NZ Education Blog

Regular updates from Microsoft in the NZ education sector. Events and advice for education staff.

NZ Education Blog

  • Tools to Unlock Learning: The OneNote for Learning Literacy Toolbar

    This post has been taken from the Microsoft in Education Blog 

    On the same day in August 2015, two important announcements were made on different sides of the world. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released a new report on secondary school attainment, showing that progress is slowing just as "upper secondary schooling has been transformed from a vehicle towards upward social mobility into a minimum requirement for life in modern societies."

    More than any other skill, literacy is the key to school completion, employment and earnings in life, according to the report. The OECD goes on to assert that literacy for life is best developed in context and with formative feedback.

    The other announcement, out of Redmond, Washington, was far more encouraging: highlighting the creation of the OneNote for Learning literacy toolbar, to be released later this year. The toolbar embeds tools for developing literacy into an app designed for contextual formative learning.

    Developed by the OneNote team and literacy experts, the OneNote for Learning literacy toolbar provides "enhanced dictation powered by Bing speech recognition services, immersive reading that uses Windows services of simultaneous audio text playback with highlighting, and natural language processing that relies on Microsoft Research."

    Dr. Betsy Doone, professor of Special Education at the University of South Florida, stated:

    Although created to meet the unique learning needs of students with dyslexia, OneNote for Learning literacy toolbar provides access for all learners, ensuring that the tenets of Universal Design for Learning are met. Software programs that provide a range of attributes create accessibility opportunities for a range of learners, increasing functionality and learning outcomes. English language learners, students with disabilities, and students with limited academic opportunities all benefit from OneNote toolbar. Providing access to learning to all students benefits our future.

    The involvement of experts in the building of the OneNote for Learning literacy toolbar has paid off in the form of a strongly research-founded education resource. Assessment that centers on formative feedback is among the most effective practices. [1]

    OneNote enables frequent feedback, as well as reflection on learning that develops metacognition supported by research in persistence [1].

    OneNote has been shown to improve student exam performance when it is used to prepare and to reflect on learning [2], and to improve note taking quantity and efficiency in students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia [3] . Students who use OneNote as their learning hub are prepared to be independent learners who are accomplished in the 21st century skills needed in higher education and workplaces that have adopted OneNote [4] [5] [6]. OneNote also supports knowledge sharing in distributed teams of the type students will join in college and career [7].

    The strongest impact on reading skills comes from attention to spatial and auditory perception--skills like those enabled by the OneNote for learning literacy toolbar. According to Hattie, writing skills are best developed through strategies and practice in planning and revising, especially in peer groups, activities that are effective in OneNote. It is this type of "comprehensible input" that seems to be the most direct path to acquiring the grammar and vocabulary of a language, and to applying the language in real communicative situations.

    OneNote can support classroom and out-of-class comprehensible input through engagement in a receptive stage of reading and listening followed by a productive stage of speaking and writing -- because all of the tools are easily accessed and learned. Overall writing ability has been shown to increase significantly with tools like OneNote, with the largest increases noted in groups who used mobile devices in all stages of the writing process [9]. And, research has shown that reluctant readers were more motivated to read eBooks, which is flexibly enabled with the OneNote for Learning literacy toolbar [10].

    [1]  Hattie, J. (2013). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. London: Routledge.  [1]  Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.

    [2]  Michaelsen, A. S., & Mohr, T. C. (2010). Better exam results: how students and school leadership learn when introducing new technology such as OneNote in school.

    [3]  Garbo, R., Mangiatordi, A., & Negri, S. (2012). A Computer Based Support to Guided Note Taking: A Preliminary Study on University Students with Dyslexia. International Journal of Technology and Inclusive Education (IJTIE), 1(2), 52-59.

    [4]  Beheshti, M. V., Jambhekar, K., & Deloney, L. A. (2010). Utility of Microsoft OneNote for the Efficient Aggregation and Dissemination of Learning Materials in Radiologic Education. Journal of the American College of Radiology, 7(11), 893-897.

    [5]  Barber, C., Haque, N. & Gardner, B. (2009). one point: Combining OneNote and SharePoint to facilitate knowledge transfer. Drug Discovery Today (14) 17-18, 845-

    [6]  Penciuc, D., Abel, M. H., & Van Den Abeele, D. (2013). Support for Collaborative Building of a Railway Technical Solution during Tendering. In Information Systems, E-learning, and Knowledge Management Research (pp. 301-310). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

    [7]  Sharp, H., Giuffrida, R., & Melnik, G. (2012). Information flow within a dispersed agile team: a distributed cognition perspective. In Agile Processes in Software Engineering and Extreme Programming (pp. 62-76). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

    [8]  Scott III, R. H. (2011). Tableau Économique: Teaching economics with a tablet computer. The Journal of Economic Education, 42(2).

    [9]  Warschauer, M. (2009). Learning to write in the laptop classroom. Writing and Pedagogy, 1(1), 101-112.

    10] Maynard, S. (2010). The impact of e-books on young children's reading habits. Publishing Research Quarterly, 26 , 236–248.

  • Introducing Creative Coding through Games and Apps - a free course!

    We are excited to announce the availability of a new course to get your students hooked on computer science! Creative Coding through Games and Apps is now available for schools across the world, for free! 

    Creative Coding through Games and Apps engages early-teens in their first extended exploration of computer science. Students learn how to code by working in a real software development environment to design, program and publish mobile apps and games. Learning to code by creating real products, students discover how to make amazing things and have an impact on their world. 

    Creative Coding through Games and Apps is designed for a broad range of students, including those who may have never before considered programming. The course can be delivered with success by any teacher, regardless of computer science background, and includes all necessary materials for teacher prep, lesson plans, presentations, student assignments, homework, projects and tests. Featuring online and in-class lessons that emphasise hands-on coding, the course can be taught via any modern web browser on phones, tablets, laptops or desktop computers. The course length is flexible, requiring 6, 9, 12 or 18 weeks, depending on the time available in your school. And the combination of online plus in-class resources provides flexibility in teaching style, allowing teachers to choose the right balance for their students of in-class instruction and out-of-class study.

    For more information on the Creative Coding through Games and Apps course, check out the Course Evaluation for an introduction video and downloadable package with sample materials and an overview of the course. 

    If you're ready to get started, head to the complete Creative Coding through Games and Apps course and download the full set of free resources! 

    Give your students a firm foundation in computer science and prepare them for today's computer-intensive world with this free course. Get started now! 

  • The journey of a U.S. school integrating OneNote

    This blog post has been taken from the Office Blog, written by Michael Smith and Palie Cantu of the Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Washington State.

    When the Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart began a 1:1 program back in 1996, the earliest educational technology beneficiaries were those mainly integrating word processing and Internet access into their curriculum, such as English and Social Studies. The technology was not quite as user-friendly to the Science, Math and other less keyboard-friendly disciplines. When we moved to tablet PC devices in 2003, we discovered digital inking and soon a whole new world of educational technology integration opened for all curricula.

    With the new tablet PCs, we explored a third-party digital inking solution, but quickly moved to Windows Journal for ease of use and accessibility. The novelty of inking was enticing, but it still wasn’t quite what we needed in an educational environment. We needed more than just the ink capabilities— we needed organisation, structure, flexibility and simplicity.

    Upon finding OneNote 2003, a small group of math and science teachers explored the new tool and began incorporating it right away. Because of the ease of digital ink, complex symbols and drawings could be created without awkward keyboard stokes or software add-ins. As with any good ideas, other disciplines took notice and soon followed.

    As our teachers and students explored OneNote, they found an integral tool that takes the ease of pencil and paper and combines it with built-in organization, automatic back-ups, audio /video recording capabilities, word processing, spreadsheet functions, graphing tools and the ability to change the size of the digital paper. Let’s not forget a student favourite—colour ink customization for differentiated learning techniques!

    Collaborating with the OneNote Class Notebook Creator

    One thing that was missing for us was the ability to easily share and collaborate with this new tool. Distributing the work from teachers to students and back again was cumbersome. It was a valuable process, so we found ways to do it via clumsy combinations of email and posting files to our LMS portal.  This proved to be quite a lengthy process with lots of potential points of failure. There were a few other schools, blessed with talented programmers on staff who found ways to make sharing and collaboration happen within their network infrastructure. Unfortunately, we, as well as most schools in the world, did not have this resource. Microsoft integrated these techniques and now, as an Office 365 school, using the OneNote Class Notebook Creator tool, we can share our notebooks from teacher to student, administration to faculty and more broadly.

    Now with our current shared notebook setup, the teacher places the information in their OneNote notebook, it shows up automatically in the students’ notebooks. The students add their responses and it’s viewable by the teachers in their own notebooks in a matter of seconds! As early adopters of the new OneNote tool, we were beta testing a version of shared notebooks last school year.

    Individualized Learning

    Teachers can now create their own digital texts by gathering sources and organising them in OneNote notebooks shared with their students by means of the OneNote Class Notebook Creator tool. Gone now are the days when these teachers must ask students to NOT mark up the textbooks.

    In these digital textbooks, students are ENCOURAGED to highlight, colour, circle and annotate the information to benefit their unique learning styles. There are probably many textbooks still teaching that Pluto is a planet and have maps with incorrect country names and borders. With our shared notebooks providing digital textbooks, we don’t have to wait years for updated information.

    The metaphorical “light goes on”

    As a school with 18 years of 1:1 experience, we’re used to many national and international visitors coming to see our teachers and students in action.  These visiting educators and administrators have often heard of OneNote and might have a theoretical concept of this process prior to setting foot on campus. But when they enter our classrooms for the first time, seeing the engagement of the students, the simplicity of the solution and the natural fit in an educational environment—the metaphorical “light goes on”—and theoretical understanding meets tangible comprehension. Like any other teacher, these “a ha!” moments of realization are highlights of my day.

  • Announcement: Introduction to Office 365 for Education seminar

    Cyclone, in partnership with Microsoft NZ, invites you and your school to a complimentary overview presentation of Office 365 for Education.

    This presentation is intended for schools who have recently deployed Office 365 in their school, or for schools wanting to learn more about Microsoft's free offerings to Education.

    The seminar will be delivered by Megan Magon, an experienced educator, employed by Cyclone and Microsoft to support schools and organisations in learning about and using Office 365, Windows 8, Windows 10 and other Microsoft tools effectively in a teaching and learning environment.

    In this presentation your school will learn about:

    • How to use Office 365 for Education as an online environment where students and teachers can collaborate, share and learn about the world around them, anytime anywhere!
    • The benefits of an Office 365 environment, for teaching and learning and free offerings available to schools
    • Navigation around the Office 365 Interface
    • Key educational apps and tools for teaching and learning, as well as an insight into new apps recently launched within the Office 365 environment (Delve, Sway, Yammer, Office 365 Groups, Office 365 Video, Teacher Dashboard, Office Mix, OneNote Class Creator, OneNote Staff Notebook Creator)
    • The Microsoft Educator Network
    • A chance for Q&A around other teaching and learning aspects of Office 365


    Tuesday, August 25 2015
    1pm - 4pm 


    Microsoft New Zealand
    Level 5, 22 Viaduct Harbour Ave

    Click here to register

    Please note: 
    Please bring a personal laptop to enjoy the full benefits of this presentation
    Afternoon tea and refreshments will be provided
    This workshop is not intended as a technical session around the infrastructure, deployment or backend setup of Office 365 in a school

  • Christchurch's St Andrew's College reflects on Surface Pro 3 use

    This post has been re-blogged from Sam McNeill's StAC e-Learning Stories blog. Microsoft is excited to share this feedback on how the Surface Pro 3 has performed at St Andrew's College, and how it has simplified teaching and learning. 

    As we approach the first anniversary of the Surface Pro 3 release in New Zealand, I’ve been reflecting on the fact that we now have 26 staff members using them across the school. An earlier update on how how teachers have been using the Pro 3 in their classes remains one of the more popular posts on this blog and in anticipation of teacher demand for tablets in 2016, I have surveyed those staff members who use a Surface Pro 3.

    The overall satisfaction rates of teachers with the Surface Pro 3 is very high

    Using SurveyMonkey I have collated some interesting feedback from teachers and share it here for the benefit of other schools that may be interested in exploring the tablets for their teachers.

    Whilst it is not always easy to ask the “right” questions when it comes to getting useful feedback I have tried to get staff to compare the key features and functionality of a Surface Pro 3 with a traditional laptop that the College has issued to teaching staff:

    An interesting comment to the above responses from a teacher was:

    "What is not mentioned above is the functionality – the Surface is far more functional than a laptop as it doubles as a tablet, when needed. This is the huge advantage of a Surface over a laptop."

    It is important to acknowledge some of those “niggles” that teachers have experienced because no device is perfect. Here is some feedback from staff highlighting some of the challenges of the device:

    "The keyboard needs to be taken off and reattached to remedy glitches. The keyboard is small and I often hit the caps button. Consider body posture when using the Surface Pro 3 so that you are not hunched. Before putting a plastic box on the desk and under the tablet, I would wonder why I had a sore neck/back/eyestrain."

    "The thing I really don’t like is a cheapie-feeling keyboard and how I keen hitting two keys at once … lack of USB ports is really annoying too."

    "Some issues with it freezing when in sleep mode. Need to force a restart when this happens."

    We have done a significant amount of experimentation with wireless projection at St Andrew’s College and a future post will cover what we have settled on, however currently only 41% of our teachers with Surface Pro 3 tablets are using wireless projection (this number is skewed as well because the majority of our SP3 users are in our Preparatory School because of where their lease renewal occurred). However, 96% of the teachers said they would use wireless projection if it was available in their class, with the following breakdown showing how significant it is to their teaching style:

    Clearly, the ability to roam a classroom “untethered” from the front and a data projector cable is a big drawcard for teachers and a trend I see only growing as the technology becomes more reliable.

    One of the key features of the Surface Pro 3 is the great accuracy of the pen and the ability to “write” into OneNote very easily; a feature that is consistently praised by our teachers. This question specifically asked about the usefulness of the pen:

    Some departments at St Andrew’s College would love to change the requirement for students that all devices must support “inking” in some format, and it’s easy to see why: subjects that involve diagrams, formula and equations would be significantly easier for students if they could simply handwrite directly into OneNote.

    Whilst the Surface Pro 3 is experiencing favourable feedback from teachers, we are also looking at “convertible laptops” that allow for the handwriting on the screen such as the HP Spectre x360 that folds back into a tablet. Historically, our testing of units like this have been disappointing as the accuracy of the inking on these hybrids just could not compete with genuine tablets like the Pro 3. That said, the attraction of a proper keyboard and a larger screen appeals to some of our teachers:

    Ultimately, the value of any device to a teacher can be measured in whether they would recommend it to their colleagues: on this point, the teachers were almost unanimous.

    One interesting comment from a teacher in the Preparatory School reflects the uptake of tablets in their class by students, purely based on what they have seen from teachers using the devices:

    "A number of staff in the Prep School who opted for laptops now regret their choice and given the opportunity would switch to a surface. 8 students in my class now use surface tablets – 2 having switched from Mac."

    How has the practice of our teachers changed with the Surface Pro 3?

    This is a difficult question to get answers to in some ways but a critical one to understand what, if any, impact on pedagogy a technology shift has had for our teachers. Up until the introduction of the Surface Pro 3 the teachers at St Andrew’s were all given identical laptops. By introducing some limited choice it has increased the support costs of maintenance and spares, therefore it was hoped there would be some positive changes or improvements in teaching practice. Here is a selection of some replies from teachers:

    "My practice has not changed, but the mobility of the Surface and the fact that will do all I ask of it has adapted my style. I am able to work with the students annotating a piece of writing or work through maths problems using the stylus and each child is able to revisit this learning through OneNote. The mobility, wireless projector connectivity and stylus allow me to get away from the desk and be with the students when teaching. Most importantly – the students use of the Surface to share with others is powerful. They take my surface and use it to explain concepts to a group when linked to the projector and when used in conjunction with OneNote, students collaborate in real time on a piece of learning using their stylus on their own Surface tablets." - Maths Teacher

    A reply from a Preparatory School teacher suggests it can lead to MORE work: "I probably end up doing more work from home as it is much more portable [than a laptop]".

    "It has not changed my practice, but has complemented it very well. I already used my own Surface in conjunction with a school laptop. Before the Surface, I used my phone to do many of the same functions, complemented by a laptop. Having a Surface provided by school has meant operating fewer devices for the same outcomes, making it easier when you don’t have your own classroom." - Science Teacher

    "More movement around the class, use of pen and writing has enhanced the annotation ability, marking and so forth, integration of technology, ease of OneNote and working 1 on 1 with students. light, easy to move around with especially when wirelessly not connected to data projector" - English Teacher

    "I don’t write on whiteboard anymore – I write directly onto my OneNote page so students can access this" - Science Teacher

    "Much easier to use in PE settings ie with pen and tablet. Therefore I am more likely to use it, and complete observation style tasks more frequently. Easier to mark / use OneNote – I can mark and make comments quickly using the pen" - PE Teacher

    "Less time at my desk and more time with students. Ability to take teaching outside the classroom, faster and with more resources. Being able to show examples of preferred practices with ease and ability to document past/current teaching and interactions with the students has been key. Students are assisted by this to become more reflective learners. (ability to revisit work via OneNote)." - Preparatory School Teacher

    A recurring theme comes through in these responses in terms of how a tablet, with the ability to ink, enhances the value of Microsoft OneNote, a key tool that is being used at our College.

    The above information is important for the ICT team to understand. Like many schools, we lease our teacher laptops/devices and renew these every three years. The teaching staff leases are split into three, so each year we replace 1/3 of the devices (around 45-50), and I anticipate that the majority of our teachers who are up for a new device in 2016 will want something they can write on. The above information will be disseminated to those teachers to help them make informed decisions and also assist the ICT department in providing the best support possible.

  • Announcing Sway General Availability, Windows 10 app and more!

    We are excited to announce that Microsoft's digital storytelling app, Sway, is moving from Preview to General Availability! Sway is also moving beyond First Release and rolling out to all eligible Office 365 for business and education customers worldwide. This makes it possible for many additional businesses, schools and other organisations to start using Sway to create and share interactive reports, presentations, assignments, lessons, projects and more. And of course, any consumer can use Sway with a free Microsoft account. Today, we are also introducing Sway for Windows 10, along with new layout and publishing capabilities.

    We introduced Sway as a member of the Office family 10 months ago. Sway helps you create professional designs in minutes. You bring your ideas and raw content, and Sway’s intelligent design engine creates a polished, cohesive layout that helps your images, text, videos and other media flow together in a way that enhances your story. Sway makes sure your creations look great no matter what device they’re being viewed on—phones, tablets, laptops, PCs or even the largest Microsoft Surface Hub!

    During Sway Preview, we’ve learned from the hundreds of thousands of amazing Sways you’ve built. Your invaluable feedback has helped us improve Sway to meet your needs—from adding fundamentals like multi-user collaboration, to the very “Sway” way we addressed photo cropping.

    Sway for Windows 10 is now available

    Sway for Windows 10 is now rolling out to the Windows Store. Sway for Windows combines the full richness of Sway on the web with additional capabilities on your PC or tablet. This means you can use all of Sway’s integrated content sources along with the power of the built-in design engine to build, edit and share your Sways, whether you’re on the go with your Windows tablet or working at your desk with a PC or laptop. Want to capture the moment? Snap photos right into Sway using the built-in camera on your Windows device. And if you’re ready to present at a conference or to students and classmates, the Sways you’ve already loaded will be available offline when you don’t have Internet access or Wi-Fi is spotty. While some elements of your Sway may still need the Internet (such as interactive maps or cloud-hosted videos), this is a first step in addressing one of the most common feedback requests we heard during Sway Preview. Sway for Windows also allows you to stay logged in with multiple accounts at once if you use the same device for both work and home.

    This initial release of Sway on Windows 10 is for PCs and tablets. We’re working on Sway for Windows Phones, which will arrive in the coming months. Stay tuned for more!

    Present with confidence

    Sway’s built-in design engine makes sure your creations look great not only on any device they’re viewed on but in whatever layout you’ve chosen as well. Sway already offers vertical scrolling and horizontal panning layouts where your content flows continuously as you swipe. One of the most popular requests we heard during Sway Preview was for another layout that lets you better control the timing of when content is revealed, particularly for presentation scenarios.

    So, today we’re rolling out a new layout in the Navigation pane, which displays groupings of content (images, text, videos, tweets, etc.) one screen at a time. Whether it’s a few words with a knockout background image, a set of images and supporting bullet points, or a cluster of interactive elements, now you can deliver a killer presentation in-person or for viewing across many devices.

    Share your Sways with the world using

    You’ve also been asking for a place where you can publish collections of your Sways to share with friends, fans and the rest of the Internet community. We’re excited to announce that with just a tap or click of the Share button, you can now choose to publish Sways directly to the newly relaunched, an Internet destination to publish Office documents in full fidelity for the world to find, browse and share. Along with adding support for Sway, we’ve also improved the overall experience for publishing, managing and consuming content. lets you organise your Sways and other Office content into collections. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Office Mix files are displayed interactively and with full fidelity. You can also add PDFs and web links. Create a stylish profile page using a Sway to share more about your passions and expertise. On, Sways, documents, collections or profiles can be discovered by search engines, browsed on, and shared in social media or on the web. provides data on how many views you’re getting, and it’s easy for anybody viewing your files to add comments and discover your other published work as well.

    Sway is being used by so many people in such amazing ways

    It’s been wonderful to see people use Sway in ways we anticipated, and it’s been incredible to watch them use Sway in really cool and inspiring ways we hadn’t even imagined.

    For example, teachers have been using Sway to reimagine class lessons, recap class projects, provide supplemental material for parents, provide new accessible storytelling tools to their students and more. Sway has helped students breathe new life into school projects, class reports and even personal portfolios. Sway is helping even the youngest students become “active producers of their own original content” at the Bureau of Fearless Ideas (BFI), a local non-profit after-school program in Seattle. Watch this video to learn more:

    Get started with Sway today

    Professionals, teachers, students and consumers can all get started right away using your work, school or Microsoft accounts to log in to, the new Sway for Windows 10 or updated Sway for iPhone and iPad. Sway is also integrated into the web-based Office Online, so it’s easy to switch between Sway and other familiar Office apps and Office 365 services in your browser and at

  • Announcement: Microsoft Teacher Academies, free online courses for teachers

    Microsoft has published a set of new online courses called Microsoft Teacher Academies, which are available for FREE to teachers looking for training and professional development. The online courses are designed to empower educators with the ability to effectively integrate Microsoft's tools in teaching and learning. Courses help bring 21st century technology including Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft OneNote, Skype for Business, and OneDrive into classrooms.

    Each three-hour online course is interactive and provides education scenarios that cover topics from collaboration and communication, to organizing and preparing lessons, and increasing daily productivity.

    Get started now by selecting one of the new Microsoft Teacher Academies online courses!

    Teacher Academy: In the Cloud - File Storage, Collaboration and Communication with Office 365

    The ability to effectively communicate is very more important. This course helps educators learn to: communicate using Outlook Online, use OneDrive for Business to store and share files, conduct online meetings, and communicate with students, their parents and colleagues using Skype for Business, and engage students' parents and other people in their network using Yammer.

    Teacher Academy: The Ultimate Collaboration Tool - An Introduction to OneNote

    OneNote is your digital notebook for capturing and organizing everything across your devices. Jot down your ideas, keep track of classroom and meeting notes, clip from the web, and much more. The course guides educators to create digital notebooks and it demonstrates ways to enhance one's productivity by using different OneNote features, such as tagging, page templates, and drawing tools.

    Teacher Academy: Get more out of Office Online and OneDrive

    By having access to Office Online anytime, anywhere, educators and students are able to organize and prepare for projects using OneNote, build on each other's ideas and provide peer reviews using Word, collect ideas through the Excel Survey tool, and present their learning using PowerPoint; all within a collaborative space in OneDrive. 

    Teacher Academy: Windows 8 - The World Is Your Classroom

    Educators and students now have a seamless experience, whether using their Windows computer, tablet, or mobile phone. Windows 8 enables everyone to work and learn anywhere, anytime, anyway they like as the experience becomes personalized for the individual while making work easier and more productive. This course demonstrates Windows 8 and the powerful tools it offers; empowers educators to set up email, navigate the Windows 8 desktop; and work with charms, apps, and tiles. 

  • Are you ready for Windows 10?

    It is now two weeks since the launch of Windows 10 on July 29 2015! Have you tried Windows 10 yet?

    With Windows 10, you can enjoy amazing new features and a familiar experience. New features include Cortana, Microsoft Edge, and a customisable Start menu! Windows 10 will also keep you up to date and safer with built-in security features. To preview the new Windows 10 and learn about all the reasons you will love the new Windows, check out the video below! 

    Windows 10 Education

    Windows 10 Education is designed to meet the needs of schools staff, administrators, teachers and students! This edition will be available through academic Volume Licensing, and there will be paths for schools and students using Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro devices to upgrade to Windows 10 Education.

    To get a complete overview of Windows 10 Education, have a look at the video below:

    What does this update mean for you?

    Windows 10 is available as a free upgrade for all eligible Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 Update, and Windows Phone 8.1 devices. This free upgrade is offered for one year after Windows 10 is available. After you upgrade, Windows 10 is yours to enjoy!

    If you've already reserved your free upgrade of Windows 10, then it is on its way! Your notification to upgrade could come as soon as a few days or weeks. And you can always check your upgrade status in the Get Windows 10 app.

    Otherwise, you can reserve your free upgrade in the Get Windows 10 App. You will need to complete the reservation process below on each device you wish to install Windows 10 on. To find the app:

    • Click on the small Windows icon located at the right end of the taskbar.

    • Click "Reserve your free upgrade" in the app window.
    • Enter your email address if you would like a confirmation of this reservation.
    • All set. We’ll download Windows 10 to your device and notify you when it’s ready. You can cancel your reservation at any time. If you'd like to create a USB drive or DVD to download once and upgrade multiple PCs - click here.

    You can cancel your reservation at any time prior to installing Windows 10. Here’s how:

    • Right-click on the Get Windows 10 App or Windows icon located at the right end of the taskbar.
    • Select “Check your upgrade status”.
    • Select "Cancel reservation"

    For more information, check out the Windows 10 Features or the Windows 10 FAQ.

    Note: This free Windows 10 upgrade is available for PCs and tablets; the free Windows 10 Mobile upgrade will be available for most phones starting later this year

    Upgrade to Windows 10 with confidence. The Microsoft Answer Desk will be here for you with one-on-one support to get you up and running on Windows 10. For questions about upgrading to Windows 10, take a look at our Windows 10 Q&A or check to see if your question has already been answered in the community forum or post a new one.

  • Microsoft Event: Teaching with Technology Seminars


    Microsoft is excited to announce the return of the Teaching with Technology seminars!

    On the back of his successful visit to New Zealand in May 2015, Travis Smith returns in September for a week-long tour of the country!

    Travis will be stopping off in Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Napier and Auckland to deliver engaging sessions to educators. These seminars will demonstrate to educators how they can integrate technology into their teaching to increase student engagement and improve learning outcomes.

    In this free event Travis Smith will explore new and innovative ways to engage students and improve learning outcomes through the use of pen-enabled tablet computers and collaboration platforms including OneNote, Office Mix and Office 365.

    Travis has over 11 years’ of classroom experience teaching in schools and lecturing in the Education Faculty at Monash University. Travis has also worked as an educational technology consultant presenting workshops and keynote presentations, as well as consulting over 60 schools across Australia on becoming more efficient with technology in the classroom. More recently, Travis is now Microsoft Australia’s National Education Specialist giving informative presentations to educators on the potential of technology in teaching.

    We hope you can join us for this exciting opportunity to gain insight into the 21st century learning landscape from one of Australia’s leading speakers on technology in education!

    To register for a Teaching with Technology seminar, visit Teaching with Technology!

  • Focus school: Baradene College, New Zealand

    Today we are excited to place the spotlight on Baradene College and the wonderful work the school is doing in incorporating technology into the classroom. Baradene is one of New Zealand's leading schools in its level of technology adoption and integration, and it is having a visible impact on the school's students and teachers.

    Baradene College of the Sacred Heart is a Catholic girls' school in Auckland, New Zealand. The school teaches students from Year 7 to Year 13, with a school roll of 1,150 girls. Deputy Principle, Theresa Bosch, is spearheading the school's move into the digital age. Baradene is reinventing their approach to teaching, using Microsoft technologies as the platform.

    Baradene College has set up Office 365 accounts for each student under its licensing agreement. This enables all students to download a free copy of Office - including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote - onto their primary device for schoolwork, and on up to four other supporting devices. Theresa Bosch believes that Office Mix and the OneNote Notebook Creator "are proving to be very popular platforms for Baradene staff and students alike".

    To ensure that no student gets left behind in their digital literacy, Year 7 and 8 students at Baradene receive training on the Office programs, with the intention being that by the time students enter Year 9 they will have passed Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Excel exams and be proficient users.

    Baradene College is now in its third year of a student one-to-one BYOD device program. The program was first trialled on Year 9 students, and has since been extended to include all students from Year 7 - 11. The BYOD program has proved to be successful across all year levels. Theresa Bosch says, "we have learnt valuable lessons along the way and believe the use of a personal device has become an important part of the toolkit that supports students learning".

    Based on this success, Baradene will continue to ask Year 7 students joining the school to bring a specific device for classroom use. The school has seen many advantages from its BYOD program so far. According to Theresa, "a student owned internet capable device gives them instant access to unlimited online resources and enables them to support, extend, communicate and share their learning in a way that will prepare them for the future".

    Theresa has listed the below benefits that the school has seen from their current BYOD program:

    • Anytime, anywhere access to class resources, support and extension activities through Ultranet, the school's learning management system, and Office 365 sites
    • The ability to develop “digital” folders and exercise books for their classes (that can’t be lost, and never need replacing) through OneDrive in Office 365
    • Unlimited access to the school library e-books, database and catalogued web resources through Oliver
    • Greater ability to communicate with teachers, parents and peers to support their learning through instant access to their student email that is set up for them through Student Advantage
    • The ability to draft, redraft and publish their work at the click of a button with Office Products online or from the Student Advantage Office Products that are downloaded onto their devices,
    • Access to world recognised qualifications via the Microsoft IT academy program
    • Allowing students to become active partners in their learning as they acquire 21st Century learning skills.

    Baradene's recommended BYOD device is the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, which is a premium Ultrabook/tablet hybrid. This device has proved to support students' learning, and it has "a long battery life, and is light enough for the students to carry around to their various subjects". With its unique click-on keyboard connector and an integrated kickstand, the Surface Pro 3 is adaptable and versatile. Students can use the Surface Pro 3 in the way that best suits them - as a laptop, tablet, or digital writing paper with its high-tech pen technology. Theresa believes that the use of the digital pen is becoming increasingly important, especially when teaching non-linguistic subjects such as Music, Mathematics and Science and character-based languages such as Japanese and Mandarin. Devices with digital pen capability are becoming especially crucial as it becomes increasingly likely that curriculums will move to digital assessment.

    OneNote is the primary learning tool used by teachers and students at Baradene. The effectiveness of OneNote as an education tool is maximised using the touch and pen inputs available on the Surface Pro 3. Using OneNote, staff can mark the students' work with their digital pens and provide instant feedback to students, which proves invaluable to staff and students alike.

    Theresa Bosch says, the "OneNote Notebook Creator with the Welcome section, Collaboration space, Contents library and notebook for each students has revolutionised the way we deliver the curriculum." Theresa described how the teachers at Baradene typically use their OneNote Class Notebook:

    • "In the Welcome page we generally add an introductory page and includes our Achievement standards so that students can access this at any time." 
    • "The contents library is just that – a space to add all the resources.  The students copy these resources to their own space and then complete the work as required."
    • The Collaboration space has proven to be by far the most useful space for us.  Teachers add class list with columns where students add emoji to indicate if they understand the work.  This way a teacher can see at a glance if the class feel comfortable with the content. Collaboration is such a useful learning tool and the possibilities are endless."

    OneNote as a learning tool is enabling staff and students to be more productive, collaborate and communicate more efficiently, and be more effective in the learning process. As Theresa says, "the more staff use OneNote Notebook Creator, the more we see the amazing work that is taking place.  Each faculty has a different need and the ease of these Notebooks makes the process for staff seamless". 

    Whilst OneNote is great in the classroom, it also makes the job of teachers a lot simpler and easier too! Baradene found this when they moved their staff handbook to OneNote a few years ago. Previously, the printed staff handbook had proved to be a major frustration because it was out of date almost immediately. After moving the handbook to the Staff OneNote the teachers at Baradene can be confident that the information they have is the most up to date, and it can be accessed anytime, anywhere on a device that connects to the internet.

    So where does Theresa Bosch see Baradene going with technology in the classroom in the next year? She says, "we still have some staff that are apprehensive using the devices but as their confidence grows and as the students know more the uptake will keep increasing.  Our Y7 and 8 program includes training though the Microsoft IT academy.  The knowledge they gain in this course will move throughout the school and their confidence will remove any barriers for using devices to enhance their learning. We are taking all possible steps to remove any barriers for staff and students and as soon as our broadband is increase though Network for Learning (N4L) there will not be anything holding us back. These are indeed exciting times."

    For more information on Baradene College's technology story check out Our Flipped Learning Story put together by Sharon Kan, a Teacher of Mathematics & Statistics as well as Digital Literacy at Baradene College.

    We look forward to watching Baradene's progress as the school continues to integrate technology into its classrooms. It is exciting to see a school move forward at such a rapid pace and make the most of the tools and technologies available! 

  • Tutorials to get you started using Sway

    To help you make a start with Sway, the team have put together a couple of tutorial videos to give you some ideas on how to use Sway to express your thoughts in a completely new way! Check them out below! 

    What is Sway?

    How to make a tutorial

    How to build a presentation

    How to create a newsletter

    Want to use some of these ideas in Sway? You can start using this awesome tool today using any web browser on your PC, Mac or tablet! Just visit to get started! 

  • Announcement: Microsoft Class Dashboard for teachers and students

    The Office team have recently announced the first phase of a Preview program for the Microsoft Class Dashboard! The Class Dashboard will be available to Office 365 Education users at no additional charge, and will enable students and teachers to communicate and collaborate like never before!

    What is Class Dashboard?

    Class Dashboard is an easy-to-use website that brings together familiar Office apps including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook in the context of the classroom. There are many different technology tools available to educators, so the Office team built Class Dashboard to easily integrate with solutions teachers already use in the classroom! 

    Stay organised

    With Class Dashboard teachers and students can stay organised with online storage for all OneNote Class Notebooks, class materials, notes assignments and shared calendars! Keep all of your materials in one place, so you and your students can easily find what you need. Documents and Class Notebooks can be accessed from any device, whether it is at school or on the go! 

    Save time

    Class Dashboard enables teachers to get the most out of the tools they already know and love! Teachers will be able to build rich assignments with documents, links, and online reference material, and collaborate with students using Office Online (web versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint accessible from a web browser). They’ll be able to share assignments with students, track progress, give feedback and assign grades, quickly and in one place!

    Engage your students

    Class Dashboard will seamlessly connect with tools for interactive lessons and presentations, facilitate discussions and collaboration, and support feedback so teachers can enable students to learn in new ways. With OneNote Class Notebook, students will be able to show their creativity and collaborate in notes, drawings, and pictures. Teachers can also provide personalised feedback throughout the learning process! 

    Visit the Microsoft Class Dashboard preview site to sign up for updates, and to see when Class Dashboard will be available in New Zealand! 


  • Announcement: Office for Android phones and tablets

    The Office team are excited to announce the general availability of the new Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps for Android phones and tablets. You can download Word, Excel and PowerPoint on your Android phone today to get started! 

    It was announced 6 weeks ago that there would be an Office for Android phone preview. With the help of the preview users, the Office team were able to test the apps on over 1,900 different Android phone models in 83 countries. During the preview, we heard from thousands of these users, and over the last few weeks we were able to incorporate a lot of their feedback into the apps we’re launching today. For example, we made it easier to connect to other popular third-party storage offerings like Google Drive and Box, as well as many usability adjustments to make it easier to navigate commands within the apps.

    Check out the video below to see some of the things Office for Android can do! 

    You can now download the Word for Android, Excel for Android and PowerPoint for Android apps from the Google Play store!

  • New Zealand MIE Experts create a sensational Food For Life project for their students!

    Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Experts and Howick College science teachers, Steve Martin and Ruby Huang, created a visionary project for their Year 9 students earlier in 2015. Students were required to investigate the science of food nutrition, and used technology to go about this process.

    The Food For Life project was designed to help students understand the problem of children going to school on an empty stomach. Students investigated the science behind this problem, and were tasked with designing a nutritious food parcel to donate to the Howick Salvation Army

    Students worked in groups to analyse the nutritional content of food, using the FoodSwitch app. After examining the results, the students were able to determine how healthy each food item was, and whether there were any healthier alternatives. Further research saw students investigating how much energy a professional athlete needs compared to a high-school student.

    After the research had been carried out, students were required to create posters and flyers requesting food donations. In the final stage of the Food For Life project, the food parcels designed by the students were delivered to the Salvation Army to be distributed to people in need.

    Throughout the project students used OneNote to complete their work on a digital notebook. Steve and Ruby designed an innovative OneNote notebook which provided students with the tools, learning activities and science concepts they needed to complete the task. As Steve says, "the OneNote allowed the students to manage their own learning and provided them with opportunities to make decisions about what, when and how they learnt." Steve believes that OneNote and Office 365 proved to be valuable tools for students as they "enhanced the collaborative process between the students in each group allowing real-time and anytime sharing of ideas and also the creation of posters, flyers and presentations". Using OneNote also made the process easier for Steve and Ruby to give feedback and track how their students were progressing with their project.

    A copy of Steve and Ruby's OneNote for the Food for Life project can be found here!

    About the MIE Expert program

    The MIE Expert program recognises educators worldwide who are using digital technology to improve student outcomes and learning processes. Each year a group of MIE Experts are chosen from around 30,000 applications. As an MIE Expert you are part of a global community of visionary educators who are active in their teaching community. MIE Experts can expect free Microsoft tools and technology, exclusive professional development opportunities, involvement in Microsoft programs and events, and the opportunity to travel to Redmond, Washington to attend the E2 Global Educator Exchange!

    In 2015, Steve Martin and Ruby Huang were two of fifteen New Zealand teachers invited to be Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts! These educators joined a group of 800 elite teachers worldwide in the program. Steve and Ruby, along with the other thirteen New Zealand MIE Experts, are inspiring examples of teachers using technology to change the way they teach.

    Applications will be open soon to become a 2016 MIE Expert! For more information on the program and how to apply, visit the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert overview!

  • St Andrew's College using OneNote & Moodle for student assessment

    This post has been re-blogged from Sam McNeill's StAC e-Learning Stories blog. Microsoft is excited to share this fantastic example of technology simplifying and improving everyday processes for teachers and students.

    One of the great things about Microsoft OneNote is the ease with which teachers can provide feedback to students on their work, helping them to develop their ideas towards the submission of assessment.

    However, as the internal assessment season ramps up in 2015 a number of teachers at St Andrew's College have approached Tom Adams and I about how to “lock” OneNote notebooks to prevent students modifying content after the submission date. Whilst there are some work-arounds, such as password protecting sections or moving them to a “read only” section in a teacher’s OneNote notebook, these are not always easy or intuitive.

    Together, Tom and I thought about a better workflow for teachers and students to use and settled on the following simple process:

    1. The teacher creates an “Assignment” task in Moodle setting the due date to be when all students need to have the assessment completed and handed in by.
               a) The option to allow “late” submissions exists within Moodle too, clearly showing to the teacher in red how many hours/days overdue the submission was. This could be useful in scenarios where students were away for legitimate reasons.

    2. The student exports either their page, section or entire OneNote Notebook into a PDF file on their local computer.

    3. The student goes to their Moodle course, clicks on the assignment and then drag ‘n’ drops the PDF file for upload and submission.
               a) The teacher can optionally include to have all students “sign” the authenticity agreement by clicking the “accept” each time they submit an assessment.

    4. Once the due date is reached, the teacher can bulk download all of the submissions for offline marking, moderation storage purposes or printing and returning.

    This process is outlined in the video below!

    By using this process, a number of things can happen:

    •  There can be no dispute about when the assignment was submitted
    • There can be no “losing” the submission because it’s stored on Moodle
    • All assignments are stored in one place with a single click to download all assignments into a folder for marking/moderation.
    • This also reduces the need for the teacher to “harvest” the submissions from a variety of sources that students may have submitted by e.g. email, printed and left at the teacher’s desk or office etc.
    • Students can be required to “sign” the authenticity statement for every assessment they submit within Moodle.
    • Moodle supports the use of – an online tool for verifying the authenticity and originality of a submission. Whilst this costs, it would allow students to improve their work before a final submission and also support teachers in ensuring the submission is the original work of the student.

    One reason St Andrew's College uses technology in the classroom is to prepare students for tertiary study and the workforce. The vast majority of tertiary institutions now require students to submit assessment online – by teaching our students to manage their time and to become accustomed to this form of assessment submission, they are being prepared for life beyond St Andrew’s.

  • Three new tutorial videos created to help you get started with Office Mix!

    A couple of days ago, the Office Mix Team announced that they have created a new "first run" experience to welcome new users to Office Mix and help them get started using the PowerPoint add-in.


    Now, when you first download and install the Office Mix add-in and then open PowerPoint for the first time, an interactive panel opens on the right-hand side of the screen where you’re presented with three buttons that each play a Quick Start Video tutorial. Additionally, you’re offered an option to “Create Your First Mix,” which opens the Getting Started template. As you’ll discover, the interactive panel is resizable and can be undocked, which permits you to move to split-screen mode and follow in-step with the tutorial’s instructions.


    The tutorials include “What is Office Mix,” “Screen Recording” and “Publish and Share.” There's also an easy way for you to “Create Your First Mix.” At the moment, these Quick Start Video tutorials launch in a separate browser window to play, however soon you will be able to watch them directly within PowerPoint! And in coming months, the Office Mix Team will be adding more tutorials!


    What is Office Mix?

    An overview of what you can do with Office Mix, such as inking, recording, editing and sharing. It also instructs you on how to set up video and audio, narrate using the Slide Notes feature and how to use our Ink marker to put notes on your presentation. You can also learn how to use the analytics to tell who is watching your mixes.


    In addition, you’ll see how easy it is to insert quizzes, polls and screenshots, as well as add video and audio files that really make your presentations come to life. You’ll also learn how to preview, edit and securely upload your mix to the cloud. It closes with a look at My Mixes, the place where you can view, manage and share your presentations.


    Screen Recording

    Step-by-step video showing you how to take full advantage of the power and simplicity of screen recording. You’ll see a how-to covering the ins and outs of embedding video into your Mix. For example, it showcases how you can extract clips from a YouTube video and use the playback controls to get the perfect video experience, and then directly insert it into your Mix. We’ll soon be adding a deeper-dive tutorial on all screen recording features including audio, area selection and trimming.


    Publish and Share

    Runs through a simple workflow on how to securely upload, publish and share your mixes. This includes how to upload mixes to the cloud and choose different options so your mixes can be played back on any mobile device or web browser. It also details how to set privacy levels for selective sharing with friends/colleagues.


    So get started with Office Mix at and get more information on Office Mix in Education!


  • Microsoft launches online education network for New Zealand’s 249 Catholic schools

    This blog post was taken from an announcement on the Microsoft New Zealand News Centre

    NZ Catholic Schools to connect with a shared online community

    The New Zealand Catholic Education Office is set to lead the international Catholic community with the launch of an online education network today that will give over 4,000 teachers the ability to share resources and collaborate in new ways.

    Microsoft New Zealand and the New Zealand Catholic Education Office (NZCEO) today officially unveiled the online network as the first outcome of the Education Alliance Agreement signed between the two organisations.

    The online services portal is built on Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud platform and incorporates collaboration tools such as Yammer, shared workspaces and catholic education resources.

    Sir Brother Pat Lynch, Chief Executive Officer of the NZCEO, says the network will increase the digital literacy of the whole school community and will enhance the special character of Catholic schools.

    “This network and partnership with Microsoft will strengthen our community and help us use the vast array of skills and resources within the Catholic education sector more effectively and equitably,” says Sir Brother Lynch.

    The NZCEO and Microsoft recently entered into an Education Alliance Agreement. The schools online network is the first deliverable from this, and will be followed by Microsoft working with the NZCEO to upskill teachers and schools to ensure that schools get the most out of this network and technology in teaching.

    Six schools in Auckland took part in a pilot programme for the online network over the last year. This allowed the NZCEO and Microsoft to conduct a full review and make improvements to the online service.

    Evan Blackman, Microsoft New Zealand’s Education Sector Director, says partnerships such as these are about empowering educators and inspiring students through the smart use of technology.

    “The launch of the Catholic school education portal today is a great step towards lifting collaboration across the Catholic school community, and will enable the more than 4,000 educators across the 249 NZ Catholic schools to work together to advance both the special character of these schools and the educational achievement of their students,” says Blackman.

    “Improving collaboration amongst schools and educators has been consistently called out in research and by the Ministry of Education as the key catalyst for the sector moving towards innovative, future-focused learning.”

    Blackman says the NZ Catholic schools community already has some great examples of innovative teaching and learning, such as Baradene College in Auckland which was recognised as a Microsoft Showcase School in 2014.

    “The intent of this portal and the partnership is to support Catholic schools’ move to 21st Century learning and ultimately equip students with the digital literacy and skills they’ll need in the workforce,” says Blackman.

    “Initiatives like this shows the NZCEO’s commitment to moving the sector forward, and we are very pleased to be able to be a partner in that.”

    Blackman says Microsoft has a deep understanding of how technology can enhance teaching, learning, and assessment for Kiwi students, and will offer future support through their professional development programmes, such as Partners in Learning, for NZCEO’s educators.

    “This will cover how to effectively use technology in the classroom and how to use the network to share information and skills.”

    All state and integrated schools have access to Microsoft’s full suite of e-learning tools under the Ministry of Education’s Microsoft Schools Agreement.

    The New Zealand online Catholic education network is part of a broader agreement between the Catholic International Education Office and Microsoft Corporation to build a global network based on Microsoft’s Office 365 for Education platform.

  • Quick Tip video featuring New Zealand teacher Rachel Chisnall

    New Zealand's very own Rachel Chisnall features on the latest Microsoft Quick Tip videos! Rachel is a secondary teacher in science and chemistry at Taieri College in Dunedin and a 2015 Microsoft Innovative Educator. It is wonderful to see a New Zealand educator on the world stage!


    Whilst at the E2 Global Educator Exchange conference from April 28 - May 1, Rachel was one of 9 MIE Experts chosen to record a Quick Tip Video. All of these Quick Tip videos can be found on the Microsoft in Education playlist.


    Check out Rachel's Quick Tip video below on creating virtual science experiments in Office Mix. She will show you how teachers can use Office Mix and the PhET add-in to create assessments that incorporate pre-recorded science experiments. Using Office Mix, you can insert quizzes to test your students' knowledge and make sure that they understand the science concepts being taught.


  • Latest updates to Sway, including roll out to Office 365!

    It’s been an exciting month for Sway! At the U.S Ignite conference, we announced that Sway would roll out to Office 365 business and education customers and add support for more languages. Now we’re excited to announce the start of these rollouts, as well as other changes that expand the type of content you can add and the ways you can visualize the multimedia that brings your Sways to life. Check out the details!

    Sway for Office 365 rollout has started

    We've begun the rollout of Sway to qualified Office 365 business and education customers. This opens the door for many new people to use Sway at work and school, and we’re excited to get a whole new set of feedback from these customers as part of Sway Preview! We even have a dedicated UserVoice forum for feedback on the Sway for Office 365 experience.

    Sway for Office 365 is initially rolling out to First Release customers, and it will become available to all eligible Office 365 customers over the coming months. The rollout includes support in Sway on the web for Office 365 work and school credentials, with the next update to Sway for iPhone supporting these accounts as well. Sway on the web now also has a simplified sign in interface that provides the corresponding Sway experience for you, depending on whether you sign in with a Microsoft account or an Office 365 work or school account.

    With Sway for Office 365, professionals can save time at work and easily create engaging, eye-catching interactive reports, presentations, and more which flow responsively across all device types.

    Teachers can use Sway to engage students, faculty and parents with interactive lessons, assignments, project recaps, newsletters and more. Students can have fun while learning and stay engaged by using Sway to breathe new life into reports, assignments, projects, study materials, and portfolios.

    If your organisation is not already in First Release, Office 365 admins can visit the Office 365 admin center (under Service settings > Updates) and select either Entire organization or Select people to turn First Release on. The setting change can take up to 24 hours to take effect. At that point, Sway will begin to roll out to your organization.

    Sway now supports six more languages, with more to come

    As promised earlier this month, Sway on the web now supports six more languages, for both consumers and Office 365 business and education users. Now you can use the Sway web interface in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish (in addition to English). Support for Japanese is also coming soon, with other languages to follow. Sway will automatically set its language according to your browser’s language settings, but you can change languages by adjusting your browser settings if you speak multiple supported languages. Sway for iPhone will be updated soon to support these languages as well, and become available in the App Store for markets where those are official languages.

    Insert Wikipedia snippets about people, places or other terms into your Sway

    Suggested searches in Sway helps you while you create by anticipating what content you might want to incorporate. It uses natural language processing to continuously show you tags for related words and phrases you might be interested in searching on, based on what you’ve already written and the specific content in the area you’re working on.

    In March, we expanded the results of Suggested searches to include YouTube videos and tweets, in addition to images from Bing Image Search. Now, Suggested search results include Wikipedia snippets that you can easily add to your creation to complement the other multimedia you use to share your narrative.

    For example, let’s say you’re creating a Sway about ancient history and use Suggested searches to find additional information about famous historians and philosophers—including Herodotus. As long as a Wikipedia article exists, and it has an infobox containing an image (an infobox is the small fact table on the right side of many Wikipedia articles), the Suggested search results will include a Wikipedia article abstract. Then you can easily add that snippet to your Sway, which brings the snippet’s picture together with the Wikipedia article’s first paragraph as its caption, as well as a citation.

     Add personal and community images from Flickr

    Sway makes it easy for you to pull together your rich multimedia content from a variety of sources, right within the app. Millions of people use Flickr to store and share their images in its community. By integrating Flickr into the consumer version of Sway, now you can easily access your Flickr images and quickly drag and drop them right into your creations. And that is not all! If you don’t have a Flickr account, you can still search for community images tagged with Creative Commons licenses.

    Get started by selecting Flickr from the Insert tab. Then search for images using the search box. You can also connect to your Flickr account right within Sway to access your personal images without leaving the app. Photostream displays all images that you uploaded to Flickr, and Albums helps you navigate individual albums you’ve created.

    Add new structure to your Sway with the Grid Card

    We’ve added another powerful way to visualize and structure your multimedia content in Sway! The new Grid Card organizes any images, videos and text you’ve added to it into a uniform grid, which will adjust automatically to look great on each screen size where it is displayed.

    The Grid Card can be a great way to put together a series of photos that are all similar, when you want to display them close together in your Sway, using the same size, and all on the screen at once. It’s also another great example of how Sway lets you express your intent (“keep these things together, all showing at once and visually consistent with each other”) and acts as your digital design assistant to ensure your creation looks great across devices.

    There are two ways to get started. You can add a blank Grid Card from the Cards tab, and then add multimedia to it. Or, select a collection of images, videos and text you’ve already added, select Group, and then choose the Grid option that appears on the left. Sway will ensure that your images and other content look great in a Grid layout, even if they weren’t originally the same size or aspect ratio. Sway intelligently inspects and crops the images to fit in the grid, and you can also use Focus Points to help make sure what’s important shines through. We’re really excited about the new possibilities that the Grid Card provides. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

    Thanks for all the feedback you’ve been providing during our Sway Preview journey together. Please keep it coming! And welcome to all of our new Sway for Office 365 users! As always, feel free to drop us a line on UserVoice.

  • Reflections and learnings from the E2 Global Educator Exchange conference

    The five New Zealand MIE Experts at Microsoft, Redmond.
    From left: Ben Hilliam, Nikkie Laing, Rachel Chisnall, Steve Martin, Shane Mann

    From April 28 - May 1, Microsoft NZ's Schools and Academic Programmes manager Anne Taylor accompanied a group of five talented Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Experts as they travelled to Redmond, Washington for the E2 Global Educator Exchange conference. Here they joined 300 other MIE Experts and Student Ambassadors from around the world. Over three days, the New Zealand teachers were able to learn, collaborate and celebrate their achievements with their international peers.

    The five New Zealand educators were personally invited to attend E2 following a selection process that evaluated them on various criteria including innovation in using technology to solve challenges faced within the classroom, and how they are re-thinking teaching, learning and assessment in order to improve learning outcomes and equip students with the skills they need in the modern workplace.  

    The E2 Global Educator Exchange event is part of the Microsoft in Education initiative that offers a range of professional development programs to bridge the gap between technology skills and innovative teaching. These programs reach beyond traditional software training to provide a scaffold that supports educators and school leaders of all skill levels on their learning journey. Through these programs, Microsoft has trained more than 10 million educators and reached more than 200 million students since 2003. 

    Now that the New Zealand teachers have had time to absorb everything they learnt at the three-day conference, we'd like to share their highlights, learnings, and their vision of the future of Microsoft in education.

    Rachel Chisnall
    Taieri College, Dunedin

    Read more of Rachel's reflections in her blog post

    What was the highlight of the summit?

    The highlight for me was the Teachmeet. I got lots of really useful comments on my learning activity, saw some amazing things that other educators are doing and made some valuable connections - including a teacher in Russia who has already been in contact. I also got to share my learning activity with Anthony Salcito [Microsoft Vice President - Worldwide Education] and found he was really clued up on education in New Zealand.

    What were your key takeaways?

    That is wasn't solely about the tech. Technology is there to support collaboration, innovation and anytime, anywhere learning. I was also really impressed with the efforts to grant universal access to technologies so that there are less barriers to learning for students from disadvantaged areas, for example the initiative to use the white space between TV channels to provide internet access.

    What is your vision of the future of Microsoft technologies in education?

    That they are rapidly moving forward, and very responsive to student and educator feedback. Microsoft want to break down any barriers that are there to ensure everyone who wants to learn, can learn. And it would seem they want to have some fun doing it!

    Ben Hilliam
    St Andrew's College, Christchurch

    Read more about Ben's experiences on the StAC e-Learning Stories blog

    What were your key takeaways?

    I was really impressed by how teachers are using technology around the world. We all teach in incredibly different contexts throughout the world, yet are still trying to improve the educational outcomes for our students. I felt challenged about how I can measure my effectiveness as a teacher and how I can create a more engaging environment for my classes.

    What is your vision of the future of Microsoft technologies in education?

    OneNote is central to everything I will be using. Office Mix is a close second. Flipped classrooms will become common place and teachers will need to employ technology that is seamless with education. The Surface Pro 3 has found a stronghold in my class and those students using it no longer need pen and paper. Education can now start to become anytime, anywhere.

    Nikkie Laing
    Opaheke School, Auckland

    What was the highlight of the summit?

    The highlight of the summit for me was definitely the feedback from my peers! It was amazing to be reminded that in our little corner of the world we can definitely hold our own with the best educators globally. Our kids and teachers are doing amazing things with technology!

    What were your key takeaways?

    My key takeaway was that it is important to be brave with technology and teaching. We need to keep taking risks to do things in bigger and better ways to benefit our students. I think New Zealand's No.8 wire mentality gives us an advantage over the rest of the world in this respect. If something hasn't been attempted at your school, be brave enough to try it out!

    What is your vision of the future of Microsoft technologies in education?

    I can see amazing technology becoming more accessible and available for all students to ensure leaning can happen anywhere, anytime. Learning happens everywhere, not just inside classrooms, and this is more obvious than ever as teachers become leaners alongside their students when learning with digital technology. We are all learners and teachers at the same time. These technologies also allow for significantly more personalisation, we can take as long as we need to learn something new and we can learn in a myriad of different ways. We don’t have organise learning into discrete lesson sized proportions that will work for everyone instead we can, review, revisit, expand and extend learning where and when needed. 

    Shane Mann
    Rathkeale College, Masterton

    What was the highlight of the summit?

    Definitely the E2 Educator Challenge. We were put into groups of 5 teachers from around the world and given the task of creating a learning activity that linked in with conference theme of Bravery, Courage and Leadership. I was teamed up with some amazing educators from a wide range of teaching backgrounds and cultures. Despite some language barriers, very different teaching backgrounds and experience, we worked collaboratively over a few days to develop the learning activity ‘Global Energy - What alternative do we have?’ where students would investigate and learn about energy and power sources that could be alternatives to their main source of energy. Our learning activity was then presented to an audience and judges in the form of a 5 minute Sway presentation: Global Energy – What alternative do we have. The pitch was delivered by the group with passion and enthusiasm and we were later recognised as the overall challenge winners! We are now working hard to put our plan into action, starting with a focus on one of the team member's school in Zambia. Our students will collaborate globally, working across multiple subject areas to develop a working renewable energy solution for the school.

     Shane Mann with his winning team

     What were your key takeaways?

    The key takeaway for me was that some of the best presentations and examples of innovative use of technology came from the ANZAC MIE team! It was fantastic to see the work that is happening right on our back door step is easily up there with some of the best in the world. The conference enabled us to connect and share ideas with some of the top educators in the world. Being part of the Teach Meet, E2 Challenge and MIE presentations was a truly amazing and eye opening experience that I would easily class as the best professional development experience of my life.

    What is your vision of the future of Microsoft technologies in education?

    OneNote, Office 365 and Surface are the big winners here! The combination of OneNote (with the OneNote Class Notebook Creator), Office 365 and the Surface 3 / Surface Pro 3 are revolutionising education. These tools have made the greatest impact of any other technology in my classroom. Some examples include the ability to collaborate via OneNote with students, provide feedback and feed forward effortlessly, create interactive content via products such as Sway, Office Mix and OneNote, annotate and draw with the Surface pen, survey students via Excel Survey………the list goes on and on! In addition to this, I see teachers worldwide becoming increasingly connected with each other through the use of Yammer, Facebook and Twitter. This is a very exciting time to be involved in the rapidly changing landscape of e-learning in education. I feel as if I have only scratched the surface of what is possible and look forward to what the future holds!

    Steve Martin
    Howick College, Auckland

    What was the highlight of the summit?

    Listening to Ziauddin Yousafzai the father of Malala E- it brought to the fore the importance of education in its influence on developing people who are willing to stand up for what is right and to ensure their stories of bravery are used as inspiration to others.

    What were your key takeaways?

    Firstly, that Microsoft are genuinely and passionately engaged in developing tools and opportunities that are aimed at improving outcomes for students through education. Secondly, that purposeful innovation in the use of digital technologies takes courage and persistence.

    What is your vision of the future of Microsoft technologies in education?

    The commitment and openness of Microsoft developers and program managers that I met whilst at the summit reinforces a vision that the technologies being developed will further enhance students’ ability to build learning connections, interact with the world around them, and develop skills and competencies that are essential in building their successful futures.

    To become a part of the Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Experts program, visit the Microsoft Educator Network for more information

  • Top tips to make lesson planning easy with OneNote

    Already have your OneNote Class Notebook set up? Awesome! Here are 5 top tips on how to get more out of OneNote for lesson planning and collaboration!


     1. Never forget anything again! Use tags to highlight important information and things you want to follow up on. You can use tags to categorise your notes, and prioritise important points. For more information, you can work through a tutorial on how to use Note Tags and Search in OneNote.


     2. Create a OneNote Staff Notebook for your teachers! Using a Staff Notebook, teachers and staff can collaborate to create cohesive lesson plans, timetables and curriculum. Cut down on administrative time at meetings by sharing agendas notes and documents ahead of time in the Staff Notebook. To get started with OneNote Staff Notebook, watch this guide on Collaborating with the OneNote Staff Notebook for Education.


    3. Record and embed audio or video into the OneNote to guide students. Students can access your recording at any time. To record audio or video in OneNote, simply place the cursor where you want to insert the recording. Then click on Insert in the toolbar, and click on either Record Audio or Record Video. This will automatically start the recording audio or video. To stop the recording, click on the square Stop button in the playback toolbar. The recording is automatically embedded into the OneNote page. To playback, click the Play button in the plackback toolbar. And just yesterday, the Office team have announced that audio recording is now available in OneNote for Mac! For more information on this announcement, visit Audio recording comes to OneNote for Mac.



    4. Change the type of paper on OneNote to suit your subject. You can choose grid lines, ruled lines, and even change the colour of the lines to suit your style. Click on View in the top toolbar, and go to the Rule Lines drop down menu. From there you can customise your notebook!



    5. As you are researching a lesson topic on the web, you can easily send different resources from the internet to a particular page within your OneNote notebook. The video below shows you how you can easily send resources to OneNote.



    For some more tips on how to make the most out of OneNote in the classroom, see The 5 Next Steps a Teacher Takes with the OneNote Class Notebook


    To see a wonderful example of a real OneNote notebook that is used in the classroom, check out Ruby Huang's "Food For Life" OneNote that she uses to teach science. Ruby is a teacher at Howick College in Auckland, and is a MIE Expert!


    These are just a few examples of the capabilities OneNote has in the classroom. If you've got some OneNote tricks that you use, we'd love to hear about them!


  • "Power Up Your Pedagogy With Office 365"

    Using Technology Better is holding a unique 1 day event at the Microsoft Offices in Auckland! This day will showcase how Office 365 and Microsoft supports the latest research on intrinsic motivation with students. You will learn some great skills and leave with ideas for how you can use these tools in your classroom and school.

    This day is suitable for all primary and secondary school educators, from those who have little or no experience with Office 365 (email, sites, online document editing and storage, IM, and web conferencing) through to those who are using Office 365 already but would like to consolidate their practice.

    Event details

    Monday, June 22
    9am - 3pm

    Microsoft NZ, Auckland offices
    Level 5, 22 Viaduct Harbour Ave
    Auckland Central

    $229 per person, morning tea and lunch provided


    The session will cover how to use Office 365 to increase student engagement and motivation. You will look at the various online tools available in Office 365 and see how these tools allow for real time collaboration, immediate feedback between staff and students, and allowing students to self-select their information whilst learning. In addition to the Office 365 tools, you will discover how to use OneNote Staff/Class Notebook creator to create collaborative OneNote files for students.

    This pedagogy first approach to professional development will be infused with real classroom examples to show you how student outcomes can be improved when you use the right technology the right way.

    In addition, the session will take you through a number of great Windows apps available to staff and students that will facilitate literacy development, content creation and more.


    To register, simply fill out this form. You will be emailed a confirmation of enrolment, and an invoice.

    Please note: 

    • Places are strictly limited to 22 people.  Register early to avoid disappointment
    • Schools who are part of the Digital Leadership For Learning Program can send 1 staff member for free - just email Mike from Using Technology Better at and let him know you will be attending (no need to register via the registration form)

    About Mike Reading and Using Technology Better

    Mike Reading is the founder and lead trainer at Using Technology Better.  As an experienced teacher with over 13 years of teaching experience in NSW Government schools, Mike now speaks to thousands of teachers each year about how they can better use technology to increase the motivation and engagement of their students. 

    Mike is Australia and New Zealand’s only Microsoft Education Master Trainer & Google Certified Teacher & Trainer. This has enabled Mike to work with every possible type of school technology environment and understand the unique challenges all classroom teachers face. 

    Mike brings a unique perspective to his work with educators. Having worked for a number of years with teachers helping them increase the engagement and motivation of their students, Mike is able to show you how small changes in classroom practice can yield great results.


  • Office 2016 Mac Preview is available!

    Office 2016 for Mac is the traditional Office that you know and love, but with a bunch of improvements! The new Office 2016 for Mac includes updated versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook. We’ve modernized the user experience and made it easier to get things done. The redesigned ribbon intuitively organises features so you can quickly find what you need. A refreshed task pane interface makes positioning, resizing, or rotating graphics easy so you can create exactly the layout you want. And new themes and styles help you pull it all together to produce stunning, professional documents.

    Office 2016 for Mac is powered by the cloud so you can access your documents on OneDrive, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint at anytime, anywhere and on any device.



    It's been updated to take advantage of the unique features of the Mac - the new apps offer full retina display support with thousands of retina-optimized graphics, full screen view for native immersive experiences, and even little Mac affordances like scroll bounce.


    While there are too many new features to cover here, here's  a quick overview of a few of the highlights:

    • A navigation pane helps you to easily manage your document's structure and efficiently navigate to points of interest

    • Present your ideas more effectively using PowerPoint's new Presenter View. It's like a mission control for your presentation - displaying the current slide, the next slide, your notes, and a timer

    • Manage your email using Outlook for Mac with conversation view which automatically organises your inbox around threaded conversations so you will never have to hunt for related messages again!


    For a demo of all of the latest features of Office 2016 for Mac, check out the video below:


    So if you're a Mac user, download the apps today! You can tell us what you think by clicking on the smiley face in the top right of your screen when in an Office app - we will use your feedback to finalise Office 2016 for Mac for release soon!

  • StaffPad, the revolutionary music composition app!

    What is StaffPad?

    StaffPad is the latest innovation in music notation software. StaffPad is designed for use on Microsoft Surface devices and other compatible Windows 8.1 devices. StaffPad requires a device with a touchscreen and an active pen with an eraser button, pressure sensitivity and palm rejection. The Surface Pro 3, and the soon to be released Surface 3 are the perfect devices! StaffPad makes the most of the advanced pen and touch input of the Microsoft Surface to create the ultimate tool for music notation.


    StaffPad has been created by David William Hearn and Matthew Tesch with the vision of creating an easier way to write music using technology. David found that the process to create music digitally was unnecessarily complex and involved many technical steps which harmed his productivity and creativity.

    “I worked in sequencers and had to buy Sibelius because I was doing string arrangements for pop records,” David said. “But my focus was on sequencers, and it seemed that the two lived in very different worlds. You were expected to write into a sequencer and then lay it out and finish the job in Sibelius, if it was ever going to be played by real musicians. That killed productivity and inspiration for me. As much as I contribute to it with Cinematic Strings, I really dislike the act of getting up in the morning and switching on the computer, opening up Cubase, having some iLok error to deal with, creating MIDI tracks, loading in samples, buying new sounds… it’s not a musical process, it’s a technological process.”


    Three years later and StaffPad was born! StaffPad is now available for both professional composers and musical beginners.


    How does it work?

    StaffPad is simple to use and allows you to easily create musical scores. StaffPad's smart technology recognises your handwritten music notations as your write using the Surface Pen, and then converts it into a typeset score. The result is a score that you can edit further, play back, print and share. As you are working you can even annotate your score with quick notes and reminders!


    The key behind StaffPad's success is the way it recognises your scribbles. StaffPad looks at every individual stroke you make and then interprets what you wrote based on the relationship of each stroke to all of the others. David says that “it’s more efficient and accurate to take the position and temporal information from the pen, and then use musical context to decide what the music is trying to be." Handwriting recognition happens one bar at a time, rather than at the end of the entire score. This makes StaffPad fast, and if StaffPad gets something wrong it's easy to go back and correct it as you are already on that bar.


    If StaffPad can’t recognise something you wrote in the bar, it will render what it can, but it will leave the unrecognised strokes unchanged, and turn the staff lines in that bar orange. This signifies a “pending” bar. David explains that StaffPad will "ask you what each unrecognized stroke is. You can report it, ignore it, or tell it what it is, and the app will learn your style. Train it well! This, conceptually, is key. Sometimes you might be writing graphic notation, and not have StaffPad try and apply recognition to it. This is really the first time you can write completely what you want and be experimental. That’s where this could really get handy: when you’re not trying to write conventional notation.”


    Simply tap the Play icon at the top of the screen to begin playback. You can tap the deck controls to move forward or back one bar at a time, or simply touch and hold the red playhead and slide it wherever you like. If you’ve made a selection, tapping Play will solo those bars.


    Saving and exporting your StaffPad file is done via the Export icon on the command bar. You can also add or delete additional instruments to/from your score, and switch on Transposing Score via the command bar. Unfortunately StaffPad does not currently support a truly keyless or “open” key signature.

    While you can manually save your file at any time, StaffPad is constantly making versions of your file. To access these versions, tap the Home icon to go to the Home screen, then tap and swipe down the tile of your desired StaffPad score. Tap the Versions icon to select an earlier version of your score. Cloud syncing is supported via OneDrive, if you’ve set that folder as your default.


    You can print your StaffPad score as a full score, a full score with all parts, or any individual part, by swiping in from the right edge and selecting the Devices charm. Choose Print and some basic options are available for you to choose from.


    Click for a more in-depth review on how StaffPad works


    How do I get it?

    StaffPad is available exclusively from the Windows Store for NZ$89.90. You can download the StaffPad app here!

  • Introducing Office 365 Video!

    Microsoft is excited to announce that Office 365 Video has now begun its worldwide rollout to Office 365 customers!  Video is fast becoming one of the most powerful forms of communication, so this is a very exciting development for Office 365 users.

    Office 365 Video provides businesses and schools with a secure, organisation-wide portal where users can post, share and discover video content. Office 365 Video is the first of a number of NextGen Portals to come to Office 365 which will facilitate how people and groups work together within an organisation.

    Let's look at a few of the details!



    Office 365 Video has a sleek design to ensure that it is simple to use as well as being efficient and attractive. Powered by Azure Media Services, Office 365 Video promises smooth streaming of video content, and optimises playback for the device being used. Leveraging Yammer and Office Graph, Office 365 Video delivers a personalised experience for each user to create the most efficient social experience within Office 365.




    With Office 365 Video it is easy to upload video content. To upload a video, simply drag and drop the video file into the web user interface. Then, enter a title and description and let Office 365 Video take care of the rest. You can upload a wide variety of video file types:


    Once uploaded, the service then generates a standardised set of playback files for fast, easy viewing!


    For more information on how to upload a video to Office 365 Video, see Create and manage a channel in Office 365 Video.


    To see what happens when you upload a video file to Office 365 Video, check out the video below:





    Within Office 365 Video, videos are easily searchable with a dedicated search experience in the video portal already scoped to show only video results. All uploaded videos are discoverable in Office Delve (similar to documents, videos are automatically fed into the Office Graph).


    Every video player page has easy access to share directly into Yammer via inline conversations. Simply type in your message, add a group or individual to send to and click Post. The conversation stays with the video in the video portal, and can be accessed from the main Yammer user interface or on devices through the various Yammer apps.


    Office 365 Video can also be shared through email. Users can click on the mail icon on each playback page and send an email with a direct link to the video!



    One of the best things about Office 365 Video is that users will be able to view and share videos within Office 365 on any device! They can easily navigate the home page and channels to find and view content, and even upload new videos from their device! The first release of the Office 365 Video iPhone app has just been launched in the App Store for download! The app gives users the same level of access and capabilities as the web experience, which means you can easily view video content anywhere, anytime.


    Built-in security


    It’s very easy to set the permissions for the home page leveraging the same Active Directory powering authentication in all areas of Office 365. This enables admins to manage permissions for each channel. Channels are easy to create and assign delegated owner(s)—or channel managers—who can then manage their own content and specific set of permissions.


    Throughout the Office 365 Video portal, everything is encrypted and secure by design; that’s encryption at-rest and encryption in-transit. Adhering to the Office 365 Trust Centre commitments, an organisation's videos are kept isolated and encrypted in all locations, and are only available to authenticated users that have access and permissions to their organisation's videos.


    Learn more about how to set up and manage your Office 365 Video portal.


    For a full introduction to Office 365 Video and more information on uploading, viewing, navigating and sharing, see Meet Office 365 Video