NZ Education Blog

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

NZ Education Blog

  • 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!

  • OneNote for Mac and iOS get dressed for school!

    We are thrilled to announce today four major updates for OneNote for Mac, OneNote for iPad and OneNote for iPhone. Building on our recent updates in May, these enhancements make OneNote the best choice for taking notes and staying organized at school.

    Addressing customers top requests, we added several new features in this release including the ability to:

    1. Access your work or school notebooks on your Mac stored on OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online (on Office 365).
    2. Open and insert files, including PDF files, into your notebook pages.
    3. View your password protected sections.
    4. Improved organization, capturing content, and sharing of notes.

    These updates and more are available to download in the App Stores today. Below are some of the details on the updates.

    Access notebooks on OneDrive for Business and Office 365

    We know many of you using OneNote for Mac have been asking for the ability to access your work or school notebooks hosted on OneDrive for Business. With this update you should be good to go! You can now open, sync, and create personal or shared project or class notebooks on OneDrive for Business. Additionally, if you are using OneNote just for work or school, we made it easier for you to get started with OneNote by directly signing in with your organizational account upon opening OneNote.

    Mac - OneDrive for Business

    Insert and view file attachments

    Whether you are a professional preparing for a big meeting with the boss or a student getting ready for a new school year, we’ve added new capabilities to help you stay organized and keep all your notes and related documents together in your notebook. Now you can insert and view files, including PDF printouts, in your notebooks on Mac, iPad and iPhone. For example, on Mac you can drag and drop a PowerPoint deck or a Word document into your notes, as an attachment, and then view it in the OS built-in, Quick Look, or in the app itself.

    Iron Age

    On iPad or iPhone you can insert pictures or documents you receive in Mail or other apps by selecting ‘Open in OneNote.’ That way, even on the go, you are never losing track of important documents relevant to the project you are working on within OneNote.

    iPhone Insert File

    In addition, if you have a PDF file, you can insert it as a printout in your notes, making it easy to annotate with your own notes, whether they be meeting or lecture slides, research papers or class readings.

    Mac PDF Printout

    Unlock password protected sections

    We received many requests for the ability to access password protected sections created on OneNote for Windows. Now you can do so on Mac, iPhone and iPad. Simply navigate to the section and enter your password to access your private notes. Once you have reviewed or edited the notes you can easily lock the section, or after a few minutes it will lock automatically. That way, a confidential company note or study guide remains for your eyes, and your eyes only.


    Organize and re-arrange your notes

    As you add more sections, section groups, and pages to your notebooks you may want to reorder or move items to keep your notes organized. This is especially handy when you’re sharing notebooks with colleagues or students and new content is added by others in different locations of your shared notebook. You can now keep your notebooks organized from Mac and iOS devices.


    iPad - Move pages

    Copy and paste enhancements

    To enhance your experience of capturing content in to OneNote we’ve introduced additional copy and paste improvements this release for both iOS and Mac. If you are doing some research for a project at home, school or work, you can now copy formatted content from websites or other apps and paste in to your notes on any of your devices.

    Email page enhancements

    In addition to the ability to send your notes as PDF attachments in OneNote for Mac, you can now choose to send your notes in the message body. This can be handy when sending meeting or class notes to others.

    Mac - Email page

    Try out these updates today and tell us what you think. We appreciate your feedback as it helps us improve OneNote and deliver on your top requests. Check out our new and recently launched feedback site where you can post your own suggestions and vote for others. We would love to hear from you.

    To learn more about OneNote and download OneNote apps for all your devices go to

  • The complimentary SharePoint in Education event is next week - don't forget to register!

    We are only one week away from the SharePoint in Education event, held at Microsoft New Zealand! It's going to be a fantastic afternoon and we are all very excited to hear the amazing Lou Zulli Jr give his insights on Office 365 in Education. Click here to Register now! More information below:

    If you are from the education sector, and would like to learn more about SharePoint and specifically how it is used in Schools, then this is for you!

    Microsoft is hosting an afternoon get-together with a few presentations followed by networking and drinks. Although FREE to attend, places are strictly limited and Registrations are essential before Friday, 18 July. Click here to Register now! You can also find out more on the ShareThePoint Website here.

    Date: Wednesday 23 July - 4-6pm

    Venue: Microsoft New Zealand Ltd, Level 5/22 Viaduct Harbour Ave, Auckland 1010  Bing Maps


    Click here to Register now!     


    We look forward to seeing you there!

  • Boost for Kiwi students as Microsoft NZ helps hone digital skills

    Graduates from the Microsoft IT Academy’s ‘Microsoft Office Specialist’ course have earned special recognition from Hekia Parata, Education Minister, as well as digital skills to aid their future.

    The nine students from Mana College in Porirua were presented with graduation certificates and congratulations from Parata in a Connect Smart Week event at Parliament.

    “It was a privilege to present these very deserving students with their graduation certificates,” Parata says. “Programmes like this are a great way of making sure our kids are equipped to work in today’s modern workforce.”

    The graduating Mana College students were Krystal Bishop, Tautahi Johnstone, Jammee Kirikino, Jayden Charteris, Naki Eriepa, Karina Kinvig, Chelsea Hawkins, Asilika Tuiwainunu and Carlos Graham.

    Mana College is participating in a nationwide pilot programme of the Microsoft IT Academy, which is being run in conjunction with the Ministry of Education. It is the only participating school in the greater Wellington region, with a further nine schools throughout the country participating in the programme.

    The aim of the Microsoft IT Academy is to improve digital literacy and equip students with skills for the modern workforce. The global initiative also encourages students to consider the technology sector as a career option.

    The Microsoft IT Academy has 300 different courses, from basic computer literacy skills in software through to high-end skills preparing students to become IT professionals.

    As a result of the programme, Mike Webster, Principal of Mana College, says there has been a strong increase in information technology literacy amongst students. To date more than 100 students have participated in the programme, which has now been adopted as part of their regular curriculum.

    The pilot programme was established in early 2013, and Evan Blackman, Microsoft’s Education Sector Manager says the company is thrilled with its success both at Mana College and the other schools. Microsoft is looking forward to expanding the programme in the coming year.

    “The IT Academy programme is designed to help lift employability for the modern workforce, as well as opening up pathways into technology-based careers,” he says.

    “It provides the resources and content that allow schools to lead students through industry-recognised training and certification programmes.”

    For more information on IT Academy, visit here.

    *This article was originally posted by Catherine Murray on Educate Tech Day.

  • NCEA Hub: The coolest new Education app in the Windows Store!

    We are very excited to announce the NZ created, NCEA Hub app, which is only available in the Windows Store!

    Students are now able to track their progress towards achieving an NCEA qualification throughout the school year and look up information on NCEA standards and subjects. The app allows students working towards a Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3 NCEA certificate to keep track of how many credits they have achieved as well as provide standard information and resources.


    • Add and manage individual subjects and achievement standards.
    • Specify any endorsement (Merit or Excellence) you gained at each standard.
    • Easily view your total number of credits as well as the number of credits at each endorsement level (Merit or Excellence).
    • See your progress towards individual subject endorsements (Merit or Excellence).
    • Supports NCEA Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3.
    • Track your Numeracy and Literacy credits which are required for achieving an NCEA Level 1 certificate.
    • Sync your NCEA progress to an online NCEA Hub⁺ account so you can update your progress on multiple devices.
    • Easily access up-to-date NCEA subject and standard information.
    • Find links to NZQA resources such as past papers, exemplars and marking schedules as well as from third-parties such as No Brain Too Small and StudyIt.

    Find out more and download this fantastic app here!

  • O365 and SharePoint 4 Schools - Essentials. Register now!

    Microsoft NZ and ShareThePoint bring you "Office 365 and SharePoint 4 Schools Essentials" - Register now!

    This one-day intensive course is an introduction for people who are new to SharePoint 2013 and want to use it for staff intranets, classroom sites, class blog sites, document management and student-parent collaboration.

    Please refer to the attached PDF Flyer on this blog post for more information!

    Target Audience
    Trainer, End User, Project Manager, Knowledge Manager, Help Desk.


    Morning Only (9am - 12.30pm): for people who need the introduction to using SharePoint, and what is possible.
    Afternoon also (9am - 5.00pm): for people who need to be able to configure the site, and introduce new processes.

    NOTE: This course for SCHOOLS who have already deployed, or are close to deploying, Office365. When registering, please specify whether you wish to attend the HALF DAY (morning only), or the FULL DAY.


    FREE places are limited to TWO per school. If registering more than TWO per school you will be required to pay $150+GST per person for the half-day session and $250 + GST per person for the Full day.

    Attendees are required to bring their own laptop.

    This course is also available as a private on-site course, where an instructor will come to your school and train up to 12 people in any or all of the modules listed. Please contact us for pricing.

    Course Content:



    Explore the Collaboration and Social features for staff and students to work together.

    * Use My Site and Personal Profile
    * Use Discussion Boards for Collaboration
    * Add an Announcement or School Notice


    Introduction to using lists, libraries and blog sites, for classroom collaboration. You will learn how to work with content, upload and view documents, and interact with a SharePoint site.

    * Sort, Filter and Working with Content in Lists
    * Change Views on Lists and Libraries
    * Upload Documents
    * Create and Comment on Blog Sites


    Make the most of tools you use daily and learn about integration points with SharePoint. Use OneNote and Lync along with other Office tools.

    * OneNote
    * LYNC in Classrooms

    * Document Co-authoring
    * Export SharePoint Data

    * Integration with Outlook



    Create a Staff Intranet and a classroom collaboration site.

    * Modify a Site Collection
    * Create a Team Site for a Subject
    * Edit the Home Page A: Format Tab
    * Edit the Home Page B: Insert Tab
    * Inserting a Video
    * Changing the Site Icon
    * Changing Regional Settings


    Use navigation to help people quickly and easily find the information they need.

    * Navigation
    * Change the Quick Launch
    * Change the Top Link Bar (Global Navigation)


    Create a school notices list, classroom list and contacts list as examples to manage information online and customise lists and views to meet your needs.

    * Lists
    * Modify a List
    * Create a Pre-populated List
    * Create a Custom List
    * Delete a Column


    Display your information such as school events, notices and documents on specific pages. Explore the use of SharePoint as a Knowledge Wiki.

    * About Web Parts
    * Using Web Parts
    * Create a Page
    * Check In and Publish a Page
    * Create New Wiki Pages
    * Publishing Pages


    Learn how to use SharePoint to effectively manage documents and images.

    * Introducing Libraries
    * Working with Documents
    * Create a Document Library
    * Enable Document Versioning
    * Collect Feedback on a Document
    * Create a Picture Library

  • Yammer Enterprise now included in Office 365 Education plans!

    As of 7th July, Yammer Enterprise was made available to all academic institutions at no additional cost. Yammer basic was always available for free as an enterprise social network option but did not allow for granular management of this environment as many organisations require.

    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.

    So what is Yammer Enterprise?

    Yammer Enterprise is an enterprise social networking platform providing seamless, open sharing, and cross collaboration within your school. 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 possibilities for using Yammer in education are endless. Here just a few scenarios that might help get
    the ideas going:
    ·       Classroom/Teacher/Campus collaboration – teacher to student, student to student, mentoring, questions, announcements
    ·       Departmental collaboration – professor sharing, collaboration, information sharing
    ·       Projects – project information, graduate student projects, sharing of ideas
    ·       IT helpdesk – questions, information sharing
    ·       Research – sharing ideas, working cross teams, working with external parties securely
    ·       Alumni – Alumni collaboration, announcements, jobs
    ·       External collaboration with researchers, companies, other universities/schools.

    If I have an existing Office 365 Education tenant what do I have to do to get Yammer Enterprise?

    If you already have A2 or A3 academic skus enabled the ‘Yammer Enterprise’ license will just appear in your tenant. You do not have to order anything additional to make this work.  You still have to activate Yammer within your Office 365 Education tenant. See steps here and Activation FAQ here.


    In light of this announcement we'd encourage you to visit the official blog post and a number resources
    available below:
    ·       Microsoft in Education Blog - A view of the mobile Yammer applications available for iOS, Android,
    Windows and a handy FAQ
    ·       Yammer Enterprise Activation Guide – A good overview for IT administrators to help you through
    activating your Yammer network.
    ·       If you’re using SharePoint 2013 on premise you can integrate with Yammer Enterprise to provide
    an enhanced social experience with SharePoint 2013 SP1.
    ·       The Yammer app for SharePoint that was released in July embeds Yammer feeds into SharePoint
    sites (similar to the Yammer web part that is available for SharePoint 2010 & 2007). The Yammer
    app for SharePoint is available free of charge in the Office Store.
    ·       If you’d like to understand the Yammer Enterprise service compliance roadmap regarding security,
    compliance and privacy we can provide the list of plans for Yammer key standards and
    ·       Find out how other tertiary education institutions are using Yammer to improve engagement
    on the Yammer customer success web site.

    If you have any other questions, please contact your IT Partner.

  • SharePoint in Education Event - Register now!

     SharePoint in Education - your invitation!

    If you are from the education sector, and would like to learn more about SharePoint and specifically how it is used in Schools, then this is for you!

    Microsoft is hosting an afternoon get-together with a few presentations followed by networking and drinks. Although FREE to attend, places are strictly limited and Registrations are essential before Friday, 18 July. Click here to Register now! You can also find out more on the ShareThePoint Website here and the attached PDF Invite file of this blog!

    Date: Wednesday 23 July - 4-6pm

    Venue: Microsoft New Zealand Ltd, Level 5/22 Viaduct Harbour Ave, Auckland 1010  Bing Maps


    Click here to Register now!     


    Don't forget to register by Friday 18th July! We look forward to seeing you there!

  • Office Mix is a Game-Changer for Teachers

    Last month, we announced the customer preview of Office Mix, a tool designed to make it easier for teachers to incorporate online content into their lesson plans. Since then, we’ve been gathering feedback about what educators find most useful about the tool and how to make it even better, and we’re sharing what we’ve learned at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Atlanta this week. Overall, we were pleasantly surprised to see teachers using Office Mix in ways we hadn’t anticipated (for example, asking students to create their own mixes), and we noted some usage trends that will influence how we evolve the tool in the future.

    This blog post was originally posted on the Office Blog. You can read it here.

    Easily discover and share lessons created with mixes

    The top request we’ve received from teachers is to make it easier to share mixes. In response, we created a public Gallery designed for sharing and discovering great lessons. Through the new public Gallery, you can upload your favourite mixes, make them available to others, and browse content created by others to spark ideas or share with your class.


    We’ve heard from educators that finding relevant, useful content can be a challenge, and we hope the Gallery makes that just a little easier. Additionally, you can now embed Office Mix content, so it can show up on virtually any website.

    More ways to use mixes in the classroom

    We’ve also learned how teachers are incorporating Office Mix into their classrooms. Here are some of the ways we’ve heard about:

    • Formative assessment feedback loop. Almost all of the mixes that have been created for instructional purposes have assessments built in.
    • Bite-sized learning. The vast majority of mixes created are shorter than five minutes, suggesting that educators are using Office Mix to teach individual concepts rather than replace entire classroom lessons.
    • Global appeal. Though we haven’t localized Office Mix (the website and materials are only in English at this point), we are seeing mixes in a variety of foreign languages: Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Romanian, and even Finnish.
    • Not just for teachers. We were surprised to hear from a number of teachers that they were asking students to create mixes as part of project-based learning assignments.
    • Catch-up. Though this doesn’t seem to be the predominant use of Office Mix, some teachers are using it to record their class lectures for students who missed a class or would benefit from a repeat of the lesson.

    More Office Mix partners means more education materials are available

    The list of content partners continues to grow (in addition to the partners we announced in May: Khan Academy and the CK-12 Foundation). University of Colorado’s PhET physical science simulations app is now available through Office Mix. An Office Mix math app from GeoGebra is expected to be available later this month. Check out for advanced viewing of thousands of STEM education materials that will be freely available through GeoGebra in Office Mix.


    Partners are already letting us know that they are excited about the opportunity to broaden their reach, allowing them to help more educators. “The goal of the CK-12 Foundation is to create, curate and allow customization of high quality, free content that we can then make available to all teachers globally. Our partnership with Office Mix has allowed us to provide teachers with a faster, simpler way to integrate this information into their PowerPoint lessons,” said Neeru Khosla, executive director of the CK-12 Foundation.

    Listen to what teachers are saying about Office Mix

    Here are a few of our favorite comments so far from teachers who have used Office Mix:

    Brien Gorham, English Teacher at Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart

    • “Mix provides teachers with an easy way to create flipped lessons for students since most teachers are already familiar with PowerPoint. Being able to create self-directed content for students creates more class time for more challenging project work and writing assignments. Having students work with ‘static content’ at home allows for more differentiated instruction time in the classroom. Being able to track their progress is an essential feature of this tool.”

    • “The familiar interface of PowerPoint is one of its greatest strengths. The layout of the Mix toolbar is easy to navigate and very user friendly. Another huge advantage is that teachers can easily repurpose their extensive libraries of existing PowerPoints into student directed content. Finally, the analytics are simply fantastic. I can see at a glance if students are engaging with the content, how in-depth that engagement is, and, through quizzes and questions, how much of that content they absorbed.”

    Helen Gooch, Microsoft Fellow and Master Trainer

    • Office Mix offers great analytics so that as your students complete a lesson or learning activity, you can see how well they mastered the objectives, and you can view the results if you included quiz questions such as multiple choice, true/false, and short answer. Or, you can monitor how long they spent on various aspects of your instructional sequence. Did they breeze through certain parts or did they truly take their time to learn. These are great formative assessment features!”

    Vicki Davis, full-time teacher and IT director for a small school in Camilla, Georgia and blogger at

    • “Think of it [screencasts] like team teaching with myself – an online me and a face to face me. Because it is so easy, Office Mix is changing everything about how I screencast. Just click the Office Mix Plug in inside PowerPoint and record the video slide by slide. It lets you do screencasting, embed videos, write on the screen and will record webcam.”
  • Trading In The Whiteboard for OneNote and a Surface Pro

    Once again, Sam McNeill, the Director of ICT at St Andrew’s College, has blown us away with his innovative and creative use of technology in the classroom. Sam runs the St Andrew's College "eLearning Stories" blog which provides a virtual “look through the classroom window” into the exciting eLearning happenings in the various classrooms around the fully-independent, co-educational school for pre-school to Year 13. Recently he blogged this original post (here), about some of the great work a Year 9 Math class is doing with OneNote and Surface. You can read it below!

    This morning I was invited by Mr Ben Hilliam to sit in and observe one of his Year 9 Math classes. I was keen to do this as I knew the Maths Department had been experimenting with the combination of MS Onenote, a Microsoft Surface and a Miracast device to wirelessly broadcast the screen of the tablet through the classroom projector.

    The following video is a screencast of Mr Hilliam’s first 6 minutes of the lesson. He is writing on the Surface Pro directly, and using MS OneNote to record his voice and handwriting in the background:

    All students in this Year 9 class have read only access to this OneNote notebook so they can revise at anytime, and in this instance the lessons were being recorded for a student that was absent for the week. Once uploaded to YouTube, the link is inserted into the Notebook for student access.

    What impressed me about this section of the lesson was the ease of the technology – it essentially existed in the background and in many ways, it was a direct substitute for the role of a whiteboard. Mr Hilliam was still asking students questions back and forward and they were still coming up and pointing to places on the graph on the projected image on the whiteboard to indicate their answers. The big difference however was that this was being recorded digitally for later revision.

    Towards the end of last year we undertook training for a lot of 2014 Year 9 teachers and introduced them to the SAMR model. I recently came across a new poster for this:

    Explaining the SAMR model through coffee

    Explaining the SAMR model through coffee

    The teaching in this Year 9 Math class falls clearly in the augmentation range – the teaching is not obviously different however the technology operating in the background provides massive functional improvement. Students, both those absent and physically present in the class, can all revise the concepts being taught at anytime.

    Here are some photos of the students at work practicing the concepts that had been taught:

    A student reviewing the MS OneNote content recorded moments earlier by Mr Hilliam, and then practicing in his exercise book.

    A student reviewing the MS OneNote content recorded moments earlier by Mr Hilliam, and then practicing in his exercise book.

    Students around the room making using of their laptops to review / rewind the concepts as taught and recorded from the start of the lesson

    Students around the room making using of their laptops to review / rewind the concepts as taught and recorded from the start of the lesson

    Whilst the phrase “ubiquitousness of technology” is over used, this lesson did demonstrate that when used effectively, the technology is not at the forefront of the lesson. It was not gimmicky or flashy, instead it provided functional improvement to what was already a great lesson.

    I am excited to see how other curriculum areas make use of technology like this in their classrooms and will blog about these in the future. As the Director of ICT it’s important for me to support initiatives like this that trial how new technologies can be used in the classroom. On my recent trip to Edutech 2014 I trialled a MS Surface Pro 3, some of the only demonstration units outside of the USA, and was very impressed. I have pre-ordered one for our staff to trial once it is released and am interested to see at what point in the future touch screen devices like this may replace the traditional laptops given to staff.

  • Kiwi students set to compete in the 2014 Microsoft Imagine Cup World Finals

    Four University of Auckland students who designed an innovative social interaction app for mobile devices have been selected to compete in the Microsoft Imagine Cup World Finals in Seattle, USA, next month.

    Hayden Do (19), Jason Wei (19), Chris Duan (30), and Derek Zhu (22) beat out more than 150 other teams from around the globe at the recent Imagine Cup World Semifinals with their app called ‘Meep’, which helps friends meet up by tracking their locations in real time.

    After first impressing the judges to win one of the three top awards in the New Zealand Imagine Cup competition held in April, they will now compete for one of three $50,000 grand prizes. They are one of only 33 teams that made it to the worldwide finals and will compete against the top nine teams in the world in the innovation category.

    The panel of judges will include Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, as well as Co-Founder, Hadi Partovi, and Reddit General Manager, Erik Martin. One team will also have the opportunity to meet with Microsoft founder, Bill Gates.

    Nigel Parker, Developer Experience Director for Microsoft New Zealand, says it is impressive to have seen teams of Kiwi students making it to the global finals of the Imagine Cup for several years running.

    “Having been involved with the Imagine Cup for a number of years in New Zealand I am inspired by the students who passionately disrupt the technology landscape both locally and globally as a result of their fresh thinking and entrepreneurial spirit. New Zealand has punched above its weight placing in the top ten in the world four times in the last five years,” says Parker.

    “We’ve seen a lot of Imagine Cup teams go on to do great things. For example, I was encouraged to see Vigil Monitoring, formed off the back of the winning New Zealand Imagine Cup team in 2012, win the Callahan Innovation Hi-Tech Pre-Commercialisation Company of the Year Award last month.”

    This year Microsoft extended the reach of the local Imagine Cup competition by partnering with the University of Auckland to train and place 75 students in 22 companies to work over the summer.

    “Of the students placed, 10 have secured ongoing employment and these students represented the majority of the students that made it through to our national finals of the Imagine Cup competition in April. This is aiding the connection between tertiary education providers and high-tech firms,” says Parker.

    Imagine Cup is the world’s premier student technology competition. Students compete in teams of up to four people in the Games, Innovation or World Citizenship competitions to create an original technology project from start to finish. The teams create an idea, make a plan, build the project and then compete, giving them the opportunity to learn how to launch their business and bring ideas to market.

    This year’s Imagine Cup World Finals will be hosted at the University of Washington during TechReady, the Microsoft Technical Conference, giving students the chance to meet with a broad range of people in the industry. The Meep Team will be accompanied by a mentor from Microsoft New Zealand.

    Now in its 12th year, Imagine Cup inspires students around the world to innovate across all of Microsoft’s technology platforms. Microsoft worldwide student competition is a truly global competition with around 16,900 students in 11,700 teams submitting 7,500 projects worldwide. This year there were 73 entries in New Zealand from across the country.

    The Imagine Cup World Final will be held in Seattle, Washington, USA from July 29 through to August 2. To see the full list of the World Finalists teams, visit the Imagine Cup blog here:  

  • 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.

  • 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.