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

  • Education

    The Kinect Effect - it’s only just starting in education

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    It’s amazing to think that Kinect is only a year old. It’s set the Guinness World Record for the fastest selling consumer device. And while it started its life as a device for games, it’s now being used by surgeons, teachers, musicians, data analysts for ideas the Kinect’s inventors hadn’t imagined.

    And here’s a one minute video summary of some of the things that it’s being used for. It’s the kind of advert you don’t see on TV. Perhaps it might inspire the next wave of innovation?

    (Can’t see the video - it’s on YouTube here)

    There’s a gallery of Kinect projects over on the Microsoft PressPass site, with a dozen other examples.

    Learn More

    If you want some more inspiring ideas of how Kinect can be used in education, then take a look at the (very) unofficial Kinect in Education site: http://www.KinectEDucation.com/

  • Education

    What skills do your students need to work in the world’s greatest workplaces?

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    Hopefully it’s the same for you, but I rarely get that ‘Monday Morning’ downer. Of course, weekends are rarely long enough, but I can live with that. Maybe part of the reason for that is highlighted by the latest Great Place To Work survey, which highlights the 25 World’s Best Multinational Workplaces 2011. Out of 350 multinationals, Microsoft was ranked as the number one best place to work worldwide.

    imageBut what I wanted to highlight was a different point - as I looked down the list, it struck me that half of the top great places to work around the world are ICT companies. And that includes the top 4 (Microsoft, SAS, NetApp and Google). The remaining half are a diverse mix of transport, manufacturing and services companies.

    It’s a great justification to remind your students that they should continue to study STEM subjects.

    Want to land a job after you leave school? Get a good education.

    Want to land a job in the world’s greatest work places? Get a good education and get a technology qualification/skills.

  • Education

    This week’s webcasts for education customers and partners 31 Oct - 4 November 2011

    • 0 Comments

    There are two webcasts to know about this week - one education-specific one (the Tech Tuesday) and one general one for technical teams.

    All of the timings for the webcasts are AEST (Australia East Coast time).
    See ** below for more details on how the webcasts work

    This week’s webcasts

    Tech Tuesday - IT Academy in Education

    The Microsoft IT Academy is a programme that provides students with future-ready technology skills they need to be successful in careers. Read more about the IT Academy programme

    Tuesday 1st November 11AM-12PM AEST - Register here for the webinar

    Microsoft Office 365: Deployment Overview

    This session provides guidance for individuals responsible for coordinating and performing customer deployment and migration activities related to migrating customers from their current environment to Office 365 for enterprises. This session guides attendees through three key deployment project phases: Plan, Prepare, and Migrate, focusing on the tasks handled by partners and customers, and providing a high-level review of tasks handled internally by Microsoft services teams. This session does not cover processes that occur prior to deployment (Sales and Initial Assessment) and post-deployment (Operations).
    Note: This session is relevant for education customers, although the session covers generic Office 365, not specifically Office 365 for Education

    Tuesday 1st November 2-4PM AEST - Register here for the webinar


    Future webcasts

    Date
    Title
    Register Here

    8 November

    Tech Tuesday -The Microsoft Office Suite in Education
    Tech Tuesday’s are education-specific webinars, hosted by the Australian education team at Microsoft.

    Find out more, and register

    8 November

    Upgrading to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server Code-Named "Denali": A Comprehensive Look

    Find out more, and register

    11 November

    Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012: What’s in It, and How It Enables the Building of Private Clouds and Federation to the Public Cloud

    Find out more, and register

    15 November

    Tech Tuesday - Learning Management Systems in Education
    Tech Tuesday’s are education-specific webinars, hosted by the Australian education team at Microsoft.

    Find out more, and register

    15 November

    Taking Office to the Cloud: Integrating Microsoft Office 2010 and Windows Azure

    Find out more, and register

    22 November

    Tech Tuesday - Microsoft Partner story - nSynergy
    Tech Tuesday’s are education-specific webinars, hosted by the Australian education team at Microsoft.

    Find out more, and register

    22 November

    Managing Windows Azure Applications

    Find out more, and register

    22 November

    Integrating Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

    Find out more, and register

    25 November

    Integrating the Microsoft System Center Stack for Process Compliance and Automation

    Find out more, and register

    29 November

    What’s New in Microsoft SQL Server Code-Named “Denali” for SQL Server Integration Services

    Find out more, and register

    6 December

    Microsoft Lync 2010: Audio, Video and Web Conferencing Architecture and Experience

    Find out more, and register

    ** By running them as webcasts, our aim is to allow you to get the latest news, without travel costs, or event fees. And with all of the advantages of being able to watch an online webcast whilst also being able to do other things if necessary. All of the free webcasts this week are one/two hour sessions, and combine presentations and live demonstrations.

    You’ll need to register in advance, and you’ll then receive a Calendar note, as well as info on how to join the Live Meeting online. All of the timings given are for Australia East Coast time.

  • 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

        Using video conferencing to connect disaster-hit learning communities in Japan, New Zealand and Australia

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        TVNZ One NewsYasawa Elementary, JapanCashmere Primary, ChristchurchMilton School, Brisbane

        On Wednesday TVNZ One News broadcast the story of students from three schools from disaster hit areas - Christchurch, Brisbane and Fukushima - using video conferencing to connect their schools together, share experiences and extend their learning.

        You can watch the news report on the TVNZ website

        Polycom - Microsoft Partner of the Year for Unified Communications 2011The connection was arranged by Polycom (Microsoft’s Unified Communications Innovation Partner of the Year for 2011), who are more used to connecting students with outside experts for curriculum projects (this winter they connected schools with NASA to talk with Astronaut Hans Schlegel, CSIRO for National Science Week and Dr Jane Goodall for World Environment Day). These special events connected 3,883 participants together across seven countries this year.

        Polycom have been chosen by Victoria to provide classroom video conference systems for 600 of their schools, so there will be a big new group of schools able to connect next term in the projects scheduled for International Math Day, World Foreign Languages Week and International Women’s Day. Lynette at Polycom is responsible for making all of these days successful and relevant to the curriculum - you can follow her on Twitter to find out about new projects, and keep in touch with their projects through their education newsletter - October’s is online here, which has much more information on the news story.

        Learn MoreYou can sign up for the Polycom newsletter here

      • Education

        Business Intelligence in education - webinar recording

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        I’ve been spending a lot of time recently talking about Business Intelligence in Education - both internally and with external organisations. Some of the work I’ve been sharing has come from colleagues in other countries, and I wanted to share some of the information further. I have two colleagues in the US Education team - Rob Curtin, the Chief Applications Officer, and Keith Ward, a Business Intelligence specialist, who recently ran a webinar on the subject (entitled “K-12 Analytics”) where they covered an introduction, an example of BI use in YES Prep Public Schools, and then gave a demonstration of what is possible using the Microsoft Business Intelligence products.

        Rob’s first slide was a great summary of the issues in Business Intelligence in education, and he explained a common problem he comes across:

          The biggest mistake that I see nationwide is when [business intelligence] is treated as an IT project. And business intelligence is absolutely about the “I” - information - more than it is about the “T” - technology. I would like to stress that, because I see more and more people focusing on the tools and thinking about what it is they are going to buy…they think somehow that the right tool will solve their problems.  

        He outlines three key points to successful BI

        • Fund the project - shift the resources into the project delivery and execution, not the product acquisition, because you probably already have the tools.
        • Focus on content - because you probably already own the tools, you can focus on the outcome, which might be adoption or culture creation, or building student insight, teacher improvement, or improving public accountability
        • Measure success by adoption - if you’re looking for a culture of data-driven decision making, then you need to measure the broad uptake of what you’re creating, because that’s a measure of the culture you are creating.

        If you have an interest in the use of business intelligence in education, whether it’s for improving student performance through effective learning analysis in an individual school, or looking at data analysis across a school system, then I’d recommend finding some time to watch the recording of the webinar.

        Get Microsoft Silverlight

        Learn MoreFind other related blog posts about "BI in Education"

      • Education

        Why social media matters in student recruitment - CRM in education

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        We’ve just updated our Microsoft Dynamics CRM system to include a range of new capabilities focusing on social features - engaging with social communities, which can be both internal and external - as part of sales, marketing and customer service delivery. For CRM in education, this brings a much-needed set of capabilities for universities and TAFEs in Australia, where the role of social media, and engagement with the social communities, is becoming increasingly critical to key business drivers - whether that’s managing your institution’s overall brand, or engaging with prospective local and international students for recruitment purposes.

        Although some (marketing) people initially wrote off social media as a ‘fad’, there is now no doubt that it is driving student behaviours, and having a significant impact upon choices that they make. In the ‘Building Your Business’ video below, there’s one slide that explains why. It’s about trust. 90% of people trust their peers to make recommendations on things they are going to buy (and in today’s tertiary education marketplace, education is something students ‘buy’).

        Text: 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations for purchasing decisions; only 14% trust adverts; 70% trust other consumer opinions

        So here’s a question for the marketing people in tertiary education: If 9 out of 10 trust their peers, and only 1 out of 6 trust your adverts, do you monitor, manage and support the social communities that result in those recommendations? And do you do it with 6x as much focus and time as you do with your adverts?

        Hopefully, the background explains why we’ve put so much new focus into the social aspects of our Dynamics CRM system - because you need a tool for CRM in education that covers your conventional marketing (adverts, events, student enquiries) as well as the amorphous mass of social communities (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). It’s because there’s a bunch of opportunities (or potential lost opportunities) that come from effective student recruitment through social communities (after all, your existing ‘customers’ are the generation that uses social media more than anybody, and will have a massive amplification impact on your prospective students).

        Slide text: Business Opportunities with Social Technologies - Listen, engage, amplify, solve, innovate, analyse

        The trick with what we’ve done with Dynamics CRM is to integrate social tools into the existing tools your staff are using - whether that means surfacing LinkedIn profiles of your contacts into your email inbox, or your social communities through your CRM system. The key has been to integrate into the systems your users may already be using - Office, Outlook, Lync and SharePoint. In the first wave of updates to CRM, just released, our focus is on your internal communities - activity feeds to help people to collaborate internally, internal status and micro-blog updates, connections between people and activities.

        There’s a detailed presentation below, from the Microsoft Dynamics CRM YouTube channel, which explains the background to the changes (and includes the two slides I’ve used above), as well as demonstrating what’s now possible - including a demonstration of the app for the Windows Phone. Although it’s longer than the average YouTube video, it’s has a mass of useful context and detailed demonstrations. 33 minutes into the video, the Dynamics team share their future plans - on wider device support, ability to convert social status updates into user actions in your system and other areas.

        Learn More iconThere’s a broad range of Microsoft Dynamics partners in Australia - and three I’d explicitly mention because of their previous projects with tertiary CRM education customers in Australia:

        Need contact details for any of them? Drop me an email, using the ‘email me’ link at the top of the page

      • Education

        How do I set up Windows on a touch PC?

        • 0 Comments

        The Microsoft IT team are the people responsible for keeping the Microsoft internal IT systems running and providing the users with support - in the same way that IT teams in schools/TAFEs/universities do. (And in the case of some universities, on a similar scale!)

        Work Smart GuidesPart of their role is providing training and user documentation for us - in the form of Work Smart Guides - which we use to get to grips quickly with new technologies available internally. They are simple user guides, on subjects as diverse as our unified communications systems, how to use our internal SharePoint etc. In your first month at Microsoft they are absolutely essential reading, as our working environment is so different from many organisations that new employees come from (for example, the Sydney office has no conventional telephones and nobody has their own fixed desk or office).

        The latest of the Work Smart Guides is “Using Windows 7 Professional on a Slate PC”, and just like many of the others, they have published it for our customers to use as well as part of the Microsoft IT Showcase programme. You can either use it ‘as is’, or for a starting point for your own user documentation. It includes tips on setup, the use and customisation of flicks and gestures in Windows, Internet Explorer and other applications, screen touch optimisation for things like menus and scroll bars, and calibration.

        The “Using Windows 7 Professional on a Touch PC” Work Smart Guide is a free download (PDF)

        Learn MoreYou can download all of the other 23 Work Smart Guides from this link.

        Find other blog posts related to the Microsoft IT Showcase programme

      • Education

        Do you need a new job title in ‘the Cloud’?

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        Amidst all the noise and fervour associated with the Cloud in education one question I have not, till now, seen properly addressed is what does the Cloud mean for the skills and responsibilities of IT professionals?  The team over at Microsoft Learning have just addressed this with a white paper Cloud Computing: What IT Professionals Need to Know. It provides useful insight into the whole issue of cloud-skilling an IT department and guess what – it is more complex and rewarding than simply changing job titles from systems administrator to cloud administrator (but the job title change is a good start).

        Slide: Cloud Role Evolution

        If you’re responsible for an IT team in a school, TAFE or university, one of the issues that you’ll need to consider going forward is how moving to cloud computing will impact on your team’s roles and responsibilities - and what new skills they may need to develop to succeed. IT managers and CIOs who want to deliver more value from their IT investments are going to have to be in the front line of cloud skills education — both for themselves and to build training capacity for their IT staff.

        This paper explores the advantages of moving to the cloud and outlines the skill sets IT professionals are likely to need to acquire. It identifies the roles - eg Cloud Service Manager or Cloud Developer - and also the skills development needs across critical IT job roles, including business liaison, datacentre managers, security specialists and software architects.

        Learn More

        Download your own copy of the white paper - Cloud Computing: What IT Professionals Need to Know

         

        There’s more information on the Microsoft Learning Cloud Services curriculum and certification here

      • Education

        SharePoint Composites - the future of the Learning Management System?

        • 1 Comments

        I’ve been reading quite a few articles recently about the future of Learning Management Systems (LMS). These have attempted to look over the horizon - beyond today’s monolithic LMS - for a future where it’s likely that these systems will be comprised of a mash-up of different ‘best in class’ components, highly integrated. Although the majority of institutions aren’t near the point where this model be mainstream, it’s something that bears thinking about in your long-range strategy. Personally, I believe that the key platform to connect all of these different components together will be SharePoint, which I think of as a platform for education web applications, in the same way as Windows is the platform for local applications.

        The descriptive term for what I’m discussing is ‘composite applications’. A composite application combines data, documents and business processes through a series of building blocks to create a business solution. But how will these applications be built? And is this already happening?

        SharePoint Composites

        There’s a ‘SharePoint Composites Handbook’ which describes some of the common scenarios for these composites, and talks about how they would be produced in SharePoint (both process and tools). I think it’s useful for people with two interests:

        • Understanding how to take the next step in using SharePoint as a strategic tool across your institution by building quick composite applications, like expenses, leave and training solutions;
        • Considering how you can connect together your existing systems (learning management systems, student management systems, finance systems) in a way that gives you more flexibility in the future.

        Although the handbook does dive down into IT detail, there are sections of it that are useful for senior managers outside of IT who want to know what their current systems are capable of. Here’s the introduction to Composites at the beginning of the handbook:

         

        In short, a SharePoint Composite is a “do-it-yourself” business solution. A SharePoint Composite bears close resemblance to the often-used term, “mashup”. A mashup (in contrast to a classic shrink-wrapped software product) is a quick Web application that incorporates data into a simple, visual, and interactive solution. However, the term “composite” emphasises the breadth and depth of solutions you can build on the SharePoint 2010 platform.

         

        In Part II, the handbook also identifies 20 common design patterns for composite applications, including social computing, dynamic diagrams, business process and workflows, content management, records and media management, web databases and business intelligence. And from page 65 it lists 40 pre-made application templates, with sources, including budgeting and tracking, contact management, absence and leave requests

        Learn MoreYou can download the SharePoint Composites Handbook from this page

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