproportionally against more deprived groups who have to face daily the privations of poverty. We have to find better ways to support such groups.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
I would give them a device to connect to the Internet, plus some sites to visit as they can learn a lot from the online world.
About Chris Gerry
Owner and founder of The Skills Lab. Gerry was formerly the Executive Principal at Future Schools Trust Schools in Maidstone Kent UK from 2005 until 2011. He built two new schools based around the concept of “plaza learning”: larger spaces with a great deal of technology (1:1 laptops) and a reorganization of the teaching model.
Birthplace: Cornwall, UK Current residence: Tunbridge Wells Kent, UK Education: 1972: BA(Hons) American History, University of Sussex; Brighton UK 1974: Wien Scholar, Brandeis University, Waltham MA, USA 1976: MA, History, Brown University Providence RI, USA 1982: PhD American History, University of Sussex 1982: PGCE (teaching qualification) University of Sussex Website I check every day: www.bbc.co.uk Person who inspires me most: Franklin Roosevelt Favorite childhood memory: I don’t really have one! Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Shanghai in July for work When was the last time you laughed? Why? All the time. Brits are known for their sense of humor and enjoyment of the absurd. Favorite book: Good-bye to All That by Robert Graves Favorite music: Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue Your favorite quote or motto: ‘Things that can’t go on forever, don’t.’ – Herb Stein, economic adviser to Richard Nixon
Originally posted on daily edventures
Originally posted on the UK Education Cloud Blog.
It’s less than 48 hours since Office 365 for education launched around the world but already I’m building up a nice list of frequently asked questions, first of which is “what happens when my trial expires?”.
Every Office 365 for education customer has to sign up for the 30-day trial before they get access to add extra licenses. This is so we can verify that you’re an eligible academic institution. To get you started we provide 50 trial A3 plan licenses; if you go to the licenses section in the Microsoft Online Services Admin Portal you’ll see something similar to this:
Once you’ve verified your eligibility you’ll get access to the purchasing section to be able to add in more licenses. There are several to choose from:
You need to purchase the licenses you want to use with your users from this portal as the trial licenses cannot be extended. At the end of trial period, if you’ve not purchased any additional plans, your trial licenses will expire and you may lose access to some of the services.
Unlike Live@edu, where there were no plans, Office 365 for education offers a number of different plans and prices to suit your requirements which is why you must choose which plans to purchase; we don’t make that decision for you.
Once you’ve purchased the licenses you need you’ll see in the billing and subscription management section that you have a number of subscriptions running, including the original trial licenses that will expire 30 days after signing up:
When you go to manage one of your users you’ll be able to assign the licenses you’ve purchased and can disregard the trial licenses:
If you’ve not already, you can sign up for the free 30-day trial of Office 365 for education at http://education.office365.com and get started with your deployment today!
Have you signed up for the trial?
Tell us what you’re planning to do with Office 365 for education in your institution in the comments!
Pottermore, the official Harry Potter website, was recently launched and attracted billions of page views in its first two weeks. The site is built on Windows Azure, an open cloud platform that lets users quickly build, deploy, and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers.
Harry Potter is one of the largest entertainment phenomenas of all time, so fans of all ages couldn't wait to experience the world-famous stories and social and interactive experiences that the site offered. Eagerly awaiting the launch of Pottermore, the website based on the popular Harry Potter stories, Brittany Talbot and her sister, Priscilla, raced to sign up when the site went live. "I like being able to go up there and do potions and spells and walk around where Harry was," Talbot said. "I read the first book in the first week because I was so excited."
The Pottermore website demonstrates the powerful platform that Windows Azure offers for even the most challenging development projects. The site currently features activities and text based on the storyline of the first "Harry Potter" novel, additional material from Rowling, and highly interactive elements such as the ability to make comments, earn house points, learn spells, mix potions, and duel with other fans.
A factor in favour of Windows Azure, is that it provided a platform as a service (PaaS), which means that Pottermore could simply move its application onto the Windows Azure platform without the burden of managing and maintaining virtual machines. Windows Azure provided a cloud-based testing environment that enabled Pottermore to test whether the site could scale up to meet massive demand. "Elasticity was critical," said Julian Thomas, chief technology officer at Pottermore. "We knew there were between 2 million and 20 million Harry Potter fans who were waiting to get on the site, and we had to be ready."
Working hand-in-hand with Microsoft, Pottermore had its new site up and running in just three months. On April 14, Pottermore launched the new site with just a single tweet @pottermore "we're opening to everyone."
"Literally within minutes, the traffic started to flood in," Thomas said. "The demand was just enormous, but the site continued to work properly, running on Windows Azure."
Visual Studio Achievements for student Windows Azure developers
There are many talented students working with Windows Azure, and we hope the Pottermore website will provide further inspiration for developers. As additional motivation for students and to bring some game to their code, Microsoft has released Visual Studio Achievements. The achievements of students talents and learning are recognised as they perform various coding feats. This unlocks achievements and earn badges which can be shared and displayed on social network profiles and web sites.
We recently announced an update to Visual Studio Achievements, adding 15 new achievements, all focused on Windows Azure development. The Visual Studio Achievements Extension includes fifteen new achievements, all focused on exercising features of Windows Azure. Using the extension, various achievements are unlocked based on your activity. When you unlock an achievement, Visual Studio lets you know visually with a pop-up. In addition, your Channel 9 profile is updated with any achievements you earn. So, head over to Channel9, sign up for an account and download the plugin.
There are 15 Azure achievements, such as publishing to Windows Azure from Visual Studio (Heading into the Cloud), using page blobs (Attack of the Blob), using SQL Azure (Database Darling) and configuring start up tasks (It’s My Party). Two of the achievements – Phone in the Cloud and Game in the Cloud – require use of Windows Azure toolkits.
Just a few hours ago Office 365 for education launched around the world so we thought it might be a good time to give you a quick tour of what you can expect to find. So, sit back and relax as my colleague Damon introduces you to Office 365!
Don’t forget that you can sign up for the 30-day trial absolutely free which will give you the chance to experience this first hand. Just head over to the new website at http://education.office365.com to get started.
Last week I had the pleasure of working with the Digital Leaders at Cadoxton Primary School in Barry, South Wales. We looked at and explored Kodu . They all had a copy to take home, to begin to investigate for themselves. Our options in school were limited at the present time, as the school is developing an innovative PC network. This is based on Windows Multipoint Server and powered by Solar Energy, which sounds amazing and will be a fantastic and innovative resource when the installation is completed.
So we discussed Kodu, I did some demos and we thought about what skills they might employ to develop computer games.
Here are two initial reactions from Rhys and Tegan, two of this great and talented group of pupils.
Last Wednesday I worked with Microsoft using a programme called KODU . KODU is a programme were you create your own video games .I enjoyed using KODU because it was like I was a professional programmer. When we learnt how to work it we created our own game. I liked it when we found out how to score points because I want to challenge anyone who might play my games. Now we have KODU on our memory sticks we can access it at home it is amazing.
I attended a Kodu workshop with Microsoft, I enjoyed Kodu because it was an easy, interesting and engaging way for me to create games it used lots of colours and the design was cool. The character (Kodu) was adorable. It was amazing making him turn pink! I liked the fact that you had to use lots of computer keys in the game. It was interesting to program the Kodu, their simple sentences used some confusing language! I loved the fact that we could use it at home as well as school. It had a wide variety of characters suitable for boys and girls. Overall I was ecstatic that I could make create and design my own using the Kodu software.
Thanks to all the Digital Leaders at Cadoxton Primary School , I look forward to hearing a lot more from you in the future.
By Stuart Ball
By Joe Belfiore
Three years ago I was lucky to join the Windows Phone team at a time when we were “resetting” our approach to mobile operating system software. We made big changes to our design, our approach to partners, and our platform. The result was Windows Phone 7.
Now it’s time to start telling you about the next exciting chapter of our story: Windows Phone 8. Officially announced this morning in San Francisco, it’s the most advanced mobile OS Microsoft has ever made and will arrive on new phones later this year.
Many of Windows Phone 8’s new capabilities come from a surprising source: Windows, the most successful and powerful operating system on the planet, and one used by more than a billion people. Yes, you read that right: Windows Phone 8 is based on the same core technologies that power Windows 8. As a result, Windows Phone 8 will unleash a new wave of features for consumers, developers, and businesses.
Today I’ll give you a high-level sneak peek at the Windows Phone 8 platform and tell you just some of what it’s going to make possible. I’ll also share some exciting news about apps and updates for current Windows Phone customers. This isn’t a full disclosure of everything in Windows Phone 8—look for a more complete tour of new features later.
If you’ve seen Windows 8, Microsoft’s groundbreaking new release for PCs and tablets, you’ve probably noticed it bears more than a passing resemblance to the look of Windows Phone. Here’s how the Windows 8 Start screen looks in the latest preview release.
With Windows Phone 8, the similarity is more than skin deep. We’ve based the next release of Windows Phone on the rock-solid technology core of Windows 8. It means Windows Phone and its bigger sibling will share common networking, security, media and web browser technology, and a common file system. That translates into better performance, more features, and new opportunities for app developers and hardware makers to innovate faster.
This new shared core—along with all the extra work we’ve done on top of it—opens up a new world of capabilities, which you don’t have to be a techie to appreciate. Here’s a taste:
We’re putting the finishing touches on Windows Phone 8 as I write this. It has a ton of great new consumer features that I can’t wait to tell you about in the months ahead. Today, however, I’m going to show off just one: the beautiful, flexible new Start screen.
As you can see, we’re making Windows Phone 8 even more personal, with a new palette of theme colors and three sizes of Live Tiles, all of which are under your control. We know Live Tiles are one of the things current owners really love about their Windows Phones, and we wanted to make them even more flexible and unique. This short video shows the new Start screen in action.
The new Start screen is so useful and emblematic of what Windows Phone is about that we want everybody to enjoy it. So we’ll be delivering it to existing phones as a software update sometime after Window Phone 8 is released. Let me repeat: If you currently own a Windows Phone 7.5 handset, Microsoft is planning to release an update with the new Windows Phone 8 Start screen. We’re calling it “Windows Phone 7.8.”
Some of you have been wondering, “Will we also get Windows Phone 8 as an update?” The answer, unfortunately, is no.
Windows Phone 8 is a generation shift in technology, which means that it will not run on existing hardware. BUT we care deeply about our existing customers and want to keep their phones fresh, so we’re providing the new Start screen in this new update.
Today we announced that the Windows Phone Marketplace officially hit 100,000 apps and games—a milestone we reached faster than Android, and a testament to the thousands of talented developers around the world who’ve supported us since launch. Together they deliver more than 200 new titles, on average, each day.
On behalf of everybody at Windows Phone, THANK YOU! We appreciate your effort and creativity and the value you bring to Windows Phone users.
To mark the milestone, today we’re announcing a new batch of marquee titles. The official Audible app for audiobooks arrives in Marketplace today. Official apps from Chase and PayPal are in the works. Gameloft has Windows Phone versions of Asphalt 7: Heat and N.O.V.A. 3 Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance on the way.
And Nokia is helping deliver the much-requested Zynga games Words with Friends and Draw Something to Windows Phone later this year. Check out Nokia Conversations today for more details about this and other new Windows Phone-related announcements today. (And don’t miss the fun new “100,000 Apps and Counting” mugs and other goodies in the official Windows Phone Gear Store!)
Since we’re talking about apps, I want to tell developers a little bit about what they can expect in Windows Phone 8. Some of the exciting changes on the way include:
This is just a taste. Later this summer, we’ll have much more for developers on the Windows Phone 8 Software Development Kit (SDK) and the new Visual Studio 11-based development tools. So stay tuned.
In Windows Phone 8, we’re also moving into the workplace in a big way, introducing a number of features and capabilities that companies and their IT departments demand. This is just one more benefit of sharing a common core with Windows 8. Some of the new business-friendly features include:
I get a lot of tweets asking, “When will my phone get Arabic? Farsi? Turkish?” They’re also the top feature requests on the Windows Phone Suggestion Box site.
I’m happy to tell you these languages are coming! In fact, Windows Phone 8 will support a total of 50 languages, or double the current geographic coverage. We’re also expanding Marketplace, our store for apps and games, to support app downloads in over 180 countries—nearly triple its current footprint.
Another area I know many of you care deeply about is Windows Phone software updates and how they’re delivered—something we’ve gotten a lot of feedback on over the last year. Today I’m excited to tell you that we’ve been working closely with our many partners to improve the update process for Windows Phone 8, and help get you our latest software more quickly and easily.
How? First, Windows Phone 8 updates will be delivered wirelessly over-the-air, so you don’t have to bother plugging your phone into your PC to update anymore. Second, we will support devices with updates for at least 18 months from device launch.
Finally, we’re working to create a program that gives registered enthusiasts early access to updates prior to broad availability—a little gift to our biggest fans and supporters. We think these three initiatives will help keep your phone fresher than ever before.
I know that’s a lot to digest—and look forward to. And I didn’t even mention actual phones yet!
We’re really excited about the strong line-up of hardware partners who are putting their support behind Windows Phone 8. The first wave of devices for Windows Phone 8 will come from Nokia, Huawei, Samsung, and HTC, all built on next-generation chips from Qualcomm.
Kinect Sports is highly intuitive. This means the actions in the game resemble many that occur in real life. The game also provides a useful tutorial before you start playing each sport which re-caps what you have to do to in order to succeed.
Imagine that these tutorials were not there and you had to explain to another person how to succeed in one of the games.
Activity In this activity, we are going to challenge learners to write a piece of instructional writing that explains to another person (who has never played Kinect Sports before), how to play one of the games. This activity is a lot more challenging than it sounds and leaners will need to spend some time playing Kinect Sports and then breaking the components and actions down within the game.
The hardest sports to describe are Football and Beach Volleyball. So it might be worth picking some of other sports in the game to describe as a first attempt. You can also make the challenge for learners harder or easier by stating if the person they are describing the game to has played the real version of the sport before. Learners need to be very familiar with at least one of the games within Kinect Sports. This will include playing the game and watching other people play the game.
Kinect Sports also provides a really good opportunity for learners to carry out some virtual sports journalism.
To find out more about using Xbox 360 and Kinect Sports in the classroom you can view and download our eBook below.
Following on from our day in the life of a teacher post last week, here’s a nice infographic showing the student experience of working with Microsoft Office 365 versus using Google apps.
Whether you are a school’s IT leader, an educator, a parent, or someone who values learning, you know students and care about their success. Successful students are excited about learning, are well-organized and make good use of their time.
With Office 365 for education, this secondary school student works anywhere. He prints an assignment at home without worrying about formatting issues, and reviews a presentation without Web access on his way to school. At school he jumps right into learning, taking notes in all of his classes and organizing them in a digital notebook. He welcomes group projects, because the entire group is excited in using the latest tools, sharing information from their Office 365 desktops, brainstorming with an online whiteboard, and keeping a strong pace in video call discussions.
Working with Google Apps is frustrating and limiting. The student can’t review his latest work without Web access. Working with Google Apps, he captures notes in separate documents and cannot tag or search among them to find critical facts he needs for his term paper. He doesn’t have today’s capabilities to work seamlessly in group projects with online whiteboards and video calling.
Learn which tools you would want your favorite, hard-working student to use. See what this student’s experience is like using Office 365 versus using Google Apps.
Originally posted on Why Microsoft.
Games like Kinect Sports are great for supporting numeracy. The reason for this is that all of the minigames produce data and numbers. The challenge for the creative teacher is to look for opportunities within the game and then use this data to incorporate into young peoples’ learning.
Getting learners to keep track of their progress and scores throughout the game provides a good way to introduce methods of data collection and analysis.
For this activity, it is envisaged that learners will keep track of their game scores, game times and progress over a period of time. The learning challenge for this particular activity is how they will record both individual and team mates’ data. Depending on the Kinect Sports game, there are a number of ways that they can choose to do this, including: - Tally Chart - Bowling Score Card - Computer Spread Sheet - Written Notes - Own Method
The advantages of each of the above methods should be discussed with the class. Supporting Resources Learners should have experience of playing a variety of the Kinect Sports games over a period of time to help them collect enough data so that it can eventually be processed. The Microsoft Office Suite (in particularly Microsoft Excel) provides a handy range of tools to help learners collect and then process data.
You can view and download the full Kinect Sports in the classroom eBook below.