Last week Microsoft hosted the Partners in Learning (PiL) Global Forum in Prague, Czech Republic. I look forward to the Global Forum all year and the inspiration it brings as I’m surrounded by over 500 of the most innovative educators in the world. I enjoy hearing stories of the impact they are making in the schools and the classroom and I am truly humbled to be part of their journey. One of the highlights this year was the chance to show off several of the great education apps and features available on Windows 8. I love the changes to Windows 8 and the design properties that were built with learners in mind. I’ve been a “geek” my whole life and I still get excited about technology. I might have let some of that geekiness show during my keynote with a demo of some of my favorite Windows 8 education apps and features:
Windows 8 Apps I showed during my keynote:
• Take Khan Academy, for example -- it’s a dynamic site that brings math, science and history lessons to life through video tutorials, even for tough topics like advanced geometry! Khan Academy is accessed around the world and is beautifully suited for the features of Windows 8. With Windows 8 you can bring multiple environments together seamlessly and learn in a dynamic way. For example, while watching a video tutorial online or downloaded and used offline, students can take notes on their computer or multitask on another project. Khan Academy for Windows 8 is designed to meet the learning realities of students head-on. • Reading a book on geometry, physics or algebra is practically easy with interactive books by Adaptive Curriculum the creators of the AC Math and AC Science solutions for K-12 schools. They have 4 Windows 8 based AC VBook Apps to help middle and high school students tackle the most difficult concepts. The AC VBooks create a highly interactive and engaging environment with a blend of explorations, visual explanations, and exercises that show students how fascinating and relevant math and science can be. The applications in Windows 8 complement the interactive books extremely well and make learning more enjoyable for the digital and mobile learners.
• The Kno app, developed by Kno, a well-regarded partner, provides a rich and immersive textbook and online search experience by providing digital access to dynamic books in a swift and efficient search process. Kno is designed for K12, college students and faculty. They offer 200,000 etextbooks available from 60+ educational publishers • Showing the power of technology with a cool 3-D app drew "oohs" and "ahhs" from the audience. Corinth developed a 3-D interactive platform and an app called Corinth Micro specifically for the Global Forum in just 6 weeks. Corinth's apps enrich the learning experience by providing detailed objects and environments that the user may freely explore (like individual leaves or cell structures). Using a demo example of search for "plant viruses" I found documentation through Kno and then zoomed in on images of leaves to look around 3-D cellular structure. It was pretty amazing! A key part of my demo was showing how the apps can work together – for example, you can watch a geometry video from Khan Academy while scanning an interactive textbook from Adaptive Curriculum and zoom into exactly the information you need while taking notes along the way with OneNote. With the Kno app and Corinth’s 3-D app, the tools to deeply research a topic can work together for an immersive learning experience. We are excited to see so many great companies building curriculum and content for students on the Windows 8 platform. Windows 8 offers a powerful experience for student learning, multi-tasking and collaborating. CharmsI also got a lot of enthusiastic clapping when I showed the search charms on Windows 8. This is a great design making a typical search much more powerful. Instead of just searching the Web I can type a word into search and then the search goes across my entire PC. Amazing! The search term may come up in Wikipedia but also in an email that I wrote on the same subject and a document that was in one of my folders. Just think how easy it is to do a report, research and work across study groups. It was a great event and I already look forward to next year. I want to personally thank all the educators that participated in this year’s event and we look forward to hearing from you on the Partners in Learning Network.