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Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

  • Education

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

    • 3 Comments

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

    Here’s my simple scenario:

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

    image[8]

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

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

  • Education

    Ten of the best - Australian education websites built on SharePoint

    • 3 Comments

    Following on from my previous blog posts, ‘Ten of the best SharePoint School websites’ and ‘Ten of the best SharePoint University websites’, then it’s time to get closer to home with Ten of the best Australian school websites built on SharePoint (or best TAFE websites or best University websites).

    The reason I’m focusing on ‘built on SharePoint’ is because most Australian education institutions have SharePoint, and have it integrated into their identity management system and their security model. So extending that same system to run your public-facing website means that you can easily create a website that allows students to access their course materials from home, and staff to be able to use the document storage and workflow, without having to setup yet-another login or user list on yet-another system. Anyway, back to the best school websites list…

    I’ve had help from colleagues tracking some of these down, and recommendations from customers and partners. But ultimately I take total responsibility for the completely subjective Top Ten list and their rankings!

    So here’s my top ten of the best education websites built on SharePoint in Australia

    It’s my take on 10 School/TAFE/University websites, built on SharePoint, that are worth looking at for design ideas and inspiration for functional ideas - or simply because you want to nudge another colleague towards seeing that SharePoint can deliver a beautiful experience for staff, students and prospective students.

    Click on any of them to link to the live website

    1. Gordon Institute of TAFE, Victoria

      This was easy for me to pick as Australia’s best education website built on SharePoint. I’m sure this website must inspire potential students - it gives off the impression of a vibrant learning community, with a fun attitude to the serious subject of learning. And the design makes it easier to navigate to the key information - and encourages you to explore more.

       Gordon Institute of TAFE

    2. Victoria Department of Education - FUSE

      An amazing interactive experience which puts access to learning materials right at the front of the site. And let’s be honest, it breaks the mould for ‘policy-type’ websites, because it’s putting the ‘fun’ into ‘functional’.

      Victoria Department of Education - FUSE

    3. Abbotsleigh School, New South Wales

      You can tell from the very first page that this is a school that takes learning seriously - and the strong photography shows how it puts students at the centre of the experience. With many private and Catholic schools, you can see the increased importance of needing to ‘sell’ the school to prospective students and parents, as well as keeping in touch with the parents of existing students.

      Abbotsleigh School

    4. Trinity Grammar School, New South Wales

      Another design-centric site, but with a clear navigation structure that means students & parents can easily find the section that’s relevant for them. (Pipped by Abbotsleigh for #3 position because it didn’t have Search on the home page)

      Trinity Grammar School

    5. The Learning Place, Queensland

      Another government site, which are often some of the trickiest to design and run, because they are trying to meet the needs of so many stakeholders. Although the SharePoint portion of the website sits behind the login screens, there’s an excellent video here that shows what Stage 2 is delivering.

      The Learning Place

    6. Brisbane Catholic Education, Queensland

      Although this doesn’t have the high graphic design of some of the previous sites, the navigation here is clear - with the tabs at the top helping users find their way quickly to the section that is right for them - students & parents; schools & curriculum; employment etc.

      Brisbane Catholic Education

    7. Bendigo Tafe, Victoria

      Another great TAFE site in Victoria (is there a secret recipe they have there?). I particularly liked the 3D box design, which was very simply to create, and added to, rather than confused, the navigation.

      Bendigo Tafe, Victoria

    8. John Paul College, Queensland

      A nice looking site that crams a lot of information onto the home page - but without making it too busy. A slow rotation of the main picture adds interest, but without detracting from the content and links.

      John Paul College, Queensland

    9. Hale School, Western Australia

      A slightly more traditional design, which puts details on the front page, rather than just short links. As with the others, it’s often the photography that makes the first impression.

      Hale School, Western Australia

    10. Australian School of Business, New South Wales

      Okay, this may be 10th out of my list of 10 - but there’s hundreds of sites that didn’t make it to the Top Ten, so it’s still good going. I like the way this page is easy to read, and has all the vital components - news, events and search - right there.
      What would have given it a higher rating? Less ‘stock’ images and more good photos from the School of Business itself would have helped me, as a parent, to imagine my daughter going to study there.


      Australian School of Business, New South Wales

    Learn MoreDownload the PowerPoint Top 10 Australian Education websites on SharePoint

  • Education

    How many ways can you use SharePoint in education?

    • 3 Comments
    Alex Pearce, is a SharePoint Most Valuable Professional (MVP) in the UK who works with education customers, and writes extensively about SharePoint in Education on his blog at BFC Networks. In this guest blog post, Alex gives some thoughts on the many ways SharePoint can make for productive learning in the classroom:
     

    There are many ways to get SharePoint 2010 in your school, whether you’re using it as part of a package from a supplier, using a hosting company to host your own SharePoint or using your EES licence to host your SharePoint internally.

    All of the successful SharePoint implementations I have seen are those that have integrated SharePoint into their daily school lives and don’t use it as just another web page that student and teachers use if they want to. There are loads of great examples of how schools use SharePoint in their school and have a 100% adoption rate but how can this be done for your environment?

    I often talk to different schools about this very subject and I split the conversation into three different sections - management, learning and social. These three can be tackled by the school one at a time or all at the same time, but each of these can help you integrate SharePoint into your school.

    Whether you are looking at going with a third party hosting solution or building your own SharePoint, consider the following and ensure you can achieve these with the solution being provided.

    Management

    Any process in your school, whether it’s the approval of staff external training, hiring of equipment from IT or keeping the staff calendar up to date it, has a process from the request to information staff of the change/approval. SharePoint can help in any of these and any other process that comes to mind. Let’s take a look at how two of these processes can be used within in SharePoint.

    • Example - A member of staff requested some Maths training
      Navigate to the CPD site on their SharePoint and click on ‘’new request’’ which opens up Microsoft Word. They fill in the request and click ‘’save’’ which saves the document back to the CPD site. In the background, SharePoint is doing its thing and has emailed a copy of CPD Request to your manager for approval. They then open their email and get a link to the document which opens up in Internet Explorer using Office Web Applications and shows them the request you have made. They are happy and so they click ‘’approve’’ in SharePoint. This sends off the email to the finance department letting them know to send a purchase order to the training provider. During this time, two other emails have also been sent, letting the Timetable Manager know that you will not be in school on that training day and therefore need to arrange cover. The other email is to let you know that your course has been approved and you can attend.

        • Example - You want to borrow some digital cameras from the ICT Support department
          Navigate to the SharePoint page they have setup. You click on ‘’digital cameras’’ which loads a page that looks similar to your Outlook calendar and look for you the time you want. You can see that another member of staff has them already booked at that time, so you decide to use them the next lesson. You have to fill out an online form that includes the date and time and the room you require them in. When you have submitted the request, an email is sent to the ICT support team who approve the request. The day arrives for you to use the cameras but you are worried you don’t know how to use them. Help is at hand. Go to the same SharePoint page the ICT Support department use to book the cameras, see that they are still booked and there is a help wiki that’s been setup on the cameras which shows you everything you need to know.

        imageLearning

        Pupils are given out worksheets all the time in class which, 9 times out of 10, are generated in Word or printed off the internet. Why give them something that can be lost, screwed up in the bottom of the bag or used as an excuse for not doing their homework?
        SharePoint is a great tool for document storage and management. You can store any type of document and even edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in your Internet browser without having to have these installed on your computer or smart phone.

        Documents can be tagged allowing you to easily find content with a same relevant name. As the English teacher, you can upload content for your Romeo and Juliet topic and tag all the documents with Romeo and Juliet included. With the right setup, it will automatically tag the documents with English and Shakespeare.

        Social

        There is always an interesting question about where to use social networking in a school. Personally I believe that students use it every day out of school, so we should be doing the same within the school and integrate into their education. SharePoint can help in many ways with an educational angle.

        During the learning section of the post we talked about the ability to tag documents. In SharePoint 2010 we can use these tags within the User Profile services.

        imageA student can subscribe to one of these tags allowing them to see content as it is uploaded. As a student, I am working on Romeo and Juliet in English and I see Romeo and Juliet in a Tag Cloud. This then allows me to see all updates made to this tag, giving me more information on each of my subjects as other use it in the school.

        Each user has their own ‘’profile’’, allowing them to upload an image and give some general information about themselves. (SharePoint allows us to manage this, so you can do things like block photos). One of the features is the ability to say you are an expert in a subject. Link this to your tagging (like Romeo and Juliet) and a student can then use SharePoint Search to find the most relevant documents, the ability to filter and the most relevant member of staff who can help them on that subject.

        SharePoint for All

        Whatever the learning asset, document or process, it can be done in SharePoint, don’t be afraid to ask someone on twitter or on an education community forum such as Edugeek.

         

        Learn MoreRead more about SharePoint in education on Alex Pearce's blog

      • Education

        Microsoft licensing changes for hosted and shared services

        • 3 Comments

        imageThe pace of change in licensing - in positive ways for education customers - is speeding up. Hot on the heels of the EES licensing (which is leaving most customers I'm talking to much better off), we've now announced changes to licensing that will make it easier (and cheaper) to license software as you move to the cloud - specifically where partners are hosting an application, or servers, in their own data centres.

        Here's my quick summary of the changes from 1st July:

        • In what we're referring to as 'licence mobility', we're making it much easier when you are going to run software in a hosted data centre, by extending the licensing rights for a bunch of server technologies, so that you can run them on-site, or in a externally hosted shared data centre under the same licensing scheme.
        • The extension is for customers with active Software Assurance (you've automatically got this if you have a Campus, School or EES Agreement)
        • This will cover licensing for:
          •  
            • Microsoft SQL Server
            • Microsoft Exchange Server
            • Microsoft SharePoint Server
            • Microsoft Lync Server
            • Microsoft System Center servers
            • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
        • In addition, we're reducing the pricing and 'management overhead' for licensing Windows Server in hosted scenarios using our SPLA scheme (Services Provider Licensing Agreement), by eliminating use restrictions for conventional licenses, allowing us to remove Outsourcing licences
        • We've also added a Core Infrastructure Suite to SPLA licensing
        • This will help you with your flexible IT strategy - you can decide which of your on-site services you want to run in an off-site, third-party datacentre, without creating a big licensing headache. Tie this with the economies of scale from shared data centres, and things are looking up!
        • There's flexibility that allows you to move your applications to the cloud - and back - every 90 days

        For education, this whole announcement is especially important, as education customers can normally buy licences significantly cheaper than commercial organisations - and this has sometimes caused a hiccup where a partner has been buying licences to run a shared data centre, and has paid full commercial pricing.

        A typical scenario where this change is really helpful is where you are using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM system to manage your student and alumni relationships, and you are hosting it in your existing data centre. It's the ideal service to move to a shared, hosted data centre, as there are definite peaks and troughs in usage - and the server capacity required. In the past, you may have needed different (or additional) licences if you moved this to a shared hosted data centre - and because of this it often presented barriers to doing it.

        There is a fuller description of the changes on our Licensing site, and you can expect to see more detail over the next few months as we get ready to implement these changes from 1st July

        Learn MoreLearn More about the changes

      • Education

        Ten of the best - SharePoint School websites

        • 3 Comments

        A colleague asked me to recommend some school websites built on SharePoint, that they could share with others. After I’d finished it for him, I thought I’d pop it into a PowerPoint for others - and then go further by popping up a quick blog post too. Here’s my take on 10 School SharePoint websites that are worth looking at for design ideas and inspiration - or simply because you want to nudge another colleague towards seeing that SharePoint beauty can start at skin deep.

        Click on any of them to link to the live website

        1. Twynham School Sixth Form, Christchurch, UK
          image

        2. John Paul College, Queensland, Australia
          image

        3. Victoria Department of Education’s FUSE site
          image

        4. West Hatch High School, Essex, UK
          image

        5. Hale School, Western Australia
          image

        6. Wootton Bassett School, Wiltshire, UK
          image

        7. Brigidine College, New South Wales, Australia
          image

        8. Brookfields Specialist SEN School, Berkshire, UK
          image

        9. Florida Virtual School, USA
          image

        10. Twynham School Sixth Form, Christchurch, Dorset
          image

          Note: The reason I listed this twice isn’t me cheating - I simply wanted to make sure that you saw their amazing interactive curriculum pages, and I know you’d kick yourself if you hadn’t seen it at No.1

        Learn MoreDownload the PowerPoint version of Top 10 School SharePoint websites

      • Education

        More Moodle advice – The Moodle on SharePoint white paper

        • 3 Comments

        Following on from the Office Add-In for Moodle earlier in the week, there’s some further advice and support from the Education Labs team for Moodle that may be useful to you - Moodle on SharePoint. If you’re either using Moodle, or considering it, then you may want to consider how you set it up. Because Moodle is an open source product, it’s often assumed that it should be installed on an open source server – like a Linux box. But the challenge with doing that for many schools is that it doesn’t therefore easily integrate with their existing ICT systems – for example, managing users and files on your existing school file servers.

        However, there’s a more positive way to deploy Moodle, which is to install it on your existing infrastructure, rather than having to add additional complications. The most powerful bit of your infrastructure to add it to is your SharePoint – because Moodle on SharePoint fills in some of the gaps of a conventional Moodle system. First, it helps prevent data loss. For example, if a teacher deletes a file by mistake and wants to get it back, you’ll easily be able to go into SharePoint and restore it from the recycling bin – rather than it being lost forever. Secondly, you can take advantage of versioning in SharePoint. If a teacher or student overwrites a file by mistake, it can be restored to a previous version from SharePoint. Finally you can use SharePoint’s search capabilities to search across all of your content, whether it is in your SharePoint file storage, or in your Moodle system (currently there is no equivalent file search capability in Moodle). Perhaps most importantly, teachers can get these benefits while continuing to use the Moodle user interface they are accustomed to, meaning no new training.

        How do you install Moodle on SharePoint?

        So if it makes so much sense to run your Moodle on SharePoint, how do you do it? Well, we’ve published a white paper that explains how to set up SharePoint as the file system for Moodle. It doesn’t need any special code – if you have SharePoint and Moodle, it is a matter of configuration.

        You can download the full white paper here (click on the Read It link) which can help you plan your strategy.

        image  Quickly find all the other Moodle posts on this blog

      • Education

        Why Moodle is better on SharePoint

        • 3 Comments

        Earlier today I wrote about installing Moodle on SharePoint, in order to improve the capabilities of the system, and improving the experience for your staff and students. Although I summarised some of the benefits of doing this, I thought it was worth expanding the list out (with the help of my friend and SharePoint MVP Alex Pearce in the UK) to describe some of the things your users will notice. So, when you install Moodle on top of SharePoint, here's the kind of capabilities you add:

        File editing directly in Moodle

        Normally, once you have uploaded your file into Moodle the file is stored in a folder on the Moodle server. This is great but it doesn’t allow you to edit the file. By storing the file in a SharePoint document library you can easily find the file, change it and not have to worry about re-uploading the file again.

        Versioning documents in Moodle

        SharePoint allows you to keep versions of the document you are editing. Over the academic years you may change the file several times, add and delete content but one day you’ll want to go back and view something you deleted. SharePoint will allow you to revert back or just browse previous version. (And this also great for team working, where you can track team changes)

        Search Moodle at the same time as your SharePoint

        As the files are now being stored in SharePoint, SharePoint will index the files and their content automatically. Using SharePoint as your central place to search you all your academic resources is a great learning tool for the learner to find what they are looking for. And it also means that your central search index on your SharePoint is enhanced - because you can search for documents within and outside of your learning management system with a single search.

        Office Web Apps in Moodle

        With the Office Web Applications available for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in SharePoint 2010 it allows documents to be opened in the browser using the web apps. Teachers or students can open documents in the browser, simply make their quick change and save it back to the site without having to upload and download again.

        Check-In/Check-Out Documents in Moodle

        All these are great but you wouldn’t want your students to see the changes to documents they are using in a course while you making changes. You can check the files out to make changes, make changes over a few minutes, hours, months but until you check the file back in the users will see the original file you want them to see until you are ready to release those changes. (Which means you can start creating next year's course files without changing this year's)

        SharePoint 2010 Workspaces integrated to Moodle

        SharePoint Workspaces allows you to download a document library and make changes from a machine that doesn’t have access to that SharePoint site at the time. In other words you can now make changes to your Moodle course documents offline.

        Workflows in Moodle

        If you have a process for releasing learning resources to students, you can take advantage of the approval process in SharePoint that will allow another colleague to check the files before you release them to all students. This is pretty important where you have sensitive projects that need some oversight or compliance processes.

        Which hopefully convinces you of the value that installing Moodle on SharePoint gives you. And is your next question:

        How do you install Moodle on SharePoint?

        I'd recommend Alex Pearce's work again here - he's written a three part guide to Integrating SharePoint and Moodle, which steps through the specific steps.

        Learn MoreQuickly find all the other Moodle posts on this blog

      • Education

        New lower prices for Office 365 for education

        • 3 Comments

        Yesterday Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate Vice President of the Microsoft Office Division product management group, made an announcement about some changes we’ve made to the pricing for Office 365 for enterprises, and Office 365 for education.

         

        As we rapidly add customers, the cost to run Office 365 becomes more efficient.  This is the beauty of the cloud where we can deliver economies of scale through our worldwide data centres and economies of skill with our engineers, administrators, and support teams operating the service.  

        With these efficiencies, we're able pass on savings to make it even more affordable for customers of all sizes to move to Office 365.

        In line with our longstanding commitment to education, we will make our "A2" service plan free to not only students, but also to faculty and staff.  A2 includes the core capabilities of Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync and the Office Web Applications.  Exchange Online and Lync Online are available today for academic institutions, and we'll launch the full Office 365 for education service starting this summer.   You can get more information on our Office 365 for education offering here.

         

        When Kirk said “this summer” he was thinking about the Northern Hemisphere.
        So you’ll need to translate that to “this winter” for Australia.

        The information on the new pricing for the various Office 365 for education options is available on the Office 365 for education webpage. Here’s the key table from that page:

        image

        The prices listed are the US prices currently
        I’ll provide an updated link as soon as Australian prices are available.

        Find out more

        You can sign up via email to get updates and to find out more information about Office 365 for education over at the product website.

        Oh, and if you want to know more about what Office 365 could do for you, there's always the free Microsoft Press digital book on Office 365 - grab it here

      • Education

        Do you really need a Learning Management System?

        • 3 Comments

        I was reading a blog post from Jonathan Rees earlier – a Professor of History at Colorado State University – where he discusses briefly the usage of the Learning Management System (LMS) (‘An uncharacteristically subtle post for me’). It was accompanied by a chart showing the use of different components of their Learning Management System (I suspect this could be many LMSs, in many, many other institutions).

        LMS Usage

        The point I inferred from his blog post is that, most of the time, the data show that users are using their Learning Management System to do things that are basic features (like document sharing) and these are the things you don’t really need an LMS for, because you could achieve it on almost any web platform.

        So if your staff are using a Learning Management System as a place to share documents, make announcements, and publish student marks, would you actually be better off just using the standard platform your institution probably has in place already and linked to your existing IT systems and identity system (like SharePoint or Office 365), rather than having a completely separate IT system dedicated to it?

        Is this pattern created by a procurement mindset of “Let’s list all of the things we could possibly do, and they buy the thing that meets all of those needs”? The risk is that the focus becomes the delivery of the features, and not the use of them.

        In the example above, if only 1% of your users actually use wikis within their course, does that justify the need for everybody to have it?

        I believe that in the future we’re going to see people choosing systems that give them the core functionality as a platform to build on, and then adding the parts they need for specific groups of users; not specifying an all-singing, all-dancing system from day one which has absolutely everything you need built from the ground up before any users have started using the system and experimenting. We’re going to see the shift to more agile systems, and more agile developments to support the way that users use their enterprise-wide systems.

        So, does that mean you don’t need an LMS? And if not, what do you need?

      • Education

        Linking SkyDrive and Moodle together

        • 3 Comments

        imageMoodle, a popular Learning Management System, is widely used across education. And Microsoft's SkyDrive is also widely used by both teachers and students (although in some government systems, the access is blocked to SkyDrive when in school) as a cloud-based storage drive.

        So you may be interested to know that the Moodle community has developed and released a plugin for Moodle 2.3 which allows students and teachers to save their files into SkyDrive, directly in the cloud, from Moodle.

        You can find out more, and download the SkyDrive plugin from the Moodle website

        I can quickly think of three reasons why this is a good idea:

        • Let your students access work from home or school, on multiple computers, and even phones
        • Reduce the amount of storage capacity you need on your own servers
        • Give teachers more storage capacity (SkyDrive gives 7GB of storage per user in the Cloud), for all of those videos, fancy PowerPoints etc that are eating up your drive space!

        Note, this plugin doesn't come from Microsoft, but from the Moodle open-source community. There are lots of other resources to integrate Moodle with Microsoft technology on this list

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