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August, 2012 - Education - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The Australian Education Blog
Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

August, 2012

  • Education

    Microsoft Bring Your Own Device in Schools whitepaper

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    BYOD in schools whitepaperThere's been a lot said about Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in schools, and plenty of commentary on blogs and the Twittersphere. It's a fast-moving subject, almost like 'building airplanes in the sky' – it sometimes feels like BYOD strategies and vision are being created as we go along.

    And the debate has been joined by two pedagogical leaders who have produced a Microsoft BYOD whitepaper for schools. Bruce Dixon (from the Anytime, Anywhere Learning Foundation) and Sean Tierney (from the worldwide Microsoft Partners in Learning programme) have both been passionate advocates for 1:1 learning programmes for many years, and have just published their first 'Bring Your Own Device for schools' whitepaper. The aim is to examine the potential deployment models from teaching, learning and IT management perspectives.

    As their introduction says:

     

    The ongoing debate regarding the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model in schools warrants deeper analysis to help educators and institutions understand this provisioning model and its potential benefits and pitfalls for learning. This discussion paper sets out to investigate the myths and understand which questions should be addressed when considering allowing students to bring their own devices, and which option might be best suited to a school or system’s culture. It is intended to stimulate discussion around what constitutes best practice 1-to-1 learning.

     

    As well as plenty of detailed analysis and debate within the white paper, there's also a handy table that helps to describe the different capabilities of the various devices that are available for a BYOD scenario:

    BYOD Capability Taxonomy - from page 5

    It's a great way to classify the differing capabilities across a range of current and future devices.

    I think that one of the best aspects of the white paper is that it talks about the alternative models – presenting five potential models, and discussed the benefits and considerations of each. It also goes into five key questions to ask to help you decide whether a BYOD model is right for your school. And then talks through consideration for planning and implementation procedures.

    The conclusion section starts:

     

    BYOD is a trend that needs to be carefully examined in an education context to ensure that the models we deploy are successful. At the heart of good 1-to-1 learning is equity to ensure that all students have equal access to technology-rich experiences, and simplicity to ensure that it is easy to manage and sustain.

     

    and finishes with an absolutely key point:

     

    Schools need to be vigilant and protective of the foundations of equity of access on which all of our education systems are firmly founded. With this in mind, all stakeholders – teachers, parents, students and principals – need to work through the tough decisions early to drive home the best outcomes for all students at all times.

     

    Learn MoreYou can either download the BYOD for schools whitepaper, or if you're in Australia, drop Richard Ryan an email and he'll pop a couple of printed copies in the post

    For more info on Bring Your Own Device, here's a link to related BYOD articles

  • Education

    Creating surveys with the Excel Web App in Office 365 for education

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    The free version of Office 365 for education includes web versions of the main Office software – Word, Excel and PowerPoint – in addition to the email, collaboration and communication capabilities included within the online Exchange, SharePoint and Lync services. Of course, that's great for editing and working on documents, spreadsheets and presentations, and the beauty of the web service is that we can keep updating them for you as we add new features – you don't have to take on the responsibility for updating software across a pile of machines.

    You can see the new features being added in the future to Office 365 through the preview versions. And we've just released the preview for Office 365 Enterprise (which is the version that Office 365 for education is based on).

    Here's an idea that you can use them for, that might save you bucket-loads of time.

    Using the Excel Web App for surveys and questionnaires

    Thanks to  my colleague James Marshall in the UK, there's a good explanation of how you can easily create online surveys and questionnaires, and get the answers into a neat Excel spreadsheet. It's great for a range of scenarios, like:

    • A lecturer wanting to get opinion and feedback about a lecture immediately after it finishes.
    • A group of students doing a data collection exercise with their classmates.
    • A senior leader wanting to get feedback from parents about a school event (i.e. sports day, school theatre production)
    • A teacher running a competition.

    The beauty of forms in the new Excel Web App is that they can be shared in a few clicks, and accessed on a variety of devices, making it easy for users with laptops, tablet devices, smart phones or pretty much any device with a browser to contribute. And you can make them public, so you can use them for parental surveys etc

    Here's a screenshot from a survey that James published as an example (you can try it out on this link: http://aka.ms/vumdyw)

    Excel Web App Survey

     

    Learn MoreYou can read James' post on how to create a survey in the Excel Web App over on his excellent UK Education Cloud Blog (plus loads of other useful Office 365 for education information)

  • Education

    Meet with the Education Account Managers at APC 2012

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    APC 2012 logo

    The Microsoft Australia Partner Conference 2012 is in three weeks (4-6 Sept). To help our education partners get more from the three days, we’ve decided to get the whole Microsoft Australia education sales team up there, to give you the chance to have 1:1 meetings with our customer account managers. If you are working in particular parts of the country, or segments of the market, then booking 1:1 sessions with some of the team has got to be one of the best ways to get really specific advice to help your sales strategy. As we discovered last year, it's also a very big opportunity for you to ensure our account teams know about your solutions, and can talk to their customers about them.

    Meet the Microsoft Australia Education Team at APC 2012


    Government Schools

    Jane Mackarell, Microsoft New South Wales Government Schools & TAFEs

    Jane Mackarell is the new Microsoft Account Manager for New South Wales Department for Education and Communities (DEC). In a 1:1 session, Jane will be able to share information on the way that the new NSW DEC licensing will help partners to implement new solutions at a lower cost to the customer, and what software is available to each school and TAFE licensed in NSW. NSW has 2,176 state schools and 11 TAFEs    
    Mark Tigwell , the Account Technology Specialist (ATS) for NSW education, will also be at APC to meet with you. 


    Emilio Parente, MicrosoftVictoria Government Schools & TAFEs

    Trudi Grant is the Microsoft Account Manager for Victoria’s Department for Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD). Although she's on holiday during APC, the other member of the team, Emilio Parente, the ATS for Victoria Education will be at APC and available for meetings. During a 1:1 session, Emilio can share how our current agreements can be used by partners to offer new business solutions to DEECD, and how the licensing model reduces the cost of these solutions at DEECD, school or TAFE level. Victoria has 1,548 state schools and 18 TAFEs.     


    Lance Baldwin, MicrosoftQueensland Government Schools & TAFEs

    Lance Baldwin, the Account Technology Strategist for the Queensland Department for Education and Training (DET), will be available for meetings, as Mark Kenny, the previous Account Manager has moved on to a new Microsoft role. Lance can provide a good overview of the Queensland state education market, and insight into the ICT projects that we have been involved in. Queensland has 1,235 state schools, and 13 TAFEs.



    Higher Education

    This year we have made changes to the way we manage our university accounts, which has increased the amount of account management each university customer will get. It means that we've now got three account managers covering higher education – rather than just one! Two of the account managers – Joseph Alvarez and Ken Rankins - will be at APC, and between them they'll cover the accounts of Lucy Segal, who'll be travelling overseas that week.


    Joseph Alvarez, MicrosoftJoseph Alvarez is the Higher Education Account Manager for the 14 larger universities across Australia (yep, you guessed it he's friends of the Frequent Flyer clubs!). Joe also works closely with CAUDIT (which is an industry wide group of the IT Directors/CIOs of all universities in Australia), so has a great insight to share on the current trends in higher education and the practicalities of our licensing arrangements for universities.  


    Ken Rankins, Microsoft

    Ken Rankins is the second of our Higher Education Account managers that is going to be at APC too. Ken is the account manager for a dozen of the universities around the country (Lucy manages the other 11). Although Ken's worked in the Microsoft Education team for a while, he's new to the world of universities, so he'd really appreciate meeting up with partners already working with higher education customers.


    If your business is working with a number of universities, then you'll probably want to meet all of the account managers at APC. Or, if there are just one or two universities that you want to talk about, then let me know which ones, and I'll schedule a session with the specific account manager(s).


    Non-Government Schools

    Vanessa Gage, MicrosoftVanessa Gage is the account manager for Catholic Education across Australia. Most of our work on this is done with the peak bodies for Catholic schools around the country, and Vanessa will be able to share how the schools across each of the Catholic consortia are able to access their respective Microsoft licensing programmes, and what schools are already licensed for (this is especially useful if you're looking to support schools to roll out cloud or on-premise infrastructure projects)


    Ken Rankins, MicrosoftKen Rankins gets to appear twice as he is also our national sales lead for all 2,815 private schools. His team work with the larger schools individually, as well as with the peak bodies for private schools. The importance of this group of schools is that most of them make their own independent decisions about ICT procurement.


    As many partners know, it can be tricky to get time with our Account Teams during the year, and they are rarely (if ever) all together and available. So this is a great networking opportunity, to learn more about the Australian Education marketplace, as well as to put faces to names (on both sides!)

    How to book your 1:1 meetings

    imageIf you are going to be at the Australian Partner Conference 2012, then you can book 1:1 meetings with the relevant members of our Education Account Manager team in advance.  

    It’s simple to do - Just email me, and let me know:  

    • Who you would like to meet (multiple meetings are okay)
    • Whether there are times when you can’t meet (all meetings will be scheduled during the tea/lunch breaks in the conference on the 5th and 6th September)
    • If there are specific subjects you want to discuss (helps the account managers prepare)  

    Not booked for APC yet? Do it here

  • Education

    Do you know about Microsoft Academic Search?

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    You know when you have been using something for a while, and you think that everybody else has heard of it too - and then you find out it's not as widely known as you think? eg because I use it all the time, I'd assumed that everybody knows that "Windows Key + E" launches Windows Explorer.

    Well, here's another thing I've known about for ages, and assumed other people did too:

    Microsoft Academic Search

    Microsoft Academic SearchMicrosoft Academic Search is a free service developed by Microsoft Research to help academics and researchers quickly and easily find academic content, researchers, institutions, and activities. Microsoft Academic Search indexes not only millions of academic papers, it also surfaces key relationships between and among subjects, content, and authors in a manner that highlights the critical links that help define scientific research. It makes it easy for you to direct your search experience in interesting and heretofore hidden directions with its suite of unique features and visualisations. The difference to a normal search engine like Bing or Google, is that the scope is limited to scholarly materials only – making the results much more relevant. But despite the limited scope, it still indexes over 35 million publications, from 19 million authors!

    It's really useful for searching – but it's the visualisations that make it come alive. Like the ability to navigate geographically through organisations and authors, or graph authors and co-authors, or quickly search for conference 'call for papers'

     

    Visualisation in Academic Search

    The range of visualisations that are available are:

    image Academic Map Navigate geographically through organizations and authors in a specified domain
    image CFP Calendar Search for conferences you may be interested in by domain, time and location
    image Domain Trend Visualize the research trends in computer science through an interactive stacked area chart
    image Organization Comparison Juxtapose two organizations and compare their citation counts, keywords, top authors and more
    image Co-author Graph Display which researchers have the most collaboration with a particular author
    image Co-author Path Display how two researchers are connected via their co-authors
    image Genealogy Graph Display the advisor and advisee relationships of a particular researcher
    image Paper Citation Graph Discover which publications have cited a particular publication

    And finally, there's a Windows Phone Client for Academic Search, that allows you to search by author, title, keyword etc.

    This isn't only useful for researchers and academics, because if you're a teacher in a school, you can quickly use this to check out current research on a specific topic. For example, a quick search can reveal the latest research papers published on "Interactive Whiteboards" (233 papers) or academic research papers published on "Bring Your Own Device" (1 paper, published in 2004!)

    Learn MoreFind out more about Microsoft Academic Research

  • Education

    Office 365 for education training videos

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    Last week I posted a series of blog posts of Office 365 for education videos, produced by my colleagues in the US, sharing some of the things that Office 365 makes possible. And I realised that it would be helpful to stick them all onto one page, rather than four separate ones.

    They were created to help people not using Office 365 for education, to show them what is possible, and I think they would be really useful for schools, TAFEs and universities who are rolling out Office 365 to staff and students – they make great introductory videos for training – allowing you to start a session by demonstrating what users will be able to do at the end of a hands-on training hour!

    So here's all four videos:

    Office 365 for education – using Outlook and Lync

    Office 365 for education has Outlook and Lync built in, which enable instantaneous collaboration and communication between students and teachers, with email, IM, voice and video calls between users.

    This short video, produced by my colleagues in the US, aims to describe the whole process in just two minutes:

    Classroom on the go

    Office 365 for education means that students and teachers can be productive on the go by having access to class calendars, documents, and assignments all on their mobile devices.

    This short video, the second in a series of four, aims to describe the whole process in less than two minutes:

    Collaborating with a class website

    With Office 365 for education, you can collaborate from anywhere through SharePoint class websites. Students and teachers can simultaneously work together on the same document and share project and assignment information through their class site.

    This short video describes the whole process in just one and a half minutes:

    The Online Classroom

    Office 365 for education enables teachers to give online presentations so their students can learn from anywhere. These presentations can be interactive with the students and saved for future viewing.

    This short video, the last in a series of four, aims to describe the whole process in less than three minutes:

  • Education

    My current computer–why I've switched to a Samsung slate

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    Each working day I spend between 5 and 8 hours working with my current computer. And it was only last week I realised my setup was quite different to everybody else, as I looked around the meeting table. Almost everybody else was using a laptop, whereas I've made the leap from laptop PC to slate PC permanently. So I thought I'd share it with you:

    My regular computer: Samsung Series 7 slate PC

    Samsung Series 7 slateUp until May I was using an HP laptop – which I was very happy with. Good performance, nice graphics, and plenty of storage etc. And because I thought of myself as a power-user, I didn't think I'd be able to cope with a less powerful computer – and that seemed to include all the early slate PCs, which were good to demo with, but not something I'd considered as my every day PC.

    But then I got my hands on a Samsung Series 7 Slate PC with all the bells and whistles I needed, and I'm running it with the released version of Windows 8. The one I've got (the sexily named XE700T1A-A05AU) has all the key ingredients I wanted:

    • A touch display: You know, I never imagined I'd be making this the No. 1 requirement, but ever since I moved to Windows 8, it's a must have – especially when I'm sitting at home on the sofa, or taking it into meetings
    • A pen: just like touch, it's now a 'must have', as I take it to meetings and use it as a slate, and am using OneNote more and more for notes, as well as using handwriting recognition instead of an on-screen keyboard
    • Plenty of storage: this one's got a 128GB SSD drive
      I've found that for me 100GB is the minimum drive, because I cart a lot of videos and presentations around with me, and whilst I've got them backed up in the cloud, I have that synced to my computer so that I can always get to them when I'm offline.
    • Decent graphics: this one has got onboard Intel graphics which are good enough for me for everything but games.
    • TPM chip: which means my drive is fully encrypted, so that all of the professional and personal data is secure if I lose it or somebody else gets their hand on it
    • Plenty of RAM: this one's got 4GB of RAM, which I'm finding is more than enough with Windows 8
    • A small dock: Whenever I'm standing or sitting at a desk, then I plug it into a dock. Which gives turns it completely into a laptop – with keyboard, mouse, second monitor and wired network connection
    • It's light: weighing in at under a kilogram
    • It's got a SIM slot, for internet on the go: Although I haven't actually used it, as I tend to just use the Internet sharing of my Lumia 800 – it means I use the data included with my normal phone subscription, rather than to have a second mobile subscription for my computer. Which means I'm always using the WiFi connection, whether that's at the office, at home, or out and about.

    Here's my typical desktop setup, with a second monitor plugged into the docking station, and a normal desktop keyboard and mouse. So it means that whenever I'm at my desk, I've got the perfect setup with a big screen, and then I can just grab it from the docking station and walk to a meeting just carrying the PC and a pen, without all the other stuff. So my bag is a lot lighter than it used to be.

    Samsung Series 7 slate in a desktop setup

    With this setup, I've got something that works as a great desktop computer, and then is good for carrying to meetings. And if I'm using it at home in the evenings, then I tend to use it with touch and the new Windows 8 apps (for things like reading Twitter and blogs). The portability is a big bonus in our Sydney offices, where every desk is setup as a hot desk – I can sit at any desk in the building, and there's already a large monitor, keyboard and mouse ready to go.

  • Education

    Windows Intune in education–a step by step guide to implementing Intune

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    A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Windows Intune for education, and the relevance of its new features to education customers. Of course, listing a set of new features with a single bullet point probably isn't enough to help you to understand how those features would actually work in an education network. For example, one of the new features I wrote about was the ability to deploy software applications with Intune - "Software application downloads – to allow you to make internal apps available to your users automatically on their mobile devices". But what does that actually mean you can do?

    If you really want to understand the capabilities, then can I recommend reading the Windows Intune 2012 Getting Started Guide, which has been updated for the June 2012 release.

    In the case of the software downloads I mentioned above, there's a detailed section on what is and isn't possible:

     

    Working with Licensed Software

    Windows Intune enables you to deploy and install licensed software applications to managed computers or make these applications available to selected user groups. In addition, this release of Windows Intune lets you upload licensed software and make it available to selected user groups. After you upload the software and make it available to selected user groups, users to whom the software is targeted can sign in to the Windows Intune company portal or the Windows Intune mobile company portal and view the licensed software applications that you have made available for them. They can then select the software applications that they want to download and install on their devices, and you can track software adoption across your organization. For example, after you make a mobile device application available for employees, you can monitor the number of users to whom the application is targeted, the number of users who attempted to install the application, and view details about each of the users 

     

    And, like other sections, it includes a screenshot of how it looks.

    The sections in the Getting Started Guide include:

    • How to configure your environment
    • How to add computers, users and mobile devices
    • How to assess the health of your IT environment and assist end users

    Learn MoreDownload the Windows Intune Getting Started guide here


    Want more info? There's always the Windows Intune Product Guide, (it's an easier, higher level, read than the Getting Started Guide)
  • Education

    Selling your things to schools–advice on how to get it right in the long-term

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    Doug Woods, an education blogger, trainer and consultant from the UK, recently offered some great advice to ICT companies in his blog post "Selling your things to schools". Although Doug's advice was specifically for the UK, a large portion of it is directly relevant to Australia.

    So here's Doug's top ten bits of advice for selling things to schools, with a bit of light editing and some added thoughts from me in italics:

    1. Make sure your product or service is relevant.
      The main purpose of schools is to educate pupils, so make sure your product is educational or can be used in teaching or learning. There is also a good amount of administration that goes on in schools, you might feel your product or service fits more with this. That’s great but first please make sure that your product doesn’t create more administrative work for staff but fits in with current administrative needs and, ideally, makes the tasks easier.
      Over the years, I've seen so many things that supposedly reduce the workload for teachers – and which never actually mean that a teacher can go home earlier or have less work to do in the evenings. So teachers are understandably dubious of the idea of saving time – and are much more interested in things that help them do more in the same time.
    2. Understand the role of technology in schools.
      Be wary of the belief that the role of computers in schools is to ease the burden of admin for teachers so that they have more time for teaching; this is a lie. At no time have computers resulted in less work for teachers and many teachers are fearful that they create more work.
      This is especially true when there's change – normally there's an increased workload whilst change is happening, so setting expectations about that makes people much happier.
    3. Get to know your customers.
      I would have thought that this would be central for all salesmen but what do I know! You are not really selling to ‘schools’ you are selling to a person, get to know that person and their job. Take the time and effort to listen and understand them an what they are trying to do but, and this has to be a careful balance, do not waste their time.
      I've often found that education customers are really happy to share their knowledge and experience – and there are plenty of opportunities, such as conferences and TeachMeets when you can learn from them.
    4. Build a reputation and a track record.
      If you do not have a track record of supporting and understanding education, how can you expect your customers to take you seriously.
      This is tricky – if you're just starting out in the education market, how do you convince your first customer to buy your product? Often, it means you have to start small and grow – get a few teachers using it for free, or a couple of reference schools – and then use that to build your reputation and references.
    5. Offer something for nothing.
      ‘Education’, unlike other ‘markets’, is not going to use your product or service to help it make money, nor is educational computing about saving money. So there is little financial motive for schools to adopt your ‘thing’. This is perhaps the biggest difference between education and other areas such as business or commerce and it is one which will trip up many companies trying to sell into education. Schools like to try products before they buy them, which is not unreasonable, especially as it is unlikely to be the user or person you sell to who will benefit but, hopefully, the pupils they teach. So always be prepared to offer trial periods and consider the ‘freemium’ models which offer a certain level of functionality at no cost and improved features with a price.
      Doug has hit the nail on the head here – one way to compare the models is to work out what it would cost you to sell to a school – and then compare that to the opportunity that can come from a 'freemium' model, or getting established with a small product which is free, and then when you have a reputation, being able to charge for further products.
    6. Ask yourself who your customers really are.
      Schools are mainly buildings, they don’t buy anything so trying to sell to them is a waste of time. So ask yourself who is your thing for? It could be for teachers, it could be for admin staff or maybe it’s for the pupils. In which case try to tailor your promotional material and your marketing efforts for the right people. Obviously, if your product is for pupils, then schools will not view you favourably if you try to market to them through the school but kids aren’t always at school so try to market to them (or their parents) at home or elsewhere where kids hang out (do they still use that phrase?)
      And remember that the business model for selling to 6,000 school leaders is very different from selling to 60,000 teachers or 600,000 parents or 6,000,000 students. It's not just the size of the sale you make, but also the size of the selling involved.
    7. Don’t Cold Call.
      You can try but, to be honest, it is likely to be a very frustrating experience. Teachers are very busy people and usually haven’t got time to talk to you on the phone. [Principals] and Heads of Departments may have a bit more time for you but first, you’ll have to get through the receptionist, who’s probably been told not to allow any cold callers through! Email may be a bit better but don’t expect a reply immediately! So if you can’t cold call, you have to find other ways to market your products; be imaginative, attend educational events, look to support or sponsor events, maybe arrange your own events (and see 8 below)
      The reality of this is that the most obvious person to sell to – Principal, IT Manager, Head of Maths etc – is also obvious to your competitors, so they'll often be bombarded by all the suppliers, whilst others may get no attention.
    8. Show your face and your logo.
      Get yourself known within education circles, attend education events, network with staff or even try running your own events for education. There really is little to beat networking and getting to know potential customers by face. Don’t always be selling, though, remember you’re there to get to know people and make contacts.
      There are suppliers that pop-up for a few years in education, and then rush off to another market when they see a shinier opportunity. But most schools are in it for the long-haul, and will look for suppliers that they are sure are still going to be interested in them in a few years time.
    9. You do have a website don’t you?
      It is expected that anyone and everyone will have a website nowadays, and a Facebook page and a Titter account. In fact, some people will visit a company’s website for evidence that the company is genuine, is active and for background information. So do make sure your site is up to date and that as much information as a customer may need is available via the site and via your Facebook page and also make sure that you are active on Twitter (e.g. make sure any Twitter enquiries are answered promptly).
      On top of Doug's advice, I'd also recommend checking that your website is up-to-date. You'd be surprised how often I find that the key product that's being sold to schools isn't actually mentioned on a company website!
    10. Hey, where are you going?
      Don’t sell a ‘thing’ then move on with the money in your pocket. Nobody likes this, including schools. Keep promoting your products and services to your new customers, let them know ways of using your thing and the ways other people are using it. Make the school feel valued for having bought into your thing and often they will promote it for you!
      If you want to sell to schools in high volume, based on having a low price, that's fine for a while. But it's not going to keep you in the market forever, because there's always somebody who'll come along at a lower price – and all those price-sensitive customers who've switched to you will just switch to them next. So make sure that you're helping your customers get the most from their investment in your products and services.

    If you're a school reading this list, I'm pretty sure that if your suppliers actually did all the things on the list, that you'd be a pretty happy customer too, happy to use them and happy to recommend them to others!

    Now that I've read it again, and commented on each point, then I realise that I'm going to have to improve my game too!

    For more insightful comment I'd recommend adding Doug Woods' blog to your reading list

     

    Doug Woods blog

  • Education

    5 ideas for using Tags and QR Codes for engaging students

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    The Microsoft Tag team are the people responsible for helping people develop innovative ways of using QR codes to engage consumers, pedestrians students…well, just about anybody with a smartphone. In simple terms, you create your own tag, and then anybody with a smartphone can scan it and be linked to websites, downloads, or other information.

    One of the projects they describe on their Microsoft Tag blog is where the Co-op bookstore and PayPal in Australia have used it to help university students purchase text books, by taking out most of the leg work. Students scan the QR code without having to go into the book shop, and the books are shipped via next day delivery. I'd love this for my kids too, if I could just have a page of QR codes to scan for my children's extensive book list, rather than having to type them all into another website.

    Here's the video of the project (buzzword bonus, the video contains the phrase 'omnichannel retailer'):

    And that got me thinking. What about using some of these QR code ideas to engage students?

    Five ideas for using Tags and QR Codes for engaging students

    1. Embed a QR code in the pavement, to provide directions and information.
      Last week I was lost on the University of Sydney campus. How great would it have been to scan a QR code and get a map along with 'you are here' pointer. Or even a visitors guide. In Lisbon, they are embedding QR codes in the cobbled streets for tourist guides.
    2. Use a QR code to make an art exhibition interactive
      How about letting people take the art from an art show home with them? You could put a QR code below every picture, and link it to a digital scanned copy of each bit of art. And because you can get stats for each code scanned, imagine how motivating it would also be for students to know that people wanted to take their art away with them. This art gallery is using QR codes to link artwork to more detailed background information.
    3. Create a daily treasure hunt with hidden QR codes
      How about having student's spending time looking for the QR code of the day? You could hide it on campus in a different place every day, to encourage students to discover more of the campus. Or even have it on a student's T-shirt, to encourage them to engage with each other more, and make it an ever-moving challenge. Although you may not want to go as far as the This Is Dairy Farming website, which has a QR code on the side of a cow.
    4. Create your own 'frequent flyer' programme
      How about taking an idea from retailers, and letting students scan a code every time they attend an after-school homework club – and giving them rewards or status badges? A bit like the eCoffeeCard we're in our coffee shop at Microsoft (every tenth coffee is free). And imagine the extra insight you could get from knowing which students are attending homework clubs etc, and the frequency – and turning it into a positive game for them, rather than a negative 'taking a register' experience.
    5. Turn your whole campus into a game
      The Rochester Institute of Technology developed a real-world game, Just Press Play, which engages students right across their campus, and has gamified the whole experience to aim towards delivering academic success. They are doing this by identifying the key factors for student engagement across their academic journey, and then building an experience (in this case using an RFID tag) which encourages the students to get involved in all aspects of their university. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce student attrition and increase engagement with both the academic course and the full university campus experience. You can read more about Just Press Play here

    There's lots of other ideas waiting to be found on the Microsoft Tag blog, or just hop over to the Microsoft Tag IdeaBook

    Learn MoreLearn more about Microsoft Tag, and how you can create and use your own

     

    imageHere's my example of a Tag in use – scan the QR code on the right to get a big pile of technical ebooks free. It took me just 2 minutes to create it and add it to this blog post, from the Microsoft Tag Getting Started page. Imagine if instead of technical books, you used this to give your students a big pack of revision guides!

  • Education

    Building education applications for Office, Office 365 for education and SharePoint

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    Apps for Office and SharePoint beta websiteA few weeks ago we made the customer preview available of the new version of Microsoft Office. And one of the many changes that's immediately apparent is the focus that it has on the cloud – and that includes the ability to build cloud applications that integrate with Office, and a marketplace (the Office Store) to make those apps available.

    For education customers and partners, this is good news. Really good news. What it will mean is that customers will be able to add custom applications to their installations of Office or SharePoint easily, without having to do lots of fancy customisations themselves. And create a market for education apps for Office…

    How do Office cloud apps help education?

    I think that over the next few months, building up to release, there are going to be people around the world working away on apps that support specific processes in education – whether it's to handle a process such as submitting information, or lookup information, or publish information. Here are some of the simple ideas that occurred to me within two minutes:

    • Staff Cover booking form – for a school teacher to submit a request to attend a course or other professional development day, and automatically submit it for approval, notify the person that organises lesson cover on approval, and add it automatically to the diary of the teacher, head of department and the substitute teacher.
    • Assignment submitter – automatically saves a read-only version of a student's work into a specific folder for a teacher/lecturer, lets the teacher know that it's been submitted, and updates a tracking list of students
    • Research assistant – that goes to a specific web system for more information on a topic – perhaps one that your institution subscribes to – whilst ignoring others
    • Lesson plan publisher – takes a completed document, saves it in the appropriate format, and publishes it onto a specific library of your school/TAFE/university SharePoint, with appropriate tags so that students and other teachers can easily find it
    • Resource Booker – give you the opportunity to quickly find resources and book them for your lessons, from within your calendar.

    Many of these scenarios are actually possible today already in Office and SharePoint. But the ability to have a simple, single-button way of doing these things through an app would make life much easier for staff, students, and potentially parents (oh, imagine a "permission" app, where all the parent does is read a permission form and click a button to say "Yes", instead of the constant flow of paper that seems to flow between schools and parents and back. Somebody please create one, if only to make my parental life easier!)

    Who is going to create Office cloud apps for education?

    I believe that we'll see three major sources of Office cloud apps for education customers:

    • Companies
      There are plenty of companies that already do equivalents of these Office cloud apps today, and sell them to education customers. But they can be difficult to find and sometimes difficult to configure and install on your SharePoint. With the creation of an Office Store for apps, suddenly it makes it much easier for a company to create an app that adds an educational feature to Office, and is easy to find and distribute.
    • Education users
      I think we'll also see free Office cloud apps developed by keen education users – for example, schools that develop an app that they are happy to share in the marketplace for others to use for free.
    • Individual developers
      Reflecting the way that apps can be developed using standard web technologies - HTML, CSS and Java – it will be possible for an individual developer, or a keen teacher of techie, to develop a useful education app and release it themselves. And it might well become an evening and weekend hobby/job for some people.

    Hopefully, if you're still with me, I've got you interested in the idea – and you want to know where to get more information.

    Building education applications for Office, Office 365 for education and SharePoint

    Rather than repeating details from elsewhere, this is where I'm going to send you over to some other places to get the detailed info. The first starting point is the Apps for Office and SharePoint Blog, which has is publishing increasing amounts of information on how to develop and use these apps.

    I'd recommend starting on these blog posts:

    1. Introducing the new Office cloud app model 
      An overview of how apps are built, and the way that are designed around web standards, security, performance, consistency and flexibility.
    2. Anatomy of apps for Office
      Explains how the apps are basically a web page integrated into Office as custom content
    3. Building apps for SharePoint and Office 365
      A step-by-step guide to create a simple app, and a walk-through of how to actually publish apps
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