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May, 2013 - Education - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The Australian Education Blog
Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

May, 2013

  • Education

    Is there academic pricing for Windows Azure? No, but there's something better…free Azure



    For many of our products and services, there's special education pricing – these typically give education customers up to an 80% discount on normal prices, or even go so far as providing some services (like Office 365) free for education customers.

    It doesn't apply to Windows Azure, as there isn't a specific Windows Azure Academic licensing price list. The basic Azure service is pretty low-cost already (renting a virtual machine on Windows Azure costs $2c an hour!), and some parts of the service are free to everybody – for example, with Windows Azure Web Sites you can run 10 basic websites for nothing in the cloud.

    So when you're looking to move some of your IT to the cloud – for example, to host a learning management system like Moodle on Windows Azure – you would just use our standard Windows Azure pricing.

    What could be better than Windows Azure academic pricing?

    So if there isn't special academic pricing for Windows Azure, why did I say that there's "something better"?

    Well, it turns out that if you want to use Windows Azure for teaching purposes, you can apply for a "Windows Azure Educator Grant", which will give you a 12 month free subscription to Windows Azure for faculty, and a 6 month free subscription for your students!

      Grant applications are designated for faculty who are teaching Windows Azure in their curricula as well as faculty preparing to integrate Windows Azure into their curricula. Educator Grant awards are subject to demand and availability.  Educators will receive a special 12-month pass for their exclusive use, and may request 6-month non-renewable passes for distribution to their students.  Each pass is valid from the date of redemption. Educators may apply for passes for each of the courses they are teaching, and may only distribute these passes to students registered as part of their educational institution.  

    What does the free Windows Azure Educators Grant include?

    There's a ton of different services and resources included within the free subscription for both staff and students, including:

    • 2 small compute instances for Cloud Services or Virtual Machines
    • 10 Shared Web Sites
    • 10 Shared Mobile Services
    • 35GB of Azure storage
    • 50,000,000 storage transactions
    • 750 Service Bus Relay Hours
    • Two 1GB SQL Web Edition databases
    • 8GB of data transfers in and out

    Azure was expanded last month, when we announced the availability of Windows Azure Infrastructure Services.  This new service now makes it possible for you to move whole applications into the cloud, and puts us in the position of being the only global cloud provider with fully supported infrastructure and platform service offerings.

    How to apply for the Windows Azure Educators grant

    To get more information, and apply for a Windows Azure Educator Grant go to the Windows Azure Educators site. After receiving your application and verification of your faculty status, we will send you a grant letter to sign and send back to us to get passcodes for your Azure accounts. Neither you nor your students will pay for access to Windows Azure. Accounts are valid for 12 months for faculty and 6 months for students and can be extended if needed.

    Learn MoreFind out more on the Windows Azure Educators site

    To help you get started with Windows Azure in the classroom, there are plenty of resources, and course and lab material, at Windows Azure Resource Kit and on Faculty Connection Web Site. It includes an Introduction to Cloud Computing, Software & Tools and Course 50466B: Windows Azure Solutions with Microsoft Visual Studio 2010.

  • Education

    Business Intelligence in schools - Dashboards in SharePoint 2013


    Rod Colledge, is a Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP) for SQL Server, and an expert on the technology side of the use of Business Intelligence in education in Australia. For a living, he helps Microsoft customers with their own business intelligence projects, through his business at StrataDB. But in his role as a Microsoft MVP one of the things that he’s been able to do is record a series of short videos of examples of using business intelligence in education, to show some of the simple things that are useful for school leaders and teachers.

    Today’s video is a demonstration of using SharePoint 2013 dashboards, for an education BI project - in this case creating a NAPLAN summary dashboard for a school. Once the report is created, it becomes a dynamic, clickable report that users can use to break down their own views of the data.

    The demo is using a dummy dataset in dashboard designer, using SharePoint 2013 and PerformancePoint

    If you’d like to know more about Rod and his projects, you can find out more on the StrataDB website or email Rod directly

  • Education

    What does a CIO in education make of Surface Pro?


    The Surface Pro hits the shops in Australia tomorrow, 30 May, for the first time. The Surface Pro is the version of Surface that gives you a full PC as well as a touch-tablet. Which means that for teachers and students, they can run all of their existing Windows software, and use their curriculum resources that are based around that – as well as the new touch-based apps for Windows 8.

    But the Surface Pro has already been available in North America for a while, so there are plenty of reviews that you can look at for opinions. One that’s particularly interesting for education customers is the ‘CIO Road Test’, written by Kevin Pashuk, the CIO of Appleby College in Canada. As he says in his introduction:

      As someone charged with identifying future technology trends that may impact education in particular and IT in general, I find it valuable to actually get my (or my team's) hands on a particular piece of technology rather than just read about it in an article.  

    One of his early observations is that he often finds that people end up carrying three devices – a laptop for working, a tablet (like an iPad or Android) for browsing and quick reference, and their phone. So he set out to see whether he could use a Surface Pro to reduce the need for so many devices – and that’s exactly what he found.

    As a slate user myself (I’m a fan of my old Samsung Series 7 slate) I’ve found the breakthrough is having a touch device when I’m out and about, and then a mouse-and-keyboard experience when I’m in the office, connected up to external screens etc.

    Learn MoreRead the full review from Kevin Pashuk on CRN

  • Education

    Education is still Australia’s biggest services export


    According to the latest data on international trade from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, education services are still Australia’s largest services export, with a $15bn revenue in 2012. Whilst this is $3bn ahead of the next largest export (personal travel services), it’s still a big drop from the $17.6bn high of 2009. In fact, it’s the third year of falling revenue from international students.

    Which means that Australian universities and TAFEs are still losing their highest value customers (an international student pays fees up to 5x the level of local students). Universities account for 75% of the revenue, with TAFEs taking 20% and schools accounting for the remainder. This is all neatly summarised in the one-pager from Australian Education International “Export income to Australia from international education activity in 2012”.

    But it was only when I charted the detailed data from the ABS on Table 11.1 that I saw the deeper picture – that the biggest drop has been in vocational training, where there’s been a drop of nearly 50% over the last three years. Higher Education has seen a decline of nearly $0.5bn since the peak of 2010, but that’s less than 5% of their total. Whereas TAFE has lost over $2bn, 43% of their revenue since the peak of 2009.


    And although they don’t appear to break out the data by country and sector, India is the place where we’ve lost most students, with an almost 60% drop in revenue from Indian students since 2009 (from Table 9.4) – which is presumably mainly TAFE students.

    International Education Revenue by Country
























    Republic of Korea






    I’ve now got a better understanding of some more of the reasons why TAFEs have been talking with us about student recruitment, student retention and business development systems – all areas addressed by CRM in education

  • Education

    Business Intelligence in schools–PowerPivot and PowerView in Excel 2010/2013


    Rod Colledge, is a Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP) for SQL Server, and an expert on the technology side of the use of Business Intelligence in education in Australia. For a living, he helps Microsoft customers with their own business intelligence projects, through his business at StrataDB. But in his role as a Microsoft MVP one of the things that he’s been able to do is record a series of short videos of examples of using business intelligence in education, to show some of the simple things that are useful for school leaders and teachers.

    Today’s video is in two parts:

    • The first part shows you how you can take a complex data set, containing both central data and a user's own data - in this case, a spreadsheet of their own data.
    • The second part shows you how users can visualise it together in a number of different ways.

    Part One – Creating and connecting the education data sources in PowerPivot

    Part Two – Reporting education data using PowerView


    If you’d like to know more about Rod and his projects, you can find out more on the StrataDB website or email Rod directly

  • Education

    The newest Windows 8 TV advert from the US


    This Windows 8 advert has just started running in the US. And it’s accompanied by an iPad versus Windows 8 tablets comparison website that allows you to compare the various Windows 8 tablets side-by-side with iPads. It’s not specific to education (and the prices are based on US retail prices), but I think it’s worth sharing, and might bring a smile to your Friday Smile

    Learn MoreFind out more about Windows 8 in education

  • Education

    How education partners can make the most of the 2013 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference


    Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2013

    The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2013, is in Houston from 7-11 July. It's a global event that gets over 16,000 attendees from 160+ countries, and there'll be a large contingent as usual travelling from Australia. (Registration info for WPC is here)

    If you're a Microsoft partner who works in the Education market and you're planning to be there, then you'll be happy to learn that within the agenda there are a series of sessions specifically for education partners. It means that as well as getting up-to-speed with the Microsoft technology and business strategy, there is an opportunity to understand our product and strategy focus in the education marketplace. This is key for you if you are looking to develop your education businesses to better serve the needs of the different segments of education – schools, TAFEs and universities – and if you want to understand where Microsoft's strategy will support your business plans.

    As Anthony Salcito, the Microsoft Vice President for Worldwide Education, puts it:


    With a cavalcade of new product releases, FY13 was a huge year for Microsoft and our partners - and we expect FY14 will offer even more opportunities for our partners to grow their businesses as these platforms continue to be adopted by our customers. We've had many important strategic wins with Windows 8, our OEM partners have hit the market with more than 120 Windows 8 devices, Surface is having an impact, and Office 365 for Education is growing so much faster than expected that we increased our targets by 1,000%.

    My team and I are excited to share with you strategies for success and why Education is one of the fastest growing and most important business segments at Microsoft.


    Global Education Partner Summit at Microsoft WPC 2013


    On Sunday 7 July before the main WPC kicks off with the Welcome Reception at 4PM, there is an afternoon dedicated to the Education Partner community, called GEPS@WPC (shorthand for the "Global Education Partner Summit @ Worldwide Partner Summit"). GEPS@WPC is our annual gathering of top global Education Partners.  This year more than ever you won't want to miss this event as we'll discuss the amazing opportunities the launch of Windows 8, Office 365 for Education, and the rest of the new lineup of innovative Microsoft products, is presenting to existing and new education partners.

      GEPS@WPC 2013 will be highly interactive with Partners and their needs at the centre.  It will feature both Microsoft and industry executive guest speakers addressing Microsoft's latest technologies with a look forward at the trends shaping the Education industry and their impact on our partners' business.  You'll have the opportunity to network and interact with other Microsoft Partners and Microsoft senior executives who are driving our efforts in Education.  

    Make a dateThe full agenda is on the GEPS@WPC website.
    Education partners attending WPC can register for the additional free GEPS@WPC day



    Education sessions during main WPC conference

    There are a number of education sessions as part of the main WPC conference agenda too, that sit alongside other breakout sessions (the way that WPC works is that there are big keynotes for all 16,000 attendees, then a choice of smaller breakouts for partners to choose between). These are:

    Education keynote address: Microsoft’s vision and strategy drive partner success in education

    Maximise your revenue potential by leveraging Microsoft’s big investments in the education market. Big Data, social, cloud, and mobility are key trends in the education market. In this session you can learn about Microsoft’s strategy and priorities for driving adoption and usage of the Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft Office 365 for Education, customer relationship management (CRM), and Microsoft SQL Server through investments in Partners in Learning, Shape the Future, and other sales programs that help our partner ecosystem grow.

    Devices and services in education; Shape the Future! and drive Windows 8 and Office 365 sales in the global education market

    This session will delve into Microsoft education programs and strategies for driving adoption of the Windows 8 operating system and Microsoft Office 365. Microsoft and its partners have built a pipeline with more than 100 million devices and more than 100 million Office 365 for Education assigned IDs through the Shape the Future program. This session will describe how you can leverage this progress to increase your revenue.

    How to build great apps that make money in education

    This session will explore the explosion in app adoption in education, and will share strategies for building great apps. You will also get tips for marketing and making money with apps for the Windows 8 operating system, for Microsoft Office, and for Microsoft SharePoint in education.

    Increase revenue and share through Big Data and relationship management growth in education

    This session will look at Big Data and analytics, combined with relationship management, in the fast-growing education industry. Understand how you can build and deploy solutions by using key platforms like Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft SQL Server, and help education customers make sense of Big Data and unlock the potential of personalised learning.

    All of these sessions can be seen on the session catalogue for WPC, alongside the main agenda 

    imageFor more information on the 2013 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, jump across to the WPC website.

  • Education

    Why are Lync and Skype joined together?


    imageWe’ve just announced that Lync and Skype can be joined together:

      • Join – often called ‘federation’, it allows the two different systems to talk to each other, so that somebody on Skype can chat with somebody on Lync & vice versa
      • Lync – Microsoft’s service for unified communications for businesses – instant messaging, video calling, voice calls, conference calls, remote screen sharing, presenting etc
      • Skype – Microsoft’s service for unified communications for consumers – instant messaging, video calling, voice calls, conference calls etc

    In the words of the Skype blog, it’s about ‘Connecting the Living Room to the Board Room’, but in education I see it as a way of connecting the student’s home life to their institutional one. This is because most students are using Skype at home for making and receiving voice and video calls, and instant messages. And then within the institution (school, TAFE, university) it’s most likely that you’ll be using an ‘enterprise grade’* system like Lync for the same job.

    Typical education scenarios using Lync and Skype joined together

    The way that we’ve joined Lync and Skype together means that you can now use the two systems together to let people talk more easily. For example:

    • You could allow students stuck on a homework assignment to fire up their Skype to IM chat to a support teacher on Lync – and your Lync system will record the whole conversation for you (whereas if they do it on Skype alone, you’ve got a completely ‘off the record’ system)
    • Parents or students could use it to ‘phone’ school without paying for a call. That would be handy for something like absence reporting (how about parents reporting their child is sick by IM’ing the office?)
    • You could even extend the ability to have an informal teacher:parent meeting through Lync, when parents (and students?) are at home on Skype (and when video calling comes along, that becomes even more useful)
    • How about letting prospective students chat with your university/TAFE Admissions Office on Skype? With international students, you might potentially be saving them significant cost, as well as improving the service you offer them.

    The connectivity we’ve announced so far allows you to have instant messenger and voice chats between the two systems, and the next priority is video calling (think of the positive possibilities with that).

    Learn MoreHere's more details about the Skype to Lync connection

    And here’s more details about the settings you’ll need to set in your Lync system
    If you’re using Office 365 for Education, it’s simply one tickbox in the admin page


    * What do I mean by ‘enterprise grade’: In your institution systems, you want to be able to track all of your conversations, and keep archives of things like instant messenger chats. You’ll also want to be able to link your voice communications through your existing organisational systems (eg your existing switchboard phone numbers). And you’ll need to be able to manage the whole thing centrally – like adding, suspending and deleting users. And finally, you’ll want to integrate to your other systems, like email, CRM and collaboration services.
    That’s what Lync allows you to do – manage the whole experience end-to-end, in the same way that you manage the rest of your IT and telecoms.

  • Education

    Business Intelligence in schools - mapping data with Report Builder


    Rod Colledge, is a Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP) for SQL Server, and an expert on the technology side of the use of Business Intelligence in education in Australia. For a living, he helps Microsoft customers with their own business intelligence projects, through his business at StrataDB. But in his role as a Microsoft MVP one of the things that he’s been able to do is record a series of short videos of examples of using business intelligence in education, to show some of the simple things that are useful for school leaders and teachers.

    Today’s video is a short demonstration of using geospatial visualisation, using a demonstration education data set. It's a simple example of how you can take a complex data set and visualise it a number of different ways.

    The demo is using a dummy dataset and was built in Report Builder in MS SQL Server 2012

    If you’d like to know more about Rod and his projects, you can find out more on the StrataDB website or email Rod directly

  • Education

    Stories of Windows 8 early adopters in education


    There are plenty of examples of education customers who have made the switch to Windows 8, putting new touch devices into the hands of students to allow them to get the benefit of three different worlds in one device:

    • the ability to run software from previous versions of Windows (so that there's no need to rewrite curriculum resources or redesign courses for students);
    • the seamless connection to the new cloud services that are being delivered (for example, for the syncing of Office 365 documents across the cloud and back to the device for offline use)
    • the new world of touch apps that can deliver a different curriculum experience for students and teachers alike

    It's described pretty well by this slide below, that one of my colleagues uses. It shows that it's not about having an 'either/or' choice, but the ability to have both sides of the equation.

    Windows 8 for students - about not making a compromise

    Over the last few months, there have been a number of case studies and stories appearing of educational customers who have made big bets on Windows 8 devices around the world. Some of the examples are:

    • The State of Maine, which is rolling out HP ProBooks running Windows 8 to every Year 7 and 8 child across the state. The Governor of Maine explained why in the announcement:
      "It is important that our students are using technology that they will see and use in the workplace. This is the lowest-priced proposal, and the laptops use an operating system that is commonly used in the workplace in Maine. These laptops will provide students with the opportunity to enhance their learning and give them experience on the same technology and software they will see in their future careers"
    • Seton Hall University, which chose to give all incoming students and returning juniors a Samsung Windows 8 tablet, along with a Nokia Windows Phone. They had piloted iPads and Android devices, but chose Windows 8 for a number of reasons, including students wanting Office, and the need for the IT department to have devices that were manageable and secure.
    • West Suffolk College have rolled out Microsoft Surface tablets to their administration staff, to reduce the amount of paperwork being used, and ensuring that staff could continue to use their existing Word, Excel and OneNote files.
    • South Illinois University are going to hand Dell Windows 8 tablets to their new students as part of a project, called Mobile Dawg, to modernise interactions on and off their campus – from digital textbooks, to student self service systems, and into their Desire2Learn Learning Management System.

    Sadly, none of the examples above is from Australia. I know that there are schools who have rolled out Windows 8 touch devices to their students, but at the moment I don't have their permission to write about them.

    So here's a plea – if you're in an educational establishment in Australia, and you'd be happy to have a chat with me about your Windows 8 story, then drop me an email and let's see if we can share your story here too.

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