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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

    OneNote on iPad and iPod - how to use it with the web and PC version for teaching and learning


    Teacher iconEarlier today I wrote about the release of OneNote for iPad and iPod, and I promised I’d describe a scenario of using it in teaching and learning. I’ve tried to describe how it can be used by a teacher to make their teaching easier, share more information with their students, and support out of school learning - as well as potentially reduce the mountain of paper that seems a regular feature of my children’s school backpacks!

    Here’s my simple scenario:

    • The teacher uses OneNote to prepare a lesson plan
      • As they collect information from different sources, and web pages, OneNote automatically adds the source info for later reference
      • The teacher can add graphics & diagrams from other sources, or draw their own diagrams, as well as annotate graphics
      • Videos can be embedded, or linked, for use in the lesson
      • If the teacher wants to use a PowerPoint presentation, that too can be embedded, so that everything the teacher needs is in one place
    • The lesson is then delivered using OneNote
      • The teacher can use the OneNote notebook as either a source of info and prompt for them, or put it up onto a projector and use it to structure the whole lesson.
      • If there’s an interactive whiteboard in the classroom, by using OneNote the teacher can also annotate, draw diagrams etc, as they go along on the whiteboard, and this is then saved in the OneNote notebook automatically
      • You can even use OneNote to make a recording of the whole lesson, so that the students can go back and listen to or watch the whole lesson or the particular parts that they need to revise!
    • The teacher can then share the OneNote notebook with their students, for them to use afterwards
      • If they do this in SkyDrive, they can just set the default for all of a particular notebook to be shared, and keep all their lesson materials in that notebook
      • If they don’t want students to see next week’s lesson, they can set a password on each new lesson page as they start to create it, and then remove it when they teach that lesson - meaning that it’s closed to students all the time they are creating it and until they want it to be available
    • The teacher can also publish the homework assignments on the OneNote as well
      • Using the password trick above they can ensure students do see the assignments until it’s the right time
      • They can also set groups in the class differentiated assignments by creating multiple homework pages - and give each group a different password to get to their assignment page
    • Students can access their assignments and lesson notes wherever they are
      • The super-keen ones can access it on their iPhones and Windows Phones on the way home on the bus/train (how cool would it be to get your homework sorted before you’ve even reached home?
      • At home they could access it on their iPad (or more likely, on Dad’s iPad), or their home PC or school laptop with Office installed, or over the web on any computer using Office Web Apps on SkyDrive
      • If they don’t have internet access at home (eg they are one of the 6% of school students without home Internet access) they can use their school laptop with OneNote offline - they just need to sync their laptop before they leave school - eg in the lesson - and then they have all the files available at home, including any embedded videos and graphics
    • There are plenty of other things that could be done too - like asking students to submit their assignments through a shared OneNote notebook (and you can use the same password protection trick to keep students from seeing others’ work) and allowing the teacher to mark the work online, make comments, record commentary etc


    Your students and teachers can download OneNote for iPad and iPod from the iTunes store, and you’re already likely to have OneNote on your school computers (and if you haven’t it’s time to install it Smile)

    Learn MoreFind all the OneNote info on this blog
    Find out more about OneNote for iPad and iPod

  • Education

    Publishing accessible learning resources - more support in Office


    We’ve announced some new add-ins for Microsoft Office that will help education users publish their learning resources with added accessibility - making them more accessible to more learners, specifically those with visual and hearing impairments.

    Captioning add-in for PowerPoint to add captions to video and audio

    Screenshot of STAMP in actionOne is an add in for PowerPoint which enables the addition of closed captions to any embedded video and audio files used in a presentation, ensuring that students who have hearing impairments don’t miss out. It allows you to either manually add your own captions, or by importing an existing industry standard Timed Text Mark-up Language (TTML) file. With STAMP, people who already work with captioned video and audio files associated with TTML files can import them directly into their presentations. For people who don't have access to an existing TTML file, but still need to create captions (or adjust imported captions), STAMP provides a simple caption editor within PowerPoint 2010. Captions within STAMP are saved with the file or can be exported for use by others.

    The other way that STAMP could be used is to add English subtitles to a foreign language video (or translate an English video into another language), which might be a great technique for languages teachers.

    The STAMP add-in is for Office 2010. And I discovered the acronym STAMP stands for Subtitling Add-In for Microsoft PowerPoint

    > Go here to find out more about STAMP, and download the free add-in

    Making talks books with Word, with the DAISY Add-in for Office

    The DAISY Consortium was set up to help those with visual impairment (or ‘print disabilities’) to access digital content easily, and enhance their use of the materials. We’ve just updated the DAISY Word plug-in, which allows Word documents to be translated into DAISY XML - a globally accepted standard for digital talking books (eg it’s used by Vision Australia’s Information Library Service).

    DAISY stands for Digital Accessible Information System, which lets you work with digital content in many ways, synchronising audio with display output, generating braille versions, or allowing text to speech conversion. It is more powerful than simply creating an audio file (eg an .mp3) - unlike analogue talking books, an important feature of DAISY books is easy and rapid navigation. A book can be navigated by such elements as sentence, paragraph, page (including specific page numbers) and various heading levels. It is also possible to fast forward or rewind and to jump back and forth by time increments when using the audio component. Depending on the playback equipment being used, a book can be searched for specific words. The user can also place Bookmarks at relevant points and jump to them easily.

    The ‘Save as Daisy’ add-in for Word lets users of Microsoft Word 2003-2010 convert Word files to the Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) format - accessible multimedia formats for people unable to read print. Some of these formats include synchronized text and MP3 audio that can be played directly within Windows 7 or DAISY XML, which works with compatible software readers and talking book/braille reading devices.

    > Go here to find out more about DAISY, and download the free add-in

    Other accessibility features in Office

    Here are a few of the other Office 2010 features that help people create and consume all kinds of accessible content:

    • An accessibility checker (like a spelling checker, but for accessibility) as a feature of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint that provides step-by-step instructions for how to correct accessibility errors.
    • imageAn on-the-fly translation feature called Mini Translator, which allows you to translate single words or many paragraphs simply by hovering over the text that you want to translate. Mini Translator also includes the ability to speak that text using Microsoft's Text-to-Speech (TTS) engine.
    • A Full Screen Reading view that is optimized for reading a document on the computer screen. In Full Screen Reading view, you also have the option of seeing the document as it would appear on a printed page.

    Learn MoreFind out more about accessibility in Microsoft Office

  • Education

    Most popular Education blog posts of 2011


    Screen iconI arrived in Australia at the end of January 2011, and setup this Education blog on the first day of the new school year. I aimed to pop up a blog post every working day, with two goals:

    • Help you discover useful info on ICT, Education and Microsoft’s role in it
    • Help me to learn more about the Australian Education marketplace

    Well, after writing 295 blog posts in a year, I can definitely say I’ve learnt a huge amount about the Australian Education marketplace. I can’t count the statistical/research/consultancy reports I’ve read, the people I’ve had the chance to talk to whilst preparing to write something, and the news stories and press announcements I’ve had to dig into and behind to get to the core facts. It’s been a great way of understanding the Australian education system.

    So here, out of almost 300 posts, are the most popular blog posts on this Education blog:

    The most popular Education Blog posts of 2011

    This was the easiest list to compile - what was more difficult was trying to understand why each of these individually became popular education blog posts.

    1. Something for the weekend - free eBooks from Microsoft Press
      A list of free Microsoft eBooks on subjects including Windows Phone, SQL Server 2008 R2 and Office 2010
      This blog post from March shot to popularity when it went viral through Facebook, and then hit the front page of LinkedIn
    2. 21 things that will become obsolete in education by 2020
      A commentary on Shelly Blake-Plock’s two-year-old list of potentially obsolete things in education
      I only wrote this in November, but it hit the number 2 spot after going viral on Twitter, as well as becoming the subject of an extended discussion on the University of the West Indies online learning system!
    3. Ten of the best - SharePoint School websites
      My subjective list of the sites I believe are the best school websites built on SharePoint
      This one hit the top ten partly because it gets a lot of traffic from people searching for ‘best school websites’ and ‘best SharePoint sites’
    4. Windows 7 SP1 Releases
      A straight news item about the release of the SP1 for Windows 7
      Hit the big-time because for a short period it turned out to be the number one search result for Windows 7 SP1 in Google
    5. Business Intelligence for Universities
      A list of case studies of universities saving money with the CALUMO BI system
    6. One in six schools block Wikipedia
      One snippet from a survey in Australia, and suddenly a top-ten blog post!
      This got a lot of interest in the worldwide Wikipedia community, many asking ‘Why would a school block Wikipedia?’. Also the most commented blog post.
    7. Moving to the Cloud - the Microsoft experience
      Case studies of how we’ve moved business critical applications to the cloud - and what we’ve learned along the way
    8. Ten of the best - Australian education websites built on SharePoint
      Yup, one of my subjective lists again
    9. Ready-made IT user documentation
      A whole bunch of user support teams around education have found these handy starting points for their own user documentation
    10. A pile of Microsoft technical e-books now free for Kindle and iPad
      This is linked to the Number 1 spot - but this time with additional formats for Kindle.
      Somehow the use of ‘free’ ‘microsoft’ ‘e-books’ ‘Kindle’ and ‘iPad’ seemed to act like catnip for people searching on Google

    And just to re-assure you, I still plan to keep on sharing - and learning - in 2012 too!

  • Education

    OneNote on iPad just released - with an updated OneNote for iPod app too


    OneNote logoOneNote has been described as one of Microsoft’s best kept secrets in education, because it’s a tool that most teachers and students find incredibly useful…once they’ve seen it. The challenge is that many, many people haven’t used it simply because they didn’t know it existed - either because nobody’s shown it to them, or because their IT team didn’t install it on their computer (despite the fact that virtually every version of Office has included OneNote for quite some time). I’d be pretty confident that most education customers have licences for OneNote already, and it’s also been included with Office Home & Student since Office 2007 came out. And now we have OneNote for iPad too!

    One of the clever things with OneNote is the way that you can sync files automatically between computers and between users - sharing OneNote notebooks between people is a simple click in the File menu. So it is great for sharing class notes, homework, lesson plans, quizzes and revision notes. For those teachers who’ve discovered OneNote, and discovered what it’s capable of, I’ve often seen a zealous enthusiasm that’s infectious!

    Earlier in 2011, we released a version of OneNote for the iPod, that allowed you to sync the text of your OneNote notebooks to your iPod and iPhone. It was a good way of sharing notes with students, or having a To-Do list or other notes shared across devices.

    OneNote for iPad and iPod released

    OneNote for iPad screenshotOvernight we’ve announced the availability of a new version of OneNote for iPad, and an updated version of OneNote for iPod and iPhone. So now you can have OneNote on your iOS devices, and have an application for notes and sharing that works across a range of devices:

    • Windows PCs
    • Macs (through the web version)
    • Windows Phone
    • iPhone
    • iPad
    • iPod
    • And via a web-browser with Office Web Apps on other devices

    And by using your free 25GB of SkyDrive storage (if you haven’t already got one, or haven’t had it through your Live@edu account, then you can just sign up for one online) you can sync your notes across all the different versions. And you can also choose to share your files with other people  - whether that’s just a small group of colleagues, or a group of students, or just published online for anybody to see.

    Whereas the first version of OneNote on iPod was completely free, as more features have been added the model has changed a little bit, with a free entry-level product, and then an option to buy as you extend its use (what’s known in the software world as the freemium model). This means that you can use up to 500 notes, and then upgrade to the full version as you use it more. (And if you don’t want to upgrade to the unlimited version you can still view and sync notebooks to your iPad/iPod/iPhone, but can’t credit new ones or edit existing ones). This means that as a teacher, you could share classroom notes, homework, revision materials and lesson plans with your students without them having to pay for OneNote for their iPad/iPod unless they were going to be editing lots of notebooks. They would only need to buy it if they wanted to use it for themselves for editing notebooks.

    OneNote for iPad and iPod

    So how could you use OneNote on iPad, iPod, the web and on your PC for teaching and learning?

    Give me half an hour, and I’m going to write up a description of Here's an idea of how this could be used by a teacher to make their teaching easier, share more information with their students, and support out of school learning.

    In the meantime, go and download the app!

    Learn MoreDownload OneNote for iPad and iPod now

  • Education

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


    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

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


    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

    Remote teaching for blind students


    After I wrote about the use of Microsoft Lync at Vicdeaf, where they are using the system to improve communications between deaf colleagues, I’ve had a few conversations with customers about different ways that Lync can help to improve the learning experience for students - especially those with accessibility needs.

    If you need it, here’s a quick summary of some of the things that Lync can do: instant messaging, video calling, telephone replacement, video conferencing between multiple users, audio conferencing, screen sharing, audio & video capture, and whiteboard sharing. So in an education context it can be used for things like quick chats between students and teachers, or remote lesson delivery, or connecting groups of students to collaborate in real-time on a project. As I have discovered, with a wireless bluetooth headset, it can allow you to fully participate in a conference call, whilst making a cup of coffee Winking smile

    I’ve just finished reading a case study on the Microsoft PressPass site which gives a good insight into the kind of tough educational challenges that it can help with. In Washington State they are using it at the Washington State School for the Blind to allow teachers based in other areas to teach and support students.

    Washington State School for the Blind

    Teacher Robin Lowell, using a large format display to teach students remotelyThe case study is of students who are taking an algebra class and where the teacher is located 240 km away. In many ways the class is delivered exactly like a normal lesson - with the teacher able to see the students, and the students able to act exactly the same way that they would if the teacher was in the classroom with them - for example, raising their hands to ask a question. As well as a webcam and large display at the front of the classroom, students have their own laptops along with other accessibility features they might need, such as screen readers or braille displays. And the features of Lync - such as screen sharing, virtual whiteboard and chat windows - can then supplement these resources.

    The result is a classroom that works, even though the teacher and the students don’t need to be together. And it doesn’t require any special video conferencing rooms or equipment - it can work with existing webcams (earlier today, I joined a virtual meeting using the built-in webcam on my laptop, with groups of colleagues who were in four different places).

    As Chris, a visually impaired student in the algebra class, said:

      It makes it easier that if we have problem, we can talk to Miss Lo. And if I get snowed in at home in Spokane, with Lync I wouldn’t miss my class!  

    Given the pressing need for creative ways to manage the future teacher shortages in Australia, and the need to enable specialist teaching for rural schools, then I think we're going to see increasing demand for ad-hoc conferencing capabilities, which can be controlled by teachers and students, rather than the bigger formal video conferencing systems and dedicated suites that we've been seeing up until now. If a teacher can just start a group teaching session from wherever they are, without having to book facilities in advance, then it's more likely to give them a learning environment that is adaptive and responsive to students' needs.

    Learn MoreRead the full case study on Lync's use for remote teaching for blind students

    You can read more about Lync’s accessibility features in this post on the Lync blog

  • Education

    Australian School holiday dates - 2012-2013


    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


    Summer Holiday Ends

    Autumn Holidays Winter Holidays Spring Holidays

    Summer Holiday Starts



    26 Jan 2012

    6-20 April

    2-13 July

    24 Sep-5 Oct

    24 Dec 2012



    31 Jan

    2-13 April

    2-13 July

    24 Sep-5 Oct

    24 Dec



    20 Jan

    2-13 April

    25 Jun - 6 July

    24 Sep-5 Oct

    17 Dec



    31 Jan

    6-25 April

    7-23 July

    29 Sep-15  Oct

    19 Dec



    27 Jan

    6-13 April

    25 Jun-20 July

    1-5 Oct

    14 Dec



    27 Jan

    18-27 April

    2-13 July

    24 Sep-5 Oct

    17 Dec



    2 Feb

    16-27 April

    9-20 July

    1-12 Oct

    24 Dec



    14 Feb

    6-13 April

    4-15 June

    10-21 Sep

    20 Dec


    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
  • Education

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


    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 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

    Snippet - Retiring academics create a problem in Higher Education


    I’ve been collecting interesting snippets (not quite full blog posts) on my Posterous space for a few months. But I thought I’d change the habit and share them on the blog instead. Mainly they comprise an interesting quote and link to an article worth reading, with a short comment to go with it. Some of them are slightly off topic…

    I've recently written a few bits about the crisis around the corner in terms of retiring teachers - with many due to retire in the next decade, and not enough joining the profession to replace them. But I'd completely missed the fact that exactly the same crisis faces higher education - with a wave of retiring academics, and increasing challenges of recruiting replacements. So whatever level of education you look at, the challenge ahead is having enough people in front of students, leading their learning.

    This snippet from: Professor Steven Schwartz Vice-Chancellor's Blog


    Universities, however, live in the land of reality and as such their thinking about the future must take into account what is happening to their most prized assets, their academics. Inexorably, inevitably, they are getting older. And while so is everyone else, ageing academics – already older than the average Australian worker – present higher education with some unique challenges.

    According to Professor Graeme Hugo of the National Centre for Social Application of Geographic Information Systems, the high proportion of academics who will be retiring over the next 15 years “confronts the sector with a recruitment challenge”.


    Learn MoreRead the original full story

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