“We all learn in a different way, at a different pace, and as a teacher, it is practically impossible to cater to everyone’s learning needs. But I strongly believe that we can make that a reality in the near future. The field of learning analytics is very promising and great things are already happening.” – Robin Smorenberg, The Netherlands
For nearly ten years I have been teaching maths and physical education, right now in a business college at Steyr, Austria. I would say, that I have already experienced a lot of different things in my teaching profession and as a “restless” teacher I try to find new ways of teaching mathematics.
So for six years I have been using a tablet PC with a stylus for my lectures and as I discovered OneNote it became the “…one (ring) to rule them all…“. Just joking!
But I was using OneNote all day and soon I started to realize, that this would be the perfect tool to get some collaboration going on between me and my students. So for four years I have had a OneNote-based class binder for every class, where my students and I try to collect all kind of things. We put in all kinds of stuff, from interactive GeoGebra-Applets to worksheets or even Audio and Video files. Everything is stored there and can be accessed very easily from every device and smartphones and tablets are often used to contribute to “our Online-textbook” (as my students call it).
Last year I took the chance to contribute this idea and my/our work to the Microsoft Educator Network as a learning activity. I thought this is just all about using technology, but I was so wrong…
I was not aware that this small learning activity was changing my whole life! The Microsoft Educator Network is not only about technology, it is about the most important ingredient in teaching: the teachers! I was very fortunate to get nominated as an Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator and from that time on, my teaching profession has not been the same. Getting the chance to get to know the most innovative and inspiring educators from all over the world has made a deep impact on me! I started to think a lot more “globally” and was suddenly facing the fact, that there is a very big “movement” going on out there: Giving the best education in the most innovative ways to our students, no matter where they come from, or what precondition they are facing. And the best thing:As a teacher I am not alone! I can count on a big social, professional network!
It is truely inspiring to see all these fellow educators and what they contribute to teach 21st century skills. I am so proud and I feel honored to get to know some of this splendid educators at the Microsoft Global Forum in Barcelona in March 2014. We discussed and exchanged our ideas and collaborated to design a learning activity in 24 hours (my team was lucky and won the Learn-a-thon with this learning activity). Not only the Forum, but the whole social network built upon this Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator-Network has changed my life. Many of the contacts I have made I can now call friends. But let them speek for themselves:
So, I invite all of the readers to apply to the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Programm (until Oct, 15th) to get to know inspiring teachers. It has changed my (teaching) life completely! Team up with the best educators from all around the world and learn from their experience! Feel free to visit my blog at www.kurtsoeser.at and connect with me!
Sometimes all it takes for an amazing project to be born is the ability to listen.
It was March 2013, and Jonathan Grudin was attending the Workshop on the Impact of Pen and Touch Technology on Education (WIPTTE). It’s not immediately apparent from his unassuming aura, but Jonathan is actually a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and somewhat of a legend within Microsoft and beyond as a pioneer in computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW). With years of experience and groundbreaking research contributions, Jonathan certainly has a lot to share, but on this day his ability to listen allowed him to truly hear the needs of educators around the world, planting a young seed in his mind that would come to be nurtured by passionate peers in the company to become the OneNote Class Notebook Creator, launching today.
“Many teachers feel confined by state examinations and the content that needs to be taught for students to be prepared for them. It is easy to be consumed by this pressure and not too risk innovative practices that may be perceived by some to undermine a students progress towards this destination on the map.” – Steve Martin, New Zealand
‘Whose map are you a servant to?’- I heard this phrase quite recently and thought it encapsulated the strains teachers face when trying to be innovative in their teaching. It raised questions like: Who controls the path taken on the map? What should the most important features be on the map? How could the map be redrawn?
Many teachers feel confined by state examinations and the content that needs to be taught for students to be prepared for them. It is easy to be consumed by this pressure and not too risk innovative practices that may be perceived by some to undermine a students progress towards this destination on the map.
Fortunately being part of the Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator network has exposed me to a group of educators who, in their own way, are trying to redraw the ‘map’. One that not only recognizes the importance of mastering content but also the enduring skills that a student will need to be successful in life. These include global citizenship, communication, critical thinking and collaboration. They are: rethinking assessment practices that allow for the measurement and development of these 21st century skills; looking to provide real purpose and meaning to a students learning; and how to show students that they can have an impact on communities either locally, nationally or internationally.
One of the proudest moments of my teaching career came recently when with a colleague we redesigned a unit of work which had been based purely on content related to the science of food. In the redrawing of the ‘map’ the unit was now focused on the enduring skills of citizenship and collaboration. Inspiration for the change came after a visit to a local food bank where I was informed that over 50 families came for support each week and worryingly their stores were almost empty. Ruby, my colleague, and I set about challenging the students to work collaboratively to design and source a food parcel that would feed a family of four for a week. They needed to know all the science concepts they did before but had a meaningful purpose to engage with the information as they knew they could have a real impact on families that needed their support.
When the students were presented with this idea their first question was ‘Are we actually going to do this or just plan it?’ When they realized they were going to actually design and deliver food parcels they visibly sat up and engaged with the task and it remained like this for the next three weeks. Ruby and I learnt from this that the risk of redrawing the ‘map’ was more than worth it.
If you want to start drawing your own ‘map’ then start by applying to be a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert.
“I invite you to apply to be Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, it starts your own learning adventure, offering opportunities for personal growth, which no doubt will have an impact on your students and your nearest community; without realizing it, you’re also helping to build global education: all ideas matter.” – Àngels Soriano Sanchez, Spain
The start of a new school year often brings fresh inspiration, and brand new ways to teach important life lessons. This year is no exception. Back in July, we told you about an exciting new way to teach 21st century skills while engaging students in a collaborative, international project: the Global Enterprise Challenge. And with only a week left to register before the September 30 deadline, now is the time to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The brainchild of Broadclyst Community Primary School (a Microsoft Mentor School), the Global Enterprise Challenge gives 10 and 11-year-old students from all over the world a chance to run international companies – producing, marketing and pitching products for a chance to win a trip to Microsoft HQ in Seattle, where they will see a real global enterprise in action. It’s an inspired approach to project-based learning, and a creative way for students to practice the collaboration, critical thinking and communication skills they’ll need for their next steps in life.
To learn more about how the Global Enterprise Challenge works, check out a blog post from the Microsoft in Education Team. With less than a week to go before registration closes on September 30, it’s time to sign up TODAY. We looking forward to announcing the winners (could it be YOUR class?) in Seattle next year.