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

  • Education

    The Education Sessions at Australia Partner Conference - Part Five

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    This is part five of a series, covering the Education sessions at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference.
    Start at part one (The Microsoft Australia Education Team) here

    The Decision Making Unit for Australian Education ICT

    The Education Decision Making Unit in Australian EducationAlthough there are over 8,500 education institutions in Australia, like many sectors, there is a hierarchy of decision making, including for ICT procurement.

    This is easiest to see when you consider ICT within each of the states, where there’s a CIO who will make critical decisions on behalf of all of the public schools within their state. Although it’s not as clear cut as a single decision maker (if it was, could you imagine how much sales and marketing effort would be focused on the inbox of just one person!) there is a clear focus for decision making at the centre of the organisation, rather than at the individual schools (think: more like Woolworths than 6,000+ individual corner shops).

    Here’s a summary of the decision making units for each of the education segments in Australia (the wordy-version of the slide above!):

    Public Schools - very centralised ICT decision making

    The strategic ICT budget for the 6,752 public schools sits with the CIO for the state - they receive the budgets for ongoing ICT maintenance, as well as the strategic projects, and are then responsible for delivering a programme that meets the needs of all of their schools. Given the scale of some of the states - for example New South Wales - you’ve therefore got a CIO with one of the largest IT budgets anywhere in the country, not just in education. Schools may get some say in how they implement the programmes - for example, they may get a choice about which laptop they choose for the DER programme, but it’s always from a framework of suppliers selected through central procurement.

    Schools can also buy their own ICT resources out of their own funds, but it’s limited funding, so tends to be for curriculum resources used by specific teachers or subjects. And the money for this comes from an overall school’s budget - the Principal will be deciding between spending on books, classroom resources, small maintenance projects - and ICT. Unlike central ICT projects, there isn’t a ring-fenced budget.

    The general trend is towards devolving more control to schools - so expect more decision making to be devolved to schools over time, starting with less strategic projects. If you want to know what that might end up looking like, I can explain over a coffee how the system worked in the UK, where every school principal had their own budget, and no central procurement of ICT - leading to around 30,000 buying points for school ICT!

    Public Sector TAFEs - ICT decision making balanced between independence and centralisation

    Ultimately, the 60 TAFEs are part of the same public sector organisation as the schools - however, they are much larger, with more funding coming from external revenue streams. So they will often implement their own strategic ICT projects as well as benefiting from central projects run out of the Education Department’s IT branch. Often these are around business priorities where it’s easier to see how it will deliver an independent business outcome for the TAFE - things like student recruitment, employer engagement and grants management. So selling a corporate student management system for all TAFEs would be done at central IT, but a solution to help a TAFE to manage their marketing and student recruitment activities could well be bought by individual TAFEs.

    Across there different states, there is also quite a wide variation in the amount of local autonomy TAFEs have - something you’ll want to check when working nationally.

    Higher Education - local ICT decision making, national references

    The 42 universities are their own decision making body for ICT procurement - each CIO in each university is the key decision maker, and they set both the ICT strategy, as well as control the implementation projects. Of course, it doesn’t all come down to one person - there are 1,600 people working in IT teams across Australian universities - but ultimately the strategic decision making sits within the individual universities. However, like many businesses, there are a range of other decision makers, and budget holders, who are critical to ICT procurement. For example, if your proposing to simplify the budgeting process for universities, then the key decision maker is likely to be in the Finance team, with IT being a supporter of the project. Or if you want to talk about a system for student recruitment, then it’s the marketing team who’ll be the primary driver. The benefit of this is that funding for projects can come from outside of the IT budget. For example, if you’ve got a way to recruit students more effectively, then you can expect that the marketing manager will be interested in how much it will save them - leading to a true Return On Investment discussion and decision making criteria.

    The other thing to remember with universities is that they have a close network between them - the CIOs all talk to each other and make recommendations of what works for them. So if you deliver a great solution to somebody who’s a good networker, then you can expect word to get around. That rule also applies if you deliver a bad solution!

    Catholic Schools - increasingly devolved ICT decision making

    As we move on to the 1,700+ Catholic schools, decision making gets a little diffuse again. The Catholic schools are grouped into Diocese units of varying sizes - eg Brisbane Catholic Education has 134 schools, whereas there are 56 schools in the Diocese of Maitland and Newcastle - and in each of these organisations you’ll find a CIO and their ICT team. Like the IT departments in each of the states, they’ll be making strategic investments in ICT systems, which the schools will then adopt. But there is considerable flexibility that allows most of the individual schools to do their own thing, although they will often be attracted to the central deal that’s been negotiated by the Diocese. (For some ICT procurement, there are also some national peak bodies, which negotiate national agreements on commodity purchases, like internet connectivity). Oh, and some of the Catholic schools aren't part of a Diocese grouping - so they act as completely independent schools.

    If you’re an ICT partner supplying Catholic schools, it may mean that you’re going through the procurement loop for the Diocese, and then having to go around each of the individual schools to convince them. But at least you’ll have the endorsement of their Diocese.

    Private Schools - more than a thousand decision makers

    So lastly, the 1,100 private schools in Australia. The message here is that they all act as individual schools - each making their own buying decisions, and developing their own strategies. Just like universities, you’ll be talking with the head of marketing about student recruitment systems and processes, and the head of operations for finance, and the head of IT about their infrastructure and learning systems. And just like higher education, they do watch what others are doing - so if you’ve got a good customer, you can expect them to tell others about what you’ve done for them - and people to listen.

    Learn MorePart Six - What education customers say, and what they mean

  • Education

    Victoria DEECD staff email is IT project of the year

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    Project Management Achievement Awards logoAfter making it to the finals of the Microsoft Australia Education Partner of the Year, more good news for OBS, who have just been awarded the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) Information Technology Project of the Year Award in Victoria for their project management of the implementation of Microsoft Exchange 2010 for the 78,000 staff at the Victoria education department.

    Here’s the news from OBS:

     

    An innovative, large scale email solution, based on Microsoft Exchange 2010 has won the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) Information Technology Project of the Year Award.

    The solution, developed for the Victorian Government's Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) is the largest Australian State or Federal government sector implementation of Microsoft Exchange 2010 and the second largest Exchange 2010 project delivered in the southern hemisphere in the past 12 months.

    The solution, developed for the Victorian Government's Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) is the largest Australian State or Federal government sector implementation of Microsoft Exchange 2010 and the second largest Exchange 2010 project delivered in the southern hemisphere in the past 12 months.

    This project impacted over 78,000 Victorian teachers, principals and Departmental staff. "eduMail" (as the system is known internally) is a critical business system within the Department and seamless integration was required to ensure minimal disruption to the delivery of teaching to Victorian students across the state.

     

    OBS have been working in the education market for quite some time, and have worked on many SharePoint projects, including the DEECD Fuse project, which made it to Number 2 in the Top Ten education SharePoint websites in Australia.

    Their case studies include Brisbane Catholic Education and the University of South Australia.

    Learn More

    Find out more about OBS in Education

  • Education

    The Education Sessions at Australia Partner Conference - Part Four

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    This is part four of a series, covering the Education sessions at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference.
    Start at part one (The Microsoft Australia Education Team) here

    What are the top concerns of University CIOs

    APC Slide - CIO Top Issues

    At the conference I only briefly covered the top three issues for university CIOs:

    • Mobility and personal devices
    • Cloud computing issues
    • Funding & Resourcing

    It’s interesting that the first two aren’t about restraints - things that limit what can be done - but are opportunities - things that can be done differently in order to expand the ICT service being offered to faculty and students, or reduce the cost of running current systems.

    The full University CIO Top Ten concerns

    CAUDIT (the Council of Australian University Directors of Information Technology) published the list of the key issues for University CIOs and IT Directors within Australia - or, as they describe it, those issues which were keeping them awake at night:

    They are:

    1. Mobility & Personal devices
    2. Cloud Computing Issues
    3. Funding & Resourcing
    4. Data Storage & Management
    5. Business Continuity
    6. IT staff – Re-skilling for the future
    7. Governance & Strategy
    8. Constant Change
    9. Research Support
    10. IT staff – Recruitment & Retention

    A summary, including the trends for the last 3 years can be downloaded from their site

    Learn MorePart Five - How many Decision Makers?

  • Education

    Microsoft Tech Tuesdays

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    Tech Tuesdays bannerWe’ve just started the new season of our Tech Tuesday webcasts, for school ICT managers in Australia. It's a great opportunity to take a look at some of our educational products or solutions in more detail, and there's a wide range of subjects.

    For the next few weeks, we’ve invited entrants to the Microsoft Australia Education Partner of the Year Award to join us too, to share their stories of success, and the work that they are doing with other schools around Australia.

    By doing these as Tech Tuesday webcasts, it means that there are all the benefits of a live session, without any of the travel challenges. Built on Microsoft's collaborative technologies, these live, bite-size presentations are instructor-led, and endeavour to cover a broad range of topics facing schools across the country.

    Future Tech Tuesdays

    Date
    Title
    Register Here

    8 November

    The Microsoft Office Suite in Education
    We’ll take a look at the latest version of Microsoft Office, and how ti supports teaching and learning
    Read more about Office 2010

    Register

    15 November

    Learning Management Systems in Education
    An overview of the choices in Australia, and an insight to the choices that other schools have made
    Read blog posts talking about ‘Learning Management Systems’

    Register

    22 November

    Microsoft Partner story - nSynergy
    Best Practice Intranets for Schools – examples, trends, and how to approach the project
    The session will focus on ways to make your School Intranet successful, by looking at award-winning Intranet examples, and popular trends.  User experience is key for Intranets and Extranets, and we’ll demonstrate and discuss how to maximise User Adoption.  We’ll demonstrate how to make your Intranet successful, and go through unique approaches to Intranet projects which are specific to school environments.
    Visit the nSynergy website

    Register

  • Education

    Weekly technical webcasts - 29 Aug-2 Sep 2011

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    Webinar iconThis year we’re offering a series of live webcasts, led by a Microsoft subject matter expert, on a range of core Microsoft products. They are not specifically designed to focus on education - and attendees will be from a wide range of industries - but I wanted to highlight the opportunity for you to take part to get up to speed with leading edge technology changes.

    Each week I’ll highlight the webcasts coming up soon, and provide a more detailed overview, and give a list of future sessions that you can book into your diary. All of the webcasts are scheduled for 2-4PM AEST (Australia East Coast time). See ** below for more details on how the webcasts work

    This week’s webcast

    Best Practices for Private Cloud Implementation

    Want to build out a Microsoft Private Cloud solution? Want to learn the best practices for implementing, managing and growing your Private cloud topology? Come to this session to ramp up on the various private cloud best practices and lessons learned during industry and internal implementations of Microsoft's Private Cloud solution. This session helps you to get the most out of your Microsoft Private Cloud implementation.

    2nd September - Find out more, and register 


    Future webcasts

    Date
    Title
    Register Here

    6 September

    Microsoft Exchange Online: Unified Messaging in Microsoft Office 365

    Find out more, and register

    7 September

    Inside Windows Azure, the Cloud Operating System

    Find out more, and register

    20 September

    Microsoft SQL Server Code-Named "Denali" AlwaysOn Series, Part 2: Building a Mission-Critical High Availability Solution Using AlwaysOn

    Find out more, and register

    20 September

    Microsoft Lync 2010: In the Cloud

    Find out more, and register

    23 September

    Understanding How Microsoft Virtualization Compares to VMware

    Find out more, and register

    27 September

    Microsoft Visual Studio Tips and Tricks

    Find out more, and register

    27 September

    Ten Must-Have Tools for Windows Azure

    Find out more, and register

    30 September

    Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2012: Deployment and Infrastructure Technical Overview

    Find out more, and register

    4 October

    Microsoft Lync 2010: Setup, Deployment, Upgrade and Coexistence Scenarios

    Find out more, and register

    14 October

    Virtualization: State of the Union

    Find out more, and register

    18 October

    What's New in Manageability for Microsoft SQL Server Code-Named "Denali"

    Find out more, and register

    18 October

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

    Find out more, and register

    21 October

    Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2012: Overview

    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

    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

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

    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 are two-hour long sessions, and combine technical presentations and live demonstrations. The level of the content is suitable for IT teams in schools, TAFEs and universities, as well as for pre-sales consultants and technical consultants working within Microsoft’s education partners. There are some which are much more specifically tailored for developers, and I’ll highlight those below.

    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 webcasts are scheduled for 2-4PM AEST (Australia East Coast time)

  • Education

    The Education Sessions at Australia Partner Conference - Part Three

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    This is part three of a series, covering the Education sessions at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference.

    Start at part one (The Microsoft Australia Education Team) here

    State Education Strategies slide

    Australian State Education Strategies

    I talked about the need to ensure that we, and our partners, are able to align to the strategic priorities of our customers. And a great way to do that is to understand the strategic plans. The example I used was the Strategic Plan for 2011-2015 for the Queensland Department of Education and Training, where they explicitly talk about performance enhancement and the need to:

      …continue to strengthen the analysis and use of performance data, research and evaluation to improve the delivery of services [and] improve the use of information management systems to monitor performance, inform decision-making, improve resource agility and productivity, support knowledge sharing and facilitate open and transparent communication.  

    Below are the links to the strategic plans for education ICT for the three largest states and the Federal government.

    The Australian Federal Government Education ICT Strategy- ‘Digital Education Revolution’
    New South Wales Government Education ICT Strategy
    Queensland Government Education ICT Strategy - ‘Smart Classrooms’
    Victoria Government Education ICT Strategy - ‘Digital Learning Statement’

    Of course, they aren’t always the principal drivers for every project in every state - but they are a great place to start if you want to understand what’s driving direction.

    Learn MorePart Four - The top issues for university CIOs 

  • Education

    The Education Sessions at Australia Partner Conference - Part Two

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    This is part two of a series, covering the Education sessions at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference. Read part one (The Microsoft Australia Education Team) here

    I covered an overview of the Australian Education market - and to the relief of some, I didn’t spend time digging down deeply into the data - let’s face it, that’s better digested in detail later. So I shared three statistics, relevant to each of the sectors.

    Three headline statistics for Australia Education IT

    Australian Government School spend

     

    The first is that the Australia government spends $12,873 per student on school education - and that’s grown by almost half in the last five years. (Detail freak? Don’t worry, more details below)
    Australian TAFE income

    The second statistic is that TAFE spend grew by 11% for the last year that the stats are available (2009) - and the interesting point is that most of the growth came from non-government sources, including employers etc


    Australian Higher Education IT budget

     

    And the third and final statistic is that universities in Australia spend around $1.6 billion on IT annually, and employ 1,600 staff. Which makes it a huge market (but then, so is the schools IT market, when you have CIO’s in some states responsible for $500m budgets).

    Forget the overview - give me the detailed statistics

    Now, if you’re a detail person, you might want a bit more than the statistics above. And I’ve got plenty - although I skipped them in the presentation, here’s the hidden slides I saved for now

    image

    If you read enough statistical reports, you can get to the neat summary alongside, which shows where the investment is going - approx $57 billion of funding split between the three key sectors.

    An interesting statistic is that non-government schools (Catholic and independent schools) receive approx 60% of their budget from the government.

    For the source reports, see Schools - TAFEs - Universities
    imageThe next set of statistics gives you a picture of the number of institutions across each sector, as well as the numbers of staff and students.

    An interesting stat on this slide is that there are 60 TAFEs, and 1,711 other private training providers.

    For the source reports, see Schools - TAFE staff & students - University staff & students

    image

     

    The breakdown of schools across each state shows why so many ICT providers for education focus a lot of effort on the three states in the East - New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, as they have the majority of schools and students.

    For the source reports, see Schools
    image

    For TAFEs and Universities, you can see that the pattern doesn’t quite match the profile of schools - with a blip up in the number of TAFE’s in Western Australia.

    For the source reports, see TAFE - Universities

    Learn MorePart Three - The Australian State Education ICT strategies

  • Education

    The Education Sessions at Australia Partner Conference - Part One

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    This week the entire education team has been up in the Gold Coast at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference 2011 (APC). It was a packed week - hundreds of our partners from right around the country, along with a sizeable chunk of the Microsoft team - which was a busy mix of keynotes, breakout presentations, group meetings, one-to-one meetings, and a healthy dose of socialising.

    As part of the agenda, we took a two hour dive into the education business, and talked about many different aspects of the marketplace, our future strategy, and what we’re doing to help our partners. As this is a public blog, I can’t publish all of the information here, but over the next couple of days I’m going to share as much as I can, and provide links to the resources we referenced.

    And for the benefit of those partners who were at APC, I’m going to try and stick to the order we used on the day. There was so much information packed into the session, it’s going to take me quite a few blog posts…

    Where possible, I’ve included the original slide info, so you can click on any of the slide thumbnails to see the enlarge image.

    Meet the Microsoft Australia Education Team

    We kicked off with George Stavrakakis, the new Microsoft Australia Education Director, introducing his team. All of the people on the first slide were in the room - our Account Management teams for the three main states:

    • Microsoft Australia Education Team - NSW - QLD - VICMark Kenny for Queensland
    • Claire Jorgensen for New South Wales
    • Trudi Grant for Victoria.
    • Each of them is supported by their Account Technology Specialist - Lance Baldwin, Andy Reay and Emilio Parente.

    Next George introduced the broader team across the rest of the country, including:

    • Microsoft Australia Education Team - other states and segmentsEducation Account Managers for the other states (Graham Lawrence for NT, Savvas Neophytou for Western Australia, Rob Santucci for South Australia, Michael Bennet for Tasmania and Brian Senior for ACT)
    • Our account team for Catholic and Independent Schools - Ken Rankins, Mark Caldwell and Vanessa Gage
    • Our Higher Education team - Lucy Segal and Mark Tigwell

    And finally, just some of the other members of the education team:

    • Microsoft Australia Education Team - the hangers-onme, looking after partners
    • Clive Dillen who is the Education focused person in Microsoft Services
    • Jane Mackarell, our Academic Programmes Manager - who runs the Partners in Learning programme in Australia

    And that was just the core group covered. There’s a large group of others that George mentioned who didn’t get their smiley faces onto the slides, including our Education licensing specialists, the marketing team, the Academic team in DPE and our colleagues from Microsoft Research.

    Want to know more about the team? More reading here

    Learn MorePart Two - The Australian Education Market Overview

  • Education

    The Australian Government’s ICT strategy for Education

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    There are all kinds of interesting documents that describe the Australian Government’s ICT strategy for Education, so here’s a summary of some of the key resources you can use to research the market.

    If you’re from outside of Australia, it’s important to know that there is a Federal strategy - which applies to all states, and then State strategies for each individual state. They normally mesh together, but it’s common for a federal strategy to be implemented in different ways in different states (in fact, it’s sometimes the strategy for some states to ensure that they implement things differently to their neighbouring states)

    What I’ve linked to below are the strategic plans for education ICT for the three largest states and the Federal government.

    The Australian Federal Government Education ICT Strategy- ‘Digital Education Revolution’

    New South Wales Government Education ICT Strategy

    Queensland Government Education ICT Strategy - ‘Smart Classrooms’

    Victoria Government Education ICT Strategy - ‘Digital Learning Statement’

    If you have links to the plans for smaller states, please add a comment below with a link, and I can put them into the list.

  • Education

    The winner of the Microsoft Australian Education Partner of the Year is…

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    Microsoft Australia Education Partner of the Year 2011

    This week, it’s the week of the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference. There are nearly 1,000 people gathered in the Gold Coast to learn together about Microsoft’s future strategy, from both a technology and market perspective. (From a distance, you can get a bit of a flavour by seeing what people have been tweeting about).

    The conference opened last night with the announcement of the winners of the Microsoft Australia Partner Awards, including the Education Partner of the Year. The finalists for the education awards were Dimension Data, Janison and OBS.

    As I was on the judging panel for the awards, I know just how hard it was to separate out the finalists, because the entries were all great case studies about the work that our partners had been doing to help improve teaching and learning across all education sectors in Australia. But, as with all awards, we eventually had to separate out three finalists, and then an intensive internal discussion led us to a winner.

    And the winner is…

    The winner for the Education Partner of the Year was Janison, for their work on using the Cloud to deliver online Science assessment exams to students in New South Wales Department for Education and Training.

    And here’s what the judging panel had to say about Janison’s award:

      The entry demonstrated that even the smallest companies, with the right mix of innovation and obsession, can deliver solutions which allow our joint education customers to innovate in their core tasks of enabling teaching, learning and assessment. Janison’s Cloud Assessment Framework, based on the Microsoft Windows Azure system, has laid the groundwork for all of our partners to enjoy greater success in the Australian educational technology market. With 40,000 students in New South Wales taking their annual Science exams online through the pilot, and 80,000 students from 600 schools due to take part in October 2011, it’s clear that Janison have now changed the game for student assessment.  

    Learn MoreLearn about Janison's award-winning ESSA project

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