Author: Colette Fuller
A couple of weeks ago myself and my colleague Caroline went to Reading to visit Microsoft HQ as part of a 3 day ‘Microsoft Bootcamp’. This promised to be an interesting three days for us, what could be more exciting than spending three days looking at developments in Microsoft apps and technologies and discussing it’s benefits with other staff in education?! We were keen to find out more about apps we are already using here at UCLan, see what’s coming up and hoped to come back with more exciting things to share within our team and with colleagues across the university.
The 3 days were jam packed with content, there were over 50 attendees from other institutions – some FE but mostly HE, so there were a lot of people to meet. It would be a very long read if we attempted to cover everything we did, so some highlights were:
Approaches to Digital Capabilities
We are always keen to find out how other universities are supporting staff with Digital Capabilities, so when Teeside University’s gave us an overview of their Future Facing Learning programme, we were really pleased to see they had similar ideas to us. Using the JISC Framework to structure staff development is working well for them, staff are working towards Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (using Microsoft Educator Community resources) and the programme is mapped to UKPSF. There is a lot of potential here so we will be looking at this more closely and continue developing our own staff development programme to meet the needs of staff at UCLan.
The Microsoft Educator Community contains a wealth of resources including badging and certification. We’ll be exploring this further and looking at ways to build this into our programme – so watch this space!
Teams is only just a year old, but this brilliant app was a hot topic for pretty much everyone at this event. Everyone is very excited about how it transforms collaborative working, and in particular it’s potential in teaching. Lots of questions were asked about what’s coming up. Microsoft apps are evolving at a fast pace, so there is always something fresh and interesting to explore. We launched Teams formally at the Microsoft conference at the end of March, and we’re currently busy doing demos and generating interest for teams using Teams! If you want fo find out more, book onto one of our introductory sessions on the e3hub.
HoloLens and Paint 3D
We were intrigued by HoloLens; smartglasses with a self-contained, holographic computer, enabling you to engage with digital content and interact with holograms in the world around you i.e the room that you’re in. We were able to pop on the glasses and control a holographic desktop, inserting random objects like dinosaurs and walk around them in the room we were based. In addition to this you could also create objects in Paint 3d and insert those too! Paint 3D appeared in a update to Windows 10 last year. It’s not really like the old Paint app, as it allows you to construct your own 3D objects, placing them within a scene, as well as using Paint 3D’s Magic Select tool as either a 2D or 3D editor. This is so easy to do even if you have zero creativity or drawing skills. Even better these 3D objects can then be inserted in PowerPoint and animated…creating some cool new effects!
There is a lot of focus now on inclusivity as opposed to accessibility. It’s absolutely brilliant to see these developments in everyday apps such as Word, PowerPoint and OneNote as standard with no requirement for a student or member of staff to download separate software. Features such as translator/subtitles, dictation etc are actually useful to everyone and it just so happens they are especially useful for students with additional needs. We explored an absolutely amazing add on to PowerPoint which can produce live subtitles for your slides, direct from your speech. Amazingly it can translate these subtitles into many other languages – and has the ability to blank out swear words for those who need it!
Another great app we explored is the immersive reader which is available in both Word and OneNote online. This makes reading text much easier, is can space out words, highlight syllables, and even read out your documents to you. It included lots of other features too, so this is one all staff and students to explore.
Azure, sentiment analytics and bots
Azure sentiment analytics and bots – it would be fair to say we didn’t know much about these beforehand. We had a lively presentation from a guy called Azure Dan – who actually describes himself as Microsofts Azure Regional Skills Evangelist. He discussed with us the power of the cloud and what it means for business, plus what it can do for individuals. He demonstrated some cool ways he uses the cloud to automate his day and even regulate his health!
Overall the 3 days were interesting and fun. If you want to explore some of the tech mentioned above, here’s some links to get you started: