What is Microsoft Teams?

What is Microsoft Teams?

What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is a collaboration tool which provides an online space for a group of people working together. The Team provides communication tools, file storage, information storage and a place for video/text/audio messaging and meetings.

You would create a Microsoft Team for a group of people working together – on a project or together in the long term as a group of staff like – Finance, HR, Science Teachers, Leadership Team, Directors, etc etc.

The Microsoft Teams the core features which support collaboration are:

  • Chat – connect to anyone in your organisation, not just those you are Team members with
  • Teams – different Teams for different groups of people. Contains Conversations, Files, OneNote, links)
  • Meetings – host or join online meetings (audio or video) which can be recorded and saved in Teams

Here’s what the Teams interface looks like:

Microsoft teams interface 2019 June

You can see in the layout that once you have selected the Teams module within the Teams window you have sections titled: Conversations, Files and PLC Notebook.


The conversations area is where Team members can post new conversations (like posts in a discussion board). Post a New Conversation and team members can reply. Use text, images, emojis, GIFs, and @mention a colleague to alert them that they have been mentioned/tagged in a post.


This is the file storage location for members of this team. Office documents can be edited from within Teams, using the online versions of Office apps, or opened on your computer using installed versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc. This Files section can also be synced to your laptop just like your OneDrive by opening the Files section in SharePoint and clicking the Sync button. Typically the files stored here would be considered working documents – documents which require input from multiple team members. A SharePoint portal would be used to share finalised documents

PLC Notebook

Every Team includes a OneNote notebook. This is a great tool on it’s own and within Teams it provides a shared notebook to store information the team needs. For example the notebook could have sections in it to: store team meeting agendas and minutes; “How to” information for shared or team tasks; project notes; reference information on venues and travel; notes from professional development workshops members have attended;

Microsoft Videos for getting started and using Teams

Follow this link to see a whole swag of helpful videos:




Campbell Smythe

Campbell Smythe

Learning and Collaboration Technologies advisor

I am a Learning and Collaboration technologies advisor living in Cairns, Australia. An educational technology leadership background and experience managing a globally located information technology team, has given me wide experience in the application of digital technologies to a variety of educational and workplace contexts.

  • Certified Microsoft Service Adoption Specialist
  • Microsoft Innovative Educator
  • Apple Teacher
  • Certified Google Educator
  • Mountain Biker and Triathlete
  • Former Asia Pacific IS Manager MAFINT
  • Former Director of eLearning and ICT
What is Swift Playgrounds?

What is Swift Playgrounds?

Introducing Swift Playgrounds.

Swift Playgrounds is a coding app from Apple designed to teach kids how to code.  Expect to see it available when iOS 10 is released in September 2016. It allows students to complete in-built lessons and write code to control a character named “Byte”, giving him movement and direction commands such as moveForward() or turnLeft() or jump(), to guide him through a series of puzzles to be solved in a 3D graphical world.

Swift Playgrounds

With Swift Playground’s split screen on the iPad as seen above, the coder can create and run the code in the left hand section, then preview it straight away on the right hand side Swift Playground’s “world view”. When you start coding the app also gives you suggested commands.

Swift Playgrounds

Download Swift Playgrounds now!

Key features of Swift Playgrounds:

  • only available on iPads running iOS 10 and above (iPad Air or iPad Mini 2 are minimum)
  • you can share your Swift Playground’s code with others using Mail, Messages or Airdrop
  • record and share video of your code in action
  • expect new challenges to be added with app updates
  • code templates enable you to begin using iPad features (accelerometer, gyroscope, multi-touch) quickly and easily
  • Swift Playground’s code can be transferred directly to X-Code, Apple’s programming software for MacOS, WatchOS, tvOS and iOS
  • free app once released, available now to users on the Apple Developer program testing iOS 10 beta.

Swift playgrounds screens

Watch a short video from Macworld introducing Swift Playgrounds (2min47)

From Apple –

“Interactive puzzles teach key programming concepts in a way that is both fun and challenging building confidence and skill. Starting with the “Fundamentals of Swift” lesson, you’ll tackle goals using the same code professional developers use every day. As you move along, more advanced concepts come into play. You’ll continually build on what you’ve learnt and create even more complex code.”

It’s an app which should be popular in iPad schools particularly because learning and writing code is so popular in education at the moment. Code writing involves students in planning, problem solving, design thinking, creativity and collaboration – core 21st Century skills schools want to see their students develop.

Apple has created a Free – Swift Playgrounds Teacher Guide iBook available here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/swift-playgrounds/id1118578018?mt=11

Watch the video demonstration from Apple WWDC 2016 of Swift Playgrounds below:

What is Blogging?

What is Blogging?

1 Minute Introduction to Blogging

Blogging refers to publishing in a website on the WWW – usually a single person or small group of people would contribute posts to a Blog which would be a collection of articles around a particular topic or no topic at all. Posts are organised into categories or displayed chronologically as they are posted by the Blog Author.

This site could be classified as a blog.  Blogs can give someone a voice on the internet – Bill Gates has a blog and so can you!

Video Introducing Blogs and Blogging (2:58)

Key Words:

  • Blog – the website where your Posts and other material or links is stored on the World Wide Web
  • Blogger – someone who contributes posts to a blog
  • Posts – series of articles making up a Blog, usually displayed in categories or chronological order
  • Categories – how you group your Blog Posts
  • Comments – messages people can leave behind after your Posts if you enable them to
  • Theme – the template which gives your blog it’s look and feel
  • Subscribers – people who subscribe to your posts receive notice when you make a new post

What can I use Blogging for?

  • Blogging is a great way to share your ideas or interests with others. Think about your Google search results – how often when you are searching for help on something do you end up on someone’s blog where they are answering your question?
  • Blogs exist for probably any topic you can think of and it can be surprising what you can find online
  • Some teachers use blogs to share what their classes are doing at school – Ms Cassidy’s Classroom Blog
  • A Principal may use a blog to share understandings about learning – Learning at St Joseph’s
  • A group of teachers may contribute to help other teachers – Australian Teachers Blog

How do I Blog?

  • First place to start is to have a blogging platform to use. Once you have the platform you can customise the look and feel of it and then start adding blog posts.
  • There are some free blogging platforms you can look at which usually just require a signup email address before you can rock’n’roll.
  • Check out some of these free ones:
    • WordPress – WordPress sites make up a massive number of the blogs and websites on the web. Sign up at WordPress.com for a freebie and get started. This site is based on WordPress and WordPress would still be my recommended starting platform for a keen, serious, likely to continue blogger!
    • Tumblr – not as feature rich as WordPress but useful for simple quick updates
    • Blogger – a Google product which is easy to sign up for with your Google account but you never know when Google pull the plug on its products.
    • Google sites – similar to WordPress, Google sites are free and fairly customisable.
    • Weebly – WordPress like, use to build websites or blog style website
    • Edublogs – WordPress based but intended for use by Teachers and Educators

One of the advantages of starting with a free hosted website is that if after some time you decide you want more control with your own hosting, web domain and email addresses you can pay for your own web hosting and setup a WordPress site there.

Video: Setup a WordPress.com Blog (30:52s)

Blogging Pro Tips:

  • #1 MOST OF ALL – Content is the key – if what you say is rubbish that’s where people will put it and they wont come back.Don’t hesitate – if you have things you want to share and have discussion about just start blogging. Once you’re up and running you can change platforms, copy and paste or import content. But just get started!
  • Don’t blog for the sake of it. Blog about what your really interested in or what you believe and think is worth sharing that way it will be easy to continue doing it!
  • Be yourself – write your blog posts using the same language you’d use if you were talking to someone in the flesh! People get to know you through your blog so don’t be someone you’re not!
  • Audience – know who you are writing to – this will shape what you blog about and how you do it
  • Choose your blog theme and colours (and fonts) well. Your blog will be more attractive to read and revisit if it looks modern and up to date. Don’t choose colours that clash and use a minimum number of fonts.
  • Engage in conversation with those who comment on your Posts – be polite.
  • Share you posts on social media – use Twitter and Facebook to share your blog posts with others
  • Use share buttons on your blog to make it easy for readers to share on their networks

Share this image with your followers!

Blog tips - cdsmythe.com


Links for new Bloggers

What is Snapchat?

What is Snapchat?

What is Snapchat?

  • Social media app
  • Used for media sharing and chatting
  • Use on your phone or tablet to live chat with friends or send them short video, text or audio messages which expire after a short time

Key Words:

  • Snap – a short video or image shared between your Snapchat friends
  • Friends – people you have connected Snapchat with
  • Stories – a series of Snaps combined to tell your “story” over a 24 hour period
  • Filters – easy buttons you can modify your Snaps with (including overlays)
  • Memories – your collection of saved Snaps
  • Trophy Case – snapchat awrds trophies when you meet certain achievements like: “Sent 10 Snaps”
  • Snapcode – your Snapchat icon – looks like a yellow ghost.
  • Chat – you

What can I use Snapchat for?

  • Send short videos, photos and text to friends which expire after time
  • Live Video or audio call friends
  • Add overlaid text, clipart or drawing to photos and video
  • Send Snaps to a selection of followers or save to your Story so all can view
  • Your Story is a collection of Snaps saved in chronological order for 24 hours which all your friends can see
  • Snapchat also publishes Stories from some media companies and for some special events
  • You can choose to enable Memories, which now saves your Snaps
  • Snapchat will notify you if someone takes a screenshot of one of your Snaps

How do I use Snapchat?

  • Install on iPhone or Android
  • Create an account
  • Start following friends and contacts
  • Swipe down
  • Click the Add Friends button
  • Allow Snapchat to access your Contacts

Sending Photos

  • Start with sending someone a Photo
  • tap the capture button
  • Click the clock to set a duration
  • Tap the icons top right to add: clipart, Text or to draw on the photo
  • Click the Send button
  • Choose which of your friends to send it to
  • Click Send arrow

 Sending Video

  • Hold the capture button in the red circle grows as the video length does
  • Swipe left or right to add filters (eg. location image, time, temperature, speed, image filters or to slowdown/speedup the video)
  • Tap the screen to add Text
  • Tap the Clipart or Draw icons to add effects
  • Tap the speaker to mute the audio
  • Click the Send button
  • Choose which of your friends to send it to
  • Click Send arrow

Adding face filters to video

  • Long press on the face in the video
  • Swipe through the available filters
  • send

Snapchat ProTips:

  • You can save your Snaps to Memories and keep them
  • Make your Snaps interesting – what would you tell your friends about if they were there?
  • When adding Text, type your text then tap the T icon again to select from additional text features
  • When taking selfie photos Snapchat uses the screen as a front facing flash. Tap the lightning icon in the top left corner to activate
  • Tap the screen twice to switch from front to rear camera
  • Tap the screen to quickly skip through Stories
  • To apply more than one Filter, choose the first, then tap and hold your finger on the screen while swiping to the second filter
  • Secure your account with two step authentication. This means a SMS code will be sent to you when you login and out (not when you open and close) the app
  • Add extra Text to Snaps by creating in Notes and copying/pasting into the text box in Snapchat
  • Turn on Travel Mode to save data – Swipe Down > Settings > Manage > Travel Mode – turn on
  • When adding Friends try “Add Nearby” – if everyone opens Add Nearby they will be visible
  • Also, take a photo of the persons Snapcode and use that to add them
  • Personalise your Snapcode. Swipe down, tap the Snapcode, tap the capture button and Snapchat will capture 5 images as an animation to use in your Snapcode

Security and Privacy:

  • Keep default settings of who can contact you as Friends
  • You can Block users
  • Third party apps can be used by others to save Snaps they’ve received – Snapcrack


What is Canva?

What is Canva?

What is Canva?

Australian company Canva.com is a website where you can create graphics and designs for web or print using a range of templates, graphics or your own uploaded images.

Images are created online, using Canva templates and you can upload your own images or use theirs for a fee. Non-Profits can apply for a free team account after submitting evidence of NP status.

How could I use Canva?

If you’re responsible to manage or contribute to various social media channels, Canva makes it really easy to create some of the social media headings and image posts that those sites need.

Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr header images……….

MissionalTech - Canva - ministry tool

Social media image posts……

MissionalTech - Canva - social media posts

Images for brochures, flyers and general promotional material….

MissionalTech - Canva - flyers

Images to use for adverts for Facebook, social media, website ads…..

MissionalTech - Canva - Ads

What I like is that Canva templates gets you halfway there when it comes to creating these images. You dont need to look up what the best dimensions are for each type of image, just start with the template.  It means your time can go more on creating than setting up.

What is Twitter?

What is Twitter?

What is Twitter?

  • Social media website
  • Share posts 140 characters in length
  • Posts can contain images, links, video, animated gifs

Key Words:

  • Tweets – messages you post on Twitter
  • Twitter handle – your username eg. @cdsmythe
  • @ – this symbol appears before a username eg. @cdsmythe
  • Twitter Feed – the scrolling list of Tweets you see from people you follow
  • Twitter Followers – the collection of people you have “Followed” on Twitter. You will see their Tweets in your Twitter Stream
  • RT – retweet,  click “Retweet” to send a Tweet you are reading to your Twitter Followers
  • Hashtags – hashtags enable you to find groups around a topic eg #Rio2016, #Holden, or #learning

What can I use Twitter for?

  • Getting information – follow others and see what they post in the Home stream of Tweets
  • Sharing information – found something worth sharing? Send a Tweet out with info, link, image
  • Following Hashtags # – hashtags are tags people put in their posts so they can be searched for and appear in a stream of their own.  Follow the hashtag #elearning to find all posts containing that tag to see what people are saying
  • Connect with others – follow people with similar interests or who work in the same sphere as you. Build your own network of people you follow and who follow you
  • Tweets are Public
  • Direct messages with people who follow you are private

How do I use Twitter?

  • Create an account (free)
  • Add a photo – don’t be a Egg
  • Add something to your profile
  • You can set your Tweets as Public or Private – Public is default as that’s why most people go on Twitter
  • Search for and follow friends or work colleagues
  • Follow experts and recommended Tweeters (if they follow you then follow them back!)
  • If people you know and work with follow you, follow them back
  • See who those people follow and follow anyone who looks interesting
  • Start sharing some useful articles from the WWW and include an appropriate hashtag
  • Don’t use too many hashtags in a Tweet
  • Add your Twitter username to email signatures and blogs
  • You can Block people following you that you don’t want to follow you
  • Use Twitter Moments to easily follow the biggest stories on Twitter
  • In a Tweet you can add a Poll to gather some info or just have some fun
  • Check Notifications – it’ll show who’s followed you, retweeted you and other activity

Twitter Pro Tips:

  • Retweet and Like tweets to gain followers
  • Find and use some hashtags in your tweets
  • User other web tools like Buffer, Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to setup scheduled Tweets
  • Try and include an image in your Tweets – it makes them stand out more in the tweet stream
  • Limit your posts to 120 characters. 140 is the maximum, but you want to leave room for others to retweet you
  • Don’t just retweet everyone else’s posts, be original. Keep it balanced
  • Organise the people you follow into Lists – they will get notified so keep the List names positive
  • Be a happy Tweeter. No one likes a
  • Other apps integrate with Twitter – try Periscope (streaming video)
  • When pasting Links into a Tweet use a URL shortener like Tiny.cc or Bit.ly to get more text in

 Some useful Hashtags:

#arted – art education
#aussieED – Australian teachers (Sunday night chat)
#earlyed – early education
#edapp – educational apps
#edchat – global education discussions
#edtech – educational technology discussions
#edu – education in general
#elearn – elearning
#FNQed – Far North Queensland educators
#gtchat – gifted and talented chat
#iPadEd – iPads in education
#mlearn – mobile learning
#MSFTeduchat – Microsoft in education chat (weekly)
#pegeeks – phyed teachers
#slide2learn – iOS devices in learning