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

  • Education

    Education is still Australia’s biggest services export

    • 2 Comments

    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.

    image

    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

    2009

    2010

    2011

    2012

    Change
    2009-12

    China

    $3.9bn

    $4.2bn

    $4.1bn

    $4.0bn

    +3%

    India

    $3.0bn

    $2.5bn

    $1.6bn

    $1.3bn

    -57%

    Vietnam

    $0.7bn

    $.8bn

    $0.8bn

    $0.8bn

    +12%

    Republic of Korea

    $1.1bn

    $1.0bn

    $.9bn

    $0.8bn

    -29%

    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

    Building an engaging Windows 8 education app for students

    • 2 Comments

    Earlier I wrote about building a Windows 8 education app for teachers, and here's part  two - building an interactive, engaging Windows 8 education app for students. We pick up where I left off earlier – where teachers have assigned an assignment to a group of students.

    Creating an immersive Windows 8 education app – the student experience

    The first thing to know is that the live tiles and notification system of Windows 8 means that students don't need to be running the app to interact with it – so if a teacher assigns work to a student then they'll receive a notification without having to dip into the app (and that notification can contain more than just a 'You have mail…' type of message)

    Sample Windows 8 education app for studentsIn our scenario, Steve the student is working on his Microsoft PowerPoint presentation when he receives a toast notification about a new assignment.
    This is regardless of whether he's running the app, so students don't need to run your app to 'just check' whether there's work waiting for them. You can use toast notifications for reminders, work assignments etc.

     

    Student assignment screen in the sample Windows 8 education appAs Steve taps the toast notification, the app launches and goes straight to the assignment page. The assignment page lists chapters from a textbook and a web article, along with the members of his group.
    A typical 'snapped view' scenario in Windows 8 education apps

    Steve views the assignment using snapped view and clicks on the web links provided.
    This mode of working is perfect for students, where they can run two apps side by side eg for notetaking.
    And for those students who (think they) can't work without background music, they can keep their music library on-screen at the same time as doing their homework.

     

    imageSteve views the web site while taking notes in the app in snap view.
    This is especially critical when curriculum resources include e-textbooks, as they'll often need to see their textbook alongside their other materials or the assignment notes.

     

    Using the Share Charm in Windows 8 education appsAfter reviewing his notes in full screen view, Steve swipes in the Share charm and sends the notes to his group members.
    The Share mechanism works by identifying which apps can share information through the Windows 8 contracts. What this means is that developers don't need to know about all the different ways to share information – the other apps that can share information provide the mechanism to do it. So if somebody invents the new Facebook tomorrow, your users will be able to use the Share charm without you needing to re-write your app.
    What the design ideas above show is that you can create a much more interactive experience for students on a Windows 8 touch device than you might on other tablets – and the app you create would run on any Windows 8 device – whether that's a non-touch laptop, or a Windows slate like Surface, or a home PC. Steve the student has a very different experience when using a Windows 8 education app because of the added interactivity provided through using things like:

    • Snap mode for running multiple apps
    • Toast notifications to draw the student back to the app (and to help teachers to connect with students)
    • Using the Share charm to make it easy for users to share information, without having to recode your software every time there's a new social network/LMS/cloud service

    Where to find out more about developing Windows 8 education apps

    Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas that you want to follow up on, so here's really useful links for you to continue on your journey.

    The first place to go is the Windows Store app development section on MSDN (and specifically this page for the advice on Windows 8 Education apps), and if you prefer your info offline, then download the Windows 8 Product Guide for Developers.

    There's also a clear set of design guidelines for the user experience in "Make great Windows Store apps"

    Learn MoreFinally, take a look at all of the other articles on this blog about developing Windows 8 apps for education

  • Education

    Business Intelligence in schools - Dashboards in SharePoint 2013

    • 2 Comments

    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

    29th Jan Webinar - Office 365 for education with Microsoft MVP Loryan Strant

    • 2 Comments

    Office 365 for education webinar with Loryan Strant

    As I've mentioned before, Loryan Strant's running weekly Office 365 for education webinars for schools in Australia (Office 365 for education is our free, cloud-based service, that gives you Exchange email, SharePoint collaboration, Lync communications, and the browser-based Office Web apps - Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint). The first one is Tuesday 29th Jan at 10-11AM AEST (Sydney/Melbourne time).

    Loryan's , who runs Paradyne, writes a lot about Office 365 in his role as a Microsoft MVP, and you can see from his 'Top 3 reasons' list I've included below, he's a big fan of Office 365 for education:

     

    Top 3 reasons schools choose Office 365 for education over Google Apps

    1. With Office 365, educators can improve outcomes, by providing students with resources and tools that reinforce how they learn best.
    Educators can personalise learning with Microsoft’s tools, addressing a variety of learning styles. In fact, learning is interactive and engaging with Office 365. For example, students can use an online whiteboard, unavailable with Google Apps, to share ideas with others.

    One student takes notes in all of her classes and organises her notes, assignments and schedule in a single, digital notebook. Another organises his work in the way that best suits him. When schools choose Google Apps, students take notes with no ability to tag, catalogue or search within them. The school might turn to investigating unsupported, third party tools.

    Not only that, while Google earns poor grades in accessibility for its tools, students can excel when using Microsoft’s accessible technologies in Office 365 for education.

     

    2. Teachers and students work and learn without boundaries, online and offline, in and outside of the classroom with Office 365.
    Both educators and students are productive when offline. On a class field trip to a history museum, using a SharePoint Workspace while offline, a teacher easily accesses the lesson plan she created earlier, and reviews the history of the period with her students. Returning to school by bus without Web access, the student begins her assignment using Word. However, teachers and students using Google Apps cannot create Google Docs offline, and are unproductive.

    Today, with Office 365 teachers can record lessons and make them available for students to access outside of the classroom when they need to grasp difficult material, catch up on missed work, or reinforce learning in studying for a test. Google provides no capability for students or teachers to make recordings. Once again, schools must investigate unsupported, third party tools.

    3. Office 365 helps teachers prepare students for the workforce, building skills in using familiar Office tools, in ways people work today.
    With Office 365, both teachers and students use familiar, Office tools and the latest technologies. When it comes time for students to enter the workforce they are better-prepared than students using Google Apps. Displaying writing skills using Word and analytical skills using Excel is essential compared to having skills with tools like Google Apps and Google Docs, where needs are negligible in the workplace.

    Today, people work in social groups. Educators use SharePoint in Office 365 to interact with colleagues, collecting ideas and feedback, and students use Office 365’s presence information to locate fellow students online, initiating chats and video chats when working on group projects. Google Apps has nothing close to the capabilities available through Office 365’s Lync Online and SharePoint Online.

     

     

    The first webinar is on Tuesday 29th January, but if you can't make that there are plenty of other dates throughout the next few months -  5 February; and 5, 12, 19, 26 March. So you can either get in quick, and join the first webinar before term starts; or finish off your projects, get the first couple of weeks behind you, and then join Feb or during March.

    Make a dateRegister here: Make a date with Loryan for the Office 365 for education webinar for schools

  • Education

    The Mathletics website now on every Windows 8 device

    • 2 Comments

    You may notice that some websites on Windows 8 ask you to open them in the desktop version of Internet Explorer, rather than the modern UI version, because they are written in Flash - even though Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 has an integrated Flash Player, avoiding the need to download and install an add-in. The reason is that if you're using a touch tablet, then some Flash websites are difficult to navigate because they need you to do things like a mouse double-click (tricky when you've only got a finger, not a mouse!).

    So we maintain a list of websites that work on well with touch tablets, and  these are the only ones that you can open with the Windows 8 modern UI version of IE10, otherwise you have to open them with the desktop version.

    You may remember a few months ago that I wrote about "How to get a Flash website working smoothly on Windows 8 and Windows RT", describing the background to designing a web experience that doesn't require plug-ins for browsers. This is an important step to improve browser performance, accessibility support, increase battery life on mobile devices like laptops and tablets, and to increase security and reliability.

    Mathletics logoWe've been working with various publishers to ensure their websites work well with touch devices. Yesterday, we added Mathletics to the list, so if you go to www.mathletics.com.au on any Windows 8 device, it will now let you use Mathletics in full on any Windows 8 device (Windows RT or Windows 8, with either ARM or Intel processors). This is much better than having Mathletics content available through an app, because the website gives you access to the full Mathletics system and library of resources, whereas the mobile apps contain just a smaller subset.

    This is good news for Australian schools, where Mathletics is widely used, but a quick look at the Mathletics leaderboard shows there's a long list of other countries that will benefit too.

    Learn MoreVisit the Mathletics website

  • Education

    Improving student retention in higher education–the data sources

    • 2 Comments

    Chris Ballard, of Tribal, is an 'Innovation Consultant' working on student administration and management systems, with a focus area on student retention modelling. Earlier this year, at the annual conference for their SITS:Vision student administration system, Chris co-presented with Paul Travill from the University of Wolverhampton on a research project being undertaken to see how they could be using learning analytics to improve student retention.

    There is similar work going on in the Australian higher education marketplace, and I've had a number of discussions with universities here about student attrition and the ways to reduce it – driven by the fact that on average one in five students are leaving their higher education courses before the end of the first year. The factors which affect student attrition are made up of two key areas:

    Chris & Paul's slides dig into these data, how to interpret them, and how to build a system which allows you to model and predict student attrition using them (which obviously leads to how to react to them). On Slide 8 there's a really simple diagram of the key data sources:

    Chris Ballard's slides on data sources for student attrition analysis

    If you've got an interest in student retention modelling, then I'd recommend taking a look at the full presentation slides from the SITS:Vision conference, on the Tribal Labs blog

  • Education

    Microsoft Education Webinars coming up in the next three months

    • 2 Comments

    My colleagues that work with schools are running a series of free webinars over the next three months:

    image

    The Microsoft Education Webinar Series is now live! We will be hosting a monthly webinar where you can get the latest information on key topics for education.

    These webinars are designed for an IT audience and aim to showcase how our products can help you achieve the educational outcomes at your school.

    image

    OneNote in Schools - 18th October from 1 - 2pm
    Join us as we show you how you can use Microsoft OneNote to revolutionise the teaching and learning experience and change the way your staff and students interact.

    image

    Office 2013: Experience it Live - 15th November from 1 - 2pm
    We will be diving into Office 2013 and exploring all the new features and improvements in our productivity suite. Find out why you do not want to miss out on Office 2013.

    image

    Tablets in Schools - 5th December from 1 - 2pm
    Everything your school needs to know about Windows 8 hardware. We will be looking at the emerging role tablets are playing in schools and we will highlight our recommended devices!

    Learn MoreYou can register for the webinars (or, if you can't make it, request copies of the recordings) by emailing Cooper Wearne.

  • Education

    New recordings of the free Office webinars every Tuesday

    • 2 Comments

    Office webinarsDoug Thomas is in the part of the Office team that writes help content for Office on the Office.com website, and in the help pages of the software. And he's recently branched out to producing mini webinars to help you discover new parts of the Office suite. They're run every week, but unfortunately for Australia, they're run in the middle of the night Sad smile

    Doug Thomas Office webinarsBut wait, there's good news – he records all the webinars, and makes the recordings available online. And because they are only 15 minutes long, they make great learning snacks (and Doug's a very natural host and demonstrator, so they are very watchable).

    You can access all of the recordings on this Office webinars page, and some of my recommendations are:

    You can find all of Doug's videos on the Office Webinars channel on YouTube

    Learn MoreView the full Office webinar schedule here (and ask for your favourite topic to be covered in the comments)

  • Education

    Exciting Learning–Using Technology to Improve Education–free ebook

    • 2 Comments

    My colleagues in the UK Education team, working with Ollie Bray, an educational leader from Scotland, have produced a brilliant ebook "Exciting Learning: Using Technology to Improve Education"

    imageThe new eBook aims to address the following:

    • Enhance the understanding of the benefits of ICT and technology across the curriculum including literacy, numeracy, technology, personal, social and health education
    • Provide practical information on how technology can be used to increase student motivation and enhance learning
    • Give teachers the confidence to use technology in class as a learning and teaching methodology that reaches across all subject areas and age groups
    • Reinforce the importance and place of ICT skills for productivity and the 21st century skills agenda
    • Encourage teachers to consider using games design and other technologies with students to help children become creators rather than consumers of content
    • Improve advice on how teachers and school leaders might tackle some of the common challenges encountered when trying to develop the use of technology in schools

    Ollie is a fabulously inspirational educator, and I have been lucky enough to hear Ollie leading professional development sessions and talk at conferences where teachers have been so excited to grab his ideas to take back to their classrooms, especially when he talks so passionately about games-based learning. So it's great that he's taken some time to put those ideas into this ebook, to share with a wider audience. (He's also shared much of his work on his website, OllieBray.com)

    Learn MoreDownload the ebook "Exciting Learning"

  • Education

    Updated - Free Windows 8 programming ebook

    • 2 Comments

    imageThose nice people at Microsoft Press released an update in August to their free ebook – it’s a preview version of “Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS and JavaScript”. And it seems perfect timing to highlight it (being absolutely transparent, I didn't read it when it came out, but I've started to read it this week, as I'm spending more time talking to people about building Windows 8 apps for education)

    It’s the perfect guide to Windows 8 applications programming, and gives you the whole story for creating Windows 8 apps. As it’s only a second preview version, the whole thing isn’t yet there – so far there's 12 of a planned 17 chapters, along with a download of companion content (code samples etc)

    If you’re interested in getting started, or you’ve got students that you know will want to have a go, then this is a great book to download and to share.

    And, before you go beetling off to start writing code, can I also recommend reading building an education app for Windows 8 is about designing an experience, before writing code beforehand too.

    Learn More You can either download it in PDF directly, or go and read a bit more about it on the Microsoft Press blog.

    NOTE: There's now the final version of the Windows 8 programming ebook - see here
    Bonus: Here’s a long list of more free technical ebooks from Microsoft Press.
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