University fosters flexible learning, smoother operations with communications upgrade

As written on customers.microsoft.com
Globe University is constantly looking for ways to improve student learning experiences and extend the reach of its instructors. Globe adopted Skype for Business Server 2015 for lecture delivery, staff communications, and voice capabilities across its 19 locations. Faculty and staff appreciate the product’s better cross-platform support, more intuitive interface, and integration with Microsoft Office 365, which will be used by the university’s students.

Business Needs

Teaching without borders

Globe University is as expansive as its name. People seeking careers in everything from business administration to veterinary technology turn to this family-owned system of five career colleges, universities, and training centers. With campus locations spread across five states, Globe looks for ways to share knowledge among its faculty and staff and to make it easier for students to take the classes they want without having to travel.
That’s why the university participated recently in the early adopter program for Skype for Business Server 2015, the successor to Microsoft Lync Server 2013. By upgrading its communications solution, Globe can make its instructors more available, streamline internal operations, and enable colleagues to work together more easily, whether they need to track down the right resource to answer a prospective student’s questions or solve an IT issue for a remote faculty member.
There’s plenty of communications and collaboration among the university’s colleges. “We have a common curriculum and a shared faculty, so we offer some of the same courses at multiple schools,” says Dave Hagel, Director of Technology Services at Globe University. “Instead of having to shuttle among multiple campuses to reach their many interested students, our instructors use Skype for Business as a powerful, convenient technology to teach and transfer knowledge. A seasoned instructor who is an expert in her field can teach a course from one of our campus classrooms, and students from all over our college system can watch her lectures. By using Skype for Business, we can make the best instructors available to the greatest number of students without inconveniencing either instructors or students. This gives the college the flexibility to teach more efficiently, reach students in remote locations, and increase the quality of educational opportunities.”


A tradition of advanced communications

Globe University has long been an early adopter of unified communications technologies, going back to its implementation of Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007. The university’s first step was to upgrade 10 Globe datacenter servers to Skype for Business, which is now used by 1,500 faculty and staff. “With the in-place upgrade path, we had an easy move to Skype for Business,” says Adam Hite, Director of IT at Globe University. Globe plans to set up a hybrid environment in which staff and faculty can use either Skype for Business on-premises if they need enterprise voice capabilities or the online version available with Microsoft Office 365.
The university plans to roll out Office 365 to approximately 15,000 students. The goal is for students using Office 365 to be able to use Skype for Business to collaborate on class projects, get help from classmates, and work more closely as a team, even if they don’t sit in the same classroom on a daily basis.
The university’s Skype for Business environment works with Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013, which means that employees can view each other’s presence information from within their messaging and collaboration systems. Globe also plans to have Skype for Business interoperate with its customer relationship management (CRM) solution, public-facing website, and learning management system.


Flexibility and collaboration

Many of the university’s faculty and staff have already embraced Skype for Business instant messaging, presence, and conferencing functionality, and some employees also opt for its voice capabilities instead of using the university’s PBX telephony system. Elaine Settergren, Online Librarian at Globe University, relies on Skype for Business to curate electronic resources, support instructors and other colleagues, and help students with research. “I use Skype for Business all day, every day, to help faculty figure out the best ways to incorporate digital library content into their courses, coordinate the efforts of our dispersed library staff, and respond to calls from students,” says Settergren. “If another librarian or faculty member needs help finding information for a student, she checks to see if I’m available; then we both can put on headsets for an audio call, share our screens, or quickly exchange instant messages.”
Globe also uses Skype for Business to conduct virtual faculty and staff meetings to minimize travel. Settergren, who works at home—more than an hour away from many of her campus-based colleagues—uses Skype for Business to participate in nearly all her meetings, from weekly team check-ins to faculty conferences with more than 100 attendees. “We share presentations right from Microsoft PowerPoint as well as share desktops, which helps us work more consistently as a team, advise on best practices, and resolve issues quickly,” says Settergren. “Without Skype for Business, I wouldn’t be as responsive to my colleagues, and our team couldn’t provide the same level of student and faculty support.”

Enhanced community interactions

Globe University has noted significant improvements in Skype for Business, particularly on Apple iOS devices—important because every student and faculty member at the university is given an iPad. “We considered the cross-platform capabilities good in Lync Server 2013, but they’re even better in Skype for Business,” says Hite. “It’s more reliable, the web interface is cleaner and more intuitive, and we get a richer experience for presentations. Because Skype for Business is so much more compatible with our devices, I expect its adoption to rise quickly among faculty.”
University employees also appreciate the flexibility to choose the right communication mechanism for each interaction. “For example, a member of our IT help desk may start by instant messaging with an instructor who’s having trouble, then decide to share desktops to get a better sense of the problem,” says Hagel. “The freedom to shift among modes of communication also helps faculty members assist students effectively during online office hours.”

Faster service and responsiveness

Globe uses Skype for Business to care for prospective students, as well as current ones. At the university’s call center, an agent receives a call, learns the caller’s areas of interest, and uses presence to identify a colleague with relevant expertise who’s available to speak to the caller. “We consider presence through Skype for Business an integral part of our business,” says Hagel. “Calls can be transferred to the right person right away, so prospective students get information immediately. If they had to leave a message and wait for a call back, they might lose interest. We want to capture their attention and keep it by being responsive to all their needs, and Skype for Business helps us do that.” In fact, the university’s international recruiting team plans to take advantage of Skype for Business to interview prospective students from other countries, who can easily participate using the Skype consumer product.
With its upgraded platform in place, Globe is poised to run even more cohesively across its 30 locations, increasing the quality and convenience of its educational experience. “From online and remote learning to connected faculty members to recruiting, we’ve made Skype for Business absolutely critical to our business,” says Hite. “Not only does everyone use it, but they’re using it in new, creative ways to serve our students.”


OneNote Class Notebook assignment and grading support comes to Blackbaud and eSchoolData

As written on blogs.office.com
Over a year ago, we launched the OneNote Class Notebook add-in, with assignment and grade integration, connected to a Learning Management System (LMS) and Student Information System (SIS). Teachers from all over the world have connected OneNote Class Notebooks with their systems. We have heard requests for additional LMSes and SISes to be supported. The OneNote Class Notebook now integrates assignments and grades with over 40 LMSes and SISes—with more on the way.
With today’s OneNote Class Notebook add-in update, we are rolling out new LMS assignment and grade integration for Blackbaud onCampus and eSchoolData. To see the full list of committed education partners, please visit our OneNote Education Partners page. This page also has helpful training videos demonstrating how Class Notebooks integrate with each of the different LMSes and SISes.
Additions and improvements for the Class Notebook add-in, version, include:
  • Assignment and grade integration with Blackbaud onCampus.

  • Assignment and grade integration with eSchoolData.

Additional developments include:
  • Assignment and grade improvements for Google Classroom.
  • Bug fixes and stability improvements.
For details on how to attach your OneNote Class Notebook to a LMS or SIS and create assignments and grades, see “Class Notebook add-in getting started guide.”

OneNote at Klein High School - Managed Solution

OneNote Class Notebook supports English Language Learners at Klein Forest High School

By TaMara Breaux and Scott Howe as written on blogs.office.com
Klein Forest High School is located in Houston, Texas. Our student body is about 3,700 students; our faculty and staff total approximately 500, and we are 1:1. We have an on-campus repair center that services our devices, but they do not teach teachers and students how to use software. That’s where we step in. As the instructional specialists in technology on campus, it is our responsibility to ensure that teachers and students can utilize the technology effectively for teaching and learning.
We first saw OneNote Class Notebook while attending the TCEA annual technology conference last February. We attended an amazing session called Personalizing Student Learning with the OneNote Class Notebook. We were in love with so many features of the class notebook, but what sold us was Learning Tools because of our high English Language Learner (ELL) population.

OneNote Class Notebook supports English Language Learners 1

As our campus struggled to step away from excessive paper copies in our 1:1 environment, administrators asked us for solutions utilizing our technology more effectively. We knew OneNote was a perfect solution. Before we could sell it, we had to become experts ourselves. So, we created a Class Notebook for our 13-member, cross-content specialist PLC. Our PLC was a team of guinea pigs. Once we gained confidence in the tool, we were ready to bring it to the staff. Like any school, our teaching staff contains all kinds—from technophobes to tech enthusiasts. Knowing that, we asked a few tech enthusiasts to pilot OneNote Class Notebook with their students. This way we would have tried and true testimonials for our technophobes from within the building.

This Sway showcases the use of OneNote at Klein Forest High School.

Just like we expected, they LOVED it. One staff member, an English IV teacher, used it with her students and immediately gravitated to the collaboration space. She had her students revise and edit each other’s essays and then leave quality feedback using the Record Audio feature. Her students asked her, “Why haven’t you been using this all year?”

OneNote Class Notebook supports English Language Learners 2

Another staff member, an ELL teacher, used it with his students who are new to the country and learning the English language. He was drawn to the Learning Tools add-in. He saw vast improvements in the students’ writing and language acquisition over time. He even made some tutorial videos as a supplemental resource for our teachers ready to jump in. A third staff member, a math co-teacher, used Class Notebook with his SPED students. He, too, liked the Learning Tools, but he loved how easy it was to organize. This proved to be extremely beneficial for his population because it made providing individual accommodations easier. Additionally, the teachers provided us feedback about potential obstacles, which allowed us to anticipate problems and have possible solutions readily available.
To prepare for our summer trainings, we decided to actively “promote” OneNote. We visited PLC meetings, made infographics, emailed the details out and posted on our website. During the summer of 2016, we provided professional development for our staff introducing OneNote and had them participate as students using a Class Notebook that we had created. Most of them fell in love with it on the spot. We also had the teachers who piloted OneNote during the previous year assist with staff development for additional buy-in.

OneNote Class Notebook supports English Language Learners 3

Once school started this August, things got off to a slower start than we anticipated. Teachers were falling into old habits. Therefore, we decided to switch our approach from marketing to grassroots. We targeted specific teachers who we felt were catalysts, teachers that would share our sentiments. This proved to be successful because—just like we suspected—it spread like wildfire!
Teachers and other campuses within our district began contacting us about OneNote daily. Soon, our district’s chief learning officer asked us to do a guest blog post in The Exchange, an in-district blog. As you can imagine, we were pumped.
One question that always emerges is how we support our teachers with OneNote. The first thing we do is schedule two appointments with the teachers. We have found that initial and ongoing support are a huge indicator of success, especially for teachers that are weary about trying a new tool. OneNote can be daunting for some. Additionally, we provide supplemental trainings like Using OneNote for Accommodations or OneNote Tips and Tricks for people at various places in their OneNote journey. Another way we support teachers is sharing and showcasing their efforts and ideas on our website. Lastly, we ensure we follow up with teachers frequently, whether it is a quick conversation in the hall or an email asking, “How’s OneNote going?”

OneNote Class Notebook supports English Language Learners 4

OneNote has been an excellent tool for our struggling students and co-teach classes. A few accommodations we have seen incorporated into OneNote are Read Aloud, enlarged text, graphic organizers, to-do list and use of calculator. (Did you know OneNote can solve simple equations?) OneNote helps students who may struggle with learning disabilities to keep their work organized because the teacher can distribute the work to their notebooks. Students are not losing or misplacing their work anymore. The differentiation of assignments is also made easy with the Distribute Page tool. Teachers can send out different assignments based on the needs of the students within the same class. Teachers also can watch the students work on their own computers and offer direct feedback during and after the assignment.

OneNote Class Notebook supports English Language Learners 5

OneNote Class Notebook has been a powerful addition to our technology toolbox. OneNote Class Notebook integrates with many different programs and, lucky for us, it integrates with both our LMS and SIS. OneNote Class Notebook integrates with our LMS, which means it can automatically enroll students in the OneNote Class Notebook—one less thing for teachers to do. Another nice integration is our SIS/gradebook. Our teachers can grade an assignment in OneNote, and with the click of a button, have those grades automatically added to their gradebook.
What we have learned in the last 10 months is that OneNote can work for everyone. We have just about every subject represented, from our math teachers to our dance teachers. We have also learned that initial and follow-up support are important for continued success. There are so many awesome features in OneNote, and it can be intimidating for some when trying to show them everything up front. We try to scaffold them as we continue to follow up with our teachers. Without a doubt, OneNote has positively impacted our campus instructionally, for teachers and students alike.


[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]microsoft educations new experiences - managed solution

Where to start and what to know about Microsoft Education’s new experiences

By Anthony Salcito as written on educationblog.microsoft.com
A great classroom comes to life wherever students and educators meet. In working with our vibrant Microsoft Educator Community over the years, we’ve learned to reshape our ideas of what that great classroom looks like, how it works and even where it is. The world is changing right before us and, together, we have to recognize it as a pressing societal challenge – and our largest opportunity to prepare students for the future.
We shared our vision for inclusive, immersive learning at a Microsoft Education event in New York City today, where we announced new, affordable devices and a Windows 10 experience inspired by students and teachers – we call it Windows 10 S. We also shared new ways to work and learn together on screens, through games, and in 3D. Our ambition extends beyond simply moving the classroom from physical to digital. We believe we have an incredible opportunity to leverage technology in modern ways to provide more outcome-driven, personal learning paths for students.
It’s a lot to take in, so we’ve put it all together in five steps to get you started, with a few links to point you in the right direction. Whether you want to investigate new devices for your class or download some powerful creativity apps – or even build a complete classroom solution from beginning to end – each of the pieces below can help enable the right environment for you and support better learning outcomes.

1. Find affordable, easily set-up devices powered by Windows 10 S

A boy concentrates on the screen while his teacher provides guidance.

Many computers have a use in the classroom, but not all are built with students and educators in mind. We believe in the power of simplicity, which is why we’ve announced Windows 10 S, a bespoke version of Windows inspired by students and teachers. Windows 10 S, coming in time for the new school year, is designed to run only Windows Store apps verified for security by Microsoft, which makes software secure without compromising performance.
We’re also making it easy to find a broad range of affordable Windows 10 S devices for you and your students. Our powerful productivity toolkit, Office 365 for Education, is free for students, faculty and staff.  We also announced today that, for devices currently used by schools, Windows 10 S will be available for free on any compatible, genuine Windows 10 PC. It’s also free for devices like our new Surface Laptop, which you can pre-order starting today.
Learn more about devices powered by Windows 10 S: https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/?p=145376
Learn more about the new Surface Laptop: https://blogs.windows.com/devices/?p=259937
We’ve heard from educators and administrators who want to bring our devices to their classrooms with an easy setup that doesn’t ask for constant attention throughout the year. That’s why we also spent some time today discussing Microsoft Intune for Education, which helps you get Windows 10 devices up and running with apps and settings managed more easily. Windows 10 S is streamlined for consistent performance and, when paired with Microsoft Intune for Education, schools can deploy new Windows 10 S devices in as little as 30 seconds per device.
Learn more about Microsoft Intune for Education: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/education/intune/default.aspx
See how an IT Admin and two teachers set up 24 Windows 10 Creators Update PCs in an hour: https://aka.ms/setupinanhour
Today we also announced a preview of Office, coming to Windows 10 S this summer through the Microsoft Store for Education. Once the preview is available, teachers and students will be able to enjoy the power of fully-installed Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps on Windows 10 S devices. Stay tuned to learn about more apps coming to the Microsoft Store for Education including: Adobe Photoshop Elements, Minecraft: Education Edition and many other apps for the classroom.


The front page of the Microsoft Store for Education.

2. Create collaborative classrooms with Microsoft Teams

This summer we’ll introduce new classroom experiences, designed specifically for educators and students, into Microsoft Teams. We’ve already released Teams to the education community through their Office 365 for Education subscription, which is free for students, faculty and staff.

A class and educator posting updates collaboratively through Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams is a digital hub that brings conversations, content, and apps together in one place. It’s built on Office 365, which means your school can benefit from integration with familiar Office apps and services. It can be and customized to fit the needs of any school.
The education-focused features for Teams – like creating, distributing and grading quizzes, or collecting grade assignments all in one place – ensure that students, teachers and staff can get the most out of Teams. Educators will be able to manage classes and project workflow, and collaborate with other teachers and staff from a single experience in Office 365 for Education, while students can develop the communication and collaboration skills they’ll need to be successful in the future.
Read more about these new experiences in Office 365 for Education: https://blogs.office.com/2017/05/02/modern-classroom-collaboration-with-office-365-for-education/

3. Create and learn in Minecraft: Education Edition with Code Builder

A student runs Minecraft: Education Edition on a Windows device in class.

There’s much more coming to the ever-expanding worlds of Minecraft: Education Edition. Today we announced the upcoming launch of Minecraft: Education Edition Code Builder – on May 22 – and introduced a new way to learn coding within Minecraft’s inspiring worlds. Learning to code becomes part of your students’ creative exploration in Minecraft, where code is represented as – what else? – blocks that can be used to execute commands and lead to new ways to explore, create and learn. Code Builder connects to learn-to-code platforms like Tynker, ScratchX, and a new open source platform we’ve come up with, called MakeCode.
A free trial of Minecraft: Education Edition and beta of the new Code Builder extension are available to schools today. Students receive a one-year subscription to Minecraft: Education Edition when their schools purchase new Windows 10 devices, starting today.
Build, craft and collaborate with Minecraft: Education Edition: https://aka.ms/meemay17announce

4. Discover new experiences to spark creativity

A young girl happily displays her digitally inked art on a Windows Surface device.

At our Microsoft Education event we shared a blend of the familiar with the bold. With Windows Ink on Windows 10 devices, we took the handwriting experience into the digital realm, with an intuitive pen-to-paper feel that preserves note taking as a critical learning process. According to IDC (International Data Corporation) research, 93 percent of educators say digital inking allows them to improve the quality of their curriculum and materials. As the next step, we’re inviting you to expand learning into three dimensions to fill the whole classroom with ideas and creations.
You can help students express themselves with an almost tangible touch through Paint 3D, which can transform the strokes of a digital pen into complex 3D sculptures. It’s also compatible with 3D printing, so statues and other objects can be brought into the classroom as a hands-on example. A Michigan Technological University study (PDF link) tells us that test performance and passion for learning is improved among students who experience 3D content and enhance their spatial skills, with female students enrolling in math and science at a higher rate after learning in 3D.
Realize your ideas and creations in Paint 3D: https://educationstore.microsoft.com/store/details/product/9nblggh5fv99?ocid=msfe_edumktg_apps_oo_edu
We also announced something for the near future: We will offer mixed reality curriculum for the 2018 school year through a new strategic partnership with Pearson Education.

5. #HacktheClassroom through hands-on lesson plans and a live ISTE event

If you’ve seen anything today that inspires you to learn more about our vision for education, or to join our Microsoft Educator Community, the upcoming #HacktheClassroom event is a great place to get going.
The hack is back in our big hands-on event, bringing together the best innovators, disrupters and hackers in your education community to share their tips, tricks and clever shortcuts for building a bolder, better classroom without boundaries. It’s happening live at ISTE on Tuesday, June 27th, online and for free for those who can’t attend in person.
Register for #HacktheClassroom here: http://aka.ms/HTCMay2

We also have our ongoing Hacking STEM initiative, developed in partnership with educators to help bring Science, Technology, Engineering and Math projects down to earth. That doesn’t mean projects aren’t cool, though – the monthly lesson plans call for accessible materials like spools and cups to create fun and fascinating devices like robotic hands and earthquake simulators.
The Hacking STEM portfolio aligns with academic standards and encourages students to use computational design thinking, ideal for a breadth of careers in the future.  Each lesson plan maps to the Next Generation Science Standards and the International Society for Technology in Education standards, comes with detailed instructions for the maker activity and code needed for the project, and includes a hacked Excel worksheet with a prebuilt dashboard that contains meters, counters, charts and graphs for real-time data.
Download free Hacking STEM lesson plans: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/education/education-workshop/default.aspx
Beginning on Saturday, May 6, Microsoft Store will host STEM Saturdays throughout May in all full line locations, in addition to the range of free programs year-round that empower students and educators by providing direct access to technology and hands-on learning. STEM Saturdays bring Microsoft Education’s pop-up classrooms to Microsoft Store and give participants a hands-on experience as they build a sensor that measures the flexion and extension of a finger. In the process, they learn about the anatomy of a human hand. Anyone, including teachers, students and parents can attend STEM Saturday workshops at a Microsoft Store, every Saturday in May.
Attend a STEM Saturday event at select Microsoft Store locations for parents, student and teachers. Learn more here: https://www.microsoft.com/stemsaturdays

Thank you for being part of this journey

We are excited about today’s announcements and the impact these new offerings will have on the digital transformation taking place in education. Though we know technology is important, we also know the people who use it matter most. We continue to be inspired by teachers all over the world and remain driven to empower today’s students to achieve more.


killer feature is office - managed solution

Microsoft’s killer feature for its Chromebook competitor is Office

By Romain Dillet as written on techcrunch.com
Microsoft just unveiled a new operating system at a press event this morning. Windows 10 S is a streamlined and more secure version of Windows 10. But it still looks and feels like a normal PC. And it runs essential apps like Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
While I haven’t used Office apps for years, I spent most of my days using them back when I was in a student. I used Word to write papers, PowerPoint to prepare presentations and Excel to calculate stuff. And this is a great way to convince companies to buy Office subscriptions as most employees are already familiar with Office apps.
Microsoft is fully aware of that and plans to take advantage of that with its Chromebook competitors.
Sure, you can use Word Online, Google Docs and other web apps on your Chromebook. And Google has been saying for years that you’ll soon be able to run Android apps on your Chrome OS device. But very few Chromebooks currently support Android apps, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Android.
Microsoft is restricting Windows 10 S devices to Windows Store apps. It means that you won’t be able to download app from the your browser and install it. Developers will have to submit their apps to the Windows Store first.
But the company instantly reassured everyone by saying that Office apps are coming to the Windows Store soon. So it means that you’ll be able to buy a $189 Windows 10 S laptop and run full-fledged Office apps. And if you’re a student or teacher, Office 365 is free.
Microsoft is probably going to use Office apps in its advertising campaigns for Windows 10 S devices as it’s a sweet deal if you want a cheap device that runs Word. This is going to be Microsoft’s killer feature when it comes to selling those devices and eating up Chromebook’s market share.
Now it’s still going to take years as schools don’t take this kind of decisions lightly. Districts don’t switch to another vendor because Microsoft is slightly ahead of the competition. It’s going to be a long fight, but it looks like Microsoft thinks it’s worth starting it.

trailblazers - managed solution

Trailblazers show girls the world of science and tech is cool – and needs them

By Deborah Bach as written on new.microsoft.com
One day in her senior year of high school, Cristina Mittermeier sat on the floor with her classmates listening to a man talk about career opportunities in marine sciences while she looked up, transfixed, at the otherworldly images he showed on a screen.
Mittermeier knew right then that she wanted a career focused on the ocean. But her hometown of Cuernavaca, in central Mexico, was nowhere near the water, and there were no female scientists around who could offer her guidance. Mittermeier’s father wanted her to be an accountant, like him. Her grandmother wanted her to find a husband. Her mother, a psychologist, told her she should follow her dream.
Mittermeier couldn’t have imagined that three decades later, she’d be standing before a room of girls at the Microsoft store in Bellevue, Washington, encouraging them to consider a future in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Girls need to know that there are a lot of women who have blazed a trail for them, and we are just waiting to see what they can do.

“When I look at this room, I recognize myself as a young girl,” she said to the standing-room-only crowd of more than 50 girls. “Growing up in Mexico, we didn’t have a lot of opportunities. It was so hard for me to imagine doing all these things.”
Photo of smiling woman speaking to crowd of girls at Microsoft store
Cristina Mittermeier tells the young audience about her work as a National Geographic photographer as her partner, Paul Nicklen, looks on.
Mittermeier and her partner, Paul Nicklen, were at the store for Microsoft’s #MakeWhatsNext workshop, part of a broader campaign aimed at engaging young girls in STEM. As part of the #MakeWhatsNext campaign, Microsoft’s Global Ads team initiated a partnership with National Geographic for the March 18 event, one of six at Microsoft stores around the U.S. featuring women working in STEM fields — from a bioinformatics CEO to an astrophysicist and a young volcanologist in training. The event included a Facebook livestream with Jennifer Adler, a marine biologist and National Geographic Young Explorer, and presentations from the speakers, followed by an hour of codinginstruction.
Mittermeier and Nicklen are renowned National Geographic photographers and conservationists who have traveled to more than 100 countries and worked in some of the remotest corners of the planet. They are also the co-founders of SeaLegacy, a Canada-based organization launched in 2015 that aims to combine the pair’s award-winning images with storytelling to raise awareness about climate change and protect marine ecosystems around the world. They told the audience at the workshop that the planet needs the contributions women in STEM can offer.
“We need great scientists out there like yourselves understanding oceans,” Nicklen said. “Half of the air we breathe comes from oceans.”

Our whole society loses out when a significant proportion of the world’s brainpower is not engaged in creating those solutions.

With the pair’s stunning color images as a backdrop, Mittermeier detailed her circuitous career path. Afraid to leave home after high school, she enrolled at a university in her hometown and studied communications for a year. She was getting straight A’s but wasn’t feeling challenged. So Mittermeier swallowed her fear and made the decision to move away and study science.
Because there was no major in marine biology available at the time in Mexico, Mittermeier got a degree in biochemical engineering. Her studies exposed her to industrial fishing and commercial food production, which cemented her passion for conservation.
Photo of little girl listening to STEM presentation
“I did a 180 as soon as I left university,” she said.
Mittermeier hoped to become a scientist and get a Ph.D., but she married soon after finishing university and had three children. Her husband at the time was a scientist and anthropologist who studied tribal communities, and Mittermeier borrowed his camera and starting taking photos in the field. Her work caught the attention of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, which asked to include some of her images in an exhibition on Amazonian tribes. Mittermeier has now edited 24 photographic books and been named among the World’s Top 40 Most Influential Outdoor Photographers by Outdoor magazine.


Photo of dark-haired woman smiling and leaning against tableCristina Mittermeier
“When I was starting my career, so many people said to me, ‘Don’t do that. Why don’t you become this or this instead?’” she said. “I’m so glad I persevered.”
Mittermeier is a role model for girls considering a career in STEM, but research points to a dearth of women like her as a primary reason more girls don’t enter those fields. Little early exposure to STEM subjects, lack of confidence in their own abilities and a masculine culture that discourages girls are also cited as factors. Just 6.7 percent of female college students in the U.S. graduate with STEM degrees, according to BestColleges.com, and women currently hold fewer than 25 percent of STEM jobs in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Microsoft has launched several initiatives aimed at reducing that gender gap. The company partners with nonprofits such as Girls Who Code and Code.org to provide computer science classes and coding workshops, and Microsoft’s DigiGirlz initiative connects high school girls with Microsoft employees and other industry leaders through various events. Microsoft also works with policymakers to ensure that students have access to computer science classes.
Corporate Vice President Mary Snapp is the head of Microsoft Philanthropies, which launched in 2015 with a focus on providing technology to young people, particularly girls and underserved populations. Women’s representation in STEM is critical for reasons beyond equity, Snapp says.
“We need everyone to help to solve the big challenges our economies and our societies are facing,” she says. “Our whole society loses out when a significant proportion of the world’s brainpower is not engaged in creating those solutions. We want to encourage girls to stay in STEM so they can solve the problems they care about most, from finding solutions to climate change to curing cancer and beyond.”
Constance Adams knows firsthand how powerful the influences discouraging girls from STEM can be. Adams, who was the featured speaker at the March 18 workshop in Troy, Michigan, is a space architect and National Geographic Emerging Explorer who has designed habitations for Mars and helped design several space shuttles.
Photo of woman talking to two girls
Constance Adams talks to girls at the #MakeWhatsNext workshop in Michigan.
About a decade ago, Adams was passing a gift shop at the Johnson Space Center in Houston shortly before Halloween and noticed a child-sized replica of the distinctive orange launch entry suits worn by space shuttle crews. Delighted, she picked up one for her young daughter. Adams had been raising her as a single mother, taking her on work trips around the world, and the little girl was familiar with Adams’ work.
So Adams was shocked when, after presenting her daughter with the suit, she burst into tears.
“She said, ‘I can’t wear that — that’s for a boy,’” Adams recalls. “I was absolutely floored. If that child, growing up attached to my hip, had absorbed that narrative that astronauts weren’t women, wow. Somehow the girls really are not getting the picture that they have these options.”
Photo of two girls looking at a computer together
Adams promptly arranged to bring her daughter to lunch with her friend Pamela Melroy, then a NASA astronaut. Adams’ daughter came away with an autographed photo and a new perspective on who could be an astronaut, but the experience stuck with Adams.
“I became much more conscious about doubling down on promoting STEM for women,” she says.
Despite the factors working against girls’ interest in STEM, Snapp believes the gender gap can and will be overcome.
“We’re already seeing some positive change. There is growing interest in computer science programs, for example, at the university level — in fact, some university science programs are having trouble keeping up with demand,” she says.
“And that growing interest, according to the universities we’re hearing from, is also coming from women. That’s one of the many reasons that I’m optimistic about the future for women in STEM.”
Back at the Bellevue workshop earlier this month, girls gathered at tables after the presentation and got to work on a coding exercise. Shilpa Asrani watched as her 7-year-old daughter, Trishaa Khanna, and two other girls huddled around a computer. Asrani said Trishaa was exposed to coding through her older brother and has a natural interest in science, but she thinks popular culture must do a better job of signaling to girls that they belong in STEM fields.
“I think the media needs to focus more on girls,” she said. “That’s what needs to happen.”
Trishaa said she liked hearing Mittermeier and Nicklen talk about wild animals and their environments because she hopes to become a veterinarian and work in a zoo.
“That’s my dream job. I want to be a vet, a zoo helper who takes care of the new baby animals who are born,” she said.
Photo of girls working at computers
Kyra Mohr, 10, was intrigued by the chance to do some coding, which she considers fun. She hasn’t decided what she wants to do for a career yet, but thinks it will involve technology and space.
“I like space, planets and how humans have evolved to know how to go into space,” she said.
For Mittermeier, the workshop was an opportunity to provide the encouragement she wishes she’d had as a young girl.
“If I had imagined myself in these roles, it probably wouldn’t have taken me this long to get where I am,” she said. “Girls need to know that there are a lot of women who have blazed a trail for them, and we are just waiting to see what they can do.”


onenote education - managed solution

Graph math equations with Ink math assistant in OneNote for Windows 10

As written on blogs.office.com
Last summer we introduced Ink math assistant in OneNote—a digital tutor that gives you step-by-step instructions on how to solve your handwritten math problems. Today, we are excited to announce that Ink math assistant can draw graphs of your equations, all within OneNote for Windows 10.
Now, when you write your math equations, the Ink math assistant quickly plots an interactive graph to help you visualize those difficult math concepts. You can zoom in and move the graph to observe intersection points or change values of parameters in your equations to better understand how each of them reflects on the graph. Finally, you can save a screenshot of the graph directly to your page to revisit it later.

Five steps to graph an equation in OneNote

  1. Begin by writing your equation. For example: y=x+3 or y=sin(x)+cos(2x).
  2. Next, use Lasso tool to select the equation and then, on the Draw tab, click the Math button.
  3. From the drop-down menu in Math pane, select the option to Graph in 2D. You can play with the interactive graph of your equation—use a single finger to move the graph position or two fingers to change the zoom level.
  4. Use + and – buttons to change the values of the parameters in your equation.
  5. Finally, click the Insert on Page button to add a screenshot of the graph to your page.
Availability: Ink math assistant is available in OneNote for Windows 10, for Office 365 subscribers. 


project torino - managed solution

Microsoft creates a physical programming language inclusive of visually impaired children

As written on blogs.microsoft.com
These days, most kids get their first introduction to coding through simplified tools that let them drag and drop blocks of commands, creating programs that can do things like navigate mazes or speed through space.
A team of Microsoft researchers and designers in the company’s Cambridge, UK, lab is taking that concept one step further. The team has created what they are calling a physical programming language. It’s a way for kids to physically create code by connecting pods together to build programs.
The system, called Project Torino, is designed to make sure that kids who have visual impairments or other challenges can participate in coding classes along with all their classmates. But Cecily Morrison, one of the researchers working on the project, is hoping the system also will be appealing and useful for all learners, regardless of whether they have visual impairments or other challenges.
“One of our key design principles was inclusion. We didn’t want to isolate these kids again,” she said. “The idea was to create something that a whole mainstream class could use, and they could use together.”
The ultimate goal is even more ambitious: To get more kids with visual impairments and other challenges, such as dyslexia or autism, on the path to becoming software engineers and computer scientists.
“It’s clear that there’s a huge opportunity in professional computing jobs,” Morrison said. “This is a great career for a lot of kids who might have difficulty accessing other careers.”
A project like this can serve two goals: Technology companies say they are struggling with a “digital skills gap” that is leaving them without enough engineers and coders to meet their needs, and experts say it can be difficult for visually impaired people to find meaningful, accessible career paths.
The World Health Organization estimates that 285 million people worldwide are blind or visually impaired, and the vast majority of those people live in low-income settings. In the United Kingdom alone, the Royal National Institute of Blind People says only one in four working age adults who are blind or partially sighted are doing paid work.
Steve Tyler, head of solutions, strategy and planning for the Royal National Institute of Blind People, which is working with Morrison on the project, said coding has often been thought of as a promising career path for people with visual impairments. In recent years, however, computer science has come to rely much more on pictorial, graphical and conceptual coding methods, making it harder for kids with visual impairments to get exposed to the field.
Tyler said systems like Project Torino could help provide that path.
“This, for us, was a core reason for running with a project like this and supporting it,” Tyler said.
Tyler, who has a background in education, also said there is currently a woeful lack of resources for visually impaired children who have an interest in coding or more generally are ready for an introduction to mathematical and strategic thinking. That’s a huge problem because a child’s first introduction to these concepts can be a make or break moment for whether they end up being interested in pursuing a career in those types of fields.
Traditionally, Tyler said teachers have used chess to teach those kinds of strategic concepts to visually impaired children.
“I see this project a little bit like that,” he said. “It brings to life, in a 21st century way, that kind of ability to teach children these new concepts.”

From left, Louisa Turtill, 9, and Khadijah Pinto Atkin, also 9, use Project Torino. The physical programming language is being designed with the help of children to make sure it is inclusive of their needs. Photo by Jonathan Banks.

From left, Louisa Turtill, 9, and Khadijah Pinto Atkin, also 9, use Project Torino. The physical programming language is being designed with the help of children to make sure it is inclusive of their needs. Photo by Jonathan Banks.
The Microsoft team has spent the last year or so testing the system with a small group of about a dozen students. Nicolas Villar, a senior researcher in the UK lab who was instrumental in designing Project Torino, said one of the unexpected pleasures of the project is the opportunity to work with kids who have a very different way of experiencing the world.
For example, he said, the team originally made the pods all white, until the kids with limited vision told them that more colors would help them. And although in electronics there’s often a push to make things as small as possible, with this project they found the kids were more engaged when the pods were larger, in part because two kids working together would often both physically hold the pod and touch hands as part of that teamwork.
“We really honestly designed it with them. It was a collaboration,” Villar said of working with the group of kids. “We thought we were going to be doing something for them but we ended up designing with them.”
Now, they are working with RNIB to do an expanded beta trial of about 100 students. The researchers and the RNIB will be recruiting potential participants for the trial in mid-March at the VIEW conference for educators in the United Kingdom who work with visually impaired children.
For now, the beta is focused only on the UK, which has spearheaded a massive effort to get more kids interesting in coding. Eventually, they hope to make it more broadly available to teachers and students outside of the UK.

A lesson in computational thinking

Project Torino is geared toward kids age 7 to 11. Using the coding tools, students can do things like make songs, even incorporating silly noises, poetry and sounds they create themselves.
As they build their code, Morrison said they learn the kind of programming concepts that will lead to careers in computer science or related fields.
“It is very specifically about building up concepts that will enable them to become computer scientists, programmers, software engineers, computational thinkers,” she said. “It gives them that computational base to whatever direction they go, and a shared vocabulary about what computing is.”
Morrison and her colleagues also have created a curriculum for teachers who want to use Project Torino. She said the teachers do not need to have a computer science background to use the curriculum – in fact, they assume that most teachers will not have any expertise in coding.
The system also is designed to grow with kids. Once they have mastered the physical programming language, Morrison said they also have created an app that allows kids to transfer the coding they have done with the physical system into text-based code, and then use other assistive technologies to continue coding.
“We’re mapping a pathway from the physical to something that a professional software engineer could use,” she said.


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