FE and HE Microsoft Bootcamp: “Never has hard work felt like so much fun!”

Today's guest blog post is written by Elaine Topham, Learning Technologist and MIEExpert and Deborah Millar, Group Director of Digital Learning Technologies and Certified MIE at The Grimsby Institute, both dedicated to using Microsoft Education in their own practices. The blog post itself gives their own account of the FE and HE bootcamp held by Microsoft at their Reading HQ last month. 

Microsoft Training and CPD Bootcamp - When the Trainers went for training

Never has hard work felt like so much fun!

At map coordinates 51.461376, -0.925914, AKA Microsoft HQ Basecamp, the specially recruited cadets from four corners of the country gathered for their high intensity training bootcamp.


Abandoning civvies on arrival, the privileged recruits were issued with their uniforms and rations... #MicrosoftEdu tees and bags of swag, to ensure they would blend in with their environment and fellow cadets.  Whilst perusing the daily schedule and meeting other cadets we were nourished in the mess hall for a wonderful array of breakfast refreshments.


As expected, briefing started promptly at 10:00, with the throng of recruits being addressed by General Riley (AKA the lovely Clare Riley, FE/HE Engagement manager).  Project Emma was one of the topics of the morning and this inspirational story started the three days off with a bang, opening the recruits' minds to the power of the Office 365 technologies.


As with all best laid plans, the technology gremlins made an unexpected appearance which slightly redirected the schedule... so off to the Microsoft Experience Zone we went.  We were marched in two #Teams by our Microsoft Learning Consultants, one led by Sergeant Sait (AKA Kevin Sait), the other by Corporal Crawford (AKA Alan Crawford).


Tasked with exploring the area to find any signs of innovative technologies, the two #Teams reconnaissance mission revealed Xbox consoles, a Minecraft environment and car racing simulator. Ready for physical pursuits and stimulation the recruits dispersed across the zone like squealing children in the playground.


As with all good things... we were all too soon regrouped and returned to the training room.



The afternoon included some training from the Microsoft Education team, exploring how Office365 can be integrated into the VLE back at Grimsby basecamp.  Canvas LMS and Office365 are familiar tools and integrate very well into Teams, allowing Class Notebooks, Sways, Forms and other content to be embedded directly into Canvas courses, providing maximum benefit for teachers and students. We were fans before #MSBootcamp but now we are on a mission to share the #TEAMS love.



Day Two and the sun was shining as bright as our anticipation for the day. The recruits gathered once again for training at Microsoft HQ for team building activities.  As one of the latest additions to the Microsoft arsenal, #Teams provides a way for Teachers, Students and work teams to collaborate and work seamlessly together.  Corporal Crawford and Sergeant Sait took the lead for the morning, demonstrating the potential of the technology and dazzling the recruits with some cutting-edge technologies utilising Artificial Intelligence; Seeing AI provided some amusement and demonstrated both the power and current immaturity in Artificial Intelligence.




At 1300 hours, Hector Minto provided strategies for ensuring we leave no man or woman behind, demonstrating different techniques and technologies to support all kinds of learning needs.  Engaging and passionate, it was clear why Hector has made it into the upper ranks of the Microsoft Evangelist order.

Various tools such as Immersive Reader, Translator and Ease of Access centre were demonstrated, with time for the eager recruits to experiment and explore the tools for themselves. There is no doubt these tools can reduce or even remove barriers to living, working and learning routines... we were so impressed we enthralled strangers on the shuttle bus back into town with the SeeingAI app later that evening!


Ensuring no time was wasted, the rest of the afternoon was spent working through the courses on the Microsoft Educator community.  With so many great courses to work through, the recruits were fully engaged.

The focus for day three was to outline how the recruits would be expected to pass on their training back at their own basecamps, as well as looking at digital pedagogies and a session from AzureDan (AKA Daniel Baker), which one recruit was particularly excited about!


The 21st Century Learning design courses provide a structure to help teachers identify where they are developing 21st Century skills in their learners and how they can improve their activities to support this.  As with all the sessions over the three days, the support provided by the Microsoft Team was amazing and the recruits were not left to dilly dally for one moment.


Azure Dan landed with a spectacular display, showing the wonders of the cloud and how it helps him every day.  Starting in the morning with his Magic Mirror, harnessing the power of bots to take care of his social media presence and monitoring his blood sugar levels via the cloud, Dan is able to utilise the cloud to get on with life.  Though the practical demo was a little too intense for some, it showed how easy the cloud could be harnessed to whatever uses the recruits could dream of!


After lunch, we were given our secret codes to enable us to become Microsoft Innovative Educator trainers, unlocking the training and resources required to bring all these goodies back to our own basecamps.  The recruits were extremely proud of their achievements, and though the three days had been tiring, we certainly felt we had earned our badges!



Next up, the two recruits from Teeside University (Andrew Taylor and Stephen Jackson) gave an interesting presentation on the learning spaces back at their basecamp and how they integrated the #MicrosoftEdu resources into their Future Facing Learning programme.  The approach was modern and the look and feel of the learning spaces provided a relaxing place to learn.


The afternoon concluded with an ad-hoc session from Corporal Crawford on assignments in #Teams and the remaining recruits made the most of every last opportunity to leave with the most information they could.


The three days were action-packed, fast paced and certainly high-intensity!  So much was learnt by the recruits they were hyper with enthusiasm, excitement and to be quite honest... #BrainFried!


At 1500 hours, the only thing left for the upskilled, knowledgeable recruits to do now was to return to their barracks and disseminate the information to their crew.


Clare, Alan and Kevin were fantastic throughout the entire 3 days, full of energy and enthusiasm and always happy to help.  We left feeling armed with the knowledge and tools to share the new and smarter ways of working back at our basecamp. #MIEExpert





Interested in the amazing work Elaine and Deborah are doing? Reach out to them using the details below:

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