Presenting At Microsoft Analyst Summit 2016

image006This week I’ve had the privilege of attending, as well as co-presenting, at the annual Microsoft Analyst Summit for Asia Pacific, hosted at the St Regis Hotel in Singapore.⊗ The focus of this summit was Fuelling Customer Digital Transformation Through Innovation and was an opportunity for Microsoft to present their product and solutions roadmaps for industry analysts from the likes of Forrester, IDC and Gartner (amongst others) and where possible, highlight the value through the voice of partners and clients.

This is how I ended up at the Summit – Anne Taylor, from Microsoft NZ, inquired if I would be interested in co-presenting with Guenter Weimer the General Manager of Windows & Devices Marketing for Microsoft Asia Pacific. This seemed like a great opportunity to build on the 2015 video case study below that showcased some of the amazing work from our teachers and students:

Guenter had already seen the video and decided he wanted to show it in its entirety to the Analysts present, before discussing a few other developments at St Andrew’s, including:

  • How do we measure success when it comes to the integration of technology in education
  • To what extent has technology such as OneNote & Office365 increased collaboration amongst students and also between students and teachers
  • Did teachers need encouraging to adopt the use of a digital pen for inking on their Surface devices, or was it a natural transition
  • What plans does St Andrew’s College have for deploying Windows 10
  • In a BYOD environment that allows choice within parameters, how do we ensure cross platform compatibility and successful outcomes

MSAnalystSummit1With an audience of over 90 industry technology analysts, I was unsure what sort of reception a session that focused on education would have, however I was really pleased that after Guenter and I finished talking, there were a number of insightful questions from the analysts during the open Q&A session that followed.

Additionally, based on the Twitter feedback from the Summit’s hashtag of #MSAnalystSummit the session was well received:

Being the first conference of this sort that I’ve attended, I was really pleased to discover how open and engaging the different analysts were that I spoke with during the various breakouts and meals over the course of the two days.

I was also privileged to listen to some phenomenal presentations from other industry experts, including Mr Simon Challis the Managing Director from Ryman Healthcare in New Zealand, talking about how they are using Surface Pro tablets with every client in their retirement villages. Another interesting and relevant session was from Mr Mahendra Vaswani the Director of Teaching and Learning from Hale School in Perth, Australia.

Hale at home

As part of his presentation, he discussed the Hale @ Home programme they run which is described on their website as:

Hale@home is an innovative online learning programme that helps students prepare for the transition to Hale as a boarder. The boys undertake the programme in Year 6, prior to attending the School.

Hale@home provides a welcoming, online forum where boys meet others on the same journey to becoming a boarder. The programme is designed to build their confidence, familiarise them with technology and introduce them to their fellow boarders; all while they are still at home.

This is an outstanding initiative and a fantastic demonstration of how technology can bring both current, and future, students together into a virtual classroom.

Overall, this Summit has been a valuable learning and networking experience for me and represented a great opportunity to showcase the innovation happening at St Andrew’s College to a wider audience.

⊗ Full Disclosure: Microsoft covered all travel costs and expenses for me to attend this summit.

Re-imagining Staff Professional Development

In my role as eLearning Integrator at St Andrew’s College, one of my major responsibilities is to provide Professional Development to staff in a wide variety of eLearning, and more general ICT products. In 2015 I ran a series of lunchtime sessions, on a variety of different topics, as well providing individual PD sessions to staff who requested it. Attendance at these sessions was sporadic, with many commenting that the time the sessions ran, Tuesday lunchtime, was not convenient for them.

Early in 2016 I put a lot of thought into the best delivery model to follow to ensure that as many staff as possible could access eLearning PD this year. In addition, a clear goal was set, that all secondary staff attend at least one, optional, eLearning PD session during 2016. This PD contact is in addition to the informal eLearning support that I provide to staff on a daily basis.

Reflecting on the feedback that the flexibility of timings is important for staff engagement, I decided to embrace an extremely flexible approach to providing Professional Development. The model I decided to follow, in Term 1, was to have a weekly theme(s) for the sessions, and then run the sessions upwards of 10 times during the week.

Choosing a Weekly Theme

Teachers are busy people. One aspect of eLearning that I am extremely conscious of, is the dangers of exposing teachers, and students, to too many new products. I find that this can lead to a disjointed view of the benefits of such tools, and a general feeling of disengagement with eLearning and a possible perception that it is too hard to get to grips with.

With this feeling clearly in mind, I made the decision to only provide professional development for tools that had already been introduced to staff in some capacity. This doesn’t mean that these tools would not be new to some staff, but a significant number of staff would, at the very least, have a basic conceptual understanding of the product. The services I decided to focus on were eTV, Zaption, Office Mix, Moodle, OneNote, and our Appraisal platform; Appraisal Connector.





Improving access to PD

By offering a variety of potential times for staff to attend PD sessions, I was hoping that attendance would improve. The typical week had a mixture of before and after school, lunchtimes and individual period sessions.

An example weekly schedule

An example weekly schedule showing the times and location of PD. This information was widely circulated to all staff.

In addition, all staff were emailed the full weekly schedule, and in certain weeks, daily email reminders were sent. These daily emails proved particularly effective, and were surprisingly easy to manage by writing them all at the start of the week, and then using the delay delivery function in Outlook.



Staff engagement levels and satisfaction

With the aim of all secondary staff to attend at least one optional eLearning PD session during 2016, I was very interested in how they would respond to this new delivery model. During Term 1, 62 different Pd session were run – over a 7 week period. With approximately 90 teaching staff in the secondary school, it was pleasing that, during the term, I had 68 attendees at my sessions, made up of 42 different staff. On reflection, I am satisfied enough with these numbers, as the PD sessions were deliberately marketed as being optional, and they are all in the teacher’s own time.

Positive staff feedback on the sessions

This week, all staff who attended at least one of my sessions were emailed a short survey to fill in.

PD SurveyResults are obviously still coming in, but over half of staff have responded. The results are pleasing. 85% of respondents have used the eLearning tool in their classrooms, 90% say that are extremely likely to attend a Term 2 session, and 95% would highly recommend an eLearning PD session to other staff here at St Andrew’s College.

eLearning Professional Development in Term 2

Based on the attendance at the Term 1 sessions, and the positive survey feedback I will run a similar model during Term Two; with a few possible alterations:

  •  8am sessions were not well attended, so fewer will be offered
  • After school sessions will be extended, with the possibility of running two on any one day – eg straight after school at 3.30, and then a later 4.30 session
  • Daily reminder emails will be sent consistently
  • Timetables of weekly sessions to be included on the weekly staff information sheet; ‘The Green Sheet’
  • Large format timetables to be produced and pinned on staff workroom doors each week
  • Target specific departments for topic eg: a week of Digital Static Image creation is planned for English Department

I am fully committed to the continued upskilling of staff, and I feel that there is ongoing value in this approach to providing Professional Development. I look forward to connecting with the remaining staff that could not find time to attend a session in Term 1.


Guest Post: Mr Wilj Dekkers Attends Microsoft Educator Exchange


This post was written by Mr Wilj Dekkers who attended the Annual E2 Conference. He is the second St Andrew’s College teacher to be invited to this global conference, after Mr Ben Hilliam attended in 2015.


Mr Wilj Dekkers

Microsoft Education hold an annual event that celebrates the achievements of educators who combine pedagogy and technology in their classrooms and schools.  The event is held in a different global location each year, with 2016 seeing Microsoft Innovative Educator experts (MIE experts) converge on Budapest, Hungary.

I was fortunate to be selected as one of five New Zealand educators to attend this year.  The E2 educator conference ran during the week of March 7th and was based at the Corinthia Hotel in the heart of Budapest.

300 educators from across the globe were given opportunities to collaborate and share our experiences integrating technology within our schools in ways that enhance and move learning forward.

As with every conference, a series of keynotes and discussion panels provided all delegates with inspiration and thought provoking ideas.

Picture3Anthony Salcito, vice president of Worldwide Education at Microsoft, spoke to us about recent trends and the move towards 21st century skills in education.  His keynote reinforced that the world our children are growing up in will require new skill sets; that employers are looking for collaborative, critical problem solvers.  I was impressed that all the concepts discussed came from a pedagogical background and never placed technology above learning but made it an integral part of the lifelong learning process.  As Anthony said, “What we’re here to do is help every student on the planet achieve more.”

Two of the highlights of the morning keynotes were Stephen Reid and Jacqueline Russell.

Stephen runs a company called Immersive Minds and for the past 20 years has been using technology as a learning tool in classrooms.  Stephen works with students and teachers to create new learning environments though a mix of digital and real world tools, developing confidence in the learning process on both sides as well as competence in the use of technology to support pedagogy, classroom management and assessment.  Stephen presented how he uses Minecraft to help develop Key Competencies through History and Science.  I attended one of Stephen’s workshops and spent time speaking with him about my own use of Minecraft to enhance literacy and accepted his kind offer to help us at St Andrew’s with ideas we are developing using Minecraft as part of the school centenary.

Jacqueline presented a keynote focussed on the Surface Pro 4.  Before leaving for the conference, Jacqueline sat with her daughter and talked about where she was going and together, mother and daughter used the Surface and stylus to research, collate and create a digital scrapbook within MS OneNote.  This was an honest representation of the power and ease of this tool when placed in the hands of children.  This reflected my own views as detailed at the end of last year when Microsoft interviewed and filmed teacher’s perspectives of the Surface device being used as a learning tool.

Picture1The workshops this year were diverse with subjects such as flipping your classroom using OneNote, Surface and digital inking to engage students; Minecraft application throughout Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM); building a world in Project Spark that reflected the collective understanding of the ideal learning environment; digital literacy and creative programming in the classroom.

One particular workshop was run by Nikkie Laing, a Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellow from Opaheke School in Auckland.  Nikkie’s workshop centred on the use of Office 365 SharePoint Sites.  In detail Nikkie shared how to minimize the time teachers spend collating and preparing resources and the time learners spend looking for materials and get on with learning.  Her presentation and workshop was so well structured and delivered that she won the prize of best presentation of the conference.  An overview of Nikkie’s workshop is below.

Office Mix

The conference also provided opportunities to showcase what each educator had been working on back in their own countries. I shared the use of Minecraft and OneNote to write detailed pick-a-path narratives. A large number of delegates were quite interested in what the children in Year 6 had achieved with Mike Tholfsen, the Product Manager for OneNote recognising what the children had worked on.  Mike was very interested in how OneNote was being used for learning at our school, being particularly excited by the inclusion of Minecraft in the writing process.  A journalist, Jordan Shapiro also came over, interested in what was happening at St Andrew’s. This has led to a mention in his article for Forbes magazine:

Another teacher tells me how he uses Minecraft to teach creative writing. “I used to tell them to write a story and they’d give me these blank stares. Now I ask them to act out a story in the Minecraft world first and then, together, we figure out how to articulate it in writing.” He describes how the virtual block world lets him walk his students back to specific locations so he can interrogate them about the details. “I encourage them to get more descriptive and specific; I tell them to imagine how things might smell, what the grass might feel like under their feet.”

Overall the experience has both reinforced my beliefs in the importance of integrating technology purposefully in learning and motivated me to expand upon my own pedagogical learning.  The people I met have continued to amaze me with their enthusiasm and creativity.  The New Zealand and Australian contingent have remained in contact post conference, having developed both a close network and long lasting friendship. We are already planning continued collaborative, cross Tasman learning opportunities for our students.