The Joy of Books

Question – “what has 32,000 big smiles and makes as much noise as an aeroplane taking off”

Answer – “primary school children at the book fair in Osasco, Sao Paulo, Brazil”

Osasco Book Fare, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Thanks to my friends at Planeta Educacao, I was thrilled to be part of the launch of O Ensino à Velocidade do Pensamento – the Portuguese version of Schooling at the Speed of Thought – at the Osasco book fair recently. The day started with thousands of children descending on an open market for books. Each child was given a $BRL30 voucher (~$15USD) and, after being entertained by clowns, let loose to choose from thousands of books. The fair was organised just before the holidays, so every child in the school district had a book to read whilst on holidays.

The logistics were breath-taking – 4,000 children a day over 8 days. Coaches would pull up, then children would get into line, watch clowns perform, sing songs, then run off to see what they could find. This was followed-up with reading sessions. It was organised chaos, but wonderful evidence of the children’s strong desire to read and learn.

I stopped to find out what one boy had chosen – a book about dinosaurs. Jokingly, I offered him two copies of “O Ensino à Velocidade do Pensamento” for his dinosaur book – he politely declined my offer, and who can blame him.

The launch itself was great fun too. First a book signing session and impromptu talk with a group of teachers and the Secretary of Education for Osasco , Professora Marinalva de Oliveira

The main event included a demonstration of use of Kinect for learning at home by families…


… after that, came a short speech…


… and the event was completed with a panel discussion

From left to right – Andreia Julieta – Teaching Supervisor; Professora Marinalva de Oliveira – Secretary of Education of Osasco; Professora Maria de Lourdes Neves – Director of Education of Osasco; Elisete Baruel – Director of Education, Planeta Educação.

I’d like to sincerely thank my friends and colleagues at Planeta Educacao for making this possible – Luis Namura; Roberta Bento; Aline Tosini; Renata Martins Dias; Manoela da Costa and Elisete Baruel; and to Carmen Nigro for excellent interpretation.

Slides are here: O Ensino a Velocidade do Pensamento 

O Ensino à Velocidade do Pensamento is available from the Planeta Educacao store –


III Forum Microsoft Educacion, Madrid, May 17th

Thanks to all those who came to my workshop and keynote speech at the III Forum Microsoft Educacion, Madrid (#IIIForumEdu). This was a really well organised and well attended event – and thanks to my Microsoft colleagues, especially Juan Ramon Alegret Crespi; Maria Zamorano Alberruche; Irene Ocaña del Rey; Lola Chacon Gutierrez; and Fernando Bocigas Palma.

Here’s a link to the OneNote file complete with on-the-fly annotations:

Schooling at the Speed of Thought keynote

Invitation – Schooling Solutions Community

Thanks to the 80 people from 25 countries that took time out from the BETT Show to spend a morning with us at the Schooling Solutions Workshop.

As Roberta Bento from Planeta Educação said – “its amazing how so many of our problems and opportunties are the same”.

Key themes that emerged from the workshop included:

  • Deployment
  • ROI and effectiveness
  • Elearning and Content
  • ITL Research
  • HTML 5
  • Cloud (Live@edu; Azure; InTune)
  • Security

I’d like to thank Bruce Dixon, Sarah Armstrong, Edgar Ferrer Gil, Fotis Draganidis, Dan Baelum, Kirsten Panton, Walid Mohamed, Thomas Hauser and Dolores Puxbuamer for delivering the event.

Schooling Solutions Workshop, London, January 12, 2012

If you are in London on the 12th January for BETT, come and join us at our  Schooling Solutions Workshop.

Key questions that the workshop will address include:

  • How can standards be raised whilst reducing costs?
  • How can you take advantage of trends such as personalization, BYOD, Cloud and virtualization?
  • What approaches can you take to simplify and improve ICT services?

This workshop will bring you up to speed with the latest worldwide trends in education technology and give you practical methods and approaches that you can use immediately. It will be a mix of formal presentation and round-table discussion with world-class experts and leaders in their fields.

Designed to help decision makers plan more effective, efficient and inspiring systems, the workshop will provide an understanding of the Microsoft technology roadmap, solutions for access, connected communities and analytics, and offer the opportunity to work in groups with experts.


Time Session
09.00 Solutions for Schooling
10.00 E-Learning
10.30 Institutional Effectiveness and Efficiency
Round-table – project planning sessions
11.00 Access
Managing large scale access programs
Using ICT to increase learning outcomes
OperationsUsing data to improve decision making
12.30 Reflection & Networking Lunch
  • Date: Thursday, 12th January, 2012
  • Time: 09:00 – 13:00 followed by lunch
  • Location: Microsoft Offices, Cardinal Place, 100 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 5JL

Confirmed speakers/facilitators include Mike Lloyd, Sarah Armstrong, Matthew Fox, Edgar Ferrer Gil, Fotis Draganidis, and Thomas Hauser .

To book your place, contact your local Microsoft Education representative, message me on Facebook, or drop me an email

Austria – e-Learning and Innovation Conferences

Thanks to my colleagues in Austria for inviting me to give the keynotes at the “Elearning Conference” in Eisenstadt and the “Microsoft Innovation & Education Conference 2011” in Vienna.

In all, around 350 senior Ministry of Education, Local Authority and teachers attended these events to learn about effectiveness, collaborative learning and the “new world of work”.

My presentation covered the following topics:

  • How can ICT accelerate the learning process?
  • How can ICT be used to drive operational efficiency?
  • How can ICT help drive transformation?

The slides can be downloaded here – Schooling at the Speed of Thought Austria, November 2011

Each of the participants at the Vienna event got a copy of “Schooling at the Speed of Thought“.

Thanks to Yuri Goldfuß; Andreas Exner; Daniela Denk; Mirjam Blechner; Thomas Hauser; Ulrike Lanner; Sven Reinhardt; and Dolores Puxbaumer for an excellent reception and well organised agenda.

E-Learning Expo, Athens, Greece

It was a great pleasure to deliver a keynote and participate in E-Learning Expo in Athens.

Media coverage of social unrest in Greece paints a completely one-sided picture. Whilst clearly there is a crisis in Greece, there is also a very strong drive towards progress evidenced by hundreds of teachers and decision makers giving up their Saturday and Sunday to work out how to implement ICT into their schooling systems.

The trade show part of the Expo was as vibrant as any other I’ve seen, and it was wonderful to see so much interest in education technology. The event made prime time news (from 48:50s here :

With support from the EU and the Greek Government, local entrepreneurs and companies, and multinationals, there are a large number projects now running in the Greek schooling system. But with this comes real dangers, and this was what I addressed in my presentation. The first danger is that teachers can be overwhelmed with multiple initiatives, leading to low levels of implementation. The second is that that running multiple uncordinated projects can lead to chaos and low levels of overall return on investment. So, the main message of my presentation was that there is a need – from MoE level downwards, and school level upwards – for an overall framework to co-ordinate activities and drive out complexity. The main high level goal in Greece – from MoE down – should be to create the overall environment to not only encourage innovations, but to enable innovation to scale in a coordinated way. Without a high level vision and execution framework, widespread innovation – instead of pockets of innovation – is going to take a long time to happen.

The core ideas behind the presentation is covered in “Driving Complextiy Out of Schooling ICT“. Other subjects covered were Cloud computing, and Learning Software 2.0.

Slides from the presentations are here:

On the second day, a session on funding innovation highlighted Microsoft’s new Innovation Centre that supports innovative e-learning startups by:

  1. Providing access to free tools through the Bizspark program (
  2. Support in finding partners for startups (e.g.
  3. Support for incubating innovative startups
  4. Business and technical training

Thanks to: Elena Zaglaridou; Fotis Draganidis; Teo Milev; Konstantinos Doukas; Dimitris Laios and Isidoros Sideridis from InEdu; Nikitas Kastis; and Dr. Symeon Retalis.

Thanks also to Peter Birch at the EU for an excellent presentaiton on “ICT for learning: the experience of the Lifelong Learning Programme”.

CRADLE Conference, Singapore

On August 1st I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to deliver the Keynote at the CRADLE conference in Singapore.

The presentation contained a mix of material contained in “Schooling at the Speed of Thought” and some of the articles in this blog, especially the Transformation Phase article. Here’s the key points:



Singapore was one of the first countries in the world to have a national strategy to roll out ICT to all schools. Key challenges addressed in this initiative are to:

  • Prepare students to meet the challenges of the 21st Century
  • Bring about improved learning and increased engagement through the use of ICT
  • Enable more self-directed learning

In summary, the challenge is to make schooling in Singapore even more effective through the use of ICT.

To address this, we need to ask three key questions:

1. How can software accelerate the learning process?

Computers in learning are increasingly being used as tools for creativity rather than as machines to deliver the curriculum. So, with a proliferation of new hardware and software developments, what new creative options are there for learning? How can software help to personalise the learning experience and open up completely new learning opportunities?

2. How can software be used to make better decisions?

How can schooling information and data be leveraged to get maximum impact from precious resources; what do we mean by “intelligent intervention” and why it is so important; how can we empower all stakeholders with information; and how do we drive alignment and performance towards strategic goals?

3. How can Cloud Computing be exploited to cheaply deliver massive-scale, high-quality learning solutions?

We don’t normally expect a school to generate its own electricity – but we have expected our education institutions to be experts at running their own “IT Power Stations”. How can Cloud Computing change this?

With the advent of Cloud Computing, also comes the realistic prospect of providing anytime anywhere learning for all. So how can massive, cheap, and highly available computing services be combined with a range of access technologies and high quality learning content to open up learning opportunities to all citizens of Singapore – and especially those who are in the greatest need of it?


With highly developed infrastructure, talent and innovation, Singapore is in a great position to exploit technology even further. The concluding part of this presentation asked what world-leading innovations and software solutions can be leveraged in Singapore and how we can architect “anytime anywhere learning for all?

For a copy of the presentation please go to:

Thanks to my colleages in Singapore – Horng Shya Chua; Jason Trump; Gerald Tan; Puay San Ng; Eugenia Lim, Lee Boon Keng and the staff and students at Crescent Girls’ School. Thanks also to all those who attended the CRADLE event.

Learning Analytics Materials – WPC 2011

Here’s some useful materials relating to the Learning Analytics roundtable discussion that Chris Poole from ‘lookred’ and I ran at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Confernece in Los Angeles, 15th July 2011 –

  • Schooling at the Speed of Thought Chapter 6 MANAGING INFORMATION.pdf – covers all aspects of information and data managment in a schooling system
  • EAP.pdf  – Education Analytics Platform, an approach to managing information and data developed in the US
  • EAP Components.pptx – outline architecture for anlaytics systems
  • Student Individualized Growth Model and Assessment.pdf – an analytics approach to students at risk
  • Learning Analytics for TechReady.pptx – a voiced-over PowerPoint explaining the key principles of Learning Analytics.

Schooling at the Speed of Thought – Interdidatica 2011

Here’s the keynote that I delivered at the Interdidatica event in Sao Paulo, Brazil on 10th May.

Slides, in Portuguese, are here:

Schooling at the Speed of Thought, Interdidatica, Portuguese online

For the English version see the Chinese Ministry of Education event article below.

The speech summarised Schooling at the Speed of Thought.

A great video showing how distance learning is being used for continuous professional development for 220k teachers in Sao Paulo State can be found here:

Thanks to Jorge Vidal for the invite, and congratulations on a very succesful event. Thanks also to my Brazilian colleagues – especially Emilio Munaro, Renata Cacace, Adriana Siliano Pettengill, and Mara Carvalho.

China Ministry of Education and Microsoft Conference on ICT

It was a real pleasure to deliver a keynote at the “International Symposium on Chinese Innovative Educational Informationlization” in Beijing on the 6th May.

The conference, the first of its kind in China, was a collaboration between the Ministry of Education and Microsoft. In total, 250 leaders from states, universities and other eduation institutions attended the two day event.

The speech summarised much of what is in “Schooling at the Speed of Thought“, but with an emphasis on Effectiveness, Skills, and Software for Learning.

Slides are here: Schooling at the Speed of Thought, Beijing Final online

Special thanks to my colleagues in China – Tom Tang, Carrie Chen, Sean Zhang, Min Zheng, Yositta Wong and Yolanda Wang.