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    clip_image004[1]  Finals day 4thNovember, 30 students V MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) Exam, would the students from Rhondda Cynon Taff (RCT) council in Wales prevail or would the MOS exam defeat  them?

     

     

     RCT has partnered with Microsoft to provide the Microsoft IT Academy programme to ALL of its 132 schools, to develop technology skills for both teachers and students and to help prepare students for a career in the 21st Century.

    Throughout the day, the students were given the chance to tour the Microsoft UK Campus. This included seeing the XBOX studios, Marketing departments, Windows and Surface offices along with the numerous cafes, breakout areas, games areas and the Windows Experience Room.

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    At the event the students also sat the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) examinations in Word, PowerPoint and Excel. By studying for these qualifications, students have developed the key ICT skills to help them be more productive with business productivity tools, enhance their employability and CV’s as well as supporting them on the path to lifelong learning. The MOS certifications validate those skills that will help distinguish them from the competition for future employers.

    The top three students from each application category received fantastic prizes to take home, such as the Nokia Lumia 1020. The scores the students received were outstanding. Craig Bewley, the CEO of Prodigy Learning, told the students how “impressive their results were, there are few young people who would be able to match their ability!”

    clip_image010[1]

    RCT’s passion to boost young people’s professional skills was demonstrated through one of their teachers, Paul Greene, winning a prize for his school entering the most students from an institute through the MOS examinations. All of the students present on the day were also entered into the Global MOS World Championships, a brilliant competition where students from around the world compete against each other. Students who make it through to the finals win an all-expenses paid trip to Dallas!

    The teachers were also given the chance to be part of interactive sessions with Microsoft employees. In these sessions the teachers learnt about how useful Microsoft’s free resources can be within their lessons. Stuart Ball, Partners in Learning Manager spoke to the teachers about the fun ways they can incorporate technology in the classroom in order to achieve better results. Martyn Silezin, Project Manager for this partnership from RCT said “these sessions have been incredibly beneficial for the staff. It has been great to learn more about the potential of OneNote and OfficeMix within the classroom.”

    Students also took part in coding activities. They were given the chance to interact with multiple Windows 8 devices in order to create their own games. Kurt Macey, a student from Treorchy Comprehensive School said “I found the experience really educational. I have never had the chance to learn to program before, so it was a great opportunity. This was my highlight of the day!”

     

    Interns and Apprentices from Microsoft helped to run the event. They were able to speak to the students about their individual paths into the company along with sharing careers advice. The students from the RCT were keen to ask questions and hear about the best ways they could boost their CV’s in order to gain a place on such schemes. Feedback from many of the teachers after the event was of how inspired and clip_image002[1]motivated the students had become for their individual career aspirations.

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    Martyn Silezin, rounded off the event to say how he was “Really proud of all the kids from RCT, this is the future! It’s a wonderful opportunity for to get a real life experience from a top class company. Big Thanks to Microsoft.”

    The timing of this event and partnership with RCT could not be better. A recent report from the BBC spoke about 620 new IT jobs that will be created in the South of Wales over the next five years. The demand for IT and Developer skills has never been more prominent. A recent IDC study also highlights Microsoft Office as the #3 skill in demand by employers today and being #2 for high growth and high wage occupations. The excellent work that both students and the teachers from RCT are helping to enable Wales to develop the necessary skills to meet this demand in the industry.

    At Microsoft we share the RCT’s vision of being “dedicated to developing 21st Century Skills to embrace the digital future.” We cannot wait to see the students develop the abilities they will need to succeed and we may be seeing more of them in the future!


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    imageIt’s that time of year, the nights are dark, the weather has turned colder, Xmas jingles are playing in the shops and the thoughts of everybody turns to one great celebration. That’s right it’s the time of year for the Hour of Code. Ok , I know we had one in March, but this year this great event has been brought into line with the Global Hour of Code event.

    Now I know what it is like at Xmas in schools, not only have you the pressures of ensuring that all the curriculum is delivered , but there are possibly the more important details of Xmas performances to consider. At times like those I found I need a low teacher input activity, with a maximum learning opportunity. There were only so many Xmas Cards my class could colour in!.

    So this brings me to the Hour of Code. So for the uninitiated the Hour of Code is a campaign run by Code.org, the non-profit dedicated to promoting computer science education. The initiative asks schools, teachers and parents across the country to code for an hour, and help introduce more than 10 million students of all ages to computer programming.

    Last year’s Hour of Code involved over 3 million people, all taking part in a hour of code activity. Take a look at last year’ event.

    The Hour of Code website is the place to start.

    • The site is fun and visual for teachers and students so that when you sign up on http://hourofcode.com/uk you will see your school on the world map next to all the other schools participating.
    • 20 classrooms from those signed up before December 8 will win a video chat with a very special guest ranging from founders of technology companies like Michael Smith of Moshi Monsters, engineers working on incredible projects and companies like Microsoft, to influencers in the digital world like Joanna Shields.
    • Everyone completing an Hour of Code will also receive a signed certificate.

    Sign up today, Santa is Watching !


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    One of the best things about working in education at Microsoft is that you get to share the amazing work of students and teachers from around the UK. In September, in association with Tablets for Schools we launchedimage a competition to win a class set of Surface Tablets. The quality of the entries was outstanding , making the whole judging process almost impossible.

    Today we are pleased to announce the winning school. They are Gwyrosydd Primary School in Swansea. Not only did they produce a fantastic video, but the school has a clear implementation plan for their wireless infrastructure and staff training. We can be assured that these tablets won’t be sitting in the cupboard. Enjoy this …..

    Thanks to all the schools that took the time and effort to enter this competition. You can look at the top 5 videos here,

    and well done to Year 6 at Gwyrosydd Primary School


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  • 12/18/14--09:24: A Sway in a Manger
  • imageIt’s the end of another great year with Microsoft Partners in Learning. We are looking forward to the year ahead. Starting with BETT in January, the launch of Kodu Kup 2015, the launch of the QuickStart Computing materials, the Global Forum in March and the full release of Sway.

    The first change you will notice in the New Year is that we stop referring to Partners in Learning Network and PiL. They are not going anywhere, we are just changing the name to reflect the ever changing landscape that is Education. From now on we are the Microsoft Educator Network aka MSEN and we have a new website url www.educatornetwork.com . You might like to update your favourites and links to reflect this.

    The one thing I am really looking forward to is the full release of Sway (hence the cheesy title of this post)

    For those who  don’t know Sway, essentially enables students to illustrate and express their ideas in a fun, interactive way and then very simply share them with their classmates, teacher and parents. What makes the app so different is that there are no page breaks or splits. The work is composed on a rolling canvas which gives a luxurious quality experience, which I would describe as the 'e-experience' of flicking through a coffee table book, a bit like Flipboard. It will work across the majority of touch devices. It feels less 'rigid' or official than a PowerPoint,(which I still love) and is ideal as a way for students to develop and present their ideas and learning.

    I am looking forward to sharing some great learning activities for Sway in 2015.

    I am also greatly looking forward to developing and evolving our computing activity in 2015. We launch Kodu Kup at BETT in January and our training for teachers resources, Quickstart Computing. Of course there is Minecraft, what will we be doing with that? It is all very exciting.

    imageTraditionally, with end of year summaries you often remember what we have lost. So I would like us all to reflect and reminisce on the brilliance that was Clip Art. Microsoft have decided it will close the clip art library. We all remember installing the 4GB of clipart that came on DVD and filled our harddrives. Remember how boring our worksheets were before clipart. So I would like to end with my favourite piece of clip art ever. What was yours?

    Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i chi.

    See you in 2015.


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    Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i chi, Happy New Year. I am not sure how you feel about New Year’s resolutions, but I thought I would make one. I thought I would try and blog at lease once a week about a Windows 8.1 app or apps that I think would be great in the classroom. (Let’s see how long it lasts?)

    Those that know me will know about my aversion to shopping. But, spending time in the Windows Store is a joy, especially with it’s ‘related apps’ feature, which suggests similar apps. On my travels I get many requests that start with ‘Is there an app for…?’ My answer is generally ‘probably yes’ ,but first check that it can’t by done Office 2013 or OneNote or legacy software you already own. (which is often the case) . Then it’s just a simple case of typing a search term into the store and see what comes up. One tip, don’t always rely on using education terminology, as often great apps that  were never originally designed for education, take QR codes for example can be found.

    Another great way is to look at collections, here apps have been grouped around a feature e.g. education. I thought I would have a look at the Apps for Kinect for Windows.

    image YAKIT This application allows you to create instant animation! Just speak to make any photo come to life as an animation, and now using your Kinect, you can bring fully animated characters to life in real-time! You can make pets, friends, food, family, nature, artwork... anything come to life!
    image Fusion4D is an innovative 3D user interface that lets you interact with 3D objects, allowing you to move, rotate and scale the models and explode them into their parts. It requires Kinect for Windows v2.
    image 3D Builder is the best place to create, print and now scan in 3D!  Scan yourself and your friends in colour using Kinect for Windows!  3D Builder makes it easy to personalise models by embossing with text and images, trimming and combining, and adding colour.  Whether you load 3D files from the Internet or produce new creations using our built-in models, 3D Builder makes 3D printing easy!

     

    If you don’t have a Kinect for Windows (Yakit and 3D Builder will work without it) then you can buy a simple adapter that allows you to connect the Kinect for an Xbox One to you Winodws Device. You can get that here

    Ok, I know these Apps maybe be a little off the wall, but like me if you’re thinking of away to justify that XBox One you had or wanted from Santa, this maybe of some help. Enjoy!

    Looking forward to a great year of Appiness.


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  • 01/13/15--03:11: QuickStart Computing
  • How many of you remember NOF ( New Opportunities Fund)? It’s become a bit of a ‘Voldermort’ phrase. Dare we speak it’s name! But, trying to deliver a national training programme for technology is always going to be fraught with difficulties. The main one being, How do you meet the needs of everybody? How do you devise a training package that allows a personalised learning approach? A possible solution is to help schools and teachers develop a training pack to do that. One that provides access to all the resources you need to create learning that suits your needs, a sort of toolkit

     

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    imageQuickstart Computing is that toolkit. Microsoft and Computing At School have been working to tackle in the past nine months. With funding from Microsoft and the Department for Education, Computing At School has produced QuickStart Computing a brand new training toolkit to help teachers build their confidence in delivering the new computing curriculum.

    The new resource is available to all teachers to download from www.quickstartcomputing.org and includes videos, interactive tools, teacher’s handbook, and links to other resources.

     

    The  website is a professional development resource to help teachers deliver the new computing curriculum with confidence.  Each section includes material that explores the subject matter, offers teaching guidance and planning advice together with practical activities to use in the classroom. Accompanying videos present concepts and ideas in an easy to understand way.  Use these materials to acquire the necessary skills to make the transition from teaching ICT to teaching Computer Science, and learn how to assess pupil progress using the new Progression Frameworks.

    The Primary Toolkit looks like this

    Introduction

    Computational thinking

    Programming

    Technology

    Computer networks

    Communication and collaboration

    Productivity and creativity

    Safe and responsible use

    Planning

    Teaching

    Assessment

    Running CPD sessions

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    The Secondary Toolkit looks like this

     

    Contents

    User guide

    SECTION 1: Leading effective CPD

    SECTION 2: Getting started with confidence

    SECTION 3: A road map for managing change

    SECTION 4: Teaching

    SECTION 5: Resources

    SECTION 6: Assessment and progression

    SECTION 7: Next steps

    Acknowledgements

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  • 01/14/15--02:38: Nurseries go Hi-Tech
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    Here’s a great story I discovered recently that I wanted to share and just shows the changing education landscape as a result of tablet devices. Also I think it’s a fantastic idea to engage parents.

    Shropshire based Childrensworld nursery chain has installed Windows based tablet PC’s in each room of their nurseries. The tablets are designed to be multipurpose and will provide access to a number of services designed to improve parental involvement, and help nursery staff be more creative when working with children.

    The tablets will provide access to the Orbit EYFS cloud based management system. This secure system allows practitioners to carry out their EYFS observations directly on the tablets. By using tablet technology the whole process from taking a picture through, describing the event and aligning it to the EYFS standards can be done on a single device. All the observations of individual children can be securely shared through a web site with their parents. For working parents this means they can access their children’s progress at any time on any web connected device.

    The tablets have Microsoft Skype installed which allows any room in any of our nurseries to video conference with one or more other rooms. This means that if one nursery has a special visitor, they can host a video conference with the other nurseries in the chain. The tablets also have an HDMI output so they can be connected to a larger screen.

    The tablets also come with Microsoft Office and OneDrive cloud storage installed, this has enabled us to create a library of resources covering everything from Festivals to recipes, and we even have a growing calendar to let us know what to plant when..

    image

     

    New to the UK last year, the Linx tablets come in 7, 8 and 10 inch sizes with prices ranging from £80 to £160. The devices are available from many major UK retailers including Argos, Ebuyer.com and Staples. This project is by  Tablet Academy one of the UK's leading education consultancy and teacher training organizations who focus on the use tablets in schools. They are an elite band are experts in leading and inspiring you and your colleagues to deliver true 21st century learning.

    You can catch up with the Tablet Academy on their UK Tour - http://www.tablet-academy.com/win8edutour.html


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  • 01/21/15--23:16: Kodu Kup 2015
  • imageWe are very pleased to announce this year’s Kodu Kup UK competition is now open. Many of you will be familiar with format of what has become the world’s biggest Kodu competition. There are a few changes and a new theme.

    The Kodu Kup is open to any child enrolled as attending a UK school (*including UK International Schools, Free Schools, Hospital schools and Home tuition - email for details) and who are aged between seven to fourteen years of age at the date of entry. Children are entered by their appropriate school teacher and must be entered for the competition as a team of three people. Please note, children cannot enter themselves and must, therefore, be entered by their teacher as both the Kodu Game Lab and PiL Network are subject to age restrictions (see Kodu Game Lab, Project Spark and Microsoft Educator Network terms of use for more details). Follow @KoduKup on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook www.facebook.com/KoduKup to receive regular updates, including dates of free training sessions!

    What Should be Submitted?

    Teachers should enter their pupils’ work using the Kodu Game Lab site www.kodugamelab.com, The additional files need to be emailed to kodukupuk@outlook.com . This will include the team name, link to the game on Kodu GameLab, a game description with screenshot, Business plan and photos of merchandise created. Also include contact details of the person submitting the entries including school name. (A single email with all the schools entries contained within would be preferred)

    School's can enter as many teams as they wish. But each team can only submit a single game.

    The finalists will be notified via email and invited to attend the Kodu Kup final at Microsoft Headquarters in Reading.

    Upon entry, each entrant will be bound by the Kodu Game Lab and Microsoft Educator Network terms of use and, in particular, acknowledge that by posting a game idea, the entrant is agreeing to sharing the idea with other Kodu Game Lab users as part of the relevant community pursuant to the terms of use.

    The Deadline

    The closing date for all entries is Friday 29th May.

    About the Games

    This year students not only have to create a great game, but develop a business plan for a game franchise and create and produce a least one single piece of merchandise that promotes their game  Schools may wish to link this to current entrepreneurial or business projects already taking place.

    Students need to market their game and try to get as many downloads as they can of their game from the Kodu Gamelab site. They should try and get customer feedback and show how they have responded to this in their business plan.

    They should include a photo of at least one single piece of promotional merchandise. (they can make as many as they like). This could be a badge, t-shirt, something they have knitted, cupcakes or even something 3D printed. Be imaginative and creative!

    Students may also want to include any promotional media they have created. Flyers, posters, radio and video adverts. It's totally in their hands.

    We will post examples of their work o our blogs and Facebook page as the competition progresses.

    Important Note : When uploading the game to Kodu Game Lab. Use the follow structure to name the game - <Game Name>_<Team Name>_Kodu Kup UK

    Prizes

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

    Primary

     Secondary

     Best teams promoting girls in tech

     Judges ChoiceWP_20140717_10_23_01_Pro

    The top 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 end of the day the winners of each category will receive individual prizes and the overall winning team will take home the coveted UK Kodu Kup

    Make a note of these main contact details

    Email – Questions and Game submissions – kodukupuk@outlook.com

    Twitter – @kodukup

          @innovativeteach

    Facebook – www.facebook.com/kodukup

    Games uploaded – www.kodugamelab.com

    Full details - https://sway.com/Vs7FfSxl_vkbWgiz

     

    Keep checking this blog, Facebook and Twitter for all the latest updates and events planned for this year’s Kodu Kup.


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    BETT seemed to be filled with kids this year. Lots were group of schools’ digital leaders . This is fantastic, as it gives students a real insight into the technology available to schools. I spoke to many teachers and groups of digital leaders and if any of you would like to share a great project that you are doing with Microsoft technology in your school then get in  touch (@innovativeteach) and I will post it here.

    We launched Kodu Kup UK last week and I had the privilege of meeting the digital leaders from Wellstead Primary School, who helped me do this. Check out their blog at http://www.wellsteadblog.co.uk

    This is their BETT adventure in their own words-

    As part of being a digital leader, Children from KS2 went to the Bett Show. This took place in London and promoted every technological that could be used in schools. After getting a busy commuter train up to London, we had arrived at the Excel Centre. There was so much to see!! One of the first stands we went to was Microsoft. When meeting the representatives on the stand they told us about an opportunity called the Kodu Kup. Children create different games and the best game that is created wins a prize. They wanted us to be part of the “opening ceremony” to promote the launch of the Kup. We had an explore round the arena. We played with new bee bots, funky headphones and lego.


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    Students at the the Tai Centre in Tonypandy , South Wales never do anything by halves. Challenged by their Teacher Cath Wickes, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, to be the first students to submit a game in the Kodu Kup UK competiton. Already this morning they have created their team names . They are Team Dave, Team Top Dog, Team Bob Circuit, Team Zog and Team coDu.

    This is a challenge for these students as they all have needs around their ability to concentrate and work collaboratively. As I write we are an hour into their marathon coding session and already their games are coming together. They have developed their expertise and Cath  has allowed her students to be the lead learners. This afternoon we are developing the business plans.

    This is an approach to learning she developed through her involvement with the Microsoft IT Academy programme, which the school’s local authority has developed across all it’s schools. Cath’s professional development portfolio now contains Teaching with Technology, Microsoft Certified Educator and Microsoft Master Trainer. But the greatest impact has been on the students themselves. As Cath admits, Kodu and coding would never been something that she would have thought of previously.

    You can find out more about Kodu Kup UK here.

    More about Teaching with Technology here

    and finally IT Academy.


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    Ross is a typical 14 year old, opinionated and self assured about the things he knows about. So I have challenged him to share his thoughts and ideas on this blog. The question for you as teachers is, ‘What are your students thinking’

    Over to you Ross….WP_20150123_002

    Each month on this blog I will write about new ideas as to how technology can be used appropriately in a classroom. A few weeks was BETT week, an education&technology show in London, and in this first post I will detail what I have learnt from BETT
     
    There isn't a lack of tools, simply a lack of awareness from Teachers
    In many cases, a lack of software is not the issue, and I found a lot of people asking questions generally asked the same ones... What is Project Spark? What is TouchDevelop? What could I use for the next level?


    Luckily, all of this information is already available online - it's just a little scattered around, and not many schools or teachers seem to be aware of what is available to them. Take TouchDevelop - an online app development tool – www.touchdevelop.com here are a few reasons why you should consider TouchDevelop in your school:
    It's engaging– why are we as students learning programming in python when the end result is just some lines of text on a screen when you can engage us by allowing us to write content for own own mobile devices?
    Broad ability level– I am an awesome developer, if I say so myself. But we all have to start somewhere. So in Touchdevelop you can select Beginner, with scratch-esque syntax, Novice with high level code, or Expert with 'Javascripty' programming
    No hardware limitations - works in browser so you can make an app on an iPad, for a Windows Phone, or any other platform Free! Here’s an idea, Why not let us use our own phones and devices.


    The same goes for Project Spark - when people see it they are impressed by its' sheer power and amazing graphics and asset library. Why is it not being widely utilized?


    More teachers should put DreamSpark in our hands too- www.dreamspark.com. Give us the ability to code in their own time with powerful software, free for those in full time education.


    Then there is Minecraft it definitely can be used in education! From logic gates with Redstone to English skills with written books, reconstructions of the Natural History Museum to a map of the digestive system where you are the food, Minecraft is a tool where you can do anything - so why not use it?

    Teachers should think outside the box, you ask us students to do this everyday. Please practice what you teach !!!

    WP_20150121_004
    One question we were asked a lot was, "What can I use this for?". Put abruptly, it's up to teachers to plan their lessons - so use these tools where you can, whenever you can. If you can use Minecraft to give an engaging tour of the Coliseum, great! If you could ask us to use Project Spark to understand logic, fantastic! Make your lessons more engaging, interesting, and enjoyable, think outside the box and use this software as much as you can! We will thank you for it. Yes that is me after talking to the Education Minister, saying exactly this.

     

    I told you he is self assured. Do you agree with Ross? What do you students think? I would be more than happy to share your students views here. Let me know via twitter @innovativeteach


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    Kodu continues to be one of the great successes we have in the Education team. Over 90000 downloads in the UK, over 400 students have entered the Kodu Kup UK last year, teachers. We have has Kodu Kup competition in Europe, Boliva and UAE. Kodu even featured in PC Pro magazine. 1000s of teachers have said how fantastic Kodu is to teach programming and computational thinking. But, with everything else in life its hard cold facts that count.

    Kodu1So 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.

    http://kodukup.questionpro.com/

    This 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.

    Every completed survey will be entered into a ‘hat’, the entry drawn out first will be invited to bring their class of students to our Headquarters in Reading for your very own Koduthon. This will be for 40 students, we will provide lunch , but cannot fund travel to and from the event. To be considered for the draw ,make sure you include a valid contact email. The event will be planned for the end of May, beginning of June.

    This year’s Kodu Kup is now open you can enter here - https://sway.com/Vs7FfSxl_vkbWgiz

    Looking forward to hearing from you.


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    This week I am looking at Photo apps, of which there are a plethora in the Windows Store. Working on a Tablet device needs an app that doesn’t require lots of computing power, to make simple edits and apply effects. Detailed image editing requires heavy duty applications like Photoshop for example.

    Firstly the camera feature in Win 8.1  has a neat little feature. Panorama mode is a Photosynhesque feature , in that it allows you take automatically 360 degree images of your location. These can be saved and uploaded to

    Don’t forget PowerPoint has a load of image editing functionality and the ability to save your creation as images. Also in the new curriculum where it asks that children should manipulate store and analyse data. Photos are data, apps such as these are the tools for such data manipulation.

    image  My go to app on my Windows Tablet for image editing is Fotor . It includes Basic editing Tools, brilliant Visual Effects, Frames, 1-tap enhance, Photo Collage, text and Tilt shift, all bundled together in one powerful package.Crossroads - Tilt-Shift Photography

    My favourite feature is tilt shift, where you can alter the focus of an image to create image that look like miniature models. A great activity for geography, as it encourages students to look closely at their environment.

    You should also look at Fotor Colour Splash as a nice little extra. It allows you to create image where only a single colour is highlighted
    image It’s great when you see a feature in a commercial app and students are able to recreate that for themselves. The MSN Travel app has a neat feature where you can select a place in the world. Choose a panorama. By holding up the tablet and moving around the  view of the panorama changes, giving an impression of being in that place. with Turnme Panorama, students can recreate this effect themselves with places that they visit. This is an ideal app to use in Geography, RE and History
    image I suspect I could find a loads of valid education reasons why you should use this app. But, why spoil it. It’s just fun. FaceGoo allows students to create funny faces of each other and their teachers obviously. Could it be called data manipulation ?
    image This is great app for students to use. Photo Mix & Mash allows them to add allsorts of cartoon effects to images. It would be great to develop characters and scenes for stories and creative writing
    image Artistry allows students to create and share beautiful works of art from photos with the push of a button.  There are multiple styles to choose from, including comic book and cartoon renderings, sketchings, oil paintings, impressionist paintings and expressionist paintings. This would be great to get students to take photos recreating famous painting with a modern twist
       

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    clip_image002[1]With Skype with its real time translation feature - http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/30504264 and other software that offer translation into language and even Klingon. Is there a need to teach languages in schools?

    Helene Fyffe, one of our ex-interns is looking into that very question through her dissertation. She would like to get your thoughts and ideas. Please take some time to complete this survey.

    http://freeonlinesurveys.com/s.asp?sid=ffzqcbm4h85twqj598050

    Skype in the Classroom, as you may know is a free program which more than 90,000 teachers around the globe use in class with their students to create a fun and engaging learning experience.

     

     

    Virtual field trips have seen classes connect LIVE with NASA astronauts in space, a scientist in his submarine, Chelsea and Hilary Clinton from the USA and penguins from South Africa!

    The success that Skype in the Classroom is having with learners’ engagement is phenomenal! You can read the blog to find out for yourself.

     

    Skype and the teaching of languages

     

    clip_image004[1]clip_image006[1]clip_image008[1]clip_image010[1]

    Skype is being employed in many aspects of education and work-life today – it has even been alleged that it will soon begin to be used by GP's!

    With recent educational policies having been implemented with the long-term aim of increasing the uptake of modern languages by students in the UK, Skype could be a great tool to help engage learners.

    As an undergraduate student at Napier University and former employee of Microsoft Education, I’m looking to find out what language teachers and primary teachers think about the idea of using Skype in the teaching of languages. The information will be used only for the project’s research purposes and will be anonymous.

    If you’d like to share your opinion, please click on the survey link below:

    http://freeonlinesurveys.com/s.asp?sid=ffzqcbm4h85twqj598050


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    imageMany of us have never seen the Maga Carta. Yet it is one of the most famous documents in the world. Originally issued by King John of England as a practical solution to the political crisis he faced in 1215, Magna Carta established for the first time the principle that everybody, including the king, was subject to the law - http://www.bl.uk/collection-items/magna-carta-1215

    So how is the Magna Carta still relevant today in a digital world? What is the digital equivalent of ‘There shall be standard measures of wine, ale, and corn (the London quarter), throughout the kingdom’

    Microsoft UK, Skype and the British Library are holding a number of great events that not only to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta, but the importance of rights in the digital literacy age.

    Get involved with Microsoft and Digital Literacy

    We have teamed up with 3 great partners – The British Library, E-ngage Solutions and Kidscape. They will all be hosting a small number of sessions mainly for secondary schools, around the topics of digital rights, internet safety, and cyber bullying  respectively. As an example, more info on the British library’s campaign which they will be bringing to the platform is here: http://www.bl.uk/my-digital-rights . This is perfect for your Digital Leaders to get involved

     

    There are only have 9 sessions available so please ensure you sign up early.

    Skype in the Classroom

    Skype in the Classroom (SITC) is Skype’s education platform, aimed at providing educators all over the world with access to free and quality learning experiences, delivered via Skype video calling. SITC wants to help teachers create the global classroom, through these transformative interactions with a variety of different experts, educators and organisations who otherwise wouldn’t be able to be physically in the school. 

     

    How does it work? It is really simple!

    1. You pick a session you would like to take part in on the SITC portal. They typically last between 20 – 45 mins.

    2. Once confirmed, you engage with the speaker beforehand to check times, session content in more detail and have the opportunity to brief the speaker on context for the lesson within the classes curriculum.

    3. Ensure you have valid log in details for Skype.

    4. Sign in from your classroom, set your camera and speakers and you are away!

    Sign up for session today at - https://education.skype.com/partners/224-british-library

    Find out more at -

    Summary Video: http://www.bl.uk/my-digital-rights/videos/introduction

    The website: http://www.bl.uk/my-digital-rights

    The “Big Questions” to be debated: http://www.bl.uk/my-digital-rights/teaching-resources

    The teachers overview: http://www.bl.uk/teaching-resources/mcdr-a-guide-for-teachers


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    We live in a time where we can imagine the impossible and make it probable.  

    Hello and welcome to the 2015 Imagine Make It Happen Event! This unique event brings together influential tech speakers, students and start-ups redefining the rules to make their dreams a reality.

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015 from 09:30 to 18:00 London,

     

    The day is split into two sessions, you can choose to attend either or both.

     

    Morning Sessions: 9:30 AM-1 2:30 PM

    Registration at 9:00 AM


    imageBeing a startup takes just the right amount of ‘crazy’ and some strong core skills. Our morning sessions features keynote from Troy Collins, Founder of SecretEscapes.com, and are designed to help you get lean, keep investors keen and get your startup seen, as well as nuts and bolts workshops on how to scale, how to be productive and more.

     

    Afternoon Sessions: 1:00 PM- 18:00 PM

    Registration at 12:30 PM


    Calling Students and futurists of all ages, to come and be inspired at the Imagine Cup 2015 UK finals. The largest Student Technology competition in the world. Yes it is a competition but more importantly it is a celebration of student innovation, the power to not just look into the future but to change it for the better.

    The half day event will be hosted by Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer for Microsoft UK, and is an educational and inspirational afternoon that showcases the field of Computer Science through a celebration of student innovation! It will consist of exciting demonstrations that will showcase 12 of the most innovative student start up’s in Tech for Apps & Games & talks from Cambridge professor’s and Tech Industry experts. We hope to inspire students to consider fantastic opportunities available to them in becoming the next generation of Computer Scientists.

    At the Microsoft UK HQ we are heads down currently creating the agenda for the day that as well as talks, will consist of breakout sessions where students can learn to code, test out the start-ups Apps & Games, meet the Xbox team and learn about the Microsoft developer tools.

    Register here before all the places are gone -

    : https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/imagine-make-it-happen-tickets-15650107894


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    We are always expecting our students respond well to the challenges of exams. But, how often to do we take up  that challenge ourselves. Rachel Jones , ‘Curator of Lightbulbs’ and teaching and learning co-coordinator at King Edward VI School, Southampton has done exactly that.

    Here is her post in her own words ……….

    In 2013 I applied for the Google Teacher Academy. I was pretty staggered to get in, and remember jumping around the room with @girlyrunner1 when I got the email saying I had been accepted. Attending #GTA2013 was for me the start point of quite a long journey. I had never really consider having my skills as a teacher (especially in the area of using technology) as something you could certify. Being able to quantify skills in this area felt at odds with my have-a-go- hero kind of attitude. I am entirely self-taught and almost pride myself in a lack of formal IT qualifications, I enjoy learning how to do things by having a tinker with them. However – once I had attended the #GTA I felt much more confident in my own abilities. This also coincided with sharing a lot of what I do at conferences and TeachMeets, where I often found myself saying that:

    ‘What technology you use isn’t important. What’s important is the impact that it is having on the children’s learning. If you would be better off using pen and paper, then do that. ‘

    Now – part of the consequence of saying this is that I started to reflect on myself as a practitioner. I had pretty much signed up lock-stock to Apple and Google, and actually this meant that I wasn’t actually practising what I was preaching about being a platform atheist. Something shifted in my approach to how I think about educating myself as a teacher. I decided that rather than focus on one platform, I would educate myself about all the options open to me, and make decisions of use based on an educated opinion rather than a personal preference. This entailed putting myself through other professional certifications. I have applied for the upcoming ADE course (please keep your fingers crossed for me) and this week I also took The Microsoft Certified Educator exam. My school very kindly paid for me to take the exam, and it was really quite nerve wracking sitting in a room, knowing that if I failed I should probably do the whole modelling resilience thing – but would instead probably have a cry. It’s funny how much of ourselves we invest in our professional capabilities, and I was reminded afresh how terrifying the exam system must be for the students in our care. Prior to taking the exam I had worked through all the sample materials that Microsoft provide, and passed them all. (Sometimes without quite so much of the study time recommended) however over half term the looming imminence of the exam provoked some full on revision. I can know tell you all sorts of useful things, like what some error messages actually mean – as can my 8 year old as he tested me all week. However, much of the content of the exam is based on actual classroom practice and pedagogy, so it came under the remit of the job that I do all day. I was *really* pleased to pass the exam first time, like so pleased I would not have to go to work and say they needed to pay for a re-sit and also that I could tell my boys that the relentless testing had not been in vain…. But I was also pleased to pass for myself- every time I do something outside my comfort zone, and it goes well, it helps to build my confidence as an educator.

    I would encourage others to consider taking exams such as these for these reasons:

    1 – It is good for you to have empathy with kids in exam halls. Know what it feels like to be afraid that you might not pass.

    2 – It won’t hurt in your next appraisal to have a new professional qualification.

    3 – If you work in edtech it gives you credibility that you know what you are talking about across

    platforms.

    4 – I have been told (still waiting on it) that the Microsoft teacher network is really awesome. If they are anything as cool as the Google Teacher network this will be endless brilliant to be a part of.

    5 – As teachers we should also be learners. Not peddling knowledge for a 20 year old degree. We do need to learn new things – even if this falls under the skills category.

    6 – It feels brilliant to pass exams. I actually skipped back to the car park. For those of who have to work at building self-confidence, this this could be an excellent step.

    7 – Teachers often build their sense of self-worth based on what SLT or OFSTED say. I think having a more detached professional criteria to see how valuable you are, and what your skills are worth is very important indeed. You are more than your last observation score.

    8- I felt valued by school in that they paid for my exam. In a week of report writing and the other usual stressed, this certainly kept me going. Schools get buy-in from staff based on valuing them as teachers and human beings. This part of my development will certainly benefit the school, maybe not in pay back in terms of my IT knowledge, but certainly in how loyal I feel to the institution.

    I hope that by continuing to challenge myself I am not just collecting certificates, but acquiring knowledge and skills that will benefit those in my classroom. I would encourage other teachers to consider taking professional certifications, it is certainly something that has changed my practise for the better.

    You can find more out about Rachel’s great work on her blog - http://createinnovateexplore.com/

    If you are interested in becoming a Microsoft Certified Educator, you can find all the details here  - https://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/mce-certification.aspx

    Check out how these teachers in a welsh local authority have developed their professional development and the impact it has had on their learning and the learning of their students.


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  • 03/12/15--05:30: Build your imagination
  • It’s amazing to think that when the BBC Micro launched in 1981, Microsoft didn’t exist in the UK and neither did Windows. But that first BBC project embodied everything we believed then, and that we still believe today about computing.

    Get affordable computers to as many people as possible, give them the tools and the skills they need – and then let them create the things they want.

    That campaign inspired a generation. A generation brought up on simple programmes that took a few lines of basic code and made the machine do something amazing. Something that changed their lives.

    In a world of Halo and VR, a screen full of “Michel is awesome” might not seem like much, but those tentative first steps were followed by many more. Steps that led to my own passion for technology that has never left. And today, that passion allows me to work with some truly inspiring people. Far better coders and engineers than I ever could be.  Almost daily they are changing our understanding of what ‘computing’ means. They are blending the physical and the digital through augmented reality platforms such as HoloLens, or helping the world talk to each other through Skype Translator. And, if they work on Windows, then a billion people will benefit from their work – their code – every single day.

    Digital-1

    It is this “maker” spark which we need to ignite and nurture. Seeing a child’s face light up when they make something incredible in Minecraft or code their first game in Kodu is something special. But despite this, and the efforts of many others in the industry including the likes of Google and Samsung as well as people at UK-based ARM and BT, there still aren’t enough new people taking those first seemingly small steps and making them last a lifetime. This is why Microsoft is backing the BBC’s campaign and why we are helping to design, build and give away a million programmable Microbit devices to every twelve year old in the country.

    In the UK we have a long history of punching above our weight. The world’s sixth largest economy, four of the top six Universities in the world and number five in the number of patents in force. However, if we are to continue our outsized impact as a nation, we must understand that the fundamental engine of creativity, and productivity, in this century is computer science.

    Digital-2

    Our long term ambition is that 80% of all jobs that require computer science knowledge are able to be filled by a homegrown UK graduate. To do this, we need to inspire this generation of young people to choose computer science. It’s why we’ve launched Microsoft Imagine to bring together competitions such as the Kodu and Imagine Cups and the resources kids need to learn to code.  It’s why we campaigned for the new curriculum to teach the building blocks of computing, not just ICT, and why we developed our QuickStart Computing materials to help teachers feel confident in the classroom.

    Today we have a generational opportunity. If we help our young people to become creators, then we help them to determine their own futures in a digital world.

    Because being a maker, matters.

    We all want ‘digital making’ to become part of the mainstream and the BBC is uniquely placed to make that happen. In the 21st Century, coding can and should be something you learn to do like swimming or riding a bike and ‘Make it Digital’ is a perfect catalyst.

    Michel Van der Bel.

    Michel Van der Bel


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  • 03/17/15--05:42: Become a Kodu School
  • Kodu Character

    Schools are doing some amazing things with Kodu and the new computing curriculum. We wanted to celebrate those schools that are developing their computing curriculum and involving Kodu. Today we are announcing the the Kodu School Award in the UK, to recognise and promote the use of Kodu in Schools.

    So how do you become a Kodu School?

    You need to complete the following :-

    •Submit and share a Scheme of Work or Lesson plan showing how you use Kodu in your school . Make sure this includes you school logo and your details.

    •Submit evidence that your school has held an event showcasing Kodu, this can be photos or a video of an event you have held for students and/or teachers, even parents

    •Submit evidence that your school has entered students into the Kodu Kup, this can be this years activity or from previous years

    •Email kodukupuk@outlook.com with your submission on the application form . which can also be downloaded here

    •Submitting this application confirms that that its contents and images have permission to be shared across Microsoft Educator Network and its Partners. We will be sharing all your applications and experiences here on this blog and www.kodugamelab.com

    Email kodukupuk@outlook.com  with any questions.

    image

    Thirty schools will be chosen this year and awarded Kodu School status. Your school will receive a plaque for your school entrance foyer. To let everybody know about the great work you are doing. This award is open to all schools in the UK, UK International Schools and Hospital Schools.

    WP_20150303_001The programme has been trialled and I am pleased to announce the first Primary School to receive this award are the The Tai Centre in Rhondda Cynon Taf. The first secondary school to receive this award are the winners of the the first Kodu Kup, Afon Taf Secondary School in Merthyr.

    Who will be next?

    Don’t forget the Kodu Kup is still running and closes at the end of May – Full details here. https://sway.com/Vs7FfSxl_vkbWgiz


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    We'd like to introduce a new series of regular weekly posts that will be appearing on this blog over next few months, showcasing the great work done by our Microsoft Expert Educators and sharing some of the innovative ways in which they have approached using technology within the classroom. So with this in mind, we are launching MIEE TV– a channel dedicated to bringing you insight and education tips from those who are out on the frontline of education each day. On MIEE TV you’ll find vlogs from a number of our Expert Educators, tips on getting the most out of technology in the classroom, as well as success stories and examples of best practices from the broader MIEE and Showcase Schools community.

    MIEE banner

    The purpose of MIEE TV is to help spread the knowledge and ideas that are constantly being shared within the MIEE community, and to create a resource where other teachers and students can fund useful information that they can put into practice in their own way. Over the course of the next few months we’ll be taking a closer look at how the MIEEs are using devices, the different applications within Office 365, coding software, project based learning, pedagogical practices and other Microsoft technologies in innovative ways to help drive engagement and learning forward.MIEE logoFor now, we’ll leave you with this video featuring some of our MEEs and teachers from Microsoft Showcase Schools, in which they discuss what being part of the Microsoft in Education community means, and what they are finding to be the tangible benefits of collaborating with other schools:

    For a full list of the MEEs to that joined us towards the end of last year as part of the 2015 cohort, please refer to the following blog post:

    Announcing the latest Microsoft Innovative Expert Educators


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