MIEExpert Spotlight #25: Matthew Hains from South Africa reports back on his recent Microsoft E2 Exchange experience in Toronto, Canada

This is the 25th post in the series “MIEExpert Spotlight” for South Africa. The tab with all the posts

can be found at: . Today we focus on Matthew Haines. Matthew is an MIEExpert Educator in South Africa, and he was recently selected to attend the E2 Global Exchange in Toronto along with four other South African teachers. Matthew teaches ICT at Crawford College, Sandton. He has been teaching for 16 years.

Back row: Freddy Chireka, Justin Harper, Peter De Lisle, Amandla Vinjwa

Front row: Angela Schaerer (Microsoft), Matthew Hains, Megan Rademeyer (Schoolnet SA)

Who was selected to attend?

Out of 135 Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts in South Africa, only 5 individuals were selected to attend the conference. I was one of those individuals selected by Microsoft and SchoolNet SA. Only 300 professionals from around the world are invited to this event each year.


Where was the venue in Canada?

The venue for the event was at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, Canada. A beautiful hotel with a vast array of conference venues and rooms hosting the various workshops.

What was the on the agenda?

The beginning of the conference was marked by a personal welcome by the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau!

Each day began with keynote speakers — who are professionals in their fields of study and education — providing some insight and inspiration for teachers. After the keynotes – and normally following a short break – focus groups and breakout sessions were available all over the conference venue for teachers to attend. Each day I could choose to attend a different group or workshop.

Who were the speakers?

Speakers included:

  • Marc Seaman – National Director of Education and Public Affairs for Microsoft Canada
  • Minister Morid – Minister of Research, Innovation and Science Canada
  • John Meyers – president of Edsby (cloud-based software application that blends social networking with class and student management)
  • Lisa Floyd – Director of Research & Inquiry at Fair Chance Learning
  • Eve Psalti – Director, Education Audience Strategy at Microsoft
  • Anthony Salcito – Vice President of Education at Microsoft
  • Daniel McDuff – Researcher at Microsoft and TEDx Berlin speaker
  • Meenoo Rami – Microsoft Minecraft team and Author
  • David Lopez – Actiontec
  • Megan Lawrence (Phd) – accessibility technical evangelist at Microsoft
  • Martha Jez – Professional learning specialist
  • Lakesha Kirkland – Business education instructor
  • Stephen Reid – Immersive Minds, Educational Technology Consultant

The Group Challenge

We also had group challenge sessions where each group was given a “hacker persona” and the challenge was to “Make What’s Next” – basically brainstorming and presenting an idea of something new or a new addition to feature in an existing Microsoft product. These ideas were submitted at the end of the allocated timeframe and the runners up/winners were announced at the awards evening on the last night. The groups were already chosen for us and we had representation of many diverse nationalities in each group.

My group ran with my initial idea of a Collaboration add-in/feature in the ribbon of Microsoft products which allows a user to instantly have access to an online professional, a colleague or resource without leaving the application and having the ability to share the document/screen for real-time collaboration with whomever you’ve connected with via a webcam and Skype or other collaborative software to work on a currently open document.

I am pleased to say that my group, which another teacher and myself sort-of leading the charge with, came in third place overall in our “hacker persona”, for which we were awarded a framed and printed certificate from Microsoft.  In fact, 3 out of the 5 South African teachers all placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd in their respective groups – I am sure their schools and Microsoft would be very proud!

Daily Agenda

Available sessions to attend

  • Instilling Active Citizenship· Increasing Academic Achievement
  • Improving University and Workplace Readiness
  • Introducing Microsoft MakeCode
  • Problem-based Learning with Minecraft
  • Problem-based Learning with Minecraft (advanced)
  • Sway and OneNote Focus Groups
  • MCE Writing Workshop
  • MOC/MCE Certification Exams
  • Microsoft Educator Focus Groups
  • Microsoft Classroom Focus Groups
  • Technology showcase and Hacking STEM

Sessions I attendedI

I attended as many sessions as I could, but the ones that stood out the most for me were Minecraft (both sessions), Microsoft Makecode and the Hacking STEM workshop. I got to make a robotic-controlled finger in a STEM workshop and also learnt how to program a mini-led computer.

The Market Place

The main activity on the Thursday the 23rd of March was the “Market Place” event, which lasted most of the afternoon. Hundreds of teachers set up little demonstration booths showcasing an activity, lesson or project they had undertaken using technology as part of the process.

Teachers were not only given the opportunity to showcase their work but also had plenty of time to “shop around” at other booths, gaining ideas and inspiration from other teachers from all around the world. The interaction of teachers from all over the globe is something to be witnessed!

My activity : Using PowerPoint to teach Logical and Programmatical Thinking. Downloadable here : https://goo.gl/4QcHXL

My overall experience

The Microsoft E2 Educator Exchange is a once-in-a-lifetime experience worth every minute. Being exposed to new technologies, new ways of thinking and ideas from teachers of all subjects from all around the world, is an experience that ignites one with a renewed vigour for teaching with technology.

I was inspired by new ways of using various applications such as OneNote and Sway. I took consolation in the fact that I was not alone as a teacher, that, many other teachers in schools across the globe face the similar issues and challenges as us here in South Africa and require innovative teachers and students to address these issues and overcome these challenges.

I gained a new respect for the incredibly powerful Microsoft OneNote, both as an organisational tool and assessment facilitator. I saw how teacher and student can collaborate on projects together, receive immediate feedback in a tangible form and how the software aids communication between teacher, student and also amongst staff members. OneNote handled all forms of files types effortlessly and streamlined the entire process of certain tasks from drafts to final versions.

That’s me!

My grateful thanks to Microsoft

Though I do not discount my hard work, perseverance and desire to always learn and grow, I am yet incredibly grateful to have been awarded this opportunity. I have returned home challenged, inspired and encouraged.

Further links

For more images from the event, check out the Microsoft Flickr page :


For various pics and videos from my Twitter timeline, go to @TechTeachersZA in Twitter. You

can also search for Twitter for the hashtags #E2 and #MIEExpert.

I’ll also be posting this report plus many more photos on my Tech Teachers web site at http://www.techteachers.co.za/2017/03/microsoft-e2-educator-exchange-toronto-2017/

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