NZ Education Blog

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

NZ Education Blog

  • Blended Learning From the Ground Up

    Getting Smart recently created this awesome infographic on what schools need to implement blended learning. As the infographic describes, blended learning is more than electronic textbooks and productivity tools. It involves inventing and adopting new learning environments that work better for students and for teachers.

    Do you need help with the tools needed for using the classroom to start blending your classroom? Go to http://www.microsoft.com/nz/windowsintheclassroom/ to learn about our complimentary Windows in the Classroom Seminars.

  • Office 365 for Education versus Google Apps: Everything you need to know

    Why Microsoft recently came up with this fantastic infographic, and we had to share it with you! The image gives you excellent insight into how Office 365 for Education can be leveraged in the classroom to help our students gain the 21st century skills so crucial in preparing them for the modern workforce.

    To interact with the links on the full image, please see the original post at http://www.whymicrosoft.com/Pages/A-Day-in-the-Life-Student.aspx. Enjoy!

  • Registrations are almost full for the 21 Steps to 21st Century Learning Workshop - don't miss out!

    Helping school leaders clarify their vision for 1:1 learning and building an executable framework to bring this to life.

    Microsoft and CORE Education bring you the complimentary 21 Steps to 21st Century Learning Workshop in May 2014. That's not far away! Registrations are almost full for both Auckland and Christchurch workshops, don't miss out!

    This two-day seminar will explore the planning and implementation of 1:1 learning in your school. Facilitated by world education leader, Bruce Dixon, the workshop is designed to support school Principals and eLearning leaders to work together. We recommend two leaders attend from each school.

    "The presenter was completely engaging, and a master of his knowledge. It was a privilege to be led by somebody who has been there with devices in the classroom since their inception." – Stephen Hensman, Principal, Taradale High School.

    We invite you to register your interest to attend the workshop in Christchurch: 12th-13th May, or in Auckland: 15th-16th May.

    In the workshop you will work through the 5 Phases that outline the Design and Deployment Guide to 1:1 learning:

    • Phase 1 – The Compelling Case for Change: Create a solid foundation for a 1:1 initiative, with a clear vision and actionable, measurable goals.

    • Phase 2 – Redesign Learning and teaching: Focusing on rethinking and redesigning all aspects of teaching practice and the learning experience, based on the information garnered and ideas developed in Phase One.

    • Phase 3 – Lead the Shift: The vision and goals have been set. It’s time to turn the vision into reality, and theory to practice. This phase develops strategies in the key areas of stakeholder engagement, financial models, equity of access, community buy-in and teacher professional growth to support your initiative.

    • Phase 4 – Manage Implementation: Once all the strategies for change are in place and being put into action, schools are ready to plan the actual 1:1 implementation. This implementation covers a range of tasks, including managing the budget, creating a 21st century learning environment, conducting a readiness assessment and establishing critical partnerships, culminating in the actual start

    • Phase 5 – Evaluate Continuously: Effective evaluation of your initiative is the backbone of its success. Without any genuine commitment to such a process, the impact of the previous 20 Steps can be marginal. It underpins the ongoing development of a program and ensures the best possible outcomes for students, staff and the school.

  • Top Windows 8.1 apps for the classroom - how many are you using?

    Microsoft UK recently blogged about the top Education Apps in the Windows Store. We thought it was such a fantastic list, we wanted to share it with you. The post was written by Stuart Ball, the Partners in Learning UK manager, and gives a refreshingly honest insight into the benefits of these apps in facilitating 21st century learning. Enjoy!

    image OneNote Microsoft OneNote is your digital notebook for keeping track of what's important in your life. Jot down your ideas, keep track of classroom and meeting notes, clip from the web, make a to-do list as well as draw and sketch your ideas. OneNote is your one place to capture and organize everything.
    Logo Wordbrush Words have been trapped in straight lines for too long...set your words free! WordBrush allows you to draw text freely on the screen, each letter following the trace of your finger as though you were painting with a brush.
    Logo Kodu Kodu lets you create games through a simple visual programming language. Kodu can be used to teach creativity, problem solving, storytelling, as well as programming.
    Logo Physamajig Just sketch something out and it is translated into a realistic physics object. Add attributes such as bounciness, friction, and joints - then create your own games by adding Behaviors to the objects.
    Logo Skitch Touch Skitch Touch is a free tool for communicating visually with friends, co-workers, and the world. Annotate images with arrows, shapes, text, and more. Use Skitch to sketch something new, mark up maps, screen captures, or even a photo.
    Logo QR Code Designers

    QR code design made easy! "QR Code Designer"
    The only application generating custom-designed QR codes.

    Logo Project Sienna Microsoft Project Siena (code name) is a new technology for app imagineers. Build Apps and databases without any programming.
    Logo Bing Translator The Bing Translator App for Windows is your companion when you need to quickly translate what you are looking at. Use your camera or just type the text you want to translate. Text and camera translation work offline with downloadable language packs, so you can get the power of Bing Translator on-the-go, even when you don't have an Internet connection
    Logo Fotor Fotor is the best all-in-one photo editing application. With cutting-edge tools including Basic Editing Tools, Brilliant Visual Effects, Frames, 1-Tap Enhance, Collage, Text, Tilt Shift and Raw Converter, all bundled together in one powerful package
    Logo Nearpod

    Nearpod is a synchronous solution for the use of mobile devices in the classroom. Create multimedia presentations with interactive features such as quizzes, videos, polls, drawing tools, and more

    Logo Socrative

    Educators can initiate formative assessments through quizzes, quick question polls, exit tickets and space races all with their Socrative Windows app. Socrative will instantly grade, aggregate and provide graphs of results to help you identify opportunities for further instruction. Save time and visualize student understanding when it matters, now!

    and currently best app I would pay for…. (and have done so!)

    image Createbook

    Why just read ebooks? When you can create your own!
    CreateBook is an easy to use App allowing users of all ages to create stunning eBooks which include text, video and a range of other media.

    And don’t forget they are Apps for Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard, Khan Academy and LinkedIn. As well apps like these for teaching and practicing maths or spellings

    Logo iMath iMath is designed to help children under the age of 12 to improve math ability and develop interests in mathematics
    Logo The Spelling Bee

    'Bee' the bee! Fly between beautiful locations unscrambling words! As you figure out words you get points that will unlock rewards!
    Each level has a random theme that will help you figure out the mixed up word. If you can't guess the word, you can spell any shorter word and still get points!

    Already using some of these apps? Tweet us your thoughts! @MSNZEducation.

  • Top 100 Education Apps on Windows 8

    Let’s face it. Apps are now an integral part of our everyday lives. We use them to check the weather and check into a flight, to see when the next bus is coming, record notes, read books, play games and much more.

    A great outcome of the app revolution is the transformative learning that apps can help foster. There are thousands of education apps in the Windows marketplace from early learning “games” to study aids and even apps that will help you manage the classroom, with more being published every day.

    To get you started, we’ve curated a list of 100 education apps that we hope you’ll find helpful. You can access this by loading it below.

    For even more, visit: aka.ms/Apps4Edu or go directly to the Windows Store.

  • SharePoint Online introduces the Touch Design mobile experience

    We are so excited to announce that the new SharePoint now allows for more innovative interactions with SharePoint sites and content on mobile devices: contemporary views, device channels, and new native apps (SkyDrive Pro apps and SharePoint Newsfeed apps).

    Mark Kashman, a Senior Product Manager on the SharePoint team this week blogged about how, "From the start, touch has been a key area of investment across all of the products in the new Office, and SharePoint is no exception. Now we're making SharePoint even more touch friendly. The new Touch Design mobile pages enhance the touch experience of two core SharePoint components, SkyDrive Pro and Sites.

    "Now, when you access SharePoint Online from smaller devices-from 11-inch screens down to 4-inch-you have a new app-like experience that enables you to work your best with your documents and team sites," Mark adds.

    Take a look at a few screen shots of SharePoint on 11-inch and 4-inch screens:

    The Touch Design view of "my documents" in SkyDrive Pro on an 11-inch touch tablet device.

    Backstage of the Touch Design experience on a 4-inch screen showing navigation access to Office 365 tiles. After clicking into the SkyDrive Pro tile, you see a "shared with me" documents pivot.

    To find out more, read Mark's full article here. Tweet us your thoughts! @MSNZEducation.

  • Drawboard PDF - The Perfect Solution to Homework Marking

    Currently the #1 PDF app in the App Store, Drawboard PDF has been designed by an Australian developer and is free for a limited time only. You can now view, annotate and manage student PDF documents the easy way! This App is ideal for replacing the pen and paper, avoid printing documents again by using these innovative features that make annotating a PDF a breeze.

    You can either upload or create a new PDF, annotate using the extensive array of tools and then save it back as a compatible PDF. Drawboard distinguishes itself by its intuitive user interface and experience, stylus and touch input separation, smooth and natural pen, and array of tools.

    Features include:

    • Open and read PDF documents
    • Toggle between using an activated stylus and finger touch to perform annotations
    • Create new PDF documents of different size, orientation and page count
    • Radial menu with the following features:
    • Smooth and natural inking pen/stylus inking - change stroke width and colors
    • Eraser - also works on the back of the stylus eraser where functional, and right click on mouse
    • Undo/Redo
    • Select tool to move annotations around the screen
    • Shapes - rectangle, ellipse, line, arrow
    • Text markup - highlighter, underline, strikeout, squiggly
    • All annotations have the option for varying colors, widths, opacities, fills etc
    • Bookmarks
    • Search
    • Share by email
    • Print
    • Recent document recovery
    • Open large document file sizes
    • View and display options
    • Save as a compatible PDF
    • Insert, Rotate and Delete Pages

    Find out more and download the App here, it won't be free for much longer!

  • BYOD Case Study: The Surface Pro's Seamless Integration into Tuckahoe School

    We are very excited to share with you this fantastic case study of Tuckahoe School's adoption of the Surface Pro in their BYOD program. Check out the video and tweet us your thoughts! @MSNZEducation

    Not sure where to start with BYOD? Want to learn more?

    Download our discussion paper which investigates the myths around the BYOD model in schools, and understand the questions which should be addressed when considering allowing students to bring their own devices, and which option might be best suited to a school’s culture.

    This paper is intended to stimulate discussion around what constitutes best practice 1-to-1 learning.

    Download the Whitepaper here.

  • Student Advantage delivers Office Pro Plus to over 1million New Zealand students, at no additional cost

    Today Microsoft announced the Student Advantage programme, which will help ensure all students at New Zealand schools and higher education institutions have access to the productivity tools used in most New Zealand workplaces, before they enter the workforce. 

    Beginning 1 December 2013, every school and tertiary provider in New Zealand that licenses Office for staff and faculty will be eligible to get Office 365 Pro Plus for its students at no additional cost.

    This comes off the back of The IDC Workforce Readiness Study, released today by Microsoft, which reveals the key skills that people looking for work in high-growth, high-salary jobs need. Behind core communication skills and attention to detail, the third most important skill for prospective employees is knowing how to use Microsoft Office.

    Paul Muckleston Managing Director of Microsoft New Zealand, says Student Advantage gives schools and academic institutions the tools they need to better prepare students for entering the workforce, without spending additional money. 

    “The impact of Student Advantage for New Zealand students is going to be far reaching. We believe it will help address the country’s challenge of ensuring equity of access for all students to eLearning, as more than one million students will be eligible for Office 365 ProPlus under this new benefit.”

    More information can be found here: 

    http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_on_the_issues/archive/2013/10/15/microsoft-announces-new-student-advantage-program-to-prepare-students-for-tomorrow-s-jobs.aspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2013/oct13/10-15skillspr.aspx

    For New Zealand schools to take up this added benefit, the steps are:

    - Add the zero-cost Student Advantage sku to your Microsoft agreement; and

    - Deploy the no-cost Office 365 A2 Plan service for staff and students; then

    - Students are able to download the Office Pro Plus client software to their devices (up to 5 devices per student)

    Please contact your Microsoft Reseller for more details:

    - For schools enrolled in the Microsoft Schools Agreement with the Ministry of Education, please contact Datacom on 0800 22 55 428

    - For all other schools, please contact your Academic Reseller or partner

     

  • St Andrew's College: Increasing Student Engagement & Enthusiasm for Writing with OneNote!

    Sam McNeill, Director of ICT at St Andrew's College in Christchurch, recently wrote this fantastic blog post on the school's use of OneNote. We were so delighted to see the increase of student egnagement and enthusiasm for writing with OneNote, that we had to share it with you. You can see the full blog post here, but we thought we'd give you a few snippets now.

    "I had the privilege of meeting with Dr Jeni Curtis today to discuss her use of Microsoft OneNote in her Yr9 English class, and discuss how this was one of the key tools she was using to achieve her aim of a paperless environment in her classroom. I was aware that a number of staff at St Andrew’s College were exploring the different ways that OneNote could be used in their teaching and, after seeing some unsolicited parent feedback to Dr Curtis, I knew I needed to write a blog about it."

    "OneNote is sometimes described as ‘the hidden jewel’ in the Microsoft Office Suite and for those unfamiliar with the programme, it can best be described as an electronic version of the traditional ring-binder, replete with the coloured tabs/dividers down the side. Since all students at St Andrew’s College have access to a free copy of MS Office (along with the web-apps via Office365), the decision to use OneNote by Dr Curtis made perfect sense."

    The Setup:

    "All students initially required some assistance with setting up their OneNote notebooks for English and then sharing this with Dr Curtis. Critically, they were able to set the sharing permissions so that she could both read and edit their notebooks. Once completed, it meant that as the teacher, Dr Curtis could look at the student’s equivalent of traditional “exercise books” at anytime, allowing direct feedback and comments.

    Additionally, Dr Curtis shared a “read only” OneNote notebook with the students where they could see useful materials for the courses, explanations of various terms as well as expectations for them around homework and other activities."

    The First Task – An Introductory Letter & A Video Response:

    "The first task for the Yr9 English students in their steps towards a paperless classroom was to write an introduction letter to Dr Curtis using their shared OneNote notebook. What they didn’t expect was that they would receive a personalised video response from Dr Curtis that they could all watch directly within OneNote itself."

    Video Response to Introductory Letter

    Video Response to Introductory Letter

    "This certainly left an impression on the students of the class, and was actually achieved relatively easily through the neat feature of OneNote that allows for the recording of audio and video notes directly within a notebook. This innovative idea for marking homework and giving feedback was appreciated not only by the students, but also by the parents, with one taking the time out to email Dr Curtis the following congratulations:

    I must congratulate you with using One Note for marking the children’s writing. Callum showed me the video clip commenting on one of his assignments. It was really impressive and useful. It is such a great use of technology and had helped Wayne and I appreciate the use of technology in classroom environment. We were a bit unsure with 1:1 computer concept to begin with.

    I hope Callum is working hard in your class. I had seen his shifts of interests from not liking writing to enjoying writing in the last 2 assignments, which is wonderful.

    As a teacher that is incredibly gratifying to hear that your efforts to engage students is having the type of impact mentioned by the parent above, and equally, as the Director of ICT at St Andrew’s College, I am thrilled that the teaching staff are using the tools in authentic ways like this."

    To read about the second task and much more, read Sam's full post here!

  • Introducing Office Mix: Online lessons made simple.

    We are very excited to bring to you Office Mix, helping you to make online lessons simple!

    Turn your PowerPoint presentation into an interactive online lesson. We call this a mix. Everything you need to create and share your mix is included. Add audio and video of yourself giving your presentation, write on slides as you talk to them, insert quizzes, practice exercises, and more – all from within PowerPoint. It’s like a screencast, but better. All you need is Office 2013 and the free Office Mix add-in!

    Here's just a snapshot of the awesome things you can do in Office Mix:

    • Record audio or video of yourself giving a lecture. Write and draw directly in PowerPoint, just like you would on the whiteboard.
    • Work in PowerPoint - Creating a mix is as simple as making a PowerPoint document. Just install our PowerPoint add-in, and then create lessons from your existing PowerPoint presentations or new ones.
    • Save Time - Everything you need to create a mix is included in the PowerPoint add-in, so you don’t have to jump between several apps.
  • It's here! We bring to you Anthony Salcito’s 2014 Global Forum Keynote Speech

    Can you believe it's been a whole month since the 2014 Global Forum in Barcelona? We are still buzzing and in a timely fashion, Anthony Salcito's Keynote Speech has officially been released!

    Since the Forum, Anthony's blog Daily Edventures has shared some incredible stories. Anthony has featured a guest blog from Todd La Vogue (a Microsoft Expert Educator and Global Forum winner), he's showcased the students from ESADE and Saltash.net who brought their unique and important perspective and energy, he's shared The Pitch competition, and of course, announced all the winners.

    In Anthony's own words, "While I do love to share my view on the future of learning – and of course demo the latest apps from Microsoft and our partners – the true magic of the Global Forum is in the connections that are forged at this incredible event. If you were not able to be at the Global Forum in person, this is a great way to share in the spirit of the Global Forum, and the incredible, powerful work that takes place in every corner of the globe to provide students with the education they need to succeed in the 21st century."

    Tweet us your thoughts @MSNZEducation and of course, enjoy!

  • Join us for the College & Career Readiness Virtual Event, February 13 and 18

    Join us for a special two-hour virtual College & Career Readiness Event

    Choose the event time that fits your schedule: 
    Thursday, February 13 | 8:00 – 10:00 A.M. Pacific Time | Add this event to your calendar
    February 18th from 12:00-14:00 Asia/Singapore/ 15:00-17:00 PM Sydney | Add this event to your calendar

    Register Now! 

    Who should attend: If you are in education, this event is for you! Administrators, educators, instructors, teachers, faculty, career counselors, curriculum planners are encouraged to attend.
    Format: Live, interactive virtual broadcast with engaging chat and Q&A opportunities for attendees and industry experts

    About the Event

    For technology educators, the responsibility of preparing students for success in higher education and future careers is no small one. Educators are tasked with fostering a dynamic set of foundational soft skills and technical skills in technologies that never stop evolving. The pace of change in the job market, technology platforms, and in-demand skills can outstrip educators’ ability to keep up—but it doesn’t have to be that way.

    Join Microsoft IT Academy program for an informative, free, two-hour virtual event showcasing the latest best practices technology educators can adopt to effectively guide college and career-minded students, and foster a new generation of innovators in the IT and developer technology fields.

    This virtual event will consist of six mini-sessions hosted by industry experts and drilling down into the topics that matter most to you.

    Agenda
    Speakers to be announced shortly!

    8:00 – 8:10 A.M.: The Global Skills Gap and Job Market Landscape
    An overview of the technology skills development landscape and roadmap for guiding students to success.

    8:10 – 8:28 A.M.: Extending Today’s Technology Curriculum in the Classroom and Online
    Explore the value and best practices for adopting technology curriculum and certification in the classroom and online learning platforms, including Microsoft Office Specialist, Microsoft Technology Associate, and Microsoft Certified Professional certification tracks.

    Entry-level Technology for Your College- and Career-Minded Students (two sessions)

    8:28 – 8:46 A.M.: Technology for Everyone:  Validating your students’ success in Microsoft Office
    The right mix of tools, training, and certification is essential to inspire entry-level students to set a course for a future career using the latest business technologies. We’ll review the best practices for getting students started on a productive path, including the value of Microsoft Office training and certification options.

    8:46 – 9:04 A.M.: Entry-level technology for your college and career-minded students 
    Aspiring technologists thrive when immersed in the IT and developer technologies they’ll work with every day in future roles. Learn about Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) training and certification, and how it helps students get hands-on with the latest technologies.

    9:04 – 9:22 A.M.: Technology Endorsements that Get Recognized
    Helping students develop solid technology skills is just part of the learning equation. Validation is a critical, ongoing need to ensure students stay motivated, focused, and empowered. Learn from IT Academy educators and learning experts on ways to endorse and validate students’ skills.

    9:22 – 9:40 A.M.: The Last Mile: Résumé Building and Interview Techniques
    Standing out in a crowded job marketplace requires sharp self-promotion skills. Join a panel of hiring experts on the very latest hiring trends and best practices for successfully landing entry-level technology roles. We’ll discuss tips for creating résumés that can’t be ignored, and interview preparation tips that you can share with graduating students.

    9:40 – 10:00 A.M.: Q&A – Get your questions answered live!

    Register Now! 

    Keep up with the latest details on this unique event for the educators across the globe!
    Stay tuned to this blog and IT Academy social channels for event updates as we announce guest speakers and session details

  • Anthony Salcito on how Student Advantage prepares students for the workforce

    Futures recently spoke to Anthony Salcito, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector, Education at Microsoft, on how the Student Advantage programme will transform the way students learn. The report was written by Kelly Ng and gives fantastic insight into the benefits Microsoft technology is bringing to 21st century learning in the classroom. We thought we'd post the full article here, but if you want to hear more from Futures, simply go to http://www.asiafuturesmag.com/.

    IT Skills for the workforce

    Communication skills, attention to detail and proficiency using Microsoft Office topped the list of 21st century skills that students will need for the top 60 high-growth and high-salary jobs, according to a recent study by IDC and Microsoft.

    The study evaluated 14.6 million job descriptions between April 2013 to September 2013 to identify the 20 most common hard and soft skills required for today’s job market. IDC further validated these skills by examining 60 jobs that have high-growth and wage potential between 2013 and 2020.

    Knowing Microsoft Office is ranked third of these top 20 skills, with understanding individual programmes Microsoft PowerPoint and Word placing 11 and 13 on the list. Microsoft Office was the only software solution noted within the top 20 skills.

    Launch of Student Advantage

    Understanding that Microsoft Office proficiency is an important tool for preparing students for the workforce, Microsoft launched Student Advantage, a benefit that extends Office 365 ProPlus to students at no additional cost if their institution is licensing Office for staff and faculty.

    Office 365 was introduced more than a year ago, and there are now more than 110 million students, teachers and staff all over the world using it.

    More than 35,000 schools worldwide are currently eligible to use the Student Advantage benefit. Since 1 December, when Student Advantage was officially rolled out globally, these schools have had the option to provide students access to Office 365 at no additional cost.

    Benefits that Student Advantage brings

    “Productivity is a very important workload for schools. Giving students access will not only enrich the value of Office for them, but for teachers and staff as well,” Salcito added.

    Office 365 ProPlus provides tools, such as Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Excel that students are already familiar with and are now powered by the cloud. Students can install these tools on up to five devices, so learning is not limited to the classroom.

    Another benefit available in the Student Advantage programme is the Lync client, which is offered in Office 365 ProPlus. “Instead of Lync Online which was previously included in Office 365, students now get the full version of Lync that gives added functionalities such as recording, gallery video view, white boarding and screen sharing,” noted Salcito.

    Moreover, the solution has the ability to integrate between multiple modalities of deployment. “For example, schools that are deploying Exchange or SharePoint on premise can integrate these tools with the cloud. Or, a user who wants to use Office offline, can choose to sync the application dynamically with Skydrive when online.”

    One of the most important features schools will appreciate is the privacy and backend management control that can be expected in an enterprise deployment. “Besides ensuring students’ privacy and an advertising-free environment, school leaders can also take ownership of a student’s account if there is any suspicious activity,” he said.

    Looking ahead

    “We can expect more applications being built on the Office platform, so teachers can benefit from simple apps built into the productivity tool. For example, an application that many school leaders I’ve met appreciate is the ‘word cloud function’ built into PowerPoint that generates a word cloud easily. All you have to do is highlight the text you are interested in, and the app does the rest for you,” he described.

    Salcito expects more innovative education initiatives to come from institutions in Asia. In October, Microsoft recognized 250 ‘Expert Educators’ and 80 ‘Mentor Schools’. Of these, 33 Expert Educators and 19 of the Mentor Schools are from Asia. That is great representation from Asia as they were selected from more than 22,000 educators in 158 countries and 250 school leaders in 75 countries.

    “These educators and school leaders are on the leading edge of education innovation in the use of technology to improve learning and student outcomes. They are great examples of leaders who are using technology to do something transformational, around content, connection or enabling learning anywhere, anytime and anywhere,” concluded Salcito.

  • It's the 8th April and from today, Microsoft will no longer support Windows XP. What does this mean for your school?

    Today is April 8th 2014. This is the date that Microsoft has ended support for Windows XP.

    What does this mean for your school?

    If your school is still running Windows XP from today, you may be exposed to potential risks. Your school will no longer receive updates for Windows XP from Microsoft, including security updates that can help protect your school’s PCs from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

    Many software and hardware vendors will no longer support their products that are running on Windows XP. For example, the new Office leverages the modern Windows and will not run on Windows XP. When problems arise, online and phone-based technical support will no longer be available to assist you or your school IT partner.

    We're here to support your school's full migration off XP and on to a modern learning environment. If your school has replaced Windows XP with Windows 8 or 8.1, you are eligible to win a prize of up to $15,000 worth of Dell PCs, laptops and tablets! Today is the last day you can enter.

    Are you a state or integrated school? The Microsoft Schools deployment kit takes the hard work out of upgrading your school's computers to Windows 8.1. You should have received this - find out more here!

    If your school is no longer running Windows XP and has migrated on to Windows 8 or 8.1, simply fill out the entry form here before the end of today. You can also click here to find an FAQ to assist you in your migration.

  • Partners in Learning is now the Microsoft Educator Network - and much more!

    We are pleased to announce that the Partners in Learning Network has undergone somewhat of a makeover and is now the Microsoft Educator Network! We'd just like to highlight some of the great new features of the Microsoft Educator Network that will make your experience as an educator even more valuable.

    1. Professional Development Courses Landing Page. This is a new page on the site designed to present our seminars and courses in context to each other so that you, as an educator, can determine which courses you want to explore in more depth.

    2. New features in Professional Development

    • My Learning Page: The new My Learning page associated with each course keeps track of your course status (what’s been taken, what’s left to be taken, a link to the transcript of what’s been taken and the button to generate the course certificate if you have completed the course). In the case below, you are seeing the course status for someone who completed the Teaching with Technology self-assessment and has a personalized learning path.

    • Certificate generator: When you have fully completed a course, a button will appear on the page enabling you to generate a PDF certificate that you can download and print. 

     3. Upgrades to Teaching with Technology

    • Microsoft Certified Exam: If you are interested in taking the MCE, this page tells you how you can get vouchers. In addition, you can download the TWT Study Guide.

    4. New seminar: Windows 8 in the Classroom

    • Windows 8 in the Classroom takes all the Windows 8 videos and puts them in one place and enables you to earn a badge for watching them.

     

    5. New badge for 21stCentury Learning Design

    • You can now earn a 21st Century Learning Design badge. Like any course, if you have taken a course in person, please send us your list and we will badge them. Soon, you will be able to take 21st Century Learning Design courses on the Educator Network and earn a badge and certificate just like the other courses!

    There are still more exciting features to come! For now, take a look around the Microsoft Educator Network website, sign up if you haven't already, and spread the word!

  • A Celebration of Innovation in Action: A Look Back at the 2014 Global Forum

    "I have often said that education has the power to transform the world. After the incredible week we had at the 2014 Microsoft in Education Global Forum in Barcelona, I know this adage could not be more true. Over 1,100 educators, school leaders, government officials, education leaders and students from 97 countries gathered together to share innovative ways to harness the power of technology, all for the betterment of education. It was indeed transformative for me, and I hope for everyone involved." - Anthony Salcito, Vice President Microsoft Worldwide Education, rounded off the event perfectly.

    Check out this fantastic recap of the 2014 Global Forum. Stay tuned for how you can have the chance get involved next year!

  • Building formative assessment into game-based learning - an innovative example!

    Game-based learning (GBL) is an innovative practice that is working to engage kids in learning important 21st century skills and content. In this sixth grade classroom at Quest to Learn, ongoing feedback is embedded throughout the course of a collaborative geography game called Galactic Mappers. Check it out!

    Game-based learning is predicted to take the education sector by storm as the awareness of 21st Century learning increases throughout the world. Why? When a child progresses through a game, they are learning; if they are actively engaged in the game, their minds are coming to understand a new system. Whether the game is for entertainment or serious purposes, this is true. So, when learning in the classroom feels dull for a student, they are not being engaged and motivated by the learning process. Learning is about acquiring the skills and thinking processes necessary to respond appropriately when under pressure. What gamification gives our students is effective, interactive experiences that motivate their minds by actively involving them in the learning process.

    Windows 8 has numerous learning based apps that are taking classrooms by storm. Among our favourites are Physamajig, which allows students to watch their own sketches be translated into realistic physics objects and Wordament, a very addictive word game, that provides a fun way to improve vocabulary.

  • St Andrew's College Creates Student ePortfolios with OneNote and Office365

    Sam McNeill, Director of ICT at St Andrew's College, recently blogged about one Year 6 class' fantastic work with OneNote for creating ePortfolios. We enjoyed it so much, we thought we'd share it with you. You can see Sam's full blog post here!

    "One of the things I love about St Andrew’s College is the fact that we are a school from Yr1 to Yr13 and in my role as Director of ICT I get the chance to see learning in action in classes across this age range. Today I met with one of our new teachers, Mr Wilj Dekkers, who teaches a Yr6 class and together we chatted about his use of Microsoft OneNote for creating ePortfolios for his students."

    "For the uninitiated, ePortfolios are essentially a way for students to create a record of their learning, some of their work (either in progress or ‘published’), and being able to share it with others (usually the teacher, parents or other students in the class). Historically, this type of work has been put into a scrapbook or clear file and one of the great things about an ePortfolio is the ability to add audio and video, alongside the photos and written work of students."

    After giving his students some basic guidance around logging into Office365 and creating documents in OneDrive, they were then asked to share their ePortfolio OneNote Notebook with Mr Dekkers. Here is a good example of one page of an ePortfolio:

    "The convenient aspect for Wilj is that he can see the work of any student anytime, anywhere at the click of a button. Additionally he can comment directly into the ePortfolio to provide encouragement, feedback and feedforward. This feedback, along with the electronic format of these ePortfolios which can double as traditional homework workbooks, resulted in a parent emailing Wilj the following about her son:"

    "[He] has worked harder at his homework than ever before and whilst he still needs a bit of a nudge to get into it, he is certainly putting in more effort than he has in the past. Thank you for your efforts to make the work relevant and interesting."

    "Because these ePortfolios are all stored online in OneDrive (part of Microsoft’s Office365 which St Andrew’s College subscribes to), the content is always “real time” and accessible anywhere, whether at home or in the class. An additional benefit of this is that students can work collaboratively on work together. Inevitably, this resulted in a large novelty factor for students as they saw their peer’s work ‘magically’ appear in their OneNote notebook as they worked together on something. However, this also has real, tangible, benefits as Wilj explained:"

    "I had a student home sick vomiting. As he started to feel better, he got out his computer, logged into Office365 and started planning the board game he and his friend at school were working on. He emailed an invitation to work collaboratively on the document to his friend and together they continued the planning, meaning they were not behind the others simply because one was not physically at school."


    Wilj's work is a fantastic example of how OneNote can be used to facilitate 21st Century learning in the classroom. A huge thank you to Sam for sharing this great story! Don't forget to read the full post here.

  • Thailand selects Office 365 for every student nationwide!

    This week, Thailand’s Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) is announcing a sweeping cloud education partnership with Microsoft, one that will provide 8 million students and 400,000 teachers throughout the country with free access to the world's best cloud-enabled productivity software, Microsoft Office 365 for Education. The deal will allow students and teachers throughout the country to create, connect and collaborate on a safe and secure platform. This is the largest cloud education initiative ever, and one that promises to foster sustainable growth and raise Thailand’s overall standard of living for generations to come.

    Partnerships like this are more critical today than ever before, with a recent IDC study citing skills developed through Microsoft Office among the most in-demand for future jobs. By 2020, according to the report, an astounding 30 percent of skilled jobs will require proficiency in Microsoft Office.

    In Thailand today, young people between the ages of 15 and 24 represent the largest unemployed population, a significant barrier to the country’s future prosperity. Through this partnership, Thai youth will develop the 21stcentury skills they need to find productive employment and help lead the country into the future. The agreement builds on Microsoft’s longstanding investment in Thailand’s education system, which in the past 20 years has impacted more than 164,000 teachers and 8 million students across 9,000 schools nationwide.

    This is exciting news for Microsoft, following our recent partnership announcements, including a partnership with the Sao Paolo State Department of Education to provide Office 365 to more than 4 million students, a large-scale cloud education partnership of 7.5 million Office 365 seats deployed by the All India Council for Technical Education and the 4.5 million seats deployed by the Catholic International Education Office. But while Tuesday’s announcement demonstrates positive momentum for Microsoft in Education, it is only a single step on a long journey.

    That journey, which is taking Microsoft to countries and classrooms in every corner of the world, is helping to create a better future for young people, one that is globally connected and economically sustainable. Cloud technology, and specifically Office 365 for Education, can be a great equalizer, helping under-developed countries catch up to those that enjoy relative prosperity. But even in those more prosperous countries, technology can continue to transform the prospects of young people.

    Take Finland, for example. This progressive country is often held up as a model for successful education reform – and rightly so. But even Finland recognizes that its journey to education transformation is ongoing. This week, I’m traveling there to kick off Microsoft’s pilot partnership with more than 100 schools to support teachers and technology. This partnership brings cities, companies and other key education stakeholders together to address the challenges of improving learning environments against a backdrop of shrinking budgets. Microsoft will invest in teacher training, advisory and learning materials so that educators can take full advantage of technology in the pursuit of more effective teaching and learning. As in Thailand, this effort is intended to spark economic and employment opportunities for the country’s youth.

    The road to true education transformation – where technology and pedagogy work seamlessly and hand-in-hand – is a long one, full of twists and turns. But this week, Microsoft has taken an important step forward in two countries with very different educational and societal challenges. As we help Thailand address a crisis of youth unemployment and Finland build on an already exemplary foundation, we recognize that wherever we are, our commitment to building a better and more sustainable future compels us forward.

    This blog was originally posted by Anthony Salcito, Vice President - Worldwide Education at Microsoft. You can read it here.

  • Microsoft World Tour School - Hellerup School, Denmark

    Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education at Microsoft, recently blogged about the innovative Hellerup School in Denmark. Hellerup School is one of the Microsoft World Tour Schools in the Innovative Schools Program. The school is operating in one big open classroom environment without walls. Students are encouraged to work according to their individual learning styles in a synergy relationship with educators, management and parents that is based on trust and mutual commitment.

    Hellerup School frequently has visitors from the education environment on all continents that want to see the innovative and creative way education works within the school. Check out this video to get a look into the world-leading 21st century practices and designs Hellerup utilizes!

  • Infographic: Teachers are heroes!

    It's almost Friday and we thought we'd boost your spirits. The infographic below was posted on the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education blog.

    Check it out, share it and tweet us your thoughts. More importantly, take a minute to pat yourself on the back! Kiwi teachers really are our heroes and we couldn't be more proud!


  • Student Advantage now available – the best way to get Office for your students

    It is our pleasure to announce that, beginning 1st December 2013, every school in New Zealand that licences Office for staff and faculty is eligible to get Office 365 Pro Plus for students at no additional cost.

    The Student Advantage benefit will support schools’ BYOD and 1:1 Learning programmes, enabling students to have the full Office software on their own device. 

    What’s included in Office 365 Pro Plus?

    Office 365 ProPlus is the full version of Office and includes student favourites like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, Outlook and more. Office 365 ProPlus is a user-based service and allows each student to install on up to five PCs or Macs. Students can install on home or personally-owned devices and are covered throughout their time at the school.

    All New Zealand state and integrated schools have this benefit available now (through the coverage of the Ministry of Education Microsoft Schools Agreement).

    To take up this Student Advantage added benefit, the next steps are:

    1. Add the zero-cost Student Advantage SKU to your Microsoft agreement; and
    2. Deploy the no-cost Office 365 A2 Plan service for staff and students; then
    3. Students are able to download the Office Pro Plus client software to their devices (up to 5 devices per student).

    Please contact your Microsoft Reseller for more details:

    • For schools enrolled in the Microsoft Schools Agreement with the Ministry of Education, please contact Datacom on 0800 22 55 428, or www.moe.dsv.co.nz/MoE_Recent_Releases.aspx
    • For all other schools, please contact your Academic Reseller or partner.
  • Windows 8.1 is here!

    You may have heard, Windows 8.1 has been released today! We are very pleased to announce that it is available for free download right here. If you have a PC running Windows 8, there are a huge variety of reasons to upgrade to the new version. This update will introduce you to many useful tools and we can't wait to see what you think of them!

    So, what's new in Windows 8.1?

    • Start faster. The Start button has returned to the desktop—tap or click to get to Start. If you prefer, you can now go straight to the desktop when you sign in, or use the same background for both your desktop and Start. And see all your apps at once in the new all-apps view.
    • Search everywhere. With Bing smart search you can search once and see everything—from the web, or the settings, files and apps on your PC—and act on search results right away. Play a song, call a friend, open an app, or get to your favorite site. Just search and do. (Certain features unavailable in some regions.)
    • Do more at once. Chat while gaming, shop while watching, or work while listening. Depending on your screen size, you can now see up to four apps on your screen at once and move through all the ways you use your PC with ease.
    • Get more apps. In the redesigned Windows Store, you'll discover apps built only for Windows 8.1, new community favorites, and personalized recommendations. This update also gives you some great new built-in apps like Reading List and Food + Drink. And now you'll be able to install your apps on all your tablets and PCs running Windows 8.1.
    • Use it your way. On your Start screen, there are more tile sizes, more color options, and animated backgrounds. On your lock screen, you can see a slide show of your favorite photos and take photos—all without unlocking your PC.
    • Type smoothly. The updated touchscreen keyboard learns as you type, making suggestions based on what you've written. If you use multiple languages, you can type text more easily with new keyboard layouts. Emoji are now in color.
    • Always have your files. Save documents, photos, and other files to SkyDrive automatically so you'll have them anywhere—even on another device. And they'll be safe if something happens to your PC.
    • Browse better. Internet Explorer 11 has faster load times, a full-screen experience that includes side-by-side browsing of sites, and real-time info from favorite sites delivered to your Start screen.

    You can learn even more about the Windows 8.1 features here and take a look at Mashable's recent post, 10 Reasons You Should Upgrade to Windows 8.1 Now.

  • Office 365: Your complete resource guide

    Microsoft is committed to the success of every student, and our goal is to help students reach their full potential through the world's leading productivity tools in Office 365. It is important to us that, as educators, using Office 365 is made easy in order to support and facilitate 21st century learning in your classroom. Here's two fantastic resources you should keep bookmarked for the year ahead:

    • The Office 365 Technology Blog: HERE

    This is the official technology blog announcing the various new services available on Office 365.

    • Office 365 - Training & Learning: HERE

    In addition to what is available on the Partners in Learning Network, this resource has videos and how to guides for getting teachers and students started on using Office 365.

    Happy learning!