NZ Education Blog

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

June, 2014

  • In Education, the Device Doesn’t Matter… Until it’s the Wrong Device.

    This blog was originally posted by Jacqueline Russell, Microsoft Surface Education Manager, on the Microsoft Surface Blog. Jacqueline gives such fantastic insight into the benefits enjoyed by Cincinnati Country Day School, the first school to adopt the Surface Pro 3 as their 1:1 student computing device, we had to share it with you. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Tweet us your thoughts at @MSNZEducation. 

    A few weeks ago, I had the great fortune to visit one of the premier schools in the US and a pioneer in the use of mobile computing in Education.  I had heard a lot about Cincinnati Country Day School before I visited. I knew that they were the first school in the nation to go 1:1 back in 1996, and had heard great things about the Tablets in Education conference they host annually. Even though I knew what to expect, I was still amazed by what I saw, and inspired by the vision of their IT Director, Rob Baker. Cincinnati Country Day School (or CCDS) is a private Pre-Kindergarten through High School located on a sprawling campus surrounded by sports fields in the suburbs of Cincinnati. With such a strong focus on technology, I had expected it to be obvious when I walked in – I guess I had in my head the “old school” stereotypes of technology centers with cables dangling from the ceilings and monitors lining the hallways, and at least a computer lab, or 3 or 4.  I saw none of this. Walking around the lower, middle, and upper schools, I was struck by a few things:

    • The focus on the Creative Arts – from their beautiful performing arts center and music hall, to their student art gallery and all the artwork and photography covering all of the walls. Again, I had assumed that a school as focused on technology as CCDS is would be more geared to STEM disciplines. But Rob explained that when technology is as embedded into the learning process as it is in CCDS, it becomes a very natural and powerful creative tool, that’s not only great for science and math, but also can be used for digital arts, media production, and performance.
    • Student Empowerment – especially in the middle and upper schools.  Students get a “free bell” for studying, and there were lots of open collaborative spaces where I witnessed students doing group work with their tablets, and also some individual quiet study spaces.  Students also have individual “advisory” sessions with teachers that help guide a lot of this self-directed learning.
    • Mobility – everywhere on campus I saw students working both inside the classroom and outside the classroom in groups or individually. There were very few allocated single-use spaces – the whole design of the school helped to support the Anytime Anywhere Learning concepts. I also noticed that teachers rotated through different classrooms throughout the course of a day – it felt more like a University than a traditional high school.
    • Tablets, tablets everywhere – I didn’t notice them at first because students were carrying them around like they would their books under their arms, and in their backpacks. But when I took a second look at the students sitting in the dining terrace, or lounging on the steps in the common area, I noticed they were all either casually browsing, writing or sharing content on their tablets.

    We have other customers who have committed to Surface Pro 3, but CCDS is the first school to adopt Surface Pro 3 as their 1:1 student computing device. When I sat down to talk to Rob about his vision and philosophy around technology in Education, he spoke about 3 things – the importance and value of reading and writing to the way students learn, their focus on the creative process, and giving teachers and students technology tools that are versatile enough to support whatever they want to do. When I asked him why he chose the Surface Pro 3 for CCDS, he told me that it was the first no-compromise device that met all 3 of his criteria:

    1. Reading & Writing – “With the 3:2 aspect ratio and the big beautiful screen, the Surface Pro 3 is the first tablet PC that has a useable portrait mode for students to read and annotate naturally like they would a textbook or a piece of paper.” He also added, that he’s tried many different digital inking solutions across different devices and that the Surface Pro 3 has one of the best active pens and screen digitizers that he’s seen.
    2. Creativity – Rob was convinced long ago that the Windows platform with Office apps and especially OneNote combined with digital inking was the best technology platform to support student learning and creativity. “We have a saying at CCDS – ‘try typing that’.”  And he goes on to explain that students need to learn creatively, without the restrictions of a keyboard or fill-in-the-blank type learning activities. “The creative process all starts with a blank sheet of paper and a pencil”.
    3. Versatility – “Every student learns differently, and every teacher teaches differently, so we need a device that will support them in whatever they want to do throughout their 4 years. The Surface Pro 3 is so lightweight yet solid, that I’m not worried about students carrying it around with them. And having the full power of Windows 8.1 with the keyboard and 12 inch screen make it a great primary computing device for teachers”. Rob went on to talk about device versatility in the context of removing constraints, “Any Device that lacks an active digitizer, and thus true pen on paper inking is too limiting in functionality. In a school, you want to empower your teachers and students with the ability to annotate, sketch, draw, show process and highlight anytime and anywhere they need to. Whether the students were typing, writing with the pen, using touch, reading or any combination of these: the focus was on the task at hand, not on the technology. When everything you do can be digital, the collaboration, engagement and creativity of students and teachers is amplified exponentially.”

    I had heard from many Education Experts and Advisors that ultimately, the device doesn’t really matter – it’s more about the web, apps and the digital learning content available. So, at the end of our conversation, I challenged Rob with this notion, and his response was, “Sure, the device doesn’t matter… until you have the wrong device and can’t do what you want with it. Then it really matters.” 

  • Don't Forget to Register for the Next CAA Webinar!

    Don't Forget to Register for the Next CAA Webinar: What’s the problem? A Cambridge guide to developing, managing and assessing collaborative Math problem-solving in the Primary classroom.

    The Collaborative Assessment Alliance welcomes Claudia Bickford-Smith, Director of the International Education Business, University Printing House - Cambridge University Press, and Janet Rees, Cambridge University Press Primary Maths educator and author. This CAA webinar event will focus on topics such as: Weight problems and comparisons, capacity, measuring distance and height and position and movement. The presentation will illustrate how to teach these concepts in using collaborative problem-solving methodologies, aimed at 6 to 8-year-olds.

     Limited number of seats available for this live conference event. Register now to reserve your spot.

    Registration: Click to Register.


    Past webinars and events:

    If you would like to share or tune into past webinars, please visit the Collaborative Assessment Alliance channel on YouTube. We look forward to your participation in future Collaborative Assessment Alliance webinars.

  • Getting Started with the OneNote Setup Tool for Teachers: A Walkthrough for Teachers

    This post was originally blogged on the Microsoft Office website. You can access it here.

    The OneNote Setup Tool for Teachers is an App for SharePoint Online that helps you set up OneNote in your class. This tool will create a class notebook, which includes three types of sub-notebooks:

    • Student Notebooks – private notebooks that are shared between each teacher and their individual students. Teachers can access these notebooks at any time, but students cannot see other students’ notebooks.
    • Content Library – a notebook for teachers to share course materials with students.
    • Collaboration Space – a notebook for all students and the teacher in the class to share, organize, and collaborate.

    Learn how OneNote notebooks can transform learning in your class.

    What you’ll need:

    • SharePoint Online is set up for your school as part of an Office 365 subscription.
    • Organizational account for yourself (the teacher) with Full Control permissions to use the OneNote Setup Tool for Teachers app to create the class notebooks.
    • Organizational account for each student with permissions to access the SharePoint site where the OneNote notebooks are saved.
    • The OneNote Setup Tool for Teachers app has been added to your SharePoint sites by someone in your school with Tenant Administrator permissions.

     Note: The administrator can find instructions here: Learn how an IT Administrator can install OneNote Setup Tool for Teachers for your school.

    • Internet Explorer 10 or Internet Explorer 11 to use the OneNote Setup Tool for Teachers app. Other modern browsers should also work.

    To get started, follow the steps below to create a class notebook with the OneNote Setup Tool for Teachers app.

    Open the OneNote Setup Tool for Teachers

    1. Navigate to the SharePoint site where you will create your class notebooks.
    1. Click Settings icon in the upper-right, then click Site Contents.

    site contents

    1. Click OneNote Setup Tool for Teachers.

     Tip    If the OneNote Setup Tool for Teachers app isn't visible on the first page, scroll through the Site Contents at the bottom of the page, or search for OneNote Setup Tool in the Site Contents search box.

     Note    OneNote Setup Tool for Teachers must already be installed, and you (the teacher) must have Full Control permissions to that SharePoint site.

       OneNote Setup Tool for Teachers

    - -Create a class notebook:

    1. Click Create a class notebook from the available options.

    OneNote Tool setup options

    1. Name your new notebook, then click Next.

     Tip    We recommend that you create a separate notebook for each class. For example, if you teach multiple Spanish 2 classes, create a notebook for each class. Give each notebook a unique name that is easy for you and your students to identify. You might name the notebooks “Spanish 2 P1” for your 1st period class, “Spanish 2 P2” for your 2nd period class and so on.

     Note    Each notebook you create must have a unique name, and it cannot contain these characters # / * ? " | < > : . % ' \.

    1. Click Rename to optionally rename either of the first two default sub-notebooks. When finished, click Next.

    Confirm sections

    Add your students to your class notebook

    You can add your students individually or in bulk.

     Note    Your students must have an Office 365 organization account to continue with this step. If you are not sure whether or not they do, ask your administrator.

    Add Students Individually

    1. Type a student's name in the text box, then press Enter.

     Tip    As you type, the tool will look up possible matches. For example, you can type “Carl” and it will find any students matching that name.

    Add students

    1. Repeat step 1 until you’ve added all of your students, then click Next.

    Add Students in Bulk

    1. Copy and paste a list of the students' names, separated by“;” into the textbox.

     Tip    After you paste the students' names into the textbox, the app will look up each name. If matches are not found, you can retype the name or remove the name from the textbox.


    1. Click Next when you've completed adding all of your students for the class.

    Start each student notebook with sections

    1. Keep the boxes checked next to the default sections that you would like created in each student’s notebook.

    Almost there

    1. Click Add more to add additional sections in each student’s notebook. Click Next when finished.

     Tip    We recommend that you create section names that correspond to activities, not units. For example, use activities such as Handouts, Class Notes, and Quizzes. The reason for this is that students work in one unit at a time; it will take longer to find items of interest in a unit section.

     Note    You can also add, remove, and delete sections directly in your students’ notebooks after the class notebook is created.

    Finalize Your Class Notebook

    1. Click Teacher's notebook, and Student's notebook to verify how the sub-notebooks and sections will be created for the class. Click Left arrow to go back to add or remove sections, or click Create to have the tool create your class notebook.

    Preview notebooks

    1. Click the notebook name link to open your class notebook in OneNote. Keep a copy of the link to your class notebook for your records, then send it to your students to open when the notebook is ready for class.

     Tip: The same link is used by everyone in one class to access the class notebook. If you make notebooks for several classes, each link will be different.

    Done page

     Tip: You may wish to add content by placing it in the Content Library before inviting your students to open the class notebook. Keep a copy of the link in your records while you prepare the notebook, then share the link with the students when ready.

    Please send any questions for feedback about OneNote Setup Tool for Teachers to – we'd love to hear from you.