You want your school to be the best right?, you want it to be innovative amongst its peers, above all you want to engage students, and give teachers the confidence that they can use technology in the classroom effectively. School leaders want to see that the investment from ever decreasing budgets in technology will be use to bring beneficial out comes in the classroom. So how do we bring this all together and stop the ‘ we need to buy that mentality’, which we have seen where schools put the technology first and then decide what to do with it after.
Well I would like to bring your attention to the new Microsoft Education Community http://education.microsoft.com . Chances are you might not have heard about it before. I guess this is really the vision of Anthony Salcito from Microsoft who has created this resource as a one stop shop for transformative change at all levels in schools. This resource is only a couple of months old and is packed with numerous resources, built by educators, for educators. It is also the centrepiece for Skype In The Classroom, the ability for educators to connect with other educators or organise virtual field trips to pretty much any location in the world. Above all its free ! – you don’t have to buy a Microsoft product to use it – but it will be beneficial to everyone in education
As educators we are very much aware of the range of devices in the classroom, we know students can bring there own, (and probably already do in your school), but where we allow this technology and then simply overlay traditional teaching methods means there is no benefit to students or teachers.
Check this video clip about becoming an innovative school
As you can see the simple part is the technology, how we use the technology to the benefit of teaching and learning and those all important outcomes is the end goal. This is why the resources at the Microsoft Educator Community are so important. Its not a sales pitch, its educators telling educators how to get the best from the software they are using.
However the community doesn’t just cover educators in the classroom, technology strategy is driven from a teaching and learning strategy, it doesn’t lead it. So there are some awesome resources which ask key questions from School leaders about moving there school forward.
As school leaders this section will show how to implement 21st century pedagogies in the classroom can be achieved through effective planning before hand.
Again this is all mapped with real world examples of schools which have already on the journey and completed it.
There is also a section about the Microsoft Showcase Schools program. This is now in its second year and expanding, Showcase Schools partner with Microsoft and have unprecedented access to resources and the mainstay of the Microsoft Innovative Educators in the UK.
There are four courses on the MEC which relate to the UNESCO ICT Framework certification, giving educators the confidence in what they can deliver with technology in the classroom. These courses are
- Teaching with Technology Basics
- Teaching with Technology
- 21st Century Learning Design
- Microsoft in the Classroom
However there are also courses on OneNote, Sway, Social Media, Flipping the Classroom which you can learn anytime and anywhere.
For educators we recognise that a day on a computer course when you have so much else going on is not productive for anyone. So MEC course are broken down into easy bit size chunks of learning, giving you the opportunity to put into practise the bits you learnt. Courses you complete in the MEC are aligned to digital badges so you can show colleagues the amount you have completed.
Here are the badges I have earned so far in the short time I have been on the MEC, the third one is for being part of the Skype-a-thon earlier this year!
The Skype-a-thon was arranged in the MEC, connect with other global educators at a convenient time and introduce your students to different cultures, or maybe collaborate on a project, or indeed be part of a virtual field trip.
The value for students to connect with other students and understanding different cultures has been well documented elsewhere.
Now we have the ability to take part in virtual field trips and talk to explorers and authors directly to get first hand access to topics that the students are studying. By choosing Find A Lesson in the Educators section you can easily find your self transporting your class to a field trip in the South Pole.
Click on register for the virtual field trip is what it takes to be part of the action of this field trip for the Arctic Live 2016.
Of course you may wish to share your knowledge with other educators, so you can upload your resources and share them with other educators around the world.
I hope this small insight into this super educational resource is enough to make you sign up and explore more, from Senior Leaders planning for transformational change to teachers taking kids on virtual field trips – its all at your finger tips.
To sign up goto http://education.microsoft.com connect with me !
Remember be brave – make change in you school – join the Educator Community today