‘Report back on the E2 Education Exchange – Toronto’ by Megan Rademeyer from SchoolNet

The Microsoft Education Exchange (E2) is Microsoft in Education’s annual event recognizing and celebrating the achievements of educators who combine content, pedagogy, and technology in exemplary ways to prepare students for success. This year, E2 took place in Toronto, Canada between 21 and 23 March 2017 and included almost 300 teachers and education thought leaders from countries around the world. SchoolNet’s Megan Rademeyer, who is a Microsoft Fellow, attended E2 and presented a session entitled “It’s not about the tool” in the University and Workplace Readiness track. She also coached a group of teachers from five different countries who tried to think of a new add-in that Microsoft should create to enhance one of their existing products to make it even better for teachers.

Five Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts were selected to represent South Africa at E2 – Justin Harper (Saheti), Matthew Hains (Crawford College – Sandton) and Amandla Vinjwa (Sivile Primary School) Peter de Lisle (Hilton College) and Freddy Chireka (Vastratech). Angela Schaerer, Teacher Engagement Manager from Microsoft South Africa accompanied the group.

All five teachers reported that E2 was a life-changing professional development experience and that they learnt so much from other teachers both through seeing their projects in the Learning Marketplace and by working alongside other teachers in the group challenges. For most of the group the Minecraft: Education Edition activities were highlights as we had an opportunity to build a solution to the challenge of homelessness within a Minecraft world modelled on Toronto. The MakerSpaces activity that involved programming a Microbit to flash a message in small lights was a fun activity that bought out the coders in us and provided a practical opportunity to #MakeWhatsNext. Sessions on maximising some of Microsoft’s tools for the educational environment – such as Maximising OneNote also built our skills for making better use of Microsoft tools within classrooms and provided an opportunity to see international best practices.

The five MIE Experts who attended E2 report back on their personal highlights below:

Justin Harper

“I would encourage all teachers of all grades to actively participate in the Microsoft Educator Community and to apply for the chance to get to meet like-minded teachers from around the world at the next E2 Global conference. It was truly a once in a life time opportunity and maybe one day I can attend as a Mie Fellow.

My highlights of the event were taking part in various group activities and focus areas. The main ones being Minecraft for Education and Microbit technology. Seeing how one can easily get lost in the gamification and innovation in technology has inspired me to bring this type of technology to SAHETI School.”

 Peter de Lisle

“E2 was a great experience for me. The opportunity to be with fellow-teachers from around the world is quite unique. Despite all the differences in approach, language, culture, etc, we could experience being together as professionals to share our passion for education and the ways we can work together to make it better. The group project was a highlight for me – working with my team-mates from across the globe was tough, but we had lots of fun. A big shout-out to Microsoft and SchoolNet SA for making it possible for us to attend.”

Freddy Chireka

“It is with great pleasure to summarise my highlights of the E2 Microsoft Summit in Toronto.

– The Group Challenge on #MakeWhat’sNext was great chance to collaborate on innovative ideas with delegates in random groups made of teachers from different parts of the world. We had to find ways of having a common understanding , divide tasks evenly, overcome language and cultural barriers to come up with ideas for presentation.

Matthew Hains

– Microsoft Minecraft for Problem based Learning was an exceptional eye opener and its potential to impact critical thinking skills through game based learning.

– Learning Market Place was a great opportunity to see how fellow MIE Experts are combining content, pedagogy and Microsoft Technology to deliver exciting and engaging lessons for their learners.

– Break-away session on #Improving academic achievements through Technology integration with content gave me a practical overview of how Teachers can harness the power of technology to improve learner outcomes.”

“ 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.”

Amandla Vinjwa

“E2 was a life changing experience. We had an opportunity to interact with educators around the world, sharing views and ideas about teaching strategies , methods, teaching resources and material. The lead teachers shared their best teaching practices and we experienced Microsoft tools that could be customised to fit your desired classroom environment and which would addresses different learners needs. I was especially excited by the tools that promotes inclusivity and diversify the learning to create dynamic and vibrant learning. These can enable us as teachers to be champions in our teaching.”

Get involved in the 2017/2018 Microsoft MIEE program 

If you are a teacher who likes to be innovative in the classroom, think about entering Microsoft’s Innovative Teacher MIEExpert 2017/2018 program when applications reopen later this year. You can learn more about the program at this link:  on the Microsoft Educator Community.

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