NZ Education Blog

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

March, 2012

  • DeforestACTION Live Event March 2012

    On March 28th, join us for an exciting DeforestACTION live event! We will take you deep into the heart the Borneo jungle to connect with orangutans, hear from Dr. Willie Smits and the Eco Warriors about the work they are doing with the Masarang Foundation, and speak with other youth and schools around the world taking action to stop deforestation.

    Register now: www.tigurl.org/march2012

     

    DeforestACTION is a global movement of youth and schools taking action to stop deforestation and create a permanent habitat for orangutans and other species that depend on forest ecosystems. The program connects youth, students and educators in collaborative learning and action through the use of online educational resources and is currently focused on the forests of Indonesia, where widespread illegal deforestation has made the country the number three emitter of greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

    Support DeforestACTION and help empower youth around the world to understand and act on one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. Visit www.deforestaction.org to sign up!

     

     

  • PiL Asia Pacific Forum 2012

    Innovative educators and education leaders from 19 countries gathered in Auckland last week for the 8th Microsoft Partners in Learning Asia and Pacific Forum.

    The two hundred strong delegates from as far as Brunei and Sri Lanka attended the three-day forum to learn, share and connect with fellow peers from around the region.The conference opened with a Maori welcome followed by several key plenary sessions – all with a common theme of stressing the importance of technology in assisting with 21st century learning and teaching.

     

    The conference was opened by Paul Muckleston, managing director of Microsoft New Zealand who spoke of the company’s local initiatives that support the New Zealand government’s commitment to improving education levels among youth.   

    Educators in New Zealand have proven to be world-class producing two worldwide Partners In Learning award winners to date – Nathan Kerr from Howick College and Chris Clay from Botany Downs Secondary College. 

     

  • Integrating Kinect into classrooms around the world! Teachers bring learning to life with engaging and immersive experiences for students.

    Capturing students’ interest and making concepts come alive in a personalised way can be a challenge for educators in this technology and gadget-driven world. The popularity of gaming outside the classroom makes it an appealing and exciting platform for kids inside the classroom. Gaming can be a revolutionary technology that provides an immersive content experience, it inspires collaboration and builds connections in the classroom, community centers, and everywhere else you engage with others in and outside of the living room.

    Below are two useful case studies that represent some of the great work that teachers are doing to incorporate the power of gaming and the ability to cater for mulitple learning styles with Kinect/Xbox in their classes.

    Sunset Elementary School

    At Sunset Elementary School in Colorado, students are using Kinect across the curriculum, to study geography, science, natural history etc. And their teacher reports that she’s seen improvements in their comprehension and knowledge retention.

    As Cheryl Arnett says:

    “There’s power for kids in things that capture their interested, and are also something they can learn from. We’ve barely scratched the surface of where this can go; it’s limited only by our imaginations.”


    A NZ example of effective game-based learning in the classroom: 
    Rural teacher's highly successful gameplan one out of the Xbox from NZ Herald article

    Teacher, Jan Anderson has incorporated gaming systems such as the XBox and movies into her schedule, and her recipe for enhancing traditional teaching has proven worthy of international recognition.

    "When we were doing science and looking at forces in motion, I used an XBox game called Thrillville, where the students are making their own rollercoaster," Mrs Anderson said.

    Mrs Anderson's work at Methven Primary School earned her the Microsoft 2010 Innovative Teacher Award - given to only one teacher in each of the Asia Pacific countries.

    "Students involved in it over three months increased their reading age on average by one and a half years."


    University of Washington

    Robin Angotti, an associate professor of maths education at the University of Washington-Bothell, is also working with Kinect for education.

    With two computer science students at UW-Bothell, Jebediah Pavleas and Jack Chang, she’s created a custom Kinect app to help teach students functions of mathematics such as distance, acceleration, and velocity by letting them plot these equations on a graph in real time using Kinect and their bodies rather than just computing an equation with a pencil on graph paper.

    She came across Kinect and decided to create a math app that would bridge the gap between the abstract formulas and the real world her students live and breathe in. Why?

     As Robin says:

    Maths is a gatekeeper. If kids don’t get into algebra by their [their first] year of high school, they’re off track to major in any kind of STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths] field. It’s really interesting – data shows that maths is a favourite subject when kids are younger. Somewhere in the middle school years, when they’re starting to have to abstract (when math moves from the concrete world of addition, subtraction and multiplication to the more abstract equations of geometry and algebra), we’re losing them. This piece of software makes math less abstract.

    What’s going on?

    Why are there so many projects looking at the use of Kinect in education? Cameron Evans, the National and Chief Technology Officer for the Microsoft Education team in the US, puts it simply:

    The potential behind bringing gaming to education is immense.The majority of time spent playing video games, the gamer is failing, he said. Yet when a player fails in a game, they come back again and again until they get it right. Bringing gaming to education could help a student who fails a maths test, for example, keep trying until they get it right.


    Where to find out more about Kinect in education

    To witness first hand some of the great ideas that have been put into action and see new ones being developed, check out...

    Like the Kinect for Education Facebook page and subscribe to the KinectEd Youtube channel to keep up to date with the latest teaching ideas and case study examplars.

    There’s a further article about Kinect in education projects where teachers are using Kinect with Xbox to support learning:

    • Using Kinect
           Sports to help teach maths concepts such as patterns versus randomness,
           probability, and angles through bowling
    • Students using
           Avatar Kinect to produce late-night shows and commercials, strengthening
           their language arts skills
    • Teachers using
           Kinect to teach maths lessons on angles, probability and arithmetic.
           School

    Find our more about Kinect in Education on the Microsoft website

  • Microsoft's latest online service for Education comes to NZ this Winter!

    Microsoft are very excited to announce the latest online services that are coming to the Education sector here in New Zealand in Winter this year. These latest services (Office 365 for Education) will be available for all students, faculty and staff in education. Some of the services will include Office web apps, IM & Presence, email, calendar and much more! Additional details can be found here: http://www.microsoft.com/liveatedu/learn-about-office-365.aspx?locale=en-GB&country=NZ

    Please sign-up here to be notified when Office 365 for education becomes available in New Zealand and get updates, feature descriptions, usage tips, onboarding and deployment guidance along with planning resources to help you get ready for Office 365 for education.

    Check out Microsoft's announcement on the "Office Blog": http://blogs.office.com/b/microsoft_office_365_blog/