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

  • Education

    The Microsoft Australian Partner Roadshow is coming to Melbourne and Sydney next month

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    image

    We’ve just announced the dates for our ‘Big Picture Experience’ for Microsoft Partners, in Melbourne on 22nd November, and Sydney on the 30th November. These are free events, only available to registered Microsoft Partners, where there will be a chance to catch up on the latest Microsoft news and developments, and see how our products and services can complement each other to help you to deliver solutions for your customers.

    Compared to the Australian Partner Conference, which is a more conventional ‘conference’, we’ll be providing a much more flexible and interactive day, and by getting on the road, hopefully more of your team will get a chance to come along. The other thing to know about the event is that you don’t need to commit the whole day - you can drop in for a few hours at some point in the day, and stay as long as we can keep you entertained and informed!

    As the invite says:

      This event is not a talkfest. You won’t be sitting in a conference hall, trying to stay awake. Instead, you’ll explore real life scenarios that will show you the tangible impact of Microsoft technology advances.  

    The scenarios are:

    • Insights 24/7 - how to make decisions smarter and in real-time
    • The Future of Productivity - using a ‘day in the life’ scenario
    • Ultimate customer experiences - looking at the tools that will help marketers, sales and other customer-facing staff
    • Mission control - integrating private and public cloud, and learning how to adapt, adopt and deploy new cross platform services as never before.
    • The Modern Home - Explore the unlimited worlds of entertainment, gaming, connection, and learning that are possible when technology brings it home.
    • A World of Devices - @home, @work or @play, cool devices make our time so much richer - see, touch and play with the latest phones, PC’s and slates to your heart’s content

    image

    If you’re not an education partner, then wait a day - I’ve got details on the customer roadshow coming tomorrow too….

  • Education

    Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance - taking CRM in education into the classroom

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    TeacherHow do you reconcile the gap between the skills that you can teach today, and the skills your students will need when they leave education institutions and enter the world of employment? Earlier in the year I wrote about one initiative at Keele University of Applied Sciences, where the students are using Microsoft Dynamics CRM in education as part of their course - familiarising them with the tools they are going to encounter in employment, as well as giving them a head start for jobs.

    If you’re in a TAFE or university, you may want to know about (or let a colleague know about) the Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance, which is a community of over 1,500 education institutions around the world that are teaching students using the Microsoft CRM and ERP systems. The scheme works by giving your institution access to:

    • Donated Microsoft Dynamics software for your classroom/labs
    • Free technical support from Microsoft Dynamics product experts
    • Free online training and course materials
    • Access to Faculty Connection, a Microsoft-sponsored CRM in education community designed to connect you with other professors who are leaders in their field
    • Information about industry association meetings and conferences
    • Connections with Microsoft Dynamics partners and customers

    The programme is open to educational customers that want to use the Microsoft Dynamics products in their curriculum or academic research in curriculum areas such as accounting, business, marketing and operations management. (Of course, it would be obvious to include it within a degree course in sales, but unlike other similar professions such as marketing, it seems that ‘sales’ doesn’t get its own degree course!).

    A big benefit is that your students are able to get hands-on, practical learning experiences that replicate the processes and systems they will encounter when they leave you, and your teaching staff get a simplified route to creating the courses needed by students.

    Learn MoreFind out more about the Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance

    Important NB: The no-cost software licences issued through the Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance are not for evaluation purposes or for personal, family, or business use. They are not available for Microsoft Dynamic–specific training on a for-profit basis, and they are not available for educational institutions that want to use them to manage their own operations.

  • Education

    What's Next at Microsoft

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    Microsoft is a big place - with tens of thousands of people designing, creating, coding and building things around the world. There’s simply too much going on to keep up with it all. With just under 100,000 staff, it’s the equivalent of trying to keep up with what’s happening in every government school in NSW and Victoria put together.

    And as a result, I’m often catching up on new developments at the same time as you may be (if you’re an avid reader of other Microsoft blogs!). One of my favourite blogs to keep ahead of the curve is the Next at Microsoft blog, written by Steve Clayton, an old colleague from the UK. Steve’s a natural story-teller, and he has managed to get access to some of the amazing work going on behind the scenes in our research labs.

    Four days ago, Steve linked to a Microsoft Research video on the ‘HoloDesk’, which takes some of our latest inventions to a whole new level. If you’ve seen Kinect in action, you’ll be familiar with the concepts, but when you see where they’ve taken this, I’m sure you’ll be amazed.

    Watch the Microsoft Research team share their work on the HoloDesk

    What learning experiences could this allow you to create for your students? What’s not possible today that would be with this? And which sci-fi films now look slightly old fashioned?

    Learn MoreRead more about this project on the Next at Microsoft blog

  • Education

    This week’s webcasts for education customers and partners 24-28 October 2011

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    There are four webcasts to know about this week - one education-specific one (the Tech Tuesday) and three more general technical ones. I’ve listed them in priority order, which I think will match the needs of Australian education customers.

    The two that I think are particularly valuable are the Tech Tuesday webinar on the IT Academy, which will be of interest to all education customers (and to people with either a curriculum or IT interest).

    The second key one, on Friday, is the session which will help you to understand how you can create IT projects which bridge on-site infrastructure and Cloud services. The reason I see it as key is because in education we’re going to see an increasing focus on hybrid solutions, because there’s some data you’ll be hesitant to put into the cloud (eg sensitive student medical data), whereas other data you may find useful to put into the cloud in an anonymised way (eg student achievement data) in order to enhance teaching and learning). There are a number of projects where the hybrid model is being used by education users in Australia, so this session will give you some of the technical background to what’s possible.

    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 25th October 11AM-12PM AEST - Register here for the webinar

    What Are the Bridges between Private and Public Cloud?

    In this session we look at the core Hybrid Cloud topologies possible with Windows Azure and Windows Server Private Cloud Architecture. We showcase bridging the two environments together and how you can leverage private and public cloud to scale your enterprise needs.

    Friday 28th October 2-4PM AEST - Register here for the webinar

    An IT Professional View of Windows Azure

    This session takes a look at the Windows Azure Platform from an IT professional’s perspective. We provide a brief overview of the Windows Azure Platform featuring the recently announced changes to the platform as well as demonstrate the practical measures IT professionals need to take in order to deploy, manage and monitor applications running in Windows Azure.

    Tuesday 25th October 2-4PM AEST - Register here for the webinar

    Would You, Could You with Team Foundation Server?

    You’re considering Team Foundation Server, or perhaps you have already deployed it? You think you know what it is capable of, but do you? Microsoft built in many extensibility points which developers have used to build interesting and useful add-ons. These solutions include tools for managing requirements, product and sprint backlogs, work items, and software deployments. In this session, we discuss the partner ecosystem and demonstrate some of these products. See how to go beyond the out-of-the-box capabilities of Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server without custom development or going to other Application Lifecycle Management platforms.

    Tuesday 25th October 2-4PM AEST - Register here for the webinar


    Future webcasts

    Date
    Title
    Register Here

    1 November

    Microsoft Office 365: Deployment Overview

    Find out more, and register

    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

    The Consumerisation of IT, and education - presentation slides from Melbourne

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    When I was down in Melbourne speaking at a Fujitsu briefing for schools I said that I’d put the slides up onto this blog - and then I forgot. Fortunately, I’d also given out my email address, so I got an email reminding me about my promise….

    I had the opportunity to talk at the issues surrounding the consumerisation of IT - and what it means for schools when you’ve got a broad range of devices arriving on your campus. They they may not all be owned and managed by your IT team, so it potentially turns an already-difficult job into a nearly-impossible one! Although the event was focused on schools, in reality this is impacting every sector of education today.

    Although I haven’t got a recording of the session, you can download the slides here, which will hopefully be useful to people that were there, as well as some of those who weren’t (although, without the words, some slides will make absolutely no sense!)

      Learn MoreDownload the 'Consumerisation of IT - and it's impact on Education' slides

    • Education

      Education ministers back new national standards in four subjects

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      Icons_books_blueThe Education Review website carried the story this week that the state and federal education ministers have agreed a common set of future assessments standards to go with the new Australian curriculum:

       

      State and federal education ministers have endorsed assessment standards for the new Australian curriculum and a framework for national teacher registration.

      They have also got behind a proposal to fund professional development for principals and a national model to identify students with a disability.

      The standards by which students will be assessed are to be streamlined nationally in the new curriculum subjects of maths, science, English and history, school education Minister Peter Garrett says.

      "We already had the content, now we have the validated standards against which students will be assessed," Garrett said after the ministers met in Melbourne last week.

       

      As you think about the future in schools in Australia (either because you’re in one, or because you are a supplier to them), then there’s a clear trend that’s likely to follow this, based on what’s happened in other countries around the world - expect to see increased focus on those subjects where there’s both a national curriculum and agreed national assessment standards.

      In Australia, that means that maths, science, English and history will get an increasing focus as the national curriculum is rolled out, until both the curriculum and assessment standards for other subjects are agreed.

      Learn MoreRead the story "Education ministers back new national standards" in Education Review

    • Education

      The value of data visualisation in education

      • 0 Comments

      By all accounts, we’re already, or soon going to be, drowning in a sea of data. The amount of data being generated every day, hour, minute or millisecond continues to climb exponentially. This is true whether we’re talking about our home lives or professional lives. There is so much data we can barely keep up, and we’re only at the beginning of the data tsunami.

      This is an issue for education too, because, as McKinsey identified, in the journey from a ‘good’ education system to a ‘great’ one, there is an assumption that we already have high quality performance data available. But having high quality performance data isn’t just about the volume or accuracy of the data - it is also about how easily understandable and usable it is. (This is at the heart of the difference between ‘databases’ and ‘business intelligence’ in education. The challenge we face is about producing useful information, not just data.

      Which is why this video is so powerful - and a great way to explain to colleagues that simply collecting data, and putting it into spreadsheets and reports, is only part of the challenge of making it ‘high quality’ data.

       

      The Value of Data Visualization from Column Five on Vimeo.

    • Education

      The debate between employers and the education system

      • 0 Comments

      I’ve been in Australia for 9 months today, and one of the things that I’ve noticed is that the Australia media only focuses on a few issues in relation to schools - and a lot of it is about political, rather than learning-centric, issues. So I was heartened to open the Sydney Morning Herald today to see a story about education that isn’t focusing on the narrow debate about funding (don’t get me wrong, school funding is important, but it seems to have dominated the reporting on education for the last six months, at the expense of media coverage about learning-related topics). The story, on page five, was headlined ‘Employers want HSC geared to workforce’, and reported on a review to be published by the NSW Business Chamber. (Although this story had a a specific New South Wales focus, the same pattern will exist in every state, and I know it exists in many countries - it seems that every year the Institute of Directors in England produces a similar report).

      Icons_teacherStudent_blueAs it’s a report in the News section, it focuses on a complaint-response structure - in this case, employers calling for more core subjects for the HSC, better quality vocational courses and minimum standards for literacy and numeracy, with the NSW Board of Studies responding that literacy and numeracy is high up their agenda. It also went on to say that the chamber believes that 9 out of 10 vocational courses won’t lead to a qualification ‘adequate for a 21st century labour market’.

      Whatever else this may imply, there’s a couple of significant points in here for the suppliers of ICT services for schools in NSW:

      • The literacy and numeracy skills of students are high up the agenda for key stakeholders
      • We should expect continuing change in the configuration, breadth and diversity of courses
        This will be a major challenge, when considered alongside the data that half of NSW teachers are due to retire by 2016 - with a similar statistic in other states.

      Question: Does what you do contribute to alleviate the problem? If the answer isn’t immediately obvious, is it important enough to refocus?

    • Education

      This week’s events - webcasts and in-person - 17-21 October 2011

      • 0 Comments

      There are four webcasts to know about this week - one education-specific one (the Tech Tuesday) and three more general technical ones.

      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

      Microsoft Education Partner story - Dimension Data

      Dimension Data were one of three finalists for the Microsoft Australia Education Partner of the Year Award 2011 for their work in helping schools and universities to deploy Cloud services to their students (through Live@edu and Windows Azure). Read more about their Live@edu case study in South Australia

      Tuesday 18th October 11AM-12PM AEST - Register here for the webinar

      What's New in Manageability for Microsoft SQL

      Microsoft SQL Server "Denali" has many new features and enhancements. With a focus on manageability, this session tours new features including Contained Databases, Distributed Replay Utility, User Defined Roles, SQL Management Studio enhancements, and PowerShell. The session is demo-intensive and provides you clear guidance and strategy in the upcoming release of SQL Server.

      Tuesday 18th October 2-4PM AEST - Register here for the webinar

      Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Office 365: How to Set Up a Hybrid Deployment

      Exchange Server 2010 was designed to support hybrid deployments of on-premises and cloud users. Come and learn how rolling out an Exchange 2010 server in your current Exchange environment prepares you for seamless integration with Exchange Online. Whether you are piloting a few users or moving a large part of your workforce to the cloud, we give you the technical details on Exchange-to-cloud integration that you need to be successful.

      Tuesday 18th October 2-4PM AEST - Register here for the webinar

      Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2012: Overview

      The public beta is here – so be amongst the first to see what is coming in the next generation of IT monitoring. This session provides you with an overview of the capabilities in Operations Manager 2012 (which will help you to decide whether you want to try out the beta).

      Friday 21st October 2-4PM AEST - Register here for the webinar


      Future webcasts

      Date
      Title
      Register Here

      25 October

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

      Find out more, and register

      25 October

      An IT Pro View of Windows Azure

      Find out more, and register

      28 October

      What Are the Bridges between Private and Public Cloud?

      Find out more, and register

      1 November

      Microsoft Office 365: Deployment Overview

      Find out more, and register

      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 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

      The Microsoft Virtual Academy - a resource and an exemplar?

      • 0 Comments

      When I wrote about the Australian IT skills shortage (Where are the IT jobs) earlier in the week, I highlighted that research had identified a growing need from employers for applicants with very specific Microsoft skills sets - eg experience in virtualisation and cloud computing, as well as product specific skills. And I’d mentioned the Microsoft IT Academy programme as one route for institutions to help their students get recognised certifications.

      The Microsoft Virtual Academy

      imageA colleague has also reminded me about the Microsoft Virtual Academy, which is an online training centre which uses some of the characteristics of game-based learning to motivate learners. It’s free and open to anybody, not just those students in formal education institutions, and focuses on a range of Microsoft cloud-based technologies. As the site says:

        Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) is a fully cloud-based learning experience focusing on Microsoft Cloud Technologies. You can access a variety of training content online and become one of the renowned experts in the IT Pro community around the world. MVA provides its users with a virtual university experience: the student can select a track and study the material and then do the self-assessment. By doing so, they will collect points that will promote them to a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum Level. Students on MVA can get access to all the information, statistics and advancements of their training career, allowing them to maintain a long-term relationship with Microsoft. Learning through MVA is free of charge, and you can study the contents at any time and at your own pace.  


      There are currently 310,000 students registered, and they’ve collectively taken 290,000 self-assessments (of which 6,000 were within the last week).

      Topics covered include:

      • Clustering
      • Hyper-V
      • Office 365
      • Private Cloud
      • Public Cloud
      • Security
      • SQL Azure
      • System Center Virtual Machine Manager
      • Virtualisation
      • Windows Azure

      The whole system runs in the Cloud, as it’s built on Windows Azure. This means that the data can be made public, or kept private, and the system can scale up as the student base grows.

      The MVA league tables

      Game-based learning

      The interesting game-based learning aspects of the MVA site are things like the league tables on the right. All of the courses have specific points allocations (based on level, type of learning activity etc), and as learners progress through courses and assessments, they can accumulate points to move through the bronze/silver/gold/platinum levels. And on their profile they can also see their position in the national and global league tables.

      The assessments are not a replacement for the formal certifications which are required to reach Microsoft certified status (eg MCP or MCSE), but it is an interesting twist to delivering learning activities, and really interesting to see how many individuals voluntary sign up for and complete courses and assessments.

      Who would have guessed that over a quarter of a million students would sign up for a virtual academy?

      What does it mean for the future of Learning Management Systems?

      I’ve been watching the Learning Management System market change over the last couple of years, as we’ve moved away from a monolithic, ‘enterprise’ mindset for learning management. Instead of thinking that the answer lies in a big, central, controlled learning management system, we are starting to see organisations use a mixture of different systems to deliver and assess learning activities - and the MVA is a good example of something built for one specific purpose.

      In the future of learning management systems, I think we’re going to see more of these custom portals, delivering learning on specific subjects, and a greater need to integrate the learning and assessment data across them - rather than having only a single system per institution that can deliver courses. We’re a long way from solving the challenges this fragmentation delivers, but we’re definitely on the journey. If you work in a school or college, how would the courses in the MVA help you to reach your teaching and learning goals? And how would you link it to what goes on in your classroom, and your own assessment and data systems?

      Learn MoreGo to the Microsoft Virtual Academy

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