My experience with Microsoft based products has been extensive since my earlier career in the private I.T. sector. Since becoming an educator in 2005, my prior knowledge was invaluable as Microsoft operating systems and productivity software comprised a large percentage of computing resources in the board.
I took a personal interest in cloud-based computing in the spring of 2013 when the GECDSB implemented SharePoint throughout the organization. As a power user, I was provided an opportunity to participate in a SharePoint Power Users Portal project. Early experiences allowed me to better understand SharePoint and its many features that allowed for the sharing of work , organization of data, creation of sites, and collaboration with colleagues.
In the fall of 2013, I agreed to become an active member of the GECDSB Office 365 Pilot project. This experience allowed for early adoption of cloud-based productivity software into my teaching practice. This included the use of Outlook, Calendar, Sites, OneDrive, OneNote, SharePoint, and Yammer. Working with the instructional coach, mini lessons focused on educating learners on the benefits of using office 365. This included knowing their new school board email address and learning how to access it via mobile app or web browser. Collecting further resources and networking with colleagues provided valuable time to expand the technology into my daily teaching practice.
A unique opportunity occurred after reading an internal Yammer posting in September of 2014 that called on Canadian educators to apply to the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Program. After much reflection, I thought the experience would be rewarding so I applied! As part of the application process, I was required to submit a learning activity that demonstrated the use of project-based learning with reference to a 21st century learning design rubric.
After the application was received, my lesson was evaluated by Microsoft and graded as “gold level”! I was happy with the news and received my Microsoft Innovative Educators badge.
Several weeks later, I received word that my status in the program was elevated to “expert” status as I was 1 of of 15 Canadian educators to receive the designation. I was thrilled with the announcement and felt that I had reached the personal goals that I set out for myself. The clincher came a week later when it was announced I would be 1 of 5 educators from the expert group to represent Canada at the Microsoft world forum in Redmond, Washington! A dream come true!