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

July, 2013

  • Education

    Using Microsoft translation tools in education


    For years, the challenge of creating and managing translations of content and curriculum has been looked at by people in the academic/tech world as “too hard, I’ll look at it later”. And yet, with $15 billion of revenue for Australian universities and TAFEs coming from international students, perhaps it’s a good time to take a look at a couple of the translation tools that exist in the Microsoft portfolio, to see whether it might help you in creating multi-lingual versions of some of your projects. Some of things that you could consider using the services for include:

    • Publish curriculum materials automatically in multiple languages, or with one-click live translation (link)
    • Creating promotional materials in multiple languages, eg offer your student recruitment pages in the languages of your top 10 international recruitment countries
    • Add a Translator Widget onto every page of your website (link)
    • Allow live chat between students, or between students and staff, in multiple simultaneous languages
    • Build translation directly into apps you develop and release (link)


    Microsoft Translator

    imageWith the proliferation of digital content on the web, mobile devices and desktop applications, there is an increasing demand to communicate and collaborate in multiple languages. Automatic translation enables communication, collaboration and the ability to conduct business across language barriers.

    Microsoft Translator offers automatic, linguistically informed statistical machine translation between any of 39 languages, and has a whole series of interfaces to make it easy for web and software developers to use it.

    The Machine Translation technology behind Microsoft Translator is built on more than a decade of work at Microsoft Research and delivers a flexible, instant and cost-effective automatic translation service to any destination; helping to break the language barrier for businesses, developers and users alike. The rich and accessible translation API empowers application developers and solution providers to deliver the translations services customers require.

    Whether seeking solutions for language detection, translation, speech synthesis, product localization or empowering communities to protect indigenous languages, Microsoft Translator provides the services and solutions to accomplish a variety of translation goals across the web, desktop applications and mobile devices.

    For developers, it offers a rich, flexible and simple to use API for custom applications in web, desktop and mobile applications. And a full translator API available on the cloud-based Windows Azure Markeplace. One simple way to use it is to add a translator widget onto a website, allowing users to translate a web page in situ.

    Learn MoreLearn more about Microsoft Translator

    Microsoft Translator Hub

    Microsoft Translator Hub allows you to build, improve, and deploy customised automatic language translation systems - bringing better and specialised translation quality to established languages, as well as the many native languages of the world that are not yet supported by major translation providers. This is ideal for scenarios where you may have content which uses highly technical language with specific meanings (for example, in the engineering faculty). 

    Built on Windows Azure, Microsoft Translator Hub is an extension of the Microsoft Translator platform and service. You can build a superior translation system easily, within a private website, by combining your translated documents with the power of Microsoft Translator’s big data back end. Once you are satisfied with your translation, you may share it publicly on the web.

    Learn MoreLearn more about the Microsoft Translator Hub

  • Education

    Update 2: Microsoft Surface RT for education in Australia


    There are a few new details to let you know about the Microsoft Surface RT offer for education customers in Australia which we announced nearly a month ago (the offer is for education institutions to be able to order the Microsoft Surface RT from AU$219). In the first update on the Surface education offer, I wrote about ordering processes, apps, offers for other devices from our partners, and some of the details of management of the Surface RT in education situations.

    Surface Education offer closing date extended

    We’ve had plenty of feedback that institutions had found that the original closing date, of 31 August, was too soon for them to complete their procurement processes (some people had to go through an evaluation process before they could add it to their panel of hardware devices), so we have extended the offer closing date to 30 September 2013. (This is hot off the press, so the offer website is just being updated).

    Comparing the Surface RT to the iPad

    My colleagues over in the US released a new TV advert last week, comparing the iPad and the Surface RT. Although it’s for the US market (eg US pricing), it is on YouTube, and because it carries on with the same sense of fun that the previous ads have used, I think it’s worth sharing – and it gives you a quick summary of some of the key differences, that I think are meaningful for education users (eg the USB slot for memory sticks and printers, the in-built stand and keyboard, which are all important for education use)

    If you can't see the video above, you can view it on YouTube here

    imageThe pricing used in the advert (right) is incorrect for Australia, as the pricing it lists is for the US retail market, so the Australian comparison for education would be:

    Surface RT (32GB) – AU$ 219 (or AU$ 279 with the Touch Keyboard Cover) compared to an iPad (32GB) with Retina display for AU$649 (or even an older iPad 2 with only 16GB of RAM for AU$429)

    Meaning that you could have two, and almost three, Surface RT devices for your students for the cost of one iPad.

    Surface for students

    The Surface team in the US have released another video from a college student talking about the way that his Surface RT supports his learning. It’s only a minute and a half long, and worth watching to see a student’s perspective of what drives their device choice.

    If you can’t see the video above, you can view it on YouTube here


    Learn MoreRead the overview of the Microsoft Surface RT offer for education customers in Australia

  • Education

    The new Microsoft Authorised Education Reseller website


    Microsoft AER logoMicrosoft globally sells academic licences for our software and services exclusively through Authorised Education Resellers (AERs). It’s an authorisation programme that ensures that customers are able to get the appropriate advice about the best licensing option for a particular scenario, and ensures that our partners only sell Microsoft Academic licences to the customers who qualify for them (something we call Qualified Educational Users). Over the last few years we’ve been growing the AER programme to be more than just an authorisation programme, so that it supports the changing education business at Microsoft, our partners and our customers.

    As part of this, we’ve just relaunched the AER website, to help our partners receive the readiness, information, training and resources they need to do their jobs in a more professional and knowledgeable way.

    AER website homepage

    The new portal not only has brand new training, including Office 365 and cloud services, to complement traditional licensing and sales training, but it now has a new look and feel to make it easier to find the information that a new or returning partner might require.

    Every Microsoft AER renews their accreditation every year, and that’s just one of the things they can do through the AER website.

    The AER website for education customers

    For our education customers, there’s two key reasons why you might want to use the AER website:

    Find an Authorised Education Reseller

    You can search for an AER on the website easily – via country, state, city/suburb or company name. So you can quickly find a local Microsoft partner who is able to help you buy Microsoft software at academic prices. Note: If you search for a partner in a particular area, it is based on where AER’s offices are listed, so you may not see partners who have national coverage in every search.

    Check if a Microsoft partner is authorised to sell education licences

    If you need to check a partner is correctly authorised to sell Microsoft Academic licences, you can simply pop their name into the ‘Company Name’ box on the AER Search site, and be assured that they are in the list. If a partner doesn’t show up, then you’ll probably want to check more carefully with them before placing an order (for example, perhaps they are in the middle of renewing their authorisation).

    Learn MoreVisit the Microsoft AER website

  • Education

    What does Power BI for Office mean for education customers?


    Over the last year I’ve shared a fair amount of information on the use of business intelligence (BI) in education, with examples of ways that useful information can be unlocked from educational data, as well as looking at the new tools being created to help users get better views of their data. The various Microsoft teams who have been working on BI projects, and our BI partners in Australia, seem to have been moving at breakneck speed on making data more accessible, visual and meaningful to users, and there’s been a special focus everywhere on self-service BI, to help every day users who don’t have the high level skills of traditional data analysts.

    Power BI demonstrations screen, showing the natural language queriesA lot of that work has focused around the traditional Office apps, and that whole story has just come together with the announcement this week of Power BI for Office 365, which adds powerful analysis features on top of Power Pivot and Power View, which were core innovations of the last couple of years. We’ve added Power Query to help users discover, access and combine data sets, and Power Map to help users map visualisations of their data. And packaged it into a powerful Power BI system within Office. And by enabling it within Office 365, it means that the self-service BI capabilities in Excel now add easy ways to host interactive data views and workbooks, so that individual users can access your standard reports and visualisations as well as create their own.

    I think the best way to see what I’m talking about is to watch this video, taken from a keynote during the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference this week, where there is a rapid demonstration that shows the kind of scenarios that are possible.

    I loved the examples that are shown, because I could imagine very similar scenarios in education – the ability to connect internal and external data sets, and highly visual presentations of data, and especially the ability to ask a natural language question to see the answer. Can you imagine if the same level of data was available for your organisation?

    And that’s the question the video left in my head: How many education organisations have the kind of published data sets (internally or externally) that will help them to turn data into information? I’ve historically seen projects that have relied on scooping data up into the equivalent of locked containers – they tend to produce canned reports that project owners think that users want. There’s often less focus on self-service BI projects, where there’s a focus on collecting/publishing data sets for others to use. I wonder if the kinds of possibilities opened by Power BI for Office will change that?

    In the video we can see an example where the query “top rock classics” is automatically translated into a query of “Show rock songs where era is 70s and 80s sorted by weeks on chart”. So we potentially have a system that would allow a user to ask it for “top performing schools in my area”, or “university distance learning courses with the lowest dropout rate”, or “which TAFE course has the highest employability impact”. But do we have the published/unpublished data sources to help us answer those type of question?

    Learn MoreThere’s plenty more about Power BI for Office below:
    - The announcement of Power BI for Office - short and longer version
    - The story of the technology behind Power BI for Office 365
    - Get signed up for the Power BI preview

  • Education

    Microsoft Australia Education Partner of the Year Finalists 2013


    We’ve just announced the finalists for the Microsoft Australia Partner Awards (MAPA) for 2013, with 66 finalists across 22 categories.

    MAPA Education finalists 2013 - logos

    This year’s entries for the Education Partner of the Year were particularly strong, with some fascinating stories of innovations created by our partners to help our education customers get the best value from their technology investments. In the end though, the judging panel had to select a shortlist of three partners as finalists, and they are:

    So congrats to all three partners for making it to the shortlist. The winner will be announced at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference in Cairns on 20-22 August.

  • Education

    What’s at WPC for Education Partners?


    WPC logo

    This weekend hundreds of attendees from around Australia will be flying to Houston to join nearly tens of thousands of Microsoft Partners from around the world at Microsoft’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference. If you are going representing an Australian partner that’s interested in the education marketplace, then you’ll want to check the attached schedule for opportunities to connect with the global Microsoft Education team at WPC, and learn about our strategy for the next year.

    The Education sessions at WPC

    There’s a range of sessions, including:

    • Monday 8th July
      • 3PM
        Education Keynote, with Anthony Salcito
      • 4:30PM
        Devices and Services in Education - Shape the Future and drive Windows 8 and Office 365 sales in the education market
    • Tuesday 9th July
      • 1:30PM
        Increase revenue and share through Big Data and relationship management growth in education
      • 3PM
        Worldwide Public Sector Executive Q& A with partners plus >20 roundtable discussions with experts
        This session will include 5 specialist roundtables hosted by members of the Microsoft global Education team, each taking a deeper dive into a specific education technology topic for partners.
    • Wednesday 10th July
      • 2:30PM
        Expand your business – add education to your portfolio
      • 4PM
        How to build great apps that make money in education

    Make a dateDownload the WPC 2013 additional schedule for Education and Public Sector partners

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