I’m not a geographer

I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with Microsoft’s Partners in Learning network for around 18 months now.  Fellow Welshman Stuart Ball is part of the team behind the network and we were lucky enough for him to agree to speak to Portsmouth’s Geography Network Meeting, which is supported by the Royal Geographical Society.

I like working with the Microsoft Education team as the focus is always on learning and the team are always willing to talk, respond and help when needed.  As I’ve mentioned before, the focus is also on learning and the non-corporate and relaxed manner of Partners in Learning fits right in with teaching. To sum up we always feel that we are working with them rather than for them.

Stuart’s talk went down very well, and carried a few powerful messages which I will attempt to summarise:

  • We need to use the tools that we already have.  I think that we have all been there, and I’m certainly guilty of this myself.  We strive for the new and sometimes shiny.  But a different tool isn’t necessarily better and can put up barriers to some staff engaging in the learning debate.  Of course, there is room for the new and shiny but only when there is a strong learning augment behind it. There are close links here to the SAMR model (below) Others, such as Doug Belshaw, have also written about how the appropriate use of technology


  • It’s not about tools that do a specific job, but developing pedagogy that uses tools in different ways. For example, Twitter is a social network but can be effectively used for data collection in Geography lessons

Stuart summarised how a number of tools available from Microsoft and suggested ways in which they could be used.  I liked his message that he wasn’t able to tell us what we could do with them – that was up to use to develop. The range of tools have been blogged about here:

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