Category Archives: Learning Tools

Educational Tools from Microsoft

Today I had the opportunity to join nearly 200 educators and education leaders from across the Asia-Pacific region at the Partners in Learning Forum in Auckland, New Zealand. 

Each time I do a technology showcase, I get people asking for links and details of what was demonstrated so they can explore at their own pace and integrate these often simple technologies into their own teaching and learning activities.

So today I’m being a little more clever (and prepared) than usual – I’ve prepared a blog entry (offline initially, using Windows Live Writer) and then posted to my blog during the presentation! Here’s some of what we covered….

Microsoft Office

(most schools have licenses for Microsoft Office Professional through a volume licensing agreement, or you can download a trial of Microsoft Office).

  • Microsoft Word provides some really powerful shared document authoring features. You can work collaboratively on a document that’s shared through SharePoint, Windows Live SkyDrive or SharePoint Online (part of Office 365 for education).  And by collaborative I mean multiple simultaneous authors and the ability to chat/conference using Lync directly from within the document.
  • Microsoft Excel has some really easy ways to format cells with conditional formatting that bring improved meaning and understanding of a data series using visual cues, dashboard colours and graphs.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint has some really powerful features to jazz up your presentations and class materials with a minimum of effort. You can use image editing tools to remove the background of images (no expensive photo editing software required), use SmartArt to add impactful graphics, and fancy transitions. The limit is only your imagination!
  • Ribbon Hero 2 is a fun way to learn how to get the most out of Microsoft Office in a fun and engaging way.  You’ll be surprised at how addictive learning can be and how much more productive you’ll become in using Microsoft Office.
  • These amazing Microsoft Office 2010 PowerPoint templates will show you what’s possible with the latest version of PowerPoint’s picture and animation tools.  The notes on each slide explain how to repeat the steps.

Learning Suite

(can be downloaded from the resources page on the Partners in Learning Network)

  • AutoCollage is a Microsoft Research application that allows you to produce a beautiful montage of your photos in seconds. You can also customise your montage with extra options if you like to express your creativity further.
  • Photosynth is a powerful set of tools for capturing and viewing the world in 3D. You can share these views with your friends on Facebook, publish them to Bing Maps, or embed them in your own Web site. It’s a great visual tool for excursion reports, and showcasing your school to your local community.
  • MovieMaker is a basic movie editing tool. OK, you’re not going to produce a Hollywood blockbuster using MovieMaker but you can edit movies, do auto voiceover, create a movie clip from photos and music etc. It’s simple to use and makes it easy to publish directly to YouTube.
  • Interactive Classroom Add-in for PowerPoint and OneNote bridges lessons delivered in PowerPoint to students using OneNote in 1:1 classroom settings, or lecture environments. It enhances the learning experience by enabling educators to insert polling questions (multiple choice, yes/no, or true/false) into their presentations when creating lessons, increases student engagement by allowing students to answer in-class polls, and supports agile teaching practices through the sharing of ink annotations and slides within the students OneNote Notebook.
  • Mathematics 4.0 provides a set of mathematical tools that help students get school work done quickly and easily. You can learn to solve equations step-by-step, while gaining a better understanding of fundamental concepts in pre-algebra, algebra, trigonometry, physics, chemistry, and calculus. There’s also a full featured graphing calculator including 3D features.
  • Math Worksheet Generator makes it easy to produce a printable maths worksheet with problems of a similar complexity to that entered. 
  • Windows Live Writer is a great blog and wiki tool that makes is super easy to compose your blog entries. You can prepare your posting offline, save drafts and post directly to popular blog platforms including WordPress (which is what I use).

Web Tools

  • Montage is a flexible web-based service that makes it fun and easy to create and share a visual album of the web on the topics you care about. You can design your Montage around any topic you can imagine by adding content that pulls information from a variety of sources, including RSS feeds, Twitter, Bing News, and YouTube.
  • Digital Narratives is another Microsoft Research project combining multimedia content with rich interactive navigation and web integration. You can explore a data set and multimedia in exciting ways.
  • ChronoZoom is a project from University of California Berkeley using technologies from Microsoft Research to display a huge amount and depth of information through a chronological user interface (timeline) and zoom techniques.
  • Flashcards is a cloud hosted version of paper flash cards – you can build memory through repetition, matching images and words.
  • Worldwide Telescope brings a planetarium and the worlds astronomers to your classroom. Explore the universe, solar system, planets with 3D navigation.  You can also view or even create your own guided tours.

Game-Based Learning

  • Microsoft Flight builds on the legacy of Microsoft Flight Simulator, which has been used by schools to teach subjects as diverse as Geography and Physics.
  • Kodu enables students as young as 7 years old to build their own games using a simple user interface and Xbox controller on a standard Windows PC. With Kodu, students learn storyboarding, game design, logic and computer programming techniques – all while having fun!

Interesting Videos

But wait, there’s more….

There are many other tools that Microsoft has built directly or in partnership with other researchers and organisations.  Sometimes though, I don’t hear about all of them so please respond with other tools you’ve discovered on your learning journey.  

What are your favourite tools?  How have you integrated them into your learning activities?

Leave a comment

Filed under Learning Tools, Technology