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Recreating ancestral worlds with virtual blocks – New Zealand News Centre

Whetu Paitai’s always been good at building. In fact, he might still be a builder in Australia if it weren’t for two things: a broken leg and a promise kept. Thanks to life’s strange twists he’s back home in the Coromandel, but instead of putting up houses, he’s reconstructing the world of his Tīpuna (ancestors). 

The path was laid almost a decade ago, when Whetu was in hospital with a broken leg. A university lecturer in the same ward raved to him about Minecraft. When Whetu suggested his daughter try the game she was instantly hooked – and so was he. The pair bonded over their shared passion for creating digital worlds. 

Fast forward a few years, and Whetu, now a father of four, often wished his tamariki (children) could connect with their culture by learning to speak te reo Māori, something he’d never learned to do. A promise to his wife saw them return to New Zealand and he’s never looked back since.   

Now Whetu has not only reconnected with his culture and heritage, immersing his children in te ao Māori (the Māori world), he’s found a new calling: designing games that introduce his culture to countless other children. His latest is a brand-new world built for Minecraft: Education Edition, Ngā Motu (The Islands), giving students a taste of what life was like in a traditional Māori (fortified village).  

There’s great value in little things 

Whetu is the founder of Piki Studios, a game design company he runs while home-schooling his children on the remote Coromandel Peninsula. The leap from builder to educational games developer may seem like a big one, but Whetu remembers being drawn to technology from an early age. 

“When I was a kid I enjoyed computers, but the geeky stereotype didn’t fit with the Kiwi view of being a boy. I grew up in Harataunga (Kennedy Bay), surrounded by bush. Computers went on the back-burner.” 

When he returned to New Zealand, and still a massive Minecraft fan, Whetu was seduced afresh by digital technology, so he retrained. Armed with new digital skills, he found himself helping out with the admin at his children’s kohanga reo (Māori-language preschool), and a lightbulb went on: “If I could be involved that much in my kids’ education, how much more involved could I be?” 

Whetu realised that by marrying his passion for IT with education, he could help other children learn the language and culture too by creating fun new resources 

And so his game building began. He started by creating an online game, Mahimaina (Minecraft in te reo Māori), to help children learn the language, joined by around 100 students. More games are set to follow, both online and traditional board games, which Whetu hopes will be used by schools and whānau (families) around the country.  

“There’s great value in little things,” he says. For a child, seeing their culture represented on major global platforms is incredibly empowering.”  

It was exactly what one of the world’s largest tech companies was looking for.  

Last year, Microsoft came knocking. Would Whetu like to create a uniquely Aotearoa (New Zealand) resource for Minecraft: Education Edition?  

A voyage through Aotearoa 

“It blew our minds,” says Whetu. “I knew Minecraft, but it wasn’t till we explored Minecraft: Education Edition, tweaked it, played with it and saw all the additional things it could do that we realised all the potential. This will open up so much more space for Māori and all Kiwis to learn and play in the Māori world.”  

Minecraft: Education Edition brings the world of Minecraft to classrooms around the world, offering hundreds of free lessons as well as a global educator community. Immersive game-based learning helps students build key 21st century skills including creativity, collaboration and STEM. Educators across New Zealand are already using Minecraft to transform learning, from learning programming with Hour of Code to designing sustainable villages and even reconstructing Gallipoli in-game. 

Whetu is the first to create a brand-new world immersed in te ao Māori. Characters based on his children and their friends guide young players as they walk through Ngā Motu, from the impressive waka hourua (sea-going canoe) at the beach to the with its wharenui (large meeting house) decorated with kōwhaiwhai (painted panels) and tukutuku (woven lattice). Pātaka, rua (food storage areas) and a hāngī pit for cooking can also be found in the  

Whetu has gone into painstaking detail to make sure everything has a uniquely Aotearoa flavour, right down to the kumara (sweet potato) gardens where children can create new buildings. The resource packs swap typical swords for more appropriate patu (clubs) and even the mobs will have Kiwi kids feeling right at home.  

Whetu’s younger daughter requested her favourite bird, a pīwaiwaka (fantail), you can interact with a native kunekune pig and even an extinct moa, New Zealand’s famous giant bird, complete with sound recreated by the experts at national museum Te Papa. Children can learn words in te reo Māori from the guides, or via in-game exercises. 

In future iterations, intrepid voyagers will be able to visit the taniwha (guardian) in the harbour and collect kaimoana (seafood) near some pink terraces that may remind New Zealanders of the long-lost Pink Terraces, destroyed by a volcanic eruption more than 100 years ago. All of these will add to children’s glossary of Māori words and understanding of Māori history and narratives. 

“I would love the kura (schools) to build their own or wharenui, explore the world on their own and learn how to care for the moa,” Whetu says. 

“We’re believers in learning being organic, being able to explore all the elements, because nothing in our lives exists in isolation. Our mission is for everyone to be able to play these games and see more than just what a waka is – they’ll be able to see how it fits into that whole world,” Whetu explains. 

A “serendipitous” opportunity 

This philosophy is exactly why Microsoft New Zealand’s Sam McNeill and Anne Taylor came to Piki Studios. 

Whetu’s so passionate about education and helping all kids, not just his own, understand our indigenous culture and that really shines through when you speak to him. He’s a natural teacher,” says Anne, Education Lead for Microsoft New Zealand.  

The creativity and attention to detail with which Whetu has approached this project just blew us away. What he’s created goes way beyond what we could ever have expected.” 

Whetu acknowledges getting the call from Microsoft was daunting, being a small family business dealing with a large multinational corporation. It was a relief to find he was working with people who shared the same values and goals.  

A better opportunity couldn’t have presented itself. Straight off the bat, Sam and Anne knew te ao Māori, believing in dealing honestly and genuinely with indigenous people, and we never lost any of that closeness that is so important. It was truly serendipitous.”  

The group were determined to ensure all the translations were accurate. Two professional translators, Hemi Kelly and Piripi Walker, worked with Whetu and the team to translate the language pack for the game, including the instructions. There were even some new words for some of the more in-game Minecraft items. 

“It was important to make sure te ao Māori was respected as its own being, the mana (status) and cultural IP of each artefact upheld and maintained throughout the process,” Whetu says.  

The most difficult part was the timeframe, just five short weeks. Luckily Whetu was supported by other Māori working in the tech space, making it a truly collaborative process. And of course Whetu’s children acted as in-house quality assurance keeping Dad on top of his game. 

First Harataunga, then the world? 

Soon Ngā Motu will reach an audience beyond New Zealand, as Piki Studios is now an official member of the Minecraft Partner Program, enabling it to add to the resources available in the global Minecraft Marketplace. For now, the game will be available to classrooms in New Zealand, as part of Microsoft’s Schools Agreement that provides resources such as Minecraft: Education Edition to every State and State-Integrated school. 

 “Ngā Motu is a truly amazing resource for Kiwi students and teachers and we know they’re going to absolutely love exploring and building on this world,” says Anne. 

“It’s not just Whetu’s children. We showed it to some of our global colleagues and the excitement in the room was just palpable. 

Not bad for a boy from Harataunga. 

For more information on Minecraft: Education Edition in New Zealand please visit: http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Teaching/Future-focused-learning/Minecraft or visit Piki Studios https://www.pikistudios.com/ 


Te waihanga anō i ngā ao tuku iho mā ngā poraka mariko 

Mai anō e taunga ana a Whetu Paitai ki ngā mahi waihanga. Ina, tērā pea e mahi waihanga tonu ana ia i Ahitereiria engari nā ēnei mea e rua: i whati te waewae me te ū ki te kupu oati. Nā ngā āhuatanga o te ao kua tau atu ki te wā kāinga i Hauraki, engari kāore ia i whakatū whare, kei te whakatūtū kē anō ia i te ao o ōna tīpuna. 

He mea whakatakoto tēnei ara i tōna tekau tau ki mua, i te wā i rō hōhipera a Whetu nā te whatinga o tōna waewae. I te waha pakaru haere tētahi kaiako whare wānanga ki a ia mō Minecraft. I te meatanga a Whetu ki tana tamāhine kia whakamātauria e ia te kēmu i tino rawe rawa atu ki tana tamahine – me ia anō. Ka hono tahi rāua i runga i tō rāua kaingākau ki te waihanga ao matihiko. 

Ka huri ngā tau, kua whā ngā tamariki ināianei a Whetu, me tana manako kia hono ana tamariki ki tō rātau ao Māori mā te ako ki te kōrero i te reo Māori, kāore hoki a Whetu i mōhio ki tōna reo. Nā tana kupu oati ki tana hoa wahine ka hoki mai rātau ki Aotearoa, kāore mo te hoki whakamuri.  

Nā, kua hono atu a Whetu ki tōna ao Māori, koinei hoki te ao o ana tamariki, kua whai ia te tino oranga mōna: te waihanga kēmu me te tūhono atu i tōna ahurea ki ngā tamariki huhua. Ko tāna mea hou rawa ko tētahi ao tino hou mō Minecraft: Te Putanga Mātauranga, Ngā Motu, e pā atu ai ngā ākonga ki te āhua o te ao i roto i tētahi pā Māori.  

He mea nui kei roto i ngā mea iti 

Nā Whetu i whakaara ake a Piki Studios, he kamupene waihanga kēmu e whakahaerehia ana e ia i a ia e kura ana i ana tamariki i te kāinga i te takiwā mamao o Hauraki. Ko te whakaaro pea he tino nui te neke mai i te mahi waihanga ki te waihanga kēmu mātauranga, engari i maumahara a Whetu ki tana kaingākau ki te hangarau i a ia e paku ana. 

“I ahau e tamariki ana he rawe ki ahau te raweke rorohiko, engari kāore i ū te āhua o te ihu rorohiko ki te whakaaro o te iwi o Aotearoa mō te āhua o te tama. I pakeke mai ahau i Harataunga, i waenganui o te ngahere. Ka whakarerea ngā rorohiko.” 

I tana hokinga mai ki Aotearoa, ā, ka mutu e kaingākau tonu ana ki a Minecraft, i riro te wairua o Whetu ki ngā hangarau matihiko, nā ka hoki ia ki te ako. Ka riro mai i a ia ōna pūkenga matihiko hou, ka huri ia ki te āwhina i te kōhanga reo o ana tamariki me ngā mahi tari, ā, i reira ka taka mai he whakaaro ki a ia. “Mēnā e pēnei rawa te nui o taku uru ki te mātauranga o aku tamariki, kia pēhea te whakawhānui kē atu i tōku uru atu? 

I kite a Whetu mā te hono i tōna kaingākau mō te ao rorohiko ki te mātauranga, ka taea e ia te āwhina i ētahi atu tamariki ki te ako i te reo me ngā tikanga mā te waihanga i ngā rauemi pārekareka hou.  

Nā, ka tīmata tana mahi waihanga kēmu. I tīmata ia mā te waihanga i tētahi kēmu tuihono, Mahimaina (ko Maincraft i roto i te reo Māori), hei āwhina i ana tamariki ki te ako i te reo, me ngā ākonga tata ki te 100. He nui atu anō ngā kēmu kei te whai mai, ngā kēmu tuihono me aua kēmu papa anō, ā, ko te tūmanako o Whetu ka whakamahia e ngā kura me ngā whānau puta noa i te motu.  

Hei tāna, “He mea nui kei roto i ngā mea iti.” “Mō tētahi tamaiti, ka nui te whakamana i te kite i tō rātau ao e whakaaturia ana ki ngā pūhara ā-ao nui.”  

Koinei tonu te mea e kimihia ana e tētahi o ngā kamupene hangarau nui rawa o te ao.  

I tērā tau i whakapā mai a Microsoft. Kei te hiahia a Whetu ki te waihanga i tētahi rauemi ahurei ki Aotearoa mā Minecraft: Education Edition?  

Te hīkoi i Aotearoa 

“I tino mīharo mātau,” te kī a Whetu. “I te mōhio ahau mō Minecraft, engari nō te hōpara haere i a Minecraft: Education Edition, i rāwekewekehia, i pureihia e mātau, ā, ka kite i ngā mea tāpiri ka taea kātahi ka mārama ki tōna kaha ka taea. He nui ake te wāhanga ka tuwhera mai i tēnei mō te Māori me ngā tāngata katoa o Aotearoa ki te ako me te purei i roto i te ao Māori.”  

Ka heria mai e Minecraft: Education Edition te ao o Minecraft ki ngā akomanga puta noa i te ao, e tuku ana i ngā akoranga koreutu maha rawa me tētahi hapori whakaako ā-ao. Ka āwhina ngā akoranga ā-kēmu rumaki i ngā ākonga ki te whakapakari i ngā pūkenga rau tau 21, tae atu ki te auahatanga, mahi tahi me te STEM. Kei te whakamahia kētia e ngā kaiwhakaako hei takahuri i ngā akoranga, mai i te ako i te papatono mā te Hour of Code mai i te waihanga i ngā pā toitū, me te aha me te waihanga anō i a Karipori i rō kēmu. 

Ko Whetu te mea tuatahi ki te waihanga i tētahi ao hou rawa i roto katoa i te ao Māori. Ka ārahina ngā kaitākaro tamariki e ngā kiripuaki, i takea mai ēnei i ana tamariki me ō rātau hoa, i a rātau e hīkoi haere ana i Ngā Motu, mai i te waka hourua ātaahua i tātahi ki te pā me te wharenui me ōna kōwhaiwhai, tukutuku hoki. Ka kitea anō i roto i te pā ko ngā pātaka, rua me rua hāngī mō te tunu kai.  

He tino hōhonu rawa te āhua o ngā iroirotanga i oti i a Whetu kia mau ai te āhuatanga ake o Aotearoa, tae atu ki ngā māra kūmara e taea ai e ngā tamariki te waihanga whare hou. Kua whakakapia i roto i ngā kete rauemi ngā hoari mō ngā patu, ka mutu ka tino taunga ngā tamariki o Aotearoa ki ngā māpu.  

I tono a te pekepoho kōtiro a Whetu i tana tino manu te pīwaiwaka, ka taea e koe te pāhekoheko me tētahi poaka kunekune me tētahi moa kua korehāhā me ngā tangi i hangaia anō e ngā mātanga o Te Papa. Ka taea e ngā tamariki te ako i te reo Māori mai i ngā kaiārahi, mā ngā tūmahi i rō kēmu rānei. 

I roto i ngā auau o muri mai ka taea e ngā kaumoana te toro ki ngā taniwha i roto i te whanga me te kohikohi kaimoana e tūtata ana ki ngā parehua, ā, ka hoki pea ngā whakaaro o ngā tāngata ki Ōtūkapuārangi kua ngaro noa atu, i riro atu i roto i tō pahūtanga puia neke atu i te 100 tau ki mua. Ka tāpiri ēnei mea katoa ki te kete kupu a ngā tamariki me te whakawhānui i tō rātau mōhio ki te hītori me ngā kōrero a te Māori. 

“Ka nui taku hiahia kia hangaia e ngā kura ā rātau ake pā, wharenui rānei, te hōpara i te ao me te ako me pēhea te tiaki i te moa,” te kī a Whetu. 

“E whakapono ana mātau ka pā noa mai ngā akoranga, mā te āhei ki te hōpara i ngā āhuatanga katoa, i te mea e kore e noho wehe motuhake tētahi mea i roto i ō tātau ao. Ko tā mātau whāinga kia taea e ngā tāngata katoa ēnei kēmu, ā, ka whānui ake tā rātau kite i tētahi waka – ka kite kē rātau i te urunga atu ki roto i te ao whānui,” te whakamārama a Whetu. 

He whai wāhitanga i “tūpono noa atu 

Koinei tonu te tikanga whakaaro i haere atu a Sam McNeill rāua ko Anne Taylor o Microsoft New Zealand ki a Piki Studios. 

“He tino ngākaunui a Whetu ki te mātauranga me te āwhina i ngā tamariki, kaua ko āna anake, kia mārama ki tō tātau ahurea taketake, ā, ka kitea puta tēnei i ā koe e kōrero ana ki a ia. He tino kaiako ia,” te kī a Anne, Kaiārahi Mātauranga mō Microsoft New Zealand.  

“I tino mīharo rawa atu mātau ki te auaha me ngā iroirotanga katoa i roto i ngā mahi a Whetu mō tēnei kaupapa. Kua eke kē atu ia ki āna mahi ki te taumata i manakohia e mātau.” 

I kī ia i āhua wehi ia i te waeatanga mai a Microsoft, ina he pakihi whānau iti mātau e whakariterite ana me tētahi kāporeihana nui nō te ao whānui. I tau ia i tana kite i te mahi tahi ia me ngā tāngata he ōrite ngā uara me ngā whāinga.  

“Kāore i tua atu i tēnei whai wāhitanga. Mai i te tīmatanga, i mōhio a Sam rāua ko Anne ki te ao Māori, e whakapono ana me pono me tika te mahi me te iwi taketake, ā, he mea nui kāore i ngaro taua āhuatanga piri tata. He āhuatanga tino tūpono noa.”  

I tino nganga te rōpū ki te whakarite kia tika ngā whakamāoritanga. E rua ngā kaiwhakamāori ngaio, ko Hemi Kelly rāua ko Piripi Walker i te taha o Whetu me te rōpū ki te whakamāori i te kete reo mō te kēmu, tae noa atu ki ngā tohutohu. I puta hoki ētahi kupu hou mō ētahi tuemi a MineCraft ake. 

“He mea kia manaakitia te ao Māori, te pupuri i te mana me ngā rawa hinengaro ahurea o ia taonga puta noa i te tukanga,” te kī a Whetu.  

Ko te mea uaua rawa ko te wā, e rima noa iho ngā wiki. I waimarie a Whetu i tautokona ia e ētahi atu Māori e mahi ana i roto i ngā mahi hangarau, ā, he tukanga tino mahi tēnei. Me te aha, nā ngā tamariki a Whetu i whakaū i te kounga – kia eke ai a Whetu ki runga rawa atu. 

Ko Heretaunga i te tuatahi, ā, ko te ao ā muri ake? 

Kāore e roa ka tae a Ngā Motu ki ngā minenga o te ao i tua o Aotearoa, ina kua uru a Piki Studios hei mema whaimana nō te Kaupapa Pātui a Minecraft, e taea e ia ngā rauemi te tāpiri tuihono i roto i te Wāhi Tauhokohoko o Minecraft i te ao whānui. I tēnei wā, ka wātea mātau ki ngā akomanga puta noa i Aotearoa, he wāhanga tēnei nō te Whakaaetanga Kura a Microsoft e tuku ana i ngā rauemi pērā i a Minecraft: Education Edition ki ia kura Kāwanatanga, Kura Tāuke hoki. 

“He rauemi tino whakamīharo a Ngā Motu mā ngā ākonga o Aotearoa me ngā kaiako me tō mātau mōhio anō ka tino rawe rawa atu ki a rātau te te hōpara me te waihanga i roto i tēnei ao,” te kī a Anne. 

“Ehara ko ngā tamariki anake a Whetu. I whakaaturia e mātau ki ētahi o ō mātau hoa o te ao, ā, i pupū mai te whakaongaonga i a rātau.” 

Tau kē tēnei tama nō Harataunga. 

Mō ētahi atu mōhiohio mō Minecraft: Education Edition i Aotearoa haere ki: http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Teaching/Future-focused-learning/Minecraft haere rānei ki Piki Studios https://www.pikistudios.com/ 

Hōpara i te ao o Ngā Motu me ngā akoranga a Minecraft: Education Edition i: http://aka.ms/ngamotu 

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Acronis automates ‘3-2-1’ rule for small business backup

Home office and small business owners might not always follow the “3-2-1” rule of backup: three copies of the data, on two different media, with one copy off-site. Acronis True Image 2020 is trying to make observing that rule a little easier.

True Image is Acronis’ small business backup software tool, aimed at consumers, home offices and SMBs. The 2020 version introduced a feature called Dual Protection, which automatically replicates a backup copy to the Acronis cloud when it’s creating the local copy. Aside from satisfying the 3-2-1 rule, it allows customers to have both a local copy for fast recovery and one more copy off-site as an extra failsafe.

True Image currently has 5.5 million users, according to Gaidar Magdanurov, chief marketing officer at Acronis. Magdanurov said approximately 70% of them are small businesses with fewer than five employees and “prosumers” — single-person businesses like consultants and lawyers who have a decent level of IT skill. The remaining 30% are consumers with limited IT skills who want to protect files such as music, photos and movies.

Magdanurov said businesses of all sizes understand the importance of protecting their data, and cyberattacks are not limited to large organizations. However, in the world of small business backup, cost can be a much bigger factor than in the enterprise space.

“Backup is like insurance — and nobody likes to pay for insurance,” Magdanurov said.

True Image 2020’s price didn’t change from its 2019 version. It is still split into three versions: Standard, a one-time purchase for $49.99 with no cloud backup component; Advanced, a one-year subscription for $49.99 that includes cloud features and 250 GB of Acronis Cloud Storage; and Premium, a one-year subscription for $99.99 that adds blockchain-based data certification and electronic signature capabilities.

The 2020 version also added some quality-of-life features for end users. Backup-related notifications can be pushed to the desktop tray, power management settings will suspend all scheduled backup tasks when a laptop’s battery drops below a chosen threshold and there’s an option to select only Wi-Fi networks the user trusts to upload backups to the cloud.

screenshot of Acronis True Image 2020
Acronis True Image 2020 simultaneously backs up to a local drive and the Acronis cloud.

All versions of Acronis True Image include Acronis Active Protection, a malware detection tool that uses AI to detect anomalous data changes, which could be indicators of unauthorized encryption. Rubrik Polaris Radar works similarly. Phil Goodwin, research director at IDC, said this is a better approach to combating ransomware because it thwarts attacks before they happen instead of rebuilding afterward.

“Acronis has some of the most advanced technology in the industry at this level,” Goodwin said. “It’s proactive rather than simply trying to restore data after it’s been lost.”

Acronis True Image competes against Carbonite, CrashPlan and Backblaze in the small business backup market. Goodwin said Carbonite, thanks to its acquisition of Mozy and Code42’s cloud backup customers, controls the lion’s share of this market. Magdanurov claimed a lot of new True Image customers switched from Carbonite specifically for ransomware detection or data protection for mobile devices.

They’re not backup experts, so the system has to be simple enough for them that once they set it up, it just runs.
Phil GoodwinResearch director, IDC

Other than cost, simplicity is another big concern among small business backup customers. These customers might not have the IT resources to implement or maintain complex infrastructure, even if they fully understand the benefits of having a hybrid environment or multiple clouds. Goodwin said even something as conceptually simple as the 3-2-1 rule can be more steps than a small business or home office is willing to deal with, which is why the True Image update is so significant.

“They’re not backup experts, so the system has to be simple enough for them that once they set it up, it just runs,” Goodwin said, referring to most small businesses.

For the most part, the more set-and-forget, one-and-done a backup product is, the better it is for these types of users. However, Goodwin added that Acronis made a good move adding a few customization options for the more IT-savvy power users — namely, the trusted Wi-Fi security settings and battery-saving power management feature.

Acronis True Image is aimed at small businesses of no more than five computers. Acronis Backup is geared for customers looking to protect more than that.

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Beyond overhead: What drives donor support in the digital era – Microsoft on the Issues

One of the greatest challenges to running a successful nonprofit organization has always been that donors look at nonprofits’ stewardship of funds as a primary way to assess impact. While there is no doubt that nonprofits must use donor funds responsibly, tracking to see if a nonprofit maintains the highest possible ratio of spending on programs-to spending on overhead is a poor proxy for understanding how effective a nonprofit truly is. In fact, the imperative to limit overhead has forced many organizations to underinvest in efforts to improve efficiency. Ironically, this has long prevented nonprofits from utilizing innovative digital technologies that could help them be more efficient and effective.

Now more than ever, cloud-based technology can have a transformative effect on how nonprofit organizations increase impact and reduce costs. The same technologies that give for-profit businesses insights about customers and markets, create operational efficiencies and speed up innovation can also help nonprofits target donors and raise funds more strategically, design and deliver programming more efficiently, and connect field teams with headquarters more effectively. This means smart investments in digital tools are essential to every nonprofit’s ability to make progress toward its mission.

The good news is that a major shift is underway. As part of our work at Microsoft Tech for Social Impact to understand how nonprofits can use technology to drive progress and demonstrate impact, we recently surveyed 2,200 donors, volunteers and funding decision-makers to learn how they decide which organizations to support, what their expectations are for efficiency and effectiveness, and how they feel about funding technology infrastructure at the nonprofits they support.

The results, which we published recently in the white paper “Beyond overhead: Donor expectations for driving impact with technology,” make clear that people donate to organizations they trust and that donors are increasingly looking at data beyond the ratio of program spending to overhead spending to measure impact. We also found that those who support nonprofits now overwhelmingly recognize the critical role technology plays in driving impact and delivering value. Nearly four out of five supporters (which includes both donors and volunteers) and more than nine out of 10 funding decision-makers told us they support directing donations to improve technology at a nonprofit. An overwhelming majority — 85 percent of supporters and 95 percent of funding decision-makers — are more likely to contribute to organizations that can show that they are using technology to improve how it runs programs.

At the same time, the survey found that most people expect organizations to use donations more efficiently and to advance the causes they work for more effectively than in the past. Among supporters, for example, 79 percent believe nonprofits should be better at maximizing funding than they were 10 years ago. Just over 80 percent of funding decision-makers believe nonprofits should be more effective at achieving their goals and advancing the causes they work for now than in the past.

To give you a better sense of what potential donors are looking for as they consider where to target their nonprofit contributions and how much they weigh technology into their thinking, we have developed a tool using Power BI so you can look at the data in greater detail. Within the tool, you can see how people responded to questions about overall effectiveness and efficiency, the importance of technology as a driver of success, how likely they are to support organizations that use technology to demonstrate impact, and their willingness to fund technology improvements at the nonprofits they support.

To make the tool as useful as possible for your organization, you can sort the data by supporters and funding decision-makers, and you can explore how responses varied by region. As you move through the data, you will see how these critical groups of supporters and funders think about these important questions in the region where your organization operates:

The ultimate goal of this survey was to get a clearer picture of what motivates people to contribute to an organization and how technology can help nonprofits meet supporters’ expectations. Overall, I believe our research provides some important insights that can help any organization be more successful. Fundamentally, we found that people donate to organizations that are perceived to be trustworthy, and that trust is achieved though operational transparency and effective communications. More than ever before, donors recognize that using data to measure and demonstrate impact is the foundation for trust.

I encourage you to read the full report and learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to support nonprofits.

Go to Original Article
Author: Microsoft News Center

New survey: What parents think about technology in the classroom |

As a former educator, I’ve always been conscious of the parent’s role – essentially as their child’s first teacher – and their unique, valuable perspective on learning. Parents remember the ways they were taught in school and often have valid questions and thoughts on the new ways children learn, and about the curriculum being taught.

With summer coming to an end and parents sending their children back to school, Microsoft wanted to understand how parents felt about technology in the classroom. What did they really think of the importance of learning digital skills? Microsoft Education partnered with YouGov and surveyed parents in the U.S. with children aged 18 and under and found most parents are hopeful about what technology will do for their kids. [Download the accompanying infographic here.]

Parents optimistic about technology

The survey asked parents how they felt about the role of technology in their child’s life as that child grows up. In reply, 60 percent said they felt “optimistic” or “hopeful.”

Understandably, parents felt differently about tech depending on where it’s being used. When asked about tech use between home and school, 63 percent of parents cited concerns about their kids spending too much time on devices at home, while 86 percent of parents believed tech in school – including computers and educational software – would be helpful to their child’s education.

When I was teaching I would often talk to parents about screen-content, not just screen-time, and whether the engagement with digital content was active (like creating an animation) or passive (viewing a movie). It’s encouraging seeing parents understand that, when used in the right way, technology can help prepare their children for the jobs of the future and help them succeed.

 

The importance of Computer Science and learning digital skills

Using technology to learn isn’t the only way to prepare children for the future, however. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, 52 percent of job growth by the year 2020 will be in the fields of computing and mathematics, which shows a great importance in teaching Computer Science and digital skills in classrooms today.

According to the survey, half (50 percent) of parents believed coding and computer programming to be the most beneficial subject to their child’s future employability.

Another promising result: Parents felt strongly about the positive role federal and state governments can play in ensuring their children are learning these subjects. The survey sample indicated strongly that parents would like to see increased government support to help schools build kids’ digital skills.

When asked about the technology industry’s involvement, 75 percent of parents said they believe big tech companies should be involved in helping schools build kids’ digital skills. Many companies, including Microsoft and organizations like Code.org, are working to do just that. Programs like TEALS, which is supported by Microsoft Philanthropies, pairs trained Computer Science professionals from across the technology industry with classroom teachers to team-teach the subject.

Tech tips for teachers this school year

With parents seeing the importance of their children learning with technology and being taught Computer Science, coding and digital skills, the survey points to good news for teachers who work every day to ensure the children in their classrooms are prepared for the future.

Teachers work incredibly hard to bring the best and most inspiring learning opportunities to their classrooms. We celebrate and thank them.

For those teachers just starting to explore the potential of Computer Science in their classroom, I’d recommend these three simple approaches:

  1. Open up the conversation with your students. What do they understand CS to mean? What jobs are unlocked with CS?
  2. Take a short course and get started in Computer Science.
  3. Get involved with the Hour of Code.

Happy teaching!

Survey methodology

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 3927 adults, of which 1011 were parents of children under 19. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd – 6th August 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults.

Use the new Activity Plans to organize your Skype in the Classroom experiences |

Skype in the Classroom has always been one of my favorite resources for engaging students in real-life, relevant learning experiences. I recently learned that using Skype in the Classroom has become even easier for teachers with the addition of FREE activity plans! These are activity plans written by educators for educators.

5 Reasons to get excited about the launch of these helpful new resources:

Teachers always have a long to-do list. Want to engage your students with a Skype in the Classroom experience but short on time? These activity plans will help make it happen! The plans are free and easy to download in just a few seconds. Each one includes objectives (GREAT to share with parents and administrators), activities to activate background knowledge, research, brainstorming, preparing students for the call, assessment, reflection and more.

  • Easy to adapt

Each activity plan can be followed step-by-step or easily adjusted to best fit your students’ needs. Once you download, each plan is fully editable, making any adjustments quick, seamless and easy. This is also a great way to save any changes after the Skype experience, so you will be able to remember how you adapted the lesson for the next time you use it with students.

  • Aligned to ISTE Standards

Not only are objectives listed for each activity, they are also aligned to ISTE standards. This is a nice way to keep the big picture in mind. It’s a valuable resource to share with students, parents, administrators and colleagues.

  • Help other teachers

Do you know other teachers who are curious about using Skype in the Classroom with their students but are unsure how or where to start? This handy resource will give them a step-by-step guide, including question prompts, research and assessment ideas, and more.

  • Deep(er) learning

Each activity plan includes ideas to launch the lesson, research, prepare students, reflect and assess. These ideas help teachers plan intentionally for each aspect of the learning experience and provide a framework of ideas for before, during and after the Skype experience.

Whether you are looking to launch a new school year with an exciting Skype call, planning for Skype experiences throughout the year, dreaming of Skype-a-Thon connections, or whatever your Skype in the Classroom goals may be, be sure to check out and download the free activity plans to support and enhance the experience for you and your students.

E3 2018: Gaming for Everyone, a Conversation with Phil Spencer – Xbox Wire

E3 is always an incredible time to come together to appreciate the breadth of creative energy that abounds in our industry and to celebrate what’s ahead for gamers. At this year’s E3 Coliseum series, Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox sat down with Tina Summerford, Head of Programming at Xbox, to discuss Microsoft’s approach to gaming, his perspective on E3 and to hear why the industry has a responsibility to make gaming for everyone.

Other topics discussed during the panel were the unique games Xbox is looking to bring to the [email protected] program, insight into the creation of the Xbox E3 2018 Briefing, from matching thematic elements to creating an engaging experience, and the creation of the Xbox Adaptive Controller. The discussion also included insights from Phil on his conversations about gaming with CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, his appreciation of and participation in the gaming community. Spencer also took a variety of questions from the audience, ranging on bringing more games to Xbox created by Japanese developers and growing the Women and Gaming initiative.

You can watch the full interview with Phil Spencer above from the E3 Coliseum.

E3 2018: Gaming for Everyone, a Conversation with Phil Spencer – Xbox Wire

E3 is always an incredible time to come together to appreciate the breadth of creative energy that abounds in our industry and to celebrate what’s ahead for gamers. At this year’s E3 Coliseum series, Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox sat down with Tina Summerford, Head of Programming at Xbox, to discuss Microsoft’s approach to gaming, his perspective on E3 and to hear why the industry has a responsibility to make gaming for everyone.

Other topics discussed during the panel were the unique games Xbox is looking to bring to the [email protected] program, insight into the creation of the Xbox E3 2018 Briefing, from matching thematic elements to creating an engaging experience, and the creation of the Xbox Adaptive Controller. The discussion also included insights from Phil on his conversations about gaming with CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, his appreciation of and participation in the gaming community. Spencer also took a variety of questions from the audience, ranging on bringing more games to Xbox created by Japanese developers and growing the Women and Gaming initiative.

You can watch the full interview with Phil Spencer above from the E3 Coliseum.

Proposed Microsoft-GitHub buy confirms open source role in cloud

Microsoft has not always been about the developer. That is just its roots. At a time when software development was limited to people with access to mainframes, the company forged its early fortune on the backs of easily available developer tools.

Some would say the developer focus dimmed at Microsoft with the departure of co-founder Bill Gates — one of the most exemplary programmer nerds there ever was. With the ascendancy of Satya Nadella to CEO in 2014, the developer’s song is being heard again. And it’s being heard particularly loudly now, as Microsoft-GitHub nuptials loom; last week, the company agreed to buy GitHub for $7.5 billion in stock.

Microsoft is a well-established commercial presence. Its status with open source is less established, despite its much-reported cuddle-up to Linux. Because it has often been aggressive in pushing its own standards, its proposed acquisition of GitHub has naturally been met with rumblings of concern.

Satya Nadella, CEO of MicrosoftSatya Nadella

However, the Microsoft-GitHub pairing should not be unexpected, according to Warner Chaves, a long-time Microsoft data developer and principal consultant at technical services provider Pythian, based in Ottawa.

“People have strong memories of the anti-open-source Microsoft, but the fact is that Microsoft is the corporation with the largest number of [GitHub] open source contributors,” Chaves said. “It wants to keep attracting this type of developer to Azure as part of the ongoing war for cloud market share.”

‘Doubling down’ on open source

People have strong memories of the anti-open-source Microsoft, but the fact is that Microsoft is the corporation with the largest number of [GitHub] open source contributors.
Warner Chavesprincipal consultant at Pythian

If nothing else, the GitHub move confirms developers are foremost again at Microsoft and elsewhere. Data professionals don’t really need to be told that is the case. All the hallmark technologies of big data — NoSQL databases and machine learning, as well as Apache Hadoop and all its friends and family — have been driven by developers. Hadoop and its ilk have returned the developer role to prominence in decisions about data architecture — something they hadn’t enjoyed since the early days of the relational database.

In fact, GitHub has been home to important open source projects — many of the big data variety. As many as 1,500 Apache projects and over 500 Eclipse projects are hosted on GitHub. Much of the new machine learning activity reposes on GitHub, not the least of which is TensorFlow — the library of tools open-sourced by Google in 2015.

Merv Adrian, GartnerMerv Adrian

In recent years, the Microsoft Azure cloud has driven more openness in APIs at the company. Apache Hadoop, Hive and Spark are notable cases of open source support on the Azure cloud. The reality is, if Microsoft does not have a heaping helping of open source software on Azure, its cloud could lag in overall developer support. Buying GitHub means the company is “doubling down on open source,” said Gartner analyst Merv Adrian.

Microsoft’s move is “consistent with the need to attract developers to the Azure platform,” Adrian wrote in a blog post on the GitHub purchase. He said the company could increase the connection between GitHub and Azure, but noted its vow to maintain the openness of any such connection.

Home is where the GitHub is

Microsoft could very well be a good home for GitHub, according to Ian Skerrett, a technology marketing consultant and former Eclipse Foundation executive.

“Microsoft definitely understands developers and will be able to help push GitHub into the enterprise development world,” Skerrett said.

Still, open source is very much about choices, and the fact that so many of those choices came to reside on GitHub may give pause, Skerrett indicated.

“GitHub has a near monopoly on open source project hosting,” he said. “There aren’t many alternatives, and this is a problem.” Skerrett added that he hoped one side effect of this blockbuster purchase is competition will arise for GitHub.

EVGA GTX 980Ti SC ACX 2.0+

Selling my trusty 980Ti, which has always served me well. No issues and never used for mining, only gaming.

Comes with the original box but I no longer have the accessories / paperwork.

Looking for £320 delivered or can be picked up in SW18.

Price and currency: £320
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: BT
Location: London
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference…

EVGA GTX 980Ti SC ACX 2.0+

EVGA GTX 980Ti SC ACX 2.0+

Selling my trusty 980Ti, which has always served me well. No issues and never used for mining, only gaming.

Comes with the original box but I no longer have the accessories / paperwork.

Looking for £320 delivered or can be picked up in SW18.

Price and currency: £320
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: BT
Location: London
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference…

EVGA GTX 980Ti SC ACX 2.0+