Are the teachers and administrators truly on board with using technology in your district classrooms, or resistant?

It’s an honest question, but one that needs to be asked.

We’ve found that many educators have a hard time including technology in their lesson plans, and others fight it altogether. However, resistance isn’t necessarily to technology itself, but to the change it requires.

Many educators get caught up trying to find a specific curriculum app, but can’t find one that meets their students’ specific needs. Others simply don’t know what apps are available, or even if your faculty and students can access these programs in class (let alone at home). This can make the move to classroom technology overwhelming for some.

To help make this process a little easier, we’ve curated some of the best resources you may not know about:

Partners in Learning Network

A teacher may scour through an app store, looking at hundreds of education apps without finding one that fits his or her class. Or perhaps the educator has been frustrated at using Microsoft Office apps in the class, and never really satisfied with the generalized software.

Fortunately, Microsoft has constructed its Partners in Learning website. The site brings together educators around the world to share ideas about using technology in the classroom and offers learning activities, tutorials, and discussions led by other educators. What might be even more useful are the free apps and Office plug-ins that turn Office programs into valuable educational tools.

What’s more, the site is free. If you want to change your students’ learning experience and lives with technology, this is where you should start.

Here are some of the highlights educators can find there:

Community discussions started by other educators from around the globe (but can be filtered for just the United States).

Professional development – We can’t be educators without first learning ourselves. Whether you’re a school leader or classroom educator, you’ll find instruction on innovative teaching practices with technology..

Tools for Educators – This is perhaps the greatest value you’ll get at Partners in Learning. The tools here include apps and guides, the majority of which are free. We’ve broken them down by category with some of the most popular of each. The following apps are organized alphabetically by name.

So you know, Tutorials are helpful how-to guides for using the app, while Learning Activities are lesson plans using the technology. All are crowdsourced by other teachers.

Top Windows 8 apps:

  • OneNote – Organize, collaborate and improve research skills by using OneNote (comes with Office 365 ProPlus, 177 tutorials, 1724 learning activities)
  • English with Leo – Learn English quickly, easily anytime and anyplace (Free, 110 tutorials, 1081 learning activities)
  • ClassPolicy – Manage devices in your class, automate the sequence of a lesson plan, and quickly poll students to eliminate distractions (Free, 119 tutorials, 1083 learning activities)

Top Web apps:

  • Flashcards by Microsoft – Build memory and recognition skills with a modern twist on the classic learning tool. (Free, 46 tutorials, 1194 learning activities)
  • WorldWide Telescope – Explore outer space from your classroom (23 tutorials, 185 learning activities)
  • Skype in the Classroom – Share ideas and create amazing learning experiences with teachers and students (Free, 40 tutorials, 2103 learning activities)

Top Office Plug-ins:

  • Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 – Visualize math concepts to promote better understanding (Free, 48 tutorials, 509 learning activities)
  • Interactive Classroom – Use classroom polls to improve student learning (Free, 50 tutorials, 854 learning activities)
  • Common Core Implementation Kit – Guides for creating lesson plans in Word that are aligned to Common Core State Standards(Free, 305 tutorials, 13892 learning activities)
  • Math Worksheet Generator – Tool for creating math worksheets for students in just seconds (Free, 24 tutorials, 195 learning activities)

Microsoft Student Advantage

Last October, Microsoft announced a new program that would make the company’s Office 365 tools available to massive numbers of students. In an article on Microsoft’s Office Blog, Microsoft explained, “All schools and universities that license Office 365 ProPlus or Office Professional Plus for staff and faculty can now also provide access to Office 365 ProPlus for students at no additional cost.”

Proficiency in Microsoft Office is a highly valued skillset, and one that students need for college and career. The Student Advantage program was created with this in mind, empowering students with access to these tools and you with the ability to teach with them.

Microsoft in Education Blog

This online resource covers a variety of topics about technology in education from contributors like Margo Day, Microsoft’s vice president of U.S. Education, Microsoft Education Team members, and other education-minded leaders. A simple search for “algebra” rendered thirteen articles, showing the depth of subject matter available.

Here are some of the most viewed posts:

  • Navigating the Crowded Education App Landscape: A Little Help
  • Student Advantage and Office 365 ProPlus FAQ
  • New Apps Take Learning to a Personal Level, by Margo Day, vice president, U.S. Education

Inspiration from YouthSpark Hub

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at this point and want to take a step back, the YouthSpark Hub will help.

Here you will find some of the prior resources we’ve discussed separated into age categories (Kids, Teens, and Young Adults), providing a broad starting point for faculty members who want a general intro to some resources available for their specific student level.

Faculty Connection So far you’ve seen lots of software and resources, but what about stories of teachers actually doing this?

Welcome to Faculty Connection

This site offers case studies from schools that have made the effort to embrace classroom technology. The Philadelphia school district’s School of the Future provides an especially interesting case study.

Follow the Leader: EdTech in Action

If you are interested in hearing more about how educators actually use technology in classrooms on a daily basis, the EdTech in Action site offers more useful and inspiring examples.

What is especially interesting is that most of the educators don’t explicitly use curriculum software. In fact, most of what they use is technology they adapt and integrate into their existing lesson plans.

Look and listen as they show you how their classrooms use technology.

Todd Nesloney – Todd is a TCEA Teacher of the Year, White House Champion of Change, NSBA 20 to Watch, CDE Top 40 Innovators, Classroom Champs Teacher. Read Todd’s blog for more.

Dr. Justin Tarte – Dr. Tarte is the director of curriculum and support services in the Union R-XI School District in Union, Mo. Read Dr. Tarte’s blog for more.

Tom Murray – Tom is the director of technology and cyber ed for the Quakertown Community School District in Bucks County, Pa. Visit Tom’s site for his blog and more.

Sean Junkins – Sean is a technology integration specialist, Apple Distinguished Educator, Google Certified Teacher, STAR Discovery Educator. These don’t come without serious dedication to classroom technology. You can read more about it on Sean’s blog.

There’s plenty more to be said about classroom technology. Days and weeks could be dedicated to its discussion. But if you’re looking for something to get you started, we hope this becomes a resource for you and the educators in your district.

Nick Godwin, is public sector marketing specialist at SHI International Corp. Connect with him on Twitter.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Electronic links to all sites mentioned in this article can be found in the online version at