NZ Education Blog

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

NZ Education Blog

  • Meet Ruby Huang, a 2015 Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert

    This blog post is taken from Anthony Salcito's 'Daily Edventures'  which recently featured New Zealand teacher Ruby Huang.

    Ruby is a science teacher at Auckland's Howick College. She was recently made a 2015 Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert in recognition of her efforts to include technology in teaching.

    “At this moment, I felt that the students began to integrate and relate their learning experience in the classroom to real life; to acknowledge that there is a purpose to science and they aren’t restricted to memorizing facts and calculating pointless numbers.” – Ruby Huang, New Zealand

    Ruby Huang grew up a self-described bookworm who even had a favourite Dewey Decimal classification, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that she ultimately became an educator. It was that same enthusiasm for learning that made Huang a 2015 Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, and just as important, a teacher who’s willing to wholly rethink the classroom experience for her digitally savvy students.

    After deciding to teach her science students about lab safety by having them produce their own training videos, Huang knew she was on to something. “I knew that recording notes via OneNote or presenting via PowerPoint was not the proper use of technology, nor was it close to innovation,” she says. “I wanted the students to transform their own learning and I would be the one to guide them; at times, it was the students guiding me, as their expertise and knowledge of useful apps and technology were bound to surpass mine later on in the year. This is innovation.”

    Since that project, Huang has brought that same approach to many other lessons, including one that focused on delivering food to the needy. Not only did the students develop a food drive, they also applied science by calculating the most nutritious meals.  Her Innovative Educator project, Eco-Building Investigation, raised awareness about the importance of environmentally-friendly construction while giving students the opportunity to investigate and select materials for their buildings.

    Because documenting, communicating and sharing these projects is also an important part of the lesson, all of Huang’s projects make use of creative presentation tools. And Huang herself has been something of an innovator in this space, using the new Microsoft Sway to express her ideas on collaboration. Her work was featured here, and is a fantastic example of this new tool’s potential.

    Whatever technology Huang and her students are using, you can be sure they’re using it in ways that are both instructive and engaging. Here’s today’s Daily Edventure with Ruby Huang.

    What inspired you to become an educator?

    As a child, my first dream job was to be an author, I loved reading and absorbing new facts. You could say that I was a bookworm, sitting in the corner whilst the rest of my family watched TV. My favourite Dewey Decimal code was 793.1, which was the puzzle section. I liked mental challenges and thinking outside of the box. Later on I wanted to be an astronaut (but my Dad told me I couldn’t take my dog into orbit).

    In primary to intermediate school, I was elected librarian, traffic monitor, environmental agent, paper-recycler, camp leader and sports monitor. It was not until my final year of high school that I found solace in helping people; I was heavily involved with coaching Kendo at my club, tutoring ESL (English as a Second Language) students at my school and also tutoring peers in their school work.

    Throughout university, I continued tutoring biology, chemistry, physics, Spanish, mathematics and English as a side job whilst majoring in neurophysiology. Originally, the plan was to get into medical school, as I felt that the health industry was the best place to “help people.” In some ways I am grateful that I did not get the interview after freshman year. It was in my final semester that I realized I had been helping people all along through the power of education. I was an educator and decided that after I graduated with my Bachelors, I would continue with a teaching diploma and start making a real difference in the community.  

    What was a defining moment in your career when you felt proudest to be an educator?

    The most powerful event by far was the “Food Parcel project.” Through collaboration with my colleague Steve Martin, I propelled and redesigned the topic of Food and Energy in a digital format to include a 21st century learning task, whereby students had to design and produce a food parcel to be donated to the local Salvation Army.

    This was no ordinary food parcel, as students had to scientifically analyse and present their research behind the chosen foods, design and distribute posters and flyers to the public for the food drive, use apps to calculate energy levels, research to provide healthier alternatives, create a menu to ensure metabolic demands were achieved, and much more.

    The best moment was when the captain from the Salvation Army came in to explain their role in community and thank the class for their generous donations. The students gave a short speech and the proudest moment was when they thanked the captain for giving them the opportunity to help those in need, for if it weren’t for the initial problem, there would have never been a task to solve in the first place, and their food drive would have no significant meaning. The students truly understood what it is like to have an effect on the greater community.

    At this moment, I felt that the students began to integrate and relate their learning experience in the classroom to real life; to acknowledge that there is a purpose to science and they aren’t restricted to memorizing facts and calculating pointless numbers. I felt accomplished as a teacher because I was the one who “opened the door” and the students took the challenge and walked through. “It has always been about the students.” (What Students Say by William E. J. Doane).

    Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?

    "I wanted each lesson to integrate technology at some point, but I found that this ideal was not what transformed learning - rather, it was how the technology was used." - Ruby Huang

    This year was the first year we gave each student a Microsoft Surface 2 tablet. I wanted each lesson to integrate technology at some point, but I found that this ideal was not what transformed learning – rather, it was HOW the technology was used.

    The first learning lesson of Y9 Science: I planned to teach them about safety protocols and establish a set of class-lab rules. I came up with a question: “How do I get the students to teach themselves?” The answer? “I shall set them loose in the lab.”

    The instructions were simple: “Look around and see what dangers there are in the lab. I want you to use your tablet to create a safety video similar to that of the Air New Zealand Middle Earth videos. Your groups are on the whiteboard; allocate each member a role of either: director, actor(s), costume and props, cameraman and scriptwriter. You have five minutes to write a draft script, 30 to film and 15 to edit. When you finish writing your draft, show me and start filming, submit your video to Schoology LMS. Lastly add a rule to the online discussion board for homework.”

    The effect of this task was astounding, I watched as they raced around acting out scenes and practiced their lines, one group used stop-animation and another asked for broken glassware and fake blood to make it more realistic. Consequently, the students were so engrossed with the task at hand, I strolled out of the lab and ran to fetch my mentor teacher, and he too was surprised at how well the simple collaborative task transformed the chalk and talk of “please list 10 safety rules and copy them out.”

    Whether it’s a day-to-day challenge or larger problem, what’s the biggest obstacle you or your country or region has had to overcome, or will have to overcome, to ensure a quality education for students?

    "To establish a quality education for students, we must first establish a quality learning environment... where educators are willing to transform learning by stepping back and looking at the current format of education from a learner's perspective."

    Our school is not known for its academic achievements, our neighbouring schools often are the first choice and the queue for quality education is at their doors, not ours. Likewise the student-conceived level of achievement is very poor and low. It is not that the students do not want to learn, it is rather that they have no spark for learning, they’d prefer to laze around and play all day — there is a very low level of learning culture in my school.

    In more advanced grade levels, the students often tell me that they “hate science”- because their past teachers never gave them experiments, they only handed out worksheets and told them to copy from the board. “It’s not you Miss Huang; it’s just that science has no use in my life.” It was hard to persuade them, so I decided that I had to let them see for themselves — by giving them the opportunity through inquiry-based learning. Technology gave me the tool to do this, as the fascination behind how the solar system works is no longer presented using numbers, posters and text books, rather we can use interactive web 2.0 apps like this. Or instead of memorizing the path of the digestive system, we could watch a Magic School Bus video and use a flash animation to enhance the learning.

    To establish a quality education for students, we must first establish a quality learning environment where the educators are as invigorated with the chance to learn as their students and where educators are willing to transform learning by stepping back and looking at the current format of education from learner’s perspective.

    If you were made to write page after page, fill out worksheet after worksheet, just how much information would you retain at the end of the day? Why should we integrate 21st century learning design and turn our heads towards examples of innovative modern learning environments? Why can we never replace the teacher at the front of the classroom with a robot?

    In terms of education innovation, what are you most excited about for the future? What is your biggest hope for today’s students?

    My biggest hope is that students will pass on their enriched learning experiences in my classroom into their day-to-day lives. This does not mean that students must become vegetarians after we talk about the excessive amounts of methane production by farm animals. What I would like to see is that further down the line, they will draw upon their experiences and make choices that reflect upon the knowledge they have gained in the classroom. For example, taking up community service or working up the ladder through collective intelligence and collaboration with their colleagues.

    My excitement towards the future of technology and revolution of education is immeasurable. Imagine what we could do in the future if, through the span of 10 years, we have moved from having a single computer in the class shared by 28 students to a 1:1 flipped learning environment where the teacher no longer dictates the pace of learning — the students do. The stars are the limit.


  • Introducing OneNote Staff Notebook for education

    Microsoft has created the OneNote Staff Notebook! Teachers and educators in the field suggested that they would like to have the same OneNote platform as their students, and we listened! The OneNote Staff Notebook is designed to cultivate and manage educator collaboration within the school, and the wider education community. Now, an entire school can enjoy the benefits of OneNote's ability to organise and manage productivity - not just students!

    OneNote Staff Notebook, like OneNote Class Notebook, is an app for Office 365 that lets an education staff leader quickly set up a personal workspace for every staff member or teacher, a content library for shared information and a collaboration space for everyone to collaborate—all within one powerful notebook. With a Staff Notebook, administration and staff can save time, become more organized and collaborate more effectively.  Because OneNote is free and on every platform and every device, you can access your Staff Notebook from anywhere.  Staff leaders might include a principal, head of school, administrator, faculty head, department head, or a leader of a professional learning community (PLC). If you fall into these roles and have Office 365 Education, you can get started with Staff Notebooks today!

    A few ideas on how to use Staff Notebook:

    Collaboration space

    • Staff meetings—For committee, grade level, departmental or PLC, OneNote has tight integration with Outlook and Office, along with rich search capabilities so you’ll never lose track of follow-ups.
    • Initiatives—Plan out school initiatives collaboratively and keep things organized such as school improvements and fundraisers.
    • Tide chart for student highs and lows—Some schools have used this innovative and collaborative way to track student highs and lows during school over time.
    • Cross-grade lesson plan development—Some schools set up a Staff Notebook for a particular grade and do school-wide lesson plan and curriculum development.  For example, 9th grade math lesson plan across 10 teachers to develop and share.

    Content library

    • Policies and procedures—Keep important information like key emails with attachments, school policies and other things all in one place.  Since OneNote is available on all devices and platforms, you can access it anytime, anywhere and even offline.
    • Dates and deadlines—Links, sticky notes, calendars, deadlines, to-dos—you can put all of it in one shared space that everyone can always find.

    Private staff member notebook

    • Professional development—Professional development/professional learning is an important aspect for every teacher and faculty member. A great use of the private staff member notebook is to capture professional development plans and feedback, and then share and gather feedback from the staff leader.
    • Classroom observations—Modern classroom observations can all be kept in a private staff member notebook. Take photos with your OneNote mobile app (any device) and insert directly into the staff member notebook. Record audio with your phone during the observation, or use digital ink to capture handwriting. With the OneNote flexible page surface, there is a much richer environment for classroom observations.
    • Lesson plans and feedback—A great way to gather lesson plan feedback is for a teacher to put the digital lesson plan in his/her private staff notebook. The staff leader can easily give feedback in real-time or while offline, and can use any form of feedback including text, picture, ink, audio or even video. The rich page surface of OneNote allows a much more flexible way to gather and share feedback. If a teacher is absent, the staff leader can have plans can be printed off from here for the substitute.
    • Evaluation—Staff leaders can capture and share private feedback and evaluation information in the staff member notebook.
    • Parent communication—Using the Outlook “Send to OneNote” feature, a teacher can easily send important emails into the private staff member notebook for later reference.

    Want to get started with OneNote Staff Notebook?


    For an interactive tour of the Staff Notebook, go to: OneNoteEDUStaffGuide. This will give instruction for school leaders on how to set up and manage a Staff Notebook.


    For further information:

    1. Visit to learn more about OneNote, including how to install it on all your devices.
    2. Visit to experience interactive guides on how to use OneNote in education.
    3. To learn how to install this app at your school or district, visit OneNoteEduStaffInstall.

    We are looking forward to releasing OneNote Staff Notebook for broader applications soon! Stay tuned here!


  • Announcing the Office 365 self-service download portal!

    As of February 23, Microsoft has enabled auto-licensing and self-signup for all students and staff at New Zealand schools and tertiary institutions, so they can get Office free of charge! The self-service portal will make it easier for students and teachers to get the free Office subscription they are entitled to.

    To help students get the most out of their education, Microsoft provides Office to every student, teacher and staff member at a New Zealand educational institution - free of charge! With Office 365, students and staff will have access to the latest version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and much more!

    What does this mean?

    • Install on up to 5 compatible PCs and Macs, plus 5 tablets (including iPad!)
    • Use with 1TB of OneDrive for automatic device syncing
    • Gain valuable skills on the world’s most popular productivity software
    • Office subscription lasts for as long as your child is a student here and the program continues
    • Retain the Office subscription for as long as you belong to the institution

    How do you get it?

    It's super easy! All you need is an institution-provided email address, and to be over the age of 13! Follow the links below:

    For students -

    For teachers -

    Important information for IT managers

    If your school has already signed up for Office 365, and you have not yet assigned Office 365 ProPlus licenses, your users will automatically be assigned the appropriate license when they sign in.

    It’s important to note that you will continue to have full control over managing your services in a manner that's best for you and your organization. See the FAQ if you wish to prevent licenses from automatically being assigned to your users.

    If your school is not yet using Office 365 Education, students, faculty and staff with email addresses from your school can still sign up, create an account (if they are old enough), and enjoy the benefits of Office 365 services, including Office 365 ProPlus, Office Online and OneDrive. Please see the FAQ if you wish to prevent users from creating their own Office 365 accounts using their school email address.

    Students, faculty and staff who already have an Office 365 account can use their existing user name and password. If you have not assigned licenses to them, one will be automatically assigned to them when they sign in. 

    Important: If you are an ADFS user, and to ensure there are no issues with how you are currently managing your identities, I would like to advise you to run the “self-sign up” script.  This will block some functionality on the website that currently allows a user to create their own O365 account.  Your teachers and students will still be able to use the website to get an Office 365 license that will allow them download Office on up to 5 PCs or Macs and other mobile devices, including iPad.
    To run the script, please see below. These steps require the use of Windows PowerShell, see Getting Started with Windows PowerShell.

    1. If you haven't already, install the latest 64-bit version of the Azure Active        Directory Module for Windows PowerShell.

    • After you click the link, select Run to run the installer package

    2. Use this Windows PowerShell command to enable automatic   tenant join for new users:

    • " Set-MsolCompanySettings  -AllowEmailVerifiedUsers $true "
    • (remove " " from script)


  • Register now for the Microsoft EduCast webinars!

    Microsoft IT Academy and the Microsoft Educator Network have put together a series of complimentary webinars, led by global experts. The EduCast webinars let you know about some of the most exciting changes and innovations in education, in an exciting interactive format.


    Microsoft EduCast brings together academic leaders, innovative institutions, and pioneering educators. There is a webinar released once a month, so it's easy to keep on top of the latest happenings in the education sector. As live webinars, this series is delivered through an interactive platform that lets attendees from around the world learn together and get their questions answered directly from presenters.


    Microsoft EduCast Webinars are available to any educator registered on the Microsoft Educator Network.


  • The amazing impact of a pen interface on learning

    Ever wondered which device interface is best for learning? Pen, keyboard, voice, touch? There are a lot of interface options, but some are vastly more effective than others at enabling and enhancing learning. New evidence suggests that some technologies actually create barriers to learning, thinking, creating and problem-solving.

    In the past couple of days, Microsoft has released a report carried out by Professor Sharon Oviatt. Professor Oviatt presents research on the role of keyboards and digital pens in learning, with the key finding being that the way a student inputs information into a computer makes a big difference in the amount of information that they absorb and retain.

    It has now been proven that keyboards can be detrimental to students' learning as typing reduces information retention as opposed to drawing and hand-writing, For many languages, as well as symbolic subjects (e.g., music, math, physics, chemistry, and engineering), keyboards inhibit expression while pen interfaces easily support it.  

    So why are pen interfaces superior for learning? It's because they more accurately accommodate how we think,  allowing a user to draw and create diagrams, write free-hand, and use symbols and numbers. For students of every age, the ability to use spatial content on a pen interface improves comprehension and retention. In a major study, tertiary students who took lecture notes with a pen more actively summarised and paraphrased the content which led to deeper understanding and memory. When using a keyboard students were seen to type more words, but their notes contained more verbatim copying which results in shallower understanding of information. 

    In education, this has a huge impact. The new evidence emerging suggests that there needs to be more thought put into the devices that are given to students at schools and tertiary institutions, as having the wrong device may harm their education and limit their potential. A multimodal interface with pen input and other input options such as speech, touch and a keyboard are the most powerful devices for learning. These a multi-modal device, combined with software such as OneNote create the perfect combination for empowering thinking and learning.

    You can download and read the report here

  • See what's APPening in maths and science!

    Getting students engaged in maths and science can be difficult at times, right? Luckily, learning apps are here to save the day! Apps are making it easier to get students interested in a subject and passionate about learning. They help take learning to a whole other level by speaking to students in the way that they are used to. Students can now study, play, and interact with apps for a different learning experience.


    Microsoft have put together a list of 63 maths and science apps to get you started. Over half of the apps are free, so there's nothing stopping students from downloading and getting involved! Microsoft have also given a guideline on which school level each app caters for, so you can make sure your students are working at the correct level.


    And for a limited time, the FluidMath app is free!  The normal cost of an annual subscription is $15.99, so download FluidMath now and be sure to tell your math teachers and students to do the same!


    For the full list of apps and links directly to the Windows store, download the interactive digital version of the brochure here.


  • Want to extend your IT skills? Take the Know It. Prove It. challenge!

    For the month of February, Microsoft is providing you the chance to accelerate your skills on the tech topic of your choice in the Know It. Prove It. challenge, run through the Microsoft Virtual Academy. Make February the month to extend your knowledge! No matter who you are - an IT pro, a student or teacher, a program developer - there will be a topic area that you feel you need to improve on. Once you accept the challenge, Microsoft Virtual Academy offers eight learning areas for you to choose from, each with 28 days worth of learning. You can choose from:

    • Cloud Development - gain skills on developing applications, websites, and services to host in the cloud using Microsoft Azure
    • Game Development - learn Windows game development techniques using tools such as Construct2, GameMaker, and Unity to develop 2D and 3D games
    • Mobile Development - learn mobile app development using C# and XAML, and how to take your app cross-platform with Xamarin
    • Web Development - understand the most current tools and techniques to build responsive, reliable web applications for yourself, or your business
    • Hybrid Cloud - take this challenge to extend your datacentre to the cloud by combining on-premises and public cloud workloads to maximise efficiency, provide simpler management, and increase flexibility
    • Identity and Access Management - effectively implement identity and access management solutions across diverse devices and hybrid environments that require a strong foundation of skills, from enabling single sign-on to extending your domain with Azure AD
    • Office 365 - learn how to get the most out of Office 365 services, security, and performance at your small, medium or large organisation
    • SharePoint - understand how to develop and administer SharePoint sites to improve information sharing and organisation

    The training modules within each learning challenge take around an hour to complete, so you can squeeze one into your day or double up if you miss a day. The modules are designed to help you learn valuable skills quickly through video tutorials, assessments and more. You'll earn badges and points, compete against others in the learning challenge, and interact with other members of the Know It. Prove It. community.

    So what are you waiting for? Join the community, commit to the challenge, share your progress, and make February the month that you grow your knowledge!

    Take the challenge here!

  • The latest updates on Sway Preview!

    Bored of using PowerPoint for all of your presentations? While PowerPoint is great, sometimes we need a change. So, why not try Sway! Sway is a free tool that doesn't require installation. You simply open in any browser on your PC, Mac or tablet, and get creating! Express your ideas in an entirely new way, across any device.


    As we have posted previously, Sway is currently in preview. This means that Sway Preview users can let Microsoft know what they like, don't like, and what should be added. It is the users who are shaping the future of Sway! As the number of people using Sway Preview grows the Sway Team are getting more and more feedback from around the world, and have recently created some exciting updates!


    Here's a rundown of the most recent changes:


    Add your content from third-party sites via embed codes


    Easily drag and drop content into your canvas from a greater variety of built-in sources. The Sway Team have expanded the list of built-in sources, for example Bing Image Search and Suggested searches have been added. Additionally, you can now embed a variety of web content types - including videos, images, audio clips, maps, charts and documents - from other services, which expands the potential of your presentation.


    To get started, simply copy the embed code for your desired content from the third-party site (often found by accessing the site’s Share button). Then in the Sway Storyline, click the + button, select an Embed card and paste the code. Check out this help article for supported sites and more details.



    Import content from documents into Sway more simply


    It's now easier for you to import existing content from PDF, Word and PowerPoint documents. This means that you can use Sway to combine your existing text and images with additional multimedia to bring your presentation to life. And, Sway have made it possible to import this content directly from OneDrive!


    In the Add content pane, select OneDrive, navigate to the desired document and then select Add or drag the document directly into the Storyline. The text and images from the document will then show up in your Sway. You can also continue to use the Upload option and select a PDF, Word or PowerPoint file on your PC or Mac to include its content in that part of your Sway.



    You can also start a new Sway by importing a PDF, Word or PowerPoint document. Navigate to your My Sways page, click Import and then select the document. A new Sway is created using the text and images from the document, at which point you can combine it with additional multimedia and use Sway’s design engine to bring it all to life.

    Separate grouped cards more easily


    It was already easy to group images and text together by dragging cards on top of each other, or selecting cards using the Change Layout option to create a Group of Photo Stack. Sway users gave feedback that they wanted a way to "ungroup" grouped cards, other than just using Undo.


    Separate has been added as an option when grouped cards are selected. Simply go to Change layout and then click Separate. Each card in the Group of Stack will then stand on its own.



    The Sway Team will continue to roll out more updates to Sway Preview in response to user feedback. Stay tuned for more!

    To get started with Sway, go here!



  • Transforming education with holograms and Windows 10

    Introducing the revolutionary Microsoft HoloLens! Recently announced, the HoloLens will be the world's most advanced holographic computing platform. The HoloLens brings high-definition holograms to life as they seamlessly integrate with your physical places, spaces and things.

    The HoloLens is destined to be a great educational tool. It will provide a new medium to express creativity, as users are able to design and shape holograms and more effectively visualise and share ideas. Experience history by taking students on a virtual 3D tour of the Pyramids of Giza or the Colosseum in Rome; create virtual worlds with Minecraft in 3D; simulate a dangerous science experiment; and collaborate with other students across the globe in virtual face-to-face interactions. There is so much potential in the HoloLens!

    All of this innovation is being enabled by Windows 10, the new generation of Windows! Windows 10 has numerous new and exciting features, which will make all aspects of work and life simpler. This new operating system is grounded in Microsoft's vision of creating a more personal form of computing, which makes living in this mobile world easier, safer and more reliable.

    We'd like to take this chance to inform you of the free upgrade offer! Microsoft is offering a free upgrade to Windows 10 for qualified new or existing Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices that upgrade in the first year! And even better: once a qualified Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, Microsoft will continue to keep it up to date for the supported lifetime of the device, keeping it more secure, and introducing new features and functionality over time – for no additional charge.

    To keep updated on the progress of Windows 10 and for more information on the free upgrade, sign up for emails here.

    If you want early access to releases, and the ability to shape the future of Windows 10 by providing feedback, then sign up to the Insider Program here!

    To watch the full Microsoft presentation on Windows 10, HoloLens and other exciting announcements, visit this page.


  • The latest news on the OneNote Class Notebook Creator

    There have been blog posts on the OneNote Class Notebook Creator in the past, but going in to the 2015 school year we'd like to take the chance to update you on the app!


    Aucklander Darrel Webster has put together a presentation using Office Mix titled "Introduction to the OneNote Class Notebook Creator". Check out this great presentation here! As well as being a terrific example of an Office Mix presentation, it provides great information on how to get started with the OneNote Class Notebook Creator.


    For those who don't know, the OneNote Class Notebook Creator helps teachers set up a shared notebook for their class. All student work, hand-outs, lessons and creative activities are stored in one place which can be accessed anytime, anywhere by the students and educators who have been included in the notebook. And it is so easy to set up, taking only a few minutes!

    In December, the OneNote team added a number of new additions to the OneNote app based on feedback specifically from teachers:

    • The ability to add more teachers to the class notebook, such as co-teachers, student teachers and substitutes

    • New language support with the localisation of the OneNote Class Notebook Creator in 10 languages across 21 markets

    • Improved discoverability in Office 365—Class notebook links are now automatically added to "Shared with me" in OneDrive for Business, and a new Class Notebooks entry is added to the SharePoint Team Sites Quick Launch navigation pane

    • Get an email when the class notebook is created—After a teacher creates the OneNote class notebook in either a SharePoint Team Site or OneDrive for Business, all students and the teacher automatically get an email with the link to the notebook location

    • Keep track of your notebook links—Easily find your existing OneNote class notebook links from within the app by clicking the Get notebook links button.

    • Up to 60% reduction in notebook creation time

    • Further user interface improvements and bug fixes


    We would love to hear your experiences with the OneNote Class Notebook Creator! Tweet us at @MSNZEducation and let us know how you are planning on using OneNote in 2015.


  • Microsoft Announces Integration between Moodle And Office 365

    On Monday January 19, Microsoft announced the integration of Moodle and Office 365, working with leading Moodle partner Remote-Learner. This announcement transforms education technology, by bringing a more productive experience to both teachers and students.

    "Working closely with Remote-Learner, we're delivering a technical solution for one of the most popular open source learning management systems that aims to provide seamless workflows for both Moodle and Office 365 users,” said Jean Paoli, president of MS Open Tech. “By working closely with the open Moodle community, MS Open Tech will continue taking feedback and maintaining, improving, and adding new features.”

    Some key improvements include:

    • Allowing students and teachers to sign in to Moodle with the same ID, making single sign-on easier and faster for schools.
    • Events created in Moodle will be automatically stored on teachers' and students' personal Office 365 calendars, enabling easy tracking of course events and due dates.
    • Making it easier for teachers to embed interactive online lessons created in PowerPoint with OfficeMix through an open format standard.
    • Documents stored in OneDrive for Business can be associated automatically with Moodle courses. Updates to those documents appear automatically in links in Moodle which streamlines version control and simplifies the integration of content stored in the cloud.
    • Teachers are now able to create assignments in OneNote, have students submit their work via Moodle, and then provide feedback on the student's work in the same OneNote document.

    Jason Cole, CEO of Remote-Learner says, “Educators and trainers who have both Moodle and Office 365 create new learning experiences that leverage the power of both platforms. Moodle administrators can deploy these new features knowing they have the support of both Microsoft and the Moodle Partner community.”

    On Jan. 21 at the BETT Show 2015, MS Open Tech will officially release version 1.0 of this project, which kicked off last September, on GitHub under GPLv3. The plugins will also be available for download from the Moodle plugins directory, via Azure-certified Virtual Machine image and VM Depot.

  • Helping educators get the most out of OneNote with

    By now you have most likely heard about the revolutionary tool called OneNote which is taking the education world by storm! OneNote is an incredibly useful program for teachers and students alike. Here's just a few things that OneNote can do…


    Educators can create digital notebooks that:

    • Save time by efficiently organising teaching files and information all in one place
    • Provide innovative ways to get information across to students
    • Easily place text, printouts, tables, ink, web clippings and files
    • Eliminate paper and printing


    Students can use OneNote at any school level and subject to:

    • Carry out research
    • Collaborate with their class members, and effectively communicate
    • Learn how to manage information and note-take
    • Voice record important information in class


    But, as teachers, how do you get the most out of OneNote?


    There are a lot of tips & tricks available, but while these tools can be helpful they are not necessarily the most useful for teachers and classrooms. So, I'd like to introduce the page which has helpful instructional videos tailored specifically to teacher's needs!


    Watch videos such as:

    • Enhancing productivity with OneNote
    • Delivering curriculum with OneNote
    • Creating interactive lessons with OneNote


    These videos will help educators to use OneNote to its full potential in the classroom, to help students learn and make teacher's lives easier!


  • PowerPoint gets interactive with OfficeMix


    "The Office Mix add-in for PowerPoint is a new way to tell your story with voice, video, inking, screen recording and interactive magic."

    Bring your lessons to life and personalize students’ learning with Office Mix. There are lots of cool things you can do with Office Mix to turn your PowerPoint slides into interactive online lessons or presentations, here's just a few:

    • Record audio or video of yourself presenting
    • Write on your slides as you speak to them
    • Insert quizzes, polls, labs and online videos

    After you have shared your Office Mix with your class, you can automatically see analytics on who has viewed it and how long they have spent on each slide. This gives you a chance to measure students' engagement and who is taking an active role in their learning.

    St. Andrew's College in Christchurch are encouraging teachers to use Office Mix to facilitate students' learning. They are finding that the feedback from students is that Office Mix is a great tool and that it is "really helpful to have this visual and aural guidance especially from their own teacher and not just a random clip off YouTube". Check out this blog post on the StAC e-Learning Stories blog to read about how the school is introducing Office Mix into the classroom. See an example here of St. Andrew's College teacher Ms Tam Yuill Proctor using Office Mix to help her Year 11 students with how to structure a Level 1 NCEA English essay.

    To download Office Mix, head to the Office Mix website!

    To help you get started with using Office Mix, Microsoft has released a 15-minute webinar! The full webinar can be accessed here. Happy Mixing!

  • Should computer science be a compulsory subject in New Zealand schools?

    Computer science. Most of us don't know what it really entails. What is computer science? How is it taught? How is it used in real life? Quite often it is seen as intimidating, an item for the 'too hard basket'.  Because of this most current students, and even more adults, don't know the first thing about computer science and are afraid to even try it.

    But in our world of rapidly advancing technology, an understanding of computer science is becoming increasingly necessary. Everything around us has somehow been impacted by computer science and code. Want to start your own business? You need to set up and maintain a website. Want to create an app? You need to code. Want to work in agriculture, manufacturing or any other field? Computer skills are a must. Technology is in every aspect of our lives and it will only become more so in future years. We depend on technology. And yet, most of us are unable to write a simple program to calculate how much we spend on our grocery shopping every year.

    There are countless benefits to learning computer science. On a personal development level, computer science is constantly evolving and changing so students are taught important skills of adaptability which come in handy in every aspect of life. On an employment level, university graduates with a computer science degree are among the highest paid in their first job. According to, three of the four highest paying occupations from 2013 to 2017 are computer systems analyst, network and computer systems administrator, and software developer. Furthermore, according to Glass Door, 22 of the 50 best companies to work for worldwide are tech companies. There are endless opportunities within these industries to progress and develop. Check out the graph below which shows that in the next 5 years, there will be 1.4 million computing jobs available, with not enough people to fill these jobs. This is becoming even more important in today's ultra-competitive job market.

    Computer science is a relatively new subject compared to the likes of English, maths and chemistry. Those high up in the schooling hierarchy are apprehensive to substitute computer science for a subject that has existed for a long time. However, there is a disconnect between what is being taught in schools, and what is going to be needed by students when they venture into the world of employment. The next generation of students are going to be ill-equipped for what any future job will require them to do.

    How do we overcome this? The initial solution is to introduce compulsory computer science classes in New Zealand schools to teach students the basics of computer science, coding and programming. The drawback to this is that it would be very costly to implement. And it would be difficult to find enough qualified instructors willing to take on the job. Therefore, it is more practical and efficient to look towards online resources.

    Because of computer science and the Internet revolution, there are now a multitude of resources online which teach computer science, such as, Treehouse and Many of these websites are free. The website takes care of everything, so an instructor with programming experience is not necessary. The teacher simply needs to supervise students to make sure they are physically doing the required work. These resources provide a fun and engaging way to get students into coding, enabling the next generation of programmers to take the reins.

    Do you think online resources to teach coding should be implemented in New Zealand schools? Or would it be more meaningful to students to be taught by a physical computer science instructor? Or do you think it is not necessary to teach computer science in schools? We'd love to hear your opinion on this topic, so leave a comment below and get involved in the discussion!


  • Show your class the world with Skype!

    Introducing Mystery Skype, an educational game invented by teachers. It's played by two classrooms using Skype. The aim of the game is to guess the location of the other classroom by asking each other questions. Mystery Skype is a fun way to get students of all ages learning about different cultures and being engaged in subjects like geography, history and languages. It's super easy to register, just go here to find out more and get talking with classrooms all over the world!



    And now, it's becoming possible to speak with classes in different languages with Skype Translator! Skype Translator was recently previewed to two school classes - one in Washington, USA and one in Mexico City. Watch the video below to see how, with the help of Skype Translator, students were able to overcome the language barrier which previously would have stopped them communicating. This innovation will bring people together like never before, and will open up endless possibilities for people around the world to connect, communicate and collaborate.


    The Skype Translator preview program is kicking-off with two spoken languages, Spanish and English, and 40+ instant messaging languages will be available to Skype customers who have signed-up via the Skype Translator sign-up page. Skype Translator relies on machine learning, which means that the more the technology is used, the smarter it gets. As more people use the Skype Translator preview, the quality will continually improve. Skype also needs your help to fast-track new language releases. So make sure you sign up, let your language preferences be known and get involved!


    Teachers in New Zealand and overseas are already using Skype in the Classroom to facilitate collaboration and serve as a resource for innovative lesson ideas. Talk with other classes no matter where they are, take your class on a virtual field trip or find guest speakers and invite them into your classroom. These are just a couple of ideas, the opportunities are endless! Click here to join Skype and take your classroom experience to the next level!


  • “The real virtue is not in the tools we create, it is in how we use the tools to create" - an interview with Sir Ken Robinson

    Anthony Salcito (Vice President of Education for Microsoft Corp.'s Worldwide Public Sector organisation) recently spoke with Sir Ken Robinson about his thoughts on the explosion of technology in education and what this means for creativity and learning.  For those that have not heard of Sir Ken Robinson, he is an author and speaker, and is world-renowned as an education & creativity expert. The videos of his famous 2006 and 2010 talks to the prestigious TED Conference have been viewed more than 25 million times and seen by an estimated 250 million people in over 150 countries. His 2006 talk is the most viewed in TED’s history!

    Take a look at the video below where Anthony and Sir Ken Robinson sit down and chat about the future of technology in education. It's an insightful and interesting view into Robinson's beliefs about the potential technology holds for encouraging creativity and human growth.

    So, what has the explosion in technology meant for imagination and learning? According to Robinson, the impact has been enormous. “Tools have extended our physical reach, allowing us to do things physically we couldn’t otherwise do, but they’ve also expanded our minds,” he says. “The relationship between tools and intellectual, physical and spiritual development is really powerful.”

    But while Robinson believes that tools play an important role in creativity, he sees an even higher calling for technology. “The real virtue is not in the tools we create, it is in how we use the tools to create, how creative we become with the tools,” he says. “The challenge with technology is not a technological one, it’s a spiritual one.” The challenge education providers are facing is what to do with the technology and tools that are available. Robinson believes that there is unlimited potential for schools and that by unleashing students’ creativity, we can help them develop the kinds of skills that will serve them well in their careers, and as leaders of future generations.

    Check out the full interview below!


  • Sway Preview expands and delivers more feature improvements!

    It’s been only 10 weeks since Sway Preview was launched, and there's already been over one million unique visitors to and over 175,000 requests to join, and those numbers grow by thousands daily. On the back of this demand, Sway Preview is now open to everybody - with no waitlist!

    The Sway team is asking educators for their help in shaping the future of the app! Many educators with access to Sway Preview are loving the opportunity to transform presentations and bring ideas to life in a new and exciting way. If you want to test out Sway Preview go here. Once you've checked it out, we'd love for you to tell us your thoughts through the User Voice forum and see what other people have said. Your suggestions will help improve Sway and grow the app.

    Recent improvements to the app include:

    • Adding Bing Image Search and 'suggested searches'
    • Undo and re-do actions
    • Bullets and numbering
    • Editing text on the canvas
    • Reordering sections more easily
    • Import a PDF into Sway
    • Improvements to the Colour Picker

    If you want to read about all of these enhancements in more depth, check out this Sway blog post.

    Sway is being adopted by the Microsoft Innovative Educators network across New Zealand who are using the app to create engaging and innovative presentations that can be used in classrooms in the new year. Check out the MIE Minute Newsletter which is now on Sway and see how the app can be used!   

    There are some amazing Sway presentations emerging - click on the images below and check them out!




  • Update: Sir George Seymour College, Travel Careers & Training and the Southern Institute of Technology are now providing Office to every student for free!

    We're very pleased to announce that Sir George Seymour CollegeTravel Careers & Training and the Southern Institute of Technology have joined the list of New Zealand institutions providing Office to their students for free. There are now 20 tertiary institutions across New Zealand which are providing the Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus benefit to their students free of charge!

    What does this mean? The latest version of the full Office productivity suite, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote are available for offline and online use to best prepare you for class. As long as you’re a current student at an eligible institution that has activated the service, you’ll be able to use this software for free.

    • Install on up to 5 compatible PCs and Macs, plus 5 tablets (including iPad!)
    • Sync across all your devices with OneDrive
    • Gain valuable skills on the world’s most popular productivity software
    • Use the same programmes as your lecturers and tutors to ensure full file fidelity
      If you are enrolled at an eligible tertiary institution that has activated the service, you can download the software by signing in to Office 365 using your institution login and password. If you’re a student at one of the below tertiary institutions, simply click on the corresponding link and follow the instructions. If your institution isn’t listed below but has activated this service, you can visit 
      this link and sign in using your institution login and password.


    Don’t forget, you’ll need your tertiary institution account login and password to sign in and take up this benefit.
    Did we miss out your tertiary institution? Ask your institution’s IT department about getting Office for free. We’ll keep you updated and provide direct links to other institutions that are providing this exciting benefit in future blog posts.


  • Quick Tip Videos from Microsoft - tech ideas to use in your classroom!

    There is unlimited potential for educators to improve students' learning experiences using the latest Microsoft technologies such as OneNote and Office Mix. Design engaging lessons? Improve collaboration? Get your message across in a new way? Captivate students' imaginations? All of these common goals can be achieved by using technology more effectively in the classroom! However, as educators it can often be difficult keeping up with the latest technologies and tools available. These products have the potential to improve the quality of your classroom experience, but how do you incorporate them into your lessons?


    To make it easier to harness the power of technology in the classroom, Microsoft have created a series of 2-minute Quick Tip Videos that show educators how to use Microsoft products in their classroom. These videos help educators to uncover the true potential of the technologies they are already using.


    Whether you are finding it difficult coming to grips with the latest classroom technologies, or you've heard about the cool things Microsoft products can do and want to know how to use them in your own classroom, these videos will be a useful starting point. They provide handy hints and tips to show you how to maximise the full potential of Microsoft's latest classroom technologies. Check them out here, and start using these fantastic ideas in your classroom!

  • Get Microsoft Office for free!

    There are now 17 tertiary institutions across New Zealand which are providing Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus to their students free of charge!


    What does this mean? The latest version of the full Office productivity suite, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote are available for offline and online use to best prepare you for class. As long as you’re a current student at an eligible institution that has activated the service, you’ll be able to use this software for free.

    • Install on up to 5 compatible PCs and Macs, plus 5 tablets (including iPad!)
    • Sync across all your devices with OneDrive
    • Gain valuable skills on the world’s most popular productivity software
    • Use the same programmes as your lecturers and tutors to ensure full file fidelity
      If you are enrolled at an eligible tertiary institution that has activated the service, you can download the software by signing in to Office 365 using your institution login and password. If you’re a student at one of the below tertiary institutions, simply click on the corresponding link and follow the instructions. If your institution isn’t listed below but has activated this service, you can visit 
      this link and sign in using your institution login and password.



    Don’t forget, you’ll need your tertiary institution account login and password to sign in and take up this benefit.


    Did we miss out your tertiary institution? Ask your institution’s IT department about getting Office for free. We’ll keep you updated and provide direct links to other institutions that are providing this exciting benefit in future blog posts.

  • Teachers using OneNote to enhance classroom activities and encourage student creativity!

    Students often find creative writing a challenge, right? Not anymore! Using OneNote and other tools, a child can extend their imagination and surprise themselves with their own creativity. OneNote provides a new way to draw the best out of your class!


    Mr Dekker, a teacher at St. Andrew's College, gave his Year 6 students the task of creating "Pick a Path" stories using OneNote, and illustrating their creations in Minecraft or Paint.Net. Along the way, Mr Dekker's class were able to read each other's stories and give feedback to their classmates. The result? Students that were fully engaged in a writing task which is often found very difficult.


    Take a look at Harry who used Minecraft to improve the quality and creativity of his story. Harry was able to use his imagined world to reflect on his writing and make changes where he thought they were needed.


    Mr Dekker's class were already competent OneNote users, however the "Pick a Path" stories posed a new way of using the tool which presented an exciting challenge for the class. To read the full story from St Andrew's College, go here.


    The creativity of students is astounding, but sometimes it takes tools like OneNote to help them reach their full potential!


    Here at Microsoft NZ we are thrilled to hear about this exciting use of OneNote in an everyday New Zealand classroom. Got a story like this that you want to share? Then email us at


    Want to learn more about how to set up OneNote in your classroom? Check out this awesome link - Getting Started with the OneNote Class Notebook Creator: A Walkthrough for Teachers

  • Spread the word to your friends!

    Spread the word to your friends!

     Share that you may be eligible to get Office for free through your school/tertiary institution for a chance to win a Surface!

    Use Vine, Instagram or Twitter and the hashtag #GetOffice365Contest to let your fellow students know that they may be eligible to get Office 365 for free. When you share you will be entered for a chance to win a Surface Pro 3! One lucky winner each week from now through until December 30th will win. See below for how to enter or read the Official Rules. School students can enter too, as long as they are 13 years or older.

    How to enter:

    You can enter by sharing on Twitter, Instagram or Vine.

    1. Share a video, photo or short statement on Twitter, Instagram or Vine encouraging others to see if they can Get Office 365 for free from their institution (by checking if your institution's name is listed above or asking your school/institution).

    2. Include the hashtag #GetOffice365Contest and a hashtag with the name of your school/tertiary institution.

    3. Include the link to the GetOffice365Contest page at

    4. Follow @Office on the social channel you use to share your entry.

  • Update: Massey University and Western Institute of Technology - Taranaki are now providing Office to every student for free!

    Again, we're very excited to announce the latest additions of Massey University and Western Institute of Technology, which are now too are providing Office to their students for free.

    As we've posted over the last few weeks, the below listed tertiary institutions are providing Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus to every student free of charge - and now Massey University and Western Institute of Technology - Taranaki have joined the list!

    What does this mean again? The latest version of the full Office productivity suite, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote are available for offline and online use to best prepare you for class. As long as you’re a current student at an eligible institution that has activated the service, you’ll be able to use this software for free.

    • Install on up to 5 compatible PCs and Macs, plus 5 tablets (including iPad!)

    • Sync across all your devices with OneDrive

    • Gain valuable skills on the world’s most popular productivity software

    • Use the same programmes as your lecturers and tutors to ensure full file fidelity

    If you are enrolled at an eligible tertiary institution that has activated the service, you can download the software by signing in to Office 365 using your institution login and password. If you’re a student at one of the below tertiary institutions, simply click on the corresponding link and follow the instructions. If your institution isn’t listed below but has activated this service, you can visit this link and sign in using your institution login and password.

    Don’t forget, you’ll need your tertiary institution account login and password to sign in and take up this benefit.

    Did we miss out your tertiary institution? Ask your institution’s IT department about getting Office for free. We’ll keep you updated and provide direct links to other institutions that are providing this exciting benefit in future blog posts.

  • Announcing Office Sway Preview: reimagine how your ideas come to life

    Say hello to Sway! Sway is an entirely different way to express yourself and bring your ideas to life. When your ideas are born, you want to explore, visualize and share them—quickly and easily, wherever you happen to be, and on whatever device you have. You want your ideas to be understood. Sway helps you do just that. It’s a new way for you to create a beautiful, interactive, web-based expression of your ideas, from your phone or browser. It is easy to share your creation and it looks great on any screen. Your ideas have no borders, edges, page breaks, cells or slides. Your mind is a continuous canvas, and Sway brings this canvas to life. Sway helps you focus on the human part: your ideas and how they relate to each other. Sway takes care of the design work—a Sway is ready to share with the world as soon as it is born. 

    The good news: While for the rest of the world Sway is invitation-only, in New Zealand the iPhone app is a free download in the iTunes store. Once you sign into Sway from the app, it also unlocks the full web-authoring experience. We are just starting our journey with Sway and want you to help us shape its future.

    Find out more about Sway here and tweet us your thoughts at @MSNZEducation.

  • Office 365 ProPlus benefit available for faculty and staff starting December 1st!

    We're excited to share that that faculty and staff will, as of December 1st, be able to access the same Office 365 ProPlus benefit as their students. This means that any school or tertiary institution licencing Office for all of their faculty and staff can now include an Office 365 ProPlus subscription at no extra cost for all students, faculty and staff.

    Extending the Office 365 ProPlus benefit to faculty and staff ensures that teachers are using the latest versions of Office and the same feature set as their students. It will allow teachers to install full Office on up to five PCs or Macs and unlock the editing capabilities of the Office apps for iPad. It also gives them access to all their Office documents both at school and at home. With Office 365 ProPlus teachers can take advantage of great Office apps and add-ins like Office Mix to record and publish class lectures.

    How does my school take advantage of this benefit you ask?

    This is a benefit of the Ministry of Education’s agreement with Microsoft, where every state and integrated school in New Zealand is eligible to get Office 365 ProPlus software for your students, and soon your teachers and faculty.

    Office 365 ProPlus includes all the familiar and full Office applications, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and offers the ability for these to be locally installed on up to five devices and available offline. This also includes Office for Mac and Office for iPad.

    To enable your students (and soon staff) to get Office software for their personal use, the next steps are:

    If you already have the Office 365 cloud service:

    1. Contact Datacom to add the no-cost student and faculty Office 365 Pro Plus SKU's to your Microsoft agreement (faculty from December 1st)
    2. Assign the Office 365 ProPlus software to your students (in the Office 365 Admin Portal) and staff from December 1st
    3. Download – your students and staff are then able to download the Office 365 ProPlus software to their personal devices

    If you don’t have the Office 365 cloud service:

    1. Contact Datacom to add the no-cost Office 365 Plan A2 and the Office 365 Pro Plus licences to your Microsoft agreement
    2. Deploy Office 365 for your school (quick deployment at, or you may need a partner to assist)
    3. Assign the Office 365 ProPlus software to your students and soon staff (in the administration portal in Office 365)
    4. Download – your students and staff are then able to download the Office ProPlus software to their personal devices

    You can contact Datacom to find out more and take these steps at