Video Case Study: Using Azure Machine Learning Studio In High Schools

Video

The above video is a great example of how schools can start to engage students with real world technologies such as Azure Machine Learning that are only going to grow in significance in the very near future.

The Azure Machine Learning Studio was used by the students at Seymour College in South Australia to build a model that predicted risks of breast cancer, with the results then being analyzed by the girls in Microsoft Excel.

This is a great example of supporting girls in STEM with contextualized learning, hopefully keeping them thinking about further study and careers in STEM which is very necessary to redress the gender imbalance in this sector.

There are some great introductory videos showing how easy it is to get Azure Machine Learning, including collaboration with other students, on the link below:

azure machine learning.PNG

Girls in IT: HoloLens At GirlsInnov8 2017

This week I had the real privilege to talk to 20 enthusiastic Year 9-13 girls who had come from all over the country to attend the GirlsInnov8 2017 ICT Camp hosted at St Cuthbert’s College. I went there with Technology Evangelist Hannes Nel  where we shared with the girls options for careers in ICT along with some great tools to start programming with. After the morning tea break, we brought out the main attraction – two HoloLens and allowed each girl to try it out for themselves across three apps:

The feedback from the girls was incredibly positive and they started to understand how this technology could be used and think up future possibilities.

Prior to experiencing the HoloLens, I talked to the girls about their favourite subjects, with many identifying the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) as their most enjoyable subjects. In 2016 for International Women’s Day Microsoft released their annual video and asked if girls could name female inventors:

I asked the girls the same question and I did manage to get one successful answer from one of the girls, and most were determined to what to go on and invent something themselves. The key is keeping them interested in STEM and going on to complete degrees at University in these areas:

Additionally, I showed those in attendance how they could learn JavaScript using a range of block based coding technologies at http://www.makecode.com

 

makecode

Learn programming and play with Minecraft:EE at MakeCode.com

 

To see some examples of how to use MakeCode with Minecraft:EE then click here.

What was particularly pleasing was seeing two Old Girls from St Cuthbert’s College back helping out with the GirlsInnov8 camp – both were in their fourth year studying Computer Science. This type of role modelling and encouragement is critical to keeping students engaged in these areas.

A huge congratulations to Klaris Philipson the Director of Technologies at St Cuthbert’s who organises this annual event in her school holiday break.

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.

Microsoft’s May Education Event – Overview

As many readers will have caught up on, Microsoft had a major education event yesterday with the key announcements of a new member of the Surface device family, Surface Laptop, and a new variation on Windows 10, called Windows 10 S.

Keen readers can watch the entire launch event here however the 101 second summary is below:

At this stage, I’ve not got my head across all of the implications for schools from these announcements so I’ll just refer you to the official blog posts here:

For an independent view you can read Dr Joe Sweeney’s initial thoughts on his LinkedIn post here. Joe is an industry analyst for mobility, education and digital innovation and offers an outsiders view of these latest announcements from Microsoft.

If you’re a real device nut and want to see some very cool animations of the internals of the Surface Laptop then this video is for you:

If you’re an ICT Admin in a school and interested in how you can easily manage Win10 devices (including Win10 S) then this might be more for you:

Microsoft is clearly also pushing for affordable STEM resources to support teachers in preparing students for the jobs that “don’t exist yet” – lots of stats about this but some suggestions are that as many as 65% of students will be working in jobs not yet created … interesting stuff! Here’s a video around STEM engagement from Microsoft:

Related to this, of course, is Minecraft Education Edition and with a new release allowing you to integrate third party coding tools (such as Scratch by MIT and Tynker  to teach computational thinking for students, this is a powerful addition to an already great product:

Whilst many schools in New Zealand and elsewhere around the world have already jumped into using the public preview of Microsoft Classroom, we learnt yesterday that this is now going to be discontinued and replaced with Teams for Education:

If you’re a school using Microsoft Classroom and wondering how you will be affected it’s worth reading the below:

1). End-of-support for the Northern Hemisphere school closing July 31, 2017 and for the Southern Hemisphere school closing January 31, 2018.
2). Class structures themselves will not showup in MS Teams. Various data component – files, calendars, OneNotes will be accessible through Office Groups.
3). Classroom experience in MS Teams is expected to be available before the dates mentioned in item#1 above in the respective regions.

Lastly, Mixed Reality gets a boost and focus in education with Pearson Education investing big in this area – have a look at the video below that shows Canberra Grammar School using HoloLens and Pearson Education immersive content:

With more affordable mixed reality devices coming from OEM partners such as Acer and others, schools will be able to utilize this more readily than being required to purchase the more expensive HoloLens.

Clearly a lot to process – exciting times for Microsoft and as I start to get hands on with some of these technologies I’ll be sure to post back thoughts here.

#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:

Minecraft Education Edition – Buying & Managing Licenses

minecraft-10

Students playing Minecraft Education Edition

UPDATE 2: Nikkie Lang, from Opaheke Primary School, has published a fantastic blog that shows the process from a school’s perspective from start to finish. This is well worth reading by clicking here.

UPDATE: Since making this blog I’ve come across an authoritative step by step guide on TechNet that you can view here. I do encourage you to check that out as well. It shows how to assign licenses purchased from:

  1. Directly in the Microsoft Windows Store For Business, and
  2. Purchased as part of an EES  Agreement through Volume Licensing

Unsurprisingly, more schools are exploring Minecraft Education Edition as an easy way to managing licensing for students, and developers are already creating and sharing new Minecraft worlds for the Education Edition.

The homepage of Minecraft Education Edition is the best place to start for those new to using Minecraft for their students, but if you’re interested in how to buy / manage licenses (including assigning/reclaiming) then I’ve made a step by step guide for you below.

minecraft-1

  • Make sure you sign in with your school O365 account – this will need to be an administrator account:

minecraft-2

  • Once you’re signed in, search for “Minecraft” in the search box at the top right hand corner and then select “Minecraft Education Edition”:

minecraft-3

  • You will then have an option to “Buy” or “Manage” your licenses:

minecraft-4

  • minecraft-3-5UPDATE: Schools in NZ can purchase licences from Datacom via the MoE School agreement (this is recommended). If you’ve not purchased any licenses already (&you want to get them directly from the MBSW) then select “Buy” and you will be presented with pricing and quantities. You will need to pay via credit card to purchase these. Step through the purchase process to complete your licensing procurement. REMEMBER: you can assign/reclaim these licenses between students so you may not need to buy one license for every student in your school (see below for how to manage this process).
  • When you are ready to assign licenses to students click on the “Manage” button to the right of the “Buy” button and you can start to assign licenses. The easiest way to do this is click the “Invite People” to the bottom right of the screen and then this allows you to easily search for the names of students in your class / school and assign them  (You don’t need to type the full email address, only the name of the student). See below:

Continue reading

Teaching STEM? Think Imagine Academy

imagine-academy-bannerAs more schools shape courses around the acronym of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths), they are also looking for innovative ways to create curriculum that is relevant and has ‘real-world’ application for students.

One easy way this can be achieved is through using Microsoft’s Imagine Academy:

What impresses me about these courses is the diversity of options available to teachers and students, all under a single institutional license – read more on the official Imagine Academy website here. The areas of study within the Academy are laid out as follows:

Areas of Study.PNG

For more technically skilled students, or those that have already decided on a career pathway in IT, the Computer Science and IT Infrastructure courses certainly provide early access to training for industry recognized qualifications. Schools that already have effective Digital Technologies teachers can use this as an additional support resource, but for many schools that may not have any qualified teacher in this curriculum area, students can work self-paced through the online materials independently.

Additional benefits include the ability to get Microsoft Certification on the completion of courses through the Imagine Academy, along with linking into world wide initiatives like the MineCraft Hour of Code

It’s instructive that the Netherlands have added the Imagine Academy to every secondary school in the country as a way to support STEM education:

Check out the Microsoft Academy homepage to learn more.