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    image One of the most exciting developments I think of Microsoft Office 2010, are the Office Web Apps. These are available now if you have a Windows Live ID. We will be looking at how you can use these web apps in the classroom in the next few months. But I wanted to share this post from the UK Schools blog, which describes how you might access Office Web Apps in school.

    Firstly, these apps are examples of cloud based services, with lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote available through your internet browser. This means that you can start editing a document in Office 2010 on your laptop or desktop computer, and then view, edit and share the document using the web version. So it means that your students can create and edit Office documents at home, without needing the full version of Office on their computers. And it works with a broad range of web-browsers, so they don't even need to be running a Windows computer.

    There are three ways to get Office Web Apps :-

    Office Web Apps in Windows Live

    If you have a Windows Live ID, then you will have a skydrive, a 25GB web storage area. (You can also use it to sign up to the Partners in Learning Network). Here you can create and save documents for your own use, or share them with specific other people, or save files that you want anybody to access.

    There are step-by-step instructions to getting started with Office Web Apps in WIndows Live here.

    Office Web Apps in Live@edu

    In many ways, this option is similar to the Windows Live , in that your students and staff will have a Windows Live login to get to their free email inbox, SkyDrive and Office Web Apps. However, it fits more effectively into your school IT infrastructure, as you manage all of your Live@edu user accounts  This means that when you add new student on your server, it automatically creates their email account (on your own domain) and their account that can be used for SkyDrive, Office Web Apps etc. Have look at the Live@edu blog, for further details about Live@edu 

    Office Web Apps in SharePoint 2010

    The new version of SharePoint released this summer, now includes Office Web Apps as part of the package. Which means that your students and staff can access documents directly in the browser on your SharePoint site. This is particularly useful if you want to upload a learning activity onto your learning platform, and then ask students to work on it collaboratively - they can edit it at the same time, and the SharePoint version of Office Web Apps will manage all of the changes simultaneously. For a summary of Office Web Apps in SharePoint, take a look at this article

    You can read a more detailed overview of the Office Web Apps on the Office website.

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    image Over 100 schools attended our Fun, Free Friday event last week. It was a great day with an absolutely packed agenda. I wanted to share all of the links to the various downloads we mentioned during the day. Many of which we have covered here on this blog. If you need some ideas of how to use the software to enhance teaching and learning, have a look through our previous blog posts and check out our YouTube channel.

    Bing Maps

    Bing Maps is so much more than just maps and directions. Bing Maps delivers a truly immersive experience that connects people to the world and a growing number of useful and valuable applications. Whether you want to find and view photosynths, see Twitter feeds, explore environmental projects or just explore the world; Bing Maps is a great resource for educators and students to enrich their learning experience.


    Photosynth is a tool that takes your photos, mashes them together and recreates a 3-D scene out of them that anyone can view and move around.

    Community Clips

    Community Clips is a free download from Office Labs that allows you record activity from your computer screen, narrate that activity and save it as a video file. This makes it ideal for recording simple instructional videos and to record student computer activity for assessment purposes.

    You can download the Community Clips screen recorder at -

    Worldwide Telescope

    Worldwide Telescope is a free download that enables you to access a huge collection of stunning images of the universe from the Hubble Space Telescope and many other space and earth observatories . These can be used to engage students, and to support teaching and learning in Maths and Science. It is a great tool to encourage students in research and project based learning around the planets, the solar system and the stars and to give them an appreciation of the scale, complexity and beauty of the universe.

    Worldwide Telescope can be downloaded from


    Pivot is a visual way of presenting and analysing data, from Microsoft Live Labs. It’s very difficult to describe in words, so perhaps the best way to see what it can do is to watch this video from the TED Conference 2010

    You can download Pivot from the GetPivot website, and use it straight away with the Pivot Collection – or if you’re technical, you can create your own Pivot collection, either in Excel or from a data source. (I used the Pivot Collection Tool for Excel for the SIMS example)


    DeepZoom allows students to create image compositions that can be viewed at different resolutions. Photos can be embedded within one another making it an ideal resource to develop thinking skills and digital storytelling.

    A great example of the use of  DeepZoom technology can be found at the Hard Rock Café - (You will need the Silverlight plug in to view this)

    To make your own Deep Zoom compositions, download a free copy of DeepZoom Composer

    You can find a series of tutorials about how to use DeepZoom Composer on the UK Teachers Blog


    Outsource your email and collaboration solution using this free offering – give all of your staff and students a 10GB Exchange mailbox, 25GB storage and collaboration space, access to the office web app – oh – and it works on almost any platform and in almost any browser, too.

    SkyDrive and Live Sync

    SkyDrive is 25GB of online storage that you can access from any PC to store your files and either keep them private, share them with friends or make them public.  It’s at

    Windows Live Sync is about to get an update to keep your PCs and web storage in sync.  Giving you 2GB of web storage space and the ability to sync content between multiple PCs, Live Sync is a great way to tool to keep you files and photos up to date. Unfortunately it is still in beta but will be part of the updated Windows Live Essentials – keep an eye out at

    Office Web Apps

    The Office Web Apps have just launched this week. They’re at and they provide free, lightweight editing of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents through the browser.

    Windows Live Messenger

    More than just instant chat! Live messenger can be a great way of engaging your students in a more exciting and innovative way of learning. It’ll help save money with free simple video conferencing, and to take the pressure away from email - file sharing becomes instant. You can download it as part of Windows Live Essentials

    Bing Translator

    Ever been stuck with a bit of text or a website that’s in a language you don’t speak? Needed to get something across to a teacher across the seas? Or wanted to have an IM conversation that wasn’t limited by language barriers? Bing Translator bridges the gap between languages, so whether you’re chatting to someone or reading an article, you’re covered.

    Windows Live Writer

    Live Writer is a programme that allows you to write blog posts offline, and then upload them onto your blog (and it works with all kinds of different blog platforms, like WordPress, Blogger, Community Server, SharePoint, Live Spaces, and lots of others). You can find out a little more about it in my “I love Live Writer” blog post, and download it free with Windows Live Essentials.


    Singing in the shower is so last year – get your students creative juices flowing across the entire curriculum using Songsmith - a quick & easy way of creating songs, raps, rhymes and tunes out of whatever comes into your head. Although normally you’d pay for SongSmith, it’s free to education in the UK via the Partners in Learning Network

    Photostory 3

    Photostory 3 allows your pupils and students to create videos from still images. They can add narration, music and special effects. It is ideal resource to use in all areas of the curriculum.

    Photostory can be downloaded for free at - . You will also find this resource on Digital Storytelling in the classroom useful.  -

    Microsoft and Moodle

    If you’re using Moodle, you don’t have to miss out on some great free tools – using our Office for Moodle plugin you can open from and save directly to a Moodle site, and with the Moodle Plugin for Live@edu, you can get your recent mail and calendar items right within your Moodle learning environment.


    Create Photo montages from multiple images, quickly and easily . Download AutoCollage for free from the UK Partners in Learning Network 


    Kodu is a visual programming language for creating games designed to be accessible for children and an ideal way to ignite an interest in computer science whilst teaching other skills such as cooperation, logic and creativity.


    DreamSpark is a programme designed to give all students access to Microsoft tools and training materials at no cost.

    Digital Literacy Curriculum

    This is the home page for the English version of the Digital Literacy Curriculum – which is available in 34 languages – including Welsh!   It’s a lovely set of curriculum resources with an interactive interface which allows people to study at their own pace and in ways that suit their own learning style!   It’s available online and it’s also FREE !!   The goal of the Digital Literacy Curriculum is to teach basic computer concepts and skills so that people can use computers in everyday life.  Modules cover Computer Basics; Desktop Applications; the Web; Safety and Security; and Digital Lifestyles.  Once you have completed all five modules, you are ready to take an Entry Level 3 qualification with OCR or City and Guilds and you have the foundations for a journey to higher level skills which could provide a real boost to your employability.

    Office Ribbon Hero

    The new prototype Office Ribbon Hero is designed to test the effectiveness, feasibility and appeal of delivering Office training in a game-like setting.  The heart of Ribbon Hero is a set of challenges that users play right in the Office applications. These challenges expose users to features that they might not be aware of and which can help users get their work done faster.

    In addition, Ribbon Hero awards points for using both basic features, such as, Bold and Italic, and for using the features introduced in the challenges.  Ribbon Hero does some analysis of the person’s usage patterns to prioritise the order in which it presents challenges. And then to add the competitive element, Ribbon Hero integrates with Facebook so you can share your success (or in my case, failures) with your friends.

    You can read a little more, and download Office Ribbon Hero, from my earlier blog post.

    Mouse Mischief

    Want to keep your students' attention? Try a little Mischief. Mouse Mischief is a tool that Microsoft makes available free of charge, and that allows teachers to work with Microsoft Office PowerPoint to make interactive presentations. Mouse Mischief integrates with Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 and Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007, enabling teachers to insert questions, polls and drawing activity slides into their lessons. Students can actively participate in these lessons by using their own mice to click, circle, cross out or draw answers on the screen.

    You can download Mouse Mischief, and see a demo video, on the UK website


    Create online personlised revision materials for your students and pupils. These flashcards can contain images and audio, making them an ideal resource for language and special educational needs teaching. The Flashcards give feedback on how well students and pupils are doing, allowing them to identify the areas they need to improve. Go to EducationLabs to find out more and to create your own Flashcards.


    pptPlex is a free add-in for PowerPoint that makes it simple to present non-linear content and interact with your slides more dynamically – it’s a very different way to present.


    XNA is a games development platform for Windows OS, Phone and Xbox 360. It is an ideal way to engage your most enthusiastic students and teach them some core programming skills applicable to all Microsoft platforms.


    Innovids are a series of instructional videos created by teachers for teachers as part of the UK Partners in Learning Network programme. Using community clips and Moviemaker, teachers have recorded how they use a range of Microsoft applications in the classroom. These include Office 2007, as well as applications such as AutoCollage and Bing. Each video shows not only how to use the software , but a context in which to use it effectively to support learning across the curriculum.

    You can access and download these Innovids from the UK Partners in Learning Network - or the UK Partners in Learning YouTube Channel -

    Partners in Learning Network

    This a global community of teacher who value innovative uses of ICT that improve and support learning. By joining the UK Partners In Learning Network, you can:

    • Create or join communities & discussions
    • Find lesson plans and activities, as well as share your own resources
    • Download free software such AutoCollage and Songsmith
    • Collaborate with like-minded colleagues, to develop best practice  in your own classroom and community

    Our UK Teachers Blog supports this  Network, with all the latest developments, ideas and news that we think can help and support teachers.

    UK Teachers Blog -

    UK Partners in Learning Network -

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    Mathematics or Math as Kristen would say, is subject we often get asked about when we visit schools. Here are some of the ideas and resources that we have thought of and found that could used in the classroom. If this were a real snack it would be cheese, crackers and a little pickle, plain and simple, but satisfying.


    Using Word to developing learning in maths may not seem obvious. Download the Math Add-in for Word 2007 . This allows you create, solve and visualise equations. Students can then use the usual features of word to explain the equation. If you are looking to add creativity, they could do this as poetry. For an explanation of how to use the add- in, check out this Innovid on our Youtube channel.

    Word also has a set of drawing tools, this can be utilised to draw  2D and 3D shapes and other objects. Right clicking to change the properties allows students to accurately set the dimensions of the shape. I have used this to visualise the Fibonacci number sequence and explore ratio and scale.

    A digital camera is a way great of exploring maths concepts in the local environment. This innovative teacher from Canada describes how her pupils explored quadrilaterals in and around the school, recording their ideas in Moviemaker or Photostory. See - Quadrilaterals Using Windows Movie Maker.





    Here’s a quick activity using Word to create parabolic curves from straight lines. Insert a chart, label both axis 1 to 10 and remove the gridlines using the chart formatting features. Next, use the Insert shape feature to draw straight lines. Draw these from points on the axis. Start with 10 to 1, 9 to 2 etc. Next, select and copy all the lines. Delete the chart and paste the copied lines. Right click and group all the lines to form one object. Now, use the formatting tools to add colour and effects such as shadows. Copy and paste to create copies. Resize and rotate these to create interesting images. I will make a short innovid of this activity if you would like more details.

    Now it's over to you, we are not Maths specialists, so we would welcome your ideas of activities that support maths teaching and learning. You can email your ideas (using the email blog author link above), or leave us a comment. We will post your contributions next Monday and send something from the Partners in Learning ‘goodie closet’ to the authors of those we publish**


    **UK Teachers only

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    image We are pleased to announce we are now accepting entries for this year’s Innovative Education Awards. (You'll know these as the Innovative Teacher Awards -- we've changed the name to tie in with the European and Worldwide Events.) These annual awards showcase the best uses of technology to support teaching and learning across the curriculum. If you're thinking that you're not doing anything innovative or creative with technology, then think again, because you probably are.

    We have changed the application process a bit this year to make it easier for you. Our Virtual Classroom Tour (VCT) template contains just two slides for you to complete to describe your project. You will need a Windows Live ID to access to the Partners in Learning Network (if you're not already a member) and the new Partners in Learning Skydrive. The Partners in Learning Network contains the Forum community, with information about the event itself. The Skydrive is where you can download the application guidelines and the Virtual Classroom Tour template and where you will submit your completed VCT to the awards competition by emailing it to

    The closing date for submitting a project as a Virtual Classroom Tour is November 1st 2010. So there is plenty time to document an existing project or even begin a new one. The authors of the 10 best Virtual Classroom Tours will be presented with awards at our Innovative Education Forum Event (IEF) later this year. At the IEF we will also select the four best projects to represent the UK at the European ITF which will be held in 2011 in Moscow!

    What do to next?

    • Join this community on the Partners in Learning Network
    • Download the Virtual Classroom Tour (VCT) Template from our Skydrive or from this blog post.
    • Read the application criteria on our Skydrive or from this post
    • Complete the VCT template between now and November.
    • Email your completed project before November 1st to
    • Check the Partners in Learning Network and this blog for the latest information about the Innovative education Forum Event




    Images from last year's Microsoft UK IEF 2009 in Birmingham

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  • 06/21/10--23:00: Maths Snacks – Your ideas
  • Thanks to all those that sent in an idea snacks in response to this post. Here are those we had sent in.image

    I use PowerPoint to great effect in helping children understand and visualize geometrical problems, such as to demonstrate that the area of a triangle is 1/2h*b. Have the triangle and the rectangle of height h and base b next to it. Then, overlap the triangle on the rectangle and slice off half of the rectangle to leave only the triangle you started off with. Even better, get your pupils to make these animations, e.g. a parallelogram as the area of the relevant rectangle’ Thanks Alessio

    image‘I use a lot of online manipulatives when introducing or exploring math concepts.  They allow for inquiry that would not otherwise be possible in the classroom because of limited time and/or resources.

    Kids and Cookies is one of my favorites.  I use it to introduce the concept of fractions in a problem based way by asking the students to figure out how an even number of kids can share an uneven number of cookies equally.  I describe the lesson in this free fractions ebook: . Another of my favourite sites houses probability spinners.  The spinner parts can be adjusted to meet the needs of any level, and spins can be recorded on a graph to show results.  Spinning a spinner 100 times and then 1000 times stimulates a discussion of theoretically probability versus experimental probability.’
    Thanks Emily

    ‘Probably, the most exciting maths activities I have done with my class are to explore Fractals. The internet is full of freeimage software and websites, that can allow your pupils to explore and experiment with these fascinating mathematical objects.

    image I also use the drawing tools in PowerPoint to create and explore Tangrams . Once pupils had created their own puzzle design, they could animate it using the animation tools.
    Thanks Bobby.

    Thanks to those who contributed to last weeks Maths snack. The exclusive Partners in Learning computer bag is on it's way to you.

    If you have some great ideas of how you use technology in different subjects, then let us know your ‘snack’. Next week’s subject snack will be on using technology to support foreign language teaching, so get thinking and we are looking forward to receiving your ideas.

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    Painauchocolat I’ve seen some really creative ideas for using technology to teach modern foreign languages, both in schools in the UK and in other countries. Since I used to be a French teacher, this week’s subject snack would be a pain au chocolat: buttery and rich and perfect with coffee. (And really fattening, as I experienced when I gained 20 pounds in 6 months of study in France. But I digress…)Capture

    The most obvious choice for the foreign language snack this week are the Flashcards from Microsoft Education  Labs. Stuart blogged about these back in February. I created my own set of flashcards in less than 10 minutes to teach words for fruits in French. You can see this lovely resource here. I chose to use photos and to omit sound, mostly because my American-accented French isn’t what it used to be.

    One of the best foreign language lessons I’ve ever observed was at a school I visited in Greece. (This one is a bit more elaborate, but a fantastic application of real-world language skills.) The English class in this Greek school was partnered with an English class in a German school, and the only common language for the students was English. The students used Windows Live Messenger to communicate – through both writing and video/audio chats – on lessons and activities that their teachers had planned in advance. The day I visited they were discussing popular music, and every student was actively participating (possibly because people in suits were visiting, but I doubt it).

    Share with us YOUR ideas of how to use technology to teach modern foreign languages, and you have a chance to get one of our lovely prizes! Simply click the Email Blog Author link on this page, or add your idea to the comments field for this blog entry. We’ll announce the best ideas next week.

    À bientôt.

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    One of the best events we ran last year was our Summer Camp, where teachers created resources for teachers, the results of which can be found here. Due to popular demand we are running the event again this year, and we are making it an open invite to you via this blog. So if you have time this summer, perhaps your plans for other events and holidays have not materialised and you still want to spend time with other innovative educators, then this is an ideal event for you.

    Summer Camp takes place at Microsoft UK Headquarters in Reading, starting 10:30am on Monday 16th August and finishing 5:00pm Tuesday 17th August. You need to find your own way there, the train is best, with a free bus from the station. We have sorted a hotel and  an evening meal for you.

    What will I be doing at Summer Camp?

    We will give you training in using our free software to create teaching and learning resources for the classroom. You will have time to design, create and evaluate those resources and collaborate with others. You will also get the chance to speak to experts at Microsoft about our technology. These resources will take the form of screen capture videos, which we call Innovids. You also will receive a headset with microphone (which you'll use to create the videos) and  a certificate awarding you Microsoft Innovative Teacher status. You will also join a select group of educators as part of the Partners in Learning Network that have opportunities to contribute to the work Microsoft Partners in Learning are undertaking in education in the UK.

    How do I apply?

    We don’t want videos or lengthy biographies from you, to apply, just email three tweetesque type statements to  before the closing date 12:00pm 12th July 2010. These statements should be ideas of how you would, or are using Microsoft technologies to support learning across the curriculum. For example:-

    • using conditional formatting in Excel to help visual learners in numeracy
    • using PointPoint to create animated flicker books
    • using the Songsmith to create mobile ringtones

    Also include details of your school, subject expertise and pupil age range in your application. We will select 15 applicants with the most intriguing and innovative ideas, who will be notified on 13th July 2010.

    I am not an ICT teacher is it worth me applying?

    Yes, most definitely, we are looking for classroom innovators in learning, rather than techie whizz kids. This event is targeted at those Teachers in the UK interested in teaching and learning, and how technology can support that, rather than the technology itself. This event is for teachers in the UK in Primary, Secondary and Special school settings.

    What will be expected of me afterwards?

    We expect you commit to creating at least two innovid resources, with an option of creating up to three more. For every resource that we publish and use, we will compensate you for your time and professional input.

    We are looking forward to receiving your applications. If you have any questions post a comment or contact us via email at

    Get applying and Good Luck.

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  • 07/04/10--23:00: Knowledge versus Learning
  • CaptureLast Thursday I attended the Reform “think tank” event on Schools for the Future that was held at Microsoft’s office in London. The event included 4  panels of speakers discussing topics such as the state of education in the UK, the quality of teachers, raising the bar, and saving money. It was a really interesting group of speakers, ranging from industry representatives, to head teachers, to university researchers, to former Minister for Schools Jim Knight.

    There was a keynote during the day from the current Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb, on this, the 50th day of the new coalition government. The entire transcript of the Minister’s speech can be found HERE if you’d like to read it.

    There was one point of the speech that particularly caught me, and I’d love to know what you, as UK teachers, think of it. Here it is:

    On one side of the ideological debate are those who believe that children should learn when they are ready, through child-initiated activities and self-discovery – what Plowden called ‘Finding Out’. It is an ideology that puts the emphasis on the processes of learning rather than on the content of knowledge that needs to be learnt.

    The American education academic, E.D. Hirsch, traces this ideology back to the 1920s, to the Teachers College Columbia in New York and the influence of the educationalists, John Dewey and William Heard Kilpatrick.

    Added to that ideology is the notion that there is so much knowledge in the world that it is impossible to teach it all – and very difficult to discern what should be selected to be taught in schools. So, instead, children should be taught how to learn.

    I believe very strongly that education is about the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next.

    Knowledge is the basic building block for a successful life….What is to be criticised is an education system which has relegated the importance of knowledge in favour of ill-defined learning skills.

    I’m curious to know where you stand in this debate. Which is it – do we organise our education system around the memorisation of facts and figures and the ability to recall them for national exams? Or do we continue to look at things like learning styles, personalisation of learning, student-centred learning and project-based learning, where “knowledge” can be applied in a real-world context, in a way that motivates and interests learners, and at a pace and style that suits their learning?

    (Incidentally – here’s what the Minister has to say about child-centred learning: Again, the ideologically-driven, child-centred approach to education has led to the belief that the mere exposure to books and text, and the repetition of high frequency words, will lead to a child learning to read – as if by osmosis.)

    I’d love your comments…

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    No ideas submitted from anybody this week, I suspect it is that time of year with everybody busy writing reports, and not even the lure of the coveted pink Partners in Learning USB stick could tempt you from such an important job.

    So , I thought that I would remind you of a tool that I have used and think is ideal for teaching Modern Foreign Languages.  Although not a modern language, but to many  of you it will be foreign. Welsh is taught in all schools in Wales, and Photostory is an application used extensively to support welsh language teaching. So I thought I would share this idea, as it is my only experience of language teaching.

    For those of you who don’t know Photostory, it is a free download, available here . It allows you to present still images as a video slideshow with narration and music.

    Using it from scratch in MFL lessons is great, with students recording experiences and ideas in their chosen language with images they have collected themselves. They can make tourist guides and adverts for example, as well as to tell stories. But, I have seen Photostory used in a much more focused way, that encourages pupils to think about specific language patterns and vocabulary. To do this the teacher has inserted a set of specific images, that focus on a a specific topic such as food or the family. They have added some support language structures in the narration section. Pupils now have a focus on a particular aspect that the teacher wants them to explore and practice. This is saved as a Photostory project file. Allowing it to be shared, edited and saved by the pupils. The videos produced can be assessed, shared and used for revision.

    So don’t forget about Photostory, its been around a while, but it is a a great tool to have in your teachers toolkit.

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    pot-noodle-beef-and-tomatoThis weeks idea is similar to a snack that I often forget about, but when I remember, It's delicious, but perhaps not appreciated as the gastronomic delight that it is. The snack in question is the Pot Noodle . This food technology marvel offers the best in convenience snacking, it is often maligned , once tasted, it’s appreciated.

    For me this is a bit like Photosynth, which for some reason I often forget to mention in presentations, and when I do talk about it people are amazed by it. Often there does seem be a slight dilemma. With the perception of it not being cool love a Microsoft web 2.0 product. It’s seen as a guilty pleasure, just like the Pot Noodle.

    imagePhotosynth takes your photos, mashes them together and recreates a 3D scene out of them that anyone can view and move around in.  The site is a fantastic resource for students to explore historical sites and monuments, Some great examples are :- Stonehenge in Wiltshire, The Coliseum in Rome, the Great Pyramid at Giza  and the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City.

    Whilst these images are amazing in themselves. The ability for students to create their own synths makes it an ideal tool for them to document and record historical buildings , sites and artefacts. Not only can they record the places they are visiting, but Photosynth allows archive images to be incorporated with current images, as long as there is  a recognisable feature it will combine them, giving a ‘time travel’ like effect. Once completed synths can be geolacted on to a Bing maps and descriptions added.

    A great example of how technology can bring some of the world's most famous artefacts directly into the classroom is ‘Turning the Pages’, it can be found at the British Library. This allows scanned books to be viewed and explored in very realistic way, by virtually turning the pages. You can also search, magnify, read and listen to the text in original historical masterpieces such Da Vinci’s notebook , Lewis Carol’s Alice’s Adventures Underground and Jane Austen’s History of England. (these links take you directly to the Turning pages browser. Select different artefacts from the menu. The Silverlight plug-in  is required)

    imageI spent some time exploring Elizabeth Blackwell’s Curious Herbal , looking for ancient cures for everyday aliments. But, it was whilst exploring the Diaries of Antarctic Explorer, Robert Scott, that I had an almost spine tingling moment. One of Scott’s fellow explorers, Captain Oates, left his colleagues, in an act of self sacrifice, saying the famous line ‘ I just going outside, I may be some time’. I searched for this infamous line and found the actual entry in Scott’s own handwriting, documenting the actual moment of this historical incident. This sort of activity , I think can really bring home to your students the reality of such events. Amazing stuff.

    Now it's over to you, we are not History specialists, how do you bring history alive through technology? We would welcome your ideas of activities that support History teaching and learning. You can email your ideas (using the email blog author link above), or leave us a comment. We will post your contributions next Monday and send you something from the Partners in Learning ‘goodie closet’ to the authors of those we publish**

    **UK Teachers only

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    One of the members of our Microsoft UK education team offers a series of great webcasts that are usually more geared toward IT Managers. However, next week he’s offering a webcast on Office 2010 that is specifically focused on teachers and learners. The webcast details and registration information are below. (It’s free to join, of course.) You should check it out if you have some time.



    Microsoft Office 2010 introduces rich and powerful new ways to express and share ideas, which matches the way that students are working today, and the needs of teachers. Join this webcast for a demonstration of key features that will resonate with both students and teachers alike.

    Discover how Office 2010 will enable you to bring ideas to life with advanced video and picture editing, broadcast capability in Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, easy document preparation through the new Microsoft Office Backstage view, and visualise data in new ways with Microsoft Excel 2010.

    See the new Office Web Apps 2010 – online companions to Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote – which enable you to review and edit documents from a variety of web browsers.

    Understand how students can collaborate better by taking shared notes  or co-authoring documents in real-time with a fellow student.

    This session will be mainly demonstration based – there will also be the opportunity to have any questions you have answered.

    Dates and Times

    Option 1: Tuesday July 27th  10:30 – 11:30
    Option 2: Wednesday July 28th – 11:00-12:00

    Register Here:

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  • 07/19/10--23:00: History Snacks–Your ideas
  • Here’s an idea from one of our Innovative Education Forum winners, Alessio Bernardelli who teaches in Cwmbran in South Wales.image

    “I am not a Historian, but I have always had a fascination for timelines, as I think they are a great way to visualize events and link cause and effect. So, my idea to use a great Plug-in for PowerPoint to make your timelines even more engaging, interactive and collaborative. All this is possible with PPTplex. You can  download and install the Plug-at

    PPTplex will let you arrange and see all your slides as if they were on a canvas. Then, with your mouse you can go around the canvas and zoom in and out to show the details of a particular period. You need to go to the "Overview" slide and draw the main structure of your timeline. Then, you can add and arrange the slides created in the main presentation to sit in the correct place on the timeline.

    What's quite amazing in PPTplex is that you can add "live content". If you have a particular year on your timeline which was packed full of important events you could have a whole presentation associated with that year right on the timeline! And if you, like me, love to get your children involved and let them learn from each other, you could assign a year, or a series of events, to research and produce a PowerPoint presentation on to each group. Then, collect all the presentations from the groups and add them as "live content" in your PPTplex Timeline. This will make a rich content revision tool that your children will love!

    The only limitation on PPTplex is that you lose the animations on your slides, but I think it is a good compromise to get really interactive timelines. Also, your children will concentrate more on the content, rather than on animations and other features that tend to distract them from the real focus of the task!

    If you are a bit confused on how to use PPTplex, don't worry, because there are lots of video tutorials on the download page on how to use it. Otherwise, have a look at my Innovid on PPTplex

    I hope you like the idea and that you will have a go at using this amazing tool in your History lessons. If only I were a History Teacher.”

    Thanks Alessio for this great idea, a webcam is on its way to you.

    If you want to explore timelines further you can find out how to make them using this Excel template or visit here to design your own.

    We are putting subject snacks on hold over the summer holidays , we will be back with more great ideas at the end of August.

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    imageStuart and I actually had a little argument over who got to write this blog post, because it’s just so cool.

    Many of you are familiar with the WorldWide Telescope from Microsoft Research – the FREE application that lets you take advantage of NASA photos from land and space-based telescopes to give you incredible pictures of the night sky. (And much, much more…)

    Now the good folks from MS Research have added over 13,000 photos taken from NASA spacecraft exploring Mars. These provide images of Mars the likes of which we – and our students – have never seen before. As our VP of Research Tony Hey says on the Mars video, these new photos and technology allow students to actually “go for a walk on Mars,” and see the landscape and scale in a way they never could have done before.

    Here’s what the new Mars features have to offer.image

    • A True-Colour Map of Mars. The surface map of Mars has been built and colour-corrected to match modern estimates of the appearance of Mars.  It is made up of images taken from a variety of NASA’s Mars spacecraft, including the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on board NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
    • 3-D Rendering of the Surface. Visitors to the WorldWide Telescope can now have the experience of flying though a 3-D rendering of Victoria Crater and Olympus Mons – the lowest valley and highest peak in our solar system - and can experience firsthand the extreme elevation and intricate features of the Martian surface.
    • Exclusive Interactive Tours. Microsoft Research is providing a set of exclusive interactive Mars tours, including an overview of the WWT Mars experience and Mars’ moons. NASA is also publishing two Mars tours by noted NASA scientists, Drs. James Garvin and Carol Stoker.

    If you haven’t checked out WorldWide Telescope yet, download it HERE and have a play (or better yet, let your students have a play) now.

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    imageOne of the many challenges Teachers have, is to teach students the skills they need to effective deal with the vast amounts of information that technology allows them to access. Such skills can be based around ‘Critical Thinking’ . This involves students developing the following abilities.

    • Recognize problems.
    • Find workable means to meet those problems.
    • Gather and marshal pertinent information.
    • Recognize unstated assumptions and values.
    • Comprehend and use language with accuracy, clarity, and discrimination.
    • Interpret data.
    • Appraise evidence and evaluate statements.
    • Recognize logical connections between statements.
    • Draw warranted conclusions and generalizations.
    • Test the conclusions and generalizations arrived at.


    A free downloadable resource from the Bing team called ‘Developing Critical Thinking Through Web Research Skills’ describes how these skills relate to search and research activities. This e-book provides an excellent guide on how to develop a curriculum for searching and researching using the internet. With the translation of the critical thinking skills into practical examples. Like in the area of Searching efficiently and effectively – Students have to learn the basics of web processes and architecture, including:

    • Key Internet terms, such as spam, malware, noise, advertorial, pay-per-post, crowd sourcing.
    • How search engines find websites—the basics of crawling and indexing.
    • What “the 10 blue links” are.
    • What sponsored (paid) links are and how they work alongside unpaid links.
    • How search engines (Bing, Yahoo!, and Google) make money from results.
    • How websites market themselves in search engine results.
    • How to parse a link/URL and what domain names mean.
    • How to read a webpage.
    • How to overcome researcher bias by learning to look beyond one’s familiar and comfortable sources and to listen to different voices, perspectives, and opinions

    When this sort of confusing advice is given by an examination body , a simple keyword search is not enough and will not solve the issues raised. Critical thinking skills are what we need to be developing with our students, the clue is in the title, they are critical.

    How are your students searching the web, what skills are you developing? Let us know.

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  • 08/11/10--23:23: Thanks for the memories
  • MP900447888[1]

    Is it possible to develop an emotional attachment to a computer? I think so. I have had my Toshiba Portege M400 laptop since I joined Microsoft 4 years ago and we have had some great adventures together. We have travelled the world to various Innovative Educator Forums, presented to hundreds of teachers, seen three incarnations of Windows and Office, responded to thousand of emails, been introduced to Twitter and of course writing this blog. I now have most of those experiences stored ready to transfer to my new laptop.

    But, a thought struck me, is it the same in schools? What learning experiences have the computers in school facilitated, is that captured in some way? What happens to all that work when the technology is replaced or the student leaves ? What happens to that ‘redundant’ technology?

    I am interested in finding out two things, so your comments would be most welcome :-

    • What do schools do with students work stored on servers and hard drives? Can students take their work with them ?
    • What mechanisms do schools use to recycle or re-purpose technology? especially in light of this article .

    Are any of you giving students when they leave, their e-portfolio? Documenting their whole school life, is this something that would be useful to them? I still have my Year 10 biology exercise book, it hasn’t been a lot of use, except to remind me of how awful my writing was and is! But, if life  learning long learning is the goal for students, then having such a resource could contribute to that.

    How are schools breathing life in to ‘old’ kit? My laptop is destined for a an Intern at Microsoft, it will serve exactly the purpose they need . Do you have any strategies that you would like to share, that utilise and extend the life of apparently redundant technology?

    This will be the last post I write on my trusty old Toshiba, not a single blue screen in 4 years. Thanks old friend, its been a blast.

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  • 08/19/10--13:30: Microsoft Summer Camp 2010
  • With 20 teachers attending this year, it has been the most successful event we have held. We covered the idea of creating simpleimage instruction videos we call Innovids, as a tool for professional development. But, not only did teachers create some great resources and explore some useful free tools, they also received training in delivering the CPD process for themselves, to apply to the use of technology in the classroom. It’s very easy for me to say how great an event this was, but I thought I would leave it to some of the teachers who attended to share their thoughts:-

    Graham Eyre on his blog said

    one the key things that I got out of the day was the number of free add-on’s and stand alone programmes created by Microsoft for educators. Some of these I have come across before but many were new to me. This was really refreshing as mentally I always categorise Microsoft as boring nuts and bolts. Read more >

    Dan Roberts in his blog said

    The main focus for the summer camp was to create these little quite sexy things called innovids – basically short nuggets of video tutorials that teachers and students can watch and then try out some of the ideas in their classrooms.You can see the current crop of excellent innovids here from last year’s campers and also some case studies that may be useful!    Read more >

    Niki Maddams who won our Innovid competition earlier this year said

    During our time there myself and the other “happy campers” spent a large amount of time sharing and discussing ideas with each other and learning about lots of fantastic free tools from Microsoft. We spent the second day creating demo videos on how to use various Microsoft tools in the classroom. Read more >

    But perhaps the most thought provoking post came from David Rogers, who also attended the Google Teacher Academy earlier in the summer.

    At Microsoft we were there to work, create and explore the tools available. At Google I felt we were there to absorb information and then go out and spread the word. Both events were inspirational.  Both events provided a wealth of simple, effective and cool ways in which to transform learning . I found that I got more out of the Microsoft experience as we were part of the culture of the organisation for two days.  We were able to wander the building, use breakout and 60 minute rooms, sofa’s, grab a drink at will.  The result was lots of conversations along the lines of ‘why are you doing it that way?’ or ‘Have you seen this?’ Being able to have unstructured time that was hand’s on allowed us to really explore the products.  We even met with one of the programming team – arranging a face-to-face meeting through Twitter. Read more >

    Thank you to all the teachers who attended Summer Camp. We will be publishing the new innovids shortly on on our Youtube channel and you can follow the development on twitter through the hash tag #mscamp .

    Keep a look out for details of our next event, the UK Innovative Education Forum

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    image I’m still not used to the British summer. Here it is, time to head back to school already, and I’m still waiting for the summer weather. (Did I blink and miss it back in June?)

    In honour of this exciting back-to-school time, Microsoft has released new, free education add-ins for Office, and over 20 new templates and how-to resources for teachers using Office in the classroom.

    Here’s a bit about the add-ins, from our good friends at Office:

    Interactive Classroom Add-in

    The Interactive Classroom Add-in for PowerPoint 2007 and 2010 and OneNote 2007 and 2010 provides real-time polling and interactive note-taking to foster interaction and collaboration between educators and students.

    This add-in connects a teacher’s PowerPoint presentation to students’ OneNote notebooks. During a presentation, teachers can:

    • Poll students with multiple choice, true/false, or yes/no questions.
    • Distribute the lesson to students with OneNote
    • Include real-time ink and text annotations.

    Students can answer and respond through their individual OneNote notebooks, hand-held clickers, or computers, and the results display in the presentation.

    Students also get consolidated notes that match those of the instructor so they can keep track of what they need to learn.

    imageMathematics Add-in

    The Mathematics Add-in for Word 2007 and 2010 and OneNote 2010 uses dynamic 3D graphs and charts to help educators illustrate complex maths problems and concepts.  From algebra and pre-calculus to physics and statistics, teachers and students can unravel equations and visualize formulas through 2-D and 3-D graphs. The add-in helps students plot functions, calculate numerical results, and dynamically solve for "x".

     Chemistry Add-in for Wordimage

    Empowering students, teachers, and chemists to easily author documents in the language of chemistry is at the heart of the Chemistry Add-in for Word.   The Chemistry Add-in for Word makes it easier for students, chemists and researchers to insert and modify chemical information, such as labels, formulas and 2D depictions, from within Microsoft Office Word. It harnesses the power of Chemical Markup Language (XML for chemistry), making it possible to not only author chemical content in Word, but also to include the data behind those structures.  Put simply, the Chemistry Add-in for Word and Chemical Markup Language help to makes chemistry documents open, readable and easily accessible, not just to other humans, but to other technologies as well.

    All of the add-ins can be downloaded from the Office Education site, along with the templates, how-to guides (including a great new one on OneNote) and many other resources.

    Best of luck with the new school year!

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    MP900439503[1]It’s funny that despite not having to go back to school at this time for the past four years, I still feel like it is the start of the new term. So with many of you returning to school this week, meeting your new classes and staff, and getting your heads around the planning. I thought I would share with you some of the main activities we are looking forward to through Partners in Learning this ‘term’.

    Our first big event takes place in October, the Worldwide Innovative Education Forum is being held in Cape Town, South Africa. Accompanying us this year are our two award winners, Jan Webb and Simon Horleston . Both primary school teachers, they will have the opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise, as well as learn from teachers from all over the world. A highlight will be visiting schools in the townships of Cape Town. We will blog on outcomes of the event, and with fingers crossed , they might even win an award.

    Jan and Simon began their journey to South Africa, by submitting a project in the form of a Virtual Classroom Tour in last year’s Innovative Education Forum . This year’s Forum will take place in Manchester at the end of November. We will be posting details soon of this free conference, that we hope will be bigger and build upon last year success. In the meantime, the competition is now open for the submissions of projects for the Microsoft UK Innovative Education Awards 2010 . So why not have a think about the projects you are doing and have done, and consider entering them into the competition, and like our teachers last year, you never know where it could lead.

    I will be blogging next week on what a Virtual Classroom Tour is and what you will need to do to submit your project, in the meantime enjoy your first few days back at school, hopefully like me you are looking forward to a great term, if not , then don’t worry half term is just around the corner.

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    imageIf you have been following this blog for a while, you will have often heard Kristen and I talking about virtual classroom tours, more commonly know as VCTs. These are the project submissions that we receive and share at the Partners in Learning Innovative Education Forums. We have over 200 VCTs hosted on the UK Partners in Learning Network site. These have been created by teachers throughout the UK, many are award winning projects. There are also a large number from teachers right across the globe, they show how technology is being used to support great learning and teaching in other countries.

    The VCT is a simple PowerPoint template, that is not meant to be the usual slide presentation. But an e-portfolio, documenting a project that a teacher has undertaken.

    The template consists of two slides. The first asks for a summary of the project, the software used, the age range of the pupils and details of the school.

    imageThe second slide is where a teacher can place examples of resources used and created during the project. This can include photos and links to websites that were used in the project. This could be a link to the school’s learning platform, especially if it is hosting resources and/or outcomes of the project. We also encourage the uploading of any video resources used to the schools learning platform or YouTube, and links added to the slide. Video could be simply embedded on the slide, but this has a tendency to make the file size a little too large.

    But, probably the two most important documents are the embedded Word files. These provide the detailed thinking behind the project and the reflection about the impact on learning. This is the unique feature of the VCT, as it asks teachers to reflect on the most important outcome, learning.

    The Virtual Classroom Tour concept has been adopted by many schools and Local Authorities as a professional development tool, if you are interested in using it, please feel free to download the template and modify how you wish.image

    The best way to experience the benefits of using this concept is to document a project that you have done or are doing in your school, and enter it into this year’s Innovative Education Awards which will be announced at our Innovative Education Forum in November. So download the template attached to this post and get started.

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    imageThe 7th Microsoft Innovative Education Forum is a one-day conference, free of charge to all teachers and educators who wish to attend and will look to address the theme of ‘Connecting Learners, Connecting Teachers.’

    This forum connects Teachers with Teachers, Educators with Educators, allowing you to share expertise and learn from each other, giving insights into how you can connect your students with technology and connect them with their learning.

    This year the Forum is being held at the Hilton Deansgate Hotel in Manchester on the 30th Nov.

    img6We have a packed agenda with Keynote speakers, the world renowned Professor Sugata Mitra famous for his ‘Hole in the wall’ project and Michael Furdyk Co-founder of the young person’s online community , Taking IT img4Global.

    In addition, Delegates will be able to choose from a range of practical workshops covering areas such as using free software and Web 2.0 technology, games based learning and managing innovation in schools.

    Workshop 1- TakingITGlobal - Mandeep Atwal, TIGed UK

    Workshop 2- Outdoor learning & technology - David Rogers, The Geography Collective

    Workshop 3- From the cloud to the classroom, making innovation stick! - Guy Shearer, Head Teacher, Lodge Park Technology College

    Workshop 4- Creative use of technology in the classroom - Dan Roberts, community school

    Workshop 5- Office 2010 in the Classroom – Stuart Ball – Microsoft Partners in Learning

    Workshop 6- Kodu Games based learning - Nicki Maddam, Hartsdown Technology College, Margate

    Find out more details about each workshop here>>image

    What’s on your mind?

    For the first time we are holding an Innovative Teacher Meet, 29 Nov. at 7:30pm

    Join us for drinks, canapés and a series of TeachMeet style pitches from leading teachers at Hilton’s vibrant Cloud 23 bar, providing 360-degree views of Manchester.

    Share with like-minded teachers in a series of 3-minute open pitches.

    Also, find out who are Microsoft’s 2010 Award-Winning Innovative Educators. The awards will be presented to Teachers who have submitted projects that illustrate the innovative use of technology to enhance teaching and learning. Not only will they receive award recognition, but have the chance to be invited to The European Education Forum being held next year in Moscow . These projects will be on display at the event.

    Don’t miss out, register today

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