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

  • Education

    How to build a buzz about Office 365 for your users


    You know what it’s like – you spend a long time managing a technology implementation project, and then at the last minute you get feedback that users aren’t ready for it. You hear things like “We didn’t know it was coming”, or “We don’t want to change anything because what we’ve got works for us now”. This can happen in any kind of organisation, not just education institutions, but sometimes it’s worse in education because there are some groups of users at the leading edge of change whilst you have others who absolutely refuse to adopt any change*.

    Although I can’t solve the whole problem for you, I can offer you a resource pack which will help you to manage the introduction of Office 365, and new Office applications.

    Office 365 Change Management Guide

    Office 365 Change Management Guide and resource pack

    Users are the key to realising the full potential of your investment in most IT projects, including in Office 365. To drive user adoption to its highest potential, you can use our proven change management strategy to clearly articulate the benefits of Office 365, build a community among your users, and provide the right help and support at the right times.

    In this download package, you'll find the Change Management Guide, which describes a proven, four-phase process that organisations have used to drive up new technology adoption and maximise their return on investment. A comprehensive set of samples and templates let you build a customised set of project planning documents and user awareness materials based on your specific needs.

    The download package includes:

    • Change Management guidance
    • Project planning workbook
    • Email samples
    • Policies and best practices templates
    • Presentations for introducing Office 365
    • Posters and other print communications
    • Help desk and support resources
    • End-user surveys
    • Videos

    Learn MoreGet the Office 365 Change Management Guide and resources pack

      I’ll leave you to decide which groups of users I’m thinking of!

    • Education

      What software is included in Office 365 ProPlus as part of Student Advantage


      Last week I wrote about the announcement of Student Advantage, which allows you to provide Office Pro Plus at no additional cost to all of your students, as long as all your staff are licensed for Office appropriately.

      I’ve been asked what’s included in the Office Pro Plus licence, and what devices can students use it on. And so I thought a handy table would be useful, summarising what Office apps are available for which devices, because even if you’re using Windows laptops as a standard device, it’s likely students will have their own device or smartphone that they will also be able to install Office on. The Student Advantage subscription allows students to run Office on up to 5 machines (PC or Mac) and also on up to 5 mobile devices (Android, iPhone etc).

      The products included are Office 365 ProPlus for PC, Office 365 ProPlus for Mac, Office Mobile for iPhone and Office Mobile for Android.  And, yes, this is full Office on the PC, Mac, iPhone, and Android platform and all are available for offline use. And remember these can be installed on institution-owned, student-owned or family-owned devices.

      Which Office applications are available in Student Advantage?

      The table below is my summary of what’s available for which device under Student Advantage (or are already available pre-installed on your phone, or free in the relevant app store).






      Windows Phone








      Office Web







      Office Web







      Office Web
























      For the iPad, in addition to Lync and OneNote apps, we recommend using Office Web Apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

      For information on what’s in each app on which device, then here are the links:

      Learn MoreLearn more about Student Advantage

    • Education

      Find out what's new for education customers in Dynamics CRM 2013



      There are now many education customers in Australia using the Dynamics CRM system for a whole range of different scenarios - student recruitment, alumni management, donation management, student retention, case management, event management, even OH&S processes. So the launch events for Dynamics CRM 2013 will be of interest to them as much as to institutions evaluating their strategy for the future.

      We’re heading out to four state capitals over the next 3 weeks, and in each you’ll have a chance to how Dynamics has evolved to deliver more amazing experiences every time.


      imageHappy citizens, students and patients, and healthy communities go hand-in-hand. Learn how Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 redefines the way people connect to get work done and enables you to deliver better customer service.

      Government: First time resolution with one view of the citizen to improve the experience of government services with grants management and case management. Enjoy a centralised and consistent view of the citizen at any one time.

      Transforming education for the future: Deliver better education via a single view of the student. Connect schools, TAFEs and higher education institutions.

      Health and Social Services: Increase access to health specialists for people in remote, rural and outer metropolitan Queensland and improve service with one view of a patient’s history.


      The events are designed to help you understand the new features, capabilities and strategic direction for Dynamics CRM, and without having to spend all day out of the office.

      Sydney 7 November - 1.00pm to 3.00pm - Click here to register

      Melbourne 7 November - 1.00pm to 3.00pm - Click here to register

      Brisbane 12 November - 9.00 am to 11.00am - Click here to register

      Perth 13 November - 1.00pm to 3.00pm - Click here to register

    • Education

      Student Advantage–the best way to get Office for student BYOD devices



      Last week we announced Student Advantage, a new benefit to qualifying institutions that brings Microsoft Office to more students worldwide. This is a global programme that most Australian education institutions will already qualify for. And for Australian schools, universities and TAFEs, it comes at a perfect time, when there are more BYOD initiatives than ever.

      From the beginning of December, any institution that licenses Office 365 ProPlus or Office Professional Plus for all staff can provide access to Office 365 ProPlus for students (on their personally-owned or institution-owned devices) at no additional cost.

      Office 365 ProPlus includes all the familiar and full Office applications — locally installed on up to five devices and available offline. When a school combines Student Advantage with Microsoft’s other cloud services, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online, all available free through Office 365 Education, students have access to the same set of gold-standard productivity tools and services used by businesses and 110 million students and staff all over the world.

      Anthony Salcito, Microsoft president of Worldwide Public Sector Education said:

        Students use Office every day for school work and activities that are most important to them. Office not only helps students stay organised and get their work done today but at the same time develops skills that will be required when they enter the work force... We are thrilled to offer Student Advantage to schools across the globe so students have access to the latest, most up-to-date version of the world’s leading set of productivity tools in order to give them a competitive advantage when entering the workforce.  

      Worldwide nearly 98 percent of students using productivity software currently use Office. Student Advantage enables students to access the familiar experience of Office in an always-up-to-date cloud service across their compatible PCs, tablets and phones.  

      You can get Started with Office 365 for Education now using the free A2 option (which gives your staff and students access to Exchange and SharePoint online, as well as Office Web Apps) – and then add the full Office 365 ProPlus suite over the holidays. And because the software is being delivered through Office 365, your students will be able to go online to get Office ProPlus installed on their devices – not just PCs, but also Macs and their smartphones (the installation web page will show them the right options for whichever device they are logged in from).

      There is a full FAQ document which I’ll publish tomorrow with more detail for institutions. Microsoft partners (such as Authorised Education Resellers) can access their training information on the Microsoft Education Partner Community.

      Learn MoreRead the original press release

    • Education

      Perth Microsoft Education Partner Summit–22nd October


      I’m travelling around the country at the moment, along with some of the others in the education team, meeting with the Microsoft Education Partners including the Microsoft Authorised Education Resellers, to provide an in-depth training programme to help our partners develop their education IT business.

      Next Tuesday we’re in Perth, and there are still places available for partners to attend (or, if you’re from a WA school, it’s an opportunity to ensure that you’re Microsoft partner is attending, so that you can be sure that they are up-to-date with our strategy and product announcements).

      We’ve structured the day to allow you to attend just the morning or afternoon session, depending on your particular interests.

      The agenda for the day in Perth is:



      Microsoft in Education overview

      An introductory overview of Microsoft’s Education business, our strategy, the current market trends across the education sector, and a review of key opportunities for Microsoft partners selling into the education market.


      Voice of the Customer

      An invited school leader provides their perspective on the key challenges they face, the opportunities for enhancing learning, and their strategic direction.


      Office 365 for Education

      Office 365 for Education is Microsoft’s key cloud service for students and staff that enhances collaborative learning and communication. With pricing starting from ‘free’ (or complimentary, as the lawyers call it), and continuing up through a range of services up to full voice capability to replace PBXs, the software and services opportunity for partners is huge. In this session we’ll explore the product proposition, licensing, and partner services opportunities.


      Morning Tea



      Windows in the Classroom

      An opportunity to get an experience of a Windows in the Classroom session – which is a 2 hour hand-on seminar program normally delivered to school leaders and education decision makers. A Windows in the Classroom hands-on session positions Microsoft in the context of learning and classroom practice, and is delivered by professional educators on behalf of Microsoft. The sessions demonstrate the value of the Windows platform in concert with Office applications, Lync, Learning Suite, and the many other tools that enhance learning in the classroom for teachers and enable students to build 21st skills.

      We’ll conclude this session by breaking down the resources used during the session to consider how they will help you to sell devices, software and services to your school customers, and how you can engage Microsoft’s team to support your sales opportunities.





      The local education market

      An opportunity to hear from your local education-focused Account Managers responsible for the Microsoft relationship with schools, TAFEs and higher education institutions. You’ll get our view of the strategic challenges and opportunities, as well as the state of local school and TAFE devolved decision making. We’ll also describe the Microsoft licensing agreement coverage, so that you know what pre-existing Microsoft licensing agreements you can leverage on, and where there are opportunities to help customers’ save money or introduce new efficiencies.


      Education Apps on Windows 8

      The ‘apps’ market offers new opportunities for our education partners, as well as new ways of working for education institutions. This session will look at key Windows 8 education apps, and consider what it takes to make a great education app.


      Education Solutions strategy

      In the last session of the day, we’ll look at the market for complex education solutions focused on the business needs of education institutions. These conversations about solutions often don’t involve the IT department until the very last stage, as they are addressing business challenges such as raising standards of achievement through learning analytics, or developing more effective student recruitment and lifecycle management.

      We’ll share our insights on the growing solutions marketplace for high-level, business-centric solutions, and offer strategies for business development in these areas.

      You can register here - We’re at the Perth Convention Centre, from 9AM to 3:30PM on Tuesday 22nd October

      For details on the Brisbane and Sydney Education Partner Summits, check here: Microsoft Education Partner Summits in Australia – register now

    • Education

      Understanding the Learning Strategies of the 21st Century Learner - Virtual Professional Development webcast series


      Microsoft PIL Webcast header

      Our worldwide Partners in Learning team run a series of Education webcasts focused on providing deep insights into teaching and learning. They are run from the Microsoft global headquarters in Seattle, and feature presenters from around the world. Fortunately for us in Australia, they are scheduled to run twice during the same day, and the one that runs at 5PM Seattle time is Australia-friendly!

      Understanding the Learning Strategies of the 21st Century Learner - webcast

      In the morning of Thursday 24th October in Australia
      (10AM – QLD; 10:30AM – SA; 11AM – NSW/VIC; 8AM – WA)

      Join this great dialogue on the 5 best strategies every 21st century learner needs to succeed in school and in the workplace. Why a capacity to learn is more important than knowing. Topics covered will be:

      • How to remove the roadblocks to learning
      • 3 Steps to understanding everything you read
      • Best Study Skills for 21st century learners
      • Technology strategies that enhance learning

      During the webinar, three ‘Amazing Grades’ books will be given away to the first three attendees asking questions. Amazing Grades is a worldwide goodwill book with 101 authors from 13 countries around the world and includes a special bonus chapter by Nasha Fitter of Microsoft.

      Presented by:

      imagePat Wyman, College Professor, author, and Founder & CEO,
      Pat is a College Professor, founder and CEO of and best-selling author of Amazing Grades:101 Best Ways to Improve Your Grades Faster and Spelling Made Easy: Learn Your Words in Half the Time  

      imageBonnie Terry, Board Certified Educational Therapist and best-selling author,
      Bonnie, best-selling author of School Strategies for ADHD Kids, Five Minutes To Better Reading Skills, and Ten Minutes To Better Study Skills and one of the co-authors of Amazing Grades. She is a Board Certified Educational Therapist and internationally recognized as America's Leading Learning Specialist.  

      imageSusan Kruger, M.Ed, best-selling author, and Founder,
      Susan is the founder of and best-selling author of SOAR® Study Skills: A Simple & Efficient System for Getting Better Grades in Less Time. She will be speaking on the best study skills for 21st century learners.

      Make a dateMake a date: Find out more, and register, for the webcast
      The website lists the time in US Pacific Daylight time as 5PM on 23rd, which is on the 24th October for Australia. At 11AM for those in NSW & Victoria; 10AM in Queensland; 10:30AM in South Australia and 8AM in Western Australia

    • Education

      The challenge of student retention–how early do universities spot students at risk


      I’ve been chatting with Jon Ryder at XMPro in the UK, who has been working with British universities on projects for student engagement and retention. I’ve also been working with Microsoft Education partners in Australia on the same challenge, and their solutions which help universities and TAFEs identify students at risk, and then effectively manage student retention processes.

      imageJon’s created a great summary infographic that shares some of the data he’s collected from a survey of over 100 universities in the UK, which includes some interesting insights that are likely mirrored here in Australia:

      Most universities don’t know how ‘at risk’ students are being managed

      This was a big surprise for me – that only 1 in 8 universities believe they have sufficient visibility as to how ‘at risk’ students cases are being managed. Despite 7 out of 10 respondents feeling that up to 20% of ‘at risk’ students are reversible and can be re-engaged.

      4 out of 10 ‘at risk’ students are identified too late for the university to resolve the student’s issue(s)

      The whole profile for the data set is:

      • 12% are identified early enough to make a difference
      • 47% are identified later than the university would ideally like, but soon enough to make a difference
      • 35% are identified too late to be able to resolve the problem
      • 6% are only identified when they actually tell the university that they are leaving

      (I wonder if there was a category for ‘we only found out after the student had left’?)

      The challenges of managing student retention

      Jon’s survey found 3 top challenges that universities faced when managing ‘at risk’ students:

      1. Inability to communicate consistently and effectively with students due to the number of people involved in that student’s experience
      2. The sheer volume of students makes it difficult to effectively manage each individual case
      3. The university discovers the threat of attrition too late to be able to sufficiently address the underlying causes

      S1 Consulting logoHere in Australia, one of our education partners that have been focusing on Student attrition and retention management is S1 Consulting. They have developed a model for managing the student lifecycle through a combination of effective analytics and a focused implementation of a CRM system to manage interventions through to retention.

    • Education

      Markbook for Windows 8–a replacement for Mindtrail?


      I’ve written before about Lucas Moffitt, and his Teacher Collection apps for Windows 8. As a reminder, Lucas has developed 9 different apps to help teachers with typical classroom tasks, like marking, lesson observation, creating curriculum resources and lessons etc.

      Windows 8 Markbook TileHis latest app is Markbook for Windows 8, which teachers can use to create, evaluate and report on assessments. It lets teachers create a sophisticated marking rubric to use for both formative and summative assessment, and then allows teachers to create an assessment framework for either a single activity of a whole module or even a whole course, linked back to the institutional learning outcomes. The app captures assignment results at both student, groups and assessment criteria level.

      The components of an assessment system

      The components of Markbook can be organised in any order in an assessment overview, so that you can structure a linear decision-based flow as you mark.

      • Competence – Assess a student’s competence in a knowledge or skill area as competent or not yet competent
      • Selection - Create a custom dropdown selection list with rich or lean values and scores
      • Single Value - Provide a single value mark (ie attendance mark or ‘final’ mark)
      • Header - A custom label to help organise other components (also appears on reports)
      • Feedback - Provides a free text field to include any comments and feedback when evaluating an assessment

      Once you’ve created your template, the actual assessment is as easy as tapping a screen, or clicking a mouse. And you can add extensive comments and feedback with a physical or on-screen keyboard.

      Screenshot of Markbook, part of Teacher CollectionProviding quality feedback to students

      And finally, after finishing up your assessments, you can then product class reports, individual student reports and reports for specific assessments. And you can bulk export the individual student reports as well as the aggregated reports – so you can provide quality feedback to students as well as generate your own summary reports.

      Lucas got a great testimonial for his app from Dr Bret Slate at La Trobe University, who’s quoted on the Markbook page:

        Finally, someone has created an expert solution for student assessment and feedback. Markbook reduces assignment assessment time and student results’ administration by about 60%. Each evaluation of an assignment, test or project is as rich and as fresh as the last. Assessor fatigue is reduced and, most importantly, students are satisfied with both the comprehensive feedback and the clear assessment of their work.  

      This isn’t just an app for teachers wanting to move from paper-based marking. It’s also for teachers looking to change from older, unsupported apps, eg as a replacement for Mindtrail.

      Like the other apps in Lucas Moffitt’s Teacher Collection, the dual aims are to save teachers time, and to improve the quality of student interactions – in this case, by making it easier to provide quality feedback to students.

      And the best bonus is that Lucas has created this app with a full-function trial version, so you can download it and work out whether it suits you, before having to find the $5 for it!

      Learn MoreLearn more about Markbook on the Teacher Collection site

    • Education

      How many devices can you install a Windows 8 app on?


      When we first launched Windows 8, we allowed customers to install an app from the Windows Store onto up to five devices. This was similar to other app stores at the time, but personally I quickly found the limit was a challenge. For example, if I was trying out a range of different devices (as an education IT team might do) I found myself authorising & de-authorising devices to keep within my five device limit. It also could potentially create problems for education customers – for example, if users were roaming across different devices (for example, if students shared a trolley full of laptops in a classroom, and used a different one from the set of 30 some days).

      Up until Friday the answer to the question “How many devices can you install a Windows 8 app on?” was five. And that applied whether it was a paid-for app, or a free app.

      So I paid attention when I saw the announcement last Friday on the “Windows App Builder Blog” that the limit has now been increased to 81 devices. As they said:

        In response to that feedback, and as we announced at the Build conference in June, we're increasing the app roaming limit to remove friction from the app installation process. Starting on October 9, Windows Store apps can be installed on up to 81 devices associated with a single Microsoft account. This will apply to all apps in the Store, for both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.  

      The 81 devices limit is the default, although app developers can set a different if they clearly state it in the app description on the Windows Store (that seems completely fair to me, as an ex-developer, because if you are making a living selling apps, then it’s important to have control over some of those decisions. I can imagine that there are some apps where the developer may set a much lower limit. I could also imagine scenarios where they may set a higher limit too, especially for free apps focused on education).

      For education customers, this is a big step that means you can still allow users to roam across different computers and use apps on different Windows 8  computers, whilst still having users login to their own accounts (rather than the alternative of not having a user login).

      Learn MoreLearn more about the change in app limits on Windows devices

    • Education

      Windows 8 in Education: How to deploy Windows 8 in education


      This is part five of a set of articles on Windows 8 deployment in education. To start at the beginning, take a look at  “Windows 8 in Education: Deployment Planning Guide”, then “Windows 8 in Education: Windows Store apps and deployment”, followed by “Windows 8 in Education: setting up Virtual Desktop Infrastructure in education” and finally “Windows 8 in Education: Deployment Guide for BYOD in Education”.

      The Windows 8 deployment guide for education

      imageThis guide contains advice on how to deploy Windows 8 in education – covering the technical aspects that an IT team will need to know to easily and securely deploy Windows 8 to existing and new computers in a school, TAFE or university. There are a number of key deployment strategies discussed, including deploying standard images on every machine, and light-touch or zero-touch Windows 8 deployments. Even if you have been deploying Windows computers for years, and have a standard mechanism that you’ve used successfully for all of that time, I would still recommend reviewing the alternative mechanisms that have been developed for Windows 8, to ensure that your chosen model is still the most efficient – for both your IT team, and for your users. This is especially critical in a world where users have an expectation of more individual control over their devices, their choice of software, and their modes of use. The way you choose to deploy Windows 8 to your users is going to be one of the first decisions which could ultimately decide how happy your users are with the IT system that you provide – and that’s becoming more key as teaching staff have increasing control over their own use of technology, and whether or not they use your corporate systems.

      As an aside, I used to work for an organisation where the IT team had so tightly controlled what users did, that the impact was that users increasingly ended up building an alternative IT system through a combination of mobile devices and mobile internet services – the upshot was that IT had significantly less visibility and control of users’ activities than if they’d had given users a little more control and flexibility in the first place. And when your users are switching to using third-party web services for their day-to-day activities, you give up huge amounts of control. I’ve heard of scenarios of teaching staff bringing servers into their classroom to allow their students to use collaborative environments, because the IT system provided centrally blocks access to the apps and web-based servers they want to use. The lesson for me from this is that sometimes IT’s insistence on too much control actually leads to radically less control!

      The three primary methods for deploying Windows 8 in education

      You can install Windows 8 onto devices within your institution in many ways. Although deployment strategies for enterprise customers typically apply to educational deployments too, certain requirements make educational deployments unique. All educational environments need to provide not only for administrative staff but also for teachers and students, each of whom has special requirements for their computing environment. Historically, many education users have chosen to deploy a single image to their computers which includes the operating system, all the required application software, drivers and updates. However, the recommended strategy now is to deploy a ‘thin image’ which includes the operating system only, and then to deploy applications, drivers and updates after the initial deployment.

      Either way, you then need to pick one of three primary methods for deploying Windows 8:

      • Manual installation
      • Image-based deployment
      • Automated installation

      This deployment guide for education talks you through each option, including which tools are available from Microsoft to help you make it easier, and the factors that will help you decide between the options available. The four strategies discussed are:

      • High-touch, with retail media
      • High-touch, with a standard image
      • Lite-touch, for higher volume deployments
      • Zero-touch, for very high volume deployments

      To pick the right one, you’ll need to consider how many computers you are deploying to, where your computers are based, what skills are available in the team doing the deployment, which of the combination of free and licensed Microsoft deployment software you have/want to use, and whether or not you’ll also be deploying standard applications at the same time.

      For each option, the Windows 8 deployment guide for education then steps you through the things you’ll need, the decisions you will have to make, and the steps to take – and provides a deep set of reference materials for you to use.

      The final chapter also guides you through the tools available for managing institution-owned computers, so that you can see the benefits, limitations and requirements of each option – and so helping you with the ongoing lifecycle management of your IT systems.

      Pretty obviously, this guide isn’t for everybody – it’s really the thing that will light up the faces of the IT team as they dive down into what quickly becomes an acronym-lovers guide to IT (if you get excited about whether to choose between ADBA, KMS or MAK for Windows activation, this guide’s for you!). But the authors have done a great job of providing good overviews, without throwing too much detail too quickly; and then they have also provided reference links to much deeper detail.

      Learn MoreDownload the Deployment Guide here (PDF)

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