Microsoft Educator Community – Have you explored it yet?
Earlier this year, Microsoft launched a new website for their Educator Community with many new additions and features for educators around the world to enjoy and exploit. It is accessible at www.education.microsoft.com and offers teachers a wealth of resources and features including courses, classroom resources, lesson plans, options to connect with other educators and to connect your students with students around the world. The Educator Community seems to be developing continuously and provides a fantastic range of resources and development opportunities to teachers for free.
What does Microsoft Education offer teachers?
On-Demand Training designed to support teachers with integrating technology into the classroom. Courses can take anywhere from 1 – 3 hours and can be taken anytime, anywhere convenient to you. There are also learning paths which are a collection of courses and complementary resources combined.
I myself am working through some of these courses. Most recently I completed a short course (45 minutes) called Accessibility Tools: Meeting the needs of diverse learners which I found excellent.
The course took me through the following key areas:
- Personalising learning using Windows 10 and Office 2016 for all students
- Exploring ways to improve focus using Windows 10 and Office 2016
- The new Learning Tools add-in for OneNote can improve reading comprehension (we have recently had a post about this on TeachNet)
- Learning how students are able to demonstrate their understanding using inputs other than keyboarding and text
I am also making my way through 21st Century Learning Design which is a learning path comprised of 8 courses. This learning path provides teachers with clear and practical ways to enable 21st skills development in the classroom. The online course was developed by Dr. Deirdre Butler (St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra), Dr. Margaret Leahy (St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra), Dr, Michael Hallissy (H2 Learning) and John Hurley (H2 Learning).
This course has really made me reflect on how I can better design learning to allow students more opportunities to develop skills around
- skilled communication
- knowledge construction
- real-world problem-solving and Innovation
- use of ICT for learning
I would highly recommend exploring this course and many others available on the platform. Teachers have the opportunity to actively participate in the course by sharing materials and contributing to ongoing discussion as part of the courses. Once you have successfully completed each course a badge is added to your profile recognising your achievement.
Browse lesson plans and lesson ideas: These are a mix of video tutorials (put together by educators around the globe on a variety of topics spanning all student age ranges) and lesson plans with clearly stated objectives that you can readily implement or adapt for your classes. There are options to build your own lesson plans on the Educator Community so that they are shared with other educators and you can get their feedback on how they found it and maybe how it could be added to.
You can also expand your professional learning network by connecting with teachers around the world. To connect with fellow educators, it is possible to filter through hundreds of other educators by language, subject, country or age group they teach to connect with others who may have commonality with you. You can also connect with other classrooms by finding teachers who have expressed an interest through their Educator Community profiles and request a Skype session with them. Skype in the Classroom is a really great tool allowing students to explore and meet students and guest speakers around the world without ever leaving their own classroom. There are a number of guest speakers willing to Skype with classes. For example, your class could Skype with a representative from the Beagle Freedom Project to consider the true costs of cosmetics and the animal testing necessary to keep the industry alive.
Lastly, there are options for students on the Educator Community platform including resources for training, courses such as learning to code and possibilities to explore scholarships, internships and jobs for qualified students.
The best way to learn about the Microsoft Educator Community is to sign up and explore it for yourslef!
How do I access and join?
- Go to https://education.microsoft.com/
- Select Join Now
- If you have a Microsoft, Office 365, Twitter, Facebook or Skype account you can use one of these to create your account.
- You will then be guided through the sign up process.