Hack The Classroom Is Back

hacktheclassroom.PNGMicrosoft run an annual “Hack the Classroom” event designed to engage teachers and inspire them with the teaching of computational thinking in their curriculum areas. You can learn more about this online event on June 27th at the following link:

Hack The Classroom 2017

By attending this session you will:

  • Learn from teachers by taking a glimpse into their classrooms to see how new tools are creating new possibilities
  • Engage, interact, and pose questions with speakers, product team members, and other educators
  • Gain access to professional development resources and tools to get started

You can calculate your local time zone for this event by clicking here.

This session will also include further information about the recently released Code Builder functionality for Minecraft Education Edition. Talking with educators, this is one of the most requested features for Minecraft EE and is a perfect way to teach computational thinking within a gamified environment like Minecraft.

If you are a teacher that has been wondering how you can include STEM/STEAM related content into your classes this is a great opportunity for you to be connected and inspired.

End Of Support for Dir Sync & Azure AD Sync Approaching

DirSync & Azure AD Sync will reach end of Support on April 13, 2017.

Azure AD will stop accepting connections from DirSync and Azure AD Sync after December 31, 2017. For more information about the DirSync and AAD Sync upgrade, please see the DirSync and Azure AD Sync deprecation documentation. If you have questions or feedback about this change, you can leave the team a comment on the blog linked below or reach on Twitter using the #AzureAD hashtag.

https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/enterprisemobility/2017/04/10/end-of-support-for-dirsync-and-azure-ad-sync-is-rapidly-approaching-time-to-upgrade-to-aad-connect/

So now, it’s time to get cracking and move to Azure AD Connect if you’ve not done so already:

AD Connect.png

Azure AD Connect – keeping your identity synchronized in the cloud.

Pukekohe High eLearning Presentation

This afternoon I had the privilege of visiting Pukekohe High School where I had been invited to share some thoughts on effective eLearning and provide some inspiring examples.

It was a great audience who asked interesting questions at the end and seemed to appreciate some of these examples from my experience and those of other teachers I have worked with.

You can download a full copy of the presentation here and I’ve embedded a copy below:

The key for me is basing effective eLearning on the Key Competencies from the NZ Curriculum – these provide a rock solid foundation for teachers to ensure their use of technology is aligning with strong pedagogy. I particularly like the elements of student reflection on their own learning and the influence of technology and these reflections are included in the videos in the above PowerPoint.

samr-divingAs usual, the SAMR model is present too – again, a great taxonomy for teachers to review their teaching units and ensure a range of technologies are being used across their classes.

If you have any comments on the presentation or other great ideas for eLearning leave a comment in the section below.

Guide For Deploying Office365 ProPlus

office-365-appsI am writing a quick blog in response to the confusion I’m seeing in schools around the different versions of Microsoft Office 2016 and the varying ways this can be installed for users. The main reason this is causing confusion and problems is the release cycle of new features, in particular ones that tend to be appealing to schools such as embedding features in OneNote and digital inking options.

A colleague of mine is going to write a more technical overview of this and I’ll update this blog post to reflect this, but thought I would at least point users to the following fantastic overview:

Deployment Guide for Office365 ProPlus

This is broken down into the following sections:

  • Get Started – an overview of what’s new.
  • Deploy Office365 ProPlus – deploying from a local network directory or use SCCM
  • Manage Updates – choose frequency and source of updates for your users
  • Upgrade to Office365 ProPlus – tips for organisations that are not already on ProPlus and how to manage a smooth upgrade
  • Best Practices For Deploying – key considerations to keep in mind when deploying ProPlus

The key consideration for organisations is whether to move away from the traditional Volume Licensing version of Office, usually pushed out with an MSI package, and instead use the “Click 2 Run” version of Office365 ProPlus. Whilst many schools are simply getting students to download and install Office2016 directly from the Office Portal, when it comes to managing this for staff machines having automated options is important.

The Deployment Guide for Office365 ProPlus should provide all the information school IT administrators need to make these decisions on how best to get ProPlus onto devices.

#MakeWhatsNext – Encouraging Women To Study in #STEM

Today is International Women’s Day and Microsoft has released a video to encourage girls to study in STEM subjects. These are Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Per the video above, only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees.

To explore more, along with amazing career options in STEM, check out this link.

In 2016, the video for the same celebration highlighted the challenge students had in naming female inventors, before showcasing some of the incredible inventions women have been responsible for – this really resonates:

Supporting The Literacy of ALL Learners With Learning Tools

One of the most popular features of OneNote Class Notebooks was the “Learning Tools” which have enabled students of all abilities to process content more easily:

The Learning Tools for OneNote help everyone improve their reading and writing skills, including gifted learners, students with learning differences or a combination of any of the broad range of unique student abilities.

As an organisation, Microsoft has a huge focus on accessibility when it comes to enabling everyone to use technology and in line with this vision, some of the best features of the OneNote Learning Tools are coming to new platforms in the Office Suite.

Read the full announcement here from the official Office Blog

Announced in late February, the same features of the Learning Tools will now be built directly into Word 2016 (in the ProPlus “click to run” version), Word Online and OneNote Online. You will be able to access these under the “View” menu and it will be called “Immersive Reader.” As per the blog, the following features are available:

Learning Tools includes a modified reader view that utilizes techniques proven to help people read more effectively, such as:

  • Read Aloud—Reads text aloud with simultaneous highlighting that improves decoding, fluency and comprehension while sustaining the reader’s focus and attention.
  • Spacing—Optimizes font spacing in a narrow column view to improve reading fluency for users who suffer from visual crowding issues.
  • Syllables—Shows the breaks between syllables to enhance word recognition and decoding.
  • Parts of Speech*—Supports writing instruction and grammar comprehension by identifying verbs, nouns and adjectives.

In practice, this looks like the following:

learning-tools-for-word-online-and-onenote-online-now-available-1

These tools are available in numerous languages as well.

Educators should definitely check these out for all students so they can be supported in their literacy.

Great Example Of OneNote Class Notebooks In A School

I’m linking to a great success story from Klein Forest High School in Houston, Texas, which recently deployed OneNote Class Notebooks across subjects in the secondary school.

You can read the full blog post here.

It’s worth reading in detail for the approach and how they opted to roll it out:

To prepare for our summer trainings, we decided to actively “promote” OneNote. We visited PLC meetings, made infographics, emailed the details out and posted on our website. During the summer of 2016, we provided professional development for our staff introducing OneNote and had them participate as students using a Class Notebook that we had created. Most of them fell in love with it on the spot. We also had the teachers who piloted OneNote during the previous year assist with staff development for additional buy-in.

OneNote-Class-Notebook-supports-English-Language-Learners-3.png

Once school started this August, things got off to a slower start than we anticipated. Teachers were falling into old habits. Therefore, we decided to switch our approach from marketing to grassroots. We targeted specific teachers who we felt were catalysts, teachers that would share our sentiments. This proved to be successful because—just like we suspected—it spread like wildfire!

There is also an embedded Sway showing how OneNote Class Notebooks are being used across the various subject areas

What is exciting from this story is that teachers were sharing the benefits with their colleagues directly – almost a viral deployment. I’ve seen this first hand in schools I’ve worked in where OneNote was deployed and when you have teachers creating resources for their colleagues to help them use the tools better, you know you’ve won. From the blog:

Another staff member, an ELL teacher, used it with his students who are new to the country and learning the English language. He was drawn to the Learning Tools add-in. He saw vast improvements in the students’ writing and language acquisition over time. He even made some tutorial videos as a supplemental resource for our teachers ready to jump in.

Once again, do take a moment to read the entire blog post here.