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Showing posts from June, 2017

Microsoft Stream - an important new widget in Office 365

When people talk about Microsoft Office 365 they tend to focus on products like OneDrive, Outlook and perhaps more creative tools like Sway. Products like Yammer and Delve create chances to work deeper. Microsoft themselves are really promoting Teams (and the education version which we'll blog about another day (spoiler: "unconvinced").

Office 365 Video is the unsung hero of their range. It has allowed us, at no cost, to create a video library organised into 100+ channels. Each channel has owners who can upload videos, and viewers who can watch them - it means a class or a team can produce some wonderful resources and means of engagement, all protected by a login to our system.


It isn't pretty and it is limited in terms of the features you'd find in public services like YouTube (such as likes, comments, playlisting and sharing) but they don't matter so much to us.  We want lots of material that is easy to upload (through Mix, the iPad app or just the webpage…

Coming Soon: the Week of Keep

We try really hard not to promote a massive range of apps and websites because we prefer to only back the things we are confident will have a great deal of value, and that we can support. After the week of Trello (which will feature in the demo Slam at our summer conference) we think we've got another real gem we're confident adds to the mix we want to encourage.

Keep is a note taking app. A user with their Google ID can save things to Keep from the web, make handwritten notes, to-do lists, and add images and photos - so far so Evernote. But the underlying ability to share notes with people and edit them together, to have the web version on the teaching screen and the app running on something else, both signed into the same notebook, and to have Keep running side by side with a Google Doc all create some very powerful opportunities in lessons.

So welcome to the Week of Keep - we'll be sharing a selection of top tips and ideas for this great little app.

DRET.tv Showreel

We've published a showreel video with some samples from our dret.tv project ahead of our eLearning Conference (#DRETelc) this week.

DRET.tv is our name for Microsoft Office 365 Video. We make heavy use of both G-Suite and Office 365 as a Trust and have found the simplicity of the video service to be a joy to use.

A teacher or a team can have a channel - video uploaded there can be seen by anyone they allow to view that channel. So a Year 6 class at an academy might have a channel any logged in user can see, whilst a CPD group at a particular academy might make a channel only members of the group can see. No adverts. No comments to worry about. Just the video in a nice clear interface.

Since September we've opened more than 100 channels - the content ranges from celebration of things, reporting and news, howto clips and a lot of flipped learning material.

Hopefully the showreel gives an idea of how we use it - we publish it from Google Drive rather than 365 Video because dret.tv…

eLearning Scrapbook of Ideas

Our eLearning Conference is coming up fast and a number of ideas and mini-projects are coming up to release for it. One of these is what we've been calling internally a 'Playbook' then a 'Scrapbook.'

The premise is simple - we have the privilege of working with a lot of very clever people around the DRET Academies and often, something to them that seems mundane or just something they thought they'd show us as an afterthought turns out to be an idea we're blown away by and need to share. Over the year this has happened during visits to other people, at staff CPD events and through the blog, but we wanted to collect them together better. We have picked up many of these snippets and are making "top tips" website for our staff that will be publicly available with help videos etc very shortly.

Sometimes though you need a "brochure" version - on paper - to get attention. So we've packaged together a sample and had it printed for delegates…

Showcase Classroom Visit

There was a time when the Classroom of the Future was a thing. A place where companies would deck out a space with the latest and greatest and people would come and play with it. A few remain, mostly looking rather like an Apple Store with educational quotes on the wall.

Microsoft's Showcase Classroom is a very different proposition - everything there is very much current, not future, but because of the pace of development now instead of old software on the latest and greatest hardware, the emphasis is on the latest software and a trainer who knows how to make best use of it and can relate that to the people in front of them (in our case the incredible Sam O'Leary). Sam took us on a highly accelerated tour of Microsoft's offer and I think left every teacher in the group with a few new ideas and tricks to use back in school on Monday morning.

To Sam's great credit she took our agnostic approach to tools (a mix of Google and Microsoft's cloud) in her stride and had th…

Login to Our eLibrary

We've just taken delivery of banners and posters to promote our eLibrary at every one of the David Ross Education Trust academies - here is the handout to go with it.

Google Expeditions without all the Cardboard

We're big fans of Google Expeditions - both from our own experience at the Google HQ and from a whole series of visits to our academies by both Google and organisations affiliated with them.




The novelty value (and that isn't a pejorative term: nothing wrong with something new that grabs everyone's attention and enthusiasm) of having a class set of VR headsets made out of mobile phones and cardboard is undeniable - we can still remember the Oo and Aa moments - but how practical is it really to buy and service a set of smartphones for this kind of thing: it seems to be a technology that is in its infancy, expensive for the number of potential uses and very much at the promise rather than delivery end of the spectrum.

But this great article on smore really makes the case for using VR in lessons with the tools you already have it - whether it be one device or a whole set, the fact is you can have students gain a very good experience (but not an immersive one) with a plain old …

Voiceovers in Office Mix

A great idea from our visit to Briar Hill Primary School today for using Office Mix. The context was the class preparing short advertising videos for a project - where they needed to match the text they would present to the timing of action on a video. Having marked the key moments in the movie track they set out to draft and rehearse their voiceover to match the timings and then perform it.

Office Mix first allowed the teacher to grab a selection of the screen in which the required video was playing and insert it into a slide (> Insert Screen Area). He could then make a copy of that slide for every group of pupils and when ready they could go to the screen and use Mix to record their voiceover (the webcam on the screen providing a well-placed microphone for three people standing about a metre from the screen. Although the rest of the class are in the room, the audio is reasonably good as the web cam isolates the input to quite a narrow field in front of the screen.

The finished P…