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    Want to know what is happening at BETT next week on the Microsoft stand. Then here direct from the BETTmiester himself. Tim Bush is the our schedule

    As one of the largest EdTech shows in the world and with hundreds of exhibitors, the BETT Show can be pretty overwhelming for visitors without careful planning and a plentiful supply of snacks to get you through the day.

    While we can’t help you with the snacks, we can help you with some information to help you plan your day at the show.

    The Microsoft Theatre, which is a focal point of our stand (D270), offers visitors to the show access to a series of informative and thought provoking sessions, delivered by teachers and Microsoft staff, that discuss how technology can make a real difference within your institution.

    Covering a wide range of topics such as computer science in the curriculum, flipped learning and the future of collaboration, the content in our theatre this year promises to be our best yet and is sure to provide you with the inspiration you need to help enhance any of your current projects.

    So that you don’t miss any of the great content in our theatre, and help you plan your day, I just wanted to share the full agenda for all 4 days of the show.

    BETT 2014: Microsoft Theatre Agenda

    10.30am – 11.00am
    The Future of Collaboration: How Windows 8, Lync and SharePoint is helping to transform learning within Broadclyst Primary School
    Matt Pitts @ Broadclyst Primary School

    11.00am – 11.30am
    Using Skype to Create the Global Classroom
    Jon Tait @ Woodham Academy

    11.30am – 12.00pm
    A is for Algorithm: Your first steps in primary computing
    Claire Lotriet @ Henwick Primary School

    12.00pm – 12.30pm
    Flipped Learning: How Wymondham High Academy Trust is using Office 365 Education, Yammer and Surface to transform teaching and learning
    Kevin Sait @ Wymondham High Academy Trust

    12.30pm – 1.00pm
    My Digital BFF - How a Windows 8 devices is the perfect teaching and learning companion for all ages
    Steve Molyneux @ Tablet Academy

    1.00pm – 1.30pm
    How IT has helped transform teaching and learning and support a new culture of learning excellence at Twickenham Academy
    Dwayne Philip @ Twickenham Academy

    1.30pm – 2.00pm
    Inspiring the developers of the future: Everything you need to light up the imaginations of young developers
    Ray Chambers @ Uppingham Community College

    2.00pm – 2.30pm
    IT Manager of the Future - Where do you want to go tomorrow?
    James Marshall @ Microsoft

    2.30pm – 3.00pm
    The Future of Collaboration: How Windows 8, Lync and SharePoint is helping to transform learning within Broadclyst Primary School
    Matt Pitts @ Broadclyst Primary School

    3.00pm – 3.30pm
    Using Skype to Create the Global Classroom
    Jon Tait @ Woodham Academy

    3.30pm – 4.00pm
    A is for Algorithm: Your first steps in primary computing
    Claire Lotriet @ Henwick Primary School

    4.00pm – 4.30pm
    Flipped Learning: How Wymondham High Academy Trust is using Office 365 Education, Yammer and Surface to
    transform teaching and learning
    Kevin Sait @ Wymondham High Academy Trust

    4.30pm – 5.00pm
    My Digital BFF - How a Windows 8 devices is the perfect teaching and learning companion for all ages
    Steve Molyneux @ Tablet Academy

    5.00pm – 5.30pm
    How IT has helped transform teaching and learning and support a new culture of learning excellence at Twickenham Academy
    Dwayne Philip @ Twickenham Academy

    5.30pm – 6.00pm
    Inspiring the developers of the future: Everything you need to light up the imaginations of young developers
    Ray Chambers @ Uppingham Community College

    **** Please note the theatre sessions finish with Claire Lotriet’s presentation at 4pm on Saturday ***

    We are looking forward to welcoming you on the stand at BETT 2014. If you have any questions about any of the theatre sessions, please do not hesitate to get in touch via Twitter – @microsofteduk

    Don’t forget to visit me on the ‘Wall of Appiness’ on our stand, where I will be demonstrating 100s of great Windows 8.1 apps. Come and say hi and get in touch via Twitter – @innovativeteach

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    imageSince starting this list three months ago, the number of Apps in the Windows store has grown immensely. I have been working with my good friends at the Tablet Academy and together we have grown this list, it is possibly the best list of apps you will find for Windows 8/8.1 devices anywhere for your classroom.

    It would be great to get some feedback on these Apps. How are you using them in the classroom? for example.

    If you are looking for more free stuff from Microsoft UK Education then why not download the free app I created. It has links to loads of the free resources available from Microsoft Education. Download here


    App Name

    Brief Description



    This is my number one app. Available as a free App,


    Kodu This is my number one app for getting kids to code. It is perfect Kodu
    My Study Life Free planning tool fro teachers, students and Lecturers My Study Life
     Face the Facts A great Quiz app. Test your knowledge and build your own quizzes  Face the Facts
    Send to QR This App adds an extra option to the share charm. Send to QR
    MQR QR code Designer

    Create your own design in a QR code.

    QR Code Designer
    Unit Conversion Tool

    A simple app that easily and effectively converts measurements

    Conversion Tool
    EJournal+ This App combines text, drawing, audio recordings, videos and web links and publishes them as one document. Ejournal+
    FlashQuiz Flash quiz is an app for creating and using revision flash cards. Flash Quiz
    Project Siena A solution being developed by Microsoft that makes it easy to create Apps for Windows. Project Siena
    Slide Idea Slide Idea allows you to import existing PowerPoint presentations or create a presentation from scratch. Slideidea
    GuruCool Playschool

    A nice app for early years looking at letters, shapes, numbers and colours.

    First Words with Phonics Lite Game based App for teaching phonics for EYFS. Phonics Lite
    Read with Biff, Chip & Kipper Excellent reading App for primary children. Chip & Kipper
    Stop Frame Studio Create great stop frame animations Stop Frame Studio
    9 Slides Perfect for flipping the classroom. The App allows you to record a video alongside your PowerPoint or PDF 9 Slides
    Doodleinator Create hand drawn animations. Doodleinator
    Vodeclic An series of video tutorial Apps full covering how to use Windows 8 and other software Vodeclic
    Jurassic Park Excellent resource when you're looking at Dinosaurs. Jurassic Park
    MegaTube This App allows you to search Youtube then download the video you need Megatube
    3D Builder

    For those of you lucky enough to have a 3D Printer this App contains a number of models you can print. You can even create your own Train set.

    3D Builder
    Star Chart

    a nice App for looking at Star Charts and information about Planets etc.

    NASA Curiosity Discover the NASA Curiosity Robot and the details of its two year NASA Curiosity
    Clip Collage Movie Maker Import video clip and photos, add a soundtrack to make movies Clip Collage
    GeoGebra Dynamic Maths software that brings together geometry, algebra, graphing and many other concepts GeoGebra
    Presentation Next The world’s most advanced HTML5 presentation maker Presentation Next


    Create and animate objects using Physics – Build your own angry birds!

    Coolstreet Run your own Pizza empire - cloud-based micro-economic simulation game  Coolstreet
    Disney Action Make a film with Disney characters and yourself  Disney Action


    Personal Cloud Storage

    included in Win 8

    Comic Director

    A comic maker (not RT)

    Comic Director

    Adobe Photoshop Express

    Photo editing App

    Adobe Photoshop Express

    Arcsoft Showbiz

    Video Editing

    ArcSoft ShowBiz


    A great paint App

    Fresh Paint

    Blink Cliplets

    Capture Images, and create great effects

    BLINK Cliplets

    QR Creator

    Generate QR codes

    QR Creator


    Stop Frame Animation Creator



    Simple Video Editor



    A Photo Editing App


    Comic Tailor

    Create your own Comics

    Comic Tailor


    Stop Frame Animation Creator


    Movie Edit Touch

    A video Editor

    Movie Edit Touch


    Paint with Words


    Fractal Photographer

    Generate Fractals

    Fractal Photographer

    Skitch Touch

    Annotate captured images

    Skitch Touch

    Essay Marker

    Create your own Essay Marking rubric

    Essay Marker

    Evernote Touch

    Note taking App

    Evernote Touch

    Bing Translator

    Translate text via typing or through the camera

    Bing Translator

    Nova Mindmapping

    Create Mind Maps

    NovaMind Mind Mapping

    Video Coaching Pal

    Record and analyse sport performance, also great in Science

    Video Coaching Pal

    Health & Fitness

    Create and monitor you exercise and diet

    New App in Windows 8.1


    Create Photo Montages



    Create and access AudioBoo



    Simple doodling App



    It’s Skype



    A collection of useful tools

    Toolbox for Windows 8

    Record Voice & Pen

    Draw and narrate diagrams

    Record Voice & Pen

    Sound recorder

    A simple sound recorder

    Windows Sound Recorder

    Aviary Photo Editor

    A photo editor with lots of effects

    Photo Editor


    QR Code Reader

    Scan - QR Code and Barcode Reader


    App to access Wikipedia



    Ebook Reader


    Khan Academy

    App to access Khan Academy

    Khan Academy


    A cloud based workspace



    Download Youtube Videos

    YouTube Player/Downloader - MegaTube


    Explore the night sky

    SkyMap Free

    Reading List

    Collect articles to read

    New App in Windows 8.1


    Create scrapbooks using Pinterest


    Music Maker Jam

    A simple music creator

    Music Maker Jam

    Draw Notes for Skydrive

    Draw notes and save to skydrive

    Draw Notes for SkyDrive

    Map Notes for Skydrive

    Save maps and places to Skydrive

    Map Notes for SkyDrive

    Voice Notes for Skydrive

    Record Voice notes straight to Skydrive

    Voice Notes for SkyDrive

    Collabor8r for Skydrive

    Another Tool to use Skydrive


    Corinth Micro Plant

    Explore a plant to microsocopic level

    Corinth Micro Plant

    Corinth Anatomy Augmented

    Explore the human body in AR

    Corinth Micro Anatomy Augmented

    Kids Story Builder

    Create visual stories with narration

    Kids Story Builder

    Ball Strike

    A Kinect type game for Win 8



    Another Kinect type game



    Access Wordpress

    ToonVolt Cartoons

    Create your own Cartoons


    Paint a Story

    Paint and animate a story or diagram

    Paint a story

    Life Moments

    Create a photo diary

    Life Moments


    Create images from text



    Create stop frame animations


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  • 01/21/14--23:06: Kodu Kup 2014–It’s back
  • Exactly a year Kodu1ago when we launched at BETT, the inaugural Kodu Kup, we never thought it would be the runaway success it was. 70000 students and 2000 teachers took part. We are finding Kodu now to be an integral part of many school’s computing curriculum and if you are still thinking about what to do when the new computing curriculum starts in schools in England in September. Then participating in the Kodu Kup is the perfect way to start and if you entered last year, then enter again, as we have made some changes that we think you will like.

    Let’s just remind ourselves of how good the Kodu Kup is.

    Last year’s brilliant Kodu Kup Final

    About the Competition

    The Kodu Kup is open to anyone from a UK school aged between seven and fourteen. (including those taught at home or in hospital schools etc) (they have to be this age when they make the game or at the time of the final)

    Students must be entered as a team of three, forming a mini “game studio”.

    The closing date for all entries is Friday 30th May

    ***** NEW!***** This year you can now submit a game created using Project Spark

    Project Spark is a soon-to-be-released open-world digital canvas that enables anyone to build, play and share whatever they can imagine. We have included this in our competition to enable children to stretch their skills a little bit further. It will only be available for Windows 8 .1 and Xbox 360 and Xbox One


    Download Project Spark at

    The first 20 UK educators that can show that they have joined the Partners in Learning Network (i.e. screenshot) and send me a tweet @innovativeteach with the hash tag #kodukupUK. I will send a beta key , giving you access to this great new software. Project Spark will only run on a Windows 8/8.1 devices

    About the Games

    There is no specific theme or audience for the game but it must have a clear storyline, and well thought out characters with a detailed playing environment.

    Schools may wish to link this to current literacy projects already taking place.


    There will be three winning teams in each of the following categories:

     Primary – Secondary -   Project Spark -  Judges Choice

    The three teams in each category will receive an invitation to present their games to a panel of judges from the games industry at Microsoft Headquarters in Reading at the final in July, to decide the category winners.

    At the end of the day the winners of each category will each receive a Surface RT tablet and the overall winning team will take home the coveted Kodu Kup!

    What Should be Submitted?

    Teachers must enter their students’ work using the Microsoft Partners in Learning website and complete our Kodu Kup  Survey. Two files will need to be submitted per team; these include the game itself along with the completed documentation created using the poster template provided.

    For more details ….

    Follow @KoduKup on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook ( to receive regular updates, including dates of free training sessions!

    You can download Kodu Game Lab and other useful resources from the Microsoft Partners in Learning website

    Kodu is also available for Surface RT devices in the Windows store

    Project Spark – Windows 8/8.1 only can be downloaded from

    I am pleased to announce….

    Kodu Kup is now open!

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    AQA HomeI have spoke to many ICT teachers and inevitably the conversation turns to the issue of the exam syllabus. Which should they choose? Making sure they have the correct resources, curriculum materials and certification. Luckily the answer is fairly simple, choose a Microsoft solution through AQA and IT Academy. The AQA computer science syllabus provides students with real-world, practical programming techniques that give them a good understanding of what makes technology work. IT Academy and its MTA programmes provides all the rich curriculum activities and knowledge base you need to deliver the AQA syllabus, finally you can use the tools in our Dreamspark offering ( of all our developer tools for free, along with other free resources such as and App Studio. Perfect you might think? But no, we are teachers after all and we are pre-determined to look at the details. ‘How do all these things link together and map to the curriculum?’ is often the question. But thankfully now I have the answer, but more to the point, the Windows App.

    Working with the brilliant Microsoft  Educator Expert, Ray Chambers @lanky_boi_Ray we have been able to develop a simple Windows App that gives you all the info you need. Choose a curriculum area and the app with tell you the corresponding AQA exam syllabus and MTA curriculum that will help you teach that. All the mapping has been done for you.image

    Before you ask ….Smile 

    We will be working on mapping other exam boards shortly.

    In the meantime you can download the App from the Windows Store and if you are attending BETT, come and see Ray presenting this app and other aspects of his great work on the Microsoft stand.

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    imageIf you are followers of this blog , you will have noticed that once or twice I am have mentioned that I am welsh and proud of it.

    So it gives me great pleasure to announce, especially in light of our fantastic award win at the BETT awards, that Kodu is now available in Welsh , ‘the language of heaven’ as we say in Wales

    What makes this announcement even more special is that the translation was a project developed by the amazing students at Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg in the Vale of Glamorgan , South Wales. For the past 6 months these students have been producing the localization files needed to have Kodu in welsh. This is a massive achievement, as their work is available to anybody , anywhere in the world who downloads the latest version of Kodu – Well Done to them.

    Every copy of Kodu has a series of localiization files that sit in the main Kodu program folder. Navigate to >Microsoft Research>Kodu game lab>Content>xml>localizable , there you will find 16 other folders which will allow you to localize Kodu into languages such as French and Romanian. the welsh folder is CY, for Cymru.

    How to localize your Kodu

    Create a shortcut on your desktop using the following properties

    "C:\your main folder\Microsoft Research\Kodu Game Lab\Boku.exe" /localization CY

    You can change the CY to any other folder depending on the language you want to play in Kodu in , FR for example will convert Kodu into French, Très bien !

    Don’t forget to check out and enter this year’s Kodu Kup. Details here

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    imageOs ydych yn ddilynwyr y blog hwn , byddwch wedi sylwi , unwaith neu ddwywaith yr wyf wedi sôn fy mod yn Gymro ac yn falch ohono.

    Felly, mae'n rhoi pleser mawr i mi gyhoeddi fod Kodu bellach ar gael yn y Gymraeg, ' iaith y nefoedd ' fel yr ydym yn ei ddweud yng Nghymru.

    Yr hyn sy'n gwneud y cyhoeddiad hwn hyd yn oed yn fwy arbennig yw bod y cyfieithiad yn brosiect a ddatblygwyd gan y myfyrwyr anhygoel yn Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg ym Mro Morgannwg , De Cymru . Dros y 6 mis diwethaf mae'r myfyrwyr hyn wedi bod yn cynhyrchu y ffeiliau lleoleiddio sydd ei angen i gael Kodu yn Gymraeg .

    Mae hwn yn gyflawniad enfawr , gan fod eu gwaith ar gael i unrhyw un , unrhyw le yn y byd sydd yn lawrlwytho'r fersiwn diweddaraf o Kodu - Da Iawn nhw!

    Mae pob copi o Kodu gyfres o ffeiliau lleol sy'n eistedd yn y prif ffolder rhaglen Kodu .

    Llywiwch i >Microsoft Research > Kodu game lab> Content> xml > localizable , yno byddwch yn dod o hyd i 16 ffolder araill a fydd yn caniatáu i chi i leoleiddio Kodu i ieithoedd megis Ffrangeg a Rwmanieg . Y ffolder Cymraeg yw CY , ar gyfer Cymru .

    Sut i leoleiddio eich Kodu
    Creu llwybr byr ar eich bwrdd gwaith gan ddefnyddio'r canlynol    

    C : \ eich prif folder \ Microsoft Research\ Kodu Game Lab\ Boku.exe " / localization CY

    Gallwch newid y CY i unrhyw folder eraill yn dibynnu ar yr iaith rydych eisiau chwarae Kodu i, FR er enghraifft, fydd yn trosi Kodu i Ffrangeg , Très bien !

    Peidiwch ag anghofio edrych a cystadlu yn y Kodu Kup eleni .

    Mae’r manylion yma

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    David Renton is one of the UK’s Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts. In this post he describes his incredible journey with Microsoft and clearly shows why he deserves this title.

    He starts with sharing Project Spark… enjoy.

    Project Spark Demo

    Skills Show Birmingham NEC 14th to 15th November 2013

    imageI spent two days at the Skills Show at Birmingham NEC, at the invitation of Lee Stott (Microsoft Technical Evangelist), presenting on Microsoft’s amazing new game creation tool Project Spark and on Microsoft’s cross-platform app development tool TouchDevelop. Microsoft sponsored the City and Guilds stand at the Skills Show, which was an amazing event which had at least 75,000 visitors over the 3 days of the conference.

    I also got to meet up with another one of Microsoft’s Innovative Expert Educators, Simon Johnson Highfields School - Secondary Comprehensive (11-18) in the City of Wolverhampton.a High School Computing teacher from Highfields School in Wolverhampton. I had been corresponding on Twitter with Simon for months about TouchDevelop, as he was using some of my TouchDevelop game creation tutorials with his pupils. Simon has set up a TouchDevelop challenge website with some great resources on it and fascinating examples of games created by his pupils.


    Simon concentrated on TouchDevelop at the Skills Show, while Simon Michael (Microsoft Technical Evangelist) and I concentrated on spreading the word about Project Spark to the legions of High School pupils passing by. The reception for Project Spark was incredible; I really think the creative types who love Minecraft will love it. Project Spark has the creative aspects of games like Minecraft and game engines like UDK, but unlike Minecraft you can change the way the world works and program the characters to do what you want, including programming NPC (non-playable characters) with AI. Spark was created by the same minds behind Kodu and it builds on the simplistic language of KODU, so those who are familiar with coding in Kodu will take right to it, however there is so much more you can do in Spark than you could in Kodu. In Project Spark you can create a rich beautiful 3D world with its amazing next generation graphics, far superior in my opinion to the blocky world of Minecraft, but for those who love their Minecraft blocks there is even a cubify option. Project Spark has been added to the Kodu Kup competition this year and it will be launching free soon on Windows8.1, Xbox One and Xbox 360. image
    I had a great 2 days at the show, showing off Project Spark to the multitudes and even saw a few famous faces, like Theo Paphitis of Dragons Den fame and Princess Anne, who came by our stand for a visit, but unfortunately did not try her hand at Project Spark. I also got to demonstrate and do a recording of my Kinect Math Mage game, being played by Dolly bow bow. What you have never heard of her? Neither had I, she is YouTube famous evidently J.

    Microsoft MVP Global Summit Bellevue / Redmond 17th to 21st November 2013


    Straight after my 2 day stint at the Skills Show, I jumped on a plane to Seattle from London for my first visit to Microsoft HQ in Bellevue, which is just outside of Seattle on the North West coast of the USA. I was visiting for the Global MVP summit, as I have recently been awarded the title of Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for Kinect, making me the only Kinect MVP in the UK. The MVP programme has around 4000 professionals in it from over 90 countries and they answer more than 10 million questions a year to the technical community.

    I got to Seattle on Saturday and the conference was beginning Sunday evening, so I spent Sunday during the day doing a bit of sightseeing, my favourite thing was having brunch at the top of the Space Needle.

    I spent the first 2 days learning about the new Kinect for Windows version 2 which will be coming out probably around summer 2014. It is based on the Xbox One Kinect and has many new features over the old Kinect for Windows, such as:

    1. Full HD colour camera feed.

    2. Much wider field of view (removing the need for the tilt motor).

    3. 6 skeletons can be tracked at once instead of 2.

    4. Much improved depth camera.

    5. Much more accurate skeletal tracking with more joints detected and far less jitter. It can now track when someone is imagestanding side on to Kinect. It can also detect if you are leaning forward or backwards and continue to track joints.

    6. Hand detection and tracking, allowing for better grip detection and new gestures such as lasso which is pointing two fingers together for drawing or dragging. Also thumb tracking allowing the detection of a shooting gesture, which I’m sure, will have applications in games.

    7. Facial expressions are now available such as left or right eye open or shut, smiling, mouth open or closed and more. It should even be able to tell if you are wearing glasses or not.

    8. Most of the processing is now done on the GPU rather than the CPU of your computer.

    9. It now comes with and requires a USB3 port, which allows for a much higher throughput of data from the sensor.

    While I was at the conference all Kinect MVPs in attendance (about 12 of us) were gifted an alpha version of the new Kinect for Windows (K4W) v2 developers kit. It really is an amazing piece of kit and the accuracy of skeletal tracking is far superior to the previous generation.

    All MVPs attending the summit also received $300 off a Surface 2, making it a bargain at only $150, plus they gave us a free keyboard cover as well. I really love my Surface 2 and my iPad mini has almost been retired. There are still some Apps missing that I would love on Surface, but when I want to do some serious work on the go, or I want to take my work with me without having to carry about my full size laptop, there is no comparison and Surface wins. Plus it has a USB3 port, which might seem like a minor thing, but it really is a God send on a tablet when you have been used to not having one on the iPad.


    On the afternoon of day 2 of the conference I was able to visit with the TouchDevelop team in their offices and meet Peli and Nikolai who I have been emailing for the past year. I have spoken with Peli on the phone and in person many times while I was creating my games development curriculum for TouchDevelop, which I have been using to teach games programming to our entry level college students. It was great to see where TouchDevelop was created and meet with the rest of the TouchDevelop team.

    On the morning of day 3 I got a message from Peli early in the morning, asking if I wanted to go to a School with him, so I quickly got ready and took a taxi out to the school for 8.30am. Peli goes to the School 3 or 4 times a week from 8am until around 9.30am and then goes into Microsoft to do a full day’s work, that’s commitment for you. I gave a talk to the class about games development and TouchDevelop and showed them some techniques I use with TD to make games with my students back in Scotland. It was fascinating to see a full class working on TouchDevelop just using phones or tablets to program on. In college we mainly run it on a pc and load it up on a phone or tablet for testing, but these students were doing it all on the phone. It was also strange and flattering to hear that students from half-way around the world were making games using my games curriculum.

    Later that day I recorded a video for Microsoft where I was interviewed about my use of Kinect and they also recorded me demonstrating my Kinect Games. That evening I had a great night out at the MVP attendee party at the Seattle Aquarium and Seattle Great Wheel, at which I beat Ben Lower at Kinect Golf and enjoyed a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel, which is a slightly smaller version of the London Eye.

    On the last day of the summit I visited Microsoft’s amazing Envisioning Center with the rest of the Kinect MVPs and I got a glimpse into the future of technology, which evidently involves a lot of talking to appliances and rooms which sense your presence and sets the environment to suit you. I also got to go to the games studio that is behind Project Spark and meet with Scott Fintel who is project lead on both Kodu and Project Spark. I got to see the team hard at work on Spark and see the amazing concept art behind Spark. Peli & Nikolai from the TouchDevelop team came over later on and we jointly recorded a video with Scott, about Kodu and Project Spark for the Hour of Code on Channel9.

    The MVP summit was truly an amazing experience and I got to meet some incredible people from Microsoft as well as some inspirational MVPs who are doing amazing things with Kinect and other technologies. I just hope they renew my MVP award next year so I can attend again.



    Project Spark

    Microsoft MVP

    Microsoft in Education Global Forum

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    Great news , we are teaming up with the organisers of the UK Hour of code. So Teachers and students get ready by signing up today.

    clip_image001Hour of Code has already been extremely successful in the United States. More than 15 million students tried an Hour of Code over one week in December 2013, meaning the campaign spread faster in 7 days than the first 7 months of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram combined.

    UK schools are set to take advantage of coding resources that have already taken the US by storm, in an ambitious campaign to help UK teachers and students get to grips with the basics of computer programming in just one hour.

    Hour of Code teaches the basic skills of computer programming in just sixty minutes, through fun tutorials and lesson plans that feature well-known characters from apps and games. In one tutorial, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s Bill Gates team up to encourage learners to program their very own Angry Bird. For more experienced students and teachers, there are some more advanced tutorials as well.

    It couldn’t be easier. Neither students nor teachers need any prior experience to use the highly engaging, self-guided materials that are accessible for free on computers, tablets, and smartphones. There is even an ‘offline’ lesson plan for teachers to use when technology isn’t readily available in the classroom.    

    UK Hour of Code plans to be the biggest ever national initiative to get students, teachers and parents learning to code in just one hour. The week of UK Hour of Code will run from 3rd - 9th March,

    This date is also the 25th anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web by the UK’s ultimate coder, Tim Berners-Lee.

    We at Microsoft Partners in Learning want to help encourage every teacher to register and participate by visiting where further details can be found.

    To give you to even more incentive to register and take part, end your school name in the registration form with code – Microsoft and your school will be automatically entered into a free prize draw to win and Xbox and Kinect for your school.

    Do it today –

    register at

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    Last year’s Kodu Kup was a resounding success and has been celebrated with a prestigious BETT Award of which we are very proud. We want to say a big heart felt thank you to all the teachers and students who have found Kodu a great resource to learn how to code and have fun with computing.

    imageTo make sure Kodu is front and centre of Microsoft’s Education offering we need your thoughts and comments. Please share your love of Kodu this Valentine’s Week by completing this survey.

    We would like to invite you to complete a simple survey asking you your thoughts about Kodu and our KoduKup UK..

    Click this link to complete the survey.

    Also, please join on us on Twitter and Facebook by posting our Kodu Valentine’s message.

    ‘Roses are Red, Violets are Blue.We love Kodu, Do you?’ @kodukup 

    This survey will assist Microsoft in understanding your school's use of this visual programming language and games lab environment which allows students from KS2/3 upwards to design and build three dimensional games using either a PC or an XBox and XBox controller. clip_image005

    For every completed survey Microsoft Partners in Learning UK will send you a FREE copy of the amazing 528 page book 'KODU for Kids', saving you over £18.**

    ** Offer only available to UK Schools. One book per school.

    Share your love of Kodu in the Hour of Code, sign up today

    Put Microsoft at the end of you school name when registering to enter a free prize draw to win Xbox and Kinect for your school.

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    imageAre you looking for that ultimate geeky romantic gift for that special someone this Valentine’s Day? Then why not code them their very own ‘Love me, Love me not’ app using a Touchdevelop tutorial?

    Created for the Hour of Code the ‘Love me,Love me Not’ tutorial guides you through making a simple visual app that simulates plucking petals from a virtual rose to discover if you have a special place in someone’s heart. Find it at 

    Touchdevelop is browser based and will run on any platform. If you have a Windows 8.1 device then you can publish your app onto your device.

    This is all good fun, hopefully not only will it help you find true love, but encourage you to register for the UK’s first Hour of Code taking place between the 3rd and 9th March 2014. There are range of tutorials available for all ages, expertise and devices. Of course you can always use you own resources, maybe a lesson you have already planned for that week, can be an ‘Hour of code’.

    When completed, there are even personalised certificates you can print off for your students. All available from

    imageIf you would like to learn more about Touchdevelop or want a more in depth tutorial to start during the hour of code, then download the ‘How to build your first App Course’ -

    So Happy Valentine’s Day, Red Roses are so overrated, give code to the one you love!

    I will let you know what the current Mrs Ball thinks Smile

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    I have had the pleasure of working with  Cardiff-based Dad and former Silicon Valley software developer, Dan Bridge, this week launches his thirty day funding drive on Kickstarter for “Craft Computer Club”, a new product set to revolutionise the way in which computer skills – specifically computational thinking and coding – are taught to primary age children, comprising a colourful craft book with online support resources.

    A father of two, Dan acknowledged that tactile engagement with educational materials was critical in successful early

    years learning. Rather than develop a passive, screen-based product, he went back to basics, focusing on the things his own children love, teaching modern ideas through traditional methods – scissors, paper and glue. Dan explains: 

    “I initially developed The Craft Computer Club for my 5 year old daughter, who, like all other children, loves to cut and stick. As friends and family asked if they could use it too, I realised I could be onto something. My aim was to make it easy for anyone to use and I have designed particularly for parents who may not feel technically confident, but want to help children adopt twenty first century skills in a way that doesn’t involve simply sitting in front of a screen.

    “As the UK Government launches initiatives and shows a firm commitment to making computational thinking a critical part of our national curriculum, I’m excited by how much this product could achieve. It’s simple, accessible and fun to use. It has a place at every play table.

    Through his work as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) ambassador, Dan has piloted the scheme over six weeks with a primary class of twenty girls.

    “During the pilot, the girls learnt about the internal components of a computer, making their own models and moving on to games teaching them aspects of computing such how algorithms work and other facets of programming. By the end, they had a fantastic grasp on the workings of a computer, and how they relate to programs and programming.

    Why am I supporting this? well  these resources are ideal for young children when they are at their most creative.  It is the most perfect way to help them develop their computational thinking processes and prepare them for a future that has technology in every aspect of their lives.

    If you can support this project, its exactly what is needed.

    You can try some of Dan’s activities on his website -, these are ideal if you are looking to do something for the Hour of Code with young children.

    Hour of Code

    To give you to even more incentive to register and take part, end your school name in the registration form with code – Microsoft and your school will be automatically entered into a free prize draw to win and Xbox and Kinect for your school.

    Do it today –

    register at

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    clip_image002What happens when your favourite App is removed from the Store. It’s obvious, build your own version. Simon Johnson one of our ten Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts has developed this tutorial to develop your own version of Flappy Birds.

    It’s perfect as an Hour of code activity.

    Hour of Code

    To give you to even more incentive to register and take part, end your school name in the registration form with code – Microsoft and your school will be automatically entered into a free prize draw to win and Xbox and Kinect for your school.

    Do it today –

    register at

    With flappy bird removed from online stores, you may be all in a flap over where you are going to get your next flappy related fix. Well worry no more because, thanks to a free online tool called touchdevelop, you can now create your very own flapptastic app by simply following a few easy steps.

    What is touchdevelop?

    touchdevelop is an online app creation tool from Microsoft Research. Originally designed to develop Windows Phone 7 apps, the touchdevelop Web App now allows you to develop Windows Store apps suitable for Windows 8 touch screen devices and runs on iPad, iPhone, Android, PC, Mac, Linux. There is also a dedicated touchdevelop app on the Windows Phone 8.


    Created for the UK hour of code, this easy to use step-by-step tutorial will teach you how to create your very own flappy bird clone. Just follow this step-by-step tutorial and your flappy bird woes will soon be over. Click here:


    All in a flap - Create your very own flappy bird clone with this step-by-step tutorial.

    Hungry for more?

    If this tutorial has wet your appetite and you want to learn more! Why not sign up for UK hour of code (running between the 3rd and 9th March 2014). Through fun tutorials and lesson plans, Hour of code plans to be the biggest ever national initiative to get students, teachers and parents learning to code in just sixty minutes. Hour of Code has already been extremely successful in the United States with more than 15 million participants. Register for the UK hour of code here:

    Where next?

    Like to find out more about touchdevelop or want to try out some more tutorials? Below is a list of courses and schemes of work that introduce you to the programming concepts and the environment of the touchdevelop Web App.

    touchdevelop hour of code– official tutorials from the touchdevelop team

    Build your first app - free online course from Microsoft

    touchdevelop challenge hour of code– step-by-step tutorials created to support the UK hour of code

    touchdevelop Challenge - series of lessons and challenges to get students building games and apps with touchdevelop.

    games4learning - Created by David Renton (Extended Lecturer in Games Development: Reid Kerr College, Scotland) A series of YouTube tutorials which introduce students to game design using touchdevelop.

    Ray Chambers' touchdevelop Scheme of Work - A complete scheme of work for touchdevelop which sees students design and create an app from scratch.

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    If you have been thinking about entering this year’s Kodu Kup, but feel perhaps you can do with some help to get started. Then why not get some training from ComputerXplorers, this year’s official training partner for Kodu Kup UK.

    Preparing children for a technology driven futureimage

    ComputerXplorers specialise in igniting young children’s interest in computing with accessible, engaging classes. Their classes don’t simply teach skills – they give pupils a hunger to stretch their abilities and try new things.

    ComputerXplorers is part of the world's largest franchised network providing  fun and engaging quality technology education for children. ComputerXplorers operates across the UK in the South and South West of the country as well as the Midlands, the London area, the North of England and Scotland and Wales. For more specific information on locations check out their website.

    As part of the ComputerXplorers Programming for Primaries Week (24th to 30th March 2014) ComputerXplorers is providing free programming classes to local primary schools in their areas.

    The free classes are available to a group of children (Year 3+ working with Kodu) or to a group of teaching staff (an Introduction to Programming for Primary school teachers).

    Get in touch with them via their website ComputerXplorers Programming for Primaries.

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    This week in Wales many school children will be celebrating St Davids Day. This will be a celebration of welsh culture and tradition , and an essential part of the celebration will be the Welsh Language. Welsh is the official language of Heaven as we say in Wales, about 20% of the population speak it fluently and it is taught as a compulsory subject to the age of 14 in schools. Some children like my daughter have all there education taught through the medium of welsh and I proud that they regard themselves a bi-lingual.

    It is with great pleasure that I can announce that The Welsh language has now joined a growing list oft languages to benefit from translation services provided by Microsoft Translator. Developed by the National Assembly for Wales in partnership with Microsoft, the system consists of tools, services and applications which provide support across the suite of Microsoft products and services, including Word and Outlook, along with Bing Translator applications for Windows, Windows Phone and online at

    So for example using Lync, you can use the conversation translator and converse with somebody in your own language and have it converted to Welsh , live and immediately , and then translated back to you, amazing.

    imageby the amazing students at Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg in the Vale of Glamorgan , South Wales. For the past 6 months these students have been producing the localization files needed to have Kodu in welsh. This is a massive achievement, as their work is available to anybody , anywhere in the world who downloads the latest version of Kodu –

    Don’t forget to check out and enter this year’s Kodu Kup. Details here

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    Today is World Book Day and children (and I suspect some teachers) will be dressed as their favourite characters from books. I personally am sat writing this post as Spiderman!

    This day is a time to celebrate all that is great about reading, the wonderful worlds and characters that books create in the imaginations of children.

    Technology can play a role in bringing those worlds to life and the Windows Store has some great apps that can help children learn to read and develop their love of books.

    Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper is the UK's favourite home reading series. The highly successful Oxford Reading Tree reading scheme is used in 80% of UK primary schools. It has been developed by leading educational experts and tailored to match current teaching practice. Build your collection of interactive books as you need, one at a time or by level as your child builds their reading skills. image

    Kids Story Builder helps pupils create their own exciting and personalized stories using real photos and voices. Using a webcam and microphone children can create their own reading books and stories. These can be exported as videos or read in the app.
    CreateBook is a brand new app in the Windows store and is available free until the 16th March.CreateBook allows children and teachers to create their own digital books, everything from narrated story books to multimedia revision guides. It’s simple, stunning interface will make it the ideal companion for Windows 8 Tablets in the classroom. image

     Looking for more great free Windows 8.1 Apps then check out this blog post

    Enjoy World Book Day!

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    All week school leaders have collated and collaborated at the 9th Annual Microsoft in Education Global Forum. It’s been a fantastic week and one that was made very special when mentor school Broadclyst Community Primary School took centre stage to take part in the ‘Pitch Competition.’


    Inspired by the Dragon’s Den, schools were given the opportunity to present a business idea to a selected panel – the pitch– and convince them that it is relevant and doable with the goal of transforming learning and student outcomes in their school. The winner gets to tap into funding and investors get to tap into ideas and connect with some of the most innovative schools in the world and partner with them to improve student outcomes.

    Last night we heard from the 6 finalists (79 countries took part) who pitched to judges Tamela Noboa, Chief Strategy Officer, Discovery Channel Global Education Partners; Sandra Licon, Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director, Microsoft Citizenship and Public Affairs.

    They recognized 3 winners: Broadclyst Primary School, UK; Gayaza High School (Uganda); Schloss Neubeuern ,Germany.

    Broadclyst Primary School came first and were awarded the highest amount $25,000 for their business model:

    Idea: Global enterprise challenge, where students from schools around the world connect to run an international company. This will include international companies, each with a different product, competing to become the most successful company globally with cross-school and cross-country collaboration.

    Why they were chosen: Gives students awareness of cultural diversities, an understanding of world markets and currencies along with the core skills of communication, collaboration, teamwork and problem solving. This will bring together students from many countries to work in one global challenge.                                                


    The highlight of the pitch came directly from the school when two amazing young ladies, Poppy and Jess, were beamed into the auditorium using Lync to assist the one and only Jonathan Bishop (HT) sell the idea to the judges.

    Poppy:‘‘I think that it was a great experience being able to Lync call Barcelona and be able to give our point of view on the Enterprise Project. It was quite nerve racking but I felt confident talking about the Project because it is something I have really enjoyed doing. I loved seeing ourselves on the big screen and it felt great to be involved in an international conference with people from around the world. It really is incredible that we won and I think it proves that if you work hard, you see the rewards.’’ 

    Jess‘‘I found the whole experience extremely exciting as we were able talk about our Enterprise project to people that didn’t really know what it was about. It was a great learning opportunity as we got to speak to a large group of people even though it felt quite daunting. It was brilliant to see ourselves on the big screen and it felt like we were famous! It really is incredible that we won the competition and it will be amazing to see how the Enterprise Project develops globally in the future’’

    WP_20140313_17_16_15_Pro (2)Jonathan Bishop:‘‘The event was an amazing opportunity to share what we have been doing at Broadclyst through an Enterprise project bringing together children from different schools into a collaborative project. To take this now to the next level and make it a truly global enterprise project will be really exciting. The children involved benefit tremendously from these international links but this project will get over a 1000 children working together across 20 countries. The ‘pitch competition’ was certainly a test of my nerves but it was not only good fun but just brilliant to meet the judges and have the support of everyone at the MS Global Forum. I never dreamt that we would get through to the final let alone have our ideas accepted and receive the full $25,000 funding to make the project a reality. The hard work now begins and I am looking forward to working with all our partners in turning the ideas into reality. If there are any schools who would like to be part of the competition then please do get in touch.’’

    Look out for further blog posts on Broadclyst Primary School and the exciting journey they are about to embark on!

    Follow the Global Forum Anytime, Anywhere! The Facebook app is , on our Twitter feed (; #MicrosoftGF and #MSExpertEducator), or on our YouTube channel. Experience the competition, discover the big announcements and news, get inspired by the best of worldwide education!

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    Last week were at the Microsoft in Education Global Forum in Barcelona. Before I write about what went on during the week, I wanted to share with you the experiences of those who turned out to be the most influential people there. The students form Saltash,net community school.

    For the last nine years Microsoft has provided a Global Forum for Education in which Teachers, School Leaders and Ministers of Education share the very best practice from around the world and award the best of the best internationally.

    This year’s Global Forum in Barcelona was different. For the first time in the history of the Forum, students took part as educational experts in their own right. Four students from Community School presented their ideas to ministers of education, school leaders and teachers from over 100 countries. They judged awards, provided a help desk and guidance for teachers, were interviewed by Anthony Salcito; worldwide head of education at Microsoft, interviewed Steve Beswick; the head of Microsoft Education in the UK and launched a worldwide student leadership project for schools all over the world. Together with their teacher Mr Scott Wieprecht they were presented with an award at the final Gala dinner by the Catalonian Secretary of State for Education.

    The students; George, Amy, Jack and Rowenna from years 8 and 9 were photographed, videoed and interviewed all week like the Global superstars they are. James Bernard, Head of Global Partnerships at Microsoft was one of many to make a special point of thanking each of the students for the transformational role they played at the event.

    Day by day at the event


    Four teachers and four students flew from Bristol to Barcelona on the day before the conference.

    On day one the students presented the now award winning project devised by Scott Wieprecht called the ‘OffPerts’: a student-led expert group that investigates features of Office 365 and produces guides for students and teachers. The students devised, shot and edited videos and these soon gained the attention of Stuart Ball: Education Programme Manager for Microsoft in the UK who has supported the group ever since, inviting them to be the first students to present at a product launch in the UK and then the Global Forum in Barcelona.


    On day two the students presented their personal experiences of being involved in projects at in which they provided assistance to teachers when each student in the class had access to a laptop / tablet for all their lessons. The audience was made up of over 150 global leaders in education who had come to the conference to plan similar projects on a larger scale. The advice of the students was used to inspire them as they started their two day workshop.


    Later the students demonstrated new software to teachers and school leaders from over 100 countries and listened to internationally renowned keynote speakers, some of whom they were able to ask questions. There was growing realization by the on looking media that the students opinions were based on their firsthand knowledge of leading innovative projects and so the queue for interviews and photos began getting longer and longer.


    On day three the students split into two pairs; Rowenna and George worked together with Spanish students to develop the essential features of future schools. They then presented this back on stage to the audience of global education leaders. This was highlighted as one of the best sessions in the conference by delegates. Jack and Amy each joined judging panels for teacher projects. They each listened to a range of projects and then debated their views with judges from Microsoft, School leaders and Educational leaders. The judges tweeted later how enormously impressed they were by the students and asked can they really be only 12 years old?


    On the final day of the conference, the student’s launched a project open to all of the mentor and showcase schools in the conference in which they offered to assist in helping student leadership projects develop all over the world by running monthly virtual student-led sessions.

    On the final day of the conference, the students pre-launched a global project, with the working title “Project Aspire”, to delegates on the schools track. The project, available to any forward thinking school in the World, would see schools regularly link up and exchange ideas about student leadership projects, and give suggestions of ways students could progress with there over a variety of levels.

    They attended a keynote speech by non other than the Prince of Spain and European representatives together with a panel of teachers and school leaders from around the world who agreed that the role of students was changing in education. Julio Fontan from the world famous Fontan school in Colombia stated that he had seen a shift in the role of students at this conference compared to the others he had attended which made him more hopeful for the future of education globally.

    After the keynote the students fitted in interviews including one with the Head of Microsoft in the UK; Steve Beswick. The students shared their ambition for a national student led conference to be held in Cornwall in 2015. Mr Beswick was extremely impressed and requested for them to send him a costed business plan.


    After the interview with Steve there was time to visit the world famous Sagrada Famila which the students averaged as 7.5/10 compared to 8/10 for the cable car.


    On returning to the hotel the students discovered that their interview with Anthony Salcito for his Daily Edventures blog earlier in the week had impressed the boss so much that it had earned the honour of seating at the top table for themselves, the four teachers from and Stuart Ball at the Gala Dinner.


    And finally, the suspense of the awards ceremony where, in front of over a thousand delegates from the world of education, Mr Scott Wieprecht from had his student-led OffPerts project honoured with an award presented by the secretary of state for education to loud applause from the audience.


    Later we returned to the stage for more photographs with some of the people who made the whole event possible. Thank you to all of the students for an amazing week after which the Microsoft Global Forum will never be the same and thank you to all of those who worked so hard to make this happen including staff from; Scott Wieprecht, Grant Taylor, Sam Owen, Ben Rowe, Isobel Bryce, David Jones, Kellie Alders, Katie Boothman and Dan Buckley; and staff from Microsoft; Stuart Ball, Steve Beswick, Anya Ruvinskaya, Maria Langworthy, Razan Roberts, James Bernard and Nasha Fitter.



    Day five should have seen an exhausted group of students and teachers but no; fired up by their success, the students were planning how to take the OffPerts project to the next level and introduce a UK wide and global project later this year.


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    Here is another great post from one of the UK Microsoft Innovative Expert Educators – Ray Chambers @lanky_boi_ray .  He shares his thoughts and impressions of the event. But also seems to have had too much fun.

    mystand Last week have had the honour of attending the global forum in Barcelona. Early last year I submitted an application to become an Expert Educator for Microsoft. The application process was simple, I had developed a project using Touch Develop within the classroom and wanted to showcase the work the students had done. After going through the application process I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the top 10 innovative expert educators in the united kingdom.

    We arrive on the Monday before the event kicks off ready with our innovation in our suitcases and our devices at the ready. Ready to inspire, ready disrupt but most importantly collaborate and have fun. I must say it was a pleasant journey having the Offperts team from Well behaved and good manners all around. Find out about the amazing work they’re doing by following them on twitter @OffPerts

    After getting all settled in on the first day and finding the conference centre we were taken out for a meal to discuss future opportunities in the U.K. It was great to collaborate with Nicki Cooper about the challenges we’re facing in the computing curriculum. We knew that the next few days would be fast paced!

    Day One – opening keynote and exhibiting

    missinginaction Day one starts are we’re all invited into a bustling hall to showcase our projects. Having only 30 minutes to get ready for the exhibiting, it was a bit of a manic rush, especially with some of the projects and the technology they were displaying. I was very fortunate to have the majority of my project on my Surface Devices whereas others had stands with so many examples of student work. Even some of the UK team who didn’t quite make it were there in spirit.

    After the kick off we were invited into the main hall where we would finally meet some of our teams for our Learn-A-Thon. We were all a little quiet at first. Many other teams had managed to contact each other but this was the first time. We all got on really well and decided to exchange ideas and keep in touch.

    The first sessions were compulsory, we had an introductory session to using the Surface and we were helped to get these set up. Although I understood that these sessions were vital for everyone. This is one of my only critiques of the event. I do feel that this session could have been personalised a little more. I know that the UK team had already been using Surface devices and were a head of the game in this aspect. If there were other countries in the same boat then they could have used the time to collaborate over projects or even run sessions.

    The second session was brilliant. I might sound a bit bias here but the UK’s very own App man had some great tools to share with people on the Surface. For example, CreatEbook was a new tool which allows teachers to work with students to create e-books and export them on the Surface. It was great to hear about the pedagogy which works along side many of these ideas. He explained how you can use any app with your imagination. For example, he used a face blender to create a Tiger/Lion….Liger. You could easily use this as a stimulus for creative writing! This link will give you a link to many of the apps which were mentioned in his presentation. You should go and try them today! Little bit of a warning though… CreateEbook is only going to be for a short period of time….. grab it for free while you can!

    Day Two –

    We’re invited into the auditorium with over 260 other educators, educational leaders and minister’s of education. Ready to be introduced to the Global Forum 2014.

    Anthony Salcito takes to the stage and is very Dynamic but his first phrase really grabs everyone’s attention. “Your students are learning without you”. How true! I can see how this would be a little difficult for some people to swallow but it’s an important thing for teachers to know. Think about what they’re finding out online. Our students have access to technology whenever and wherever and they’re able to access a whole host of different materials to help with their learning.

    Kicking off the show, Anthony showcased a lot of useful tools in education.

    Here are a few of interesting ones which I look forward to.

    Class Policy– I have now signed up for a free trial of this to see how useful it may be. The idea of this tool is that it allows you to control all of your Windows 8 devices. For example, you can lock down the screens and you can also decide which apps you give your students access to. Some teachers have asked me how they can manage their Windows 8 devices in the past and it looks like their may be a solution on the horizon with this tool!

    Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 Add-In – Currently Unnamed!– There is a neat add-in coming soon for Office 2013 which allows you to record your presentations with you inside it! You can annotate and interact with people over and over again! It looks like a really useful tool and allows you to do a lot of cool things with PowerPoint. Ever wanted to add in a specific webpage to your PowerPoint without messing around with the developer tool bar…. this looks like it’s an option coming soon!

    Bing for schools –– Although not available in the UK, I hear that they’re looking at getting it into our schools very soon! The idea is to help filter some of the inappropriate searches from students. I would love this to be available in schools over here! From the little bit of information I can gather on this, it is filtered into the network to stop the inappropriate material from popping up.

    Pulse On – Not sure when this is to become available but it seemed like a really interactive tool for showing students their progress over time. I for one would love the students to have instant access to their progress on any device. Having paper based progress trackers can be tedious and students can lose paper etc..

    teamuk2 The team now have another opportunity to exhibit their work and share all of their ideas. This was a great opportunity and allowed me to go and see other teachers projects. I have now linked up with teachers in Belgium and Canada with the prospect of doing some projects between classrooms. I personally loved the Holocaust project from @JHManner and we’ve already establish links for Uppingham Community College to develop an app for the project! I can see an excellent opportunity coming up for a Skype :).

    Day Three – Learn-a-thon

    The initial start of the day introduced some cool programs and some tools. We were introduced to the YouthSpark hub which aims to empower students to become leaders. It allows them to get the training and the tools they need in order to become successful in closing the divide. It gives them access to stem tools which will secure their own future.

    sharing Anthony Salcito arrives for a question and answering session. It was great to hear so many educators sharing their thoughts about how the program has been ran over the last couple of years. This was my first Global Forum but it sounded like some educators had been to a few of them. My suggestion was that Expert Educators should be involved in leading sessions in future years. I felt that some of the sessions weren’t as personalised as some people would have liked but just as I put my hand up to raise this feedback Anthony said that he was planning to use Expert Educators in the future.

    We all met up in the main hall with all of the other groups. Team UK were spread across a number of countries. For example, my group consisted of France, Greece and Malaysia. With each of our groups being armed with their learn-a-thon topic, we all go into the exhibition area and set up on a table. Our topic which was selected involved the sustainability of water. The idea of the topic was to create a learning activity for students to help them engage, collaborate and have impact on a global goal. Billions of people in slums do not have access to clean water. We aim to address this with our project…… but we had to plan it first.

    WIN_20140313_144637 We started out by planning but our main goal was very much to do with the collaboration of the students, We really wanted them to work together. One of our group members (from Greece) had an amazing idea which meant that when grouping our students we included data, gender, grades and other aspects of their learning. I didn’t want language to be a barrier and came armed with a wedge of paper for drawing pictures and communicating ideas.

    We would put students in groups of 4 who would research 4 different areas of sustainability including science, sociology, policies and economics. Each group would have an expert in it from each of the sections so that there was still collaboration going on. For example, a science team would still have someone in it who was an expert at economics. This would help get the group interacting.

    Each group would need to come up with a pitch or a proposal which would help sustainability of water and they would have to present it to their class mates. They would collaborate using tools such as :

    • My montage –  – Students can sign in with their windows account and create a board of news, research and other stories. They can then share the address with their other class mates.
    • Lync – as part of Office 365 the students could link up with other schools or students to find out information required.
    • One Drive – They can upload their work and work on it at the same time. If I was changing a document, a friend could be doing the same.
    • Twitter – A student could find people who may have benefitted through the sustainability of water or they could find organisations to get facts and figures which will be helpful in their pitch.

    The Pitch

    The students would then pitch their proposal but they could do it with any tool. We wanted to keep the project flexible with the technology to allow schools worldwide to use it. Some schools might not have access to tools such as Project Spark because they might not have windows 8 machines. Some ideas the students could do for their pitch:

    • Touch Develop – An app in Touch Develop or project sienna which informs people about what they have found out
    • Kodu – produce an interactive quiz game to introduce the key knowledge to people.
    • Photostory – video with pictures and stories could get the point across really easily.
    • CreateBook– Using this tool the students can create a whole host of resources to inform people.

    After the pitch to the class, the idea was that all of the students give each other feedback on the areas of their project and discuss a whole solution or idea to present to an organisation such as Water Aid. The students would still have experts in the teams but it would be more technology based for the final pitch. They would have digital leaders who work in multimedia, presenters who work on the PowerPoint, Data analysts with math skills to analyse the data and put it into some readable format for the presentation and it would really differentiate for the different skill sets available.

    To finish the project, the students would present their idea to a global organisation and if it was accepted then they would have to do fund raising to help the organisation. If it wasn’t accepted then they would have to go back to the drawing board and make changes. The idea of the fund raising was that it would involve the whole school community and a wider audience.

    I have attached our slides here with some evidence of assessment you could use with your students. If you’re interested in collaborating on a project like this, then let me know in the future. I would love to attempt something like this which has impact on a global scale.

    Teach Meet

    teachmeet After a long day, the UK got with the rest of Europe and decided to introduce Teach Meet’s to the rest of Europe! We all shared great practice in the classroom and went through some of the changes we’re facing. I teamed up with Nicki Cooper and we explained the UK hour of code! We talked about how effective it was in our classrooms and we explained the amazing work our students were doing. Many other educators showed off tools which were effective in their classroom. I personally liked the idea of using Zondle! You should check it out yourself. Thank you to David Rogers @DavidERogers for being a great host.

    Day Four – Presenting the learn-a-thon

    Early start!!! 8:30 presentation! Our group is told to present our project to a panel of judges. Being the only person from an English speaking country I had to present first out of all of the groups in the learn-a-thon. We were given some feedback of the judges and one judge particular said that she enjoyed the presentation and the idea of collaboration from the students. We had questions on how we will continue this project but all agreed that we could do this project across our countries because we had left the technology an open topic. We also said that sustainability was a topic close to our hearts because we could see examples in our own towns and cities of people who don’t live in the best conditions.

    We finished our presentation and were given some down time and boy did we need it!!!! This was a fill on conference with so many activities, keynotes, speeches and activities to get through.

    Most of us got together to speak about different activities we could take back to our schools but some of us went to discover Barcelona. I will say, the outdoor pool was colder than glaciers! I for one jumped in and back out,

    Gala Dinner

    galadinner We’re invited into a room full of people with all of the tables set out and we sat down for a lovely meal. The Touch Develop team stuck together :P. I was disappointed with David Renton though, where was your kilt! It was a pleasure to have Claire Riley join us who has been doing some fantastic work across schools with the new Computer Science curriculum. (Thank you geeky Barbie for holding the fort). The food was great and the company was great. I had a great chat with other Educators and also enjoyed the company of Lianne Morgan from the United States. Thank you for a wonderful time guys!

    Awards Ceremony

    offperts We’re invited into the awards hall and they start to call of the awards for projects one by one. It was buzzing! We waited impatiently to hear how the UK team had done. Thankfully…. the cutting edge of technology category comes along and yes! The UK does it again :). I would like to wish a huge congratulations to Scott Wieprecht from Saltash! He and his team of Offperts received the prize for 2nd Runner up! The students were amazing, the project was amazing and they were very humble. It was a huge pleasure to spend time with these guys this week and I couldn’t be happier for them! Their project was so empowering and it was great to see the students have such a voice at the event this week.


    meglobal After spending an amazing week with so many innovative educators I have come back with some amazing ideas, tools and friends. I really enjoyed my time here and I look forward to sharing some of the projects I’ve seen with other educators at Uppingham Community College. One project I particularly loved comes from a Canadian teacher from Hamilton Ontario….. I’m not being bias there! I swear!!!! A project on the holocaust which lead to the students finding actual survivors and sharing their findings with the rest of the world. I’m still not sure why this project didn’t receive an award!

    I found some amazing tools for using with my surface devices in the classroom!! I loved class policy, lock down what apps your students have access to. PulseOn, track the progress of your students overtime and make it visual for them to see.

    Thank you

    Obviously this amazing experience wouldn’t be possible this week without all the support we had!

    First of all a huge thank you goes to Uppingham Community College for supporting me with everything behind the scenes. Our Head teacher Mrs Jan Turner for her on-going support of my wacky ideas! I would like to say a huge thank you to the cover supervisors, form cover, intervention managers,ICT department and most of the students involved in this project. William Rhodes, Dawid Czajka, Evan Jones, Olivia Rootham, William Smith and Desmond Weich. Everyone was very impressed with your apps and how they have been used! Miss Ballance for your innovative use of our apps and thank you for testing the apps and giving your students the opportunity to give us feedback on them.

    mcdonalds Secondly I would like to give Stuart Ball (Secret Identity….AppMan!) @innovativeteach a huge thank you :P– I was planning on sending a card in the post but this is just as good :P. I really enjoyed my week with you and thank you for your awesome hospitality. You’re one in a million and I look forward to keeping in touch with other wacky ideas!  There was a real team spirit and it was great to see all of the UK team in their t-shirts! I guess you can see our team spirit through the McDonalds #selfie ;).  I can honestly say that you have been a huge inspiration in this process and I look forward to future projects! Thanks for keeping the team together and keeping us in the loop!

    A big thank you to my wife for having to put up with me through all the preparation and times I’ve been locked away in my cave preparing resources. Thank you for being you :)

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    Last week I was humbled to spend the week with 250 teachers from around the globe.  The common element was not the flavour of the technology, but a desire to transform the lives of young people. This is an attempt to reflect upon the experience. First a few pointers to dispel with the bonkers position that some hold: only one flavour of technology:

    • I’m an evangelist of what works.  I know it works because I’ve used it in the classroom myself.
    • There is no such thing as an education ‘app.’  Anything can be used to enhance, transform and modify learning from a cardboard shoebox to a space ship.
    • Technology in the hands of a great teacher transforms learning. Technology in the hands of a poor teacher doesn’t transform their teaching.
    • The day that I only advocate one flavour of technology is the day I’m not a teacher but being paid by a technology company to push their stuff.
    • Teachers change the world of learning, not technology.

    Whilst in Iceland, on a school trip and needing to kill some time one evening, I filled out the online application to become a Microsoft Expert Educator.  The rest, as they say, is history. The Global Forum comes at the mid-point of the year long programme (would have been better at the end as a celebration and progress check of what we’d accomplished maybe?).  This post may change, and I’m certain to update it and add further posts.  I believe sometimes it’s worth putting down what you think and getting it out there.

    Expert Educator

    This isn’t a blow-by-blow account of the week – read my Twitter stream for that.  This is just what stuck out.

    The week was incredible.  Firstly, there’s the perspective.  I was there with a pretty good project.  Others were there with projects about getting clean water in impoverished nations with access to one battered laptop.  Certainly puts perspective on the ‘first-world’ problem of Ofsted inspections.  Indeed, in one region of India all schools are told exactly what to deliver, when and how.  In contrast, UK educators really have some massive freedoms that are perhaps taken for granted?  The highlight of the week (apart from working with the awesome Stu Ball and UK Team) was the most difficult learning experience I’ve ever been through.  That’s right.  Tougher than the week long Mountain Leadership assessments or learning how to fly a plane.  We often spout out the ‘allowing failure’ mantra.  How many have been thrown together with four other nationalities (two of whom have no English) and told to produce a plan to change the world and present it to education experts (including children) the next day? Walking the walk.

    2014-03-14 11.56.252014-03-13 11.09.53

    So, myself, a Kiwi Scientist; an Indian Mathematician; a Saudi Social Studies Teacher and a Taiwanese Artist set out to get children to tell Ban Ki-Moon that some of the Millennium Development goals needed to be better.  I won’t go into detail, except to say that the personal learning experience was immense.  When was the last time you really had to learn?  I wondered about the last time I had to do something rather than a choice.  There are some lessons in there for me to take into the classroom.  I was also pleased that students in the UK contributed through the twitter stream.

    The rest of the week saw the usual (and by now depressingly predictable) keynote speeches that preach to the converted and I find rather too self-congratulatory rather than challenges.  To me, a group of educators of the calibre gathered need to look at what we are doing wrong as well as what we have right.  There are some great new tools shaping up to use in the classroom soon (some of them that are designed for the classroom too…).  Microsoft may have been late to the party, but their stuff looks great.  I’m yet to find something that equals OneNote as a digital, collaborative exercise book for example.  Indeed, if I were in a 1:1 school tomorrow, OneNote would be doing most of the hard work.

    I did enjoy listening to the politicians and princes, and found the Spanish Education Minister’s keynote heartfelt and refreshing.  Spain has over 40% unemployment.

    Another highlight was TeachMeet Europe.

    2014-03-14 00.13.40

    This is what happens when you enjoy a late night malt with Stu Ball: he convinces me that we could pull off a TeachMeet Europe with a days notice, no room, no technology, no one familiar with the concept (interestingly, no one in the room outside of the UK knew hat a TeachMeet was).  I’m so happy I said yes and compared the event.  We had seven nationalities presenting and had presentations ranging from a modified ‘I have a dream’ speech to close up photographs of stuff to some brand new (to me) online tools.   It all goes to show that what I believe: if you throw teachers together and ask them to talk about what they do everyday, you don’t need a plan or technology to leave inspired and full of ideas to try in the classroom tomorrow.  Of course, there was free beer too…..

    I also enjoyed making some extra contacts and heading to the expert panels.  The second of these, on 1:1 learning, was great as the chair opened up to the floor early and an engaging conversation followed with many making contributions.  One thing I would like to see is a feature where teachers from some of the less developed countries get to post some problems, perhaps ‘barcamp,’ style. Others could see where they could contribute and get involved with trying to solve those issues / build lasting partnerships.

    Things that I will investigate more and get involved are:

    • YouthSpark– a citizenship project that is making real waves.
    • ChronoZoom– like Google Earth but for history – visualising historical events.
    • Hour of Code– I don;t think that coding is necessarily about producing software engineers, but the process does develop creative problem solving skills. 

    2014-03-13 08.43.49

    It’s going to take a while to reflect and act upon everything I saw – there are some things that if I were still a head of department I would have put in to place already.  However, there were are few gripes:

    • There doesn't seem to be a master plan to support and grow Partners in Learning between the events: there are many of the same faces which runs the risk of it turning into the technological equivalent of the ‘old boys and gals club’;
    • For an education conference, some of it was excruciatingly impersonalised.  This was accentuated by 250 teachers from around 90 countries being present, all from differing contexts.  In my view, it needed to be put together by the educators involved;
    • There was an almost undetectable undercurrent that we should be selling / championing specific devices / software instead of developing pedagogy and telling stories about what works.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not numpty enough to expect anything but Microsoft being talked about, but there’s a difference (at least in my mind) between a teacher who evangelises a great learning project that happens to use a certain technology and a teacher that evangelises a device;
    • The main message is still content delivery and not content creation.  I would have liked to see some workshops between teachers and Microsoft engineers along the lines of ‘ This is what Microsoft Research are working on right now, how could you use it in the classroom and can we help shape it?’  Then having teachers working together (in a similar way to the learnathon above) in order to adapt / subvert / use the tool.  One of the main issues with new technology is that it takes a while (and often some VERY patient early adopters) to figure out what it does / how it can be used.  I think that Microsoft should be tapping into the community to produce case studies before the product launches.  That way, teachers will get it straight off the bat and the impact would be felt much wider than the attendees.
    • I’m not going to mention (much) about #coffeegate Winking smile

    Having said that, I think Microsoft Education have it right and are heading in the right direction with both their product offering and general approach to putting learning first and supporting teachers.  I would recommend getting registered (for free) on the Partners in Learning Network.  Download and explore some of the free stuff and see how you could use it.  If you find no use, nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Saying you won’t look just because it’s Microsoft is failing your children.

    A massive thank you to Stuart Ball and the Microsoft Education Team and to Team UK – you may have shunned my offer of a 10 mile run, but you kept me sane, challenged and will motivate me into well into the future.

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    Last week I attending the Microsoft in Education Global Forum in Barcelona. I was selected as part of a ten strong team from the UK to attend the conference, although I was the only Scot in the team and the only FE lecturer. The week was an amazing mix of talks, panel discussions, collaborative sessions and a TeachMeet. We also spent 2 half days exhibiting our learning activities on stands to the other educators and school leaders at the conference. However for me the best thing about the forum was the amazing educators that I met from around the world and the future projects that I will now be able to collaborate with them on.

    clip_image004On day one of the conference a highlight for me was Stuart Ball, UK PIL manager, presenting on some of the amazing apps for education that are available on the Windows 8 store and more specifically for the Surface tablet. I downloaded 5 or 6 apps onto my Surface during the session that I hope to make use of them in my classroom practice.

    clip_image006The other major part of day one was the first exhibitor session, where we got to show off our projects to educators and school leaders from around the world. There were 6 of us from the UK manning stands, with a variety of projects. Simon & Ray both had projects around TouchDevelop, while the Queen of Kodu, Nicki, was presenting on the KoduKup. I was mostly talking about a project I ran, where my college students made games in groups in conjunction with a local primary school using XNA. However I was also speaking about using Kodu & TouchDevelop to teach coding to children and teachers. So there was a common theme of coding in 4 out of the 6 projects, which reflects the current trend in the UK towards programming in Computing. I found the exhibitor sessions invaluable, my only criticism is that I wish I had more opportunities to visit the other stands myself, as we were pretty much tied to our stands. I think a system where only half of us were presenting at a time, while the other half were free go around and visit the other stands would be a much better approach in future.

    On day two we started with an inspiration keynote address from Anthony Salcito, Microsoft’s worldwide Vice President for Microsoft Education. He started by saying that our students are learning without us; I wonder myself if sometimes it is despite of us J. He talked about Microsoft’s commitment to education and teachers. He also made it clear that he recognises that technology isn’t the answer, but great teachers using technology well is. He also demonstrated the amazing Project Spark, which although not new to me, drew gasps of amazement from the audience. Project Spark is Kodu on steroids, it builds on the creative 3D world available in Kodu, by allowing students to create truly jaw droppingly beautiful worlds, but is also allows them to fully customise that world by programming the objects within it, to do whatever they want. Whether it is telling a rock to follow your character or making an ogre dance when you are near it, you can truly create whatever you want.

    He also demonstrated an amazing new app called ChronoZoom, which allows you to create dynamic timelines on any topic. A great tool for teaching History, but not just limited to history as it can be used to visualise historical or future timelines for any subject.


    After the keynote it was back to exhibiting our learning activities. This time I decided to take time to talk to the other expert educators, so I was a little bit naughty in that I left my stand unattended for a while and went to the other displays and spoke to most of the educators near me, which just so happened to be mostly team USA. This was my favourite thing from the conference, making connections with other educators from around the world and seeing the innovative ways that they are making use of technology in the classroom. I spoke to Michael Braun from Seattle, who I had actually met before when I visited a high school in Seattle to speak about TouchDevelop, while I was at the MVP summit in November last year. I learned about how he has been using TouchDevelop to teach coding in his classroom on smartphones and tablets. I also spoke to two teachers from Tampa (Bradley Smrstick and Joshua Sawyer) who are running Coding camps in Florida during July, which coincides with when I am there on holiday with my family, so I’ve arranged with them to do some sessions on TouchDevelop & Kodu while I am there. I also spoke to a primary teacher from Canada (Leah Obach) who is now going to enter 2 teams from her School into a Minecraft competition that I am running in conjunction with the College Development Network in Scotland.

    It was also great to see so many Kodu projects from educators around the world, I think I counted 7 different projects, including one from my friends from Norway, who have 70 schools involved in their KoduKup competition this year. My Norwegian friends have also invited me over to Norway in May to judge at the Norwegian KoduKup, which hopefully I can arrange to do. It inspired me to look at setting up a Scottish KoduKup, which Microsoft have given me permission to do, so watch this space for further details.

    clip_image012In the afternoon after I finished exhibiting, I attended a hot topic panel discussion on “Inspiring Student Learning and Creativity through Gaming”. I wasn’t actually expecting much from this, as it was not a formal talk, however it featured an Australian guy called Simon Breakspear who is an educational speaker, researcher and innovator. He communicated much of my own thinking about the proper use of games in education, in a far more articulate manner than I could have. Simon was my favourite presenter from the entire week, as games for learning is something close to my heart. I was chuffed to get a retweet from him with my thinking that the “gameplay should be where the learning happens”, as far too many “learning” games use the gameplay as a reward for answering a question. The key to a good educational game is where they learn through playing, rather than by using the gameplay as a carrot. We also need to look at how games that students already play & love, can be used in learning, a great example being MineCraft, which is so much more than just a fun game and can be used to encourage collaboration, teamwork, creativity and even programming. Simon is someone I hope to hear from again and I will try and get him to come speak at one of the conferences I am involved with in the upcoming year.

    clip_image014In the evening I managed to get away from the conference and went down to see Barcelona beat Manchester City at the Nou Camp. Being a good Scot, I was wearing my Barcelona top and sat in with the Catalans. It was an amazing experience to see a near full Nou Camp cheering on Messi and co to victory, although I must be honest and say the atmosphere doesn’t compare to Ibrox on a Champions league night (although it might be a while before I experience that again). I also got to witness the nasty side of English footie fans, as the Manchester City fans, who were right behind me, went about wrecking the fence that was keeping them separated from the Barcelona fans.

    clip_image016On day 3 we had the Learn-a-thon, which I wasn’t really expecting much from, however it was actually a valuable experience and put the educators on the other side of things, as we worked together with educators from around to world to create a learning activity, while overcoming obstacles such as the language barrier. Our team worked to our strengths with our art teacher Darko from Macedonia creating an impressive stop motion animation about our theme which was “Treasuring Water”, while I created a Kinect game on the same theme.

    That evening Stuart Ball and Dave Rogers from the UK team did a fantastic job organising a TeachMeet for Western Europe. Unknown to me, TeachMeets are a British thing, which the other countries were not familiar with, however it went very well and it was one of the best events I attended all week. I got another chance to present my xGames to educators who had never seen them and I had a lot of interest in them, especially from the Netherlands.

    clip_image018On the last day we presented our Learn-a-thon learning activity to the judges in the morning, after which myself, Ray, Simon & Dave Rogers finally got a chance to enjoy the Sauna & Jacuzzi facilities of the hotel that Microsoft had very kindly put us up in. It was nice to get a chance to relax for a couple hours and take in the wonderful views of the surrounding area.

    clip_image020Early afternoon we went back to the main conference auditorium where we had an address from Prince Felipe, heir apparent to the Spanish throne. We had to go through proper airport style security checks to get into the conference arena, because of the presence of royalty, as evidently he isn’t too popular in Catalonia.

    In the evening we got dressed up for the formal Gala Dinner and awards ceremony. I spoke with James Ptaszynski at the dinner, who is Senior Director in MS for Higher Education strategy, about the role that FE & HE may play in future Global forums. At the awards ceremony Scott Wieprecht from the UK team placed 2nd runner up in the Cutting Edge use of Technology for Learning category, so Congrats to Scott and his school Saltash.


    At the after party I spent hours with my Norwegian friends speaking about teaching, education, politics and the meaning of life. We agreed that I must visit Norway again soon to help judge at the KoduKup final in May and whatever else I can fit in while there; perhaps some Project Spark and TouchDevelop.


    Overall it was a fantastic week and it was also great to catch up with friends like Ray and Simon, while getting to know Nicki & Dave Rogers better, but also it was lovely to make new friends with some amazing educators from all over the planet.

    I have a bunch of events lined up between now and the summer, all of which would not have happened without my involvement with the Partners in Learning network. I am going to Lincoln University next week to present on Kinect for Windows v2, as well as taking part in a Kinect Hackathon. During our Easter break in April, I am going to the Codebits conference in Lisbon, Portugal, to present on Kinect v2 and from there I fly to Berlin for a Kinect v2 developers event & Kinect Hackathon. At the end of April I will travel to Microsoft’s data centre in Dublin for a Microsoft MVP open day.

    In June I am doing workshops on TouchDevelop and Project Spark at Games Britannia which is being held at Sheffield Hallam University. The same week I am presenting on Kinect and playful learning at the JISC ITECH conference in Glasgow. So busy, busy times ahead. Thanks to Stuart Ball and the PIL UK team for all their support and the opportunities they have provided me.

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