Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #92

The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a number of them from this past week. The list is embedded below but can also be found at http://bit.ly/2lXzEkA . The link to the back-dated posts is http://bit.ly/1GVLTUZ 

Monday, 27 February 2017

Would your public school like to be involved in this Level Up Village - SchoolNet South Africa Global Partnership? Apply before 10 March 2017

Taken from http://www.levelupvillage.com/ 
This is a call for motivations from SA Primary schools to participate in this collaborative project with Level Up Village (LUV). They will train a SNSA trainer, who in turn will help the school with face to face workshops and encourage the school and teachers to complete the programme. This will help us prove a concept for further partnerships.

What is the Level Up Village (LUV)?
Watch this video:

What is this partnership all about?
Level Up Village (LUV) and SchoolNet SA will work together to implement three LUV courses in a South African public school. The school will be selected based on three criteria: (Wifi access, technology infrastructure, and enthusiasm for the project).

These courses will link students in South Africa to peers in the United States for a shared STEM learning experience. The goal of this pilot is to:
  1. Identify and address potential obstacles to successful large-scale future implementation.
  2. Evaluate the value of the courses to South African schools, students and teachers.
  3. Create a data set to help build courses and training to increase effectiveness in future implementation.
The pilot will be implemented from March to June of 2017, with training and recruitment beginning as soon as possible, and course implementation beginning in April of 2017. Training will be conducted online by LUV staff and in-person by a SchoolNet staff trainer. Both LUV staff and the SchoolNet trainer will work with the public school teachers and public school staff throughout the training phase and actual course implementation.

Taken from http://www.levelupvillage.com/  

Who will be selected from the applicants?

One Primary School (public school) with:
  • 3-10 participating teachers
  • 90-120 learners in Grades 3-6
  • Supplies for Global Inventors course including 3D printer - if there are problems with supply availability for this class a substitution will be made.
(Note: SchoolNet is still waiting to hear whether the school will receive a 3D printer, whether they need to have/purchase one, or whether the course could be substituted if they don’t have one.


What is the benefit to learners?
Learners will gain:
a. Understanding of the STEM subject of each class.
b. Improved critical thinking skills including specific thinking skills in each class.
c. Increased confidence in their abilities in the STEM subjects.
d. Improved leadership and collaborative skills.
e. Understanding of a different culture and country.
f. Knowledge of developments in a social impact topic for each class

What is the benefit to teachers?
Teachers will receive:
1. Training in best practices pedagogy in ICT implementation
a. Pre-course training
b. Live feedback
c. Consistent online support
2. Access to ready-made high quality curriculum
3. Preferred selection for future LUV/SchoolNet collaborative projects

Taken from http://www.levelupvillage.com/ 

What are LUV courses?

The courses will be implemented over a nine week period. The first two meetings will be focused on introducing students to the virtual collaboration and communication element of the course. After the initial two lessons, the course will follow the standard LUV course structure.

Global Web Designers
In this course students learn how to code websites and work with their global partners to design and publish a social awareness website on the theme of global climate change.
Ages: 10-12


STEM skill learned: Basic to intermediate coding
Thinking skill: Design thinking, reflection
Social Impact Awareness: Clean energy

Global Video Game Designers
Ages: 8-10
In this course, students learn how to build video games and animations using MIT's Scratch platform. Together with their Global Partner student, they create and share animations, co-design video games games and learn about each other in the process!

Online version: www.scratch.mit.edu
Offline version: https://scratch.mit.edu/scratch2download/

STEM skill learned: Basic coding
Thinking skill: Iterating, debugging, design thinking

Global Inventors
In this course, students collaborate with Global Partner students who often lack reliable access to electricity. Together, they design and build solar-powered flashlights by harnessing the power of 3D printing and renewable energy tech!
Ages: 10-13


Solar kit
3D printer needed

STEM skill learned: 3D Design
Thinking skill: Design thinking, Engineering Design Cycle
Social Impact Awareness: Clean energy

Technical requirements
Hardware options
Windows PC (Win7 or better) with 8GB RAM or better, i5 CPU or better, 720p video camera (internal or external) or better.
Windows Surface 2 or better with 2GB RAM or better
ChromeBook with Chrome 51 or better.
Mac (MAC OS X10.9 - Mavericks or better) with 8GB RAM or better, 720p video camera (Internal or external) or better.
iPad 2 or better with IOS9.x or better.
iPhone 5 or better with IOS9.x or better.
Android Tablet or Phone with OS 5.0 (Lollipop) or better.

Browser options
Preferred Browser for Teacher Portal (www.levelupvillageclassroom.com)
Chrome 51.x or better and must have Flash enabled.
Note: No other browser is tested or supported. The teacher portal can only be run on a PC or MAC - mobile devices are not supported.
Preferred browsers for Student Portal (sp.levelupvillageclassroom.com)
Chrome v51.x or better.
Firefox v47.x or better.
Opera v39.x or better
IE v10 or better.
Microsoft Edge v13 or better
Safari 9.x or better
Note : we test the above browsers - other browsers might work but we cannot guarantee all functionality.

Internet access options
ISP/Internet access
2MBps download and 1MBps upload speeds or better. Connections should be on fibre, cable, DSL, or 4G/LTE wireless. Satellite connections are not recommended.
WIFI access
802.11G or better in the classroom connecting directly to the ISP. Students devices should have direct access to this WIFI hotspot.

How to apply
If your school is interested, please send a short motivation including how you meet the requirements below.
1. Staff desire and openness to the project.
2. Technical requirements (teachers and learners)- Appendix at the end of the doc
3. Commitment for teachers to attend face to face training and actively participate in online/virtual training over a 9 week period
4. Commitment to implement with students at the school and document the learning process

Interested? Apply to omashani@schoolnet.org.za without delay! Visit the LUV website  at:
http://www.levelupvillage.com/ to find out more about LUV.

Taken from http://www.levelupvillage.com/ 

Friday, 24 February 2017

Tools to build the Reading Brain using Microsoft Word #1: Finding and using the clues to create a mindmap (by Peter de Lisle)

This is another guest post from Peter De Lisle from Hilton College in Kwazulu-Natal. Peter is one of our Microsoft 2016/2017 MIEExperts from South Africa. Every so often Peter shares a great blog post on the SchoolNet blog.with his last one being 'Don’t just collect data – ask it a question (Using Excel Forms and Pivot Tables to conduct a meaningful survey)' and prior to that OneNote with the 16 habits of mind'.

This post and the following blog post describes a series of lessons which are intended to use ICT tools, in particular Microsoft Word, to:
1. Help students understand the complexity they face in reading;
2. Develop some reading skills in moving from linear text to understanding its structure;
3. Develop some writing skills in moving from a structure of ideas to its linear representation.

David Christian and the Big History movement point to the importance of language, and in particular reading and writing, as a way for our species to do what no other species has managed: to be able to transmit what has been learned in one generation to the next, as opposed to relying on instinct.

Doug Lemov points out that “Reading is the skill. Teaching students to unlock the full meaning of the texts they read is the single most powerful outcome a teacher can foster. lf your students can read well, they can essentially do anything.”

Maryanne Wolf is in agreement: “Reading is one of the single most remarkable inventions in history.”

However, she starts her book on the reading brain with these words: “We were never born to read.” She goes on to delve into the neuroscience of why it is so difficult to read, and why so many people battle to master this fundamental skill.

Fixed Mindset problems
In contrast, there is a general perception that reading is easy, and that it is something everyone should “just pick up”. This can easily feed into a Fixed Mindset (“I really ought to be able to do this, so I better fake it”) instead of a Growth Mindset (“This is difficult, so I must devote myself to mastering it”) (see the writings of Carol Dweck).

The Fixed Mindset problem is further exacerbated by the focus on the teaching of literature in English classes. Most English teachers studied literature in their degrees, and so fall back on this, rather than developing expertise in teaching reading and writing. Literature is easy because it is a “story”, and does not follow the rules of most other writing. Of course, serious writers layer their work with deeper meanings and complex themes, and university people study these and make it even more complex. But everyday people read everyday stories and find them relatively easy.

Linear and non-linear sequences of events
The basic structure of a narrative (a linear sequence of events) fits well with the way we write (a linear sequence of words). That is why reading stories is fairly easy.

In contrast, one of the key problems in reading for information is that it is a structure of inter-related ideas, not a linear sequence. It is only represented in this limited way. So the trick when reading is to decode the linear, and understand the structure. The trick when writing is the opposite: to encode the structure in a linear format. If you are old enough, here is a metaphor: it is like trying to find a song on a cassette tape versus on a CD. The tape is linear, and has no structure, but the song is there somewhere; you just can’t find it. The CD is well structured, and so, by referring to the CD cover, you can easily skip to your favourite track. When you read, you are converting the text from “tape” to “CD”.

Lesson 1: Finding and using the clues to create a mindmap
This section consists of ideas for the teacher:

Phase 1
1. Introduce the idea that reading is difficult for everyone; that it is something that gets better with practice. Link to Growth Mindset if possible. 

2. Display and invite students to view the document “Origins of Language”. Tell them they have 2 minutes to study it for a test. After a short time (less than 2 minutes) let them off the hook, and debrief why it was so difficult. You could prompt by asking “: What is missing that makes it difficult?” Answer: a title/heading; paragraph breaks.

3. Ask students to skim the first couple of lines, and then ask them to provide a title; (Where does language come from?); also ask how many paragraphs there should be. “There are 3 theories…” So 3 paragraphs, plus introduction and conclusion = 5.
4. Follow up by asking what we would expect to find in those paragraphs. Each paragraph describes a different theory.

5. PAUSE/REFLECT - what we have learned so far: (1) paragraphs are important for finding meaning; (2) it is important to “guess ahead” – predict what is coming up using whatever clues you can (NB this is not a mystery novel where the outcome is kept secret!).

· OK, now we need to put the paragraph breaks back in. Invite students to use the find (Ctrl-F) function to search for “First theory”, and put the paragraph break into the text at the beginning of that sentence. And they can surely figure out what to do next.

6. When the students have put all the paragraph breaks back in, give them 30 seconds to find what the 3 theories are.
Answers: 1 – Gift of God; 2 – natural Sounds; 3 – Evolutionary changes. Follow up – How did they find these? Answer – each paragraph has a topic sentence which is an introduction to the paragraph. What does each mean? Invite the students to make some guesses without reading the paragraphs.
7. PAUSE/REFLECT - what we have learned so far: (1) a paragraph is information related to ONE idea; (2) well written paragraphs have a topic sentence; (3) to get a quick summary of a text, skim the topic sentences of each paragraph; (4) it is a good idea to do this before reading a passage so as to get a “map” to guide detailed reading.

8. Students can now close this document.

9. SWITCH APPLICATION – as students to open the mindmapping tool which you use – Inspiration/Webspiration if you have it or Mindmeister.

10. Create a tree diagram as follows and minimise (students replace the ????) 

Phase 2
The next phase is to find the information which will be used to fill in the detail on the mindmap; ie finding the supporting information for each of the 3 theories.

1. Open the document entitled “Origins of Language – Clues”; note the text has been doctored to indicate the clues which can help to understand the structure. Explain to the students that when we read, we are looking for two kinds of information – KEY WORDS (orange) which indicate the ideas and information we need to grasp; STRUCTURE words (blue) which indicate the way we need to read those key words – ie how they relate to each other and the overall text. Basically, all the details within a paragraph tell us more about the main idea of that paragraph – explanations, examples, extra details. The black words are less important and should only be used to clarify the others if necessary.

2. PAUSE/REFLECT – not all words are of equal value or function. Good readers do not read every word, and do not read the words they do read in the same way.

3. Let’s look at the first paragraph – this theory says that language is a gift from God. What does this mean? Guess & discuss. What does the paragraph say:

4. Take it step by step, trying to use only the blue and orange words.

5. “For example” – (blue) a structure clue; this tells us that what is comping up is “just” an example.

6. The example – “Adam” (orange) named the animals somehow that became their “built-in” name. Maybe students can come up with other examples? Eg Where does the word “Mama” come from? Why do people all over the world use that word for mother?

7. Discuss – if you have a theory, and you want to prove it, what do you do? Answer – test it. OK, how would you test the theory that language is somehow built in to humans? Discuss. Answer – somehow deprive a child of human language contact. Think of an example from literature/movies. (answer – Mowgli in the Jungle Book).

8.“Experiments” (blue – it provides structure of what is to come) – testing the theory.

9. There were two experiments – who conducted the first one? What did he find?

10. Who conducted the second one? What was their finding?

11. The last sentence is a conclusion, introduced by “so” (blue). What is the conclusion?

12. Display this update to the mindmap, and ask the students to fill in the ???? and blank bubbles on their mindmap.

Phase 3
1. PAUSE/REFLECT: Reading is complicated; one could probably get a general grasp of the ideas in this paragraph, but by reading it properly, one understands exactly what is going on. When poor readers read, they tend to grasp at any details they can in the linear sequence; so in this paragraph, they might remember the name of King James IV of Scotland, but not understand why he is important (or not). If they went into a test feeling they had studied hard, but only remembering random bits of unrelated information, they might emerge from the test saying, “I studied so hard, and somehow I just didn’t know what was going on”. This is particularly the case if the study “method” is just to keep on reading and re-reading the text. There are 170 words (in a linear sequence) in this paragraph alone (show students how to highlight and see the number of words displayed in the status bar); but there are only 8 items in the mindmap. Which is easier to remember? Obviously the mindmap, especially if you read it from top to bottom – the higher up items make sense of and suggest the lower ones. Eg if you remember the keyword “experiments”, it helps you find your way to the two experiments and their results, and the conclusion. There is a logical progression to the ideas which is embedded in the structure.

2. Invite students to work on the paragraphs containing the second and third theories. Look closely at the topic sentence and the other introductory sentences. In both cases there is a trick to understanding these paragraphs.
3. Natural sounds – “There are two versions of this theory” – (blue) this alerts us to the fact that the paragraph has two sections, the first version and the second version. So the mindmap needs to branch. Each version follows the same pattern – example(s) and problem(s). And finally there is a conclusion.

4. Evolutionary changes – this paragraph also splits into two: physiology and brain. For each there are then examples. There is a problem which applies to both. Finally there is an overall conclusion to the paragraph.

5. A Mindmeister version of this mindmap complete could look like this: 
NEXT: Lesson 2: Use Outline tools to represent text structure 

One of Word’s most powerful features for organising structuring ideas is Outlining. This tool makes it easy to work with text in such a way that it becomes a structure of ideas rather than a sequence of words. Lesson 2 in the next blog post will look at how to use this tool, and provide some practice exercises.

SchoolNet webinar recording ''The Magic of Mystery Skype' by Allan Hart

On Thursday afternoon 23 February 2017 at 3:30pm, Allan Hart, a teacher at Appelby Preparatory in Elgin presented a webinar about his use of Skype in the classroom. His aim was to encourage teachers to use the free online video tool, Skype, in their classrooms this year. One of the ways of doing this has become known as Mystery Skype. This is an interactive learning game where two classrooms use Skype and a series of questions to guess each other’s locations and find out more about each other. It is suitable for all ages, and gives kids an interactive way to build skills one question at a time.

The webinar description
In this webinar Allan talked about his experiences using Skype in the classroom. He discussed the benefits of using Skype from an education point of view. Allan also explained how educators can become Skype-ready and how to collaborate with other schools from across the globe. After explaining how a Mystery Skype works, Allan demonstrated how to find educators to link with for Mystery Skypes using the Microsoft Educator Community.

The downloadable webinar presentation
Here is the downloadable presentation from the webinar available online in SlideShare:

The webinar recording
The webinar recording can be listened to on the following link on YouTube: http://bit.ly/2jN8Wr8 or it can be viewed in the embedded video below.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Useful Google in Education posts this week #95

After looking through all the Google posts that were shared to various subscriptions recently, these are a selection that look useful for teachers https://goo.gl/jWPDMg (The link to previous posts can be found here https://goo.gl/CNO3M2

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

SchoolNet free webinar 'Using Skype in the classroom' by Allan Hart on Thurs 23 February at 3:30pm

We are pleased to announce that our next free webinar, Using Skype in the Classroom will be held on Thursday 23 February at 3:30pm. Our speaker will be Allan Hart, a teacher at Appelby Preparatory in Elgin who will be talking about his use of Skype in the classroom. We would like to encourage you to use the free online video tool, Skype, in your classroom this year. One of the ways of doing this has become known as Mystery Skype. This is an interactive learning game where two classrooms use Skype and a series of questions to guess each other’s locations and find out more about each other. It is suitable for all ages, and gives kids an interactive way to build skills one question at a time. We will be using the Adobe Connect webinar platform for the webinar. Please join us as we hear about how Allan Hart uses Skype in his classroom.

Webinar details

Webinar title: Using Skype in the Classroom
Summary: Allan Hart from Applewood Preparatory will talk about his experiences using Skype in the classroom. He will be talking about the benefits of using Skype from an education point of view. Allan will explain how educators can become Skype-ready and how to collaborate with other schools from across the globe. He will explain how a Mystery Skype works.
When: Thursday 23rd February 2017
Duration: 15-20 minutes
Presenter: Allan Hart. Grade 7 teacher Applewood Preparatory, Elgin, Western Cape
Host: Fiona Beal
To join the meeting: http://meet78641452.adobeconnect.com/skype/

If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before or if you haven’t attended an Adobe Connect meeting for a while you might need to install a free add-in. To investigate this, test your connection: http://bit.ly/2kcJiiH

Monday, 20 February 2017

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #91

The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a number of them from this past week. The list is embedded below but can also be found at http://bit.ly/2lPDISl . The link to the back-dated posts is http://bit.ly/1GVLTUZ 

Friday, 17 February 2017

MIEExpert Spotlight #22: Judi Francisco: Microsoft tools, blended learning and critical thinking

This is the 22nd post in the series "MIEExpert Spotlight" for South Africa. The tab with all the posts can be found at: http://bit.ly/1ZYy8Z7. Today we focus on Judi Francisco. Judi is the computer teacher at Micklefield School in Rondebosch in Cape Town. Micklefield is a little independent not-for-profit primary school for girls. Judi says, “I have many titles at school such as IT Co-ordinator, Blended Learning Head, Computer Teacher, Blended Learning Teacher…. but my favourite title is Chief Learner because in technology you never stop learning, adapting, creating and trying new exciting things!” Judi is bent on making a difference in education. “South Africa may be at the tip of Africa, but the children are also at the tip of innovation and creativity. How lucky they are! Albert Einstein said ‘Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.’ 

A Blended Learning approach at Micklefield Primary
In 2015 Judi introduced a full time BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program for the Grade 5, 6 and 7 girls at Micklefield School. The Grade 4 girls have selected dates when they bring in their devices. At the start of 2016, together with great support from her headmistress, Jeannette Welgemoed, Judi formalised blended learning by allocating time to it on their formal school timetable for the Intermediate phase. During the IT lessons the girls learn the skills need for the blended learning lessons, or they learn completely separate tools and skills. Judi says, “It was not hard to formalise blended learning for two reasons. One is that blended learning covers the work set out in the curriculum. The second is that the teachers can see that the same amount of work is covered, but to a much deeper level of level whilst incorporating critical thinking skills.”

Thinking skills in ICT lessons
Judi focuses on teach critical thinking skills in her ICT lessons. “Once I had researched more about how and why to incorporate critical thinking more regularly using Microsoft tools, I was convinced that I was on the right track. We are teaching 21 century children, so we need to teach them 21 century skills.” Critical thinking skills are spread across 6 levels, and generally teachers tend to focus on the 1st three too often: knowledge, comprehension and application. So Judi now includes the next 3 levels: analysis, synthesis and evaluation in her lessons. Critical thinking skills fit hand in glove with Bloom’s taxonomy and blended learning.

Microsoft Tools,  Blooms taxonomy and Blended Learning
Microsoft applications lend themselves very well to the six steps of Blooms to enhance critical thinking. Microsoft Word, MS Excel, MS Paint, MS PowerPoint with Office Mix and MS Sway are Judi’s favourites. This is because they allow for text, images, videos, animation and audio. “Using these I can set a task that requires almost any of the verbs found in critical thinking and Blooms.” For example, Judi completed a MS Word and MS Excel project with the Grade 4 class where they focused on critical thinking skills. The girls learnt the concept of metacognition (it even became one of their spelling words!) The class teacher needed the children to cover quite a few curriculum tasks such as understanding visual data, countries around the world, seas and oceans, creating and understanding graphs, converting visual data to text and visa versa. When they looked at the list of critical thinking verbs up on Judi’s board, they selected compare, contrast, prioritise and form an opinion. The girls created spreadsheets in Excel. These were based on places the girls had visited. They then converted these into bar, line and pie graphs. The girls had to format these graphs using colour, axis, patterns, titles and tables in order to show an understanding of them. These graphs were then copied into MS Word. Judi says, “It was here that the critical thinking skills came into play. They had to write a summary about each graph. They had to comment on the data as they saw it and find what was interesting about the data. They used the following critical thinking verbs to help them do this: compare, contrast, prioritise and predict.” 

Motivating colleagues to use Microsoft applications in blended learning tasks
As a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Judi motivates her colleagues to use Microsoft applications for these blended learning tasks. “In doing these tasks I work very closely with each class teacher to develop the blended learning projects. Once we have worked out which part of the curriculum we are covering, we let our creative juices flow! This is where Microsoft tools come into play. The class teacher then gets to see how I link up the task to Microsoft tools. The teacher also get to actually learn to use the tools along with the children. By the end of the project they are more confident with using whichever Microsoft tools we covered. The teachers then happily uses the tools more regularly on their own or for other tasks in their classroom.

Judi enjoys using many of the different Microsoft tools in her iCT classroom. She says, “I love PowerPoint Office Mix! Who doesn’t like to see their face on their presentation! Using the inking tool is great for keeping the children focused on their message. The fact that there can be audio, presentation skills and text in the Office Mix really amps up the critical thinking skills. I love using Microsoft Sway. We also arrange exciting Mystery Skypes with classes around the world.” 

Useful Google in Education posts this week #94

After looking through all the Google posts that were shared to various subscriptions recently, these are a selection that look useful for teachers https://goo.gl/8uISdv (The link to previous posts can be found here https://goo.gl/CNO3M2

Monday, 13 February 2017

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #90

The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a number of them from this past week. The list is embedded below but can also be found at http://bit.ly/2lH4yus   The link to the back-dated posts is http://bit.ly/1GVLTUZ 

Friday, 10 February 2017

Useful Google in Education posts this week #93

After looking through all the Google posts that were shared to various subscriptions recently, these are a selection that look useful for teachers http://bit.ly/2lE1YFz (The link to previous posts can be found here https://goo.gl/CNO3M2)

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Do you know about Microsoft’s Digital civility pledge to help create a safer, more civil Internet?

How aware are you of Internet safety? Do you know about Microsoft’s Digital Civility pledge which formed part of the recent Safer Internet Day. On the recent Safer Internet Day: https://www.saferinternetday.org/, 7th February, organizations and people around the world committed to promoting safer and more responsible online use of technology especially concerning young people and children. Here is a map from the website showing all the activities around the world to celebrate Safer Internet Day

Will you take the Digital Challenge?
Microsoft took the opportunity to introduce the term ‘digital civility’ – a plea to people around the world to treat each other with respect online. Microsoft has a long-standing commitment to online safety and urged Internet users to take the Digital Civility Challenge. The goal of the Challenge is to raise awareness about the need for “digital civility” and to pledge to every day live up to the four Digital Civility Challenge ideals:

  • Live the Golden Rule. I will act with empathy, compassion and kindness in every interaction, and treat everyone I connect with online with dignity and respect. 
  • Respect differences. I will appreciate cultural differences and honor diverse perspectives. When I disagree, I will engage thoughtfully and avoid name calling and personal attacks.
  • Pause before replying. I will pause and think before responding to things I disagree with. I will not post or send anything that could hurt someone else, damage my reputation, or threaten my safety or the safety of others. 
  • Stand up for myself and others. I will tell someone if I feel unsafe, offer support to those who are targets of online abuse or cruelty, report activity that threatens anyone’s safety, and preserve evidence of inappropriate or unsafe behaviour.

Angela Shearer from Microsoft says, “The road to change starts at home, at school and in the office. We are asking all internet users to pledge their digital civility on social media using the hashtags #challenge4civility and #Im4digitalcivility.” ( see http://bit.ly/2luYZis)

How does South Africa fare when it comes to ‘digital civility’?
in 2016 Microsoft undertook research in 14 countries among teenagers and adults to study the level of civility. South Africa ranked in 14th place in the Digital Civility Index, making it the country with the highest online risk exposure and lowest degree of Digital Civility out of all the nations surveyed including Australia, Germany, India, France, the UK and US.  The survey polled teens (ages 13-17) and adults (18-74), asking about their experiences and encounters with 17 different online risks across four categories, namely behavioural, reputational, sexual and personal/intrusive. (see http://bit.ly/2lv0s8s)

 South Africa not doing well on the Digital Civility Index 
Contributing to this poor result is the fact that 78% of participants surveyed reported having been exposed to an online risk, which exceeds the international averages for both Intrusive and behavioural risks. Moreover, South Africans encountered reputational risks more often than international (22% vs. 18%) and this is led by doxing (14%) and damage to personal reputation (11%). Doxing is the practice or researching and then broadcasting private information about someone online.
Over seven in ten South Africans reported a consequence from exposure to an online risk. This was slightly higher than the international average. In general, the top ten consequences were experienced at the same or higher levels in South Africa compared to international.

As a result people become less trusting of others.

Whose responsibility is Digital Civility?
Angela Schaerer Teacher Engagement Lead for Microsoft South Africa was quoted on IT News. She believes that Digital Civility is everyone’s responsibility. South Africans need to be accountable for their online behaviour and to serve as role models and/or champions for others.  “a time to take stock of online habits and practices to ensure we’re putting our best digital foot forward and in doing so it will make it easier to establish and help foster safe as well as inclusive interactions online.”  
(see http://bit.ly/2luYZis)

Get trained on the Microsoft Educator Community
Microsoft offers so many free, online courses on relevant topics.  Teachers, take a look at this one on Digital Citizenship on the Microsoft Educator Community:

Summary of resources from Microsoft and others that will be of great help

Remember to diarise Safer Internet Day on Tuesday Feb 6th in 2018

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Three EdTechTeam South Africa Summits featuring Google in Education this year – which one will you attend?

Every year for the past few years the EdTechTeam based in the United States has held a very successful Summit featuring Google for Education in South Africa. These have always been incredibly inspiring events where teachers go home with a myriad of exciting classroom ideas. This year THREE of these summits are planned for South Africa in different areas.

EdTechTeam South Africa invites you to join them at their upcoming Summits featuring Google for Education. Enjoy two days of empowering hands-on workshops, inspiring keynote speakers, and fun activities including a high-energy demo slam where you can win prizes. Go beyond the tools and explore cutting edge best practices in educational technology and great teaching! Workshops are going to be led by Google Certified Innovators, Google for Education Trainers, Apple Distinguished Educators, school leadership or teachers with a passion to share their work to help others raise their game as well. Register now to send teachers, administrators, tech directors, library media specialists, tech support staff, and anyone who is interested in finding out more about leveraging G Suite from Google for Education and iOS to support student learning.
Cape Town Summit
If you live in Cape Town Richard Knaggs from Parklands College recently sent out an invitation:
EdTechTeam South Africa invites you
to join us for the Cape Town Summit
featuring Google for Education
In Partnership with Parklands College

1. Cape Town Summit (4-5 April 2017)
Richard says, "We have negotiated lower pricing so that you can enjoy two days of empowering hands-on breakout sessions, inspiring keynote speakers, and fun activities including a high-energy demo slam.

Register for the two day Summit event to take advantage of the early bird pricing here: http://za.gafesummit.com/capetown"
2. iPad EDU MasterClass (3 April 2017)
This one-day experience is designed to inform, inspire, and empower educators. Workshops include sessions for leaders, educators, and technical staff. Coffee and lunch are provided for all ticketed workshops.

Register here for the one day iPad Edu Master class here: http://za.gafesummit.com/capetown#workshops

Which Summit will you attend? Visit https://za.gafesummit.com/ for more details and to register

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Educator Spotlight #5: Mr J.E Khumalo from Habeni Primary School

This is the fifth post in our series ‘Educator Spotlight’ highlighting South African educators who are encouraging the effective using ICT Technology in a school setting. In this post we focus on Mr J E Khumalo from Habeni Primary School in Kwazulu-Natal.   f. The link to this series of posts can be found at http://bit.ly/2cSfEwG

KwaZulu Natal teachers participating in the Telkom Connected Schools Project have been an awesome group to work with and this is mainly attributed to the change in thinking by the school management teams. This month’s spotlight is on the enthusiastic Mr J.E Khumalo, the principal of Habeni Primary School who is also the Social Science teacher at the school. Mr Khumalo reports that being part of SchoolNet’s Change Leadership in ICT Integration program has helped him immensely as it has helped him realise that leadership is not about working in isolation but that is it more about sharing the workload with his team, where delegation does not mean abdication of responsibility. His senior management team has learnt that much is achievable when the school has a shared vision which pushes all stakeholders to work towards achieving the same goal for the school community. In the six months of Change Leadership for ICT Integration training has taken place, the SMT members have gained confidence in their leadership skills and are now more actively involved in the management of the school.

Mr Khumalo says, “Habeni Primary School will never be the same. This course has helped change our view on using ICT’s through changing our attitude. This has created an awareness on what is accessible for improved teaching and learning.”

For a number of years, Mr Chinsammy was the only teacher who had the skills to create mark sheets and use computers effectively and this caused teachers to constantly require assistance from him and this in turn created an additional burden on him. Habeni teachers attended Intel’s Getting Started and since then things changed;  teachers have become independent and are creating mark sheets, typing exam papers and creating lessons using PowerPoints. Some teachers are now also exploring Encarta for offline research.

Mr Khumalo who also attended the ICT skills training said “I used to write all my question papers by hand then make copies for learners but now I type ALL my documents and this saves me a lot of time. I still struggle a little with PowerPoint but I am not worried because I attend after school computer lessons with my colleagues and I know that in time I will get it right.” The teachers at the school practice their newly learnt skills daily and sometimes work till late in the afternoon because practicing these skills can be fun!

Using Encarta excites Mr Khumalo. He reports that his learners love the fact that they are not limited to their text books for learning. They are now able to do research in class for projects and learning has become practical. Learners watch Social Science experiments, short videos and find pictures of which makes learning much more meaningful.
Looking into the future, Mr Khumalo says that he would like his school to have internet access so that his teachers can prepare and present more exciting lessons and allow learners the opportunity access more learning resources. His ideal school is one where each of his learners has access to a connected laptop or tablet throughout the day.

“This project requires a lot of time from us, and it is all worthwhile. This is personal and professional development that helps us go beyond our call of duty to help our learners be hopeful of a better future” Mr Khumalo can’t seem to express in words the joy and fulfilment that the Telkom Connected School project has brought to the school and he encourages all teachers to be actively involved when opportunities like these arise.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #89

The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a number of them from this past week. The list is embedded below but can also be found at http://bit.ly/2kd6QkF  The link to the back-dated posts is http://bit.ly/1GVLTUZ 

Educator Spotlight #4: Erika Esterhuizen – Have you discovered SharePoint?

This is the fourth post in our series ‘Educator Spotlight’ highlighting South African educators who are encouraging the effective using ICT Technology in a school setting. In this post we focus on Erika Esterhuizen from St Andrews College in Grahamstown. The link to this series of posts can be found at http://bit.ly/2cSfEwG

Erika describes herself as “a natural leader where problem solving, and decision making skills are part of my personality.” She is currently employed by St Andrews College in Grahamstown, South Africa, as Head of Department: Information Technology. Her motivation in education is based on ICT integration opportunities and using these to make teacher, parent and learners daily tasks easier. In 2016 Erika won the coveted  ‘ISPA 2016 TechTeacher of the Year ‘ award presented by the CoZa Foundation. Erika says “It is my passionate belief that the use of technology in any career changes lives, families, communities and ultimately, nations.” Erika has also been exploring the use of Microsoft SharePoint.

Are you wondering what SharePoint is all about? Erika says “I enjoy exploring the potential of Microsoft’s Sharepoint. SharePoint is a place for running daily workflows and processes, which I am still learning and exploring. SharePoint is not a single tool, but rather a platform that enables a lot of different educational activities.”  Microsoft SharePoint is a browser-based collaboration and document management platform It is Microsoft's content management system. It allows groups to set up a centralized, password protected space for document sharing. It is not a program, it is a platform. It is a server product. You don’t install it because it is not a program. You connect to it. It has six different areas namely sies, composites, communities, insights, content and search.  It makes sites. It gives you a place to put your content instead of putting it into local folders. It lets you search itself. It gives insights to bringing the information together. When you open Office 365 you’ll notice the link to SharePoint as shown in the image above.

Erika started using SharePoint about a year ago and has described it as 'a never ending learning curve'. Currently she uses it mostly for document sharing and collaboration.

When she started at her school, she found herself accountable for the examination invigilation time table for 100+ staff members during the examinations. She used SharePoint for this. She created an Excel spreadsheet with the grades and their subjects divided into timeslots, shared and sent each staff members the link and let them fill in the timeslots and days they prefer to do invigilation. This worked well. “I also created a calculation sheet which calculate their sessions and it is easy to see which staff member has not enough sessions filled in. This ensures that all sessions are covered.” Erika says she is planning to use SharePoint for swimming galas and athletics meetings by using Excel in SharePoint. "All participants in their individual items should be captured beforehand. On Sports Day, the document should be available on all the tablets of the officials. First the place allocation should be entered by place holder officials. Time keepers can then enter the times of each place immediately, points for each learner could be calculated and certificate could be printed thereafter, without walking or running around by officials.”

Erica plans to keep exploring the potential of SharePoint and share this with the rest of the teachers.  She says “Once every two weeks we as staff members have a period called Curriculum Development  (CD). Here, we often show each other what we have done something interesting in your class with technology or guidance is given of how teachers can use technology to make their workload lighter by setting up quizzes and marked by computer, doing report and planning some kind of project using technology. Co-workers really appreciate and follow those who are truly passionate about technology.”

'SharePoint for your Classroom' video
If you are a teacher looking to collaborate and communicate with your students, in class and beyond SharePoint could be just what you are looking for. Here is a  Microsoft Virtual Academy video entitlled 'SharePoint for Your Classroom' http://bit.ly/2ka2bzP featuring Sonja Delafosse from Microsoft.

Ways teachers can use SharePoint as a classroom management tool

  • Announcements: this enables teachers to post important information, for example reminders about tests and assignments.
  • Class discussion: similar to an online forum, students are able to post questions or participate in discussions.
  • Links: teachers can post links to useful websites.
  • Class documents: the document library feature allows teachers to upload classroom resources for example worksheets, assignments, videos and much more.
  • Course syllabus: the list feature in SharePoint allows us to create and customise columns containing different types of information. In this example, teachers are able to post information about the course syllabus.
  • Calendar: here teachers are able to post important event information for example test, assignment and exam due dates as well as to attach relevant information to the event, similar to Outlook.

Think about exploring using Microsoft SharePoint in some of these ways this year.