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July, 2012 - Microsoft UK Schools blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The UK Schools Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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July, 2012

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Office 365 for Education case study video


    Great for academic institutions that are ready to take advantage of the cloud. Office 365 offers free email, instant messaging, group video and voice chat, and online document viewing and editing.

    We’ve got a great video that shows how Office 365 for education has enabled the University of Massachusetts and the National University of Ireland to work together in a curriculum environment.


    You can view the video here.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Using Samsung Series 7 slates in the classroom in Australia


    St Catherine's School is a girls school in Sydney with nearly 1,000 students and a 1:1 programme for their students. They are using Samsung Series 7 slates, running Windows and Microsoft OneNote to support learning right across the curriculum. What that means is that they can run all of their existing programmes, including the whole Microsoft suite, and their specialist learning applications in specific subject – and provide a personal tablet device for every student. Their goal is to support their student learning to meet the needs of both the curriculum, and development of their 21st century skills* of collaboration, communication etc

    If you watch the video below you'll get a good idea of how individual students are using their Samsung slates in school, across many curriculum subjects, and how they mix the use of different applications in different subjects. And you also see the way that they use OneNote as a key tool right across the curriculum, for both students and teachers, and as a collaboration tool as well as for individual note taking and revision.


    Paul Carnemolla, the Head of Information Systems at the school, has been responsible for ensuring that there's widespread adoption of OneNote and the whole 1:1 programme. And that's involved identifying key teaching and learning scenarios that can be enabled – for example, the use of audio recording at the same time as note taking, so that students can record their thinking whilst they are completing exercises. This feedback is useful for both students and teachers:

    imageIt's very easy to share OneNote, so a teacher can share a OneNote, so a teacher can share the same OneNote document with all of the other students in the classroom.

    We know that feedback in learning is critical to student successs. The synced audio feature in OneNote enables us to get an insight into learning that we wouldn't be able to without that technology.

    As Tessa Rep, Head of Biblical Studies at the school says in the video:

    imageYou have a record of everything that you've done. And you're able to collect work efficiently from students. You're able to keep that with you. And wherever you go you have all the work you need.

    Although it's still in the early days for the school, you can get a very clear idea in the video of the many different ways that the Samsung slates are being used across the curriculum – and the many different types of Windows software programmes that the students are using.

    Learn MoreFind out more about the Microsoft "Building skills for tomorrow" programme in Australia
    or find out for yourself in a our hands-on event for school leaders in Brisbane on 20th July

    * In addition to the 21st Century skills traditionally discussed in the Windows in the Classroom projects, I've noticed that there are some new ones I've not spotted before - St Catherine's Holiday Program even includes barista courses Smile

    Originally posted by Ray Fleming

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Possible Xbox 360® COTS games projects


    The use of COTS (Commercial off-the-shelf) games in the classroom has grown in popularity in the UK over the last few years and their potential impact is well documented in the Futurelab report, ‘The impact of console games in the classroom’. The findings of this particular report suggest that well structured and planned gamebased approaches to learning can provide excellent opportunities to engage students in activities which can enhance learning and produce a wider range of educational benefits.

    As well as Kinect™ Adventures, some other Xbox 360 game titles and their broad themes that could be used as contextual hubs for learning are shown in the table below. There are also lots of other games that could be used... you just need to use your imagination!


    Other uses for COTS games in the classroom

    Projects that use games as contextual hubs tend to span several weeks or even terms of work. It is important that playing the game is not seen as a reward but that it is part of the learning experience.

    Another use for COTS games is to compliment and reinforce existing education outcomes. For example, games produce data in the form of high scores, leader boards and times. The challenge for the classroom teacher is to use the data generated from the game as a stimulus to reinforce mathematical concepts. Many young people buy into this methodology as they have generated the data themselves by playing the game. This means that it is authentic and not contrived like in many traditional settings.

    An example of this in practice might be the use of the data generated from a hurdles race in Kinect Sports to drive questions around adding, subtraction, distances, speed and averages.


    For more information on gaming in the classroom you can view and download our eBook below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    13 year old Blake creates Kodu Galaga


    At Kodu Game Lab, the Koduteam is always on the look out for community members that are doing fun and compelling work. In this edition of Community Spotlight, we catch up with Blake M., the creator of Kodu Galaga, who goes by LEGOManiacBlake on our forums.

    Kodu Team: Can you tell us a little about who you are and what you do?

    Blake: My real first name is Blake and I am 13 years old. I'm in Year 7 and go to Maitland Grossmann High School in Australia. I don't have a job, but a future job I would like to have after I've finished school is Game Art and Design. My hobbies are LEGO Building, playing video games, creating games with Kodu (of course) and sleeping. My favourite food is Pasta Bake, and my favourite drink is Strawberry Milkshake. My favorite song is "Lullaby" by Nickelback.


    KT: How long have you been using Kodu?

    B: I've been using kodu for almost 4 months and I joined on Feb 24th 2012.

    KT: How did you first learn about Kodu?

    B: I learned of it from my mother, who is a school teacher. She learned of it through a school program, and then in turn told me about it.

    KT: How did the Galaga Level come about? Did you set out to see if you make a Kodu version of Galaga or did you start by doing something else that ended up morphing into Galaga?

    B: The game Galaga came about because I thought that I should turn an old arcade classic into a version on Kodu. The idea for the chosen arcade game came from my dad, who suggested Galaga, so I got to work and created it, and it was a great success!

    KT: How long did it take you to make the level?

    B: It took me about 5 hours to make Galaga.

    KT: What challenges did you encounter and how did you solve them?

    B: I encountered a few problems in making Galaga. The first was with the aliens/ jets. I had to time them using a stopwatch to see how long it would take for them to get somewhere (for example, in the 1st level the aliens/ jets stopped halfway). The second problem was creating two saucers next to the other after a certain amount of points. But, all I really had to do was create a copy of the saucer to the left of the first saucer. The third problem was making the levels activate at a certain time. So, I had to keep tweaking everything until I made it so that when all the jets in a certain level are gone, it adds a point, which then triggers the next level.

    KT: What’s your next project

    B: I'm planning to make a series of games called TechChamber, where you have to solve various puzzles and challenges and get to the end of the chamber. I've also just finished making a new classic arcade game called 1942, where you have to shoot down jets that come down in waves and attack you.

    KT: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Blake! Please keep up the great work!

    Originally posted on

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Skype in the Classroom–new video


    Skype in the Classroom allows pupils to meet new people, talk to experts, share ideas and create amazing learning experiences with teachers from around the world.

    The folks at Skype have a fun video that offers an overview of the programme that we thought would be good to share on the blog.

    How are you using Skype in the classroom? We would love to hear your ideas and experiences in the comments below!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Frog Conference Report


    Guest post by Gerald Haigh. Gerald writes regularly for the Microsoft Education Blog(s).

    I recently went to Frog’s International Learning Platforms Conference in Birmingham to hear about the newly developed integration of Microsoft Live@edu into the Frog learning platform. For some months now, Microsoft and Frog technical teams have been working on this development, which extends choice for Frog users, providing seamless, single sign-on access through their Frog platform to a range of free cloud products - email, messaging, calendar, online folders – all with the familiar Microsoft look, feel and function.

    Live@edu will be available to Frog users in the immediate future, and a little further down the line this will evolve into integration with Office 365 for education. (There’s a quick preview of Live@edu in the Frog environment on Frog Business manager Adrian Bantin’s blog at )

    There were lots of other good reasons to be at the Conference, which was excellently run in Birmingham’s world-class International Conference Centre. The nine optional workshops, for example, on issues including mobile learning, parental engagement and behaviour, were largely run ‘TeachMeet’ style by teachers and school leaders chosen by Twitter poll. That, it strikes me, is an example that many conferences could follow.

    Then it was good to hear of the developments which make 2012 such a momentous year for the company. In January, CEO Gareth Davies announced that Frog, which he developed in his spare bedroom in 1999, has been chosen to provide learning platform technology for every school in Malaysia – 10,000 schools, 6 million people. Frog in Malaysia will be provided as a cloud service using a new interface and delivered through Malaysia’s nationwide 4G wireless network.

    (A good place to read about these developments in more detail is on Gareth’s own blog )

    The Malaysia venture not only transforms Frog into a global business, but, as Gareth explained at the Conference, carries significant implications for Frog UK. So, for example, this year the new interface will be rolled out to UK Frog users as Frog4OS – not as yet replacing the current Frog 3, but supplementing and enhancing it. And, catching a fast-rising tide, Frog4OS was announced at the Conference as ‘the world’s first learning platform designed specifically for tablets’.

    That bit of news was met with enthusiasm from the almost 900 strong audience, and it became clear in a later Q and A session that there are schools which want Frog on tablets and smartphones sooner rather than later. The vision of a classroom where every student has a tablet is already the reality in a growing number of schools and a ‘Going Mobile’ workshop, led by teachers was well attended.

    It’s not difficult to see how Microsoft’s range of products can contribute alongside Frog to these fast-moving changes in the world of educational technology. The Frog strategy, clearly, is to become the hub of the school – the single point of access not only to the rich resources of the Frog platform itself, but to a choice of key third-party services for communication, collaboration and data handling.

    Just before the Conference I caught Frog CEO Gareth Davies on his car phone and he pulled into a layby for a quick chat about the Live@edu integration.

    ‘We’re delighted with this development,’ he said. ‘It’s a key part of the Frog strategy of extending functionality and choice for users by providing direct access to third party services.’

    From the very start of the Conference, and as it developed, what struck me was the way the Frog vision for learning and that of Microsoft complement each other. Gareth Davies actually said as much as he welcomed Microsoft UK’s Strategic Partner Lead Mark Stewart to the Conference stage for his session. Mark began by underlining the relationship between Microsoft and Frog

    ‘We’re a technology provider,’ he said. ‘And we couldn’t do anything without partners like Frog who make what we do relevant.’

    Mark went on to speak about anytime anywhere learning, collaboration, communication and interactivity (for example with the growing use of Kinect in the classroom) all of which are easily traced in the DNA of both organizations.

    Another line of development that Gareth is obviously very keen on is the gathering and intelligent use of data – including the ‘soft’ data on children’s attitudes, interests and activities that, in Gareth’s word, ‘Helps teachers understand their children better’.

    Then, towards the end of the Conference we were introduced to Alistair Smith, newly arrived at Frog as Education Director, It’s a significant appointment, not only confirming Frog’s commitment to the ‘learning’ in ‘learning platform’, but also signalling their support for a classroom which is flexible, collaborative, interactive and personalised.

    When I spoke to Alistair on the phone next day he confirmed his belief in the need to move on from using technology to administer traditional classroom practice. This, of course, is an insistent theme within Microsoft Education, as Mark Stewart had reminded us in his Conference session, using a telling pair of pretty well identical photographs of classrooms, with children in neat rows facing the front, taken some seventy years apart.

    (Tim Bush developed this theme in the HE Blog in March _)

    What Alistair wants – and again he’s right on the Microsoft wavelength here – is to see the power of technology harnessed to an interactive style – work shared around, circulated for comment by peers trained to respond, for example, gradually revised and developed.

    ‘Learning is not about the smooth progression to perfection. It is about asking the right questions of the right people at the right time and getting the responses that you can act upon.’

    Really, though, the best way to see what Alistair’s going to bring to Frog and Frog users is to look at the video currently on the home page of his website where he appeals for a system that moves children from ‘Performing’ – trying for correct answers, assessed by the teacher – to ‘Learning’ – making decisions, learning incrementally by trial and error. It’s pretty clear that if Alistair has his way, there’ll soon be some interesting developments at Frog, particularly, perhaps, in the area of assessment.

    And, make no mistake, Microsoft, with world-class products for communication and collaboration, and unparalleled experience of seeing them into service with a range of partners and schools, is very well placed to help bring the new Frog vision to life.

    The 'Frog Vision' video, and Conference workshop videos are at

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Teaching averages and probability with Kinect Sports


    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 creative teachers is to look for opportunities within the game and incorporate these into young peoples’ learning.

    Getting learners to keep track of their progress and scores throughout the game provides a good way to build up a collection of data that can then be used for analysis purposes.

    Bowling is a particularly good sport for quickly collecting data to reinforce the teaching of probability and averages.



    In this activity, we will challenge learners to play and record data whilst playing Bowling on Kinect Sports. The data generated and collected from the game will be used to introduce the concept of averages.

    Using the data, work with your class to explain and then calculate the mean, median and mode. This is also a useful point to discuss what we mean by ranges of data and to discuss the data range. If you have collected enough data, it is also possible to use this methodology to introduce the concept of probability, including: fractions, decimals and percentages.

    Supporting Resources

    Learners should have experience of playing Bowling on Kinect Sports. Playing in groups of four allows
    you to collect a lot of data quickly.

    The Microsoft Office (in particularly Microsoft Excel) provides a handy range of tools to help learners  process their data.

    For more ideas about teaching with Kinect Sports you can view and download our eBook below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Using Bing search in the classroom


    Instant answers and peace of mind, too. Students stop learning when they get frustrated or stuck. Bing can help students move forward on a lesson or their homework when you can’t be there to help.


    Get your formula for success

    Find a square root quickly. Capture the correct spelling, definition or pronunciation of a word. You and your students simply type the maths problem, word, or topic into the Bing search box. Bing offers instant answers to maths, language, and other educational questions.

    Search with confidence

    Bing has security settings to help keep inappropriate content from appearing in students’ search results. Internet access remains productive and educational. And that gives peace of mind to parents, teachers, and administrators.

    Discover a quick, reliable reference

    Bing offers reliable, organised answers from reference experts Wolfram Alpha for geography, chemistry, and more.

    Teacher tips

    • For younger students, use Bing instant answers to help improve their vocabulary. Have students type more advanced words in the Bing search box. Simply type in “Define” followed by the word they wish to learn. Students will get a definition, and often times an audio button will appear so they can listen and learn the correct pronunciation. Bing can also assist with maths equations, and even help with understanding basic graphing.
    • Teach students about the necessity of imports and exports between countries. Assign a different country to each student in class. Have students use Bing instant answers to determine the population, climate, and key resources of their country. Next, have students make a short list of resources their country lacks. Turn the class discussion into a barter session between student “countries.”
  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    How students can build a Windows Phone app in 30 days



    The Generation App website, from the Windows Phone team, is a really well structured guide to developing apps for the Windows Phone. And ‘well structured’ means that it talks you through a 30-day plan to design, build, test, distribute and monetize applications for Windows Phone – and connects to all of the resources you will need in the form of training, documentation, tools etc.

    For students, it’s almost like a ready-made advanced course, and where you’ve got students who are already programming, but want to move onto advanced projects, this seems like just the perfect resource.

    Learn MoreVisit the Generation App website


    Originally posted on The Education Blog

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Quick results and longer term strategies for cost saving in schools


    Decide on priorities

    Your aim is to save some money for the school by making good decisions about ICT. It’ll be important to show how that can be done. So it’s time to decide where to start.

    One imperative, and it’s more to do with management than technology, is to weigh the balance between going for quick immediate results on the one hand, and laying the foundations for longer term efficiency and savings on the other. A good example of playing the longer game is found in our Microsoft® Case Study of West Hatch High School.

    It begins with the governors agreeing, in 2008, to commence a six year ICT transformation project starting with a complete rebuild of the network infrastructure. That, clearly, tells of vision, leadership and long term commitment. Four years on, with no sign of stopping, story after story now comes from West Hatch of the effects on learning, efficiency and, yes, cost-saving, of that early decisiveness.


    Sometimes, though, it’s necessary to demonstrate a quicker impact on the budget, and another story, from Islay High School, tells of a drive on paper saving – “No printed handouts or memos” – that cut paper and printing by an astonishing eighty percent from 2006 to 2007. Money saved was spent on student and staff netbooks.

    Clearly, we can’t tell you what your priorities ought to be. There’s something to be said for a quick demonstration of what’s possible, but it’s more than likely that the long haul has to start in the background, too. It’s the planning that’s important, with a transparent whole-school collaborative approach and a strong steer from leadership.

    Green, lean and far from mean

    Trying for cost savings almost by definition addresses the increasingly important ‘Green’agenda along the way. The main contributor here is a reduction in the use of electricity, but there are savings to be made, too, in the use of paper and the consumables involved in printing and copying. Reducing the amount of hardware in the school, and extending its life also help make a positive environmental contribution.

    Many schools are highly active in seeking to reduce their impact on the environment, signed up in many cases to organisations such as ‘Eco-Schools’

    Where this is the case, the drive for cost saving will both support and be informed by those responsible for the environmental effort, and there’s much to be gained from working together to ensure that nothing’s missed on either side.

    To help your school further with cost saving, we have partnered with the Guardian to make our new 'Cost Saving in Education' eBook exclusively available within their Teacher Network until the end of September 2012. The eBook can be viewed/downloaded directly via the Guardian's Teacher Network download centre.

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