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

  • Education

    Is CRM in education any different to CRM in the voluntary sector?

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    Magnifying glass iconOne of the things I’ve noticed is that although there are very specific requirements for CRM in education - student recruitment, grants management, parental communication etc - there are also many parallels to tasks done in other industries - room and facilities bookings, sales pipeline management, HR processes. So I’m always interested in what’s happening outside of education, and comparing it to the business of education.

    Yesterday, I read an article on CIO.com.au about Lifeline, and their project to increase their call handling capacity. And the article wasn’t about physically handling the calls, but having the systems for the staff members to access and share information in their virtual contact centre. The key business driver for Lifeline was about increasing their capacity to take calls - jumping 50% to 700,000 calls per year.

    Although the article doesn’t go into much detail, it does mention the role of Dynamics CRM to support this, and the work to have a clear disaster recovery backup system.

    Although it’s not an education example, the challenges will be the same for universities with student recruitment changing - how do you cope with constantly growing customer contact, how do you manage their contact lifecycle and how do you ensure that a growing base of employees have access to the systems and information they need, wherever they are.

    Read the full story: Lifeline upgrades call centre, aims to increase capacity by 250,000 calls per year

    imageIf you're interested in finding out more, or are interested in using Dynamics CRM for a project in your institution, then you'd want to know that this project was done by Attain IT, who are a Dynamics partner in Sydney.

  • Education

    Australian School holiday dates - 2012-2013

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    Icons_teacher_blueAn update on my previous blog post, to give you “Australian school holiday dates 2012”, with all of the term dates for each state in Australia. It’s a quick guide, if you are planning events or marketing activities with schools. As you’ll see all of the Australian school holiday dates don’t coincide, so you’ll find that you may be able to run an event in one state whilst all of the others are on holiday.

    Australian School Holidays 2012 - state by state

    State

    2011/2012
    Summer Holiday Ends

    Autumn Holidays Winter Holidays Spring Holidays

    2012/2013
    Summer Holiday Starts

     

    NSW

    26 Jan 2012

    6-20 April

    2-13 July

    24 Sep-5 Oct

    24 Dec 2012

    Link

    VIC

    31 Jan

    2-13 April

    2-13 July

    24 Sep-5 Oct

    24 Dec

    Link

    QLD

    20 Jan

    2-13 April

    25 Jun - 6 July

    24 Sep-5 Oct

    17 Dec

    Link

    WA

    31 Jan

    6-25 April

    7-23 July

    29 Sep-15  Oct

    19 Dec

    Link

    NT

    27 Jan

    6-13 April

    25 Jun-20 July

    1-5 Oct

    14 Dec

    Link

    SA

    27 Jan

    18-27 April

    2-13 July

    24 Sep-5 Oct

    17 Dec

    Link

    ACT

    2 Feb

    16-27 April

    9-20 July

    1-12 Oct

    24 Dec

    Link

    TAS

    14 Feb

    6-13 April

    4-15 June

    10-21 Sep

    20 Dec

    Link

    If you’re planning a national campaign, and want to work out when is a good time to schedule a mailing, webcast or other activity, then here’s a quick table. It’s the only dates when all Australian state schools are open:

    • 15 February - 30th March
    • 30th April - 23rd June
    • 23rd July - 21st Sept
    • 18th Oct - 11th Dec*
      * Private schools will close up to a week earlier
  • Education

    The Big Picture Experience in Sydney this Thursday

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    image

    Hopefully, if you’re based near Sydney, you’ve already registered to come along to The Big Picture Experience. The Sydney day for customers is this Thursday, the 1st December.

    The event is run as an ‘experience’, rather than as a conventional conference, so we’ve thrown away the usual long, dry agenda with the audience sitting down for hours on end. Instead, we’re creating an experience more like a theme park - lots of different zones to explore and learn in:

    • The Future of Productivity
    • Ultimate customer experiences
    • Insights 24/7
    • Mission control
    • The Modern Home
    • A World of Devices

    The customer days have exactly the same look and feel as our partner day on Wednesday, but instead of a big keynote, there are a number of mini keynotes and case studies throughout the day. There will also be many members of the education team on hand throughout the day, so that you can put faces to names, and get a chance for a deep and meaningful conversation! Oh, and over 100 other Microsoft people will be around each day, so there’s bound to be an expert in whatever subject you’re interested in.

    I can speak from experience of organising the Microsoft team at the world’s largest education IT exhibition at BETT, that having so many Microsoft people in one place means that it gives you access to knowledge that might normally take weeks to track down!

    The Big Picture website has a full agenda and detailed event guide, so I’d recommend jumping over there for full details and to register.

    You can either register in advance, or just turn up on the day

    Sydney
    Thu 1 Dec - 9am - 6pm
    Sydney Convention & Exhibition
    Centre – Hall 5
    Bing Maps | Add to Outlook calendar
    Find out more and register

  • Education

    Briefing for Education Partners in Sydney on Wednesday 30th November

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    If you’re Sydney-based, and working for a Microsoft partner, then I’m hoping that you’re planning to come down to The Big Picture partner day this Wednesday, at the Sydney Convention centre at Darling Harbour. Although you can drop it at any time during the day, I’m hosting a specific briefing session for our education partners at 11:15-11:45am.

    Education Partner Briefing - 11:15-11:45

    The aim of the education partner session is to ensure that you have the information you need on our licensing programmes and promotions, and we’ll take a look into three specific opportunities in the 2012 education market. The session is just half an hour long, and then there’ll be an opportunity to have a chat with other members of the education team who are going to be at the event (I can help hook you up with the person who looks after your target market, eg private schools, or TAFE, Higher Ed etc)

    Partners who have attended other briefings we’ve run often find that the chance to catch up with our sales team is one of the most useful bits, as it can help them to get really clear insight into a market or sales scenario. But, of course, I’ll have some hand-crafted PowerPoint slides for our half-hour together too!

    You can either drop in just for the Education partner session at 11:15, or come along earlier for the keynote and other sessions that are part of the whole Big Picture event.

    The Big Picture banner

    Plan to arrive early? Here’s my suggested agenda:

    The keynote speaker, at 9:15, is Steve Vamos who’s talking about leadership, innovation and how the potential of people and organisations is greater than ever before. And then at 10:30 you join either the Cloud or Future of Productivity sessions before our session starts at 11:15.

    Plan to stay around afterwards? Here’s what you can do:

    If you have time after the education session finishes, there are plenty of individual demonstrations that I’d recommend you take a look at - for example, just after the education partner session, there’s the chance to join the mini-sessions on ‘Social Networks for the Enterprise’ in the Future of Productivity zone, ‘Moving from Data to Decisions’ in the Insights 24/7 zone, and ‘Cost Effective Disaster Recovery’ in the Mission Control zone.

    The Big Picture for Microsoft Partners event is open to any staff at Microsoft partners, and having spent the day at the The Big Picture down in Melbourne, I’d definitely recommend putting aside a few hours to see some of the ways that we’ve constructed demonstrations of our products and services - there’s plenty of ideas that could be applied in your customer demonstrations.

    There’s plenty of information for the partner day on The Big Picture website, and you can use the link to register too. The event’s open from 8AM to 5PM, in Hall 5 of the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour.

    Learn MoreFind out more about The Big Picture experience day

  • Education

    Financial changes at the University of Sydney

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    The Conversation, and other media, are carrying the story today of the cuts at the University of Sydney. Basically, what’s been announced is that they are to cut staff costs by $53m (7.5%) by reducing academic and general staff. The underlying causes are a need to make investments in buildings maintenance and IT systems, and because the forecast for student fee income was too optimistic - with domestic students deferring and a drop in international students. (As I’ve previously noted, across Australia generally, the forecast is for international students to be down by 23% this year.)

    For the last few months, it’s been clear that there’s a perfect-storm of circumstances which will impact upon higher education in Australia:

    • Changes in the way that research is funded and reported
    • A drop in the new international students arriving
    • Lifting of the cap on student numbers, as a result of the Bradley Report, which leaves universities free to expand and compete more vigorously

    With all of these changes, I’d expect to see more changes in individual universities, as the impact bites. And a increased focus on value for money of projects and investments.

    Learn MoreRead the full article on The Conversation

  • Education

    Using the Cloud for research in Higher Education

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    After two weeks of discussions with various groups in universities in Australia about using the Cloud for research in higher education, here’s a couple of press items that caught my eye that are relevant to the discussions:

    CSIRO to mesh Azure Cloud with HPC infrastructure

    According to ComputerWorld, CSIRO are integrating its high performance computing infrastructure with Microsoft’s Windows Azure Cloud to support ‘computed tomography reconstruction’ and virtual labs. The CSIRO eResearch director, Dr John Taylor, is quoted in the article:

     

    In addition, Taylor said Azure could provide a platform for CSIRO to build virtual labs that will enable scientists within CSIRO and Australia — with plans to expand internationally — to work together online and have quick access to the same software, tools and data resources.

    “Instead of having to chase around and ask their colleagues what they’ve got, what tools they might have, what data they might have, we’ll make it all available in the Cloud and potentially build international laboratories based on this Cloud infrastructure,” he said.

    According to Taylor, employing Cloud-based infrastructure will offer the CSIRO access to greater speed and storage.

     

    You can read the full article “CSIRO to mesh Azure Cloud with HPC infrastructure” on the ComputerWorld website

    Fujitsu-Microsoft cloud floats to Australia

    From IT Wire comes news that Fujitsu have announced that they will be providing a hosted version of the Azure Cloud here in Australia:

     

    Australia will be one of five countries initially targeted for a hybrid cloud based solution announced overnight by Fujitsu which allows organisations to use Microsoft Windows Azure components, but choose where their data is located. For Australian clients that means they can choose to keep their data in Australia – overcoming the data sovereignty issue that has held many back from a holus bolus race to the cloud.

     

    The reason that this is an issue is that some research and other public sector organisations have a need to use a cloud data service, but want to be able to keep their data within Australia. Although, in my experience of these discussions, it can often be caused by a cloud understanding of what the regulations require - and the cost implications of private vs public cloud often changes decisions!

    You can read the full article “Fujitsu-Microsoft cloud floats to Australia” on the IT Wire website

  • Education

    Student Recruitment - social media in student recruitment

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    Front cover of Varsity Outreach reportVarsity Outreach, a US-based marketing agency specialising in Facebook marketing for colleges and universities in North America, has just released a survey ‘Facebook in Admissions’ from 150 colleges across the US. The survey, called ‘Facebook and admissions’ contains a good insight into the use and management of social media in student recruitment.

    It makes interesting reading because of the insight it gives into the potential complexity of university student recruitment in a competitive marketplace - something that’s going to be more and more topical here as the student cap is lifted. And it’s also relevant to the future of CRM in education, as the student recruitment process becomes more fragmented.

    Facebook and Admissions

    Here’s some of the headlines that I took away from the report - but I’d heavily recommend reading it yourself as there is so much additional information within it:

    • Four out of five institutions surveyed have an admissions-specific Facebook presence. And Facebook was rated as the most important of the social media options that they used (well ahead of YouTube, blogs, Twitter etc)
    • The major reason quoted for those who don’t an admissions-specific Facebook presence is that they don’t have enough resources to support it. I wonder though if that’s hiding an underlying reason, as for those who do have a presence, 87% have three or less people involved, and in three-quarters of responses, they spend less than 4 hours per week dedicated to it. It was interesting to see that a majority of institutions use current students to help manage their Facebook presence
    • 70% are measuring the performance of their Facebook efforts in some way (Here’s a shocking flipside - it means 30% don’t measure their Facebook presence in any way)
    • The last nugget I’ll mention is that less than one in three institutions had dedicated social media staff, and just one in six had a dedicated social media budget.

    My reflection on this survey is that it hints that student recruitment processes through social media currently aren’t well integrated into the ‘mainstream’ student recruitment processes in most institutions. And yet I know that it can be done really well, and monitored and measured effectively. I wonder if Australian institutions are ahead of or behind North American ones?

    I’m working on setting up a roundtable discussion in Sydney about the use of CRM in education, and I think that this would make a great discussion topic for it. Anybody interested in participating and sharing their experiences?

    Learn MoreDownload the Varsity Outreach Whitepaper - Facebook and Admissions

  • Education

    How many Live@edu users are there?

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    Globe iconOne question I do get asked frequently is “How many Live@edu users are there?”, or more generally “How many education customers use the Microsoft Cloud?”. Often the answer I have to give is outdated - at BETT in 2011, we announced that it had now reached a total of 15M students using Live@edu, up from 11M in November 2010.

    Over on the ‘Official Microsoft Blog’, we’ve just released an update, and there are now 22 million students using Live@edu worldwide, a doubling since this time last year. And it’s growing at the rate of 27,000 students every day. New institutions signing up for Live@edu recently include a range of universities including  University of Colorado at Boulder and Kings College London ; a number of state-wide school systems including Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, and not for profit institutions like the Royal National College for the Blind in the UK.

    Read the Official Microsoft Blog post Live@edu Tops 22M Users, Grows 100 Percent Year Over Year

    As we move into this next year, we’re continuing to offer Live@edu as a free cloud email, collaboration and communication service for staff and students, as well as bringing in Office 365 for education. It will include everything available in Office 365 for enterprises, and we are offering some qualifying education customers Office 365 in order to take advantage of Exchange Online and Lync Online today. We will add SharePoint Online capabilities in 2012 when Office 365 for education is broadly available. Current Office 365 education users include Georgia State University, Dundee University in Scotland, East Norfolk Sixth College in England, the Inzai City Board of Education and Wakayama City Board of Education in Japan - and earlier in the year I also highlighted Curtin University here in Australia.

    As I’ve said before, education is moving quickly to using the Cloud, to save money, build more flexible ICT infrastructures and enable much more effective collaboration. So, although the answer to the question “How many Live@edu users are there?” is 22 million today, it’s already wrong by the time you read this. Because every day education customers are doing more in the Cloud.

    Learn MoreRead related Cloud Case Study articles on this blog

  • Education

    The Big Picture Experience for education partners

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    The Big Picture Experience header

    Get Microsoft Silverlight

    Hopefully, if you’re based near either Melbourne or Sydney, you’ve already registered to come along to The Big Picture Experience. There are two separate dates in each city:

    • Melbourne
      • 22nd November for Microsoft partners
      • 23rd November for all customers
    • Sydney
      • 30th November for Microsoft partners
      • 1st December for all customers

    The events are being run as an ‘experience’, rather than as a conventional conference, so we’ve thrown away the usual long-dry agenda with the audience sitting down for hours on end. Instead, we’re creating an experience more like a theme park - lots of different zones to explore and learn in:

    • The Future of Productivity
    • Ultimate customer experiences
    • Insights 24/7
    • Mission control
    • The Modern Home
    • A World of Devices

    The Big Picture Experience for Partners

    Big Picture Partner DayKeynote

    On the partner days, we’re going to kick off the day with a keynote, and then it’s up to you to plan the rest of the day how you want it. The keynote speaker, Steve Vamos (named in the top five most influential members of the Australian technology industry by the Australian Financial Review), will share his perspective on leadership, innovation and how the potential of people and organisations is greater than ever before. Steve is the president of the Society for Knowledge Economics (SKE) and a non-executive director of Telstra. SKE is a Sydney-based think tank which researches corporate leadership, culture and management in knowledge-based globally-connected economies.

    Education Partner briefings

    For partners working with education customers, I’m going to be running a number of half-hour workshops, where we’ll be providing a briefing on the education licensing programmes available for Authorised Education Resellers, and looking at three key market opportunities, including the opportunities to supply Microsoft Academic subscriptions to private schools. For all partners focusing on education, whether or not you’re the licensing partner, we’ll look at key ways to grow your education business.

    You do not need to pre-book these workshop sessions, as they will be available on a first-come, first-served basis in the Briefing Room at 11am, and 1, 3 and 4pm.

    Register for the partner events

    Melbourne
    Tue 22 Nov, 8am - 5pm
    Check in and explore the showcase from 8.00am, keynote starts at 9.15am
    Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, 2 Clarendon St, South Wharf
    Bing Maps | Directions | Add to Outlook calendar
    Register Now and get your DigiPack

    Sydney
    Wed 30 Nov, 8am - 5pm
    Check in and explore the showcase from 8.00am, keynote starts at 9.15am

    Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre – Hall 5
    Bing Maps | Directions | Add to Outlook calendar
    Register Now and get your DigiPack


    The Big Picture Experience for Customers

    image

    The customer days have exactly the same look and feel as our partner day, but instead of a big keynote, there are a number of mini keynotes and case studies throughout the day. There will also be many members of the education team on hand throughout the day, so that you can put faces to names, and get a chance for a deep and meaningful conversation! Oh, and over 100 other Microsoft people will be around each day, so there’s bound to be an expert in whatever subject you’re interested in.

    I can speak from experience of organising the Microsoft team at the world’s largest education IT exhibition at BETT, that having so many Microsoft people in one place means that it gives you access to knowledge that might normally take weeks to track down!

    The Big Picture website has a full agenda and detailed event guide, so I’d recommend jumping over there for full details and to register.

    Register for the customer events

    Melbourne
    Wed 23 Nov - 9am - 6pm
    Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre2 Clarendon St, South Wharf
    Bing Maps| Directions | Add to Outlook calendar
    Find out more and register

    Sydney
    Thu 1 Dec - 9am - 6pm
    Sydney Convention & Exhibition
    Centre – Hall 5
    Bing Maps | Add to Outlook calendar
    Find out more and register

  • Education

    Business Intelligence Bootcamp for Microsoft partners

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    Sarah Arnold, over on the Australian Partner blog, has just announced that there’s extra help available for partners who are aiming to get the Business Intelligence competency for Microsoft Partners at Silver level. If you’re a partner that’s deeply engaged with education customers, you’ll know how much data education institutions collect, and how much useful insight it would deliver to them if they were able to analyse it easily and comprehensively - whether that’s for learning, assessment, finance or many other uses. Over 2,000 people a month in Australia search for either ‘BI in education’ or ‘learning analysis’, so there’s definitely an untapped potential.

    So investing in Business Intelligence in Education makes sense! Here’s Sarah’s offer, which includes five days of training for two of your staff in December, to help you work towards Business Intelligence certification:

     

    Are you working towards your Business Intelligence Competency and can you commit to achieving it by December 31, 2011? We have an offer for you on a first come, first in basis…

    This ‘Competency Development Offer’ provides Microsoft partners with resources to support you in achieving your Silver Business Intelligence competency on the basis that it is completed by December 31, 2011. The resources include;

    Complimentary access for 2 individuals (for Silver competency) on the Business Intelligence Bootcamp training course valued at $7,500 per person, in Sydney.

    Duration: 5-day accelerated boot camp

    Location: Macquarie University,

    Date: Tuesday December 13 to Saturday December 17, 2011

    Training hours: 8am to 8pm each day

    Content: Exam Prep Training content (Instructor led courses covering Theory, Hands-on labs, Revision and Exam preparation) targeting: Exam 70-448: TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance and Exam 70-433: TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Database Development.

    Note: Accommodation can be arranged at Macquarie University if needed but this will be at your own expense.

    If you are interested in participating in this offer and can achieve the Silver Business Intelligence Competency by December 31, 2011 please email me sarahar@microsoft.com and I will send you an application form. As spots are limited this is a first come.

     

    Of course, this is open to all Microsoft Partners in Australia that are aiming to get the Silver level competency in Business Intelligence, but I wanted to highlight it to the education partners that read this blog, to give you a chance to jump in quickly!

    Learn MoreEmail Sarah now to get the application form

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