After many hours of travel, Stuart and I, our innovative Teachers Ollie and Mandeep and our new Innovative Schools from Scotland arrived in beautiful Salvador, Brasil. We were particularly excited about this year’s Innovative Education Forum, as it combines the best teachers from around the world, sharing practice and collaborating together, with schools from 30 countries who are participating in Microsoft’s Innovative Schools programme (more about that next week). It’s exciting, inspiring and a bit overwhelming and humbling to be spending the week with such amazing educators from all over the world.
The week’s festivities began with Monday night’s opening reception right on the waterfront, featuring young Brasilians singing, dancing, doing incredible acrobatics and playing drums loud enough to change the rhythm of your heartbeat. The schools started workshops right away, and the teachers had a little extra time to arrive and set up their Virtual Classroom Tours for the exhibition.
On Tuesday morning, the schools and teachers combined for the opening keynotes from the Governor of the Brasilian state of Bahia and from Microsoft’s Vice President Michael Golden, who runs our education products group. Michael had some exciting demos of current and not-yet-released products that any teacher can use in their teaching. We were all pretty impressed – even Stuart and I had not seen some of these demos yet.
But we couldn’t come all the way to Brasil and not bring something back for you! During Michael’s keynote, he also announced the launch of the new Partners in Learning Network. You’ll know this as the Innovative Teachers Network that we talk about all the time, but with a new name, a new look, and loads of new features and functionality to make connecting with teachers, resources and communities a whole lot easier.
The UK is one of the first handful of countries around the world to get the new Partners in Learning Network, largely due to the success of our Innovative Teachers Network. Stuart and I will be writing several new blog posts in the coming days and weeks to help you uncover the new features of the site, which now enables you to connect with teachers, schools and communities in any of the other Partners in Learning Networks around the world. But for now, I just want to introduce you to some basics.
- First of all, why the name change? The Partners in Learning Network is not just about resources for teachers anymore. It includes schools from our Innovative Schools programme, and all of the resources, trainings, self-assessments and other professional development and communities we make available to them. It also includes some of our other Partners in Learning programmes, such as leadership and other trainings, that any educator can now access. The URL is also different: http://uk.partnersinlearningnetwork.com but our old URL will redirect to this site for quite some time.
- There’s a new log-in? We’ve changed the username and password requirements for the Partners in Learning Network from being unique to this site only, as was the case with the ITN, to being a Windows Live ID. Not only does this provide an added level of security, but it also enables you to use an existing ID, or to create a new ID for the Partners in Learning Network that you can use for lots of other properties on the internet.
Look for more blogs from Stuart and me about the Partners in Learning Network when we’ve finally returned home from Brasil. And wish our Innovative Teachers Mandeep and Ollie good luck as they face some really tough competition at the Innovative Education Forum this week!