I spent the last two days at Microsoft UK Headquarters in Reading. This was for the innovative teachers summer camp organised by Stuart Ball. I was impressed by the scale of the Microsoft campus; five huge buildings! The inside of the building (Building 5) we were in was open, light and airy; if only schools had the same design budget
The day was introduced by Stuart, 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.
There was a huge list of tools/apps to support learning:
- Auto Collage – allows you to create a collage merging many pictures together on one page. Available Here
- Pivot – a utility to allow data to be visualised. Needs a powerful graphics card. http://www.getpivot.com/
- Songsmith – Sing and add a backing track automatically. Available Here
- Mouse Mischief – create an interactive voting system by connecting multiple mice to one computer; a PowerPoint add-on. http://www.microsoft.com/multipoint/mouse-mischief/
- Live Essentials – add on for windows http://explore.live.com/windows-live-essentials
- Maths Add-In and Chemistry Add-In – Equation add-in for MS Word.
- Plex for PowerPoint – allows you to canvas PowerPoint slides. A different way of organising slides. http://www.officelabs.com/pptplex
- Photostory – animate a series of photographs. Available Here
- Worldwide Telescope and Mars Explorer – Allows your computer to function as a virtual telescope. http://www.worldwidetelescope.org/
- Kodu – a visual programming environment. http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/kodu/
- Community Clips – useful for creating screen casts.Simple to use. http://communityclips.officelabs.com
- Deep Zoom – allows you to overlay images so that you can zoom through and into multiple images. https://www.silverlight.net/learn/quickstarts/deepzoom/
- Canvas for One Note – similar to plex but for one note. www.officelabs.com/projects/canvasforonenote/
- Bing Visual Search – Displays search results through pictures. http://www.bing.com/visualsearch
- Bing Maps – better than google maps in some situations because it has OS Maps built in. http://www.bing.com/maps/
- Office Web Apps – online versions of office. http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/web-apps/
- Ribbon Hero – a game that teaches you where to find functions on the Microsoft Office toolbar. www.officelabs.com/ribbonhero
- Flash Cards – Web based flash card creation tool. Great to test yourself as it remembers which topics you are good at and which need more work. www.educationlabs.com/projects/flashcards
- Photosynth – Stitching together photographs http://photosynth.net/
All of the above programmes and utilities are free for educational use.
I have only used some of these programmes / utilities before; most I have not. My plan for the coming months is to try and work through them all and try them out to get ideas of how I can use them in the classroom.
The main activity of the two days was creating Innovids. There are some that were created earlier on the Innovative Teachers YouTube channel here.
This was a valuable two days for me not only because I got a huge range of ideas and teaching tips that I can use over this academic year; additionally it recharged my ‘tech’ batteries ready for the new year!
There are a wide range of resources on the Microsoft Teachers Blog
These are just my initial thoughts which will develop over time.