MIEExpert Spotlight #21: Fiona Beal: Try OneNote, Office Mix and Sway – your classes will love using them

This is the 21st post in the series “MIEExpert Spotlight” for South Africa. The tab with all the posts can be found at: . Today we focus on Fiona Beal. Fiona is a 2016/2017

Microsoft MIE Expert Educator who teaches ICT Technology to Grades 1 – 7 at The Rock Academy in Fish Hoek, South Africa. She adds that she loves this opportunity as she is able to bring technology innovation into her lessons.

Fiona says, “When you combine good pedagogy with technology the learners can achieve more than they ever could by just writing everything on paper. I see using technology in the classroom as a great way to be innovative and add countless opportunities for my learners that just wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Dr Seuss’s quote summarises this, ‘Oh the places you’ll go…’ “

Thank you Microsoft!

Fiona feels that she has Microsoft to thank for many of her professional achievements. “Microsoft offers so many innovative opportunities to teachers around the world and in South Africa, and by taking hold of those and stepping out of my comfort zone I have got to where I am now. Teachers can create their own professional development opportunities online these days – there are so many free opportunities provided by Microsoft and others. Try to participate in the Global Skypathon every year, and join in with Microsoft’s Hack the Classroom events.  Listen to webinars. Be willing to try out new tools in your lessons. Network with teachers far and wide. Start blogging about what you do in the classroom – it’s a great way to share with others. And of course, join in your class with global projects. Ultimately, it’s all about our learners and preparing them for the future.” Visit the Microsoft Educator Community at https://education.microsoft.com/ to find out what Microsoft offers teachers. 

Using OneNote in the classroom

Fiona believes that One Note is an amazing and versatile program to use in the classroom. This year she explored using it as a portfolio in Grade 7. “I especially wanted my Grade 7 learners to notice how incredible this program is to use as a notebook for all their subjects when they start at their various high schools next year. Mission achieved! They saw that it is an excellent way of keeping organized, keeping one’s notes and research filed and they left school with the opinion that it is a must for any high school learner to use!” At the end of the 2016 year she encouraged her Grade 7s to select their ten favourite pieces of work done during the year in ICT lessons, and add them into OneNote as a Notebook entitled ‘Digital Portfolio 2017’. They used OneNote online for this. If you have a Windows PC, OneNote is already installed on your computer. If not, try OneNote online. It is also a free app on an iPad, an Android device, and a Windows tablet. You can create any number of unique Notebooks In OneNote you can also sketch, diagram or doodle on a OneNote page if you prefer to take notes in this manner. OneNote includes a great palette of drawing tools to use to add more free-form content to your work. OneNote can also record audio and video. You could create voice notes as you work with your learners. Your learners can record things for themselves. OneNote has a several attractive templates which can help both teachers and students create better class notes. Fiona concludes, “One thing I want to try out in 2017 is using OneNote as a digital textbook. There’s so much I could say about OneNote…”  You can find out more about and download OneNote from the OneNote website http://www.onenote.com/

PowerPoint and Office Mix

Fiona says, “I have always LOVED using PowerPoint in the classroom as it is the most versatile application I know of.” She uses it for her learners to present projects, write newsletters, create infographics, create brochures, illustrate poems, write and illustrate stories, and more. Now that Microsoft has gone a step further and introduced an add-in to PowerPoint called Office Mix, one can add video and sound to an online experience and create an Office Mix video. What can be better than that! Office Mix is great for making blended learning tutorials. Fiona says, “I plan use Office Mix in many of my future lessons. Recently I set the Grade 7s a task of presenting their Diseases project as an e-book using Office Mix, to give it sound and video.” Get Office Mix at https://mix.office.com 

A still image example of the final Office Mix video format


Microsoft Sway

Sway is a free presentation web app – part of the Microsoft Office family of products. It is also available as a iOS app. All you have to do to get started is go to this URL https://sway.com/ and join up by creating a Microsoft ID. Then just explore! It allows one to combine text and media to create an online presentation with a difference! You can pull content locally from your device, or from Internet sources such as Bing, OneDrive, YouTube, Facebook etc. One can add videos, text, images, sound…you name it. Before you know it you have a lovely presentation! Fiona says, “I have used Sway for assignments and projects, for creating newsletters or reports on an outing, for digital storytelling and for creating writing portfolios. You can also embed a sway into OneNote.” Find out more about Sway at https://sway.com/

Why teenagers like Facebook 

Microsoft in Education Forums

Fiona comments about the impact that the Microsoft Innovative Teacher competition has had on her. She has entered three times. The first time, in 2008, she was a finalist with a whole school reading project ‘Readers are leaders’. The second time, in 2009, she was a national winner with a blogging project ‘Bonding through Blogging. “This was one of the most exciting years of my life. It led me to the Pan African Finals in Mauritius, where I was one of the winners and then on to the Global Forum in Brazil.” In 2010 Fiona was a finalist again in 2010 with a project called ‘Taking it Global’. In 2011, she was selected as one of the 50 teachers from around the world to attend the inaugural Microsoft Partners in Learning Institute in Seattle. “These experiences were all absolutely life-changing. They impacted all my future goals in education. As a result nearly everything I do now is aimed at encouraging teachers and learners to embrace innovation in education.” Find out more about the Microsoft Innovative educator Expert program at 


Fiona concludes: “Dare I say, OneNote, PowerPoint with Office Mix and Sway are fast becoming an important part of my favourite program collection! I use them in so many of my lessons. I am planning to upload many of these lessons, on a regular basis, to the Microsoft Educator Community so that I can share ideas with others.” 

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