Microsoft Partners in Learning Easter Camp 2011

I recently had the pleasure of being invited to attend the Partners in Learning Easter Camp run by Microsoft in reading. I am really glad I took this opportunity to attend this event with Dan Roberts (@Chickensaltash) and Ben Rowe (@itsmerowey). I met some really awesome people, who shared similar views as myself and the use of new technologies.

We were shown around the UK head office of Microsoft which is pretty imposing space as it is five big buildings on an industrial estate. you can see from the picture that it is a very impressive building.

Whilst at the camp we where introduced to a number of technologies which could be used practically within teaching and learning. Some of the technologies we were shown you might already be familiar with but for those of you who are not that familiar I intend to go through a them briefly.

one of the first technologies we where shown was called Auto Collage. This is the Ronseal of the Microsoft world as in it does exactly what it says on the tin. It will take all of your photos and turn them into a collage automatically. I have used this before and it has become an tool I use to make amazing pictures for personal use as well as for displays.

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The next tool we were shown was the Community Clips software. This software is simple and easy to use once you download it, a small icon will appear in you Office products ribbons. When you hit record it automatically records everything you do as well as everything you say. The clever bit is that if you make a mistake when recording you don’t have to save the recording which means you can just get rid of the recording without taking up any of your hard drive space.

Another tool which was shown was Windows Live Writer. This tool is incredibly useful if you have a blog or intend on writing a blog. it is basically a very easy to use front end for updating your blog. You can insert videos, pictures even audio clips. On the second day we created Innovids I based my Innovid on how to use Windows Live Writer this can be found below. If you get the opportunity to go to the Microsoft Partners in Learning Easter Camp take the opportunity you will not be disappointed.

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Plymouth E-learning conference 2011

I was also lucky enough to attend the Plymouth E-learning conference 2011. This was a hugely inspiring event with many key people at the cutting edge of technology and E-learning in attendance. I got to attend a number of talks and met some truly inspiring people. The conference was incredibly well organised and ran very smoothly.

There were a number of high lights for myself whilst attending. One of them being I got to hear Professor Stephen Heppell’s Key note speech which included some incredible insights into learning spaces provide by different schools from around the world which do not conform to the conventional classroom. This really made me think about how my teaching room was laid out and what I could do to improve the layout to benefit my students.

One of the Workshops I attended was the Mobile Web Applications run by Mark Power and James Clay I found this to be hugely informative and gave a real insight to the world of creating Web Applications  instead of creating limiting native applications for such as an iPhone specific App or an Android specific App. I plan on writing more about Web Applications when I have conducted more research into creating one.

I have had the privilege of hearing John Davit speak twice prior to his keynote Speech at the Plymouth E-learning conference. Every time I have heard him speak he never fails to inspire and encourage you to use new technologies and have a go at doing something different.

The final work shop that I went to see was the E-safety workshop run by Simon Finch. I found this to be very informative and eye-opening. This workshop defiantly made me think about what was happening in and around my classroom and what I could do to make sure that my students fully understood what how to stay safe when on-line as well as when using new technologies.

Whilst looking around the exhibition at the conference I go talking to a group of student teachers who have set up a student teacher research resource website. The website its self is run by several trainee teachers I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting to two of them Becy Allen and John ‘JC’ Sheffield they are very passionate and committed to what they do and have no doubt will make excellent teachers.  Although the site is predominantly aimed at Primary school student teachers Becy and John liked the idea of developing the site to secondary trainee students as well. I have no doubt that this site will go from strength to strength with the calibre of teachers creating and managing the content.   

I also had the privilege of meeting up with Russell Prue again who was working with some of our students on his radio station. I am currently in charge of the radio station at my school which uses Synergy software; I can quite confidently say that Russell’s new software is by far a superior and user friendly interface. The students came to the same conclusion after using Russell’s software for the day.

One of the major highlights of this conference was being introduced to Shelley Terell by Dan Roberts (You may know him better as the chickensaltash!).  Shelly was one of the main Key note speakers at the conference unfortunately I did not get to see her speak in person but watch via a live video stream online. She made some really insightful comments about how we use language to communicate via different social media such as face book and twitter. More of Shelly’s work can be here via her website. Shelly is a very inspiring person who genuinely believes that you can make a difference to students through collaborative work as well as collaboration on strategies for engaging all students through effective instructional methods and technology.

I also attended the Teachmeet event the evening before the conference which was chaired by Dan Roberts (chickensaltash) this was an amazing event and ran seamlessly! This was one of the biggest ones I have attended and was very well organised. The Teachmeet was defiantly popular and enjoyed by all who attended. I have the pleasure of working with Dan at Salatsh.net where he is one of the many teachers there who is considered to be at the cutting edge of new innovative technologies within education. It was great to see over innovative teachers sharing their ideas.

A big thank you goes out to Dan who selected me to go to this conference out of a competition that was run in saltash.net as well as encouraging me to create this blog and try new things in my classroom.

I would strongly advise if you get the opportunity to attend this event in the future to take full advantage of the opportunity as you will not be disappointed. In the mean time please look at the links provided in this post.