Computer Science Education Week Microsoft Canada Launches #CodeGeneration

To celebrate Computer Science Education Week (Dec 7 to 13), Microsoft Canada has launched #CodeGeneration , in hopes to encourage students to learn to code.

Disclosure: I have been compensated to share this post. The opinions on this blog are my own.

There will be free online coding challenges, in-store “Hour of Code” sessions and a partnership with Code.org offering students and educators a Minecraft coding tutorial, Microsoft is showing students that anyone can learn to code, and the power to create technology is at our fingertips!

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WHAT IS IT?  “Hour of Code” is a global movement launched by code.org and supported by Microsoft reaching tens of millions of students in over 180 countries.

Should you be interested in attending one of Microsoft’s Hour of Code sessions with your child, I have included the event specifics below:

  • Who – Students between the ages of 13 and 18
  • What – In-store “Hour of Code” sessions
  • WhenSunday, December 13 2015 (all local time zones)
    • Session 1: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
    • Session 2: 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
    • Session 3: 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Where – Microsoft Stores nationwide:
    • Calgary, Chinook Centre
    • Edmonton, West Edmonton Mall
    • Burnaby, Metropolis at Metrotown
    • Vancouver, Pacific Centre
    • Mississauga, Square One Shopping Centre
    • Toronto, Eaton Centre
    • Toronto, Yorkdale Shopping Centre

*** On Sunday, December 13th, students across Canada will join #CodeGeneration with Minecraft-themed coding challenges hosted by Microsoft Canada in honour of Hour of Code. Parents or students that are interested in participating can register online at http://www.microsoft.ca/codeoff. ***

DID YOU KNOW?   Globally, over 100 million students have completed an Hour of Code.  Students as young as four years old are taking part and getting started with the basics of coding and computer science!

#CodeGeneration will end Computer Science Education Week with a bang on Sunday, December 13 by hosting “Hour of Code” coding workshops for students in Microsoft Stores nationwide.

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The Microsoft store closest to me is in Square One Shopping Centre, in Mississauga.  Come by, you might just bump into me!  Why do I think #CodeGeneration is so important?  Youth unemployment in Canada is at an all-time high.  In fact; 25% of our working poor is made up of our youth!  This is a scary concept to me; as I have a 17 year old that is in the work-force and is facing a future filled with self-doubt and confusion (fear of the future really).   Learning to code is a fun way for students to explore a future in computer sciences while preparing to meet the needs of an evolving knowledge-based economy.  Anyone can learn to code!

Let’s unlock Canada’s potential!  There is a massive skills gap in the Canadian IT sector – expected to reach 182,000 people by 2019.  Microsoft believes that Computer science and coding is the solution to both of those challenges.  Please attend one of Microsoft’s Hour of Code sessions with your child, and open a door to his/her future.

Microsoft’s Tech Tablets, Accessories and Upgrades #BTS

It’s Back-To-School time and I’m so excited!  Why?  I have a simple explanation:  my daughter needs to follow a schedule.  Quite frankly, I think the entire household craves that structured time.  The key to keeping up with modern-day-learning [gone are the days of chalk and the chalkboard]  is using the tools to help you succeed.

Disclosure: I have been compensated to share this post.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

It’s time to focus on Back-to-School Supplies; Microsoft has the student essentials!  Get your student excited about learning with these beauties:

NOTE:  I especially love the foldable keyboard.  Psst, I also believe the Surface 3 the perfect portable processor.

SURFACE 3

In today’s tech-driven classrooms, a laptop or tablet has gone from a nice-to-have, to an absolute necessity. Thinner and lighter than ever, Microsoft’s Surface 3 is the perfect option for work, play and everything in-between. Powerful, productive and portable, the Surface 3 does all the things you love on a tablet like watching videos, playing mobile games or connecting with friends. But when you add the pen and keyboard, the Surface 3 turns into a fully functional laptop. Highlight digital textbooks and makes notes in the margins, develop essays and presentations, take notes in class or even record lectures and seamlessly save them to OneDrive – the Surface 3 does it all.   It’s no wonder Surface tablets are top of their class 😉

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Specs:

  • Atom x7 processor and Windows 8.1 – perfect for multitasking
  • Provides 10 hours of video-playback and can run downloadable programs just like a PC
  • Multiple ports so students can easily plug in a USB, mouse or printer
  • Comes with 1TB of free OneDrive storage, so students can access their files anywhere

The Surface 3 starts at $639; pen ($49.99) and type cover ($129.99) sold separately.

WINDOWS 10 UPGRADE ($FREE)

If the laptop you bought last September will do just fine, make sure you’ve got the latest software update. Windows 10 is a free upgrade to anyone running Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 during the first year after launch. Windows 10 combines features you know and love like the return of the start menu, with great new productivity and security features, like Microsoft Edge and Cortana, coming soon. Plus, the service will evolve and get even better over time. New features are delivered when they’re ready, without having to wait for the next major release – giving you a safe and secure Windows experience.

OFFICE FOR STUDENTS ($FREE)

Microsoft Office proficiency is more important than ever. According to a recent IDC study, Skill Requirements for Tomorrow’s Best Jobs, Microsoft Office is third on a list of fundamental skills for top-grossing, high-growth employers, which is why Microsoft is working with schools to give over 4 million students across the country access to Office – at no cost to the student or their family.

Here’s how it works: if a child or post-secondary student is enrolled in a district school board or individual school which has purchased Microsoft Office for use by its faculty and staff, they are eligible to access Office from their schools through the Office for Students program. All they need to do is log-on to Microsoft.ca/FreeOffice to check their eligibility and download Office.

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And the best part about it, is it’s not just for school! Students can download Office on up to five PCs and Macs, iPads, Android tablets, iPhones or Android phones for use at home and in the classroom.

What it includes:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • OneNote
  • Access
  • Publisher
  • 1TB of storage on OneDrive
  • Office Online for in-browser editing

UNIVERSAL FOLDABLE KEYBOARD ($99.95)

The Universal Foldable Keyboard is perfect for a student on-the-go —its ultra-thin, lightweight, compact design lets students easily take it wherever they go so they can get more done on their tablet or smartphone no matter where they are!

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Specs:

  • Works across devices: The Universal Foldable Keyboard was designed to work with iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows tablets, and Windows Phone. Pair the keyboard with any combination of two compatible devices and quickly switch between them with one touch.
  • Ultra-thin and lightweight: Only 5mm thin, the innovative, foldable design easily fits into a purse, bag, or pocket.
  • Full-size keyset: The full-size keyset provides fast, accurate typing.
  • Easy on/Easy off: Open the keyboard to connect to your tablet or smartphone. Simply close the keyboard to shut it down
  • Spill-resistant design: Water repellent keyset and fabric helps protect against accidents.
  • Rechargeable battery: The built-in rechargeable battery provides up to three months of usage on a single charge.
  • Bluetooth Smart®: Clutter-free and reliable experience utilizing the latest in Bluetooth 4.0 technology, consuming less power.

Top tech tips for surviving the school year – By Marc Saltzman

Forget books, binders and backpacks – today’s students also need access to three other Bs: broadband, blogs and Bluetooth.

High school and post-secondary students, in particular, can take advantage of the latest high-tech tools – be it for work and play to give them the leg up when they head back to the classroom this fall.

Here’s a few grade-A tech tips to help students make the most out of the school year.

(1) Take advantage of free apps to stay organized

There are many tools that help students get productive to get things done, but most parents know that Microsoft Office is the cream of the productivity crop: Word, PowerPoint and Excel are a must for writing papers and creating presentations; OneNote makes it easy to take notes and organize research; Outlook helps students stay on top of deadlines, appointments and more.  What many parents don’t know, is that Office is available for FREE to students across Canada. Here’s how it works: if the student is enrolled in a district school board or individual school that has purchased Microsoft Office for use by its faculty and staff, they are eligible to access Office through the Office for Students program. Visit microsoft.ca/FreeOffice to check the student’s eligibility and download Office today.

(2) Upgrade your world

If you purchased a new computer in the last year and a half, your student is probably set for the year, but make sure they have all of the latest operating system upgrades, like Windows 10, so they can take advantage of the newest features.  Free for home users running Windows 7 or newer, Windows 10 is the Windows you know and love, only better. It brings back familiar features like the Start menu, adds new features like Microsoft Edge, which has the ability to type on webpages or annotate using your fingertip or stylus pen. Multitaskers will rejoice with the ability to snap up to four apps in place and Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant, is coming to Canada soon, as well. Cortana will help keep track of things that interest you, make helpful suggestions, remind you of appointments and help you stay closer to the people who matter most. Plus, she continually learns about your interests, friends and favourite things, just like a real assistant.

(3) Do the cloud

“The dog ate my homework” isn’t going to fly in 2015 – because students can access their work from anywhere thanks to the cloud.  Take advantage of free cloud services like OneDrive, which lets students store their school work and personal files, including research notes, calendar dates, contacts, photos and videos, music and audiobooks, and more. Students can access their files from multiple devices, anywhere in the world, as well as easily share large files with fellow students or collaborate in real-time on projects.  Along with the OneDrive webpage, you can also download the OneDrive app for free for use with smartphones and tablets.

(4) Heed the call

Why should university-bound students pay through the nose for long distance calls back home when they can video chat for free over Wi-Fi?  Skype lets students keep in touch with family and friends with Skype-to-Skype calling, for free, plus you can add video which is more meaningful than audio-only – especially if you’re feeling a little homesick (whether students admit it or not).  Skype also lets you message others, share files and call to landlines and mobile phones on the cheap.

(5) Double duty

Many students prefer a laptop for school work but a tablet to do the fun stuff, like checking social and watching videos, so why not get a versatile device that does both!  Starting at $639, Surface 3 is powerful, productive and portable. The Surface 3 does double-duty, allowing students do all the things they love, like playing mobile games or connecting with friends, while also working as a fullyfunctioning laptop where they can take notes, write essays and create presentations.  The optional magnetic Type Cover keyboard and trackpad is available in multiple colours so students can personalize to their style and, can choose to write, draw and annotate on the screen with their fingertip or optional Surface Pen.

About Microsoft Canada
Established in 1985, Microsoft Canada Inc. is the Canadian subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ “MSFT”) the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. Microsoft Canada provides nationwide sales, marketing, consulting and local support services in both French and English. Headquartered in Mississauga, Microsoft Canada has nine regional offices across the country dedicated to empowering people through great software – any time, any place and on any device. For more information on Microsoft Canada, please visit http://www.microsoft.ca.

Microsoft OneNote Project Partners with TDSB Helping Students with Special Needs

Microsoft truly is engaged in Canada’s education, so why not allow our teachers and our students have access to great tools and technology?  It will empower today’s students to succeed tomorrow!

Disclosure: I have been compensated to share this post.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

Microsoft is working with the Toronto District School Board to help students with special needs work to their full potential with the use of assistive technology.  We already know that technology helps students to focus on learning without distractions, but did you know that it alleviates their anxiety too?  Technology is revolutionizing the way that students are learning:  they can collaborate on group projects more easily, and tackle their research more quickly!

Angie Scarano-Iuorio, Assistive Technology Central Coordinator with the TDSB, has launched an internal task-force that provides resources, training and workshops to help teachers incorporate technology into their classrooms.

Part of this is initiative is the Microsoft OneNote project, which helps students with learning disabilities prepare for their transition to high school and help to redefine student success at the TDSB.

  • All students can benefit from this program but students who are dyslexic, have ADD/ADHD, or other learning disabilities can do remarkably well using this program.
  • A lack of organizational skills can impede their learning process, so using and modeling this software to help them get organized is revolutionizing their learning and building confidence.

OneNote Benefits According to Kyle:  (OneNote Pilot Project Student)

Personally, the HP PageLift would’ve helped me greatly back when I was in school!  Had Microsoft’s initiative been in full force and made available to my daughter (she has ADHD), I am certain it would have helped her even more.  The partnership between Microsoft and TDSB is an important one; it’s valuable to families and society as a whole.

How OneNote helps students:

  1. When using One Note, students can take notes faster by creating keyboard shortcuts and also by customizing the tool bar for their specific needs.  It keep all of their information in one place and accessible to them wherever they might be.
  2. They can also take notes while recording lectures that can be played back whenever they need to hear them.
  3. OneNote also saves automatically which is very helpful and the search feature is extremely easy to use.
  4. A student can have all of their classes tabbed at the top and then subsets of the tab (just like a regular binder) on the right to access or add any information needed for the classes.
  5. Many students who have accessibility issues feel unorganized and they stress so much over this problem, they realize how much OneNote can help them and they feel empowered.
  6. Beyond school they can take these skills post-graduation into a work setting and can help them do tasks such as: put proposals together, create business plans, work on engineering designs, and develop lesson plans etc.
  7. Educators and therapists also love this program because they can add all of their students on this program and keep most of their information organized adding in their students’ papers, presentations, assessments, and they can even develop a grading system into the program.
  8. Therapists can add a list of the students they service and comprehensive information about the therapy they are receiving, while incorporating the children’s various schedules into the file. They can even chart the students’ progress by using the data and graphing tools.

Microsoft OneNote is shaping classrooms, and transforming students’ futures.  Students are more focussed on their learning all while developing online and offline computer skills that are relevant.  Essentially, OneNote is providing learning skills that will empower students … making them more employable.  The outcome?  One heck of a future!

Learn More:

OneNote & TDSB Assistive Tech on Facebook

Assistive Technology TDSB blog

About Microsoft Canada
Established in 1985, Microsoft Canada Inc. is the Canadian subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ “MSFT”) the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. Microsoft Canada provides nationwide sales, marketing, consulting and local support services in both French and English. Headquartered in Mississauga, Microsoft Canada has nine regional offices across the country dedicated to empowering people through great software – any time, any place and on any device. For more information on Microsoft Canada, please visit http://www.microsoft.ca.