Large collection of Windows Apps for Education

The all conquering Windows platform which dominated technology for the last thirty years has had a pretty rough time of it over the last decade.  Further to that it has probably seen no bigger loss of market share than in education where low cost innovative devices such as the iPad, tablets and Chrome books have proven enormously successful with teachers and students.

The fact is that Windows is still a dominant player in education by sheer sales numbers alone, even if we are not seeing a great deal of educational support and innovation coming from Microsoft.

Anyone who has used a Surface tablet will sing it's praises as an excellent hybrid device with a great deal of unique opportunities to offer teachers and students.

The Windows store is an ever improving space for education and technology and I have come across this excellent resource from Microsoft Australia which organises windows apps into areas relevant to teachers.  Take a look at it here and see what is available particularly if you haven't used a windows PC since the old XP days.  You may be pleasantly surprised... Enjoy.

Has the iPad Peaked in Education?

As we, and I assume many other schools around the world prepare to buy computer resources for 2013 and beyond it is been apparent that 'The must have tool in Education"  for the last 18 months is the iPad.

This comes with good reasoning too as it has refreshed our view of learning technologies and really freed us from the shackles of desktop computing and showed many a fresh alternative to windows.

The question I find myself asking now as we look at three year lease programs is has the iPad Peaked in education?  Barring a few software tweaks and faster processors is this as good as it gets?  The more I speak to others in education and start to look at alternatives I am increasingly seeing that the iPad's future is not as bright as Apple would like to have us think.

For example Last month we had the sales and Education reps come in from Apple Australia and woo our region for a day about 'How the iPad has been  the saviour of education' and that we should not doubt the ingenuity and creativity Apple has been responsible for in changing the direction of technology for the last few years, and furthermore we should not question this continuing in the future.

The problem I found with the barrage of iOS worship from cool guys in black skivvies and T-shirts was that for the first time, nearly everybody in the room had heard it all before.  And some of the statements about the iPad we heard were so desperate to grab our attention I definitely sensed they were shooting the iPad down more than pumping up its tyres.

Statements such as "No one will be carrying wallets by the end of the decade thanks to iOS 6's passbook"  were just plain embarrassing and insulting for anyone who has used it.

The second point for consideration I began to wonder after seeing some educational workshops regarding Garageband and iMovie in the classroom I had seen twice before now is, what is Apple planning for the future in Education?

Next, we got a 10 minute lecture on how brilliant iTunesU is for teachers to create content for their kids to access on their iPads only to be instantly shot down by the fact that in fact teachers cannot currently do this unless you are a lecturer at a University. So it's great but 95 percent of teachers cannot access this.

Just last month Apple released the iPhone 5 and try as you might to upsell how great a phone it actually is at the end of the day it is esentially an iPhone 4 with another row of icons and a faster processor.  It's not the kind of innovation we have become used to from Apple, and I can't see this changing anytime soon as Apple now seem a little hamstrung by an environment they have created.

I don't feel Apple are asleep at the wheel by any stretch of the imagination, it is more of a case they have played 5 years of winning hands in the tech stakes and they are now left holding a number of minor cards, whilst their opposition begin to rollout both similar and even more innovative tech solutions for education around them.  It has happened in every form of industry for decades.

Another point of consideration is the fact the iPad has always had a mixed relationship in education in the sense that kids and teachers loved it because engaged kids and had thousands of great educational apps that could be downloaded and used instantly. But it definitely has it's shortcomings as a genuine enterprise learning tool.

Let's not hide fact the iPad is fatally flawed by its association to the mess that is iTunes and iCloud. It cannot connect to existing 96% of school networks running windows, it cannot print to an enterprise network with any great success and has nothing close to Microsoft Office when you tire of playing math swipe games and actually need something substantial for a presentation, project, want to do some web design or use any of Adobe's creative tools such as Photoshop beyond removing redeye or cropping.

I own an iPad, my wife kids and I love it, but hate what it can't do too and I get the feeling many others are finding this too.

With Windows 8 only days away and a monsoon of both cheap and expensive tablets already available for it.  And the diversity of Microsoft's own surface tablet which at this point appears to do everything an iPad can as well as offer 100 percent functionality of a windows PC too our school regions are beginning to think Windows 8 tablets have a great deal to offer teachers and students over the iPad.

I would love to hear your thoughts about what your schools are doing now and looking into the future when it comes to putting the best piece of hardware in front of our kids to offer the best learning opportunities.

Is Microsoft Surface a better tablet than the iPad for schools?

Yesterday, with minimal fanfare Microsoft introduced the Surface Tablet which is essentially the first product Microsoft has released to directly compete with Apple's iPad.

Yes it may well be three years late, but there is no doubting that 'Surface' is looking to be not just a competitor of the iPad at home, but in an enterprise situation such as schools the surface tablet maye some clear advantages the iPad.

Some of these reasons have been listed below that might make you want to seriously reconsider your next purchase of hardware for your school.

1:  Flexibility - The Surface tablet is both a standalone tablet exactly like the ipad with a beautiful screen, camera and tens of thousands of apps; essentially all the features of it's competitor but it is also a 100 percent operational windows 8 PC without any limitations of a desktop or notebook.  This is the first ever do everything tablet.  And to further enhance the experience Microsoft has built in a full keyboard and mouse into the case of the Surface tablet.  - Every box Ticked.

2:  Printing:  Yes it prints, to any printer remember it's also a windows Based PC.  It can Print without any need for AirPrint or the like.

3:  Fully networkable:  Surface can log into any windows based network with the exact same functionality of a desktop or mobile PC. 

4:  Microsoft Office:  Not a scaled back or mobile version but the complete version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Onenote, Outlook and the works.

5:  Flash:  As great as HTML 5 is.  Flash is still one of the webs greatest technologies and is still being improved and enhanced.  All of your old flash sites will work as well as the new HTML 5 format too.

Make your own Digital flashcards

Flashcards is a Silverlight web application where you can create, share, and study online flashcards.  Find a deck in the community, or create your own.  Decks can have up to 300 cards, and each card can have any combination of text, image, and sound on the front and the back.  Start with Review mode if you don't know the content at all.  Otherwise, skip ahead to Study or Type It In modes.  Study mode is based on the honor system, and Type It In checks the correct answer with what you typed in.  Want a challenge?  Try swapping fronts and backs then studying again.  Click here to access it.

Math Worksheet Generator

Do you spend a lot of time searching for worksheets with practice problems to give your students? Now you can easily create your own in just a few seconds with the Math Worksheet Generator. This is a tool that generates multiple math problems based on a sample, and then creates a worksheet that you can distribute. By analyzing the math problem you provide, or one of the built-in samples, the generator determines the structure of the expression and provides similar problems. We tack on an answer sheet too.

Click here to access the Maths Worksheet Generator

Is this the replacement for the Interactive Whiteboard?

Yesterday, Microsoft released the development kit for Kinect on Windows.  For the uninitiated Kinect is a bodily controlled gaming platform that has been around on the X-box for around a year now.  As a gaming tool Kinect is innovative but not entirely brilliant attempt to revolutionize gaming.

If you look at the video below you will see Kinect running on Windows and get an idea of the possibilities that lay ahead of us.  Surely this would supersede the potential of what current IWB's offer us.


I'd Love to hear what you think after you have had a look.

Microsoft overhauls it's Education & Teacher Resources

Microsoft has finally put a bit of effort into it's Education section and has some great guides and resources to complement many of their software packages such as office and the ever increasing Windows Live suite.  I must say that this is greatly improved over their older attempts to lure teachers to their site and their downloadable teaching guides are aimed at student engagement which is great. 

Anyhow take a look for yourself here.

Top 5 Computer Self Help Sites

Sometimes things just go wrong with your computer and you might face a lengthy or expensive wait to get a supposed 'expert' to find the source of the problem.  Fortunately there are a few sites on the web that will help you out of your problems whether it be a an annoying niggle or a complete meltdown.

Computerhope is a great starting point to actually find out what your problem is and then go most of the way to fixing it if your problem is simple.  This is a Windows on only site covering all Microsoft O/S's from Windows 95 through to Windows 7.

Yes Apple Computers do break down too believe it or not and luckily Apple have a comprehensive help site available here to find a solution to your problem.

Many problems are simply annoyances rather than major issues then you need to visit to get fast answers to your problems via forums.

To actually watch someone fix common PC problems then you need to visit the eHowTech channel at Youtube.  This also has a range of tweaking videos to improve performance.

Last but not least and in my opinion the best is just good old Google - just be specific about your problem when you type it in the search box and your solution is never far away.  I have never found a computer problem yet that no one else has actually suffered and written something about.

Remember also that a computer problem is not a problem until you have rebooted and it still persists.