At the core of student success are teachers. However, teachers today are being asked to do more with less, and are continually looking for ways to more effectively help students learn.
As the GM of Microsoft’s Education group I spend time in schools and universities, and with teachers and faculty. I work to better understand their needs, and how companies such as Microsoft can deploy technology that helps them meet their key challenges. For instance, I recently was in Denver, meeting with people in the Denver Public School system. I heard teachers and administration alike say, “Make it easier. Ensure that your products work with what we have in place today, and help engage our students digitally.”
We’re working to do just that. One example is the new Microsoft Office Add-in for Moodle. Many universities and K-12 schools use Moodle to create course websites for students and others. A Moodle course typically includes things such as course calendars, lesson plans, assignments, and other class resources.
Like Moodle, Microsoft Office is prevalent in classrooms around the world. In fact, more than 90 percent of teachers and students worldwide use Office. So we explored ways to improve how educators can intuitively and efficiently use the two products together. What we developed is simple. The Microsoft Office Add-in for Moodle provides educators an easy way to find, open, and save their Microsoft Office files housed in Moodle. It’s free and available for download at www.educationlabs.com. You also can see a short video of how easy the new Add-in makes this.
This tool was created by Microsoft’s Education Labs team. That team was established in July 2009 to quickly create prototypes of new tools, applications, and services that showcase how Microsoft technologies can meet the needs of schools, teachers and students. Sometimes we create or use brand new technologies. Other times we integrate our technologies with others’, including industry standards or even competitive technologies. For example our Education Labs team recently released applications to help teach chemistry, make digital flashcards to help students learn concepts, and also introduced the Microsoft Live Services Plug-in for Moodle. You can find these and other resources for teachers at Microsoft Education Labs.
Steve Coppin, the E-learning Technical Developer at the University of Kent in England, says that the Office Add-in for Moodle is “easy to use, and anything that makes life easier for our teachers is great. We are constantly on the lookout for ways to streamline the process of updating teaching materials and the add-in certainly accomplishes this. Allowing teachers to interact with Moodle directly from the Office suite removes part of the process that could deter providers from keeping their content relevant and up to date.”
I look forward to updating you on coming news on how we are furthering our commitment to education by providing free and simple tools to help schools, teachers and students do their jobs better and more efficiently. For a complete list of tools to help educators, please check out http://www.microsoft.com/education/teachers/default.aspx. You also can see a short video of how easy the new Add-in makes this.
General Manager, Education Products Group