I wanted to take some time and reflect on my experiences at the Microsoft E2 conference now that the school year is concluded.
A Personal Journey
Unexpected tragedy struck my family with the sudden passing of my mother at the start of the year. With the help of my wife and best friend, Deanna, I was able to find strength and move on each day at a time. An article was written about my story on the Microsoft Daily Edventures Blog. I dedicate this journey to my late mother.
Preparing for E-2
Preparing for E2 was an amazing journey from the moment I was selected as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert. I felt a sense of accomplishment how I using technology to expand my “bring your own device” (BYOD) strategy in the classroom.
Connection calls with industry experts, educators, and guest speakers allowed networking opportunities to learn more about products such as OneNote, Mix, and Sway.
I was able to take the knowledge learned from the connection calls and apply best practices directly into my teaching practice. This included utilizing the use of the stylus pen included with our Microsoft Surface Pro tablet. These experiences helped demonstrate the power of the stylus using OneNote and across the Office 365 eco-system.
Monday, April 27
The flight to Seattle was on-time and arrived shortly at noon to picture perfect weather. My shuttle took me to the Bellevue Hilton where a cozy room and plenty of amenities awaited. After settling in and getting some rest, I took an opportunities to explore beautiful Bellevue and eat some supper!
Tuesday, April 28
After extensively studying for my scheduled MCE exam, I took a shuttle to the examination centre located on the Microsoft Campus. I was amazed at the size of the facilities, lush gardens, and friendly people.
Test results were provided soon after completing the exam. I was relieved to have passed with a high score! On reflection, my education, industry, and I.T. experiences proved invaluable. Many of the questions were based on educational case studies that required a strong combination of teaching methodology and technology implementation.
I returned to my hotel room and got some sleep before the scheduled opening ceremony was to take place later that evening. Before leaving the hotel, I was able to meet fellow members of team Canada.
The opening ceremony was an fun evening with many opportunities to network with many other MIEE’s throughout the world. I counted having conversations with peers from over 20 nations! A fantastic evening with great food and laughs 🙂
Wednesday, April 29
I woke up this morning filled with excitement and boarded the shuttle bus with Team Canada, spirit gear in all!
After breakfast, the entire group walked to another building and listened to a student welcome band as we entered!
Today’s keynote speaker was Anthony Salcito, Microsoft Vice President of World Wide Education. Anthony discussed interesting technology trends and ways that Microsoft products are providing teachers innovative tools to support student learning. Team Canada sat together united!
I presented my learning activity after the keynote to fellow educators during the TechTeach session. Several Microsoft representatives were interested and nominated my activity in the “most inspirational” category. I also saw some very innovative projects to which I provided my own feedback.
The Educator Challenge followed during the afternoon. The topic chosen by event organizers was “bravery, courage, and leadership.” The challenge required participants to be grouped with other educators from different countries. Each group was required to come up with a learning activity that used technology in an innovative way. My group was represented by educators from Europe, South America, North America, and Asia.
I had an opportunity to participate in the technology showcase before leaving for the shuttle. The room was setup with various Microsoft technology including the new Surface 3 for education. First impressions were positive. Smaller form factor, cheaper price, stylus pen, with full capability of a laptop and portability of a tablet.
The evening concluded with team Canada sitting down for tasty supper at a local restaurant in Bellevue. The meal was great with laughs and fond memories for all.
Thursday, April 30
Today’s keynote speaker was Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Malala Yousafzai. A truly inspirational speech that discussed equal opportunity for all children using technology to connect with others in our global community.
The majority of the day focused on individual breakout sessions that focused on OneNote, Office Mix, and Office 365.
My personal observations of the workshops included working demonstrations of;
- OneNote – Overview of OCR (document scan) technology, document clipper, integrated mathematical formula and embedded calculator features. Easy integration between PowerPoint, Mix, and Sway. Example of Staff OneNoteBooks provides a paperless, shareable collaboration centre.
- Mix – Interactive multimedia and document handling within PowerPoint. Addition of recordable quizzes via mix.office.com. Expands the traditional use of PowerPoint and provides new dynamic features that provides useful offline feature when WIFI is not continuously available.
- Delve (office 365 app) – Information and trending document search feature. Documents are defaulted to private in OneDrive and indexed when made public for Delve to search.
The day concluded with a tour of the Kent School District Technology Expo. The expo featured student centred demonstrations of technology used in their daily learning. Was a unique experience to see what other school districts are doing!
Friday, May 1
Keynote speaker Angela Maiers began by discussing how “you matters” trying to make a big impact in the classroom by trying new things and not being afraid by doing them.
A fireside chat also took place with a surprise visit from Microsoft President Satya Nadella. It was a wonderful opportunity just to listen as Satya discussed the importance of the education industry to Microsoft and of his respect for what teachers do in the classroom. An amazing chat and highlight of my morning!
The remainder of the day was to prepare for our group presentation as part of the educator challenge. I found our group to be relaxed, prepared, and professional as we made our presentation to the judges. It was an honour to have worked with them!
Overall, the educator challenge opened my eyes to the world around me. Multiple languages, culture, and unique pedagogy made for interesting conversations and perspectives as worked together to come up with our idea.
E2 ended with a grand final gala at Music City Project museum located next to the Space Needle in downtown Seattle. It was an opportunity to recognize excellence and say farewell to colleagues who came from far and wide. It was an experience I will never forget and a truly amazing way to end our incredible journey
The Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert program has been a huge benefit to my career. It allowed me to demonstrate skills, knowledge, and passion using technology in the classroom. The connection calls and professional development opportunities allowed me to share my knowledge and challenge my teaching practice by learning new things. I would certainly recommend the program to any of my innovative colleagues who are interested in using technology to support student learning.