NZ Education Blog

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

NZ Education Blog

  • 8 top Microsoft resources for teachers

    "At Microsoft, we create products with teachers in mind and they tell us that products like OneNote, Sway, Minecraft and Skype help them bring new creativity and engagement to the classroom. We are inspired by what’s possible when teachers meet students where they’re at, help them to learn at their own pace, and then propel them to reach new heights in their learning. There’s no better place to use technology – and its promise to change lives – than in the hands of great teachers!"
    Anthony Salcito (Microsoft Vice President, Worldwide Education)

    With the right technology platform and training, teachers around the world are finding inspiring new ways to use personalized approaches to impart 21st century skills to their students. 

    Today, we'd like to provide you with 8 fantastic resources to help enable individualised teaching and learning:

    1. Office 365 Education

    New and no-cost features to Office 365 Education, along with the recent launch of Windows 10, are offering huge improvements for educators and students.We have simplified our education lineup, moving to a single, free plan for all academic institutions and adding several new features to help schools meet their security and compliance requirements. We’ve also made it easier for teachers and students to sign up and start using free Office tools. Anyone with a valid school email address can sign up! Simply visit Office in Education to get started. 

    2. OneNote 

    OneNote Class Notebook & Staff Notebook are now available globally for all Office 365 Education customers. In a recent IDC research study, OneNote has been shown to address the top 10 activities teachers describe as “time sinks.” For more information and helpful guides on how OneNote can help teachers deliver effective lessons and cut down on administration tasks, visit

    3. Skype in the Classroom

    New Skype in the classroom field trips are ready! Teachers can take their students on an adventure in their own classroom by signing up for a virtual field trip with Skype.

    4. Sway

    Sway – a digital storytelling app in the Office portfolio – recently moved from preview to general availability. Teachers have been using Sway to reimagine class lessons, recap class projects, provide supplemental material for parents, provide new accessible storytelling tools to their students, and more. Sway has also helped students breathe new life into school projects, class reports, and even personal portfolios.

    5. Snip

    Snip is a new screen capture tool that lets you tell your story in your own voice while you ink on an image, a photo that you take with your webcam, or a digital whiteboard. And you can share that story by copying your snip to the clipboard, sending it in an email, and embedding it on a website. Educators are using Snip to provide personalized feedback to students and students are using Snip to express their creativity and to collaborate with teachers and classmates.

    6. Coding for Students

    In addition to learning how to use technology, we see the growing interest from students to learn how to create technology. Teachers can help their students understand and learn more about creating technology with these new resources:

    • Microsoft YouthSpark Hub has various resources and programs to learn digital skills and computer science, for students to prepare for the jobs of the future or even to start their own business.
    • Microsoft Imagine tools and resources are available to teachers at no cost to help their students learn the fundamentals of coding while engaging in fun projects.  Take it to the next level by leveraging contests through the Imagine Cup competition hub to help your students use those fundamentals to become creators of technology.  New for this school year, Imagine Cup Earth leverages a partnership with NASA that teaches earth sciences and programming at the same time. Inspire your students to build their skills and bring their ideas to life and possibly win prizes!  And, if you are interested in creating a coding club, our Coding Club Starter Kit will help get you started.
    • Microsoft Virtual Academy is offering even more no cost computer science courses for students at all levels, coupled with resources to help teachers better integrate technology into their curriculum.
    • Creative Coding Through Games And Apps, a new computer science curriculum designed to spark interest in teens for computer programming and for teachers with little or no background in the field, launched today and is free to teachers.

    7. "Liberating Genius, The First 20 Days"

    With Angela Maiers and Choose2Matter, Inc. we’re providing teachers with a free, customisable and interactive e-book: “Liberating Genius, The First 20 Days.” This free e-book guides teachers through the introduction of Genius Hour.

    8. Microsoft Educator Network

    Receive free professional development and training via the Microsoft Educator Network. View a range of resources, tutorials, and professional development courses to help teachers make the most of technology in the classroom. 

    We hope you can make use of some of these fantastic resources in your classroom! 

  • OneNote adds support for iOS 9 and iPad Pro with multitasking, Spotlight search and Apple Pencil

    The OneNote team are excited to release their newest OneNote for iOS update, which adds support for several new features of iOS 9, spiffs things up for the upcoming iPad Pro and Apple Pencil and—as always—has numerous improvements in response to customer feedback.

    Twice as nice with iOS 9

    With Split View, you can have OneNote open side-by-side with another app, making it easier than ever to take notes while watching a lecture, reviewing slides or reading a paper for class.

    Slide Over enables you to open OneNote atop another app and jot down whatever strikes your fancy without interrupting your current task.

    Search your notes with Spotlight

    We’ve added support for Spotlight to OneNote on iOS 9. Pop open search and start typing to jump directly to your notes. We’ll even search through images, PDFs and handwriting.

    Pencil it out on iPad Pro

    Prepare your sharpener for November—we’ll have Apple Pencil and iPad Pro support ready, waiting for you.

    Better UI support for Arabic and Hebrew in iOS 9

    Support for Arabic and Hebrew has been greatly improved with the addition of mirrored UI; your text is no longer the only thing that’s right to left.

    Pick a side…any side (for the page list)

    Previously, we moved the page list to the left side of the screen to improve handwriting for right-handed users. You can now choose to have it on the right or the left side. Twice as many choices, 100 percent more satisfied lefties!

    Bugs zapped

    In the last release, our typographically inclined users let us know we hadn’t lived up to our excellent reputation for font rendering. We dug out our linoleum blocks and resolved the issue (a fix for Mac is in the pipeline).

    Additionally, we were a bit too fond of trips down memory lane, prompting you to sign in…repeatedly. Like your notes, your sign-in information will be fastidiously remembered.

    Last month today

    We added Page Previews to Landscape mode, and many customers rightly noted that we didn’t add a setting to turn them off and on. Now you can; we added a switch in settings.

    Excited about all the changes? Don’t already have OneNote? Get it here.

    As always, we appreciate your feedback. Please continue to give us input and ideas at the OneNote feedback site,

  • The Power of Digital Pen & Surface in Schools - Inking Your Thinking Case Study

    This post has been re-blogged from the Australian Teachers Blog

    Tablet PCs and the use of digital pen enabled devices in schools is nothing new however, with more and more research about the impact of the “power of the pen” on learning, teachers, student and school leaders are increasingly looking to how student devices can improve learning outcomes. In 2014 Microsoft Australia in partnership with Victoria Department of Education & Training and Victoria University undertook a research project to investigate the impact of pen devices, particularly Microsoft Surface, at different age levels across three schools.

    Through three classroom case studies, it explored how Surface and the Surface Pen can promote new learning for students and the use of innovative pedagogies by teachers. The complete findings are detailed in the Inking Your Thinking report which can be downloaded below and summarised here.

    The case study was conducted across three Victoria DET schools across four age groups:

    • Dallas Brooks Community Primary School
    • Horsham West Primary School
    • Hawkesdale P-12 College

    The research objectives can be summarised in this excerpt:

    "The study highlighted how naturally students use the Surface multimodal touchscreen, keyboard and pen to develop 21st century skills. Surface Pen, in particular, expanded their learning choices by enabling them to annotate images, maps and graphs and to write symbols, take notes and draw straight onto their devices. Teachers found that Surface devices opened a wider range of learning experiences, incorporating visual, oral, kinaesthetic and aural approaches. Students thrived on the opportunity to use them to learn independently, express their ideas and present and reflect on their learning."

    The research was designed to answer the following three questions:

    1. How can Surface devices be integrated into K-12 school settings to maximise learning?
    2. How does a 2-in-1 device with a stylus impact on learning scenarios in educational contexts?
    3. Do teachers and students think that 2-in-1 devices impact on the quality of learning, and the ways they represent their learning?

    Each case study involved students developing 21st century skills of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication as they engaged in new learning across different school subjects across the various year levels. Each case study consisted of learning scenarios that exemplify the various curriculum focus and leverage the power of the pen.

    The findings included teachers found that Surface devices opened a wider range of learning experiences, incorporating visual, oral, kinaesthetic and aural approaches. Students thrived on the opportunity to use them to learn independently, express their ideas and present and reflect on their learning.

    “Surface’s pen is an advantage, especially in Mathematics. Explain Everything is a really good app for Mathematics because they can record little videos with them talking... being able to write with Surface’s pen is especially good for fractions which are really hard to do on a laptop because you have to type them all in. So Mathematics is definitely more easily achieved on the touch device.” (Teacher at Hawkesdale interviewed)

    Seeing pen enabled devices have an impact at each level demonstrates that it’s not just high school maths and science that can benefit from a pen enabled device. Equipping learners at all levels with a digital stylus device can have great benefits for their learning. This and other related research can hopefully help schools make research and data based decisions on their choice of learning device for their students.

    The read the short and full reports please download either below.

    Download the Inking Your Thinking Short Report here.
    Download the Inking Your Thinking Long Report here.

  • The new Office is here!

    It’s here! Yesterday was the worldwide release of Office 2016 for Windows. This marks a milestone in delivering new value for Office 365 subscribers with a focus on collaboration, apps that work for you, a perfect pairing with Windows 10, and security features businesses will love. It also marks a new model for delivery, where subscribers can expect to get more frequent updates with new features and improvements. Along with Office 2016 for Windows, we have also released Office 2016 for Mac as a one-time purchase option, along with several new and enhanced Office 365 services.

    The new Office—takes the work out of working together

    Collaboration is the way we get things done in the workplace, but the process itself can be complex and frustrating. It shouldn’t have to be. We set out to make working together easier and more impactful by building a suite of integrated apps and services that removes barriers and empowers teams to do and achieve more.

    Office has always been the go-to tool for helping individuals do their best work—whether for professional documents, powerful analyses or school presentations. People often start and end their work in Office, but there is often a messy middle that involves a lot of discussion—in person, by phone or via various tools—as well as multiple (sometimes conflicting) inputs. Today we are delivering a set of experiences that is built for making teamwork seamless.

    • We have had real-time co-authoring in all of our web apps since 2013. We are now taking it to the next level by building it directly into our native apps. With this release, we’re making co-authoring in Word real-time, which lets you see what others are writing immediately, as it happens. We’re committed to expanding real-time co-authoring to each of our native apps and you should expect to see more over time.
    • Skype for Business is now available in the client apps, allowing you to IM, screen share, talk or video chat right in your docs. This same experience will be coming to Office Online later this fall. Skype for Business also has faster screen sharing and now adds the option to start a real-time co-authoring session from any conversation or meeting.
    • Keep teams connected with Office 365 Groups, now available as part of Outlook 2016 and in a new Outlook Groups app on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Office 365 Groups allows individuals to easily create public or private teams. Each group includes a shared inbox, calendar, cloud storage for group files, and a shared OneNote notebook to keep the team productive.
    • Office 365 Planner helps teams organize their work, with the ability to create new plans, organize and assign tasks, set due dates and update status. Planner’s visual dashboards and email notifications help keep everyone informed on the overall progress of their initiative. Planner will be available in preview, to Office 365 First Release customers, starting next quarter.
    • Originally unveiled earlier this year, GigJam is today available in private preview and will become part of Office 365 in 2016. GigJam is an unprecedented new way for teams to accomplish tasks and transform business processes by breaking down the barriers between devices, apps and people.

    Works for you

    In today’s workplace, we have too many apps, devices and tools—we just don’t have enough time. Office is built to cut through the complexity and help you get things done quickly. It gets work done for you.

    Some highlights:

    • Outlook 2016 provides the smartest inbox yet, delivering lightning fast search, removing low priority mail automatically and making sure everyone on the To: line has the right access to modern, cloud-based attachments from OneDrive.
    • We also have significant new updates to OneDrive for Business coming later this month across sync, browser, mobile, IT control and developer experiences. The highlight is the preview of the next generation sync client for Windows and Mac, offering improved reliability and selective sync, as well as increased file size and volume limits.
    • Tell Me helps you easily and quickly find the right Office feature or command, and Smart Lookup brings insights from the web right into your documents. Previously available only in Office Online, Tell Me and Smart Lookup are now available across the Office 2016 client apps.
    • Excel 2016 now includes integrated publishing to Power BI and new modern chart-types to help you make the most of your data.
    • The cloud-powered most recently used documents list allows you to pick up right where you left off in seconds, because it travels with you across your devices whether working in Office Online, the mobile apps or in the 2016 client apps.

    Perfect with Windows 10

    While we have made a lot of progress on delivering Office cross-platform and remain committed to this strategy, we see Windows as being “home” for Office. Together, Office 365 and Windows 10 are the most complete solution for getting things done.

    • With Windows Hello, you can sign in to your PC and Office 365 with a simple look or a touch—no need to type a password anymore.
    • In the coming months, Cortana will get even smarter and more useful by gathering intelligence on Office 365 through Outlook 2016 support.
    • With the Office Mobile apps and Continuum on Windows phones, your phone can act as a desktop, and you can project, create or edit your presentation or sales budget from your phone to a monitor while using the same phone to take notes with the OneNote app.
    • Sway on Windows 10 was released in early August, and customers love it! It has received a 4.6/5 app store ranking, with customers calling it “funtastic,” “brilliant” and “elegant.” People love Sway’s simple and intuitive yet powerful approach to next-generation digital storytelling. With Sway, you provide the content, and Sway creates beautiful, shareable, interactive stories that look great on any screen.
    • Our Office Mobile apps on Windows 10 (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) have also received great reception and 4+ app store rankings. Customers say they are touch-friendly, fast and easy to use—making them wonderful for on-the-go-productivity

    Office 2016 for Mac

    In July, we released Office 2016 for Mac to our Office 365 customers. The new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote are a significant step forward and provide the best of both worlds for Mac users—a familiar Office experience paired with the best of the Mac platform. The level of engagement and excitement about this Office for Mac release has surpassed our expectations. As promised in July, today Office 2016 for Mac will also be available as a one-time purchase.

    Ongoing Office 365 customer value

    Whew—that was a lot! With this release, we’re also shifting the cadence of Office on Windows to feel much more like the cadence we have on the Office mobile and web apps, which release every month with new value. So, going forward, Office 365 customers will now enjoy new features and capabilities delivered continuously in the Office desktop applications as part of their subscription. It’s a new day for our desktop apps.

    And as a bit of a teaser, here are some examples of the types of new features and benefits Office 365 customers will see:

    • Built for teamwork—We’re committed to rich co-authoring and collaboration across our native clients, starting in Word 2016, with other big advances in collaboration coming throughout the year. By the end of 2015, we’ll introduce Office 365 Groups insights and discovery in Office Delve. In addition, we will have a new generation of personal work analytics in Office Delve that will help individuals, teams and organizations to be more effective at work by understanding their reach and impact, time allocation and network.
    • Works for you—For those of you who are excited about our new charts and forecasting, we will be delivering even more new charts, formulas, connectors and other Excel capabilities throughout the year. (If you’re interested in telling us which charts and charting features you’d like to see first, we have a survey going on our Excel Facebook page right now!). We also have some very exciting developments in the pipeline for PowerPoint that will make it easier to design and deliver presentations to wow and engage your audience.
    • Perfect on Windows 10—We are especially excited about how even more valuable your personal assistant Cortana can be when she has insights from Office. This will start to allow Cortana to unlock helpful scenarios, like retrieving your documents, preparing for meetings and more.

    Get started

    We want to thank all of our Preview customers who have been with us since as early as February, trying out the new apps, giving us feedback, and helping to shape the final product. Your feedback has been invaluable, and we thank you for helping make the best Office yet.

    We hope you are excited as we are about the new Office. Buy it, try it or learn more—but please keep your feedback coming!

    • Are you ready to purchase? Buy Office 365 to get the new 2016 apps.
    • Are you an existing Office 365 customer who is ready to upgrade? Go here for instructions on how to upgrade to Office 2016 for home, or here for business customers.
    • Do you want to learn more? Go to
  • Innovation in NZ's tertiary education ICT sector recognised

    University of Otago virtual student desktop wins Supreme Award at the 2015 Microsoft Tertiary ICT Innovation Awards

    The University of Otago has taken out the Supreme Award at the Microsoft Tertiary ICT Innovation Awards, held in conjunction with the Tertiary Education ICT Conference.

    Held in Dunedin on August 27th as part of the 33rd Annual Tertiary ICT Conference, the Microsoft Innovation Awards celebrate ICT excellence within the tertiary education sector.

    The University won the award for its delivery of a virtual desktop to students that provides a consistent learning environment for over 30,000 students across their far flung campuses, from its main Dunedin campus, to students in over 30 countries.

    The virtual desktop was described by the Award judges as significant innovation at scale, which demonstrably improved the learning experience for the University’s students and provided them with a consistent anytime, anywhere access to the learning environment.

    The three categories for the 2014 awards were Excellence in Technology Delivery, Excellence in Technology Innovation, and Excellence in Technology for Learning, Research and Students.

    As well as winning the Supreme Award, the University of Otago virtual student desktop project won the Excellence in Technology Innovation category prize. The other two categories were both won by the Waikato Institute of Technology, which won the Excellence in Technology Delivery category with its Data Transport project, and won the Excellence in Technology for Learning, Research and Students for its Student Enrolment project utilising Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. 

    Each category winner was awarded a $3,000 prize package, and the Supreme Award winner also took away the Microsoft Innovation Award trophy.

    Evan Blackman, Education Sector Manager at Microsoft New Zealand, says it was impressive to see the New Zealand education institutes leading the way with innovative use of cloud services, and projects which were having an impact at scale to deliver better outcomes for the institution'staff and students.

    “The awards are an opportunity to celebrate the outstanding innovation and dedication we see in the use of technology to improve learning and research results in the New Zealand tertiary education sector.”

    The Microsoft Tertiary ICT Innovation Awards are another example of Microsoft’s commitment to the education sector. Other initiatives include the Partners in Learning programme, supporting student internships through the Microsoft Student Accelerator programme, and leading software solutions designed to facilitate learning through the use of technology.

  • ShareThePoint offering valuable courses for teachers

    ShareThePoint are providing courses to teachers in Whanganui, Auckland and Hawkes Bay on Office 365, SharePoint and OneNote. 

    Course duration: TWO 1/2  Days            Course cost: $100 (plus GST) each

    There are two courses specific to the role of those attending

    1. Class Sites and Teacher Resources in SharePoint/OneNote for Teachers

    This course is for anyone who is using SharePoint for a School or Staff Intranet and is responsible for maintaining the classroom site and/or a OneNote Classroom Notebook (see outline below). It is an introduction for people who are new to SharePoint 2013 and want to use it for classroom sites, class blog sites, and document management.

    2.  SharePoint/OneNote for IT Administrators

    This course is for anyone who is responsible for creating and maintaining the SharePoint environment (see outline below). It is an introduction for people who are new to SharePoint 2013 and want to use it for staff intranets, classroom sites, teacher resources and also learn how to manage permissions and navigation.

    NOTE: This course is for SCHOOLS who have already deployed, or are close to deploying, Office 365.

    These courses are subsidised by Microsoft and are therefore offered at the low cost of $100 per half-day.

    Attendees are required to bring their own laptop.

    Course dates

    Whanganui – 14 October, Auckland – 28 October , Hawkes Bay – 3 November

    This course is also available as a private on-site course, where an instructor will com​e to your school and train 12 -16 people in any or all of the modules listed. Please contact ShareThePoint​ for pricing.​

    Course prerequisites 

    Attendees should have experience with Internet Explorer and Office products such as Word, Excel or Outlook. Previous experience with SharePoint (any version) is ideal but not required.

    Course outlines

    MORNING (8.30am-12.30pm): Class Sites/OneNote for Teachers

    Designing and building a personal class site using web parts and collaborative tools.

    Register here.


    • Demonstration of What is Possible, Site Structure and Layout
    • Finding Your Way Around
    • Working with Content


    • Editing the Home page
    • Inserting Videos
    • Announcements, Discussion Boards and using Yammer


    • Classifying Documents
    • What is a View?
    • Sorting and Filtering Documents
    • Sharing Documents
    • Migrating Content from your Shared Drives


    • Creating New Pages
    • Working with Pictures
    • Using Web Parts to add content to pages


    • High Level Overview
    • Managing Permissions for Class Sites


    • Using the OneNote Class Notebook Creator within you Class Site
    • Managing Permissions

    AFTERNOON (1-5pm): SharePoint/OneNote for IT Administrators

    Register here.


    • Home Site for School and/or Staff Intranet
    • Available Options
    • Creating a New Page
    • Creating a New Site
    • Managing Shared Resources
    • Site Templates
    • Set up – Site Features


    • Introducing Permissions
    • Securing the Site Pages Library
    • Updating Member Permissions
    • Checking Permissions
    • Managing Unique Permissions


    • Introducing Navigation
    • Changing the Global Navigation
    • Changing the Quick Launch


    • Migrating Documents from File Shares
    • Managing Metadata Updates
    • Archiving of Documents, Sites and Class Notebooks.


    • Installing the OneNote Class Notebook Creator App
    • Planning for Storage


    • Overview of the SharePoint Online Admin Center
    • Managing Promoted Sites
    • Creating Site Collections
    • Managing Storage

    To register for these courses, visit ShareThePoint

  • We are now looking for Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts!

    Microsoft are recruiting New Zealand teachers to become MIE Experts!

    The Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Expert program is an exclusive program created to recognize global educator visionaries who are using technology to pave the way for their peers in the effective use of technology for better learning and student outcomes.

    MIE Experts work closely with Microsoft to lead innovation in education. They advocate and share their thoughts on effective use of technology in education with peers and policy makers. They provide insight for Microsoft on new products and tools for education, and they exchange best practices as they work together to promote innovation in teaching and learning.

    The MIE Expert program is a 3-year program. If at the end of three years, you want to continue as an expert, you will need to complete a new self-nomination form and demonstrate that you have continued to grow as an educator by learning new technologies and applying them in your classroom in innovative ways.

    To apply, simply fill out a self-nomination form

    Who is an MIE Expert?

    We are looking for self-driven educators who are passionate about their careers, inspiring students with outside-the-box thinking and a true collaborative spirit. Resourceful and entrepreneurial, they relish the role of change agent, and work to achieve excellence in education using advanced technologies and social media.

    When educators become MIE Experts, they have the following opportunities:

    • Receive publicity and promotion via social media and other Microsoft channels

    • Professional and career development opportunities and certifications

    • Share their expertise with world-renowned educators and specialists to scale their innovations

    • Present in Microsoft’s global EduCast Webinar series (

    • Participate in focus groups giving feedback to a development teams on Microsoft products

    • Join invitation-only special events from Microsoft

    • Share their passion for Microsoft with peers and policymakers, and through social media, blogs and videos

    • Test out new products while in beta form

    • Represent Microsoft through product demonstrations, and by attending events

    • Build educator capacity in your community (school, district or at training events) by training and coaching colleagues and inviting them to join the online Microsoft Educator Community

    • Collaborate with innovative educators across the globe using Skype in the Classroom

    • Host regional events showcasing uses of Microsoft technology in the classroom

    • Achieve eligibility to attend the Microsoft Global Educator Exchange Event (E2), Spring 2016

    How to apply

    Step 1. Review the program opportunities and activities

    MIE Experts are advocates for using Microsoft technology to improve student learning. In a year, MIE Experts typically:

    • Attend EduCast Webinars (
    • Become a part of a focus group giving feedback to a development team on a Microsoft product
    • Build educator capacity in your community (school, district or at training events) by training and coaching colleagues and inviting them to join the online Microsoft Educator Community
    • Develop your own capacity as a thought leader by:Try out new products as they come out and are in beta form
      • Speaking at conferences
      • Regularly participating in social media such as Facebook and Twitter referencing #MSFTEDU and using our Social Chorus tool to amplify your messages.
      • Authoring a blog that highlights innovative uses of Microsoft technologies in the classroom
      • Presenting in local or global webcasts
    • Collaborate with innovative educators across the globe using Skype in the Classroom
    • Host regional events showcasing Microsoft technology
    • Mentor 3-5 colleagues throughout the year and encourage them to apply to become an Expert Educator

    Step 2. Join the Microsoft Educator Community

    As part of the self nomination process, You will be asked to tell us a little about yourself:

    • Why you would like to consider yourself to be a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert.
    • Describe a lesson you have taught in which you have incorporated Microsoft technologies in an innovative ways.
    • How do you think being and MIE Expert will impact your teaching.

    Be creative, Be bold! Simply tell us about you in any way you choose, a video, a hosted document, a Sway, a Mix whatever format you are most comfortable with! You will need to submit a URL to your chosen method of response.

    Join the Microsoft Educator Community and fully complete your profile.

    MIE Experts will be selected by the regional Microsoft representative based on the quality of the responses to the self-nominations form, the level of innovation and use of Microsoft tools described in the learning activity and the level of detail in how becoming a part of the program will impact both teaching and student learning.

    Applications to become a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert are open now! Simply visit this self-nomination form to apply.  

    For more information on the program, visit the MIE Expert website

  • Announcement: a new tool for educators, Snip

    Snipping is an everyday task for millions of Office users. They paste screenshots into emails, documents, presentations, notebooks, etc., and write text explaining the concept that the screen snips help illustrate. But imagine if you could dictate that story—in your own voice—and save it as part of the snip. Or you could explain an idea while white-boarding it with digital ink. Or take a photo with your webcam and paste it in an email or embed it on a website without ever leaving the application you created it in.

    Snip makes all these things possible while keeping the basic task of snipping just as easy as it always was. But therein lies the challenge: a big part of designing Snip was getting people to see the possibilities of what they could create with it. Or as Snip’s tagline says, “Why just show when you can show and tell?”

    It was a tricky concept for people to wrap their heads around because it represents a new way of performing a familiar task and making the result of that task much more powerful and easier to share. But once people saw examples of media-rich snips, which you can see on the Snip website, they instantly got the concept. And they started to change the way they work. “Sometimes the simplest things are the most powerful. Snip is transforming the way people think about communicating their ideas and providing feedback on others’ ideas,” explained Anoop Gupta, distinguished scientist and leader of the Snip team.

    “The team that built Snip is also the team that is responsible for Office Mix,” added Aravind Bala, partner engineering manager for Snip. “We’ve learned that Office Mix users who leverage the ability to annotate content with voice and inking love it and use it all the time to communicate messages and ideas. So we developed Snip as a lightweight way of making use of these capabilities within a process that is performed daily by some users. Our job is to present snipping in a way that’s easy to use and compelling. Over time, people’s behavior will change.”

    “Much of the inspiration for Snip came from our work with educators and students,” said Jim Federico, principal product manager for Snip. “Snip is already being used by educators to deliver personalised feedback to students, and students are using Snip to share their creativity with teachers and their classmates. Since releasing this tool a short time ago, we’ve been impressed with the amount of usage by Windows users. We’ve also been humbled by the amount of feedback we’ve received from people who are helping to shape our vision for this tool.”

    Download Snip and give it a try! You can send us your feedback to help make Snip even more powerful.  

  • Imagine Cup Earth, an exciting new contest for students!

    Code With NASA Science!

    Imagine Cup Earth is a new contest for students ages 6-18 in which you’ll use computer programming to create a game, simulation, or story inspired by the kinds of earth science that NASA and other researchers do every day. 18 winning students will win prizes totaling $36,000! You can read the official rules here.

    Do I need to know coding?

    We have two skill level brackets so you can compete in the one that’s right for you:

    Beginner: No coding experience necessary! You can learn to code with free online coding kits from Microsoft Imagine and make your first game, app, or science project in about half an hour using our free learn-to-code tools Kodu Game Lab, Microsoft Touch Develop, or Project Spark. After doing a couple of those coding kits, you should be ready to start thinking about your project for Imagine Cup Earth.

    Here are some suggestions to get you started on your coding journey:

    • If you’re interested in making a game, try using Kodu Game Lab on your Windows PC and our KoduMan coding kit to build your first game. If you’re not on a Windows PC, try using Microsoft Touch Develop which is a website that works on any computer or touchscreen device like a phone or tablet; the Brick Breaker coding kit is a great place to start.
    • If you want to try coding an app you can use on your phone or tablet, try Microsoft Touch Develop and our Magic Ball coding kit.
    • If coding a story intrigues you, you could try using Project Spark on your Xbox One or Windows 8 or 10 PC with our Lunchtime Blues coding kit.

    Intermediate: For this bracket, you’ll create a web app in the language of your choice such as HTML5/CSS/Javascript, or Python, or anything else. The only requirement is that it runs in a web browser. You can either host your project on your own website or use our free-for-students Microsoft Azure cloud hosting service. Your web app will use real earth-science data provided by NASA to explore the role of chlorophyll and algae in our world’s oceans.

    What is the deadline to submit my project?

    We know that around the world, students have many different school schedules. So we have three global deadlines and you can pick the one that’s right for you! They are:

    First Round Deadline: 23:59 GMT December 15, 2015

    Second Round Deadline: 23:59 GMT March 31, 2016

    Third Round Deadline: 23:59 GMT June 15, 2016

    You can enter any round you want. You can even enter multiple rounds – if you don’t win one round you can make a new project or improve your old one and try again!

    What are the prizes?

    Six students will win a prize for each round, three in each of our two skill level brackets:

    Beginner Bracket

    Intermediate Bracket

    For the best earth-science themed game, app, or simulation using Kodu Game Lab, Microsoft Touch Develop, or Project Spark.

    For the best web app exploring an earth-science topic using actual NASA data.

    1st Prize: $3,000

    1st Prize: $3,000

    2nd Prize: $2,000

    2nd Prize: $2,000

    3rd Prize: $1,000

    3rd Prize: $1,000

    What should my project be about?

    Thanks to our partnership with NASA, we have some great inspirational material for you to start with.

    Projects for Beginner Coders

    If you’re competing in our Beginner skill bracket, please take a look at these four articles from NASA’s Earthdata website and choose one as the inspiration for your project. For each article we have provided some project ideas. You can use one of our ideas or make up your own! But you must pick one of these four articles for your project.

    Zebras without borders: Zebras who have been unable to migrate for generations started doing so. How did they know where to go and when was the right time to leave?

    • Make a game about animals finding a new migration route
    • Create a simulation where you adjust temperature and rainfall until you successfully trigger an animal migration
    • Tell a story about how you imagine animals might find new migration routes

    Shadowing the tuna boats: Fishing boat captains have recorded data on fish harvests for hundreds of years and scientists use it to study the depletion of tuna. Scientists are taking that data and applying it to a simulation of how captains make decisions about when and where to fish.

    • Make a game about directing fishing boats to only catch mature tuna and not young ones
    • Create a simulation where you set quotas on how many tuna fishing boats are allowed to catch and see how the tuna population changes year to year based on your quotas
    • Tell a story about being a fishing boat captain who wants to keep the tuna population healthy

    Prosperity shining: Satellites have measured the amount of light generated by cities since the 1970s. Scientists can correlate light levels with prosperity – the richer the city, the brighter the lights.

    • Make a game where you add more and more lights to a town before the satellite passes overhead
    • Create a simulation where you adjust the prosperity levels of cities and see how their brightness changes
    • Tell a story about how a small town grows larger and the townspeople keep adding more lights to their buildings

    Pedestrians of Eddy Avenue: Eddying currents in the ocean near Australia help create vibrant ecosystems.

    • Make a game where you move invasive species out of an eddy area to protect the local wildlife and plants
    • Create a simulation where you adjust the location and speed of eddies and see the result on the ecosystem
    • Tell a story about a family of hungry sea urchins who eat too much kelp, making it hard for other wildlife to survive

    Projects for Intermediate Coders

    For this skill bracket, you will create a web app that uses real scientific data showing algae levels in Earth’s oceans measured by a satellite detecting Chlorophyll-A in the water. This data is used by scientists to detect unusually large blooms of phytoplankton algae, often caused by excess nitrogen from farm fertilizer runoff, which in turn can deplete an area of water of oxygen and kill the fish living there. But they also use the satellite data showing Chlorophyll-A to measure other things, such as the movement of ocean currents, jets, and plumes. Once you can see something, you can measure it and use it in all kinds of ways.

    Here’s the NASA Earthdata article you can start with: Cleaner water from space.

    What you do with that data is up to you! Here are some suggestions:

    • Find another data source for average daily temperature at a particular point in an ocean. (Or one for pollution levels, or proximity to agricultural areas, or anything else.) Write code that connects the two data sets and produce a web app that lets the user examine possible relationships. Does temperature affect phytoplankton development? Does it grow more heavily along major cargo shipping lanes? Is there more of it near major cities? You can explore any of these topics by connecting two data sets and coding an interface that lets the user examine and experiment with these connections.
    • Scientists in Sweden are harvesting excess algae growth and turning it into biogas. Create a game where the player identifies large algae blooms and collects the excess algae to preserve fish stocks. Use the scientific data in your gameplay so the player can zoom to real dates and locations where algae blooms happened and attempt to harvest the algae before it kills too many fish.
    • Find a particularly large algae bloom in the data set. Code a web app that tells the story of that bloom – where it happened, what might have caused it. Give the user the ability to explore the story interactively, tracking the growth of the bloom over time or digging into linked online resources that can shed more light on the story.

    You can download the data file here.

    Read more articles about algae blooms, fish kills, and chlorophyll levels here:

    What do I submit?

    For both skill brackets, your entry will consist of the following:

    • Project Summary: Include a short description of your submission and how it applies to the topic
    • Project URL: This is a link to your actual software project.

    If you use Kodu Game Lab, you will share your project to the Kodu community site:

    If you use Microsoft Touch Develop, you’ll share it at the Touch Develop community site:

    If you use Project Spark, you’ll share it at the Spark community site:

    If you build a web app and host it online, provide the URL for your web app.

    If you build a web app and want to submit it as a .zip file containing everything needed to run it locally in a web browser, please upload the .zip file to a cloud storage service such as Microsoft OneDrive, make the file public, and provide the URL to download the file.

    • Project Video URL: Record a video of no more than 3 minutes showing your project while you explain what you’ve done. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy – just use a smartphone or webcam to record the video so you can tell our judges about your project. When you’re done, upload your video to any website or to a cloud storage service such as Microsoft OneDrive, and then provide the URL to view your video.
    • Project Screenshots: Take 3 screenshots of your project in action and upload them to our site.
    • Consent Form: If you're 13 or younger, you'll need to download the Consent Form and have your parent or guardian complete it.

    How do I get started?

    Register now for Imagine Cup Earth! You’ll need to create a Microsoft Account first if you don’t already have one, and if you’re 13 years old or younger you’ll need your parents’ help. Then sign up for the contest and visit your Dashboard where you’ll find the submission form for your entry.
  • Free tools for teachers on the Microsoft Educator Network

    The Microsoft Educator Network has made it easy for you to find the resources you need for the classroom! Free tools for teachers is a comprehensive library of guides, learning activities, tutorials, and helpful resources to help teachers make the most of their favourite classroom apps and Microsoft products. 

    Here's just a few of the great resources you can find on the site:

    Accessibility Guide for Educators
    Access a selection of resources designed to help educators ensure that all students, including those with disabilities, special needs and learning style differences, have access to learning tools to support their learn. Find step-by-step tutorials to introduce you to some of the most commonly used accessibility features in Microsoft products, and read about case study schools who have successfully implemented accessible learning options using technology. 

    Get handy tips and tricks to help teachers and students analyse, manage, and share classroom material in new ways. Find helpful "how-tos" and video tutorials to help you get the most out of Excel in the classroom. 

    Everything you need to get started with Kodu! Teach your students programming by letting them have fun creating and playing their own games. Find all of the resources you need to get Kodu set up in your classroom, including the Kodu Classroom Kit - a set of lesson plans and activities to help teachers, after school program instructors and administrators run a variety of classes using Kodu. 

    Microsoft Digital Literacy Curriculum
    Help your students live and thrive in the 21st century digital world with Microsoft's Digital Literacy Curriculum. These e-learning materials help you teach and assess computer concepts and skills so your students can use technology to develop new social and economic opportunities for themselves, their families, and their communities. Gain access to three levels of coursework, from beginner to advanced, with modules available for both online and offline use. 

    OneNote Toolkit for Teachers
    Learn how to effectively use OneNote in your lesson planning and classroom. The OneNote Toolkit for Teachers is a OneNote notebook with step-by-step interactive lessons that cover everything from the basics of OneNote all the way through lesson planning and ePortfolio concepts. Examples of these concepts are also built into the notebook. 

    Office 365
    This extensive library includes lots of great resources to help you get the most out of Office 365, including: 50 ways to use Office 365 in Education; a tutorial on Flipping the Classroom with Office 365; and an eBook on how Office 365 can help the teacher and students in their day to day work. 

    Head to Free Tools for Teachers to get ahead with your favourite apps and Microsoft products! 

  • Tools to Unlock Learning: The OneNote for Learning Literacy Toolbar

    This post has been taken from the Microsoft in Education Blog 

    On the same day in August 2015, two important announcements were made on different sides of the world. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released a new report on secondary school attainment, showing that progress is slowing just as "upper secondary schooling has been transformed from a vehicle towards upward social mobility into a minimum requirement for life in modern societies."

    More than any other skill, literacy is the key to school completion, employment and earnings in life, according to the report. The OECD goes on to assert that literacy for life is best developed in context and with formative feedback.

    The other announcement, out of Redmond, Washington, was far more encouraging: highlighting the creation of the OneNote for Learning literacy toolbar, to be released later this year. The toolbar embeds tools for developing literacy into an app designed for contextual formative learning.

    Developed by the OneNote team and literacy experts, the OneNote for Learning literacy toolbar provides "enhanced dictation powered by Bing speech recognition services, immersive reading that uses Windows services of simultaneous audio text playback with highlighting, and natural language processing that relies on Microsoft Research."

    Dr. Betsy Doone, professor of Special Education at the University of South Florida, stated:

    Although created to meet the unique learning needs of students with dyslexia, OneNote for Learning literacy toolbar provides access for all learners, ensuring that the tenets of Universal Design for Learning are met. Software programs that provide a range of attributes create accessibility opportunities for a range of learners, increasing functionality and learning outcomes. English language learners, students with disabilities, and students with limited academic opportunities all benefit from OneNote toolbar. Providing access to learning to all students benefits our future.

    The involvement of experts in the building of the OneNote for Learning literacy toolbar has paid off in the form of a strongly research-founded education resource. Assessment that centers on formative feedback is among the most effective practices. [1]

    OneNote enables frequent feedback, as well as reflection on learning that develops metacognition supported by research in persistence [1].

    OneNote has been shown to improve student exam performance when it is used to prepare and to reflect on learning [2], and to improve note taking quantity and efficiency in students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia [3] . Students who use OneNote as their learning hub are prepared to be independent learners who are accomplished in the 21st century skills needed in higher education and workplaces that have adopted OneNote [4] [5] [6]. OneNote also supports knowledge sharing in distributed teams of the type students will join in college and career [7].

    The strongest impact on reading skills comes from attention to spatial and auditory perception--skills like those enabled by the OneNote for learning literacy toolbar. According to Hattie, writing skills are best developed through strategies and practice in planning and revising, especially in peer groups, activities that are effective in OneNote. It is this type of "comprehensible input" that seems to be the most direct path to acquiring the grammar and vocabulary of a language, and to applying the language in real communicative situations.

    OneNote can support classroom and out-of-class comprehensible input through engagement in a receptive stage of reading and listening followed by a productive stage of speaking and writing -- because all of the tools are easily accessed and learned. Overall writing ability has been shown to increase significantly with tools like OneNote, with the largest increases noted in groups who used mobile devices in all stages of the writing process [9]. And, research has shown that reluctant readers were more motivated to read eBooks, which is flexibly enabled with the OneNote for Learning literacy toolbar [10].

    [1]  Hattie, J. (2013). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. London: Routledge.  [1]  Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.

    [2]  Michaelsen, A. S., & Mohr, T. C. (2010). Better exam results: how students and school leadership learn when introducing new technology such as OneNote in school.

    [3]  Garbo, R., Mangiatordi, A., & Negri, S. (2012). A Computer Based Support to Guided Note Taking: A Preliminary Study on University Students with Dyslexia. International Journal of Technology and Inclusive Education (IJTIE), 1(2), 52-59.

    [4]  Beheshti, M. V., Jambhekar, K., & Deloney, L. A. (2010). Utility of Microsoft OneNote for the Efficient Aggregation and Dissemination of Learning Materials in Radiologic Education. Journal of the American College of Radiology, 7(11), 893-897.

    [5]  Barber, C., Haque, N. & Gardner, B. (2009). one point: Combining OneNote and SharePoint to facilitate knowledge transfer. Drug Discovery Today (14) 17-18, 845-

    [6]  Penciuc, D., Abel, M. H., & Van Den Abeele, D. (2013). Support for Collaborative Building of a Railway Technical Solution during Tendering. In Information Systems, E-learning, and Knowledge Management Research (pp. 301-310). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

    [7]  Sharp, H., Giuffrida, R., & Melnik, G. (2012). Information flow within a dispersed agile team: a distributed cognition perspective. In Agile Processes in Software Engineering and Extreme Programming (pp. 62-76). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

    [8]  Scott III, R. H. (2011). Tableau Économique: Teaching economics with a tablet computer. The Journal of Economic Education, 42(2).

    [9]  Warschauer, M. (2009). Learning to write in the laptop classroom. Writing and Pedagogy, 1(1), 101-112.

    10] Maynard, S. (2010). The impact of e-books on young children's reading habits. Publishing Research Quarterly, 26 , 236–248.

  • Introducing Creative Coding through Games and Apps - a free course!

    We are excited to announce the availability of a new course to get your students hooked on computer science! Creative Coding through Games and Apps is now available for schools across the world, for free! 

    Creative Coding through Games and Apps engages early-teens in their first extended exploration of computer science. Students learn how to code by working in a real software development environment to design, program and publish mobile apps and games. Learning to code by creating real products, students discover how to make amazing things and have an impact on their world. 

    Creative Coding through Games and Apps is designed for a broad range of students, including those who may have never before considered programming. The course can be delivered with success by any teacher, regardless of computer science background, and includes all necessary materials for teacher prep, lesson plans, presentations, student assignments, homework, projects and tests. Featuring online and in-class lessons that emphasise hands-on coding, the course can be taught via any modern web browser on phones, tablets, laptops or desktop computers. The course length is flexible, requiring 6, 9, 12 or 18 weeks, depending on the time available in your school. And the combination of online plus in-class resources provides flexibility in teaching style, allowing teachers to choose the right balance for their students of in-class instruction and out-of-class study.

    For more information on the Creative Coding through Games and Apps course, check out the Course Evaluation for an introduction video and downloadable package with sample materials and an overview of the course. 

    If you're ready to get started, head to the complete Creative Coding through Games and Apps course and download the full set of free resources! 

    Give your students a firm foundation in computer science and prepare them for today's computer-intensive world with this free course. Get started now! 

  • The journey of a U.S. school integrating OneNote

    This blog post has been taken from the Office Blog, written by Michael Smith and Palie Cantu of the Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Washington State.

    When the Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart began a 1:1 program back in 1996, the earliest educational technology beneficiaries were those mainly integrating word processing and Internet access into their curriculum, such as English and Social Studies. The technology was not quite as user-friendly to the Science, Math and other less keyboard-friendly disciplines. When we moved to tablet PC devices in 2003, we discovered digital inking and soon a whole new world of educational technology integration opened for all curricula.

    With the new tablet PCs, we explored a third-party digital inking solution, but quickly moved to Windows Journal for ease of use and accessibility. The novelty of inking was enticing, but it still wasn’t quite what we needed in an educational environment. We needed more than just the ink capabilities— we needed organisation, structure, flexibility and simplicity.

    Upon finding OneNote 2003, a small group of math and science teachers explored the new tool and began incorporating it right away. Because of the ease of digital ink, complex symbols and drawings could be created without awkward keyboard stokes or software add-ins. As with any good ideas, other disciplines took notice and soon followed.

    As our teachers and students explored OneNote, they found an integral tool that takes the ease of pencil and paper and combines it with built-in organization, automatic back-ups, audio /video recording capabilities, word processing, spreadsheet functions, graphing tools and the ability to change the size of the digital paper. Let’s not forget a student favourite—colour ink customization for differentiated learning techniques!

    Collaborating with the OneNote Class Notebook Creator

    One thing that was missing for us was the ability to easily share and collaborate with this new tool. Distributing the work from teachers to students and back again was cumbersome. It was a valuable process, so we found ways to do it via clumsy combinations of email and posting files to our LMS portal.  This proved to be quite a lengthy process with lots of potential points of failure. There were a few other schools, blessed with talented programmers on staff who found ways to make sharing and collaboration happen within their network infrastructure. Unfortunately, we, as well as most schools in the world, did not have this resource. Microsoft integrated these techniques and now, as an Office 365 school, using the OneNote Class Notebook Creator tool, we can share our notebooks from teacher to student, administration to faculty and more broadly.

    Now with our current shared notebook setup, the teacher places the information in their OneNote notebook, it shows up automatically in the students’ notebooks. The students add their responses and it’s viewable by the teachers in their own notebooks in a matter of seconds! As early adopters of the new OneNote tool, we were beta testing a version of shared notebooks last school year.

    Individualized Learning

    Teachers can now create their own digital texts by gathering sources and organising them in OneNote notebooks shared with their students by means of the OneNote Class Notebook Creator tool. Gone now are the days when these teachers must ask students to NOT mark up the textbooks.

    In these digital textbooks, students are ENCOURAGED to highlight, colour, circle and annotate the information to benefit their unique learning styles. There are probably many textbooks still teaching that Pluto is a planet and have maps with incorrect country names and borders. With our shared notebooks providing digital textbooks, we don’t have to wait years for updated information.

    The metaphorical “light goes on”

    As a school with 18 years of 1:1 experience, we’re used to many national and international visitors coming to see our teachers and students in action.  These visiting educators and administrators have often heard of OneNote and might have a theoretical concept of this process prior to setting foot on campus. But when they enter our classrooms for the first time, seeing the engagement of the students, the simplicity of the solution and the natural fit in an educational environment—the metaphorical “light goes on”—and theoretical understanding meets tangible comprehension. Like any other teacher, these “a ha!” moments of realization are highlights of my day.

  • Announcement: Introduction to Office 365 for Education seminar

    Cyclone, in partnership with Microsoft NZ, invites you and your school to a complimentary overview presentation of Office 365 for Education.

    This presentation is intended for schools who have recently deployed Office 365 in their school, or for schools wanting to learn more about Microsoft's free offerings to Education.

    The seminar will be delivered by Megan Magon, an experienced educator, employed by Cyclone and Microsoft to support schools and organisations in learning about and using Office 365, Windows 8, Windows 10 and other Microsoft tools effectively in a teaching and learning environment.

    In this presentation your school will learn about:

    • How to use Office 365 for Education as an online environment where students and teachers can collaborate, share and learn about the world around them, anytime anywhere!
    • The benefits of an Office 365 environment, for teaching and learning and free offerings available to schools
    • Navigation around the Office 365 Interface
    • Key educational apps and tools for teaching and learning, as well as an insight into new apps recently launched within the Office 365 environment (Delve, Sway, Yammer, Office 365 Groups, Office 365 Video, Teacher Dashboard, Office Mix, OneNote Class Creator, OneNote Staff Notebook Creator)
    • The Microsoft Educator Network
    • A chance for Q&A around other teaching and learning aspects of Office 365


    Tuesday, August 25 2015
    1pm - 4pm 


    Microsoft New Zealand
    Level 5, 22 Viaduct Harbour Ave

    Click here to register

    Please note: 
    Please bring a personal laptop to enjoy the full benefits of this presentation
    Afternoon tea and refreshments will be provided
    This workshop is not intended as a technical session around the infrastructure, deployment or backend setup of Office 365 in a school

  • Christchurch's St Andrew's College reflects on Surface Pro 3 use

    This post has been re-blogged from Sam McNeill's StAC e-Learning Stories blog. Microsoft is excited to share this feedback on how the Surface Pro 3 has performed at St Andrew's College, and how it has simplified teaching and learning. 

    As we approach the first anniversary of the Surface Pro 3 release in New Zealand, I’ve been reflecting on the fact that we now have 26 staff members using them across the school. An earlier update on how how teachers have been using the Pro 3 in their classes remains one of the more popular posts on this blog and in anticipation of teacher demand for tablets in 2016, I have surveyed those staff members who use a Surface Pro 3.

    The overall satisfaction rates of teachers with the Surface Pro 3 is very high

    Using SurveyMonkey I have collated some interesting feedback from teachers and share it here for the benefit of other schools that may be interested in exploring the tablets for their teachers.

    Whilst it is not always easy to ask the “right” questions when it comes to getting useful feedback I have tried to get staff to compare the key features and functionality of a Surface Pro 3 with a traditional laptop that the College has issued to teaching staff:

    An interesting comment to the above responses from a teacher was:

    "What is not mentioned above is the functionality – the Surface is far more functional than a laptop as it doubles as a tablet, when needed. This is the huge advantage of a Surface over a laptop."

    It is important to acknowledge some of those “niggles” that teachers have experienced because no device is perfect. Here is some feedback from staff highlighting some of the challenges of the device:

    "The keyboard needs to be taken off and reattached to remedy glitches. The keyboard is small and I often hit the caps button. Consider body posture when using the Surface Pro 3 so that you are not hunched. Before putting a plastic box on the desk and under the tablet, I would wonder why I had a sore neck/back/eyestrain."

    "The thing I really don’t like is a cheapie-feeling keyboard and how I keen hitting two keys at once … lack of USB ports is really annoying too."

    "Some issues with it freezing when in sleep mode. Need to force a restart when this happens."

    We have done a significant amount of experimentation with wireless projection at St Andrew’s College and a future post will cover what we have settled on, however currently only 41% of our teachers with Surface Pro 3 tablets are using wireless projection (this number is skewed as well because the majority of our SP3 users are in our Preparatory School because of where their lease renewal occurred). However, 96% of the teachers said they would use wireless projection if it was available in their class, with the following breakdown showing how significant it is to their teaching style:

    Clearly, the ability to roam a classroom “untethered” from the front and a data projector cable is a big drawcard for teachers and a trend I see only growing as the technology becomes more reliable.

    One of the key features of the Surface Pro 3 is the great accuracy of the pen and the ability to “write” into OneNote very easily; a feature that is consistently praised by our teachers. This question specifically asked about the usefulness of the pen:

    Some departments at St Andrew’s College would love to change the requirement for students that all devices must support “inking” in some format, and it’s easy to see why: subjects that involve diagrams, formula and equations would be significantly easier for students if they could simply handwrite directly into OneNote.

    Whilst the Surface Pro 3 is experiencing favourable feedback from teachers, we are also looking at “convertible laptops” that allow for the handwriting on the screen such as the HP Spectre x360 that folds back into a tablet. Historically, our testing of units like this have been disappointing as the accuracy of the inking on these hybrids just could not compete with genuine tablets like the Pro 3. That said, the attraction of a proper keyboard and a larger screen appeals to some of our teachers:

    Ultimately, the value of any device to a teacher can be measured in whether they would recommend it to their colleagues: on this point, the teachers were almost unanimous.

    One interesting comment from a teacher in the Preparatory School reflects the uptake of tablets in their class by students, purely based on what they have seen from teachers using the devices:

    "A number of staff in the Prep School who opted for laptops now regret their choice and given the opportunity would switch to a surface. 8 students in my class now use surface tablets – 2 having switched from Mac."

    How has the practice of our teachers changed with the Surface Pro 3?

    This is a difficult question to get answers to in some ways but a critical one to understand what, if any, impact on pedagogy a technology shift has had for our teachers. Up until the introduction of the Surface Pro 3 the teachers at St Andrew’s were all given identical laptops. By introducing some limited choice it has increased the support costs of maintenance and spares, therefore it was hoped there would be some positive changes or improvements in teaching practice. Here is a selection of some replies from teachers:

    "My practice has not changed, but the mobility of the Surface and the fact that will do all I ask of it has adapted my style. I am able to work with the students annotating a piece of writing or work through maths problems using the stylus and each child is able to revisit this learning through OneNote. The mobility, wireless projector connectivity and stylus allow me to get away from the desk and be with the students when teaching. Most importantly – the students use of the Surface to share with others is powerful. They take my surface and use it to explain concepts to a group when linked to the projector and when used in conjunction with OneNote, students collaborate in real time on a piece of learning using their stylus on their own Surface tablets." - Maths Teacher

    A reply from a Preparatory School teacher suggests it can lead to MORE work: "I probably end up doing more work from home as it is much more portable [than a laptop]".

    "It has not changed my practice, but has complemented it very well. I already used my own Surface in conjunction with a school laptop. Before the Surface, I used my phone to do many of the same functions, complemented by a laptop. Having a Surface provided by school has meant operating fewer devices for the same outcomes, making it easier when you don’t have your own classroom." - Science Teacher

    "More movement around the class, use of pen and writing has enhanced the annotation ability, marking and so forth, integration of technology, ease of OneNote and working 1 on 1 with students. light, easy to move around with especially when wirelessly not connected to data projector" - English Teacher

    "I don’t write on whiteboard anymore – I write directly onto my OneNote page so students can access this" - Science Teacher

    "Much easier to use in PE settings ie with pen and tablet. Therefore I am more likely to use it, and complete observation style tasks more frequently. Easier to mark / use OneNote – I can mark and make comments quickly using the pen" - PE Teacher

    "Less time at my desk and more time with students. Ability to take teaching outside the classroom, faster and with more resources. Being able to show examples of preferred practices with ease and ability to document past/current teaching and interactions with the students has been key. Students are assisted by this to become more reflective learners. (ability to revisit work via OneNote)." - Preparatory School Teacher

    A recurring theme comes through in these responses in terms of how a tablet, with the ability to ink, enhances the value of Microsoft OneNote, a key tool that is being used at our College.

    The above information is important for the ICT team to understand. Like many schools, we lease our teacher laptops/devices and renew these every three years. The teaching staff leases are split into three, so each year we replace 1/3 of the devices (around 45-50), and I anticipate that the majority of our teachers who are up for a new device in 2016 will want something they can write on. The above information will be disseminated to those teachers to help them make informed decisions and also assist the ICT department in providing the best support possible.

  • Announcing Sway General Availability, Windows 10 app and more!

    We are excited to announce that Microsoft's digital storytelling app, Sway, is moving from Preview to General Availability! Sway is also moving beyond First Release and rolling out to all eligible Office 365 for business and education customers worldwide. This makes it possible for many additional businesses, schools and other organisations to start using Sway to create and share interactive reports, presentations, assignments, lessons, projects and more. And of course, any consumer can use Sway with a free Microsoft account. Today, we are also introducing Sway for Windows 10, along with new layout and publishing capabilities.

    We introduced Sway as a member of the Office family 10 months ago. Sway helps you create professional designs in minutes. You bring your ideas and raw content, and Sway’s intelligent design engine creates a polished, cohesive layout that helps your images, text, videos and other media flow together in a way that enhances your story. Sway makes sure your creations look great no matter what device they’re being viewed on—phones, tablets, laptops, PCs or even the largest Microsoft Surface Hub!

    During Sway Preview, we’ve learned from the hundreds of thousands of amazing Sways you’ve built. Your invaluable feedback has helped us improve Sway to meet your needs—from adding fundamentals like multi-user collaboration, to the very “Sway” way we addressed photo cropping.

    Sway for Windows 10 is now available

    Sway for Windows 10 is now rolling out to the Windows Store. Sway for Windows combines the full richness of Sway on the web with additional capabilities on your PC or tablet. This means you can use all of Sway’s integrated content sources along with the power of the built-in design engine to build, edit and share your Sways, whether you’re on the go with your Windows tablet or working at your desk with a PC or laptop. Want to capture the moment? Snap photos right into Sway using the built-in camera on your Windows device. And if you’re ready to present at a conference or to students and classmates, the Sways you’ve already loaded will be available offline when you don’t have Internet access or Wi-Fi is spotty. While some elements of your Sway may still need the Internet (such as interactive maps or cloud-hosted videos), this is a first step in addressing one of the most common feedback requests we heard during Sway Preview. Sway for Windows also allows you to stay logged in with multiple accounts at once if you use the same device for both work and home.

    This initial release of Sway on Windows 10 is for PCs and tablets. We’re working on Sway for Windows Phones, which will arrive in the coming months. Stay tuned for more!

    Present with confidence

    Sway’s built-in design engine makes sure your creations look great not only on any device they’re viewed on but in whatever layout you’ve chosen as well. Sway already offers vertical scrolling and horizontal panning layouts where your content flows continuously as you swipe. One of the most popular requests we heard during Sway Preview was for another layout that lets you better control the timing of when content is revealed, particularly for presentation scenarios.

    So, today we’re rolling out a new layout in the Navigation pane, which displays groupings of content (images, text, videos, tweets, etc.) one screen at a time. Whether it’s a few words with a knockout background image, a set of images and supporting bullet points, or a cluster of interactive elements, now you can deliver a killer presentation in-person or for viewing across many devices.

    Share your Sways with the world using

    You’ve also been asking for a place where you can publish collections of your Sways to share with friends, fans and the rest of the Internet community. We’re excited to announce that with just a tap or click of the Share button, you can now choose to publish Sways directly to the newly relaunched, an Internet destination to publish Office documents in full fidelity for the world to find, browse and share. Along with adding support for Sway, we’ve also improved the overall experience for publishing, managing and consuming content. lets you organise your Sways and other Office content into collections. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Office Mix files are displayed interactively and with full fidelity. You can also add PDFs and web links. Create a stylish profile page using a Sway to share more about your passions and expertise. On, Sways, documents, collections or profiles can be discovered by search engines, browsed on, and shared in social media or on the web. provides data on how many views you’re getting, and it’s easy for anybody viewing your files to add comments and discover your other published work as well.

    Sway is being used by so many people in such amazing ways

    It’s been wonderful to see people use Sway in ways we anticipated, and it’s been incredible to watch them use Sway in really cool and inspiring ways we hadn’t even imagined.

    For example, teachers have been using Sway to reimagine class lessons, recap class projects, provide supplemental material for parents, provide new accessible storytelling tools to their students and more. Sway has helped students breathe new life into school projects, class reports and even personal portfolios. Sway is helping even the youngest students become “active producers of their own original content” at the Bureau of Fearless Ideas (BFI), a local non-profit after-school program in Seattle. Watch this video to learn more:

    Get started with Sway today

    Professionals, teachers, students and consumers can all get started right away using your work, school or Microsoft accounts to log in to, the new Sway for Windows 10 or updated Sway for iPhone and iPad. Sway is also integrated into the web-based Office Online, so it’s easy to switch between Sway and other familiar Office apps and Office 365 services in your browser and at

  • Announcement: Microsoft Teacher Academies, free online courses for teachers

    Microsoft has published a set of new online courses called Microsoft Teacher Academies, which are available for FREE to teachers looking for training and professional development. The online courses are designed to empower educators with the ability to effectively integrate Microsoft's tools in teaching and learning. Courses help bring 21st century technology including Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft OneNote, Skype for Business, and OneDrive into classrooms.

    Each three-hour online course is interactive and provides education scenarios that cover topics from collaboration and communication, to organizing and preparing lessons, and increasing daily productivity.

    Get started now by selecting one of the new Microsoft Teacher Academies online courses!

    Teacher Academy: In the Cloud - File Storage, Collaboration and Communication with Office 365

    The ability to effectively communicate is very more important. This course helps educators learn to: communicate using Outlook Online, use OneDrive for Business to store and share files, conduct online meetings, and communicate with students, their parents and colleagues using Skype for Business, and engage students' parents and other people in their network using Yammer.

    Teacher Academy: The Ultimate Collaboration Tool - An Introduction to OneNote

    OneNote is your digital notebook for capturing and organizing everything across your devices. Jot down your ideas, keep track of classroom and meeting notes, clip from the web, and much more. The course guides educators to create digital notebooks and it demonstrates ways to enhance one's productivity by using different OneNote features, such as tagging, page templates, and drawing tools.

    Teacher Academy: Get more out of Office Online and OneDrive

    By having access to Office Online anytime, anywhere, educators and students are able to organize and prepare for projects using OneNote, build on each other's ideas and provide peer reviews using Word, collect ideas through the Excel Survey tool, and present their learning using PowerPoint; all within a collaborative space in OneDrive. 

    Teacher Academy: Windows 8 - The World Is Your Classroom

    Educators and students now have a seamless experience, whether using their Windows computer, tablet, or mobile phone. Windows 8 enables everyone to work and learn anywhere, anytime, anyway they like as the experience becomes personalized for the individual while making work easier and more productive. This course demonstrates Windows 8 and the powerful tools it offers; empowers educators to set up email, navigate the Windows 8 desktop; and work with charms, apps, and tiles. 

  • Are you ready for Windows 10?

    It is now two weeks since the launch of Windows 10 on July 29 2015! Have you tried Windows 10 yet?

    With Windows 10, you can enjoy amazing new features and a familiar experience. New features include Cortana, Microsoft Edge, and a customisable Start menu! Windows 10 will also keep you up to date and safer with built-in security features. To preview the new Windows 10 and learn about all the reasons you will love the new Windows, check out the video below! 

    Windows 10 Education

    Windows 10 Education is designed to meet the needs of schools staff, administrators, teachers and students! This edition will be available through academic Volume Licensing, and there will be paths for schools and students using Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro devices to upgrade to Windows 10 Education.

    To get a complete overview of Windows 10 Education, have a look at the video below:

    What does this update mean for you?

    Windows 10 is available as a free upgrade for all eligible Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 Update, and Windows Phone 8.1 devices. This free upgrade is offered for one year after Windows 10 is available. After you upgrade, Windows 10 is yours to enjoy!

    If you've already reserved your free upgrade of Windows 10, then it is on its way! Your notification to upgrade could come as soon as a few days or weeks. And you can always check your upgrade status in the Get Windows 10 app.

    Otherwise, you can reserve your free upgrade in the Get Windows 10 App. You will need to complete the reservation process below on each device you wish to install Windows 10 on. To find the app:

    • Click on the small Windows icon located at the right end of the taskbar.

    • Click "Reserve your free upgrade" in the app window.
    • Enter your email address if you would like a confirmation of this reservation.
    • All set. We’ll download Windows 10 to your device and notify you when it’s ready. You can cancel your reservation at any time. If you'd like to create a USB drive or DVD to download once and upgrade multiple PCs - click here.

    You can cancel your reservation at any time prior to installing Windows 10. Here’s how:

    • Right-click on the Get Windows 10 App or Windows icon located at the right end of the taskbar.
    • Select “Check your upgrade status”.
    • Select "Cancel reservation"

    For more information, check out the Windows 10 Features or the Windows 10 FAQ.

    Note: This free Windows 10 upgrade is available for PCs and tablets; the free Windows 10 Mobile upgrade will be available for most phones starting later this year

    Upgrade to Windows 10 with confidence. The Microsoft Answer Desk will be here for you with one-on-one support to get you up and running on Windows 10. For questions about upgrading to Windows 10, take a look at our Windows 10 Q&A or check to see if your question has already been answered in the community forum or post a new one.

  • Microsoft Event: Teaching with Technology Seminars


    Microsoft is excited to announce the return of the Teaching with Technology seminars!

    On the back of his successful visit to New Zealand in May 2015, Travis Smith returns in September for a week-long tour of the country!

    Travis will be stopping off in Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Napier and Auckland to deliver engaging sessions to educators. These seminars will demonstrate to educators how they can integrate technology into their teaching to increase student engagement and improve learning outcomes.

    In this free event Travis Smith will explore new and innovative ways to engage students and improve learning outcomes through the use of pen-enabled tablet computers and collaboration platforms including OneNote, Office Mix and Office 365.

    Travis has over 11 years’ of classroom experience teaching in schools and lecturing in the Education Faculty at Monash University. Travis has also worked as an educational technology consultant presenting workshops and keynote presentations, as well as consulting over 60 schools across Australia on becoming more efficient with technology in the classroom. More recently, Travis is now Microsoft Australia’s National Education Specialist giving informative presentations to educators on the potential of technology in teaching.

    We hope you can join us for this exciting opportunity to gain insight into the 21st century learning landscape from one of Australia’s leading speakers on technology in education!

    To register for a Teaching with Technology seminar, visit Teaching with Technology!

  • Focus school: Baradene College, New Zealand

    Today we are excited to place the spotlight on Baradene College and the wonderful work the school is doing in incorporating technology into the classroom. Baradene is one of New Zealand's leading schools in its level of technology adoption and integration, and it is having a visible impact on the school's students and teachers.

    Baradene College of the Sacred Heart is a Catholic girls' school in Auckland, New Zealand. The school teaches students from Year 7 to Year 13, with a school roll of 1,150 girls. Deputy Principle, Theresa Bosch, is spearheading the school's move into the digital age. Baradene is reinventing their approach to teaching, using Microsoft technologies as the platform.

    Baradene College has set up Office 365 accounts for each student under its licensing agreement. This enables all students to download a free copy of Office - including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote - onto their primary device for schoolwork, and on up to four other supporting devices. Theresa Bosch believes that Office Mix and the OneNote Notebook Creator "are proving to be very popular platforms for Baradene staff and students alike".

    To ensure that no student gets left behind in their digital literacy, Year 7 and 8 students at Baradene receive training on the Office programs, with the intention being that by the time students enter Year 9 they will have passed Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Excel exams and be proficient users.

    Baradene College is now in its third year of a student one-to-one BYOD device program. The program was first trialled on Year 9 students, and has since been extended to include all students from Year 7 - 11. The BYOD program has proved to be successful across all year levels. Theresa Bosch says, "we have learnt valuable lessons along the way and believe the use of a personal device has become an important part of the toolkit that supports students learning".

    Based on this success, Baradene will continue to ask Year 7 students joining the school to bring a specific device for classroom use. The school has seen many advantages from its BYOD program so far. According to Theresa, "a student owned internet capable device gives them instant access to unlimited online resources and enables them to support, extend, communicate and share their learning in a way that will prepare them for the future".

    Theresa has listed the below benefits that the school has seen from their current BYOD program:

    • Anytime, anywhere access to class resources, support and extension activities through Ultranet, the school's learning management system, and Office 365 sites
    • The ability to develop “digital” folders and exercise books for their classes (that can’t be lost, and never need replacing) through OneDrive in Office 365
    • Unlimited access to the school library e-books, database and catalogued web resources through Oliver
    • Greater ability to communicate with teachers, parents and peers to support their learning through instant access to their student email that is set up for them through Student Advantage
    • The ability to draft, redraft and publish their work at the click of a button with Office Products online or from the Student Advantage Office Products that are downloaded onto their devices,
    • Access to world recognised qualifications via the Microsoft IT academy program
    • Allowing students to become active partners in their learning as they acquire 21st Century learning skills.

    Baradene's recommended BYOD device is the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, which is a premium Ultrabook/tablet hybrid. This device has proved to support students' learning, and it has "a long battery life, and is light enough for the students to carry around to their various subjects". With its unique click-on keyboard connector and an integrated kickstand, the Surface Pro 3 is adaptable and versatile. Students can use the Surface Pro 3 in the way that best suits them - as a laptop, tablet, or digital writing paper with its high-tech pen technology. Theresa believes that the use of the digital pen is becoming increasingly important, especially when teaching non-linguistic subjects such as Music, Mathematics and Science and character-based languages such as Japanese and Mandarin. Devices with digital pen capability are becoming especially crucial as it becomes increasingly likely that curriculums will move to digital assessment.

    OneNote is the primary learning tool used by teachers and students at Baradene. The effectiveness of OneNote as an education tool is maximised using the touch and pen inputs available on the Surface Pro 3. Using OneNote, staff can mark the students' work with their digital pens and provide instant feedback to students, which proves invaluable to staff and students alike.

    Theresa Bosch says, the "OneNote Notebook Creator with the Welcome section, Collaboration space, Contents library and notebook for each students has revolutionised the way we deliver the curriculum." Theresa described how the teachers at Baradene typically use their OneNote Class Notebook:

    • "In the Welcome page we generally add an introductory page and includes our Achievement standards so that students can access this at any time." 
    • "The contents library is just that – a space to add all the resources.  The students copy these resources to their own space and then complete the work as required."
    • The Collaboration space has proven to be by far the most useful space for us.  Teachers add class list with columns where students add emoji to indicate if they understand the work.  This way a teacher can see at a glance if the class feel comfortable with the content. Collaboration is such a useful learning tool and the possibilities are endless."

    OneNote as a learning tool is enabling staff and students to be more productive, collaborate and communicate more efficiently, and be more effective in the learning process. As Theresa says, "the more staff use OneNote Notebook Creator, the more we see the amazing work that is taking place.  Each faculty has a different need and the ease of these Notebooks makes the process for staff seamless". 

    Whilst OneNote is great in the classroom, it also makes the job of teachers a lot simpler and easier too! Baradene found this when they moved their staff handbook to OneNote a few years ago. Previously, the printed staff handbook had proved to be a major frustration because it was out of date almost immediately. After moving the handbook to the Staff OneNote the teachers at Baradene can be confident that the information they have is the most up to date, and it can be accessed anytime, anywhere on a device that connects to the internet.

    So where does Theresa Bosch see Baradene going with technology in the classroom in the next year? She says, "we still have some staff that are apprehensive using the devices but as their confidence grows and as the students know more the uptake will keep increasing.  Our Y7 and 8 program includes training though the Microsoft IT academy.  The knowledge they gain in this course will move throughout the school and their confidence will remove any barriers for using devices to enhance their learning. We are taking all possible steps to remove any barriers for staff and students and as soon as our broadband is increase though Network for Learning (N4L) there will not be anything holding us back. These are indeed exciting times."

    For more information on Baradene College's technology story check out Our Flipped Learning Story put together by Sharon Kan, a Teacher of Mathematics & Statistics as well as Digital Literacy at Baradene College.

    We look forward to watching Baradene's progress as the school continues to integrate technology into its classrooms. It is exciting to see a school move forward at such a rapid pace and make the most of the tools and technologies available! 

  • Tutorials to get you started using Sway

    To help you make a start with Sway, the team have put together a couple of tutorial videos to give you some ideas on how to use Sway to express your thoughts in a completely new way! Check them out below! 

    What is Sway?

    How to make a tutorial

    How to build a presentation

    How to create a newsletter

    Want to use some of these ideas in Sway? You can start using this awesome tool today using any web browser on your PC, Mac or tablet! Just visit to get started! 

  • Announcement: Microsoft Class Dashboard for teachers and students

    The Office team have recently announced the first phase of a Preview program for the Microsoft Class Dashboard! The Class Dashboard will be available to Office 365 Education users at no additional charge, and will enable students and teachers to communicate and collaborate like never before!

    What is Class Dashboard?

    Class Dashboard is an easy-to-use website that brings together familiar Office apps including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook in the context of the classroom. There are many different technology tools available to educators, so the Office team built Class Dashboard to easily integrate with solutions teachers already use in the classroom! 

    Stay organised

    With Class Dashboard teachers and students can stay organised with online storage for all OneNote Class Notebooks, class materials, notes assignments and shared calendars! Keep all of your materials in one place, so you and your students can easily find what you need. Documents and Class Notebooks can be accessed from any device, whether it is at school or on the go! 

    Save time

    Class Dashboard enables teachers to get the most out of the tools they already know and love! Teachers will be able to build rich assignments with documents, links, and online reference material, and collaborate with students using Office Online (web versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint accessible from a web browser). They’ll be able to share assignments with students, track progress, give feedback and assign grades, quickly and in one place!

    Engage your students

    Class Dashboard will seamlessly connect with tools for interactive lessons and presentations, facilitate discussions and collaboration, and support feedback so teachers can enable students to learn in new ways. With OneNote Class Notebook, students will be able to show their creativity and collaborate in notes, drawings, and pictures. Teachers can also provide personalised feedback throughout the learning process! 

    Visit the Microsoft Class Dashboard preview site to sign up for updates, and to see when Class Dashboard will be available in New Zealand! 


  • Announcement: Office for Android phones and tablets

    The Office team are excited to announce the general availability of the new Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps for Android phones and tablets. You can download Word, Excel and PowerPoint on your Android phone today to get started! 

    It was announced 6 weeks ago that there would be an Office for Android phone preview. With the help of the preview users, the Office team were able to test the apps on over 1,900 different Android phone models in 83 countries. During the preview, we heard from thousands of these users, and over the last few weeks we were able to incorporate a lot of their feedback into the apps we’re launching today. For example, we made it easier to connect to other popular third-party storage offerings like Google Drive and Box, as well as many usability adjustments to make it easier to navigate commands within the apps.

    Check out the video below to see some of the things Office for Android can do! 

    You can now download the Word for Android, Excel for Android and PowerPoint for Android apps from the Google Play store!

  • New Zealand MIE Experts create a sensational Food For Life project for their students!

    Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Experts and Howick College science teachers, Steve Martin and Ruby Huang, created a visionary project for their Year 9 students earlier in 2015. Students were required to investigate the science of food nutrition, and used technology to go about this process.

    The Food For Life project was designed to help students understand the problem of children going to school on an empty stomach. Students investigated the science behind this problem, and were tasked with designing a nutritious food parcel to donate to the Howick Salvation Army

    Students worked in groups to analyse the nutritional content of food, using the FoodSwitch app. After examining the results, the students were able to determine how healthy each food item was, and whether there were any healthier alternatives. Further research saw students investigating how much energy a professional athlete needs compared to a high-school student.

    After the research had been carried out, students were required to create posters and flyers requesting food donations. In the final stage of the Food For Life project, the food parcels designed by the students were delivered to the Salvation Army to be distributed to people in need.

    Throughout the project students used OneNote to complete their work on a digital notebook. Steve and Ruby designed an innovative OneNote notebook which provided students with the tools, learning activities and science concepts they needed to complete the task. As Steve says, "the OneNote allowed the students to manage their own learning and provided them with opportunities to make decisions about what, when and how they learnt." Steve believes that OneNote and Office 365 proved to be valuable tools for students as they "enhanced the collaborative process between the students in each group allowing real-time and anytime sharing of ideas and also the creation of posters, flyers and presentations". Using OneNote also made the process easier for Steve and Ruby to give feedback and track how their students were progressing with their project.

    A copy of Steve and Ruby's OneNote for the Food for Life project can be found here!

    About the MIE Expert program

    The MIE Expert program recognises educators worldwide who are using digital technology to improve student outcomes and learning processes. Each year a group of MIE Experts are chosen from around 30,000 applications. As an MIE Expert you are part of a global community of visionary educators who are active in their teaching community. MIE Experts can expect free Microsoft tools and technology, exclusive professional development opportunities, involvement in Microsoft programs and events, and the opportunity to travel to Redmond, Washington to attend the E2 Global Educator Exchange!

    In 2015, Steve Martin and Ruby Huang were two of fifteen New Zealand teachers invited to be Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts! These educators joined a group of 800 elite teachers worldwide in the program. Steve and Ruby, along with the other thirteen New Zealand MIE Experts, are inspiring examples of teachers using technology to change the way they teach.

    Applications will be open soon to become a 2016 MIE Expert! For more information on the program and how to apply, visit the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert overview!

  • St Andrew's College using OneNote & Moodle for student assessment

    This post has been re-blogged from Sam McNeill's StAC e-Learning Stories blog. Microsoft is excited to share this fantastic example of technology simplifying and improving everyday processes for teachers and students.

    One of the great things about Microsoft OneNote is the ease with which teachers can provide feedback to students on their work, helping them to develop their ideas towards the submission of assessment.

    However, as the internal assessment season ramps up in 2015 a number of teachers at St Andrew's College have approached Tom Adams and I about how to “lock” OneNote notebooks to prevent students modifying content after the submission date. Whilst there are some work-arounds, such as password protecting sections or moving them to a “read only” section in a teacher’s OneNote notebook, these are not always easy or intuitive.

    Together, Tom and I thought about a better workflow for teachers and students to use and settled on the following simple process:

    1. The teacher creates an “Assignment” task in Moodle setting the due date to be when all students need to have the assessment completed and handed in by.
               a) The option to allow “late” submissions exists within Moodle too, clearly showing to the teacher in red how many hours/days overdue the submission was. This could be useful in scenarios where students were away for legitimate reasons.

    2. The student exports either their page, section or entire OneNote Notebook into a PDF file on their local computer.

    3. The student goes to their Moodle course, clicks on the assignment and then drag ‘n’ drops the PDF file for upload and submission.
               a) The teacher can optionally include to have all students “sign” the authenticity agreement by clicking the “accept” each time they submit an assessment.

    4. Once the due date is reached, the teacher can bulk download all of the submissions for offline marking, moderation storage purposes or printing and returning.

    This process is outlined in the video below!

    By using this process, a number of things can happen:

    •  There can be no dispute about when the assignment was submitted
    • There can be no “losing” the submission because it’s stored on Moodle
    • All assignments are stored in one place with a single click to download all assignments into a folder for marking/moderation.
    • This also reduces the need for the teacher to “harvest” the submissions from a variety of sources that students may have submitted by e.g. email, printed and left at the teacher’s desk or office etc.
    • Students can be required to “sign” the authenticity statement for every assessment they submit within Moodle.
    • Moodle supports the use of – an online tool for verifying the authenticity and originality of a submission. Whilst this costs, it would allow students to improve their work before a final submission and also support teachers in ensuring the submission is the original work of the student.

    One reason St Andrew's College uses technology in the classroom is to prepare students for tertiary study and the workforce. The vast majority of tertiary institutions now require students to submit assessment online – by teaching our students to manage their time and to become accustomed to this form of assessment submission, they are being prepared for life beyond St Andrew’s.