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Microsoft CLC – Opening Keynote

October 20, 2015

CLC Graphic

These are my notes from the Microsoft Connected Learning Conference, held at Sparking Hill Resort October 19-21, 2015.

2015 Connected Learning Conference

Long Live Learning

#MSFTCLC #LongLiveLearning

Marc Seaman, National Director of Education, Microsoft Canada, welcomed everyone, and talked briefly about scheduling and locations.

Technology: Tools for Learning

  • OneNote Classroom Creator
  • Skype in the Classroom
  • Windows 2 in 1 devices
  • Speech Recognition
  • SWAY
  • Minecraft
  • OfficeMix
  • O365 Pro Plus
  • Class Dashboard
  • Narrator

Mark showed the brief mystery skype video between a class in Tacoma Washington and a class in Mexico City.

Microsoft Canada in Education

Empowering Educators!

  • Camp21
  • Microsoft in the Classroom
  • Campus Ambassadors
  • Microsoft Stores
  • Teacher Evangelists

Microsoft BYOD Affiliate Program

Students receive a 10% discount on many Windows devices!

For every device and accessory that is purchased from Microsoft through the program, Microsoft reinvests a percentage of your purchases back to the school in the form of rebates. Can be a great fundraising program for the school.

Free Office for Students and Educators

It’s All About Productivity!!! – not about collecting information, mining data. Not just what is shiny, but how to be productive.

Keynote: Lane Merrifield, CEO, FreshGrade

Future Tools in the 21st Century Classroom

Challenge & Promise

Lane told us a story about when one of his kids came home with his first “C” on a report card. Kid was beside himself, and they tried to encourage him. Met with the teacher, and the teacher didn’t get understand the issue, as the student had received the highest mark in the class. However as it turns out the teacher accidentally substituted one student’s grade for another. The young man should have received an “A”. Though this turns out well for his kid, what was happening to the other student and family? They would have been very excited about the “A” although it was incorrect. This really bothered Lane as how come this still happens and this system hasn’t changed in more than 30 years since his Mom started teaching.

It bothered Lane because he knew it was possible to do it better, after being a part of founding Club Penguin, bought out by Disney. Although all the data was anonymized, they could measure verbal skills, measure social interactions, game mechanics, could even predict a lot of information based on the vast quantity of data. It was a subscription product, so there wasn’t a need to monetize the data.

What does this have to do with education? At this point Lane understood more about millions of random children from around the world, than the kids in his own child’s life. Took a look at virtually every grading program and SIS product, and realized some of it was the worst software he had every seen. Most of the time did a reasonable job of storing data, but really not great at understanding the data. Checked with some local friends, who were teachers, just in the last couple of years, were still required to test if a mainframe was online before actually entering any data, otherwise all would be lost.

Left his role at Disney and hired a number of developers and educators to look at what could be done, and develop software that would make a difference.

The Future

Challenge #1: Mind Your Data.

Where is your data? Are you keeping track of where it is? Do you have control over it? The wealth and amount of data is only growing. Data fragmentation. Using various apps to do things, need to know each unique app and deal with how they are setup and work. True value isn’t in the separate applications, but happens when you bring it all together. We’re starting to figure it out in Education – various apps for doing various things, like attendance, parent communication, marking grades, etc. App Discovery is raising the bar and encouraging innovation amongst developers. However data can become more fragmented.

Challenge #2: Know Who the Tool is Serving

Is your software vendor passionate about serving all of the users? Teachers, admin, students, parents?

Challenge #3: Follow the Money

Know who funds the tools you use most, and if they’re not charging them, ask why? If you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product. Comes from a consumer landscape. Lots of users and lots of data, but if you didn’t plan for it, then you will sooner or later come between a rock and a hard place. Is someone looking to monetize your students or your teachers? Are they collecting YOUR data in order to sell it back to you? Who is invested in the company? How are they expecting to get their investment back? Free software is great, but if there isn’t a clearly articulated monetization plan, then take a good look.

What might be possible?

Future Technology should be beautiful. You shouldn’t need a full Pro-D day just to figure out how to get started? If the teacher is like Iron Man, then the software should be like Jarvis. Quantitative data, and qualitative data should merge together to help teachers. Predictive algorithms looking at the data should be able to help teachers identify student needs. Lane told us a story about a student who hadn’t handed in any homework for a couple of weeks, and when her mark suddenly dropped, no one realized that nothing had been submitted until that mark drop.

Can we reduce teacher workload by having students upload their digital portfolio, reflect and document on their learning journey within the tool. Parents become advocates, not adversaries as they can follow progress in almost real time. At the end of the school day the parent already knows about what happened at school. Parents are involved regardless of where they happen to be.

The whole idea of report card season disappears, because everyone knows where the student is at because they’ve been able to see it together as it happens.

All the incredible moments in the classroom don’t have to be reduced to a one page report card.

The digital portfolio becomes a rich keepsake.

When it comes to classrooms today, many teachers are still using the equivalent of paper maps…

“The best way to predict your future is to create it” – Abraham Lincoln

Imagine the future you want to see, and work together to make it reality.




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