My BETT Show Presentation – ‘Bringing Learning to Life at Wymondham High Academy’

By JASON BROWN, Thursday 29th January, 22:24 PM

On Saturday 24th January I was fortunate enough to present with Kevin Sait at the BETT show at the ExCel Arena in London. For those of you who don’t know what the BETT show, it is quite simply the largest technology show in the UK with many large corporations such as Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Dell, HP and Acer each with stands and presentations. The show is held each January and is approximately a mile from end of the exhibition hall to the other – quite an event!

Kevin and I behind the Microsoft lecture stand at the BETT Show.
Kevin and I behind the Microsoft lecture stand at the BETT Show.

A week or two before the BETT show began on January 21st Kevin and I began creating our presentation. Our presentation was focused around how we use Microsoft technology at Wymondham High to bring learning to life, most notably Yammer, OneNote, Office 365 and Sharepoint and we also talked a little bit how we have helped to deploy Office 365 at Old Buckenham High School and how we offer Microsoft qualifications to students at Wymondham High as well as Office 365 Pro Plus Benefit, of course.

Is it fair that some students are disadvantaged because they cannot afford to buy the latest version of Microsoft Office every three years? Of course not! Office 365 Pro Plus Benefit ‘levels out the playing field’ and allows any student access to five copies of the latest Microsoft Office software.

Jason Brown

If you’d like to read exactly how we bring learning to life using technology at Wymondham High Academy, I recommend reading my article here. You may also be interested in reading all about our Student Digital Leaders here.

Our presentation featured some videos including one about how easy OneNote Class Notebook Creator is to set up for a class and also a video asking students what they use Yammer for in school and how Yammer and Office 365 has allowed collaboration compared to the old system which did not. We hope to have this video on the O Team YouTube channel in the near future.

Here I am in 'full swing' during my presentation.
Here I am in ‘full swing’ during my presentation.

Kevin had already been presenting this presentation several days prior to me present it with him on Saturday. Whilst the crowd was certainly not the largest, it was still a great experience presenting at a show as large as BETT and I felt that the presentation went very well with several members of the audience calling me an ‘inspiration’ and even getting the ‘nod of approval’ from Head of Microsoft Education UK, Steve Beswick who commented after the presentation that he liked the fact that I put my own opinion in (notably about how it’s unfair that students can be disadvantaged by using old software because they cannot always afford the latest releases).

After our 20 minute presentation, I spent the rest of the day looking around the stands and also doing a little bit of ‘shopping’ with our network manager, Andy Underwood, for a new server and some laptop trollies. Watch this space! ūüėČ I also watched fellow O Team member, Harry Traynor’s presentation on the Surface Pro 3 which was the final presentation at the show. In addition to this, I also enjoyed a lovely foot-long beef cheese-melt sandwich from Subway and I am surprised that didn’t give me a heart attack to be frank (definitely the best bit of the day!) ūüėČ

Here is Kevin in 'full swing' with me 'waiting in the wings'.
Here is Kevin in ‘full swing’ with me ‘waiting in the wings’.
OneNote Product Manager Ari Schorr gives a great presentation on Microsoft OneNote 2013 at the BETT show.
OneNote Product Manager Ari Schorr gives a great presentation on Microsoft OneNote 2013 at the BETT show.
English teacher Emma Hicks gives a great presentation on Microsoft OneNote 2013 at the BETT show.
English teacher Emma Hicks gives a great presentation on Microsoft OneNote 2013 at the BETT show.
Here I am with the 'Steve head' at the BETT Show.
Here I am with the ‘Steve head’ at the BETT Show.
Kevin Sait with the 'Steve head' at the BETT Show.
Kevin Sait with the ‘Steve head’ at the BETT Show.
Here I am underneath the infamous 'Minecraft Tree' at the BETT Show.
Here I am underneath the infamous ‘Minecraft Tree’ at the BETT Show.
Harry Traynor delivers a presentation about the Surface Pro 3 at the BETT Show.
Harry Traynor delivers a presentation about the Surface Pro 3 at the BETT Show.
Kevin experiments with holographic technology at the BETT Show.
Kevin experiments with holographic technology at the BETT Show.
And finally, the kind of expensive handset a poor person like me can only dream of - here's a Nokia Lumia 930 at the BETT Show.
And finally, the kind of expensive handset a poor person like me can only dream of – here’s a Nokia Lumia 930 at the BETT Show.

Be sure to follow the Wymondham High O Team on Twitter for regular Wymondham High IT updates: @WyHighOTeam

The O Team also has a YouTube Channel with several Office 365 tutorial videos for students at Wymondham High Academy.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter so you can read all about my amazing life(!):@JasonBrown2K13

Also be sure to follow Kevin Sait’s Twitter for Microsoft Educational updates and updates on IT in the classroom at Wymondham High: @kevin_sait

Last updated: Thursday 29th January, 22:24 PM

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Microsoft Global Student Ambassador – Jason Brown

For those who don’t know me, I am the Head of IT Strategy at Wymondham High School in Norfolk.¬† I have been in post for just over a year, and in that year we have implemented both Office 365 & Yammer as our core software¬† in the the school, which in turn has empowered students to communicate and collaborate on work projects like never before.¬† We have also migrated to Windows 8.1 on over 600 PC’s , implemented the Microsoft Surface (over 200 of them), had students gain both Microsoft Office Specialist and Microsoft Technology Associate status. This busy year was topped off by becoming a Microsoft Global Showcase School in early December 2014.

Therefore I would like to take this opportunity to tell you what an important role The O Team and Student Ambassador Jason Brown has in making this journey a reality.  The O Team is purely student based Рno adults, and in that alone has given a unique perspective during the deployment and development of Office 365.

Our two lead members of the O Team are Harry Traynor and Jason Brown. These guys are my work colleagues and

On November 6th 2014 Wymondham High became an International Microsoft Showcase School. Pictured here are Jason, Harry and Kevin in front of the IT Academy plaque on November 13th 2014.
On November 6th 2014 Wymondham High became an International Microsoft Showcase School. Pictured here are Jason, Harry and Kevin in front of the IT Academy plaque on November 13th 2014.

instrumental¬†in ¬†making the IT journey at Wymondham High the success it has been.¬†¬†¬† I first met Jason over a year ago when I was new¬†in the job, at¬†a meeting about the Microsoft IT Academy.¬†¬† Out of all the students, Jason struck me as having a real passion about technology. After a brief conversation and finding out how he helps his dad’s ¬†computer business, and had a knowledge of Microsoft products all the way back to Windows 95 – I thought that he has a talent that we can harness at school to help others!

Little was I to guess just how much help Jason could offer.¬†¬† Now before I go on any further, if your reading this article and are an IT Pro in a school please think about finding your own Jason. Students relate to students and will give you ideas and ways of thinking that as adults you forget how to.¬†¬† Almost certainly our Office365 offering would not have been as successful if it had been ‘ another IT deployment’ like the previous VLE deployment.¬† STUDENT INPUT GOES ALONG WAY!

Back to Jason’s story,¬†¬† both myself, Harry and Paul Harvey wanted Jason to be a part of this newly formed O Team. So Harry and Paul challenged Jason to create something that promotes Office 365, This could be anything and within 24 hrs I was emailed with this

This really blew my mind! A 16 year can produce this inside of 24 hrs, better than any coursework I have seen in a long time!.   Jason was well and truly in the O Team. Jason continued to build a wide variety of learning videos and soon created The O Team YouTube channel which soon picked up by colleagues at Microsoft Education and used to promote Office 365 in other schools. Colleagues at Yammer also picked up on this and asked Jason to use the video  to launch an education conference in Canada . Jason Brown was launched on the world stage.

The O Team has also been working with Aron Whiles Head teacher of Old Buckenham High School to develop IT systems and Office 365 at school. Jason again was inspirational in presenting Office 365 from the students perspective, happy to present to over 650 student over three days, it really showcased the skills of a 17 year old student who was almost born to present.

Jason delivers the third and final Office 365 launch assembly at Old Buckenham High to Year 7 students wearing a Yammer t-shirt on October 3rd 2014.
Jason delivers the third and final Office 365 launch assembly at Old Buckenham High to Year 7 students wearing a Yammer t-shirt on October 3rd 2014.

Jason very much continued the year in developing Yammer and Office 365 in the school.  Jason become a Yammer manager, being instrumental in developing and educating students in the use of social media in school. During August we applied to become a Global Showcase school for Microsoft. Microsoft products were truly a part of everyday life in the school,  we had a natural pathway of students from using Microsoft Office, to Office 365 to getting certified on Microsoft Office products through the IT Academy.

The Global Showcase school membership required us to nominate a Student Ambassador to represent the school from a student perspective.¬† Jason and Harry were the obvious candidates.¬†¬†¬† So this culminated on the launch day for the showcase schools n the 5th December at Microsoft’s London Offices, Jason & Harry tirelessly to interviewed a range of Microsoft Innovative Educators, and Showcase school members about there views for the following year.

The photo that sums up the day! Harry and Jason give the thumbs up after interviewing 30 Innovative Educators!
The photo that sums up the day! Harry and Jason give the thumbs up after interviewing 30 Innovative Educators!

The next stage in the journey for Jason, was to become and instructor in our Tuesday IT group for students.¬†¬† Jason has been teaching students in topics such as building PC’s, installing software¬† and building networks, this has been in preparation for some students to complete there Microsoft Technology Associate exam in Networking Fundamentals.

More recently Jason has been working closely with me to develop the new Student Digital Leader team for Wymondham High School.  Having had a meeting with Jason about the role of the digital leader team in school, Jason was happy about taking on the role of managing the team.   This meant Jason worked with Year 11 student (& Microsoft Office Specialist) Jenny Andrews to advertise, interview and recruit new members in the team.  We had our first digital leader meeting  this week, when Jason used the new Office Sway to present an outline of the year to the new team.

 

The 2015 Student Digital Leader Team. Excuse the Christmas jumpers - it was all for charity (honestly!)
Jason Brown and his team

As we go forward into 2015 as a¬†showcase school, this will be an exciting year for all.¬† I can’t stress how much¬† student ownership can help in the development of IT and technology in the school.¬† The old days of a Network Manager being the sole ‘knowledge base’ in a school need to be forgotten and its a case for the IT pro to work like a network in school, utilising a student and staff knowledge .¬† Our students are developing there own 21st century skills, and as educators we need to be there for them.

I would like to finish with saying a bit thanks to Jason for the support in the last year.  Wymondham High would certainly not be a Global Showcase School this year if it was not for his efforts. To the IT Pro I would say go search out your Jason!

Jason will also be on the Microsoft stand on the final day of the Bett Show this year at EdExcel, if you would like to grab sometime with a Microsoft Student Ambassador.

As Jason says ” These are exciting times.”

Jason Brown is on Twitter please follow @WyHighOTeam  and please follow @WyHigh_SDL there is an exciting story unfolding.

Microsoft Innovative Educator Launch Event – December 5th 2014

By JASON BROWN, Sunday December 7th 2014, 22:04 PM

On Friday December 5th 2014 myself, Kevin Sait, Harry Traynor and Wymondham High Principal, Russell Boulton, headed down to London for the day to attend the Microsoft Innovative Educator launch event in Microsoft’s swish offices in Cardinal Place, Victoria, London.

The exquisite Cardinal Place offices in Victoria, London, where the event was held.
The exquisite Cardinal Place offices in Victoria, London, where the event was held.

As with all O Team outings, it was an early start, many selfies were taken and a McDonald’s just off the M11 was eaten, but a great day was had by all four of us who found the event helpful and inspiring.

The event itself began at 9.30 in the Microsoft Showcase Classroom with Steve Beswick’s (Head of Microsoft Education UK) presentation beginning at 10.00. To ensure that we could get down to London for the opening of the event we had to leave Wymondham by about 5.45, which was an early start! I was picked up from my door by Kevin at about 5.40 and we picked Harry and Russell up along the way.

The original plan was to go on the train from Diss to London Liverpool Street, but in the end we decided it’d be easier to drive down to Epping and get a Central line Tube into London. We arrived at Epping Tube Station in Essex at about 8.30 and after being crammed onto several Central and District line Tubes and having run around Bank and Monument Tube Stations exhausting ourselves running up the stairs, we arrived at the Microsoft offices in Cardinal Place, Victoria, at around 9.00, leaving us half an hour before the event began.

First selfie of the day, an 'arrival selfie' by Harry and Jason!
First selfie of the day, an ‘arrival selfie’ by Harry and Jason!

In total there were around 30 Microsoft Innovative Educators at the event as well as headteachers from each of the schools. The event began with Steve Beswick talking about how Office 365 and devices such as tablets and smartphones could be powerful pieces of technology in the classroom to help engage students, as opposed to something that should be shunned for fear of distracting the students. This presentation went down well and of course the Innovative Educators who were there were aware of how Office 365 and technology could be utilised in the classroom, but the part of the presentation that got people most excited was when Steve announced that Microsoft would be giving away a free Surface Pro 3 to each of the Innovative Educators. Unfortunately, not being a Innovative Educator (just yet!) this doesn’t apply to me, but maybe when O Team Ventures is launched I’ll be able to get myself one? * Hint hint *

Microsoft employee Graham gave a good demonstration of Sway, showing off it's touch-compatibility on a touch-enabled Lenovo desktop PC.
Microsoft employee Graham gave a good demonstration of Sway, showing off it’s touch-compatibility on a touch-enabled Lenovo desktop PC.

After Steve’s presentation the group was split up into 6 and we each had a chat with a Microsoft employee about a piece of Microsoft technology. We had demonstrations of Office Mix which adds interactivity to PowerPoint presentations such as the ability to use videos and quizzes and Sway which is a web-based presentation tool that is still in beta at the moment but is looking rather groovy and got everybody’s attention, as well as the Bing Translator app which works really well for translating text using the camera on your Windows-based tablet or smartphone.

Once these small presentations were over the group was then divided into two with the secondary and primary school teachers each receiving different presentations. This was when Mandeep Atwal, our link with Microsoft Education, took Harry and I to one side and told us a little more about the Student Ambassador Program that we both recently joined.

Here's Harry suitably impressed by the Bing Translator app running on a Surface Pro 3!
Here’s Harry suitably impressed by the Bing Translator app running on a Surface Pro 3!

Mandeep explained how there was going to be a Microsoft Innovative Educator YouTube channel that would be managed by one of the Innovative Educators but asked if we could interview each of the educators at the launch event for the channel. She also told us about a possible trip to Microsoft’s HQ in Redmond, Seattle which may be taking place next year or 2016 and also spoke to Harry about presenting with the Surface Pro 3 team at the BETT Show in January 2015 which I will be attending on the Saturday – and she also informed me about how my name was ‘written all over BETT 2016’, which I’m really looking forward to presenting at!

Harry and I spent the afternoon interviewing the Innovative Educators. These are teachers and IT managers from schools all across the UK who have implemented Microsoft technology into their classrooms. Although each interview only lasted around a minute, it was really inspiring talking to different people about how they want to use Office 365 in schools. I think one of the most inspiring Innovative Educators I spoke to was a lady who teaches in a Pupil Referral Unit. For those of who who don’t know, a Pupil Referral Unit is a school where children who cannot cope or behave in a mainstream school go. Typically education is very strict here and the students are supervised all day long. It was great hearing her say that thanks to Office 365 and tablets in the PRU, the students were able to choose how they worked and they could choose the correct tools for the job. Obviously she mentioned that they still have to monitor the students, but using technology allowed them to be a little more independent and creative in their work, which is often something that is omitted from an education in a PRU.

Mandeep was impressed by the beginnings of Harry's Yammer and Office 365 promotional video!
Mandeep was impressed by the beginnings of Harry’s Yammer and Office 365 promotional video!

Other Innovative Educators had only just started out rolling out the technology in their schools but had visions of the technology engaging children and replacing old technology such as interactive whiteboards and desktop computers. Others envisaged 100% of students owning a device, whether it be a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop and others are already well into the game and have successfully rolled out Office 365 and have been affiliated with Microsoft for several years now and had used technology to fully engage students in their lessons. A science teacher we interviewed told us that he had students who never did homework and were never attentive in lessons, but thanks to using technology in the classroom to teach the students about power generation using an online game where users can build their own cities and power stations and buy and sell electricity from one another, those students were now hooked and had been seen playing the game in school at break and lunch times! They were learning in their free time without even knowing it, and this is why technology is such a valuable asset in the world of education.

We interviewed Innovative Educators from all kinds of different schools, from primary schools to further education colleges and all from all corners of the country, from Cornwall to Scotland to London and all! It was really interesting hearing what these teachers thought of technology in the classroom and also to learn how they have been deploying Office 365 and tablets.

Kevin and Russell celebrate with a glass of champagne after having Innovative Educator and Showcase School awards.
Kevin and Russell celebrate with a glass of champagne after having Innovative Educator and Showcase School awards.

At the end of the event the Innovative Educators received their awards from Anthony and Steve and of course celebrated with a glass of champagne. The schools also received their Microsoft International Showcase School 2015 award which Russell Boulton proudly collected from Steve Beswick.

After some talking to Microsoft employees about using technology in education, it was time to get back on the Tube and go home after a long day. Victoria Tube Station at around 16.00 on a Friday evening in December is not really the place you want to be if you’re claustrophobic and nor is a District line Tube train but the day did of course end with a ‘Tube selfie’ of me and Kevin taken on his Nokia whilst on a District line train travelling home.

All of the Innovative Educators and Headteachers in the Microsoft Showcase Classroom at the event.
All of the Innovative Educators and Headteachers in the Microsoft Showcase Classroom at the event.
Kevin and Jason take a selfie on a District line tube on the way home.
Kevin and Jason take a selfie on a District line tube on the way home.

When is an O Team outing not an O Team outing? When there isn’t a McDonald’s! We stopped off a McDonald’s just outside Epping on the way home and each had a delicious Winter Warmer burger. We discovered that our Principal, Russell Boulton, knew rather a lot about McDonald’s and even introduced us to the innovative game of ‘the chip challenge’.

To round the day off we played with some of the technology in the Toyota RAV 4 hire care that we were using for the day. We paired Harry’s phone up to the Bluetooth and streamed Christmas songs from Spotify that we listened to going up the M11 back to Norfolk, but thank goodness 3G reception in Thetford Forest proved to be rubbish because it meant we (unfortunately) couldn’t listen to the Christmas cats ‘singing’, or should I say ‘meowing’, Jingle Bells.

To conclude, we had a great day and felt it was a really helpful, inspiring and exciting event to go to. We are looking forward to returning to Microsoft again soon, hopefully in Seattle and the next trip we are preparing for is the BETT Show 2015 in the ExCel Arena in London.

The photo that sums up the day! Harry and Jason give the thumbs up after interviewing 30 Innovative Educators!
The photo that sums up the day! Harry and Jason give the thumbs up after interviewing 30 Innovative Educators!

Be sure to follow the Wymondham High O Team on Twitter for regular Wymondham High IT updates: @WyHighOTeam

The O Team also has a YouTube Channel with several Office 365 tutorial videos for students at Wymondham High Academy.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter so you can read all about my amazing life(!):@JasonBrown2K13

Also be sure to follow Kevin Sait’s Twitter for Microsoft Educational updates and updates on IT in the classroom at Wymondham High: @kevin_sait

Last updated: Sunday December 7th 2014, 22:08 PM

Welcome to Wymondham High Academy: An International Microsoft Showcase School

By JASON BROWN, Saturday 15th November 2014, 23:04 PM

On November 6th 2014 Wymondham High Academy gained Microsoft International Showcase School status, joining five others in the UK and 104 in the world after having been a Microsoft IT Academy for little over a year.

Wymondham High Academy is a Microsoft International Showcase School in Norfolk, UK.
Wymondham High Academy is a Microsoft International Showcase School in Norfolk, UK.

What does this mean for Wymondham High Academy and the staff and students?

Essentially it means that we represent the cutting-edge of using Microsoft technology in an educational institution. This goes right the way from running Windows Server 2012 R2 on our servers and Windows 8.1 Enterprise N on our 700 desktops and 250 laptops to using 250 Surface RT tablets in the classroom, purchasing Surface Pro 3s for the senior leadership team and offering students at Wymondham High IT opportunities a little ‘outside of the ordinary’ such as experiences of using enterprise social networks in-school such as Yammer and even giving students the opportunity to download 5 free copies of Office 365 Pro Plus and ¬£50,000 worth of other Microsoft software. We are now internationally recognised as worldwide leaders in using Microsoft technology in the classroom to deliver fun, interactive and inspiring lessons and to inspire technological innovation in other educational institutions.

Devices such as Surface tablets in the classroom can help students of different ages to learn together and open doors to further knowledge.
Devices such as Surface tablets in the classroom can help students of different ages to learn together and open doors to further knowledge.

Part of being a Microsoft International Showcase School is having the ability to recognise that technology isn’t something that should be shunned in the classroom for fear of students being distracted by it. Instead, it is about recognising that technology in the classroom can maximise the potential of students and can provide great learning possibilities and access the wider reading and information to help education. In a world where technology is moving along faster and faster and children are adapting faster and faster to new technology, whether it be smartphones, smartwatches, social media or even virtual reality, technology is something cannot simply be ignored and brushed under the carpet from education. The education system must adapt to using technology in the classroom.

Children who began Year 7 (the youngest children at Wymondham High) this year were born in 2002 or 2003, meaning that many of them have never known life without technology around them Рmost notably a life without the internet and touch-enabled smart devices such as smartphones and tablets is completely alien to them. Children in Year 7 and Year 8 are younger than Windows XP and Office 2003. Although these products are no longer supported by Microsoft, Windows XP still holds a market share of approximately 17% over a variety of devices, such as desktops, laptops and even ATMs, on a global scale. There is a very strong likelihood that there are some schools who are still using Windows XP and Office 2003 to deliver their students an education.

Student Ambassador and A level student, Jason Brown (left), Head of IT Strategy, Kevin Sait (centre) and Student Ambassador and IT Apparentice, Harry Traynor (right).
Student Ambassador and A level student, Jason Brown (left), Head of IT Strategy, Kevin Sait (centre) and Student Ambassador and IT Apparentice, Harry Traynor (right).

How can you expect students to use software in schools that is older than they are? Especially when what they are used to using at¬†home is in a completely different world. In a Year 7 assembly I presented at Old Buckenham High in October, I asked the audience if they owned a smartphone or a tablet. Whilst a number of them owned a smartphone, the overwhelming majority of them owned a tablet. This is what being a Microsoft International Showcase School is all about. It’s all about adapting to using new technology to teach students to meet the needs of what they are probably used to using already. There will come a point where a child will not know what a desktop is, or know how to type on a keyboard or navigate using a mouse. Instead they’ll be using touch devices all the time. How does using outdated hardware and software in a school support this?

The students pick up the new technology extremely quickly. They’re used to using tablets and Windows 8.1 at home so for them it is second nature. The younger students are always the fastest to pick it up, but even the older A level students pick it up considerably quicker than most teachers. Being a Microsoft International Showcase School isn’t just about getting students using this technology – it is also about getting teachers using this technology to teach. In fact, getting the teachers to use it is the most important bit! Without the teacher support, none of this can happen because at the end of the day, who are the ones planning lessons? Not the students! Teachers at Wymondham High have been increasingly enthusiastic about using technology in the classroom. Many of them have created groups for their classes on Yammer where they can post lesson resources and answer any questions that students may have. ‘The learning doesn’t end at 3 o’clock’, and it certainly doesn’t on Yammer! In fact the quietest times on Yammer are during the school day. After 3 o’clock the network is thriving with both students and teachers posting to take the learning outside of the classroom in a fun and modern way. The students enjoy using Yammer so much that teachers have been setting them homework to do on Yammer and the students aren’t even aware that they are doing the homework. The students love Yammer because it is just like Facebook. ‘Finally!’ they all thought as we unveiled Yammer in IT lessons, ‘we can use something like Facebook in school!’ It must’ve been a dream come true for many!

Yammer teaches students the skills of the future: etiquette on social networks is one thing and collaboration is another.
Yammer teaches students the skills of the future: collaboration and etiquette on social networks in the safety of Wymondham High are two key things it teaches.

Yammer works on a two-way basis however. We have well over 1,000 members on our Yammer network and this time next year we will definitely have all 1,800 members of the school on there. I can almost guarantee it. In fact, I can almost guarantee that we’ll have all 1,800 members on Yammer by April next year. Having such a vast network means that there is scope for the odd person to misbehave: whether that be posting inflammatory remarks, creating inappropriate groups or just downright spamming the network, we need a team of admins to monitor the network and ensure it all runs smoothly. Student involvement is a key component of the International Showcase School programme and so we have several students, including myself, who are admins on Yammer. This gives us power to delete posts, groups and also to remove users (among many other things). This has given those students who show maturity and responsibility an opportunity in learning how to moderate social networks and dealing with those who ‘break the rules’ online. Which leads to key life skills such as taking responsibility and action where needed.

But do you know what? We currently have 1,100 users on our Yammer network and in the past year that it has been open for members of Wymondham High to use, we have flat-out banned very few people. Less than ten people have received any kind of ban, whether it be a permanent ban or a temporary suspension and only a couple of people have been permanently banned from the network. Those who do get banned usually own up to what they did and are allowed back on and act more maturely. Above all, this shows that the students are using the network correctly and in the right manner. Yammer teaches all the students etiquette on the internet (‘netiquette’) and teaches them about using social networks safely and responsibility in the safety of school.

Principal of Wymondham High Academy, Russell Boulton, is also passionate about using Microsoft products such as Yammer, OneNote and Surface tablets in his lessons.
Principal of Wymondham High Academy, Russell Boulton, is also passionate about using Microsoft products such as Yammer, OneNote and Surface tablets in his lessons.

At first many teachers were unsure about Yammer and hesitant to use it, presumably because they were unsure what it was useful for and because of all of the cyber-bullying stories you hear in the press, but once it had been explained how it could help student learning, popularity exploded and once some teachers started using it, like a set of dominoes, the others followed suit. Principal Russell Boulton has been a keen user of Yammer and OneNote for his science classes who love using the technology to learn. Over the past few months he in particular has been a teacher who has lead the way forward in using Microsoft technology in the classroom. It is also great that he is the Principal and so is the teacher whom the other teachers look up to. Teachers have also been talking to each other on Yammer about lesson planning and asking each other for lesson ideas in their ‘Teaching & Learning’ group on the network which now has 160 members. This means that the domino effect has further been enhanced.

I think one thing that teachers feel Yammer is great for is security. On a social network like Facebook or Twitter or even on internet forums, anybody can join and start talking to you. This means that you don’t always know who are you talking to. The beauty of Yammer is that only members of Wymondham High can join our network – the requirement to join is a valid WH-AT.net email address (which is our school domain). This means if any cyber-bullying does go on, we know that is from somebody in school and not an outsider. Security is further enhanced with a very, very long ‘monitor keyword list’ which flags any inappropriate words in messages and reports back to Kevin Sait. This kind of security is what has helped Yammer take off in our school and helps to make it to a safe network to communicate on.

The same story applies to the Surface RT tablets. At first, they were hardly used, but once it was apparent how handy they could be for writing essays in class, researching information in class and generally how portable and convenient they were, popularity exploded and now it’s difficult to find a time when the tablets are not being used!

Surface tablets are extremely popular in lessons at Wymondham High, whether it be maths, geography or science.
Surface tablets are extremely popular in lessons at Wymondham High, whether it be maths, geography or science.

Increasing numbers of students in the school also leads to a shortage of IT rooms, so the Surfaces make a great and convenient alternative.

We also encourage students to bring their own devices to school to work on, whether that be a tablet, smartphone or laptop of their choice. They can of course install Office 365 on this device thanks to Student Avantage, save work on OneDrive, and access it on school computers and on any other device.

These are just a few of the ways in which teachers and students are using Microsoft technology at Wymondham High to inspire innovative learning.

Another part of the programme is to assign two Global Student Ambassadors. These are students who are passionate about Microsoft technology and will promote it in the classroom and school, but also at large Microsoft Educational events. I am very proud to announce that I am one of Wymondham High’s Microsoft Global Student Ambassadors, and Harry Traynor, an 18 year old IT apprentice at Wymondham High who has been involved with the Microsoft IT Academy project at Wymondham High since day one, is the other. I am a 17 year old student currently studying A levels at Wymondham High, but have been attending the school since I was 11 in Year 9 (and Harry has been attending since he was 11 in 2007) and we have both seen massive, massive changes to the IT systems in school over the years that we have been here.

Worldwide Microsoft Student Ambassadors for Wymondham High, Jason Brown (17, left) and Harry Traynor (18, right) are of course passionate about technology in the classroom.
Worldwide Microsoft Student Ambassadors for Wymondham High, Jason Brown (17, left) and Harry Traynor (18, right) are of course passionate about technology in the classroom.

We are extremely proud and privileged to have worked with people like Kevin Sait who are real inspirations to us to have reached where we are standing now. To have a Worldwide title at the age of 17 or 18 and be personally known to without a doubt, the largest software vendor and technology company on the planet is absolutely incredible. And there will be without a doubt students at Wymondham High who in the future will hold this title at a much younger age than Harry or I.

The ultimate aim is to provide a learning environment in which technology is used by students and staff to its absolute potential and creates successful learning and engaging teaching. We are preparing children for jobs that don’t exist in our economy yet. Most of the jobs in IT that these children will eventually end up doing do not exist yet – so we need to teach them the skills that they will need. Microsoft Office skills rank in the top 3 of 20 skills desired by employers, and skills such as entrepreneurship and collaboration are often thrown around as being ‘future life skills’ required to work in a connected and digital place of work.

I am absolutely passionate about Wymondham High Academy and cannot say enough good things about it and the staff and

students who are there. ‘I live and breathe this school’ is how I put it to an IT teacher the other day, which is why I am so proud to represent my school’s technological achievements on a worldwide scale.

Using technology in the classroom makes for successful learning and engaging teaching. Pictured here is IT teacher, Mr Howard, teaching coding.
Using technology in the classroom makes for successful learning and engaging teaching. Pictured here is IT teacher, Mr Howard, teaching coding.

We lead, we inspire, we innovative, we educate. We are Wymondham High Academy: An International Microsoft Showcase School.

Be sure to follow the Wymondham High O Team on Twitter for regular Wymondham High IT updates: @WyHighOTeam

The O Team also has a YouTube Channel with several Office 365 tutorial videos for students at Wymondham High Academy.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter so you can read all about my amazing life(!): @JasonBrown2K13

Also be sure to follow Kevin Sait’s Twitter for Microsoft Educational updates and updates on IT in the classroom at Wymondham High: @kevin_sait

Last updated: Sunday 16th November 2014, 16:12 PM