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December, 2011 - Education - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The Australian Education Blog
Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

December, 2011

  • Education

    Cost saving with ICT - some ideas to reduce school budget pressure

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    eBook front coverTalking at the Association of School Business Administrators professional development conference in Queensland today, I mentioned the ‘Saving Money with ICT’ eBook which I wrote when I was in the UK. Although it’s nearly a year old, the information within it is still relevant today to anybody who’s having to think hard about school budget management. It was written with one really simple goal in mind: To help the ICT team in school to explain to the leadership team how they can help out the rest of the school in a climate of cost saving.

    There hasn’t appeared to be the same pressure on school budgets here in Australia as there was in the UK, but it’s a subject that’s been coming up more frequently recently - either because of the top-down budgets being under pressure from the state governments, or because of a need to release funding for new innovation projects. Although I haven’t written an Australian version of this ebook, I do believe that many of the case studies - and the figures - have a relevance here too.

    To make a long list easier to consumer, the cost saving ideas are grouped into three strategies:

    image And the cost saving opportunities identified are across a school - not just your ICT budget, but also include the budgets for admin, energy, electricity, paper and photocopying.

    Even though you may need to translate some of the examples from the UK into our local context in the Australian context, I do believe that it will provide some helpful ideas and advice:

    Learn More

    Download the free “Saving Money with ICT” eBook (UK Edition)

  • Education

    Collaboration with Microsoft Office 365 - free ebook from MS Press in more formats

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    The Microsoft Press team announced that their ebook on Office 365  is available as a free ebook in a range of new formats.

    Office 365 ebook coverThe chapters of the book are:

    1. What’s happening in the world of work
    2. Getting started with Office 365
    3. Administering an Office 365 Account
    4. What your team can do with Office 365
    5. Creating your team site with SharePoint online
    6. Posting, sharing and managing files
    7. Adding and managing workflows
    8. Working with Office 2010 Web Apps
    9. Going mobile with Office 365
    10. Email and organise with Office 365
    11. Talking it over with Microsoft Lync
    12. Designing your public website
    13. Integrating all parts of Office 365

    I especially enjoyed reading chapter 12 - Designing your public website. I’ve been writing about using SharePoint to create education websites recently (see ‘Ten of the Best - Australian education websites built on SharePoint’ ) and the idea of using the hosted Office 365 service to create a public website might well be something that’s really useful for smaller schools and colleges. It will mean that you can create a fully managed website, with ownership across a broad team, but without needing to buy lots of hardware or bandwidth, or maintain a complex webserver.

    There are three formats available:

    Free Office 365 ebook  in PDF format - for on screen reading

    Free Office 365 ebook in .mobi format - for Kindle readers

    Download the free Office 365 ebook in .epub format - for Sony readers

    * For nine other Microsoft Press ebooks free, then take a look at my earlier blog post

  • Education

    Is CRM in education any different to CRM in the voluntary sector?

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    Magnifying glass iconOne of the things I’ve noticed is that although there are very specific requirements for CRM in education - student recruitment, grants management, parental communication etc - there are also many parallels to tasks done in other industries - room and facilities bookings, sales pipeline management, HR processes. So I’m always interested in what’s happening outside of education, and comparing it to the business of education.

    Yesterday, I read an article on CIO.com.au about Lifeline, and their project to increase their call handling capacity. And the article wasn’t about physically handling the calls, but having the systems for the staff members to access and share information in their virtual contact centre. The key business driver for Lifeline was about increasing their capacity to take calls - jumping 50% to 700,000 calls per year.

    Although the article doesn’t go into much detail, it does mention the role of Dynamics CRM to support this, and the work to have a clear disaster recovery backup system.

    Although it’s not an education example, the challenges will be the same for universities with student recruitment changing - how do you cope with constantly growing customer contact, how do you manage their contact lifecycle and how do you ensure that a growing base of employees have access to the systems and information they need, wherever they are.

    Read the full story: Lifeline upgrades call centre, aims to increase capacity by 250,000 calls per year

    imageIf you're interested in finding out more, or are interested in using Dynamics CRM for a project in your institution, then you'd want to know that this project was done by Attain IT, who are a Dynamics partner in Sydney.

  • Education

    Australian School holiday dates - 2012-2013

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    Icons_teacher_blueAn update on my previous blog post, to give you “Australian school holiday dates 2012”, with all of the term dates for each state in Australia. It’s a quick guide, if you are planning events or marketing activities with schools. As you’ll see all of the Australian school holiday dates don’t coincide, so you’ll find that you may be able to run an event in one state whilst all of the others are on holiday.

    Australian School Holidays 2012 - state by state

    State

    2011/2012
    Summer Holiday Ends

    Autumn Holidays Winter Holidays Spring Holidays

    2012/2013
    Summer Holiday Starts

     

    NSW

    26 Jan 2012

    6-20 April

    2-13 July

    24 Sep-5 Oct

    24 Dec 2012

    Link

    VIC

    31 Jan

    2-13 April

    2-13 July

    24 Sep-5 Oct

    24 Dec

    Link

    QLD

    20 Jan

    2-13 April

    25 Jun - 6 July

    24 Sep-5 Oct

    17 Dec

    Link

    WA

    31 Jan

    6-25 April

    7-23 July

    29 Sep-15  Oct

    19 Dec

    Link

    NT

    27 Jan

    6-13 April

    25 Jun-20 July

    1-5 Oct

    14 Dec

    Link

    SA

    27 Jan

    18-27 April

    2-13 July

    24 Sep-5 Oct

    17 Dec

    Link

    ACT

    2 Feb

    16-27 April

    9-20 July

    1-12 Oct

    24 Dec

    Link

    TAS

    14 Feb

    6-13 April

    4-15 June

    10-21 Sep

    20 Dec

    Link

    If you’re planning a national campaign, and want to work out when is a good time to schedule a mailing, webcast or other activity, then here’s a quick table. It’s the only dates when all Australian state schools are open:

    • 15 February - 30th March
    • 30th April - 23rd June
    • 23rd July - 21st Sept
    • 18th Oct - 11th Dec*
      * Private schools will close up to a week earlier
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