The Microsoft Innovative Education Forum officially opened on Tuesday 3rd November and delegates were treated to some live Brazilain Music and dancing. I was particularly impressed with the Capoeira Dancers that seemed to combine marshal arts with acrobatics.
The following morning we all collected headset and assembled in the main conference room to listen to the event opening keynote presentations. The first presentation was from Michel Levy, President, Microsoft Brazil who welcomed delegates, and officially opened the Forum.
The second keynote was from Hon. Jacques Wagner, Governor of Bahia State, Brazil. I found Wagners keynote really interesting partly because it was being translated into my ear live and the voice changed from a male to a female halfway through. But mainly, because it reinforced to me that every country in the world that I know of at the moment is going through education reform. And in the process of this reform every country in the world is experiencing similar problems. The Governor seemed incredibly proud of his state and this came across in his presentation.
The final keynote was given my Michael Golden the Corporate Vice President of the Education Product Group, Microsoft UK who was amply assisted by Microsoft’s Scott Burmester. It was a good presentation and set the tone for the conference.
Michael gave an overview of his perspective of global education and gave a really clear message, ‘It all starts with one’. He suggested that if we were really going to have impact and change the world than we need to start tackling global education issues one child at a time and one school at a time. I couldn’t agree more and that is just one reason why I agree with a fully inclusive education system.
As you would expect as part of the presentation both Scott and Michal also demonstrated some Microsoft Products. The product demonstrations included:
Microsoft Worldwide Telescope – fantastic for learning about the stars and galaxies. Scott demonstrated how you could find out facts and figures of different stars and planets. I couldn’t help thinking it would be a really great resource as a stimulus for creative writing as well. Imagine getting children to write their own space tour or using some of the bright and vibrant colors of some of the intergalactic constellation of far off lands.
Windows 7 – The touch screen capacity of Windows 7 was demonstrated (I’m not quite sure how Scott managed to demo everything upside down but he did!). I think that that this has good potential in education and without a doubt multi-touch is a growing interface and will certainly find a niche in early years education very quickly. What I want to know is who has got Windows 7 working with full multi touch capacity on an interactive whiteboard? The split screen function of Windows 7 was also demonstrated.
Bing Maps – Again Bing Maps are often over looked resource by schools. As regular readers of this site will realize I love Google Maps as well. But in some cases Bing maps actually provide more detailed and up-to-date satellite imagery. Ts always worth comparing both if you are exploring place with a class. Its also always worth downloading the Bing Maps 3D plugin on the standard build of your school computers.Partners in Learning Network – the new partners in learning network was launched at the event. Its got a number of advantages most notably you can now search across countries to make connections and you can use your Windows Live Login to access the network. It’s another good example of how Microsoft are working hard to join up services (xBox Live, Windows Live, SkyDrive etc…).
Microsoft Semblio - Lots of potential here. More about this next week.
Multipoint – a really cool way to allow many users to controls lots of different mice on the same screen. Great for collaborative working and even better if eventually your Windows enabled mobile phone becomes the mouse. Lets hope they have already through of that?
Live @edu – Free education services available for schools. Email, messenger, student sky drive etc…
Math’s add in for word and the math’s worksheet generator – I’m not as keen on the math’s worksheet generator. I struggle with the concept of creating lots of different versions of the same problem. But I do like the technology behind what they have created here and I think the maths add in for word would be great for teaching Math’s and Physics. Alessio Bernardelli has made a nice little InnoVID on the Maths Add in for word.
Overall a great start to the conference.