Microsoft Education Resources

by Jean Tower

During the MassCUE conference, Annamaria Schrimpf, MassCUE President, and I (as METAA president) met with Microsoft representatives Richard Grady and Eric Robertson to discuss software licensing options and ways that Microsoft might improve their outreach to schools in Massachusetts. Microsoft is developing a licensing program for schools that will be based on staff numbers rather than on the number of computers in a school. We are very interested in seeing this come to fruition and look forward to seeing the plan when it is finalized later this month.

Even more interesting, the conversation included a discussion of professional development, free online resources, and other ways that schools and Microsoft can work together collaboratively to better serve the educators and students of Massachusetts.

In August, I attended a three day Microsoft Institute that was offered free to Massachusetts educators. It was exceptionally well done and we all learned so much. I was blown away by the number and quality of educational resources that Microsoft offers free online. One thing Microsoft could do is to organize these resources better and publicize them to educators.

Here are some of those tools:
Educator Competency Wheel
The number of competencies reflected here may be overwhelming at first, but this would be a really good conversation starter in your school district to uncover the really important skills you are looking for in the people you want to hire and retain.
http://www.microsoft.com/education/competencies/

Teacher Guides
“Watch videos, and download guides and e-books to inspire your class and to help you make the best use of tools and technology in your lessons.”
http://www.microsoft.com/education/teachers/guides/

Auto Collage

AutoCollage allows you to select a folder or group of digital images and very quickly create a collage. I found it even easier to use than the collage feature in Picasa.
http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/cambridge/projects/autocollage/

World Wide Telescope
Microsoft’s answer to Google Earth.
http://www.worldwidetelescope.org/

PhotoSynth
Use Photosynth to take your photos, and mash them together to create a 3D scene. See the site for some excellent examples.
http://www.photosynth.net/

SongSmith
This is Microsoft’s challenge to Apple’s Garage Band.
It lets users create music and in addition to playing your own instruments or writing music, you can sing a tune into a microphone to automatically make musical arrangements.
http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/projects/songsmith/teachers.html

Windows Live Movie Maker (Windows 7 and Vista only)
Use this to turn your photos and videos into a finished product.
http://explore.live.com/windows-live-movie-maker?os=winxp

Photo Story
Create slideshows, add special effects, titles, captions, soundtracks and narration to create a powerful photo story.
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/photostory/default.mspx

Mouse Mischief
Mouse Mischief is a program that allows you to connect up to 25 wireless mice to a single computer and every student in a classroom can interact with a presentation, answering questions and collaborating.
http://www.microsoft.com/multipoint/mouse-mischief/

DreamSpark
Professional software development tools free to students.
https://www.dreamspark.com/default.aspx

Kodu
A very cool visual programming language made specifically for creating games.
So easy even an adult can use it. The worlds that are built and ready to use are so good that your students can create a professional looking application.
http://fuse.microsoft.com/project/kodu.aspx

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