All this week we'll be going into more depth on each of the areas of the Microsoft Educator Community, and exploring the ways that people can take value from the wealth of free teacher CPD resources and peer interactions that can be found through the site that is being colloquially known as the 'MEC'.
If you missed our previous post about how to join the MEC, you can find it here:
How to start your CPD with the Microsoft Educator Community
With six main areas of the site for teachers to immerse themselves in, we're going to look at each of them through the eyes of an educator, and hear from them how they have used materials, courses, tutorials or the network of other members of the MEC to further their own personal development and put the new skills or approaches into practice in the classroom.
First up is the 'Get Trained' section of the MEC, where you'll find the following a mixture of different resources broken down into three categories:
Quick Tip videos
Find short videos that will show you how to use technology in the classroom.
Courses help you find that immediate training you might need on a tool.
Learning paths are a compilation of courses or resources that help guide a learner to develop a strong knowledge base for a product or a topic.
‘Get Trained’ - Flexible Learning on your terms!
by Martine Mannion
I started using ‘Get Trained’ in January 2016 and I have become hooked! As a typical busy Teacher of Computing, among other things, finding time to keep up with changes in technology and the ever evolving space of online teaching and learning tools, can prove to be a challenging one, however Get Trained is a great flexible online learning environment where you dictate the pace of your CPD without the need to compromise your teaching commitments.
So how does it work?
Using your Microsoft account details Sign-up / in to the MEC – Microsoft Educator Community and then click on ‘Get trained’.
The screens are self-explanatory. I have been using a learning path, these are great because the structure is easy to follow and directly tailored to that specific area you want to gain more knowledge and understanding of. The courses are split into modules, and the modules split into units. The content you work through within each unit is delivered via a walk-through of coherent bite-size chunks, which you can leave off at any point and come back to later.
The ‘Microsoft in Education’ learning path offers you the opportunity to get to grips with the latest Microsoft tools for the classroom such as ‘Office Mix’. Each course provides you with an informal assessment tool consisting of a short multiple choice quiz to check your knowledge level. I find this a useful starting point to be able to identify the holes in my knowledge, as well as the strong points! From the feedback you can then chose the units you feel will help build up your knowledge.
With schools investing and increasing the use of technology to meet the needs of 21st Century students, Head-Teacher and Management Teams are developing teaching and learning approaches to include supporting staff in developing the skills to use the technology. To this end, the learning paths within ‘Get Trained’ are also geared towards supporting your pedagogical development and here is where I feel the real value is for educators who are looking to embed ICT within their practice.
A great way to approach this would be to allocate 15 – 20 minutes of your planning / non-contact time to select a unit with the first module, Part 1 of the ‘Teaching with Technology’ course. You will find this a real investment of your time as not only does it demonstrate methodologies you can adopt straight away, but also provides suggestions of resources and tips on how to integrate technology into your classroom in a manageable way. This is not just about the promoting of Microsoft products, but centered around ensuring your use of technology will be linked directly to achieving your learning objectives. There is also really helpful tips and advice on supportive teachers forums online where help is on hand to guide and share practice from like-minded educators.
Presently I am working through the 21st Century Learning Design (21CLD). This learning path provides teachers with clear and practical ways to develop 21st skills using digital technologies with their students
There are 8 modules, as I like to call them which contain between 4 to 6 units, most of the lesson content has been created in Office Mix supported by videos and self-assessment materials. There is also a very useful active discussion forum contributed by a community of learners.
As with anything new, there is always a risk that it may not work for you however I decided to try out some of the techniques in an upcoming lesson. This was a Year 2 lesson where my students were to design a computer catching game around the class topic of ‘Weather’.
We actively promote ‘Computational Thinking’ skills & approaches at my school, however I observed skills within some of my students which I had not seen tapped into before in my lessons, such as confidence, leadership and compromise. Working in small teams the students also demonstrated collaboration, creativity, planning, decision making, knowledge sharing, trouble-shooting and self-evaluation. Their approach to every stage of the game making process reflected awareness of ownership and a feeling of empowerment’. My conclusion was that this isn’t about giving more freedom within the lesson, but for the students to be able to thoroughly understand each stage of the process they are working through, before they start and letting them decide the direction they want to take to achieve that. Their class teacher also remarked on her students' demeanor following the lessons,
“They were buzzing! … Talking through their ideas for the next part of the process next week”.
Well I can’t wait, it’s going to be so dynamic!
There is so much more I could write about the ‘Get Trained’ area on the MEC / MVA, but the best way is to discover your own learning path by starting today. Set yourself a goal and a time frame and work to that, if you don’t get it first time, re-track and try again, it’s worth it for in the end not only will you feel a wonderful sense of achievement, you will also gain badges for each course you complete which makes for a fun and rewarding way to manage your professional development!
We'd encourage everyone reading this to sign up to the Microsoft Educator Community and complete one of the activities in the 'Get Trained' section. As you'll see from Martine's experiences, there is plenty to explore, and you can take things at your own pace, putting things into practice the very next day.
Be sure to keep us updated on how you're finding the MEC by tweeting us on @microsofteduk and using the #MECweek hashtag.