NZ Education Blog

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

August, 2014

  • Your Tuesday Afternoon Watch! Why Teachers and Students are Excited About Microsoft in Education

    Hear teachers share their experiences using Windows 8 tablet devices and Microsoft tools and their use has empowered teaching and learning both in and away from the classroom. Happy watching!

    And most excitingly, a word from the students:

  • Has your school taken advantage of Yammer Enterprise yet?

    In case you didn't know, educational institutions across New Zealand now have free access to Microsoft’s networking platform, Yammer Enterprise.

    Yammer Enterprise offers schools a sophisticated version of the social networking platform. Within a school’s internal online environment, Yammer Enterprise provides seamless, open sharing and cross collaboration opportunities. It is a transformational technology which has changed the way students and staff work. It promotes sharing ideas, thoughts, finding information and asking questions to innovate and collaborate. The service is being offered as an extension to the free Office 365 for Education plan. Up until now, Office 365 offered only Yammer Basic to New Zealand educational institutions.

    Opportunities to utilise Yammer Enterprise within the educational environment are plentiful! The platform can be used for tasks such as making school announcements and keeping in contact with Alumni students. It can also provide a platform for external communications and collaborations with researchers, companies and other educational institutions.

    Teachers and students of Auckland’s Avondale College are already realising how Yammer can play a vital role within the school environment. The school is using the platform as part of its Innovation Programme, helping students to get used to collaboration as a key part of their learning process.

    “Yammer is fundamental for how we transition practitioner and student behaviour from old paradigm education into a new paradigm of creativity, with agile, project-based learning processes,” Paul McClean, Information Technology teacher, says. “We are looking forward to Yammer Enterprise, as a more advanced tool for communication, student and practitioner support, event coordination and success profiling, to forming an integral role with our ongoing Innovation Programme.”

    Yammer Enterprise is now free under Office 365 for Education A2, A3 & A4 plans! The Office 365 A2 plan is the free plan available for staff and students. Our Office 365 for Education offering was recently enhanced with additional no-cost Office application downloads for students through Student Advantage and will now include Yammer Enterprise. All existing Office 365 Education plan schools will receive licenses for Yammer Enterprise. Please email for any questions.

  • Skype in the Classroom brings together classes in New Zealand and California

    How do you make a lesson plan come alive? It’s a question teachers ask themselves almost daily. More and more are finding their answer through our Skype in the classroom community, which has opened up a world of virtual field trips to teachers and their students.

    While teachers already know the value of hands-on learning, logistical and fiscal constraints often get in the way. Enter Skype in the classroom, which gives teachers everywhere direct access to explorers, artists, scientists and even business leaders around the world. These real-time experiences take place without ever leaving the classroom, and enrich learning while broadening students’ perspectives of the world around them.

    It thrills us to see students bursting with excitement as they prepare to call their peers across the Atlantic and teachers filled with pride knowing that their classroom efforts are expanding the horizons of today’s youth.

    We thought you would enjoy a glimpse of how some teachers are using Skype in their classrooms to enrich learning. And a video call between young students at Farm Cove Intermediate School in Auckland and Covington Elementary School in Los Altos, California is a wonderful example.

    Not only does the call give students a modern-day lesson in public speaking, but it enables them to compare notes and collaborate with kids around the globe. Ultimately, students are using explorative thinking while celebrating cultural differences. And the kids are learning about each other’s culture, not by reading about it, but by speaking directly with one another.

    Watch what happened when the classes met for the first time on Skype:

    When asked why Mrs. Croft, the 5th grade teacher at Covington Elementary School, chose to use Skype, she told us that she found it to be an exceptionally easy and effective educational tool. But most importantly, her students love it. When she told them they would be making a Skype video call to Mr. D’Ambrosio’s classroom in Auckland, the kids jumped out of their seats with excitement.

    That’s the type of enthusiasm is shared in classrooms around the globe by students whose teachers are leveraging Skype in creative ways.

    We would love to hear from you about how Skype is helping you engage with the digital natives filling the seats in your classrooms. Share your feedback with us in the Skype in the classroom community, on Twitter at @SkypeClassroom, or on Facebook.

    This was originally posted on the Skype Blog.

  • We invite you to join the Microsoft in Education Cloud Forum!

    The Microsoft NZ Education team has created the Microsoft in Education Cloud Forum, a place for Kiwi educators and school IT decision makers to collaborate on all things cloud. The forum is designed to aid conversation and engagement around how to best utilise the cloud in improving learning outcomes and facilitating 21st century learning.

    It's a great channel to ask questions, provide and find recommendations and best practices from other schools and generally become more familiar about what's happening with the cloud in education. Current subgroups include "SharePoint as a Learning Management System (LMS) for education", "HELP with Office 365", "Upcoming Events" and "Learn Yammer". Some schools have even created school cluster discussion pages within the group.

    Having been running for a few months now, we're building up a fantastic membership of schools who have deployed Office 365 and are looking to learn more about its functions. We're loving watching this forum grow, and would like to invite readers of the NZ Education Blog to request an invitation if you are interested in joining!

  • Have you tried Office Mix yet?

    By now you may have heard of the Office Mix Customer Preview, which makes it simple to create online courses. Office Mix gives superpowers to PowerPoint lessons – it lets you record while you write and draw on them, add video, quizzes and labs, and store them in the cloud. You and other teachers can easily share their “mixed” lessons with students, who can play them on nearly any device. Teachers can also easily see results and analytics for every student, quiz, and slide. 

     Please ask your fellow teachers to:

    1. GO

    Head to the Gallery for some great inspiration. Watch how-tos, or learn about the electrifying Ohm’s Law, why Air is Squishy, or Rational Exponents

    2. INSTALL

    1. If you need PowerPoint 2013, then download the free 180-day trial .
    2. Download and install the free Office Mix add-in from right here. (Note: sign in is required). 


    Use an existing lesson, or create a new one. We’re looking for mixes across math, science, language arts, technology, art, and history, but what you create is completely up to you. After you’re done, upload your mix, share it, and please email us to tell us all about it!

    If you have any questions, head over to the support forums or follow @OfficeMixTeam.

  • Microsoft announces $1M grant for High Tech Youth Network

    Microsoft New Zealand is donating $1 million in cash, software and services investment to the High Tech Youth Network, designed to provide pathways for young, underserved Kiwis into the IT industry.

    Speaking yesterday at One Tree Hill College in Penrose, Microsoft NZ Managing Director, Paul Muckleston made the announcement in front of Prime Minister John Key, who joined students and the CEO of the High Tech Youth Network for the official ground-breaking for the construction of a new High Tech Youth Studio and Academy.

    The One Tree Hill College Academy is the latest site set for development by the High Tech Youth Network to offer vocational and education pathways for students into high-performance digital learning and training.

    There are currently six High Tech Youth Studios, located in West Auckland, Manukau City, Hamilton, Tauranga, Moerewa (Northland) and Whakatane. Sites in Dunedin, Fiji and Hawaii are also currently in development.

    The studios target young people aged 8 – 25 years in underserved communities, providing NCEA and industry related secondary and tertiary credentialing, as well as workplace internships and mentoring of young people in the High-Tech and Digital Media industries.

    At the studios, young people learn project management and technical skills such as computer game design, electronic publishing, Photoshop, animation and 3D graphic design.

    Muckleston believes that initiatives like the High Tech Youth Network will help secure the future of young New Zealanders with pathways into the tech sector.

    “The High Tech Youth Network has paved the way to address the technology capability gap,” he says.

    “This is why Microsoft is an enthusiastic long term supporter of the High Tech Youth Network, because our goals closely align.

    “We want to empower young people and communities to help bridge the technology gap to ensure equity of access, skills, and opportunities for all New Zealanders.”

    Muckleston says Microsoft’s investment in the High Tech Youth Network is part of a wider commitment to building a smart, connected, competitive New Zealand, in which all New Zealanders have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

    “Through our partnership with the High Tech Youth Network, we hope to inspire young New Zealanders to imagine and build a better future for themselves – all while building a skilled and innovative workforce in New Zealand that is equipped to prosper in the global economy,” he adds.

    Muckleston says the million-dollar grant – made under Microsoft’s global YouthSpark programme – includes a commitment of investment to providing ICT industry credentialing opportunities, industry mentors and 4 -10 week work placements through High Tech Youth Academies for young people aged 16-24 years.

    “The High Tech Youth Network answers the calls of politicians and business leaders for educators and industry to work together to provide tangible pathways for young New Zealanders into long-term careers through training, mentoring and internships,” he adds.

    “It is education aligned to workplace requirements and job opportunities.”

    Muckleston, together with the Prime Minister and Ken Whitney, ASB Community Trust’s Chair, jointly launched the network’s Academy program in late 2012, with initial investment from Microsoft and ASB Community Trust.

    The government’s 2013 Budget also provided $1.9M to enable the High Tech Youth Network to develop two new studios – including the One Tree Hill College site – and to continue to support young people enrolled at existing studios.

    Mike Usmar, CEO of the High Tech Youth Network, expressed his deep gratitude for the new grant of support which he says will enable the Network to expand its reach further than ever before.

    “With Microsoft working alongside us as our most valued partner, the future for the High Tech Youth Network is strong, and will be positioned to serve more than 37,000 youth and whanau in the Oceania region towards developing IT skills that will impact them for a lifetime,” he adds.

    The High Tech Youth Network has four core objectives, these are:

    - To empower young people and communities to become more capable, creative and confident lifelong learners.

    - To foster the growth of a learning community, through the sharing of ideas and support.

    - To encourage in young people the development of a positive identity and belief in their potential, through linking cultural knowledge and values with technology.

    - To champion, support, manage, research and implement services and projects that will further the above objectives within New Zealand and the Pacific.

    This blog post is the original press release, which you can find here

    For more information on the High Tech Youth Network, visit:

  • Microsoft Devices and Services in Education: Usage Scenario 1 - Smart Art

    Welcome to the first of a weekly blog series for August and September, where we will be providing you with introductory scenarios around 5 learning themes to help exploit the pedagogical value of Windows 8.1 Microsoft devices and Office 365. The purpose of these scenarios is hinged around how to encourage students to question, to research, to create, to organise and to collaborate/share. Tweet us your thoughts! @MSNZEducation.

    Here's a snapshot of what's to come:

    Usage Scenario 1 - "Question" - Smart Art

    Aspect of Teaching and Learning Cycle:     

    Design a template document in Word or PowerPoint using Smart Art to enable students to record their thinking and structure their thinking relating to an area of study or concept.This Smart Art template could be embedded within either PowerPoint or Word. You could use it to document student thinking and/or understanding before after or during the lesson or unit of work. The progression below shows how this idea can be introduced and developed so that eventually students can choose from a range of visual organisers available within Smart Art to assist the development of their Knowledge skills and understanding.To integrate the device, one template could require the student to use the on-board imaging hardware to insert images directly into the picture enabled Smart Art template.

    Example of Learning Activity Context Basic Radial Smart Art template example– What do you want to find out about?

    A cross curricular tool to be used in all areas of learning, in particular for the introduction of project based learning.

    Higher order thinking skill enabled* –Remembering (Recalling what they already know about a concept or unit of study), Applying (suggesting questions and a sequence for further study or enquiry), Evaluating (Reviewing what they have learned).

    21st Century skill** enabled – Collaboration (Pair for review), Knowledge Construction (use of prior documented knowledge to formulate questions for further study), Use of ICT for learning (using imaging capability of hardware to complete task).

    Microsoft Devices, Software & Services – Windows 8.1 devices (in particular Windows Surface Pro and RT – Partner 2in1 devices), Microsoft Word 2013 (Word Web App), Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 (PowerPoint Web App).

    Staff skills required - Construct Word or PowerPoint file which has a Smart art template already adapted by the teacher with titles appropriate to the subject. Ability to add to, edit and format Smart Art.

    More to come in the coming weeks!