Microsoft has announced an initiative as part of the ConnectED movement in the US. Here are the details:
"Windows 8.1 Pro Operating System: One of the most powerful and flexible operating systems for education, it provides the ability for students and teachers to use education apps and Microsoft Office, search for information across their device and the web, and is optimized for touch, education apps, research, productivity and digital inking, critical keys to better learning outcomes.
Office 365 Education Communication and Collaboration Tool: Email, sites, online and offline document editing and storage, IM, and web conferencing capabilities for all you students for free. Plus 5 copies of Office for free for more than 12 million students at qualified institutions.
Partners in Learning Network Teacher Training and Resources: Partners in Learning provides educators with a network of nearly 1 million educators from 136 countries. It offers them a forum where they can share ideas, find free lesson plans to inspire classroom learning and develop professionally.
Bing for Schools Ad-free search: An ad-free digital literacy platform aimed at helping students learn important digital skills based on access to a connected computing device, daily common-core aligned lesson plans, and a safe, private environment where search history will not be mined for data.
Student training and resources: Microsoft IT Academy: For roughly 2,000 high-needs schools, Microsoft is providing academic institutions and their educators, students, and staff with digital curriculum and certification for fundamental technology skills.
Affordable Broadband from EveryoneOn: A critical component to connected learning, Microsoft’s non-profit partner EveryoneOn is offering home Internet service for as low $10 to the 36 million Americans living in low-income communities."
If you have a PC and want to write offline and then upload, Windows Live Writer is your option. It is actually a very powerful (free) tool for blogging. Here's a blog post about why Scott Hanselman uses this app for his blogging. I've used it off and on but am using it even more now that I have a Surface Pro. I used to draft on my ipad in Blogsy but the biggest issue I had was adding links and full compatibility with wordpress - I can do it all on my Surface Pro using Windows Live Writer. This post links to the app and the why-to from this blogger. It works with wordpress, blogger, and more.
FYI. Microsoft Pulled the Windows 8.1 update after it "bricked" some devices. So, if you're trying to update Windows, wait a little while longer.
Here comes Windows 8 with a lot of new settings. These are talking about the Windows phone updates but other updates are on the way.
"While Windows 8.1 adds a lot of features and improvements across the OS, the built-in apps include some of the biggest changes. Microsoft is detailing a few of the more creative ones ahead of the Windows 8.1 release tomorrow. The photos app in Windows 8 included Facebook and Flickr integration, but the Windows 8.1 version drops that in lieu of some improvements to editing. You can now select auto fix for a selection of different corrections, and there’s also manual cropping, red-eye removal, retouch, and other basic contrast and brightness settings. One of the more interesting features is color enhance that lets you pick an area of a photo to brighten up or darken areas of photos."
Once you set up Skydrive on Windows 8, you'll want to active Skydrive on IFTTT.com if you're using it for automation (I've written about this very cool app before.) It has many cool things that you can do (many like you can do with dropbox.) I'm using Skydrive for some things with school.
If you have Windows 8 in your lab. you'll want Music Maker Jam - a sort of Garage Band" for Windows 8. It doesn't seem to have the complexity but it is a great thing for creating and has a whole different feel. Install it in labs for students to mix their own music.
The free tool, called Your Privacy Type, requires you to take a brief quiz. Microsoft uses your answers to categorize how much you may, or may not, be concerned about online privacy. The supporting website supplies guidance on how to more proactively gain some measure of privacy.
I am not sure how cloud on is going to continue but right now, they are the best way to use Microsoft Office on the iphone and iPad. Here's information about how this app works.
Caldav is what lifehacker recommends as an alternative to Google sync (which is going away January 31). I've been searching for an alternative to help our office manager figure out what to do. Lifehacker referenced this on their podcast from this week as still being currently the best way to replace Google calendar sync.
Adding voiceovers to Powerpoint? This is a skill both teachers and students should know how to do, although there are certainly ways to do it poorly (i.e. reading boring text-heavy slides word-for-word) or well (exciting, engaging sharing of content). This instruction and video tutorial is a review for those teachers not ready to make film but who want to do some flipping of content in their classes. You can also record your class discussions and sync with powerpoint slides using slideshare.net (although sometimes slideshare makes a mess of odd fonts.)
In a huge turn of irony, at least if one considers how Bill Gates began his programming career, a spat over Office 365 coming to the ipad and Apple's desire to get 30% commissions for anyone signing up for the service if it originates on the ipad, may mean that office 365 won't come to the ipad at all. The evolution of the platform to tablet devices is critical to software companies and yet, many balk at the steep cut some like Apple take. It is interesting to watch, but there is a bigger issue here. Microsoft continues to have the best Office suite, but, as with Google Drive, many move because of a lack of ubiquity and collaborative ability driven by the walls erected by Microsoft in their traditional, but understandable proprietary system. I have to think that there are bigger issues at stake for Microsoft here. These are interesting times, to say the least, as I sit here watching Batman on my Apple TV streaming via the wifi and read this article on my ipad as I blog in the den using a bluetooth logitech keyboard.
Doug Johnson pontificates on the fact that now that the Google nexus and other droid-based tablets are becoming so much better, that it will be hard to let everyone know they need to swap so they can save money. I'm testing a Droid based tablet from Kenna and must say that although it isn't an ipad, for a fraction of the cost, it is quite impressive. It has slots for sd cards, better sound, and a high res screen. My fifth grader has quite taken to the tablet, although my senior has "first dibs" after Mom finishes testing it. Don't think Apple owns this market. The shift of all students to some sort of tablet with an attachable keyboard just makes sense from a power usage and portability standpoint but the field is wide open. At some point, I hope to test a new Windows 8 tablet.
I have played with the Windows 8 system and am definitely installing it on my touch screen at home. The integration with social media is fantastic. Perhaps what I like best is what live.edu can do -- of course the struggle is now I'm committed to Google Apps for Domains. I do think that people should take a serious look at the collaborative features in the system. They are powerful but are also very new and different and basically require relearning in some ways.
"Only 0.33 percent — or 33 out of every 10,000 PCs — currently run a Preview version or RTM trial of Windows 8, Computerworld reports, citing statistics from metrics firm Net Applications. At the same point to the release of Windows 7, 1.64 percent of all Windows PCs were running the upcoming operating system. That's a full five times more than Windows 8 adoptees — and the gap between early Windows 7 adoption and early Windows 8 adoption is actually increasing as Oct. 26 draws closer."
Microsoft Skydrive has a recycle bin. This is great because Dropbox literally saves copies of just about any file deleted. Last week one of my students accidentally deleted my "Turn In" folder and all of the files, I was able to go into Dropbox and restore everything with a click. Dropbox still far exceeds everything else for cloud syncing for this reason.
"Disruption doesn't care about legagies" says this article discussing the major disruption hitting the "wintel" market as the computing industry is becoming forever changed by the new preferences in computing devices and how we use them since the inception of broadband. An important article to read, the graphic in this article says it all about the size of businesses.
Education would do well to read and understand that a similar disruption is coming to education and indeed, is already here. "Disruption doesn't care about legacy." From the school on the corner to the pristine ivory tower down the road, read these words and know that in 10 years someone is going to be doing a similar chart on education. The parallels are ground shaking.
There are some fascinating things you can do with Kinect in the classroom. You can download these files and hook up a Kinect to your computer to allow motion capture (against a greenscreen), painting with gestures, and all kinds of things. There are people using kinect in powerful ways with special needs children as well. Here's the official webpage for Kinect in Education.
"Microsoft will market a new version called Office 2013 that will be installed locally on devices, but the future of the suit lies online with the cloud-based version released on preview mode Monday."
Microsoft claims this is the most ambitious release to Microsoft Office and will ship bundled with devices running Windows RT including their tablets -- with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and One Note. It is optimized for hand gestures and stylus input devices.
The good news is that for those schools forever tethered to Microsoft Office, you're about to have a cloud option. The bad news is that from what I've seen and heard, it will be quite a significant change from what you're used to. As with any service, I don't believe the collaborative editing features until I see them, but the prospects are exciting.
"This is the new generation of Office, where it is a service first," Ballmer said, adding that this new version of Office is the first one to be designed primarily as cloud-based software.
Expect changes to heat up on all fronts as services move to the cloud. Just remember to be personally savvy about letting your pendulum swing too far. If you're under HIPPA requirements, check out the services you're using and also keep a file on your local computer for private documents with a plan to back them up. While we need more cloud access and companies are running headlong into this area, it is our personal responsibility not to become tomorrow's headline and to think about what we put in a cloud storage facility and what we want to keep on our local computer.
Looking forward to serve as a judge again at this year's Microsoft Partners in Learning US forum where 102 educators will compete. It was fantastic last year and I valued the interactions with the judges from other areas. Leigh Kolbert, Teach a Kidd, Alfred Thompson, and Steven Anderson will be judging this year with me.
"App store" and other words are in contention. If you like language or even current events, there are some fascinating discussions from this New York Times column about the English language. They state their opinion that Apple doesn't have much hope in protecting the term "app store" but I guess the courts will decide. I do, however, think it is absurd that Facebook claimed the word "poke." I distinctly recall poking the fire when I was a kid on campouts. ;-)
The Microsoft Office app is still on for the Ipad according to Engadget. I don't see how they can ignore this since apps that run Office on their servers and virtualize the apps onto ipad are doing very well. People want it but it, of course, is requiring Microsoft to innovate on an Operating System that is not their own and could, very well, eclipse their own Operating system if they aren't careful.
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