NZ Education Blog

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

May, 2014

  • Building formative assessment into game-based learning - an innovative example!

    Game-based learning (GBL) is an innovative practice that is working to engage kids in learning important 21st century skills and content. In this sixth grade classroom at Quest to Learn, ongoing feedback is embedded throughout the course of a collaborative geography game called Galactic Mappers. Check it out!

    Game-based learning is predicted to take the education sector by storm as the awareness of 21st Century learning increases throughout the world. Why? When a child progresses through a game, they are learning; if they are actively engaged in the game, their minds are coming to understand a new system. Whether the game is for entertainment or serious purposes, this is true. So, when learning in the classroom feels dull for a student, they are not being engaged and motivated by the learning process. Learning is about acquiring the skills and thinking processes necessary to respond appropriately when under pressure. What gamification gives our students is effective, interactive experiences that motivate their minds by actively involving them in the learning process.

    Windows 8 has numerous learning based apps that are taking classrooms by storm. Among our favourites are Physamajig, which allows students to watch their own sketches be translated into realistic physics objects and Wordament, a very addictive word game, that provides a fun way to improve vocabulary.

  • Thailand selects Office 365 for every student nationwide!

    This week, Thailand’s Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) is announcing a sweeping cloud education partnership with Microsoft, one that will provide 8 million students and 400,000 teachers throughout the country with free access to the world's best cloud-enabled productivity software, Microsoft Office 365 for Education. The deal will allow students and teachers throughout the country to create, connect and collaborate on a safe and secure platform. This is the largest cloud education initiative ever, and one that promises to foster sustainable growth and raise Thailand’s overall standard of living for generations to come.

    Partnerships like this are more critical today than ever before, with a recent IDC study citing skills developed through Microsoft Office among the most in-demand for future jobs. By 2020, according to the report, an astounding 30 percent of skilled jobs will require proficiency in Microsoft Office.

    In Thailand today, young people between the ages of 15 and 24 represent the largest unemployed population, a significant barrier to the country’s future prosperity. Through this partnership, Thai youth will develop the 21stcentury skills they need to find productive employment and help lead the country into the future. The agreement builds on Microsoft’s longstanding investment in Thailand’s education system, which in the past 20 years has impacted more than 164,000 teachers and 8 million students across 9,000 schools nationwide.

    This is exciting news for Microsoft, following our recent partnership announcements, including a partnership with the Sao Paolo State Department of Education to provide Office 365 to more than 4 million students, a large-scale cloud education partnership of 7.5 million Office 365 seats deployed by the All India Council for Technical Education and the 4.5 million seats deployed by the Catholic International Education Office. But while Tuesday’s announcement demonstrates positive momentum for Microsoft in Education, it is only a single step on a long journey.

    That journey, which is taking Microsoft to countries and classrooms in every corner of the world, is helping to create a better future for young people, one that is globally connected and economically sustainable. Cloud technology, and specifically Office 365 for Education, can be a great equalizer, helping under-developed countries catch up to those that enjoy relative prosperity. But even in those more prosperous countries, technology can continue to transform the prospects of young people.

    Take Finland, for example. This progressive country is often held up as a model for successful education reform – and rightly so. But even Finland recognizes that its journey to education transformation is ongoing. This week, I’m traveling there to kick off Microsoft’s pilot partnership with more than 100 schools to support teachers and technology. This partnership brings cities, companies and other key education stakeholders together to address the challenges of improving learning environments against a backdrop of shrinking budgets. Microsoft will invest in teacher training, advisory and learning materials so that educators can take full advantage of technology in the pursuit of more effective teaching and learning. As in Thailand, this effort is intended to spark economic and employment opportunities for the country’s youth.

    The road to true education transformation – where technology and pedagogy work seamlessly and hand-in-hand – is a long one, full of twists and turns. But this week, Microsoft has taken an important step forward in two countries with very different educational and societal challenges. As we help Thailand address a crisis of youth unemployment and Finland build on an already exemplary foundation, we recognize that wherever we are, our commitment to building a better and more sustainable future compels us forward.

    This blog was originally posted by Anthony Salcito, Vice President - Worldwide Education at Microsoft. You can read it here.

  • Introducing Office Mix: Online lessons made simple.

    We are very excited to bring to you Office Mix, helping you to make online lessons simple!

    Turn your PowerPoint presentation into an interactive online lesson. We call this a mix. Everything you need to create and share your mix is included. Add audio and video of yourself giving your presentation, write on slides as you talk to them, insert quizzes, practice exercises, and more – all from within PowerPoint. It’s like a screencast, but better. All you need is Office 2013 and the free Office Mix add-in!

    Here's just a snapshot of the awesome things you can do in Office Mix:

    • Record audio or video of yourself giving a lecture. Write and draw directly in PowerPoint, just like you would on the whiteboard.
    • Work in PowerPoint - Creating a mix is as simple as making a PowerPoint document. Just install our PowerPoint add-in, and then create lessons from your existing PowerPoint presentations or new ones.
    • Save Time - Everything you need to create a mix is included in the PowerPoint add-in, so you don’t have to jump between several apps.
  • Infographic: Teachers are heroes!

    It's almost Friday and we thought we'd boost your spirits. The infographic below was posted on the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education blog.

    Check it out, share it and tweet us your thoughts. More importantly, take a minute to pat yourself on the back! Kiwi teachers really are our heroes and we couldn't be more proud!


  • Top Windows 8.1 apps for the classroom - how many are you using?

    Microsoft UK recently blogged about the top Education Apps in the Windows Store. We thought it was such a fantastic list, we wanted to share it with you. The post was written by Stuart Ball, the Partners in Learning UK manager, and gives a refreshingly honest insight into the benefits of these apps in facilitating 21st century learning. Enjoy!

    image OneNote Microsoft OneNote is your digital notebook for keeping track of what's important in your life. Jot down your ideas, keep track of classroom and meeting notes, clip from the web, make a to-do list as well as draw and sketch your ideas. OneNote is your one place to capture and organize everything.
    Logo Wordbrush Words have been trapped in straight lines for too long...set your words free! WordBrush allows you to draw text freely on the screen, each letter following the trace of your finger as though you were painting with a brush.
    Logo Kodu Kodu lets you create games through a simple visual programming language. Kodu can be used to teach creativity, problem solving, storytelling, as well as programming.
    Logo Physamajig Just sketch something out and it is translated into a realistic physics object. Add attributes such as bounciness, friction, and joints - then create your own games by adding Behaviors to the objects.
    Logo Skitch Touch Skitch Touch is a free tool for communicating visually with friends, co-workers, and the world. Annotate images with arrows, shapes, text, and more. Use Skitch to sketch something new, mark up maps, screen captures, or even a photo.
    Logo QR Code Designers

    QR code design made easy! "QR Code Designer"
    The only application generating custom-designed QR codes.

    Logo Project Sienna Microsoft Project Siena (code name) is a new technology for app imagineers. Build Apps and databases without any programming.
    Logo Bing Translator The Bing Translator App for Windows is your companion when you need to quickly translate what you are looking at. Use your camera or just type the text you want to translate. Text and camera translation work offline with downloadable language packs, so you can get the power of Bing Translator on-the-go, even when you don't have an Internet connection
    Logo Fotor Fotor is the best all-in-one photo editing application. With cutting-edge tools including Basic Editing Tools, Brilliant Visual Effects, Frames, 1-Tap Enhance, Collage, Text, Tilt Shift and Raw Converter, all bundled together in one powerful package
    Logo Nearpod

    Nearpod is a synchronous solution for the use of mobile devices in the classroom. Create multimedia presentations with interactive features such as quizzes, videos, polls, drawing tools, and more

    Logo Socrative

    Educators can initiate formative assessments through quizzes, quick question polls, exit tickets and space races all with their Socrative Windows app. Socrative will instantly grade, aggregate and provide graphs of results to help you identify opportunities for further instruction. Save time and visualize student understanding when it matters, now!

    and currently best app I would pay for…. (and have done so!)

    image Createbook

    Why just read ebooks? When you can create your own!
    CreateBook is an easy to use App allowing users of all ages to create stunning eBooks which include text, video and a range of other media.

    And don’t forget they are Apps for Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard, Khan Academy and LinkedIn. As well apps like these for teaching and practicing maths or spellings

    Logo iMath iMath is designed to help children under the age of 12 to improve math ability and develop interests in mathematics
    Logo The Spelling Bee

    'Bee' the bee! Fly between beautiful locations unscrambling words! As you figure out words you get points that will unlock rewards!
    Each level has a random theme that will help you figure out the mixed up word. If you can't guess the word, you can spell any shorter word and still get points!

    Already using some of these apps? Tweet us your thoughts! @MSNZEducation.

  • BYOD Case Study: The Surface Pro's Seamless Integration into Tuckahoe School

    We are very excited to share with you this fantastic case study of Tuckahoe School's adoption of the Surface Pro in their BYOD program. Check out the video and tweet us your thoughts! @MSNZEducation

    Not sure where to start with BYOD? Want to learn more?

    Download our discussion paper which investigates the myths around the BYOD model in schools, and understand the questions which should be addressed when considering allowing students to bring their own devices, and which option might be best suited to a school’s culture.

    This paper is intended to stimulate discussion around what constitutes best practice 1-to-1 learning.

    Download the Whitepaper here.