The following article was written by Jordan Lipman, and originally appeared in Issue 7 of #TheFeed. Jordan has been with us for the last year as an undergraduate intern on placement, and has looked after the Microsoft Showcase Classroom in our London offices. Here he shares his reflections on the last 12 months, as well as some of the more commonly asked questions he has heard from educators and school leaders.
Student Ambassador: The Microsoft Showcase Classroom
Working for a company such as Microsoft can provide you with amazing opportunities. It gives you the freedom and responsibility to feel empowered, to build things that have meaning and can create a real positive impact for the business and the societies we work in.
I have been working as an intern at Microsoft for just under a year now, and when I first started in the education team I was presented with one of these amazing opportunities. I was told I would be in charge of the Showcase Classroom, a cool, fun, immersive training room specifically designed for us to demonstrate to educators how our technology can enhance teaching and learning.
Having only recently been built, a lot of the thought behind how we use the space effectively and how it would be managed fell on my shoulders. At first this all seemed a bit daunting, but I used this as a way to challenge myself and see what I would be capable of if I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.
After getting the space set up for daily hands-on sessions, I started to see the first group of guests come through the doors. Our sessions are free, and usually presented by ex-teachers who are able to effectively demonstrate the art of the possible. We take the audience (usually around 15-20 educators) on a tour of all the different Microsoft technologies that can be used in education. Every guest gets their own demo device for the day and we spend time looking at Windows, devices and the Microsoft Educator Community. However, a lot of our focus is on Office and the apps within it, such as OneNote, Mix, Sway, Yammer and OneDrive.
I was astounded at how many educators were coming into the Showcase Classroom with Office installed on their device, but having no awareness of some of these amazing teaching apps available to them! I loved seeing their eyes light up when they found out how they will be able to collaborate with their class through OneNote, or set up quizzes for their students through Mix! I knew early on that this was an extremely valuable facility for educators to use in order to recognise the true potential of Microsoft technology in education.
Over the course of the last 10 months, myself and the rest of the Microsoft Education team have been reaching out to educators and influencers far and wide to experience one of these special sessions. In total, we have seen over 2000 teachers, head-teachers, vice chancellors, politicians and educators from other European countries experience the power of the Showcase Classroom. The success of the space is rapidly growing! Over the next two months we will be re-furbishing the room and installing it with brand new technology and devices. Myself and the rest of the education team can look back over the last year and be extremely pleased with the impact the Showcase Classroom. With exciting changes coming, we are sure this success will continue long into the future!
The Showcase Classroom FAQ's!
Having seen thousands of educators from schools, colleges and universities come through the Showcase Classroom, each at a different stage in their Microsoft journey, we are asked a wide range of questions about our technology and how it can be used effectively within an education environment. To give you an understanding of some of the topics covered in any given session, here's our answers to 6 frequently asked questions. We hope you find them helpful!
How can my school/college get free copies of office for students and teachers?
Simply go to office.com/getoffice365 and enter your academic email address. Office can then be installed on your devices, including Mac and iPad.
Can Office 365 connect into my school’s Information System to automate the creation of groups, Class Notebooks etc.?
Earlier this year we announced the launch of the new OneNote Class Notebook API for Office 365. Suppose you are the IT admin of your school. Wouldn’t it be great if teachers came in on the first day of the new semester and found that a OneNote Class Notebook has been created for all of their classes and with all of their students? With the new OneNote Class Notebooks API, you can do just that! If you have the rosters of your teachers handy (perhaps you pulled it from your school’s SIS or it’s stored in an Excel/CSV file), all you need is a simple script that calls the OneNote Class Notebooks API to create OneNote Class Notebooks for every teacher.
How can I connect parents into Office 365 to see students’ work or communicate in a PTA (Parent Teacher Association)?
The Microsoft Educator Community has a wealth of teacher resources and how-to guides, including a video demonstrating how teachers can use Office 365 and Yammer to communicate with Outlook, schedule meetings with parents, review and share lessons in Word Online, demonstrate concepts in Lync, and share ideas in Yammer
Can I use the pen/stylus in other programs beside OneNote?
Absolutely! Digital inking is one of the great features of Windows 10 that enables students to learn in whatever way best suits them. Other parts of Office such as PowerPoint, Word and Excel are enhanced with the use of the pen, and our new web browser, Edge, enables users to annotate web pages with digital inking and even share those pages with others. There are other applications such as FreshPaint that make great use of the Surface Pen.
Can I take a photo of students work and put it into OneNote?
Yes. This is a great way to capture everything that students are working on, and keep it stored in one place. The Office Lens app for mobile (also available for iOS) essentially turns your phone into a pocket scanner, allowing you to photograph documents, whiteboards, business cards and more, and then send them straight to OneNote. They can also be created as PDFs. You can also simply insert images from other folders to OneNote, including the 'Camera Roll' for your phone or device.
Which of the tools can I use on a Mac? Skype for Business? Office Mix? Office?
Office 365 is available on Mac and iOS, meaning that even if your academic institution has an element of BYOD, or people use different devices at home, you can ensure that all staff and students are always working with the same set of tools, and can easily collaborate wherever they are.