With the return to the classroom a month or so on, I hope life at the chalk face is returning to some sort of normality for readers after the unavoidable chaos of the first few weeks. With timetables, planning, yard duty rosters and the like, done and dusted, maybe now is the time to take a fresh look at the technology at your disposal and flesh out some new ideas to further enhance the embedding of ICTs into your teaching and learning in your classroom?

Navigation menuA great place to start, I’d proffer, is the behemoth that’s Microsoft’s Educator Community. This one-stop portal enables educators to get training, find lessons, and connect with other educators across the globe all in one place. In a nutshell, Microsoft’s Education Portal is a great, free resource for teachers with online courses on using Microsoft tools and technology in education, discussion groups on a myriad of topics, a vast library of excellent resources and opportunities to earn badges and certification as you go.

As an in-depth review of every nook and cranny of this vast digital repository is well beyond a blog post, I’ve elected instead, to list the reasons why regular access (In my opinion) is a no-brainer. Of course I could start with Microsoft’s own 9 Great Reasons to Join the Microsoft Educator Community but instead I’m going to list my own (albeit with some duplication…)

  1. CPD @ The Teacher Academy –search by skills development category, subject areas or student age group to find courses from the basics to advanced on Microsoft tools, best practice, 21st Century Learning and more…
  2. Connect @ Microsoft Education Communities – connect with other like-minded teachers around the world or at home. Find answers to education questions, share your knowledge and expand your network.
  3. How To @ Quick Tip Videos – two-three minute videos that concisely answer common technical questions for teachers.
  4. Access @ Lesson plans – Access a vast library of cross-curricular lesson plans and share your own
  5. Experience @ Virtual field trips– searchable by grade level, subjects, country and destination, choose new places for your class to visit on their virtual travels
  6. Become a Trainer @ MIE – Choose your own path to become a Microsoft Innovative Educator, getting official certifications in Microsoft education tools
  7. Spark creativity @ Hack the Classroom – Live, online event that brings together the latest teaching methods, tools, and technologies.
  8. Code @ Virtual Academy – learn to code with your class via Microsoft’s hub for teaching coding to students of all ages
  9. Go global @ Mystery Skype – Join the global guessing game to learn geography and about different cultures

I could go on (Minecraft Education, Microsoft Schools and Imagine Academy spring to mind) but I think there’s plenty here to be getting on with and I promise to deep dive some of my favourites in future posts.

As previously mooted, the share scale of what’s on offer here for free is mind-boggling so sectioning off the available content into more manageable bite-sized chunks is advisable (If not essential). Choose one area you’re interested in and drill-down from there. Want to get cracking? Head on over to https://education.microsoft.com/#register to start your very own digital journey of discovery…

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