Monday, 30 October 2017

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #128

The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a 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 The link to the back-dated posts is:

Deputy Minister defines national plans for digital learning at the SchoolNet ICT in the Classroom Conference

Before opening the SchoolNet SA 2017 ICT in the Classroom Conference, the national Deputy Minister, Mr. Enver Surty, sat down with Janet Thomson, Executive Director for SchoolNet South Africa to discuss the DBE’s approach to digital learning.   

The Deputy Minister thanked Thomson for “the enormous contribution by SchoolNet in the ICT domain” asserting that “ICT is becoming more critical and central to the facilitation of teaching and learning”. Surty then demonstrated the department of education’s holistic approach to digital learning by describing the various streams of the Operation Phakisa framework as well as government’s efforts to digitise content effectively and in an interactive format.

In relation to the vital teacher development component of Operation Phakisa,  Surty noted  the vital role of education centres, stressing that ICT was central to the future development of educators.  He pointed out that The Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development in South Africa, specifies the Provincial and District teacher development institutes and education resource centres and their contribution towards teacher development in the future.  

The DM revealed his knowledge of the value of the type of professional development that SchoolNet has always advocated, by noting that he was not referring to the computer literacy of teachers but rather to the higher, innovative levels of teaching, integrating ICT “├»nto the curriculum”.

The Deputy Minister discussed the strides that the national department has been making around school administration and the use of data-driven decision making. In particular he noted the Learner Unit Record Information and Tracking System (LURITS) which aims to collect data for each learner in South Africa.  Interestingly and crucially, the DM mentioned the ability of LURITS to track the impact of teacher absence on learning and learner achievement.   

The Deputy Minister pointed out that the department had listened to stakeholders and experts in the field whose interventions had shown the positive impact of ICT on learning.  When asked what support would be provided to provinces that were not making progress in crafting plans for implementation, the DM outlined the digital resources that were available to all provinces and said that his department was fully aware of challenges facing the so-called “Cinderella” provinces.  Surty pointed out that whilst Western Cape was the most effective out of all provinces at monitoring the use of the interactive workbooks other provinces had made notable strides including the Free State which had broken “the ceiling of 90% matric pass rate”.  The Deputy Minister made reference to two previous SchoolNet Conferences that he had opened in the Free State province during the previous 10 years.   

Thomson asked how the new Professional Development Framework for Digital Learning, being disseminated by the national DBE, was going to benefit teachers, bearing in mind that teachers seldom access policy documents. The Deputy Minister was quick to acknowledge that both teachers and learners must have access to both technologies and connectivity.  He went on to explain the impetus for the professional development framework and the need to standardise and reach a common understanding of minimum requirements, in teacher competences for digital learning, particularly pedagogical competences, across all interventions and initiatives in all provinces.  This would include minimum requirements for teacher education qualifications.

The Deputy Minister responded to the final question which was about the SACE (the South African Council for Educators) process in continuing professional development and the awarding of professional development points by indicating that SACE was independent from the DBE.  However he proceeded to clarify the need for service providers for professional development such as SchoolNet and the reliance on corporates such as Microsoft and Intel to support teachers and provide opportunities for their further professional development.  

The full interview can be viewed below and is also available on the SchoolNet YouTube Channel:

Speaking from the heart, rather than from the script, the Deputy Minister of Education, delivered a most engaging and informative opening address. Delegates felt they were being treated to a real-life insight into the national department´s thinking. Not only was the address directed at teachers and the most critical issues facing them currently but it also outlined the forward planning and wider policy development around digital learning for South Africa. The Deputy Minister included a tribute to Oliver Tambo and conveyed a broader message for our overseas presenters who were most appreciative of the national and continental context provided by the Deputy Minister. The tweet from Ollie Bray from Scotland, who was at the conference to present various sessions, provides some sense of the impact of the Deputy Minister’s words:

The Deputy Minister then walked through the conference exhibition area and proceeded to the Opening Plenary in the main hall of Brescia House school.  

The full opening plenary address by the Deputy Minster can be viewed here:  It was live-streamed via Facebook by Maggie Verster, the popular Maths Education and social media guru.   

A comprehensive album of conference photos is available from this link

The link to the Storify collection of tweets can be accessed at:

ICT in the Classroom Conference – three days of learning, networking and sharing

Submitted by Megan Rademeyer
Over 400 delegates attended the SchoolNet SA ICT in the Classroom conference held at Brescia House School in Brynaston, Gauteng between 5 – 7 October 2017. The conference was opened by Deputy Minister of Basic Education Enver Surty who also sat down with SchoolNet’s executive director, Janet Thomson, to define the national Department of Basic Education’s plans for digital learning. (See here for more on this interview –

The opening keynote speaker was Stephen Reid from Immersive Minds, based in Scotland. In his keynote, Stephen explored a variety of emerging technologies and discussed how they can be merged to create blended learning and cross-curricular experiences for students. Across the three days of the conference, Stephen presented various hands-on workshops which gave delegates practical experiences of using Minecraft, 360 Cameras, and virtual reality headsets to provide opportunities for their learners to make, create, visit and explore.

Ollie Bray, another Scot, rounded off the conference with his keynote address entitled “The New Learning Landscape”. This session was thought-provoking and made delegates realise that Scotland and South Africa share many similarities in terms of embracing digital learning. In addition to his keynote session, Ollie shared his experiences of being a teacher and school leader in a range of sessions on social media, transforming learning in a 1:1 environment, and a highly enjoyable geo-cashing activity.

Ollie Bray is second from the left
The third international presenter was Peter Rafferty – an Intel visionary and teacher from Liverpool. Peter shared his experiences of creating a class blog, and encouraged delegates to get involved in a collaborative writing project by producing “Sparkly Letters”.

Peter Raffetry is on the left
Sarietjie Musgrave, a longstanding friend of SchoolNet SA, provided the keynote presentation on the Friday. In her address, entitled “Anywhere, Anytime Learning”, Sarietjie drew on her experiences of being a school teacher, a university lecturer and a student to encourage delegates to think of the possibilities that technology provides for learning in a range of different ways.

Sarietjie Musgrave
In addition to these featured speakers, we were grateful to the 35 other speakers – who presented one or more workshops or presentations. Many of these sessions involved practical, hands-on opportunities to try out a range of tools to help build the skills and confidence of delegates to try out new technologies when they return to school. Practical sessions included opportunities to learn the basics of coding, Minecraft and OneNote. A number of sessions also showcased teachers’ actual classroom projects, or their own success stories with digital learning – these included highlighting some projects SchoolNet has been involved in such as Change Leadership in the Eastern Cape, the Telkom Connected Schools project, and various teacher’s experiences with “going paperless” . Many of these stories were inspirational, and we are sure that a number of delegates may go on to try similar projects at their own schools. Some of the most popular sessions proved to be the ones where delegates got to be “learners” as they went on digital scavenger hunts, solved puzzles in a BreakOut EDU session, or looked for geocache treasures. The Department of Basic Education presented a number of sessions on using SA-SAMs  effectively as well as sessions to launch the DBE Professional Development Framework for Digital Learning. Many of the conference presenters have indicated a willingness to share their session resources with us. These are still being received and can be accessed here:

During tea times and breaks, delegates enjoyed visiting the more than 20 exhibition stands to see a range of classroom technologies on offer and to try out some new tools. A number of exhibitors ran competitons at their stands, and some lucky delegates received prizes at the closing ceremony from exhibitors, including Vastratech who presented a Kapp 84” board and Computers4Kids who awarded two Acer Cloudbooks. Some exhibitors also took the opportunity to present their solutions to delegates as part of the demo track. A number of these sessions proved to be very popular, with delegates enjoying hearing first-hand how tools can be used in the classroom to enhance digital learning or to build online communities.

Although SchoolNet SA has been holding an ICT in the Classroom conference bi-annually for over 15 years, the 2017 conference was particularly special because it gave us an opportunity to celebrate our 20th Birthday at a cocktail celebration sponsored by the Telkom Foundation. A great evening of networking and reminiscing was shared by conference delegates and other special friends of SchoolNet who joined us for the birthday celebrations. Read more about SchoolNet’s 20th birthday celebrations here: 

The full opening plenary address by the Deputy Minster can be viewed here:  It was live-streamed via Facebook by Maggie Verster, the popular Maths Education and social media guru.   A comprehensive album of conference photos is available from this link

The link to the Storify collection of tweets can be accessed at:

If you attended the SchoolNet ICT in the Classroom Conference and you haven't yet completed the evaluation form, please could you still fill it in - This will help us plan our next conference effectively.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Join the 2017 online Global Education Conference in November - think about offering a presentation

SchoolNet is pleased to recomment the eighth annual Global Education Conference, free online event bringing together educators and innovators from around the world. It will be held Monday, November 13 through Wednesday, November 16, 2017 (November 17th in some time zones). The entire virtual conference will be held online using the Blackboard Collaborate platform.
The Global Education Conference is a collaborative, inclusive, world-wide community initiative involving students, educators, and organizations at all levels. It is designed to significantly increase opportunities for building education-related connections around the globe while supporting cultural awareness and recognition of diversity. To attend this year's conference and to be kept informed of the latest conference news and updates, please join this network.
Present at the 2017 Global Education Conference
The Global Education Conference Network invites you to submit a proposal to present at the 8th annual Global Education Conference. This annual celebration of globally connected teaching and learning will take place around the clock and online November 13-16, 2017. Present in your time zone at a time that is convenient to you!
The conference seeks to present ideas, examples, and projects related to connecting educators and classrooms with a strong emphasis on promoting global awareness, fostering global competency, and inspiring action towards solving real–world problems. Through this event, attendees will challenge themselves and others to become more active citizens of the world. Participants are encouraged to learn, question, create, and engage in meaningful, authentic opportunities within a global context!
The call for proposals for the 2017 conference opened on July 1st, 2017. Presenters can submit proposals for general sessions focused on five possible tracks:  Teachers, Students, Curriculum, Leadership, SDGs, Higher Education, and Exchange/Study Abroad Programs. 
Proposals should focus on ideas, projects, programs, and initiatives that promote global understanding and collaboration. Keep in mind that this conference is not focused on technology exclusively; proposals must focus on global collaboration and tie to the mission of the conference. Those who enter submissions that do not relate to the mission will be asked to revise. Companies must be sponsors of the conference to participate. 
The final deadline for submissions is November 1, 2017, and presenters will be notified of acceptance on a rolling basis starting in August 1, 2017.
Important links
Call for proposals:

Think about joining an iEARN global, collaborative project...

What is iEARN?
iEARN ( is a non-profit organization made up of well over 30,000 schools and youth organizations in more than 140 countries. Omashani Naidoo from SchoolNet is the Country Co-ordinator for South Africa. iEARN empowers teachers and young people to work together online using the Internet and other new communications technologies. More than 2,000,000 students and 500 educators each day are engaged in collaborative project work worldwide. 30 different languages are used. There are over 100 projects in iEARN, all designed and facilitated by teachers and students to fit their curriculum and classroom needs and schedules. Projects take place in the iEARN Collaboration Centre.  (We will provide a link to the iEARN project book below) To join a project, participants select an online project and look at how they can integrate it into their classroom.

Take a look at some of the current projects:

Holiday Card Exchange Registration Deadline ApproachingRegistration is open for the Holiday Card Exchange project. In this project, students share their holiday traditions by sending cards to their partners around the world. Register to participate on the Holiday Card Exchange forum by October 31, 2017.


Daffodils and Tulips Plantings
Classes in the northern hemisphere are invited to join the Daffodils and Tulips project to start plantings in November (the southern hemisphere cycle will start their plantings in April). Classes will being planting daffodils and tulips the last week of November either indoors or in outside gardens. Join the project today to start the "getting to know you" activities before planting.

Staying Healthy Project
You are invited to participate in iEARN Staying Healthy Project! This project enables students to develop a healthy lifestyle by adapting good eating habits and exercise to help keep their mind and body performing at their best. Visit the project forum in the Collaboration Centre and join the activities posted for the upcoming months.

Medicine in My Backyard
The Medicine in My Backyard project is seeking new project partners! This project is a preservation project that emphasizes transferring ancestral knowledge to--and preserving traditional plants for--future generations. In this project students play the role of ethnobotanists to investigate medicinal plants in their communities and read poetry written more than 900 years ago that helps reveal the healing power of plants. Join the project on the Collaboration Centre to take part in upcoming activities.

Here are some resources and opportunities provided by iEARN

Global Education Conference
Join iEARN educators and students around the world during the Global Education Conference, a free online event bringing together educators and innovators from held Monday, November 13 through Wednesday, November 16, 2017. The entire virtual conference will be held online using the Blackboard Collaborate platform. Check out a listing of iEARN presentations at the GEC and submit your session proposal before November 5, 2017.

2017-2018 iEARN Project Book
Check out the 2017-2018 version of the iEARN Project Book and learn about more than 100 projects in iEARN! Thanks to all iEARN project facilitators for your contributions to the project descriptions, and your ongoing hard work and enthusiasm, and to all the students and teachers who make these projects a success.


Collaboration Centre Tips
Do you need help navigating the forums, posting discussions and replies, and sharing your media? Are you looking to update your notification settings? Check out the updated "Learning the Forum Basics" tutorials and make the most of the Collaboration Centre for your iEARN projects activities.

iEARN Videoconference Support
Are you an iEARN Project Facilitator or Teacher looking to connect with a partner via video conference? The iEARN Support Team is happy to help! We currently have a few iEARN Zoom Rooms we can schedule out as they are available for iEARN Member use. To request to use an iEARN Zoom Room, complete the this form and our Support Team will gladly assist you:

SchoolNet to train KZN ELITS Officials on the Digital Library Course

Submitted by Hlengiwe Mfeka
SchoolNet SA has been contracted by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education to conduct training for 30 Education Library Information and Technology Service (ELITS) Officials during the first week of December 2017.

The traditional role of a librarian as a knowledge manager has evolved to become that of being a curator of resources and a partner in the development of online learning materials. The intention of this course is to equip officials who run libraries with the skills to adapt to this changing role.

In order to conduct this training, SchoolNet SA has developed a new Digital Library Course, which was designed to equip librarians /ELITS officials with knowledge of digital issues pertaining to the management of a school library. Across the week long course, officials will see how digital tools and resources can enhance the services traditionally offered at libraries and resource centers.

Participants will walk away from the course with the skills and knowledge to develop a well-defined and well-informed personalized action plan designed to ensure that the school library or education centre that they are associated with fully utilizes the advantages of digitization.