Microsoft in Education
May 26, 2017
On this week’s show, the Windows Education Marketing team describes what it takes to make technology more accessible for schools and more useful for today’s student—get an Insider’s perspective into an event that launched a philosophy, not just a product.
Keep listening to hear how Kayas Cultural College built a digital classroom using a fully Microsoft-solution for distance learning in remote areas. From K-12 to adult education, join us for an episode in the classroom.
Windows Insider Podcast Episode 3
THOMAS TROMBLEY: Welcome back, listeners.
Last month on our show, Bill Karagounis revealed how Insiders are influencing the digital revolution. Today, we explore the transformation of education, how classrooms look, teachers engage, and students learn. From first graders mastering reading, to teaching math to adults, today's guests show us exactly how Microsoft and the Insider community are transforming the classroom.
KYLE KELLY: We were actually really, really excited with a lot of the announcements that were made at the Microsoft event in New York City.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: Today, we'll hear from two of my friends and colleagues in the Windows Education team, Jay Paulus and Lee Sabow, as they update us on the May 2 announcement on Microsoft in Education.
Then fellow ninja cat, perhaps the herder of all ninja cats, Tyler Ahn, speaks with educator Kyle Kelly about his team's innovative use of technology for distance learning in a remote Canadian community. I can almost see the Northern Lights now and feel that cold chill on my neck.
I'm your host, Tom Trombley, aka "The Tomcat," and this is the Windows Insider Podcast. Let's get rolling.
In our first two episodes, we traveled to far off lands of Nigeria and Australia. Today, we journey inward to the world of education. I've brought in two members of the Windows Education team to talk about the recent announcements on Microsoft in Education.
All right. Joining me on the podcast today are two esteemed colleagues of mine. I've been working with you guys for quite some time, Mr. Jay Paulus, Mr. Lee Sabow. Thanks for joining me today.
JAY PAULUS: Hey, Tom. Thanks for having us.
LEE SABOW: Thank you.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: Glad you could join me for the podcast. I want you to tell me a little bit about yourselves and what your roles are before we kind of dig in a little bit on this big announcement from last week.
So, Jay, we'll start with you.
JAY PAULUS: Yeah, so this is Jay. I'm in the Windows Education Marketing team and focused on helping schools get Windows technology out there.
LEE SABOW: Lee Sabow, I'm also on the Windows Marketing group focused on education and really excited to be here.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: Right on. Now, Jay, I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit more, make that a lot more, about the announcement that took place on May 2 in New York City.
JAY PAULUS: Man, that was such an amazing thing to be part of. I've been telling people all week, in 18 years working at this company, it was the most positive thing I've ever been part of. It was just so cool. We had so much great news, and people came away saying stuff like, wow, you guys didn't launch a product, you launched a philosophy today. And it really did feel that way. It felt super positive.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: That's huge. I mean, you guys were working really hard right up until the minute there, but you guys kept your smiles on your faces and enthusiastic about the entire announcement.
Now tell us a little bit about the event itself, Lee, you were there as well?
LEE SABOW: Yeah, I think we were both there, spent a lot of time on this one. But the event itself, you know, I think you get to one of these events, you don't see the full scope of, say, years of work and product that get to there, and that's kind of what I think about when Jay talks about like being part of something so positive. It's really amazing to see that you start working on, say, Windows 8, which becomes Windows 10, and then launches into a big vision together with the rest of the company. It's super amazing.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: Right. Now tell me a little bit about what it's like to put on an event like this, and part two of that question, what it's like to attend? So again, there was a lot of energy, positive energy, leading up to that event. I would really like to know more about all that you guys did to put on that event.
JAY PAULUS: Yeah, I think what's cool about it is, it started out with this whole unified vision of like, let's get our technology integrated and simplified for schools, so that we can get it out there in an easy way, and that formed the seed of this idea for an event where we would get out there and really tell our big story.
One of the most amazing things to watch is the amount of preparation that goes into making an event like that really flow well. The number of rehearsals that you go through, and just making sure that everybody who is involved kind of understands the whole story, and just so that from one story to the next, that it's all part of one integrated whole. That was really the coolest thing to watch.
LEE SABOW: And it's pretty fun. I mean, I think a lot of people don't really always know, you try and keep a few things secret. There's a new Surface laptop, pretty amazing, but a couple of people know about it at the show, but not everyone. So, a lot of things will happen, say, you can imagine rehearsal, imagine one big room with lots of little black spaces where not everyone can go into every little spot.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: It all came together really well in those last moments.
LEE SABOW: Oh, yeah. Super fun, like we kept the inside baseball would be, like you'd keep the sign of some cardboard above the sign of your product until it was actually announced live, and then rip it down and be ready to show it a couple minutes later.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: Tell me why this matters, like I really want to know what the world is going to look like with this resurgence that Microsoft has made in education?
JAY PAULUS: Yeah, you know, I always like to say that we see how digital technology transforms a lot of different aspects of people's lives, whether it's social media, whether it's business, and this is really about that. It's about the transformation of education. And in a world where more and more people are on the internet globally, and you can find information with a quick search, the skills that you used to learn were more about memorization and sort of remembering a lot of facts that now are really easy to access, and so the skills that kids need now are about information finding and then information synthesis to create new ideas. And in that world, skills need a technology platform that really enables that kind of skill building in kids. And I think that's what we've built, and we've made it super easy for schools to deploy, and so that's why it's so exciting.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: What's the vision that we see for how are students going to learn as a result of picking up this software?
LEE SABOW: I mean, I think it's the way that we have to work and the way that we work together, like going back to when we were in school, we'd learn how to use a card catalogue and work with each other and physically build a diorama.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: Right.
LEE SABOW: That doesn't always get done anymore, that someone actually goes and builds their own bibliography by hand, and they make that work, but you need essentially software to be able to say, let's take four people from around the world, they can be in the same room together, or they can be around the whole globe, trying to build a 3D model for a collaborative Minecraft, or build a research paper and a bibliography, and have software do it for them. So, it's really building those base set of skills that work digitally or physically.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: I remember my days with the Dewey Decimal System. Now I may be dating myself. I'm assuming that's probably not going to carry forward as a result of this new build?
LEE SABOW: I should probably check in. We should probably launch the Dewey Decimal System in something.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: That leads me to the next question, how is this different from all the education software that exists today for students?
JAY PAULUS: Yeah, so schools have sort of a pretty wide mix of technology out there today. I think what we have announced, what we've brought to market is going to accelerate their ability to get on board with the stuff that we have. And there are a few things that I always highlight.
Number one, we've made it much more affordable for schools, and that means we've got PCs starting at $189, and these are 4 gigs, 64 gig machines that perform well in schools. They're designed to work really well with all of our cloud management software. We've made them super-easy to setup. And so, using Intune for Education and something called the Setup School PCs App, you can literally go from nothing to setting up your cloud and deploying devices in about an hour. And we even put a video up that's sort of a dramatization of that.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: That's huge.
JAY PAULUS: What's more, we've made our stuff really affordable. So, when schools do a site license of our management software, Intune for Education, they can save up to 70 percent versus Chrome Management Console. So, we're already seeing schools that are really excited about that.
So not only do we make it easy and affordable for schools, but we think we've got a platform that's just better for kids in general, and there's a few reasons for that. Number one is, we allow them to learn on Office 365, which is—IDC did a survey a couple of years ago where the catalogued the top job skill requests out of 76 million online job postings, Microsoft Office was the number four job skill request. It's the only software package in the top ten. And so, the premise is, why not teach kids using the platform they're going to be asked to know when they get out of school. It just makes sense.
The next thing is, we announced Microsoft Teams as sort of the heart of our in-classroom experience, and so Microsoft Teams, as you know, Tom, is a really robust collaboration environment where it's one hub for everything. You can go in there, and it's a discussion-based, thread-based collaboration environment. That combined with our multi-party editing, co-authoring capabilities in O365, gives us what we think is a really leapfrog forward in terms of the collaboration skills.
Then, we've got tools like what we call the immersive reader and the learning tools in OneNote that allow kids to read more quickly by simplifying what's on the screen and reading the words back to them. And so, we've seen those technologies take kids from six words a minute to 27 words a minute, with increased comprehension and all the stuff. It's amazing. The outcomes are better for those kids.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: It's like how far down the rabbit hole do they want to go relative to programming.
JAY PAULUS: Yeah, and then we announced what we like to call the most complete 3D expo on any platform, and that's Paint 3D, that's the ability to import 3D models into PowerPoint. It's the sort of affordable mixed reality headsets that we announced from our OEM partners. And so, 3D matters in the classroom. It helps kids think in a way that other technologies can't. It increases what we like to call spatial reasoning and it just leads to better outcomes for a kid. It's been shown that it gets kids more engaged in math and science and can keep them engaged over more of their life. So, we're super excited about that.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: Now, Lee, you and I touched on a feature before we stepped in the booth here about Remix. I think we talked about Remix.
LEE SABOW: Story Remix, yeah, we did.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: Story Remix.
LEE SABOW: That was out of Build this week. I think the fun part of this is that was just the list from May 2. The list from last week at Build gets even bigger, and Story Remix is a way to like, intelligently create a story, whether it's through photo or video. And that's going to be really amazing when that comes down to Insiders. I think they'll get to be the first to play with that one.
And one thing that—Jay touched on a lot of the things that came out. But one of the things that I think is really the most impressive when you think about it is something that can go for any age, whether it's K or college. Like, the solutions here will scale up or scale down, whether it's at home or at school. Which I think is a nice thing, because you want to take a tool that's like, I can use it to build the video of my surfing trip, or I can use it to build the report about Middle Eastern history.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: I'm so excited for you guys. What's next and why should I-I mean I'm already excited, but why should I be excited in the coming months? Now, we've had this big announce and what's next?
JAY PAULUS: Well, there's a couple of ways to think about that. For us right now, it's really about making sure everybody got the news, understands what's coming, because we're getting close to summer time, and so we're going to make sure all the school IT folks out there and parents who are involved, make sure they get the message and understand how easy it is to get this up and running in their classes. And so, for Insiders on the call, go to Microsoft.com/education, check out the story there. And you can easily go into your school and say, hey, this Microsoft technology is easy to set up, let me show you. And I'm telling you, you can do it in about an hour. And so, go try it.
So, it's about that. It's about getting ready for the summer. And then, of course, we're like loading up for the next wave. We've started talking about the next wave and like what that's going to bring. And we're just going to keep charting. So, we're super excited about it.
LEE SABOW: I was hoping Jay was going to say vacation, but I guess that's not next on the list for that email.
I think it's making Creators Update a reality for everyone, even though we're like, oh, we're onto the next thing. Jay said everyone has got to go out and put down machines over the summer, so people can actually play with all the stuff that was announced and have it create an impact in the classroom or just on someone's own project.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: Awesome, guys. Thank you so much for joining me today and sharing your story with the Insiders. I'm really excited for both of you and the greater team and the folks that worked on getting May 2 to come to fruition and all that's coming thereafter. So, thank you for joining me today.
JAY PAULUS: Awesome. Happy to do it. Thanks.
LEE SABOW: Yeah, thanks for having us, Tom.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: Great.
In our first two episodes Dona Sarkar joined us for some insightful discussion on all things Windows Insider. Today I welcome our esteemed colleague, Tyler Ahn, who meets with Kyle Kelly, a Windows Insider who lives, works, and pursues his passion in education in the far northern reaches of Canada.
TYLER AHN: Thank you, Tom.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: Now, tell us a little bit about your role with the Windows Insider Program.
TYLER AHN: So, I would like to say that I'm the Jane of all trades here.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: A little bit of everything?
TYLER AHN: Yeah, I got to design the eligibility and criteria for the fellowship that you talked about. I also got to go and take 50 Windows and Surface fans to the recent education event last week.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: Tell us a little bit more about that real quick.
TYLER AHN: Well, we got to announce the latest Surface Laptop, along with the Windows 10S, that should revolutionize how education and technology work together.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: I bet that generated a little bit of excitement with our Insiders.
TYLER AHN: A ton, and the fans that we had along with us, they were in the first row.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: That's kind of cool. Now, our last two episodes took place in considerably warmer climates, specifically Nigeria and Australia. This time, we turn to our neighbors doing incredible things in Northern Canada. And we're talking way northern. I think we just checked, and it was like 24 hours' drive from here in Redmond. Now you've got to tell us a little bit about our guest today, Kyle, and how you came to meet him.
TYLER AHN: So, for last weeks' education event we organized a number of students, educators, education administrators, as well, to join us in New York for the event. Kayas Cultural College and their innovative use of Microsoft Technology to teach students, they came to share that story with us. And they did a demo of how they're teaching, using all of our various products, shared images of what their classrooms look like, and when I saw that they went from a computer lab with no computers to computer labs with Surfaces, we had to talk to them.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: That's incredible. Just so you know, Dona was campaigning hard to send you on location for this interview.
TYLER AHN: Dona is trying to send me everywhere all the time.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: Now, I just want it noted for the record that I was able to keep you local for this, so I want my generosity to be noted here. Yeah, you're so welcome.
Anyway, the weather couldn't be much different than what we're having here with our rainy winter in Redmond, right?
TYLER AHN: They are having 61 and sunny. How is that possible up in Jean-Dore, Canada?
THOMAS TROMBLEY: Something like that. I'm envious of them now. Anyway, I wanted to thank you for joining us today here in the booth.
TYLER AHN: Thank you so much for having me, Tom.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: Without further ado let's get cracking. Tyler, take it away.
TYLER AHN: Hey there Insiders, I am here with Kyle Kelly, a fellow Insider to you and an educator. Kyle, it was so awesome to meet you in person last week at the education even that we held in New York City.
KYLE KELLY: It was absolutely my pleasure.
TYLER AHN: Thank you so much for making time to join us and the Insiders on our third podcast.
KYLE KELLY: Not at all. I'm happy to be here.
TYLER AHN: I'll have you introduce yourself to our Insiders and talk to us a little bit more about the inspirational story behind Kayas.
KYLE KELLY: Certainly, well, my name is Kyle Kelly. I'm the Community Initiatives Training Manager in Little Red River Cree Nation, at Kayas Cultural College. We are located in a northern area of Alberta on a First Nations Reserve called Little Red River Cree Nation. And I live in Jean-Dore, where I work at the main campus here, the Kayas College, which is an upgrading institution, and we also focus on community outreach programs and some infrastructure development capacity building on the reserve itself helping community members.
TYLER AHN: So, tell us a little bit more about Kayas as a local education institution, and also how you've kind of, since your tenure there, changed and transformed how you guys teach.
KYLE KELLY: Certainly. Well, since we're so far remote we try to access all of our communities at the same time, and Kayas primarily is the upgrading institution. We help adults who the education system, the traditional education system, has failed. So, adults, anywhere from the age of 19 or older who have never got their high school equivalency can come to Kayas to get upgrading. And since we're so far remote, we rely really, really heavily on technology and we're actually a conference-based learning center. So, we use a lot of Microsoft products, like the Microsoft Hubs, to form a conference call between all three locations. And we have one instructor in each location to teach a different subject.
So, as an example, in Jean-Dore we have our math, in Garden River we have our social studies, and in Fox Lake we have our English instructor. So, what happens is those instructors will instruct in real time to their class in front of them, their students who are there, and simultaneously, the other two locations over the Microsoft Hub using a lot of Office products, including Skype for Business.
TYLER AHN: Can you talk a little bit more about how the three different instructors that are spread across—actually I guess does it form one single curriculum?
KYLE KELLY: Yeah, because there's a lot of barriers that we run into out here. Fox Lake, as an example, is only accessible by barge over the late spring, summer, and early fall, and then in the winter, they actually form an ice bridge. And the ice bridge, they pump water up from the river to form almost a kilometer-long bridge across the river to access Fox Lake.
So, we really have to make accommodations for the regions. And we use the Office products, like Skype for Business, to dial in from each of our campus and instruct those classes to our students in the three areas. Instructors are moving towards more of a paperless platform where they can upload their files directly in the OneNote for Classroom app, and then log in to the Skype for Business, use the White Board app that's on all of these Surface Hubs, and then take their lessons, send them out to students.
They can take all of the files and lesson plans they've created and push those out to their students using the OneNote for Classroom app, where students can then interact directly on their computers, or they can print things out and then email them back to the instructors. Instructors using the Microsoft tablets can mark directly on, using the inking technology that's there, on those assignments and get them back to students effectively in real-time.
TYLER AHN: So, this sound really, super high-tech, and I wanted to touch back on how remote you were. So, once someone flies into Edmonton, how long, or by boat, or by car, how do they get to where you're teaching?
KYLE KELLY: We are roughly a seven-hour drive directly north of Edmonton. So, when you land in Edmonton from wherever you're coming from, you can drive directly north. And then you reach the end of the highway, which is Highway 88, and you take a right turn down what is a 60-kilometer dirt road, where you'll lose your cellphone service, and reach Little Red about an hour later.
TYLER AHN: So, how many hours is that from the North Pole?
KYLE KELLY: I'm pretty sure it's in my backyard.
TYLER AHN: So, you can see North Pole from there?
KYLE KELLY: Yeah, I get jokes about that all the time.
TYLER AHN: Well, when you pointed it out on the map, I was like, that is pretty close to the North Pole.
KYLE KELLY: Well, we're two hours south of the Northwest Territories. There's a community that's just out there called Hay River that has Northern Lights, I think something like 285 nights of the year.
TYLER AHN: That's incredible. So, to have technology work so well where you are, what's the connectivity like?
KYLE KELLY: We actually have started, there's been pilot programs to get better internet run into the reserve. When I first started up here, about five years ago now, there was next to no technology. The analogy that you used when we met in person, we were talking about what it was like before, and how we had to fax everything in the past. I'd create lesson plans, we would fax them to each of our locations, students would receive them, they'd fill out their work, they'd fax it back. We'd have to mark it, fax it over to them again. It was extremely labor intensive and resource heavy having to use that.
Now we can move away from those things and start to use email addresses and all of the services that Microsoft is providing cloud-based for our students.
TYLER AHN: Awesome. So, in choosing technology as the solution to all of these barriers that you were having to move off of fax machines, how and why did you choose Microsoft?
KYLE KELLY: When we first started exploring the options that we had available to us three or four years ago now, we were really limited for our infrastructure, the tools that were available, and resources for funding that we had at our disposal. And that was around the time that Microsoft had just released their first version of Surface Pro or the Surface Tablets, and we have been adopting them ever since that point, because when they first came out, the Surface Tablets were far and away the best tool that was on the market for what we were looking for. They were extremely powerful machines that were portable. They were useful. They were durable.
And we started to adopt those as instructors and saw how valuable they were. And we've actually adopted every iteration of the Surface Tablet since they've come out. We've got them still here. We have instructors who use all the Surface Pros now. We have the hubs that are here. We love the Microsoft products, because the apps that come along with them in Office 365 are becoming more and more immersive with education and classroom-focused options.
TYLER AHN: We were in New York because we had a lot of education announcements to make, and we talk a lot about digital transformation here at Microsoft, and it sounds like you have literally digitally transformed your college.
We heard a whole lot announced last week. How will Windows 10S and some of the new announcements from the education event impact your students, your teaching experience?
KYLE KELLY: We were actually really, really excited with a lot of the announcements that were made at the Microsoft event in New York City. Most specifically, we were looking at the applications for the OneNote—sorry, for the whiteboard—that was announced, because a lot of our class demonstration to students right now are over the Surface Hub using the whiteboard. And there are some new applications that are coming out with that that are going to lend themselves really well to distance-based education. It's becoming more immersive, more interactive, and it's going to make for a much more stimulating learning environment.
At the same time, OneNote for Classroom is coming out with a lot of new applications that we're looking forward to implementing into our curriculum. And there's going to be some collaborations where Teams is going to be involved more, and we're super-excited to blend that into our learning model, where we can have students start to formulate more of a community sensed feeling with a chat-based function that's directly involved in the environment we have, that they'll already be able to find their course content. They'll have engagement with instructors. They'll be able to engage with each other. Their assignments, their homework, everything is in one spot.
So, the Office 365 portal is essentially becoming one-stop shopping for a digital classroom environment. And with all the changes that are coming out, it's making it really, really exciting, and especially because it lends so well to the tools that we have already.
TYLER AHN: All of the announcements that have happened, why should this matter to the world of education?
KYLE KELLY: With the tools that we're being presented with from Microsoft, it's opening a lot of doorways with distance-based education, not only within our organization, but it's opening up opportunities for many remote locations. Northern Alberta is just one example of how these tools can be used in remote areas with limited infrastructure, limited resources.
We have started to develop a model where you can simply bring in one or two Microsoft tools, a Microsoft Hub, or Microsoft tablets, and install them in a classroom, and you can almost digitally transform that area into a classroom setting, where you can have an instructor there who is talking directly to the students, and students can get up, and with changes to the whiteboard, interact directly on that screen with their instructor at other locations, and it's not limited geographically.
You can open up the potential for a classroom to several different locations at the same time. It lends to a great change in education, getting away from that brick and mortar kind of setting and traditional classrooms, where you can use tools that are available to bring in more resources that were otherwise not available.
TYLER AHN: What's next for you, Kyle, and what's next for Kayas as a local institution?
KYLE KELLY: That's a good question. You know, as far as myself, as an educator, I really like just to continually learn and see what's coming out and try to adapt the classroom with society as a whole. One of the big things we notice on the reserve is that lack of access to technology. When a lot of students come to Kayas, they've never had an email address. They've had limited access to a computer. So, they lack a lot of those skills that we innately take for granted, how to use a computer, or how to create an email address, how to function in what's becoming very quickly a digital environment that we all live in.
So, we help show them how to use those to bring them up to speed and what to expect outside of the reserve when they leave and go pursue post-secondary education elsewhere. So, for me as an educator I want to stay up to date, and Microsoft helps greatly with that. I want to stay up to date with what tools are available, how can we improve a learning environment, how can we help students become more engaged in their learning, no matter where they are.
And I think that will apply to Kayas, as well. We want to continually offer the best service that we can to the community members of Little Red River. And we will continue to follow in that pursuit and that dream as long as we can.
TYLER AHN: Fantastic. Well, thank you for the inspiration today.
KYLE KELLY: It's my pleasure to be with you. Thank for having me.
THOMAS TROMBLEY: Many thanks to Kyle and Tyler for that wonderful session. When we think about what we learned from our guests, today's episode has been all about access, whether the goal is to make technology easier for schools to deploy, build tools that drive interest in math and science, or employ cloud-based curriculum to make education available to underserved communities, this is about empowering every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. Microsoft and all of us in the Windows Insider community are building the tools to drive learning into the future.
Before we go, we're excited to announce the first winner of our podcast contest. ANBXC, email Insider@microsoft.com with your name and mailing address, and we'll send you a ninja cat t-shirt and sticker. It's that easy, folks. If you want your very own ninja cat t-shirt and sticker, subscribe and rate this episode on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Be sure to include the hashtag #NinjaCatContests in your review, and you could be announced as the latest winner in our next podcast episode. So, go on, get writing.
Looking forward to next month, when we share more exciting stories from our Windows Insider community. You'd like a sneak peek you say? Well, sure, episode four will appeal to the inner child in all of us. So, get excited. In the meantime, please take a moment to check out the blog, flight the next build, and join the dialogue that is the Windows Insider community. See you next time.
ANNOUNCER: Our program today was produced by Microsoft Production Studios. Our team includes Tyler Ahn, Michelle Paison, and Emily Weaver. Our website is insider.windows.com. Support for the Windows Insider Podcast comes from Microsoft, empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
Special thanks goes out to Blair Glennon, Michelle Fleming, and Joe Camp. Moral support and inspiration comes from ninja cat, reminding us to have fun and pursue our passions. Thanks as always to our programs cofounders Dona Sakar and Jeremiah Marble.
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