The following article originally featured in the May 2016 issue of #TheFeed, and was written by #MIEExpert Kristy Griffin, of Bolsover Church of England Junior, a Microsoft Showcase School. Later this month Kristy will be joining us at the Telegraph Festival of Education - sponsored by Microsoft - to share her experiences of using Skype in the Classroom, Office Mix, Sway, and more.
#MIEExpert Report: E2 - Educator Exchange
by Kristy Griffin
As a newly elected MIEE, my experiences had mainly been centred around my own school and local areas since October 2015. So came my shock yet excitement at the news to be selected to attend Microsoft’s biggest MIEE event the ‘E2 Educator Exchange’ with over 300 Educators around the world.
The event itself was sure to deliver a whole host of CPD to develop not only my own practice but to disseminate in the local schools and to other educators. Yet, I had no idea for the scope of the collaborative partnerships I would be set to form moving this CPD to a whole new level. Soon after, my suitcase was packed, a few necessary e-mails were exchanged and off I set to meet nine strangers. I was unaware that I was travelling to join the most inspiring group of educators. At this point, I did not know or appreciate the influence they would have on my own teaching and practice as well as the generations of future children.
Excitedly, day one began for the UK MIEEs with our arrivals in one of the most amazing places… Budapest! Day two began with the inspiring key note by Anthony Salcito who stated, “What we’re here to do is help every student on the planet achieve more.”
On our journey to the hotel, we were wowed by amazing scenic views and on arrival, we felt the welcoming E2 buzz which surrounded the Corinthia hotel. As the evening began, the E2 UK team was born, with warm welcomes and introductions from our various members around the UK, coupled with our giggles about the various local dialects. The collaboration began and a strong network of Educators was fostered which would be the beginning of the journey for not only the 10 MIEEs attending but those back at home in the UK as well.
Armed with our Surface devices and an air of enthusiasm, the UK team descended upon the main ballroom for the official start of the E2 Educator Exchange.
The ballroom itself was overflowing with Innovative Educators and the day began with a local Hungarian dance. Shortly following this were the initial introductions.
The first expert panel focussed around Minecraft and the UK Team whooped and cheered as one of their own, James Protheroe, was welcomed to the stage to share his unique experiences of deploying Minecraft in the classroom.
Following this, we broke out into our Class Hack teams to collaborate with educators from around the world to ‘hack the classroom’ in our various personas of Minimise, Delocalise, Gamify, Strategise and Personalise the themes which encompassed the whole E2 2016 experience. Joining together with complete strangers to solve a complex problem and develop a universal hack, while figuring out cultural and language barriers, the UK team members got stuck in over the course of two days. Not failing to disappoint two of the UK MIEEs, Tomos Prosser and Paul Watkins, brought home awards from their group hacks leading their teams to demonstrate amazing hacks deployable across curriculum phases and various subjects.
Day two began with the inspiring key note by Anthony Salcito who stated, “What we’re here to do is help every student on the planet achieve more.” A message that was clear and rang true to all the MIEEs around the world whose missions were to do just this.
With an amazing live Skype to an Arctic Explorer, I was amazed at the way Skype classroom could be used to connect students worldwide with each other and a host of experts to enhance their learning. This was a hack I was certainly excited to explore further with the help of my more experienced Skype MIEEs such as Annette Ifrate (the UK’s own Skype Master teacher). After this truly inspiring start, the rest didn’t fail to disappoint as we went on to see further eagerly awaited live demos, such as Mike Tholfsen (from the OneNote team) who demoed new updates to the Class Notebook that make it easier than ever for teachers to use the tool.
Following this, Jacqueline Russell showcased the power of the Surface tablet and how digital inking can change teaching and learning experiences. A point our own UK MIEE, Richard Grice was able to validate first hand – his currently in the midst of deploying oneto-one Surface Pro 4’s across the school.
Throughout the afternoon, we experienced a whole host of workshops delivered by MIE Fellows from around the world, sharing insights into their own classroom practice.
Attending a session on Microsoft’s Yammer, we learnt how the friendly social media tool could be used to build a safe network for the children in school to collaborate.
Again, this was something which we were excited to introduce back in school. In these breakout sessions, peer-to-peer learning demonstrated to us how real educators had deployed technologies within their own classrooms to enable their students to achieve more, taking with us real life scenarios which we could implement within our own schools.
On the final day, the Learning Marketplace came to life and the hub of educators were all set up to share their learning projects and awe inspiring innovations, showcasing experiences from all corners of the globe.
Here again, the UK team didn’t disappoint and thus came the most vital CPD exchange during E2 – we all shared our own learning projects.
From skyping around the world to empowering digital leaders and even coding using the brand new BBC micro:bits, myself and the UK MIEEs listened in amazement as our fellow educators explained how they had integrated various Microsoft technologies into the lives and souls of their schools. Furthermore, they explained the impact this had upon the students within their reach.
These genius, inspiring ideas were like classroom gold which we could each select and take away to deploy in our own settings, adding in personal and innovative twists to personalise the learning for the students in our own settings. As we shared these projects, the following quote during a keynote speech from Anthony Salcito grabbed my attention.
He spoke the words, “Technology cannot replace great teaching; technology can make great teachers even better.” This in essence is the life of what we were sharing and how we as teachers had utilised Microsoft technologies to inspire our own teaching and engage the pupils we teach.
To conclude, the final evening brought the celebration of E2 achievements and the collaboration with other educators and for those from the UK team, the beginning of a journey in which we would continue to share and collaborate with MIEEs and schools around the UK. Upon our return, exciting changes have already begun to take place. We have started by utilising the amazing experiences from E2.
"Upon our return, exciting changes have already begun to take place. We have started by utilising the amazing experiences from E2. This week my class participated in their first mystery Skype with fellow MIEE Henry Penfold and his Year 4 students."
This week my class participated in their first mystery Skype with fellow MIEE Henry Penfold and his Year 4 students. I was both amazed and astounded at the excitement this sprang within the classroom and I am certainly eager to set up more future mystery skypes and virtual fieldtrips to utilise this amazing learning platform.
As my school now begins to embark on its journey to a Showcase school and as I strive to reach out to further educators locally to create impact in their own schools, I know exactly where to turn to -the UK MIEE community and the host of amazing and innovative educators! Collectively, they have experienced a range of inspiring and exciting real-life learning projects within different settings which they are just simply waiting to share.
You can get in contact with Kristy on Twitter @misskmgriffin