Last month, two of our Microsoft Education team members attended a partner event in Devon. Here’s what one of our Schools Business Managers, Graham Fox, had to tell us about it.
One of the great things about being the schools business manager at Microsoft is that I get to support a wide range of customers and partners through regional events that they put on. Both Michael Jones (internal Business manager) and I look after the south of England and Wales, and last month we took a trip down to the beautiful county of Devon. No, we didn’t decide to take a short break and no we didn’t visit the seaside (unfortunately), the location was Exeter racecourse, which is great by the way and the event was ScoMIS Live.
Based in Exeter with a dedicated team of 60 plus staff ScoMIS currently provide ICT Support Services to over 600 schools and educational establishments in 14 Local Authorities from Cornwall to Oxford, from secondary schools of over 2,500 pupils to small rural primary schools with as few as 15 pupils we work closely to offer the solution that best serves their individual needs. And have again been shortlisted for a BETT 2015 award
So this journey started what now seems like quite a few months ago, when the people at ScoMIS asked Microsoft to support their event. They asked if I could put together a Keynote for them, if we would be interested in doing a demo session and also setting up a stand in the main partner area, all of which we were more than happy to do. This type of event is a great way for us to meet schools and to spread the message about all the great things Microsoft does to support education.
The day started with a performance by the choir from Broadclyst Community Primary School. I have to say, they were outstanding and the number of people watching didn’t faze them at all, and the students pulled off a brilliant performance. This really the set the tone for the quality of the day, although I must admit, it did also make me slightly worried about my keynote with thoughts of “how am I going to follow this?” floating around my head! ScoMIS LIVE14 was officially opened by Councillor Barry Parsons who talked about the human connections and relationships in education, a very good point which is sometimes lost when we can focus very heavily on the technology.
After a short introduction by the ScoMIS team it was time for my keynote, during which I covered some important considerations when deploying new technology. I firmly believe that it’s vital to keep in mind why it is that we are looking to deploy technology, and also focus on the impact that it can have. I also touched upon the Microsoft ideals that made me want to join the company 18 months ago. I then tried something quite new, getting inspiration from Pecha Kucha giving myself 20 slides each lasting 20 seconds only. So the for the final 6 minutes and 40 seconds I covered 20 things that Microsoft does in education which schools can use to help them have an impact in the classroom and improve outcomes. All in all I was pretty happy and don’t think I let the side down.
Following on from some time spent talking with schools and being interviewed by a few students – during which I was asked if I had met Bill Gates (I haven’t by the way) – it was time for our demo slot. The idea was to demo OneNote and Office Mix using 15 or so 2 in 1 devices which Michael and I had brought along with us. Now normally I wouldn’t rely on the wireless connectivity in conference centre but hey in for a penny! We had over 30 people in the room which was maximum capacity, which was great. We then split the room into three groups and after agreeing on a subject with them (thanks to Scott the maths teacher!) we got them using OneNote to collaborate on ideas and research each of the three learning objectives, with each group taking one. After 10 minutes we demoed office mix and then asked them to pick a learning objective, which didn’t have to be the one they had researched, demonstrating how one note can be a great tool to share ideas as well as collaborate on them.
OneNote even has a class notebook creator for Office 365 which really helps this become an easy to setup tool for the classroom.
As the last ten minutes came to a close we started to get some offices mixes coming out and there you had it. Within ten minutes we had learnt how to use one note and research a learning objective and then ten minutes later created a short video which could be published to students as a flipped learning piece in Office 365. I think everybody in the session enjoyed themselves, it was a bit frantic only having 25 minutes. Certainly when we started only one person had some experience with OneNote and no one had used Office Mix before. I think they were pretty impressed with what you can do with both tools and how easy it was to get going.
After a spot of burger and chips for lunch we spent the reminder of the day chatting with schools, some of who had specific Microsoft questions others who just wanted to know more about some of things we do for education. Believe there is a lot and sometimes people just don’t even think to look at what Microsoft does! I was pretty impressed by the reaction the surface pro was getting and a number of people commenting on the integration of the pen technology. “ if this becomes available on other devices it will be a game changer for education” being one of the more positive comments! We also had both the 7” and 8” low cost tablet devices with us and these we causing quote a stir with many people guessing the price incorrectly believing they looked and felt more expensive than the price tags attached to them.
I also demonstrated the power of Azure by showing how easy it is to spin up a server – about 8 minutes! If you want to try this one for yourself you can sign up for a free Azure trial.
Michael and I both thoroughly enjoyed the day. It was well put together by the ScoMIS team and you can understand why they have been nominated for another BETT award after talking with lots of their customers. The prize giving at the end of the day had a real feeling of family to the relationship they have with their schools. So if your school needs support and is looking for a partner who understands schools you could a lot worse than give the ScoMIS team a call (firstname.lastname@example.org or 01392 385300). As I said, Devon has more to offer than just a great holiday and the ScoMIS team certainly prove that!
Schools Business Manager