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    As some of you will know I have the occasional rant on Twitter about how in terms of the new computing curriculum, there seems to be only a small number of coding languages in town. I was asked by PC Pro magazine to highlight what else is out there. They wanted to know more about the awesomeness of Kodu.
    Here is the article. I would welcome your thoughts – let me know on Twitter – @innovativeteach  #kodu

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    Last week we took a first look at the Microsoft Expert Educator YouTube channel, introducing some members of the MIEE community, as well as a number of head teachers from a Microsoft Showcase Schools here in the UK. Today we’re going to hear about one Expert Educator in particular, and what his views are on the place of technology within education. Further down in this guest post, written by Gerald Haigh, you can watch a short video of Mark from our MEE TV channel.


    Mark Martin - Freedom to roam

    by Gerald Haigh

    Many teachers have long tried to involve their students more actively in their learning – working together to solve problems, learning from their own and each other’s mistakes. In order to do this they have increasingly wanted to move away from the ‘sage on the stage’ position at the front of the room and move around, still undoubtedly in charge, setting the learning and organizational parameters, but at the same time signalling that their class is a collaborative learning community. It’s not always been easy to do that consistently. Time and again the teacher who works in that way finds it necessary to hurry to the front to demonstrate something to everyone, or show an example of work. Now, though, we’ve seen how teachers are making use of the portability and connectivity of Windows tablets to free themselves completely to work, and control the lesson, from wherever they wish to be, alongside their students.

    A conversation with MIEE teacher Mark Martin provides a first class example of exactly how this can work.

    Mark Martin

    Anyone who believes that Microsoft’s Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE) programme, or the global Showcase Schools project, are exclusively focussed on the wonders of technology would do well to talk to some of the people involved. In every case, it’s clear that the driving imperative is about the furtherance and enrichment of learning and the expansion of opportunities for young people. Yes, technology’s important, but only because it brings to life ideas and visions around learning that might otherwise be out of reach.

    Mark Martin, for example, teacher of ICT at St Mark’s Church of England Academy in Mitcham, Surrey caught my attention when I noticed a comment he’d posted on the MIEE Yammer feed about using Surface Pro 3 with a Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter that enables whatever’s happening on the tablet to be projected for all to see. He’s keen on this, not just as a demonstration tool but, in his own words, ‘To remove the ideology of the teacher at the front.’

    I called Mark to chat further about his ideas.

    ‘Traditionally, the teacher talks from the front… As time’s gone on, though, I’ve seen the focus move from the person at the front to the learning.’

    Not all technology follows that shift of focus, though. So while a technologically clever management tool such as ‘AB Tutor’, has the obvious advantage of giving teacher access to all the desktops in the room, for Mark, it also meant being restricted to the teacher’s desktop machine, in the place where he didn’t want to be, at the front of the class.

    Mark wanted to be mobile, among and alongside the students, in the places where the learning is happening. Now with AB Tutor on his Surface Pro 3, Mark has discovered the kind of freedom and flexibility he’s always wanted, to walk round the room, attending to students with problems. .

    ‘When a young person gets stuck, they depend on the teacher to give some kind of immediate response. I could go and show them the right way, and there’s always a place for that, but what I try and do before that is ask the students alongside. I can show on the screen different examples from around the room of what people have done, and try to establish that it’s not just about finding answers from the teacher.’

    Mark’s very keen on the notion of ‘being stuck’ not as a barrier, but as a learning point, to be worked through to the advantage of everyone in the room.

    The Surface Pro 3 is crucial in this process. Mark carries it round the room, ‘picking up’ work from students, showing it, comparing it with others, annotating it, building a collaborative learning environment. Sometimes, he says,

    ‘I just hand over the Surface and the pen to someone who will get on with showing the class what they want to explain.’

    On the basis of a short phone call – and a look at his excellent website – I was hugely impressed by Mark’s combination of worldly wisdom, open mindedness and enthusiastic sense of mission.

    From Microsoft Expert Educator TV– ‘Meet MIEE: Mark Martin

    He’s been at the school for two years, having had experience in a range of urban schools, originally as a learning mentor before becoming a teacher seven years ago. In his relatively short time at St Marks he’s worked hard to raise the profile of ICT, and the achievement of students. Right at the start he instituted a digital leaders programme with the students, and there’s a termly award – a cup competition – for the department using technology most effectively.

    Very significant in all of this is Mark’s close engagement with the technology industry – his connection with Microsoft is just one aspect of that. He makes links with ‘Tech City’, the East London cluster of technology start-ups and businesses and brings experts in every Thursday to showcase their latest work.

    Bringing parents on board is part of the mission, too –

    ‘We do a one hour a week after-school session called ‘digital families’.’

    Now, he says:

    ‘More students are choosing ICT and Computing at KS4, more are wanting to study the subject at college and university, and looking to do it as a career. The main impact, though, is on digital confidence. They are more ready to take risks and test out the technology in new ways.’

    One of Mark’s greatest strengths, I’d guess, is his understanding of, and empathy with, young people. Starting as a learning mentor undoubtedly helped, because it’s a role that creates a different sort of relationship than that between teacher and pupil. It means, for example, that he detects a huge amount of hidden technological talent among young people, comparing its ‘under the radar’ growth with the way that the Hip-Hop scene developed and spread in the USA in the Seventies.

    ‘As the underground Hip-Hop scene thrives with new talent coming through, so does the tech scene amongst young people,’ he writes in his blog , ‘Hidden Talent in Schools’.

    Mark is also keen on teachers sharing their ideas, and his participation in MIEE activities is certain to be productive for him and for the wider community.


    Further links:

    Mark Martin on Twitter @Urban_teacher

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    Microsoft Expert Educator

    Speaking to our MIEEs here in the UK and reading their discussions on Yammer, it is clear that they are already finding and sharing innovative ways to use technology to not only engage with and inspire their students, but to save time both inside and outside the classroom, allowing for more quality time to be spent actually interacting with the children. Looking further afield to teachers on Twitter from all over the world, it's also becoming readily apparent how much OneNote is enabling them to transform education for all involved.

    Helene 1-1

    As part of our series of weekly blogs looking at the work being done by the MIEEs, we share videos from the MIEE TV YouTube channel, in which our Expert Educators talk to us about the things they find are proving to be the most effective in affecting positive changes in their worlds. This week we’re going to shine the spotlight on OneNote.

    Emma Hicks is an English and Drama teacher at Arnold Hill Academy, as well as being a Microsoft Expert Educator:

    “I've recently been using OneNote and I've found it hugely beneficial, not just for me but also for the students, and the way that I'm able to interact with them, I'm constantly able to provide them with feedback."

    Other members of the MIEE community have found great ways of using OneNote within the classroom:


    On a Yammer thread within the MIEE network, Anthony also made mention of the collaborative scale with which they are using OneNote across classes at Broadclyst Community Primary School:

    “We use one [OneNote Class Notebook] per year group so about 70 students in each plus teachers and leadership across the (primary) school can all open each year group's OneNote, so around 90 users in all at any one time. This works solidly, especially now the OneNote lives on SharePoint.”

    Thomas Stanley, of Cornwallis Academy, has been using the draw feature of OneNote to complete activities with the split screen calculator to make maths fun and interactive:

    TS 1TS 2


    Further Resources:

    OneNote Class Notebook Creator --- Guest blog post from Kevin Sait [MIEE]
    OneNote for Teachers
    How to Turn a Teacher into a OneNote Ninja

    MIEE logo

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    Kodu-Character_thumb6Do you want to find out more about Kodu?

    How can you use it to deliver the Computing curriculum,

    How to use it across the curriculum and innovative ideas that you never thought possible?

    All will be revealed at our   Showcase Kodu Teacher Event – 21st May, Microsoft Offices ,Cardinal Place London– in our Showcase Classroom

    Book your place here -

    Whether  you have never used Kodu before, looking to add to your computing curriculum or just share great ideas with like minded teachers then this is the event for you.Come along and find the innovative ways teachers are using this free programming language in the classroom.

    The awesome Clare Lotriet , @ohlottie , author of ‘Learn to code’ will be joining us, along with many other Kodu fans to share great ideas and activities.

    Come and join us. This event will be Primary focussed , but all are welcome.

    Download Kodu from

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    Microsoft Expert Educator

    A relatively new addition to the Microsoft product family, Sway is proving to be a big hit with teachers so far since it first made an appearance towards the end of 2014. More than a document in the traditional sense, Sway allows you to add all kinds of rich media to your canvas, from tweets to videos, photo albums and more, the built-in design engine takes the hassle out of formatting your various pieces of content by integrating them into a cohesive layout. From there, you can easily adjust the design to create a look and feel that best reflects the subject matter, and crucially in education, the intended audience.

    Visit to try it out for yourself

    Having been formally introduced to this new tool in December last year during a session at our Showcase Classroom in London, our Microsoft Expert Educators have since been finding lots of interesting and creative ways to not only use Sway as a vehicle for teaching subject material, but also as something that the students themselves can use for producing research projects and presentations of their own. Let’s what some of them have been up to.

    Marie Renton, Deputy Head Teacher at Lochfield Primary, Renfrewshire, created this Sway to show to her pupils ahead of the solar eclipse last month, to provide them with a learning resource that was easy to take in, and highly topical:

    Elsewhere in the MIEE community, Anthony Lees of Broadclyst Community Primary School has been using Sway to keep an ongoing account of all the tricks and tips he finds during his continual use of another staple of MIEE classrooms – OneNote. In Anthony’s own words, “this Sway is a collection of all the daily tweets to offer quick tips on using the excellent (and free!) Microsoft notebook and presenting software, #MSOneNote. They are tagged for reference as #OneNoteT4T”.

    Our final examples come from Simon De Senlis Primary in Northampton, a Microsoft Showcase School. Here, it looks like head teacher Tom Rees, his colleagues and their students, have been having a little too much fun recreating one of the stories associated with the school’s namesake!

    ICT teacher Tomos Prosser, also from Simon De Senlis, has been encouraging his students to create Sways as a way of collating and presenting their findings when attempting research projects:


    As is customary with these Thursday morning MIEE blog posts, we include a video from our MEE TV YouTube channel, including one of our Expert Educators talking about how they have been using a particular technology in the classroom. In this case, when we filmed Tom Prosser he hadn't yet fully discovered all that Sway has to offer, however his story of how he became an ICT teacher and his views on collaboration through the appropriate use of technology are well worth a quick watch!

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    Ray Chambers is one of our Microsoft Expert Educators, and a leading force for driving the educational use of Minecraft in classrooms all over the UK. You may have even seen last month’s TechRadar article How Minecraft is helping kids learn code one block at a time, which is all about the sessions he was presenting to packed audiences in our Theatre during BETT 2015 in January. On his own blog however, Ray has recently been posting a number of video tutorials, which he has kindly allowed us to share with you here. We’ll include the first two videos below, but the rest can be found on Ray Chambers: Computer Craft Lessons – Minecraft MOD.

    Computer Craft Lessons – Minecraft MOD

    “I have recently been at a number of conferences showing people how they can use Minecraft and I have also shown people the MOD known as computer craft. It’s a free mod which can be downloaded from here. It sits in your Minecraft MOD folder. If you’re using MinecraftEDU, you don’t have to do much to enable it. If you’re wanting to use it with regular Minecraft, then you’re going to have to install FORGE which is a little bit trickier. I will do a blog post on this later. The idea of this page is to show you how to get up and running in your school. Most schools have been using MinecraftEDU because of it’s teacher tools. I support these tools and feel that they work effectively in my own classroom.” – Ray Chambers

    Here are first two video tutorials from Ray’s blog, and we’ll be bring you the rest in subsequent posts to this blog:

    How to set up your server
    This lesson introduces you to setting up the server using MinecraftEDU. It also covers some of the basic features of MinecraftEDU and gets you to work as a team:

    How to collaborate with information blocks / How to make books
    This lesson shows you how to give information blocks to your students. You are then able to collaborate with others:

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    In the last few weeks we’ve been posting blogs containing tutorials based on Teaching with Technology tutorials, which, while created to help anyone undertaking a formal Continued Personal Development course, should prove to be of use to anyone who sees technology playing a role in the way they teach.

    Immediately below you’ll find the next two tutorials in this series, both of which take a look at the powerful functionality of Word but for anyone who missed the first two blogs, we’ve included links to them at the bottom of this article.

    Word logo

    Develop research skills with OneNote and Word: Teaching with Technology

    It is important for today’s school leavers to have transferable 21st Century Skills as well as academic qualifications. Knowing how to conduct research, critically evaluate and synthesize information are essential 21st Century Skills. Using the Internet students can find resources on any topic within seconds, but often don’t know how to critically evaluate the legitimacy and quality of those resources. In fact, they may produce work by simply copying and pasting from these resources without respect for the author and sometimes without fully understanding the content. Programs like Microsoft OneNote have features to help students use and cite online resources, generate a bibliography, and critically evaluate what they find.

    In this tutorial you will:

    1. Learn to use electronic dictionaries and other reference works that are integrated in Office programs.
    2. Learn to create an automatically generated scientific bibliography of used resources.


    Digital storytelling with Microsoft Word: Teaching with Technology

    With the current prevalence of multimedia, digital literacy is an essential skill. Digital storytelling can be a very successful way of building these skills in students. They combine visual elements with text and appeal to students with different learning styles. It is possible to produce high quality digital stories with Microsoft Word and Microsoft Office.

    In this tutorial you will:

    1. Learn how to generate all the elements needed for a digital story.
    2. Learn how to save a Word file as a PDF file.


    If you missed the two previous blogs in this series, you can find them here:

    TwT Tutorials - Office 365 for cloud based learning; Remove classroom walls with Skype
    TwT Tutorials - Preparing for students for employment; Learning Suite for project based learning

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    On the evening of Tuesday 21st April we are opening the doors of the Showcase Classroom in our London Victoria offices for a #teachmeet hosted by ‘Urban Teacher’ Mark Martin. As well as being ICT Teacher at St Mark’s Academy, Mark is one of our Microsoft Expert Educators for 2015. The event is free to attend, although spaces are limited, so to avoid disappointment, please register now.



    Showcase Classroom
    Cardinal Place, Victoria
    London, United Kingdom SWE1 5JL
    Tuesday, 21 April 2015 from 18:00 to 20:00 (BST)

    Refreshments provided


    As an educator, Mark is passionate about developing the capabilities of technology within learning for students, teacher and also parents. In order to do this as effectively as possible, it's important to meet with other members of the education community regularly to discuss and share best practices, and this is exactly what we are hoping to help facilitate with Mark next week.

    The event itself, is very informal, although there will be the opportunity to present to the other attendees. If you have a best practice, a set of tips, or wish to share some insight or thought leadership with your peers in the wider educator community, please contact Mark on to sign up as a presenter.

    In order to keep the event as relevant and worthwhile as possible, please be mindful of the following presentation rules:

    • You MUST be a teacher in the classroom!
    • You CANNOT pitch any products for sale!
    • You can use whatever presentation format you want to.
    • The important point, is that you get your message across in the time allocated to you (2-7 minutes).
    • If your presentation is online please share links to your presentation before or after the event.

    Teachmeets are a great opportunity to engage with your peers and be inspired to make a difference at your school. Even if you aren’t planning on presenting, there will be plenty of time to speak with other likeminded individuals and share your thoughts over a canapé and a drink or two! Likewise, if you are unable to make it in person, you can follow the #tmshowcase hashtag on Twitter to be part of the conversation online.

    Click Here for Tickets

    We want to hear about your creative approaches to teaching and learning at your school, and look forward to seeing you next Tuesday!

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    Last week we shone the spotlight on one of the newest Microsoft technologies, and looked at how our Expert Educators are using Sway in the classroom. There were some fantastic examples of how this new creative medium is being used to engage and inspire students on a variety of subjects. Today, we’re going to shift to the focus to another relative newcomer to the Microsoft party, and that is Office Mix.

    Office Mix logo square

    While PowerPoint may be officially celebrating its 25th (yes, twenty-fifth!) birthday this year, Office Mix is a powerful new add-on that can give your presentations superpowers and reaffirm this ‘mature’ tool as still being at the cutting edge of technology in education. Whether you want to record audio and video directly into your slides, include interactive quizzes in your presentations, or just generally ‘pimp your slide’, Office Mix is a fantastic tool for bringing material to life.

    Let’s see how some members of the MIEE community have been taking advantage of the new functionality within Office Mix…

    Simon Johnson, ICT/Computing teacher at Highfields School Wolverhampton has been using Office Mix in conjunction with other tools to undertake a flipped learning approach to engaging his students:

    “I've only had a brief play with OfficeMix but see it has lots of potential! I have been playing with OfficeMix combined with TouchDevelop to create interactive experiences - potentially for flipping my classroom. Here is an example I made a while back on the Water Cycle including an interactive Water Cycle animation and drag & drop quiz created with TouchDevelop…”

    [View Simon’s Office Mix on The Water Cycle]

    MIEE TV - Office Mix 1

    As much as we all do our best to keep ourselves and our children fit and healthy, it is inevitable that at some point illness will strike and students will occasionally miss lessons. Simply copying up someone else’s notes or going through a PowerPoint in isolation isn’t always enough to get the full appreciation of the subject matter. Matthew Davies, from Treorchy Comprehensive School in the Rhondda Cynon Taf district of South Wales, has been using Office Mix as a of helping absent students catch up with their classmates:

    “I have been using Office Mix to add audio/video introductions to PowerPoint presentations for pupils who have missed lessons. The audio/video gives pupils the detail/context that I would have spoken about in the lesson. This has allowed pupils to catch-up prior to the next lesson, in school or at home. This has ensured that pupils have been up-to-date with great success. They are then ready to move on with the rest of the class on their return. It also allows pupils to revisit topics in their own time and is a useful revision source.”

    Further to this, Matthew sees how the assessment functionality can help him in getting a better understanding of who might be struggling with certain aspects of the course material with his older students:

    “I am planning to use Office Mix to provide a flipped classroom approach which I think will work well with my 6th Form Classes. The ability to see who has viewed the slides and how long they have spent on each one is an excellent tool to track pupils. The ability to track pupils understanding through the use of the questioning tools will allow me to plan additional activities to cover the weaknesses identified which will be amazing.”

    And he’s not the only one within our MIEE community who has realised the potential flipped learning. In a Yammer thread discussing Office Mix, Scotland-based MIE-Fellow Ian Stuart describing it as “a fantastic tool to allow teachers to easily move on to videos from existing PPTs”, adding “…this means you can very quickly create a flipped learning video and providing a quick on ramp from teachers are now to where they want to go.”

    MIEE TV - Office Mix 2

    If you read last week’s post about using Sway in the classroom, you’ll be familiar with Anthony Lees of Broadclyst Community Primary School. He’s also been getting to grips with Office Mix recently, and has found it to be of great use when dealing with not only his students, but also his colleagues:

    “I have been using Mix to narrate over how-to videos for pupils and staff about how to complete tasks on our network, complete eSafety surveys, and introduce new units of work.”

    But what of the material impact upon learning? Are these new features actually making a difference? John Cooper got in touch with us after the Easter break to share his thoughts on how Office Mix had been helping his students to prepare for their summer exams:

    “Back in the saddle and already seen some students who have made use of the Office Mixes I put together for Easter revision. I can guarantee that the Microsoft in Education programme will be earning Maths GCSE candidates a few more marks this year. For those currently on a grade borderline, these marks could have a huge pivotal impact on the employment offers received by my students and their ensuing quality of life. It's a great start to a new term.”

    Keeping with tradition, we include a short video in each of these blogs to give you an idea of who our MIEEs are, how they got involved with the programme, and how they are currently using technology in the classroom. This week we'll meet John Cooper from Sussex Downs College:


    As ever, the aim of these blog posts is to provide our audience with some examples with how the teachers closest to us are using the latest technologies in the classroom, so we hope this post has inspired you to get creative in your in educational setting! To help you get started with Office Mix we recommend you take a look at the following eBook: MIXing it up: Using Office Mix to Improve Learning.

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    Once again it’s time to delve into the collection of Teaching with Technology tutorials on our SlideShare account to bring you two more examples of ways in which various technologies can be used to aid learning. Even though these short guides were created with the intention of supporting those teachers who are working towards a qualification through one of our continued personal development courses, we hope that there are elements of these tutorials that all teachers can relate to and put into practice in their own classrooms.

    This week’s tutorials look at two ways in which technologically minded teachers can use Bing Maps and Bing Translator within Office 365 to enable their students to communicate and collaborate with other classes all over the world.


    Learning with Bing and Office 365

    Globalization has increased the need for students to be culturally aware and able to communicate with peers who may speak another language to their own. Within their own classroom or through on-line projects the acquisition of a new language or the use of technology to support communication is vitally important.

    In this tutorial you will:

    1. Learn to use Bing Translator as a communication tool.
    2. Learn to use Flashcards to help students acquire a new language.
    3. Learn to use translation tools which are integrated in Microsoft Office programs.
    4. Learn to use the Microsoft Lync Conversation Translator to facilitate communication between two or more persons who don’t speak a common language.


    Using Bing Maps for collaboration

    Working collaboratively can be a powerful learning experience for students. If that collaboration is with peers from another country then that experience can develop cultural awareness as well as essential 21st Century Skills such as critical thinking, self-evaluation and managing information.

    In this tutorial you will:

    1. Understand how Bing Maps can be used for collaborative activities.
    2. Understand how Photosynth can be used to build new knowledge.

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    For this week’s MIEE TV themed post, we’ve got something a little special lined up… You’ll no doubt be aware that at the end of March the Surface 3 was unveiled. In the last few weeks there has been a lot of buzz around the impact such a powerful, lightweight and comparatively affordable device will have within education. Today, we’re pleased to share the news of the education specific discounts available, as well as give you some feedback from our MIEE community members who have already put the device through its paces.

    Wymondham High Academy in Norfolk is one of our Microsoft Showcase Schools here in the UK, with its Head of IT Strategy, Kevin Sait, also being a Microsoft Expert Educator and hopefully a name familiar to regular readers of this blog. Prior to the public announcement of the Surface 3, we visited Wymondham High Academy to look at how the device would sit within existing technology arrangements in schools, and to document the effects of such a device on the day to day endeavours of a student. Harry Traynor was the one lucky enough to have the film crews following him around, with his thoughts on the Surface 3 and his experiences with it contained in the video below.

    For now, we’re going to relay the announcements from the main Surface Blog all about the education discounts, and the early adopter programme, so please see below for the latest update from the Surface team, and the videos that give real life context to the impact of the Surface 3 in education.


    Announcing early adopters and a 10% discount on Surface 3 for Education

    Surface 3-1

    We all know education is changing. More and more, desks in today’s classrooms are grouped together in clusters for better collaboration and project-based learning. Tablets, phones and laptops are becoming fixtures on student desks – replacing many of the ‘analog’ teaching and learning tools of the past including textbooks, notebooks, paper handouts and tabbed folders to carry and organize everything.

    For most schools, the vision of a completely Digital Classroom is still just a vision. But with the 1:1 computing trend growing in schools (FutureSource estimates half of all K-12 students will have access to a 1:1 device by next academic year), more and more classrooms will be going paperless.

    Surface 3-2

    In order to make a full transformation to a digital classroom, a tablet needs to support not only reading and typing input, but also writing which is a critical part of the learning experience.

    There have been multiple research studies published on the importance of handwriting to education. We all recognize intuitively that the act of writing helps us process ideas and information in a way that typing on a keyboard cannot. Think about a student labeling a diagram of the human body; sketching the effect of magnets on each other; doing side calculations to solve a math problem; or simply creating art.  These are just a few examples that help to illustrate how Surface can make a lot of sense for schools.

    In fact, response from customers like Cincinnati Country Day School, Cicero School District, and others have been very positive around Surface Pro 3 as an educational device. And we’ve also heard from some schools that they would be interested in a more affordable choice that would allow them to take advantage of all the flexibility that Surface Pro 3 offers. With Surface 3, we now have that option — an outstanding tablet for education that offers a premium touch and inking experience, along with great portability and great battery life, at a more affordable price.

    10% Discount for Education on Surface 3, Type Cover and Surface Pen

    Surface 3 brings all the benefits of the Surface Pro 3 – best-in-class digital inking, touch-screen tablet, and fully productive laptop running full Windows 8.1 – at a more affordable price point.  We have already been offering a 10% discount to educational institutions purchasing Surface Pro 3. Now, to make Surface even more affordable for schools as a 1:1 device, we are extending a 10% discount to educational institutions purchasing Surface 3, Type Cover and Surface Pen. This discount is available from our commercial resellers and Microsoft Store. In addition, we are offering a unique Surface 3 configuration exclusively for educational institutions with 32GB storage capacity and 2GB memory.

    Schools are committing to Surface 3 even before availability

    We are excited to announce that schools such as Broadclyst Primary School and Shireland Collegiate Academy in the UK, the ROC of Amsterdam, the Ministry of Education Luxembourg, Hillcrest Christian College in Australia as well as University of Phoenix and Chino Valley Unified School District in the U.S. have already committed to buying and deploying Surface 3.

    The examples below include a bit more detail about why schools are excited about Surface 3 and how they expect the device to have a real impact on how they teach and the ways students learn.

    Wymondham High Academy in the UK is deploying Surface 3 for its student and faculty devices, “With the superior inking capabilities and the use of OneNote in the Classroom, Surface 3 will truly begin to empower teachers to integrate the use of technology in the classroom across the curriculum.” – Kevin Sait, Head of IT Strategy

    Sarasota County School District has been a long-time fan of Surface – having deployed Surface RT, and Surface 2 throughout schools in the district.  Now, they are adopting Surface 3 for their freshman and sophomore class at Suncoast Polytechnic High School – as shown in the video below– and in other schools across the district.

    Accessories complete the solution for Surface 3 in schools

    We have worked with leading accessory manufacturers to create solutions that help protect Surface tablets against accidental damage and help to keep Type Covers and Surface Pens readily accessible for student use. We have a full range of accessories that are proving popular with schools that have selected Surface as their student and faculty device – including rugged and protective cases from Incipio, M-edge, STM and UAG; charging/securing/storing carts from Anthro, and pen storage solutions from Cleanstylus.

    Surface driving positive transformation in schools

    Surface 3-3 While some of us may reminisce about the smell of mimeograph machines, the fear of never filling in the bubbles completely on scan-tron forms, or the happy excuse of the dog eating homework, the classrooms of today are an amazing place where students and teachers are using technology to explore ideas, challenge themselves through personalized learning paths, and collaborate and express themselves in ways we never thought possible.

    With Surface 3, we’re excited to be a part of helping more schools take advantage of precise digital inking capabilities and providing a rich experience that really delivers on the idea of preparing students with 21st Century skills, catering to any learning style and activity, and helping teachers and administrators drive positive transformation of learning in classrooms around the world.

    For more details about Surface in education, please go to:

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    Getting your academic institution set up with Office 365 Pro Plus Benefit can be done in a number of ways, depending on the specific requirements and size of your school, college or university. One of the more common ways that IT administrators and network managers are rolling out Office 365 to all teachers and students at no cost is by first activating a 30 day free trial of our E3 licence agreement, and then moving to the E1 licence agreement (which is also free) at the end of the trial period.

    O365 Conquer the Class

    This blog will focus on how to migrate from the E3 free trial to the E1 free licensing agreement, and provide you with step by step guides for the two ways in which this can be done:

    • Sign up online

    • Apply for Office 365 free license and sign up via your Reseller


    Sign up online

    1. Register your details
    2. You will be asked to ‘Verify’ your Office 365 tenancy for Academic use. This will verify that you are an Academic site by validating your email address (MX record)
    3. Once verified you will be given access to the Free E1 Office 365 Plan for Education. Please note that the free E1 License has to be ordered and applied to your Office 365 Tenancy.
    4. From the Admin Page choose ‘Purchase Services’. This will list the Academic Plans including E1 for staff and students. Order as many as you require for your Academic site
    5. Apply the free E1 licenses to every account created in your Office 365 tenancy
    6. The trial will provide E3 licenses (25 each for staff and students). These will expire after 30 days. Remove these licenses from any accounts unless you want to trial the E3 services


    Apply for Office 365 free license and sign up via your Reseller

    1. Approach your Microsoft Reseller and ask for as many licenses as you require for the Free Office 365 E1 Plan. Please note you need separate licensing for staff and students (both are free)
    2. Once ordered your license contact will receive an activation email
    3. The email will list two options 1. Sign up to Office 365 and 2.Sign in to Office 365. If you want to create a new Office 365 Tenancy with the licenses you have ordered please choose option 1. If you want to apply your licenses to a previously created Office 365 tenancy, please choose option 2.
    4. Apply the E1 License to each user account you create


    Checking eligibility for individuals

    If you are a student or a teacher, you easily check to see whether or not you are already eligible to download Office at no cost (on up to five PCs/Macs, as well as on up to five mobile devices or tablets). Simply visit and enter your academic email address. and if your institution has already activated Microsoft Office Pro Plus Benefit, you can download straight away.

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    Last week we welcomed a number of teachers and education enthusiasts to the first Teach Meet held in the Microsoft Showcase Classroom, hosted by our very own Expert Educator, Mark Martin (AKA the Urban Teacher). Instead of enforcing a strict agenda, these Teach Meets are organised with the intention of providing an environment where educators can speak with like minded individuals and trade tips and ideas, as well as hear from other members of their community who offer to present about the technologies and best practices that are making a difference in their classrooms.

    We first heard from Mark Martin, teacher of ICT at St Mark’s Church of England Academy, who gave an overview of his approach to teaching and provided some food for thought in terms of motivating and inspiring young minds in the classroom.

    Teach Meet - MM

    Following Mark’s introduction, next to share their thoughts was Elani McDonald, an International Baccalaureate teacher from North London who has been devising innovative ways of engaging students in their mathematical studies by using Minecraft. Tackling some of the deeper issues around pupil engagement, Elani has conducted research into the negative stimuli that might be plaguing classrooms, or ‘educational neuroscience’ as she calls it:

    “What are the things in the classroom that cause our brains to switch off?”

    It's an interesting thought, and one that is worth considering when planning lessons or content. She has written about this in more depth on her blog, where she also looks at the positive impact that Gaming in the Maths Classroom, and how she is seeing the evidence that it is changing students' mind-sets and engagement in mathematics.

    Next up ‘in front of the class’ was Lenny Dutton, who shared some of her ideas and experiences, also around the notion of gaming in the classroom and interactive quizzes. As well as presenting to the other teachers in attendance, Lenny also took something new from the evening and that was a new found love for Sway:


    Finally, the stage was set for a rather ‘enthusiastic’ segment from one of our very own, as Stuart Ball (@innovativeteach) gave a vibrant and ebullient ode to PowerPoint, proving that you really can teach an old dog new tricks. It might be almost 25 years old, but PowerPoint continues to evolve, as anyone who has used the recent Office Mix add-on will testify. Not that anyone needed convincing, but Stuart’s t-shirt left no doubt as to his feelings towards our old and trusted friend…


    This brought the formal presentations to a rousing crescendo, with everyone then breaking off into smaller conversations over a beer or wine, and perhaps a slice of pizza… unless of course a certain Microsoft employee hadn’t beaten them to it….


    With a good blend of teachers and ed-tech enthusiasts, there was much to talk about around the future of technology in the classroom, and how it can best be utilised as part of the overall learning experience. We’re also in the process of organising further Teach Meets later on this year in Glasgow and Nottingham, so we’ll be bringing you full details of these once dates and venues have been confirmed.

    Thanks to everyone who made it along last week, and we look forward to meeting many more of you at subsequent Teach Meets!

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  • 04/28/15--02:38: Kodu Kup Kymru 2015
  • Kodu Kymru

    We are pleased to announce in partnership with the Big Learning Company the first Kodu Kup in Wales. This will be another way for you as a school to get to the grand Kodu Kup final at our Microsoft offices in Reading. The winner of the welsh round of Kodu Kup win an automatic place in the final.

    Kodu Kup Kymru will take place on Monday 8th June 10.00am to 3.00pm at Ty Dysgu Conference Centre . Your school can enter a maximum of 3 three teams. A team must consist of three people. You will need to bring at least one laptop per team, to the event and Power supply. The laptop will need to have Kodu Installed and working. The event is open to students aged 7-14.

    You will need to complete the design of your game on the day, so it would be a good idea to get started before the event. If you haven’t it doesn’t matter, you will just have to work very quickly. The final part of the day will be dedicated to each team who are ready to present their games to a judging panel. Remember you can use Kodu in Welsh.

    Places to the this great event will be allocated on a first come basis. You will need to sign up here.

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    We’ve been bringing you bite-sized tutorials recently inspired by our Teaching with Technology qualifications, designed to aid those taking the continued personal development courses. However, you don't need to be preparing for an exam or working towards a certification to take value from an area of study, and these short tutorials and activities can be of used by teachers and educators just wanting to further their own pedagogy by increasing the integration of technology into their everyday classroom endeavours.

    Today we’re going to look at how Microsoft technologies can help those students with sensory or learning impairments, and also see how they can support students who may be absent from the classroom for any reason.

    Supporting all students with accessibility tools

    As highlighted in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, there should be no barriers to taking part in education. Going to school is a human right and difficulties of any kind should be overcome to include all young people. Physically impaired students sometimes face challenges accessing learning. Microsoft technology offers solutions to help make learning more accessible.

    In this tutorial you will:

    1. Learn how to customize a computer to make it more usable for physically impaired students.
    2. Learn how to customize teaching materials to make them more accessible for all students


    Supporting absent students with PowerPoint and OneNote

    Access to high quality, regular education is essential for young people and is one of UNICEF’s articles on Children’s Rights. Sometimes students cannot attend school. These students will fall behind if they cannot take part in learning activities for a long period. It is always possible to send text-based material, but with technology it is possible that absent students can stay more engaged in learning activities, including hearing the voice of the teacher.

    In this tutorial you will:

    1. Learn to create a PowerPoint presentation including audio.
    2. Learn to create digital audio feedback as a part of OneNote page.
    3. Learn to share a document through OneDrive.


    If you’ve missed our previous Teaching with Technology blogs, you can find them here:

    Teaching with Technology Tutorials – Using Bing Maps and Translator for global collaboration within Office 365
    Teaching with Technology Tutorials – Researching with OneNote & Word; Creating digital stories
    Teaching with Technology Tutorials - Office 365 for cloud based learning; Remove classroom walls with Skype
    Teaching with Technology Tutorials - Preparing for students for employment; Learning Suite for project based learning

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    Tai Centre – Tonypandy

    Afon Taf High School

    West Scotland College

    King Edward VI School Southampton

    Royal Masonic School, Rickmansworth

    Minehead Middle School



    Who will be next?

    Find out how you can be a Kodu School here. 

    Don’t forget the Kodu Kup is still running and closes at the end of May – Full details here.

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    For this week’s MIEE TV themed post, we’re looking at how our Expert Educators have been using Skype in the Classroom to venture beyond the confines of the schools gates and learn about people places far, far away. As our point of reference we’re going to hear about Annette Iafrate, from Scotland, who spoke with our guest writer Gerald Haigh.

    Gerald’s thoughts are below, but here is a short video of Annette, as she talks to us about how she got involved in the Microsoft Expert Educator programme, and how she sees technology in the classroom evolving.


    Skype in the Classroom – Gerald Haigh speaks to Annette Iafrate

    Skype has been around long enough to be widely familiar well beyond the technology community, as a straightforward communication tool for video conferencing as well as keeping in touch with your distant grandchildren.

    Maybe, one teacher suggests to me, Skype is so familiar, and so firmly embedded in our consciousness as a convenient communication tool – a video phone in effect -- that we can miss out on some of its more creative classroom possibilities.

    If so, that’s a pity, because there are endless possibilities. For example, not only can you bring a virtual visitor, a subject expert perhaps, into the classroom, but you can go out and see the specialist on their home ground. That’s what Annette Iafrate, Geography teacher at Gryffe High School near Paisley did when her class was studying volcanoes. In a blog earlier this year we described how her students ‘visited’ a park ranger at Yellowstone National Park in the Rocky Mountains, and asked her questions.

    Skype in the Classroom

    At that time, when I talked to Annette, she was planning to run ‘mystery skype’ projects, whereby children link with another school which may be anywhere in the world. Neither tells the other where they are and they have to work out their partner’s location from clues that develop in the conversation. Now, Annette’s class is up and running with mystery skype as a competition with schools in Sweden and Russia. Here, Annette describes how it’s organised:


    ‘I have the class taking on different roles (these change each time), one group as the speakers at the computer, 2 groups of researchers - using laptops and atlases to research info, another group come up with Qs to ask based on the research info, another group who scribe the information onto the whiteboard, there is a final small group who whilst the call is going on are given a topic that they have 15/20mins to prepare to speak about - when the classes have correctly identified each others location then this group gives a mini 2min lesson about the area I've told them to do - this is usually tied into their topic at the time (e.g. my S2 group told the class in Sweden a bit what they'd learned about Brazil - impact of deforestation on).. the brief they're given is to make it engaging, not just standing talking.. in the calls we've done so far one group acted out a scene, the other wrote a song.’

    For Annette, the benefits of using Skype in the classroom have been clear. Increased levels of engagement, and an eagerness to come to class when the pupils know there is a call booked are all behavioural positive outcomes, while the simple act of communicating with people in other parts of the world has improved their geographical knowledge and appreciation of different cultures. Adding an interactive element to the lessons that the children find exciting has also proven to be hugely helpful in allowing her to teach elements of geography that are sometimes seen as dull - map-reading, compass points, latitude/longitude and time zones, for example - in an engaging way.

    Furthermore, the project based learning approach and team working skills facilitated by using Skype in the classroom has, Annette says, allowed her to cover the other key areas which the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence requires teachers to steward -- literacy across learning, numeracy across learning and health and wellbeing across learning.

    The kind of inter-school or inter-classroom link up we have heard about from Gryffe High School is full of potential. When I discussed it with Tom Rees, head of Simon de Senlis Primary, a Microsoft Showcase School in Northampton, he described how Skype had enabled collaboration between classes of children in the five schools which make up the Northampton Primary Academy Trust (NPAT). Skype was an essential ingredient, for example, in the NPAT’s cunningly labelled ‘Dull and Boring’ project, in which two characters, Dull and Boring, are said to have taken over the schools, removing all laughter, colour and creativity. The children collaborate within and across their schools and classrooms to devise superheroes and cunning plans to overcome the villains, returning joy and creativity to their schools.

    Tom believes there is lots of potential for creative use of Skype, spreading ideas, firing up motivation, reaching out to find alternative answers, different mind-sets. He’s also sure there are lots of simple ideas that can be enhanced with Skype:

    ‘We recently used it creatively in assembly. We set up a seascape in another room and put a teacher there so that in assembly the children thought they were seeing the teacher at the beach somewhere.‘

    It seems to me that once they’ve had one idea like that, and realised that creativity can be simple and home made, as well as global and ambitious, then teachers – and more importantly children – will be itching to devise more of them.

    The global community of teachers called ‘Skype in the Classroom’ is filled with creative ways of using Skype.

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    The week, Microsoft’s global headquarters in Redmond, Washington, has been playing host to teachers from all over the world for the E² Global Educator Exchange.


    Bringing together around 300 of the world's most innovative educators, the E² Global Educator Exchange Event is an exciting three-day event to recognize and celebrate the achievements of educators who are preparing students for life in the 21st Century. The summit presents an unparalleled opportunity to collaborate, create and share their experiences on how to integrate technology and pedagogy in ways that achieve 21st century learning outcomes.

    A number of our very own Expert Educators from here in the UK have made the trip over, and from all the tweets we’ve been seeing it looks like they’re having a very productive time meeting other likeminded individuals from 87 different countries. Through a variety of keynote speeches, Tech TeachMeets, regional breakouts and Educator-led training sessions covering OneNote, Office 365, Office Mix, Sway, Skype & Minecraft, there will have been much learned, and many ideas and best practices shared.

    We’ll be getting a full report from the MIEEs representing the UK upon their return (once they’re over their jetlag, of course!), and we look forward to hearing all about their experiences and sharing with you the things they took from the event that they are going to put into practice in their own schools and classrooms. In the meantime we’ll just share some of the tweets from our UK MIEEs who are over at #MSFTEduE2 to give you a flavour for what’s been going on, and also include the video recap of the first day:

    Awesome @msonenote talk from

    — Kevin Sait(@kevin_sait) April 30, 2015


    All of us here in the Microsoft UK Education team hope that everyone attending the E² Global Educator Exchange Event makes the most of their final at the conference, learning and sharing as much as they can, and finally we’d like to wish everyone a safe trip back to their country of origin. We look forward to getting the full lowdown from our UK MIEEs upon their return!

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    This post come to us fresh from the UK contingent of MIEEs who were flying the flag for us at the E² Global Educator Exchange held last week at Microsoft’s global headquarters in Redmond, Washington. Featuring contributions from MIEEs Marie Renton (Lochfield Primary School), Matthew Davies (Treorchy Comprehensive School), Emma Hicks (Arnold Hill Academy), Mark Martin (St Mark’s CoE Academy), Anthony Lees (Broadclyst Community Primary School) and Kevin Sait (Wymondham High Academy), this should give you an idea of what went on during the TeachMeet sessions last week, and the ideas and practices our UK representatives were sharing with the broader, global community of Expert Educators.


    E2 TeachMeet Sessions – a view from the UK MIEEs

    This was a fantastic opportunity to meet other educators from around the world and share our great practice with each other. 249 teachers from 87 different countries set up to share their innovative practice from their classroom, sharing their experience. We were asked to present our project on PowerPoint or Sway for 4 minutes. Here is Marie setting up her Sway presentation on the use of xGames and Kinect Games in the classroom. National dress was optional, so Marie turned up in a Scottish tartan dress and offered Scottish sweets (tablet) to anyone brave enough to try the xQuiz.

    Marie - E2 1

    Marie said “It was a fantastic opportunity to share this free downloadable software to teachers all over the world. Students find Xbox and Kinect fun, so using these devices in our teaching and learning improves student motivation and engagement. The learning style is active and kinaesthetic, and research shows this produces the highest rate of retention, thus attainment.

    Matthew shared about an Enterprise topic he undertook with students, which he found engaged them with their learning and focussed on 21st Century learning skills. The project included the use of games based learning to support pupils in understanding the concepts of running a business. Matthew felt “it was an excellent opportunity to share the work that I have been undertaking in the classroom and to also hear the excellent practice that is going on worldwide. I am definitely going to use some of the projects I heard about in my classroom!”

    Marie - E2 3

    Emma shared the fantastic work she has been doing using OneNote with her English and Drama students in high school. When asked what her superhero power is, she answered empathy. What a great superpower! Emma said “I thoroughly enjoyed meeting teachers from across the globe and sharing the common goal of improving quality of teaching and learning.”

    Marie - E2 4

    Mark presented on what it means to be an inspirational teacher and providing inspirational lessons. Mark enjoyed meeting different people. Mark said “when teachers come together from different backgrounds, not only does it open your eyes to see new practices but also it inspires you to achieve more and do more.”

    Marie - E2 5

    Anthony presented on a Global Enterprise Challenge now being run annually by his school, Broadclyst Primary School. Based on a dragon’s den style enterprise project the challenge encourages pupils to run a small business in groups of 5 or 6 in collaboration with other pupils around the world also selling the same product. As a PBL project it covers much 21CLD around collaboration, decision making and problem solving in a real-world context that the pupils find highly motivating. Anthony talked to many other MIEEs and had some very positive reactions and schools looking to sign up for the 2016 challenge.

    Everyone had to select one of the presenters with a ‘Most Inspirational’ teacher award. We were very honoured to have been selected as inspirational several times by Expert Educators from around the world.

    Marie - E2 6

    Kevin is a Microsoft Fellow and he presented to the MIEEs on the use of Yammer in his establishment. Kevin said “As an IT technical guy it was impressive to see a Teach meet in action at the Microsoft Global Forum.   There was a lot of creativity literally on the table, with teachers using technology in different ways.  It’s important for the  technical staff in schools to work with teachers to allow this creativity to happen in the classroom.”

    Marie - E2 7

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  • 05/05/15--04:26: Break Into Code!
  • clip_image002

    Microsoft Imagine introduces the Break Into Code challenge as a beginner level challenge that will get students excited about coding even if they don’t have any previous experience. We’ve teamed up with Microsoft Research’s Touch Develop to get students started with a simple, easy to follow tutorial on coding a brick breaker game.

    The tutorial will get students started from a blank slate to a working game which they can then personalize and reinvent to make it their own. They can use any device with a browser and internet connection to participate. So, put your iPads to good use and code on them with Touchdevelop

    This competition runs from April 22th to June 7th  and is open to all 9-18 year olds in the UK . The categories are split into two groups 9-13yrs and 14-18yrs. Winners from each bracket receive USD$3000 for 1st, $2000 for 2nd, $1000 for 3rd

    How to enter -

    · Students register on and are directed to start with the Touch Develop brick breaker tutorial

    · Once they have completed the game tutorial, they can make whatever modifications they like so long as they stay within the spirit of the game

    · The students submit their re-imagined games as entries.

    · The entries will be Judged on Customization, Quality, and Presentation

    So what will you do with this ? This will make a great activity for your coding club.

    Touch Develop Brick Breaker Tutorial and fully functioning game




    Touch Develop Brick Breaker with customizations

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