Windows 10 Videos for Educators

As we near the July 29th launch date for Windows 10, I wanted to share some introductory videos that I had the opportunity to create on behalf of Microsoft Education. Most are 2-3 minutes long and explain how some of the new features in Windows 10 (Edge Browser, Virtual Desktops, Universal Apps, etc.) can be applied in the classroom.  

It was a fun process to go through. I enjoyed writing the scripts, working with the great technicians in the studio and"co-anchoring" with Becky Keene (@BeckyKeene).  Here's a YouTube playlist with all of the videos.  Let me know what you think!

Watch Out Google, Microsoft is On the Rise in Education

image courtesy of

image courtesy of

Those that know me know how much of a Google fanboy I am. From the Android Wear watch on my wrist, to the Chromebook on which I write this post, I love Google products and services. And as an EdTech specialist, I have been quick to promote Google Apps for Education to schools and districts. I even run a Google Educator Group for teachers in Washington State. But I have to be honest, of late I've had the feeling that Google isn't as committed to education as one of it's biggest competitors:  Microsoft.  

I mean, really, in the last year, what has Google brought to the table? Sure, they've continued to improve upon their core suite of apps. I know they are committed to making Google Classroom more robust. But beyond that, the only new thing that comes to mind is the Google Cardboard Expeditions program, which is designed to bring inexpensive virtual reality learning experiences to students--an idea that has lots of great potential.

By contrast, this last year has seen Microsoft bring more new tools to the table.  Most notably, the acquisition of Minecraft and Microsoft's commitment to bringing it to schools shows me they mean business.  Other education related tools that Microsoft has released recently include OneNote Class and Staff Notebooks (now with the ability to integrate with LMS's via the LTI standard), Office MixSway (now available on iPad) and Office365 integration with Edmodo.  To top it off, in the very near future, Windows 10 will be officially available and free for everyone in the first year.

Honestly, it's really good to see Microsoft show such a long overdue commitment to the education space.  It means more and better tools for teachers and students.  

What do you think?  Is this Google fan boy way off base here?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

What School Districts Can Learn from Google

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a Google for Education event at the Google offices in Seattle.  At the end of the day they took us on a tour of the complex.  During the tour I couldn't help but think about how public education could take a cue from the way that Google creates an environment conducive to the work culture that it wants to promote.  Here, in no particular order are some of my "take-aways":

  1. Cultivate Identity--If you work at Google, you're called a "Googler".  Why couldn't a superintendent come up with a catch phrase to use when referring to employees at this or that district?  After all many teachers do this when referring to groups of students--they say "class" or "students" or some other name because they know that groups of people form an identity together that needs to be nurtured. The point is that it needs to be short and concise and when it is used it must represent the best ideals of the organization.
  2. The Physical Space Matters--Googlers work in open areas, but none are identical--some sit in chairs; others stand up.  There are micro-kitchens all over the place stocked with drinks and snacks, break spaces with foosball tables and massage chairs, creative collaboration areas as well as quiet closed off rooms for video conferencing.  I realize there are fiscal and procedural limitations on public sector organizations, but couldn't districts be a little more creative with the use of space? After all, when it comes to human behavior, people do behave differently depending on external environmental conditions.
  3. Make Life Easier for Employees--From the onsite cafeteria with free meals and easy access to a workout facility, it is obvious that Google cares about the health and well-being of its workers. As evidence, consider this claim on the benefits page of Google's jobs site, "Our benefits are part of who we are, and they’re designed to take care of the whole you and keep you healthy, whether physically, emotionally, financially or socially."  Teaching is a demanding job--the little conveniences matter immensely.  Why couldn't a district offer free child care to its mostly female workforce? Or at the very least provide free meals from the cafeteria? 

As the famed corporate consultant Peter Drucker once noted, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast."  If that's the case, most school districts could take a lesson from Google.