IT Brief NZ - Microsoft's 21st century learning approach

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Microsoft's 21st century learning approach

Microsoft New Zealand is continuing their look back at 2012, remembering their work during the past twelve months.

Notable highlights for the Kiwi division include their work in education across the country, but the release of Windows 8 continues to be the standout memory for the company.

Below is Microsoft's own take on the year that was...

21st century learning

Microsoft continues our work towards support digital skills and universal digital access in New Zealand.

We hope to help all Kiwi kids learn knowledge and skills that will serve them well in a changing world. To enable universal access, one million NZ teachers and students now have free access to much of the cutting edge cloud service from Microsoft.

Every school and student can have free access to email, online document storage, and web apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, from home or at school.

The free professional programming tools offered to NZ students through have rapidly grown in popularity for learning tech skills, with more than 82,000 downloads in 12 months.

To support innovative teaching, Microsoft held a two-day Innovative Schools Forum attended by more than 100 NZ school leaders who wanted to learn more about use of technology to support education outcomes.

We have also brought education expertise from offshore. The Asia Partners in Learning Forum was hosted in Auckland by Microsoft, attracting delegates from NZ and across the Asia region.

Microsoft’s global education lead Anthony Salcito visited New Zealand to discuss 21st century learning with education leaders. As well as supporting teacher development, we believe it is essential to celebrate excellence in teaching.

In 2012 Microsoft recognised three additional NZ schools as Pathfinder Schools in the use of technology in education.

Trident High School, Whakatane High School, and Te Kura o Te Pāroa joined Botany Downs Secondary School and Howick College as recipients of this prestigious global award.

To foster digital inclusion, Microsoft has continued our support for the important work of the 2020 Communications Trust Computers in Homes programme and the Computer Clubhouse (now the High- Tech Youth Academy).

Devices that do more

In 2012 Microsoft introduced Windows 8. As well as offering important updates for people’s existing PCs, it is powering new devices that function equally well as a portable touch-friendly slate and as a full PC.

A full set of capabilities in a single device is convenient, saves money, and is good for the planet. This is perhaps best illustrated by examining one of the many Windows 8 devices available in NZ today.

The Acer Iconia W5 slate (below) is slim and light. It has excellent battery life and a fluid touch interface. It’s great for working on the go, casual games, rich HTML5 and Flash web browsing, email, and social media.

Windows 8 slates offer PC capabilities that are absent from many other slates. They let people to have dedicated user accounts that keep personal email and web accounts private. They can run Microsoft Office 2013 (designed for touch and cloud) and PC apps.

The optional mouse and keyboard dock protects the screen, and transforms the slate into a laptop with up to 18 hours of battery life. USB connectivity makes it easy to download photos from your camera, save files to a thumb drive, or connect a printer.

Including the dock, it’s retailing at $1,099 – much cheaper than buying multiple devices to do the same. Kiwi companies have been quick to take up the opportunity represented by the new Windows Store, to build touch-friendly apps that can be distributed digitally to 130 countries.

NZ developers have already made apps for Windows 8 that use Government open data, games, apps for social media, and apps for global multinationals such as Nokia and ESPN.

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