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    WorldWide Telescope enables you to explore the universe, bringing together imagery from the best ground and space-based telescopes in the world and combining it with 3D navigation. Using images from the likes of NASA and the Hubble telescope, Worldwide Telescope creates an awesome environment to explore and interact with the phenomena of the Universe directly from your desktop.

    Application Name – Worldwide Telescope

    Free access

    System Requirements

    • Microsoft® XP SP2 (minimum), Windows® Vista®, or Windows® 7 (recommended)
    • 3D accelerated card with 128 megabytes (MB) RAM; discrete graphics card with dedicated 256-MB VRAM recommended for higher performance

    If you run Mac OS X or don't meet the requirements try the Web Client

    You are able to make and share fantastic guided tours, with your own narrations, using Worldwide Telescope. This is great for students to share learning , but can also be used creatively to make adverts for future Space travel or even as a film effects studio to make your own sci-fi movie.

    For real impact, try projecting Worldwide telescope onto the ceiling of your classroom and have students lie down, look up and experience a virtual stargazing session.

    Finally, imagine the possibilities of using Worldwide Telescope and a Kinect controller, you can see how that might look here.

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    image QR codes are special barcodes that can be read by a mobile device and will link to data such as text ,a  URL or video. if you have been using or thinking about using QR codes in the classroom with your pupils you might want to try Microsoft Tag. These tags offer some extra features which will allow you to add different elements to your learning activities. These include the ability to incorporate simple images in the tag design and a really great feature, a website that will collect and display data of the number of times the tag has been used.


    Application Name – Microsoft Tag

    Free access at

    Visit on your mobile phone browser to get the tag reader

    System Requirements

      The Microsoft Tag Reader works on Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian and J2ME phones. View the Resources section for a list of Supported Devices.

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  • 07/13/11--00:40: Colluding or Collaborating?
  • imageIt’s just over a year now since a change of government and a change of education policies. All sorts of challenges are being faced and without a crystal ball, there is still uncertainty about what the future holds for the curriculum, for school structuring, for trusts/academies, for pensions, for budgeting…. So in this current political and financial climate, with so much debate going on, it seems to me that there is an amount of caution that has crept into discussion and planning – and that’s wise in many ways, as we don’t want to be implementing change for the sake of change, but for the sake of improving the learning experiences of the students in our classes.

    But the danger of exercising caution is that we develop a conspiracy of collusion which inhibits collaborations within and between schools. Are we in danger of staying in our comfort zones instead of pushing the edges of the envelope to continually develop and improve the ways we teach, the ways children learn, our schools, our communities? Or is the current climate creating pockets of creative “rule-breaking” – innovative ways of getting around current constraints, that encourage collaborative working and learning,  that will push current practice further? Let us know how YOU are dealing with the current challenges!

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    clip_image002Bing Maps, the successor to Multimap, is a powerful tool that does a lot more than locate places or calculate routes and mileage. The ways you can view the maps varies – for example, there are detailed road maps for Greater London and there are Ordnance Survey versions which are easy to share with a class on a projected display – find out more about using Ordnance Survey tools in the classroom here.  If you are logged in with a Windows Live ID (your hotmail account), then you can save lists of places – simply go to my places,  drop a pin and  choose the list you want to save it in.  Each pin can have text/hyperlinks/pictures  added to it, which makes it a useful way of adding prompts and questions to a map for children to use in their learning.  There are more than 14,000 Photosynths and 1,435,00 photos available that are  linked to Bing Maps, which makes it easier to get a real view of places that are being studied e.g. why not explore the Pyramids when studying the Egyptians! Or make your own lists of places to record information from a field trip – see some ideas here. There’s options to draw shapes onto your map, to draw lines and lots more tools which can be used to enhance the learning experiences in class.

    Application Name – Microsoft Bing Maps

    Free access at

    System Requirements

      You will need to have Silverlight installed in order to access the Photosynths.

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    P7260105It’s that time of year when teachers are off on holidays, the sun is meant to be shining (!) and  thoughts turn to travel…. I may be outside the classroom and not having the extra long summer holidays at the moment but my thoughts have turned to travel, too.  In fact, you could even call that travel the “Dan and Jan World Tour”, as I have travelled to Seattle in the USA with Dan Roberts, also known to many as @chickensaltash, for the very first Partners in Learning Institute.  At this week long training event, 50 teachers from all over the world have gathered at Microsoft’s Redmond Headquarters. It’s the first time this training has been run and that the materials, which are well-rooted in quality research into innovative teaching and learning practices, will go on to be shared with teachers all over the world.  Watch this space for  more about how technology can help learning and how we can effectively analyse the 21st century teaching and learning that is going on in our classroom.

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    P7280049“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” – African Proverb

    The Partners in Learning Institute in Seattle this week has been a great experience – not least because it has all been about working in partnership with other educators from all over the world for our own learning and the learning of our students and colleagues. The learning partnerships that have evolved this week are amazing and I have no doubt there will be some fantastic projects that happen as a result of them, not to mention the lasting friendships between professionals with a shared passion for tech-enhanced education.

    Developing deep learning opportunities for our students is at the heart of what we want to do as professionals.  Understanding the nature of those opportunities is key to being able to design effective lessons and projects. We have been looking at descriptions of the features of powerful collaborations, knowledge building and use of ICT for learning, as well as how we use Microsoft’s tech tools to enhance those learning opportunities.  There’ll be more about this in future blog posts. But for now, I want to leave you with a thought. Some of us visited Pike Place Market yesterday, which is the home of fish-throwing stall holders who are having FUN while they work. And FUN is infectious, making what they do highly effective and even inspiring a whole philosophy for improving morale and results. Be warned – partnering with others for learning can be fun and can make learning infectious – be prepared for a lot more from those who attended the Institute!

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  • 08/08/11--07:16: Wearable Technology
  • imageYou’ve heard of wearing your heart on your sleeve? When I was in Redmond at the Partners in Learning Institute, we saw some amazing technologies in the home of the future (which I’m sworn to secrecy about – but I can say that my comment at the end of the tour was, “When can I move in?!”) Just to give you a flavour of some of the imaginative uses of technology that are coming from Microsoft research, why not check out this dress that has been blogged about here – check out the video clip.  Could this be how we communicate in the future? By showing our social media updates on our skirts?

    Electricfoxy talks with Asta Roseway at Microsoft Research from Electricfoxy on Vimeo.

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    imageLast week in San Diego, 15 year old Rebecca Rickwood pulled off a major shock at the 2011 Worldwide Competition on Microsoft Office. Rebecca, who was one of the youngest contenders in the field, came out on top in the annual competition which this year attracted over 228,000 students from 57 countries around the world. The newly crowned champion won a $5,000 cash prize as well as the much sought after title of ‘World Champion In Microsoft Excel’ and was clearly thrilled: “When I was waiting with all the other students from around the world to hear the result I was really nervous. I heard my name read out in 1st place and I just couldn’t believe it. I’m ecstatic, I just can’t believe I won and now I’m world champion. It’s a day I’ll never forget.” Rebecca, from Sawtry Community College, a Microsoft IT Academy in Cambridgeshire, scored an incredible 100% in her specialist subject Microsoft Excel at the finals. Rebecca had earned her right to attend the world finals back in May after she achieved the top nationwide score in the Microsoft Office Specialist Excel certification exam. Since then Rebecca has continued to hone her skills by studying at lunch and in the evenings at her school, supported by Pam Kitchen her instructor at Sawtry Community College. “I’m absolutely delighted for Rebecca. She really is a wonderful student who is extremely talented but, also, a very modest person. ICT is a massive part of what we do here but Rebecca astounded me when she took the exam and achieved 100% first time around. What was most impressive was her hard work and dedication during lunchtimes and after school. We told her to go out to San Diego and be herself and are obviously thrilled to have her coming back to us as World Champion” explained Pam. Kevin Ryan, Marketing Manager with Prodigy Learning who are responsible for the competition in the UK added, “We realised Rebecca was extremely talented and one to watch from her scores in the UK championship. But the world competition is another level; it’s highly competitive and notoriously difficult to win, particularly for someone so young. Rebecca really has done her country proud and her ability is a testament to the quality of the Microsoft courses being offered by her school and others across the UK. I believe Rebecca has a very bright future ahead indeed.”

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  • 08/22/11--07:10: Summer Celebrations!
  • film


    Using Community Clips
    A guide to using Microsoft's free download for narrated screen capture videos - great for making "how to" guides like this!.
    Using Conditional Formatting in Excel 2010 This is a guide to using the conditional formatting tool in Excel.
    Using Office Live This guide shows how to start using Microsoft's free Office Live tools.
    Using Microsoft's Problem Steps Recorder This is an introduction to using Microsoft's problem steps recorder tool.


    At last! the 100th Innovid has been loaded to the Innovativeteach YouTube channel!!!! It’s quite fitting timing, really, as it was prepared at our Easter Camp by Clare Wilbur. It’s great to reflect on the amazing work that has been done by teachers to share what they have learnt through a multimedia approach.  Innovids have been made at our previous Summer and Easter camps – but at this year’s Summer Camp, we will be doing something a little different to our innovids – watch this space for some exciting news and valuable resources!

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    imageIt feels as though it was just yesterday when I wrote this blog post as I started a secondment to the UK Partners in Learning team. A lot can happen in sixth months and I have to say that one of the highlights has been the Summer Camp held at Microsoft’s headquarters in Reading – my swansong, as Stuart put it!  A group of teachers have been working with us over the last 2 days to develop some innovative learning activities using visual imagery tools such as Microsoft’s Autocollage, Photosynth and Deep Zoom Composer. The learning activities will be shared with you all before too long – and having had the privilege of talking to our Summer Camp educators about their ideas, I know you will be in for a huge treat when Stuart shares the links with you on this blog! Watch this space……

    There have been other highlights, too – seeing the fantastic work that our innovative teachers presented at the Partners in Learning European Forum in Moscow, Easter Camp, the inaugural Partners in Learning Institute in Redmond, Washington and, of course, meeting so many interesting people with interesting ideas who are passionate about effective learning and the role technology can play in it.  Thank you to everyone and I look forward to continuing discussions with many of you through the Partners in Learning Network and twitter!

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  • 08/30/11--23:17: Rabbit, Rabbit, #chat , chat
  • Rabbit , Rabbit, #chat Rabbit…

    I suspect many of you don’t know the pop song I am referencing in the title, so here’s the video from the cockney duo, Chas & Dave .

    The point I want to make is about the currently popularity of hash tag education chat forums on Twitter.

    Twitter is undoubtedly a valuable resource and communication tool for teachers to share ideas and best practice. The hash (#) chat events are a great way for teachers and educators to have the forum to do that. But are they a victim of their own success? Trying to follow, never mind contribute to a hash chat can be a nightmare. New tweets appear at a phenomenal rate, trying to keep up and follow a particular thread, never mind responding and contributing, needs a lot of concentration. These sessions can often be exhausting. Then there is a particular irritation for me, the retweets containing the same hash tags, which are repeatedly retweeted again! To use a ‘chat’ analogy, it’s like somebody repeating everything you say, repeating everything you say. Which is annoying, isn’t it, isn’t it ??

    More and more hash chat ‘places’ have appeared to deal with the range of topics, subjects and interests, so cross posting occurs by adding the various hash tags to a tweet. Subsequently many tweets have become nothing more than a string of hash tags and a shortened link. So, please save some of your 140 characters to let readers at least know what it is about.

    So as we head into a new school year, activity around hash chats such as #ukedchat will begin with a vengeance, those who are regular participants will continue to find them highly useful and a source of inspiration, but do we need so many and is there a need for some sort of protocol? Making it easier to engage with, and that such a valuable exchange of thoughts and ideas is not seen as just  cacophony of noise? So please think about how you use the hash tags and the retweet button in your tweets,

    I think it’s a contributing factor to why some teachers are reluctant to utlise Twitter as a professional development tool and echoes the thoughts of Doug Wood (@deerwood) who asks ‘If Twitter is so good, why do so many teachers leave it?

    So what do you think? How useful do you find education hash chats? Which ones would you recommend? Also if you have some tips and tricks that can make participating in Twitter chat forums a more rewarding experience or thoughts why teachers don’t use Twitter then please  leave a comment. We look forward to hearing from you.

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    Last year’s award winners talking about the event

    We are pleased to announce we are now accepting entries for this year’s Partners In Learning Innovative Teacher Awards. These annual awards, now in their 7th year, showcase some of 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.

    The application process is simple, complete our Virtual Classroom Tour (VCT) template, that contains just two documents for you to complete to describe your project, keep the whole thing under 10 meg and email it to .

    We will present the winners with their awards at our annual Partners in Learning UK Forum, being held at Microsoft UK Headquarters in Reading at the end of November. Watch this blog for the complete details and announcement.

    You will need a Windows Live ID to access and join the  Partners in Learning Network (if you're not already a member) and join the the community, with information about the Forum event itself.

    The closing date for submitting a project as a Virtual Classroom Tour is November 1st 2011. 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 Partners in Learning UK Forum Event. We will also select the four best projects to represent the UK at the Partners in Learning Worldwide Global, to be held as yet at an undisclosed Global destination towards to the end of 2012, these four will also receive an Xbox 360 console and Kinect Package for their school.

    What do to next?

    • Join this community on the Partners in Learning Network
    • Download the Virtual Classroom Tour (VCT) Template from the community or from this blog post.
    • Read the application criteria on available from this post or from the community
    • 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 Partners in Learning UK Forum 2010 in Manchester

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  • 09/04/11--23:00: Au revoir Kristen !
  • imageIt was three years ago the current UK Partners in Learning Team announced itself to the world via this blog. It was at that time Kristen joined to lead the team. You can read her first post here . That was the start of a 3 year adventure, that has resulted in the success of the UK Partners in Learning Network today.

    We have some had great highlights, last years Partners in Learning Forum in Manchester, the Worldwide Forum in South Africa and the launch of our Innovative schools programme. We have also had some, well I won’t call them lowlights, interested experiences is a better description, in particular, Scottish hotels, Viennese beverages and some scary moments with soup ! (I won’t elaborate any further)

    I am sure all of you who have been involved in Partners in Learning will have appreciated the passion and drive Kristen has brought to all aspects of the programme, at the heart has been her goal of improving opportunities for the learners in your classrooms and schools. I think you will very much agree a goal she has achieved.

    Kristen is now leaving the UK to take up a Senior post with the OECD in Paris, I sure you would all like to join me in wishing her and her family every success, and to thank her for such great work and commitment to the Microsoft Partners in Learning Network. We will all miss her immensely.

    Please feel free to leave your own thoughts for Kristen to take with her and if you have any anecdotes about her time with Partners in Learning please feel free to share by leaving a comment below.

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    There are 9 million citizens in the UK who do not have regular access to a PC and are not enjoying the benefits of the internet.  clip_image001 The last significant barrier to getting people connected is the cost of a PC at home.  BBC research shows that everything you do to inspire and encourage people – and to give them the right skills to go online – will gradually slip away if there is no PC at home to keep the excitement alive and provide easy, instant access to the internet. 

    It’s not enough to go online once – our goal is to make it possible for them to stay online – and to feel the wonderful benefits of Skype-ing with friends and family – unlimited video calls to any part of the world; to find information just when they need it; to make the most of learning opportunities and develop their particular passions.  You can help your students, parents, friends, family, neighbours and even yourselves  overcome this final barrier by visiting the GetOnline@Home website – the best place to buy a no-nonsense, affordable computer, which will give anybody chance to stay online for good and to enjoy all the benefits we take for granted.

    BT, the Post Office, 3, Microsoft and many other Race Online 2012 partners are behind the GetOnline@Home offer which includes:clip_image002

    • Phone or online purchasing for a powerful refurbished PC with new flatscreen, keyboard and mouse
    • The latest version of Windows (Windows 7); and a range of Microsoft software for documents, emails, pictures and more; and free anti-virus for life
    • The option to choose a broadband package from a range of specially tailored offers for beginners
    • A collection of useful sites and software to delight beginners and to open up the web
    • A great set of Quick Start guides and support in the form of telephone helplines and warranties etc



    The GetOnline@Home team and Microsoft

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    imageOne of the many pleasures of working in Microsoft Partners in Learning is when teachers in our network spontaneous begin to collaborate. A great example of this happened recently , when four teachers began developing and sharing their ideas and developments of using the Kinect SDK , to create applications for learning.

    These four teachers from the UK have shared, supported and challenged each other. Communicating through Twitter, these guys met virtually via the Partners in Learning Network. Together Alessio Bernardelli ( @asober), Jimmy Edwards (@jimmy_edwards), Gareth Ritter ( @ritzertech) and Ray Chambers ( @lanky_boi_ray) are the  Face, Murdock, B.A. and Hannibal respectively. As the TV series sort of said ‘ If you have a problem with the Kinect SDk and no-one else can help, then you need the K Team’. You can find their discoveries and resources on their blogs or contact them directly via Twitter, tell them @innovativeteach sent you.

    But, joking aside, I think these four epitomise the characteristics of a 21st Century teacher. They are all great teachers, that is a given, but in addition they all utilise and have developed a professional learning network through a variety of social media, they all blog and show a high degree of professional generosity, but above all, they have their learners at the heart of everything they do.  I would be interested in what other characteristics a 21st Century Teacher should exhibit. Please leave a comment we would love to hear from you.

    If you are, or know a typical 21st century Teacher doing some great things with technology, then why not enter or get them to enter the  UK Partners in Learning Awards, it could open a world of possibilities.


    Alessio’s Blog -

    Jimmy’s Blog -

    Gareth’s Blog -

    Ray’s Blog -


    You can download the Kinect SDK at -

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  • 09/13/11--05:17: A mouse without borders
  • I have not had chance to explore this in any school yet, as I have only seen it today. But, this is so fantastic that I thought I should share this piece of free software with you. I am sure like me you will see the great potential it has in school.

    Mouse without borders is a research project from The Garage, a project that encourages Microsoft employees to  develop their own ideas. This project by Truong Do,  allows you to reach across your PC's as if they were part of one single desktop. I have three PC laptops that I regular work with, using Mouse Without Borders I can move my mouse between the 3 screens, on each different PC from the other two. What’s more, I can move files between the 3 computers simply by dragging them from one desktop to another.  You can control up to four computers from a single mouse and keyboard with no extra hardware needed. Brilliant!

    This is amazing stuff and I am sure you will find many uses for it in your own use and in the classroom. It would be great if we could collect your ideas and share them with the Partners in Learning Community. Please leave an idea to share as a comment below. I look forward to seeing them.

    You can download Mouse without borders here

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    Here’s a date for your diary - 24th November 2011

    The 8th Microsoft UK Partners in Learning Forum is a one-day conference, free of charge to all teachers and educators and will look to address the theme – Teach more, Learn more, inspire more This year it will be held at Microsoft UK Headquarters , Thames Valley Park , Reading on the 24th Nov 2011

    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.

    Registration for the event will be on first come , first served basis and be available along with a full agenda on this blog next week.

    So write it down now before you forget , November 24th, we will see you there.

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    Isobel Bryce–Headteacher - community school
    We wanted to share with you the Microsoft sessions from the Festival of Education held back in June.

    In this session Isobel Bryce , Headteacher at community school in Cornwall, describes how creating and fostering good partnerships with outside agencies are a vital, if not an essential element in the school transformation process.

    Isobel outlines how the school has made been able to move forward successfully in its use of technology in learning, through partnership with Microsoft Partners in Learning. She describes how teachers and students have benefited from the Partners in Learning programme and how it has helped in creating a school for the 21st century.

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    The 8th Microsoft UK Partners in Learning Forum is a one-day conference, free of charge to all teachers and educators who wish to attend. The workshops and keynotes this year have a STEM ‘flavour’ and address the theme of ‘Teach more, learn more, inspire more.’

    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 inspire your students with teaching through technology, that connects them with their learning.

    This year the Forum is being held at the Microsoft Headquarters, Thames Valley Park in Reading on the 24th Nov 2011. clip_image002I_Livingstone1



    We have a rich STEM focused agenda that includes as Keynote speakers, the world renowned Ian Livingstone OBE, Life President of Eidos and co-author Next Gen, Alex Bellos,  the author of the popular science book Alex's Adventures in Numberland and Ollie Bray, the National Adviser for Emerging Technologies at Education Scotland

    In addition, delegates will be able to choose from a range of practical workshops covering areas such as using free software, inspiring Maths learning, the XBox 360 and Kinect in the classroom , Outdoor Learning with Mission explore, Games based learning  and computer science.

    Also, find out who are Microsoft’s 2011 Award-Winning Innovative Teachers.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 next Worldwide Education Forum and win a Xbox 360 and Kinect package for their school. These projects will be on display at the event.

    Don’t miss out, register today – Early Bird Registration now open

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    This is the 2nd Microsoft session from the Sunday Times Festival of Education at Wellington College that took place in June.
    Playful Learning: What can we learn from computer games in education?
    This presentation is by Ollie Bray from Education Scotland, who is a leading authority on games based learning. His presentation is a comprehensive summary of the projects he has been involved in, including the ground breaking work at the Consolarium .
    In this video he asks the question, ‘How can we learn from computer games in Education?’

    The presentation is in six parts:
    1. Why Games Based Learning?
    2. Contextual Hubs (Thematic Learning)
    3. Learning Games
    4. What can we learn from games?
    5. Making and creating games
    6. Why is it important to teach about games?

    resourceYou can download the slides from this presentation here.

    If this interests you and you would like to know more, you can meet Ollie and listen to his keynote  at our Partners in Learning Forum in November, this whole day event is free to attend. You can find out more details here

    Don’t miss out, Microsoft UK Partners in Learning Forum- Free to attend - register today – Early Bird Registration now open

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