Last week we spent a couple of days with the Microsoft Education team in Melbourne to get our heads around Office 365 for learning.

To be honest, for at least the last 4 years I have been focused very much on Apple, and have worked primarily with Apple products in my classroom. I was excited to work with a Surface Pro 4 when joining Winthrop, but the schools I have been working with use Apple products, so I haven’t had a great opportunity to explore and experiment.

Spending 2 days in Melbourne doing Microsoft training on January 16th and 17th, turned my tech world as I know it, upside down. I must say that all my reluctance to work on my Surface dissipated, and I was again excited to try to work it into my daily life.

My favourite points at the training was learning about inking. Did you know that:

  • you can write on your screen by clicking on the pen in the bottom right hand corner and then onto Screen sketch?
  • you can click on ruler icon in Sketchpad and use 2 fingers to grab and rotate the ruler to draw straight lines?
  • you can draw on top of Word, Excel and PowerPoint slides?

I’ve now given the pen a run for it’s money and absolutely love it. I find making notes in OneNote so easy. I like being able to highlight over text and images, write notes and circle key points that I am going to need to remember for later. To be honest, it took a while for me to lean on the screen naturally because I thought it may not allow my writing to appear on the screen, but once I tried it I realised that it had no impact on my work and I could relax and write on it just as I would paper. It’s like a real notebook but, one where I can’t lose the pages! How many times do you write something on a piece of paper and then put it somewhere safe? So safe that you lose it? Surely it isn’t just me who does this, right?

As well as all the cool OneNote features I learnt, I also learnt about the new Microsoft Education Edition. If you know me, you know that I love coding and it is, ‘my baby’. Minecraft Education Edition allows the user to do more than the iPad version. Such as, taking images in the program – image what your class photo would look like with everyone as Minecraft characters! If your kids are like me, they will run after a pig or sheep and try to take a selfie – this is a much more difficult feat than it seemed at first. I also love that you can work by collaborating and building something together. I would love to try to build a village or replicate something in history with each group of students allocated to a different section.

I am excited to continue working with my Surface and incorporate it more into my work life.