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January, 2014 - Education - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The Australian Education Blog
Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

January, 2014

  • Education

    Using CRM to manage student lifecycles

    • 1 Comments

    We’re just about to enter a new academic year, with just over half a million Australian students just about to start their first year at university. They’ve gone through (or are still going through) a process to select their course and university, and to enrol and be ready for next month’s O weeks.

    Here’s another way to describe this: 38 organisations are just about to get 25% more customers for their services, having lost 25% at the end of last year. In fact, if we take student attrition into account, then it’s actually a lot higher than 25%, but for this I’m assuming that students stay for four years on average. This is why so many people are talking about student lifecycle management, in the same way that business talk about customer lifecycles.

    In exploring what good practice in student lifecycle management looks like, I’ve come across a video case study on the global Microsoft case studies website about the University of Washington the way that they are using CRM to manage student lifecycles. As the case studies says:

     

    From the time prospective students show interest in a Continuing Education program at the University of Washington to the time they decide to enrol is typically 6 to 18 months. The university needed a way to track interactions with students from the earliest stage. Clark C. Westmoreland, Assistant Vice Provost of Professional and Continuing Education at the University of Washington, explains:

    "We were dropping a catalogue on their doorstep once a year with the hopes they would enroll."

    After implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the university can profile students' informational needs, deliver what they're interested in, maintain an ongoing relationship with them, and ultimately track student outcomes through graduation and beyond.

     

    What they are doing is important because they are managing the student lifecycle from the initial stage of interest right through beyond graduation. We have Australian universities using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM system for the same student lifecycle management process, but unfortunately we’ve not published any case studies yet. So in the meantime, can I recommend watching the University of Washington case study video below.

    Learn MoreWatch the video case study of UW Student Lifecycle Management on Microsoft.com

  • Education

    What does my list of top 10 Education blog posts of 2013 tell me?

    • 1 Comments

    I’ve just finished looking at the statistics for this blog to compile a summary of the top Education blog posts you read during 2013, and thought it might be useful for people if I shared it. And then, at risk of making this a little ‘inside baseball’, I wanted to share what I learnt from the list!

    Here’s the list of the top 10 Education blog posts from 2013

    1. Windows 8 Education Apps (2013)
    2. The 5 factors which affect school performance (2011)
    3. Australia Windows Surface RT offer for education (2013)
    4. Can your SharePoint become your Learning Management System? (2012)
    5. Ten of the best SharePoint university websites (2011)
    6. Ten of the best SharePoint school websites (2011)
    7. Is there academic pricing for Windows Azure? No, but there’s something better…free Azure (2013)
    8. Photo Story 3: Free software for teachers (2012)
    9. Connecting Skydrive with Office 365 for education (2012)
    10. Why Moodle is better on SharePoint (2011)

    So what have I learnt from the list?

    1. The top blog page, on Windows 8 Education Apps, had more than twice the readership of the second most popular – so there’s clearly outstanding interest in finding Windows 8 apps for Education!
    2. There’s a lot of interest in using SharePoint across education – from building school/university websites, to hosting learning management systems, and integrating between SharePoint and other systems
    3. Old blog posts are just as relevant as new ones – there’s a pretty good spread of blog articles written in 2011, 2012 and 2013 in the list.

    Any tips for bloggers to get their content read?

    And, if you’re interested in blogging and online writing yourself, then here’s some tips I’ve learnt from reviewing this top 10 list which might help you in your own blogging…

    1. Using the word ‘free’ still gets interest Smile
    2. Lists get read and shared  (The 5 factors…, Ten of the best… etc)
    3. Using plain English phrases (that people search on) in my writing pays off.
      For example, if you look at many of my blog posts, you’ll see that I try to use phrases that people might type into a search engine (and I’ll use them in the title, the main text, and often in a headline). I know that pays off in more people arriving at those blog posts through search engines, and I also see it in the way some of those blog posts make it to the top search result on Google and Bing.
      A really specific example: there are probably thousands of web pages which discuss the factors which affect school performance, but few of them actually use the words ‘factors which affect school performance’, so my blog post about it ends up on the top of the search engine results (see this link)
      Overall, 60% of the of readers of my blog articles come from search engines, which is very high compared to other websites. I guess that validates the approach.
  • Education

    Lock a Windows 8 computer to one app for controlled assessments or information screens

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    Do you ever need to be able to limit users to a single application reliably and securely? Or you have a display computer which you want to limit to a single application (eg an information booth PC)? One of the features of Windows 8 that will be useful for education customers is Kiosk, or Assigned Access, mode.

    In education, two typical examples would be to lock a computer to a single application:

    • During a controlled assessment, run an assessment app, and stop students using other applications, or going off to Internet websites to look up answers.
    • Setup an information screen in reception/elsewhere, locked to a institution information app, an interactive campus map, or timetable app

    To setup a Windows 8 computer in Assigned Access mode, what you do is setup a dedicated user profile, login and install the app, change the user settings to ‘Assigned Access’, and then choose the app they can run. Then, whenever the machine is logged in with that user, it will go straight into the app – with no option to run anything else. If you’re running an information kiosk, it’s the same idea, with the machine always logged in.

    I want to setup a Windows 8 computer locked to an assessment app

    imageLet’s say I want to run the SolveIT app (see the screenshot on the right), which tests students’ 21st Century skills, such as their ability to problem solve using communication and collaboration with other users.

    The SolveIT app provides a mechanism for students to communicate and chat within the test, and is able to use the logs from the conversation to assess the students’ collaboration level. So we don’t want to allow students to have a separate IM conversation in Lync, because the app won’t assess it. So we’ll want to lock them to only running SolveIT. (For more on SolveIT, see Janison’s blog post)

    Steps to setup a Windows 8 computer locked to a single app

    My colleagues in Canada have documented the twelve step process to setup Assigned Access mode, and they are fairly straightforward. For the full instructions, take a look at their blog post below

    Learn MoreRead the instructions to setup Assigned Access mode

  • Education

    Is School Writing the best Windows 8 education app?

    • 1 Comments

    Demografix is a Queensland-based education software developer producing great apps for schools and students – and they have just produced a Windows 8.1 version of their best-selling School Writing app. And working with them has been fascinating, as they have found extra capabilities in Windows 8 that allowed them to add features on top of the iPad version. And I’ve also learnt that they have to create 28 different plain and cursive school fonts because different countries (and, in Australian, different states!) teach their children to handwrite differently*.

    School Writing for Windows 8 - screenshot

    The Windows 8 version has been designed to work with either touch screens, or with devices with a stylus (yep, that radical idea of teaching students to write letters by holding a pen rather than just tracing on screen with their finger).

    And in even better news, Australian education institutions can get the Windows 8.1 version for free through using a special code in the software. The trial version allows you to test the app using a few letters (abc), numbers (123), one Words and one Whiteboard lesson. If you are School, TAFE or Uni and you want the app for free, then download the Trial version and enter your education email into the app for a free redeem code to be emailed to you. Saving $7.99 a student/user…

    So at a great price of ‘free’, with full pen support, it’s certainly got to be a nominee for the best Windows 8 education app so far…

     

    School Writing for Windows 8.1

    A learn to write app, containing the approved handwriting fonts that are taught in your school.

    School Writing includes 28 individual plain and cursive letters for use in each Australian state - NSW, QLD, SA, VIC & TAS -  New Zealand, South Africa, UK. The app also features Zaner-Bloser and D'Nealian styles used for learning handwriting in American schools.

    Using this app, students are able to intuitively trace pre-handwriting shapes, uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, words or whiteboard images. School Writing enables hearing and seeing the letters, words and numbers along with customisable associated images and sounds. School Writing allows a student to easily and quickly respond to the lessons by means of written and/or audio recordings.

    With the option of tracing accuracy turned on, students are being rewarded with a star depending on their level of accuracy. They are given three attempts before proceeding with learning of next letter or number.

    The teacher tracing feature enables audio recording for the letter sounds, changing the letter images and recording tracing instructions or individual letter phonetics.

    The ‘Whiteboard’ section allows a teacher to draw or import images along with unique audio instructions for the purposes of tracing or interaction. Students can trace and record the audio answers.

    The app enables creation, saving and sharing your own word lessons, profiles and customisations to suit your curriculum, while providing complete control over the lessons' management, the app and the student profiles.

    • A choice of 28 US, UK, South Africa, New Zealand or Australia approved plain and cursive school fonts.
    • A choice of 5 types of lined guidelines or no guidelines.
    • A choice of 3 tracing tactics – connecting the dots, tracing over the letter/number or tracing within the outlines with the starting points and visible numbered sequence of strokes.
    • A choice of 4 levels of colored pencil's thickness, which is usable for drawing and coloring.
    • Customise the default sounds allowing the students to listen the pronunciation and the phonetic sounds that you teach.
    • Customise the default images. Students can find their own images as an assignment itself.
    • Customised the teacher's tracing. This allows the teacher to change the sequence of strokes to suit your students’ needs.
    • Replaying feature of the student’s last trace to check that proper stroke sequence.
    • A ‘Reset’ counter which allows permanent recording of the number of times each letter and number has been traced.
    • Creation and management of the multiple profiles for all the students in a class with the ability to see the exact number of the lessons being completed by each student.
    • Automatic (optional) emailing of students’ work to the teacher once the work has been completed.
     

    There are three versions of School Writing in the Windows Store (each with the correct fonts for the country):

    School Writing for Windows 8.1 for Australia/New Zealand

    School Writing for Windows 8.1 for the UK

    School Writing for Windows 8.1 for the USA

    * Yep, that’s right. Although there’s a national education system, it seems that it’s necessary to teach children in each state to handwrite differently. So go to Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia and New South Wales, and you’ll be taught to write your beginners, and then your cursive, fonts differently. No wonder it’s so stressful bringing in an Australian National Curriculum…

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