NZ Education Blog

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

February, 2013

  • How to make Education Apps on Windows 8!

    The great thing about Windows 8 is its ability to make education fun as well as informative. This experience can be enhanced via the Windows 8 apps which you can create yourself. When we look at developing an education app we focus on the experience and how we speak to
    the teachers and students before we look at the coding. To make this easy we have inspiration guides towards app creation – including an app idea book for Windows 8 Education apps. 

    A fictional education app for Windows 8 is described in the idea book to help to gain inspiration in designing your own education app. Different scenarios are provided and you can then see how the app can engage the education experience for both students and teachers.

    Today I will look at the teachers experience with an app and how they can manage learning activity online (alongside how they can design the app). We want to reduce complexity and focus on creating an educational experience which is captivating for both students and teachers – allowing the leading edge of the design to be the teaching interactions.

    Microsoft design language can be used to easily access media from the file system, while users gravitate to your app due to the live tiles.

    The Teacher view gives an overview of the teacher's day, organised by their personal time table. Selecting another class instantly reveals the relevant content.

    The teacher views all of her current tasks in the assignment overview and selects the Add button from the AppBar to add a new assignment.

    From the pannable assignment view she can add details about the assignment, add students and groups, include grading information, and associate resources for the assignment.


    The teacher uses the file picker to add video files to an assignment. The file picker is a standard method of selecting files and resources in Windows 8, and means that users get a standard way of interacting with files, whichever application they are using.


    After she has finished creating the assignment, the teacher publishes the assignment to the students.


    The livetile for the app receives a pushed update and it can then alert the student about the new assignment. This happens regardless of whether the student is running the app or not, and is one of the key benefits of live tiles.

    The design ideas shown highlight that a single screen can hold a large level of media and interactive content; it is more enticing than listed text information and user confusion is eliminated via panning and touch. The design ideas also show how live tiles are developed to engage uses and keep workflow going. Live tile apps are brilliant as the app doesn’t need to be open to know if there is an update; this reduces memory and power usage as the app does not need to be running to update.

  • SharePoint for young learners – Max’s Toolbox for Office365

    The new Office 365 is just around the corner, and the preview preview is available today. You can start building apps and solutions by following Office developer guidance and also integrate with Azure AD.

    Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting some great Microsoft partners that have built innovative solutions for the Office 365 platform and I wanted to start with Max’s Toolbox for Office 365 and a guest blog post from Wendy Kennedy, co-founder and Chief Executive of eWord, the company behind the solution.


    SharePoint is a fantastic platform for collaboration in the Enterprise, providing all the necessary tools for getting things done. From the minute we saw it, we knew we had to do for SharePoint, what for years we have been doing for Office, that is, make it a great platform for kids to learn.

    Max’s Toolbox for Microsoft Office has been described as “Training wheels for Microsoft Office”, a way to introduce kids to Office, giving them a smooth ramp to mastering tools that are essential later in life. It’s the same mission we have with Max’s Toolbox for Office365, taking the business tool that is SharePoint, and adapting it for kids. It’s still SharePoint; it’s just tuned for learning.

    To see it in action, check out the video, and check out the full blog from Jonny Chambers.


  • We're excited to announce that Surface is coming to NZ!

    This is great news for any school considering a BYOD programme!

    The worldwide customer response to both Surface RT with Windows RT and Surface Pro with Windows 8 Pro has been exciting to see. Today, we are pleased to announce that, beginning in late March, we will continue our phased approach to the expansion of the Surface family of PCs into new markets.

    In addition to its current availability, in the coming months Surface RT will be available in Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan.

    Many people have left comments here on our blog asking about Surface Pro availability in other countries beyond the U.S. and Canada. We are happy to be able to tell you that Surface Pro will be heading to Australia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the United Kingdom in the coming months. We will follow-up with another blog post with more details.

    We are focused on meeting demand in current markets for Surface Pro and are working super hard to get new inventory into retail but recognize demand exists in other countries as well. We are committed to working with our retail partners to ensure we are delivering a great experience in the above mentioned countries for our customers.



  • Windows in the Classroom kicks off this week!

    The first of the Windows in the Classroom seminars kicked off in Auckland yesterday with many more schools scheduled over the next few weeks.  

    Are you interested to learn more about Windows 8, Office 365, or BYOD programmes? Give your staff and students the opportunity to benefit from the most innovative tools and technology of today and book your complimentary 2-hour Windows in the Classroom Seminar

    The seminars centre around exploring the tools and technologies available to help educators teach 21st Century skills. For any school considering enhancing their one-to-one student learning programme, and it allows you to see the diversity of Microsoft software and HP devices applied to learning. Windows 8 will also be demonstrated through learning how it can be used to inspire students and improve educational outcomes.  

    By attending this seminar, you will: 

    • See rich curriculum samples and global examples of best practices that demonstrate how technology can enhance teaching, learning and assessment for students. 
    • Understand how technology and devices enable consumption, creation and collaboration for students, educators and parents.
    • See how students can continue learning where they left off – at home, in the library, or at the park.
    • Discover how students can organize their learning, take notes, and become highly efficient in the way they study.
    • Learn where to get free tools that spark imagination and inspire learning.

    We have just created our Windows in the Classroom Facebook page. ‘Like’ our new page to receive regular updates and feedback about the seminars.

    You can host a session at your school or attend one in your area – we’re easy. All you need to do is register your interest by emailing