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

  • Education

    A social media policy to encourage the use of social media by teachers in NSW

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    Twitter birdsAccording to a story in the Sydney Morning Herald over the weekend, the NSW Department for Education is implementing changes which support teachers to use social media both professionally and privacy. From now on teachers in NSW schools can access Twitter, Facebook and other social media from the classroom. And the Department have created a NSW social media policy for teachers - which is critical to helping them to understand what's expected of them. It starts with the statement:

      The department supports its employees’ participation in social media online applications such as social networking sites, wikis, blogs, microblogs, video and audio sharing sites and message boards that allow people to easily publish, share and discuss content.  

    When I read it, I liked seeing that intro "The department supports…", because that's a pretty positive affirmation in a social media policy for teachers  (much better than "You are allowed…"). You can find the NSW Social Media Policy for teachers here*.

    So from now on, you can expect to have many more teachers discussing education, sharing links, and also looking for information through social networks.

    If you're a supplier to education, what is your social media policy? If your customers are using Twitter, are you? Are you making it easier for teachers to find relevant information through social networks?

    * It took me a while to find the social media policy for teachers, as it doesn't show up when you search their website. But happily it's listed alongside all of the other 184 current school policies and guidelines, alongside such timeless classics as the "Pirated DVDs Screening Guidelines", which uses quite a few words to say "Don't"!

  • Education

    Using Open Source Moodle with Microsoft cloud services - case study

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    Whilst businesses have customer-relationship management systems, and online shops, the education equivalent is a Learning Management System (LMS) - something that will help a school, TAFE or university to deliver learning resources to their students, wherever they are.

    There's a diverse bunch of learning management systems in use in Australia - Blackboard, Desire2Learn, the RM Learning Platform, Uniservity, SharePointLMS - across all sectors. Whilst these tend to be fully-managed systems (where the software is installed on your own servers by the supplier or in a cloud-delivered hosted service) some people have chosen to build their own LMS by bringing together different components from different suppliers.

    Education Labs logoAs Computerworld reported recently, Redlands School in Sydney is one of those, where they have integrated an open source Moodle Learning Management System with the Microsoft cloud-based Live@edu email system (using a plug-in from Education Labs). They use Moodle as the main portal for learning resources - whether the student is within school or at home. And by adding integration to the Live@edu email system, it means their students now have single sign-on to their email, and cloud storage, straight from the home page of their Moodle system. As Christian Jean Sellies, the Redlands Director of ICT, is quoted as saying:

      At Redlands, students and staff use Moodle as an increasingly important resource in their online learning. One of the key reasons we chose Microsoft as our hosted mail provider was the availability of the plug-in for Moodle to bring the students’ Live@edu mailbox into their Moodle homepage. Since rolling out Live@Edu, we find that the majority of students access their mailbox through their Moodle lessons.  

    Learn MoreFind out more about the Live Services Plug-in for Moodle

  • Education

    What are the key issues for University CIOs in Australia?

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    CAUDIT logo

    CAUDIT (the Council of Australian University Directors of Information Technology) has just published a really useful 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

    If you're working with University CIOs in Australia (or hoping to), what do you do that could help them with managing or solving these issues?

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

  • Education

    Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 Review of the Economic Impact

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    imageWindows MultiPoint Server 2011 is the latest version of the clever technology that allows you to share one computer between multiple students - saving money on hardware, power and IT management costs. It's an ideal solution where you have banks of fixed computers, and it's coming up to replacement time - or where you need additional computers to supplement access for a 1:1 scheme. The kind of places it's popping up are in computer labs and resource centres/libraries. The beauty of it is that you can still provide plenty of access for your users - each gets their own keyboard, mouse and screen - but you typically only have one computer driving six screens.

    Now Forrester Consulting have done a Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 Review, looking at the Total Economic Impact of it. What they've done is to look at the long-term costs of running two alternative scenarios - individual computers and MultiPoint Server 2011 systems. And their comparisons look at the software, hardware, energy and management costs.

    As they are IT consultants, they use a lot of technical terminology and acronyms to describe the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), Risk-Adjusted ROI, and the 'can't-live-without-it' Nett Present Value (NPV). So if you love numbers, formulae and analysis, then you'll love this report.

    Here's my simple summary of their conclusions:

    • A school using Windows MultiPoint Server will spend 66% less than an alternative one using standalone computers
    • The three-year 'cost per seat' drops from $1,145 to $391 (which brings it down to about $130 a year)
    • Over the three years of use, you'll save 67% on energy, 66% on hardware, 99% on maintenance - and you'll spend 64% more on software.

    Learn MoreRead the full Forrester Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 Review of Economic Impact here

  • Education

    Ribbon Hero 2 - bringing gaming and learning closer

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    It just might change the way we think about end-user training - ZD NetIt seems that one of the trendy topics discussed at education conferences these days is the combination of gaming and learning. Most of the time, it’s discussed in the context of the classroom or of students, but a few years ago we applied it to product training, in one of our experimental Office Labs releases, called Ribbon Hero. It was designed to test the effectiveness, feasibility and appeal of delivering Office training in a game-like setting. The heart of Ribbon Hero was a set of challenges that users play right in the Office applications. And to add the competitive element, Ribbon Hero integrates with Facebook so you can share your success (or in my case, failures) with your friends. Ribbon Hero offers to post an update to your Facebook profile when impressive point levels have been reached.

    Ribbon Hero 2

    The team behind Ribbon Hero have gone even further, with Ribbon Hero 2 - incorporating a completely new, cartoon style interface, and a new job for Clippy (the really annoying 'helpful' paperclip from Office 97-2003).

    Ribbon Hero

    Ribbon Hero is a free download, and has got to be a big step up from conventional training ideas and manuals. Having heard Sir Mark Grundy of Shireland Collegiate Academy talk about the way they get their students learning by having a leader table for educational games, I can imagine the same kind of thing happening with this.

    Ribbon Hero screenshotI could tell you more about it - but it is much easier for you to download it, and have a five-minute play, than for me to try and describe how good it is to use. And remind yourself as you're using it, that it's the equivalent of a long dull training course. Imagine how you'd have conventionally learnt what it's teaching. Next time somebody talks about gaming and learning, you can wisely point them towards an example they may not have seen!


    Learn MoreFind out more, and get the free download for Ribbon Hero 2

  • Education

    SharePoint training boot camps

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    Icons_teacherStudent_blueAlthough this isn't specifically just for Education partners, the upcoming CIAOPS SharePoint boot camps running in Sydney on the 25th and 26th of May and Melbourne on the 19th of May are ideal if you are looking at how to help your customers make more use of their existing SharePoint installation - especially where you have a solution which helps them to turn it from an IT-centric document storage system to a process-handling, learning environment supplementing ICT system.

    Each course is limited to a maximum of 20 attendees and will provide attendees with hands on knowledge of a range of SharePoint products and technologies.

    Amongst other things you will learn:

    • how to work with SQL Server which is the heart of SharePoint storage
    • how to install, migrate and maintain a variety of SharePoint products
    • understand how to recover from SharePoint disasters
    • how SharePoint integrates with Microsoft Office 2010
    • how to design business solutions that can be templated

    Each attendee also receives a 12 month subscription to the CIAOPS SharePoint Guide (www.wssops.com) valued at $299 as well as hard disk (valued at $100) containing virtual machines, documentation and more. The full day course costs $399.

    For more details visit www.ciaops.com/bootcamp or contact Robert Crane (director@ciaops.com) to sign up.

    Remember, that places are strictly limited and the courses are filling fast (they aren't just for education partners) so if you want to learn more about SharePoint and how to make it work for your business and your customers, sign up now.

  • Education

    Education storage doubles every year for the last five years.

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    A year ago, Computerworld wrote an article about the use of internet bandwidth across NSW schools, following the roll out of student laptops - and the rapid growth in demand. Although it's a year old, it's worth a look if you're not familiar with the scale of the ICT within the NSW education system.

    At the bottom of the article, almost as an afterthought, is a list of interesting statistics of the scale of ICT in New South Wales education. As I read the list, I thought about the parallels to business IT - and how big educational ICT is - such that it would make it a significant ICT business, anywhere in the world.

    • 1.3 million students — 500,000 K-12 students, 800,000 in further education
    • 96,000 employees, including 5500 IT staff
    • 500 support staff at schools for the Digital Education Revolution.
    • 2411 locations
    • 280,000 PCs,
    • 7000 physical servers on site at schools and TAFEs
    • 3500 virtual servers on site at schools and TAFEs
    • 1560 virtual servers in the DET’s two data centres
    • 800 physical servers in the DET’s two data centres
    • 280TB of storage space which doubles every year for last five years.
    • 96 per cent of DET schools are connected by fibre.

    The bit that astounded me is that they have 280TB of storage space, and that's doubled every year for the last five years!

    Learn MoreRead the original Computerworld article

  • Education

    Australian Education Partners at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference

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    image

    I've already mentioned that the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) is in Los Angeles this year, from 10-14th July.

    This year the education partner activities will be planned to ensure that you don't miss out on other activities at the event. This means that there will be specific Education sessions during the Industry Track during the week. What's always a challenge is finding enough time during those tracks to dive into enough detail about our education solutions. One proposal is to add on a morning after the main conference has closed, to allow us to put on a mini-version of February's Global Education Partner Conference, that has been held in Seattle in the last few years.

    If that idea appeals to you - or you'd simply like to be kept in the loop on plans for education sessions at GEPS - drop me an email

    At the moment, you can still get the early-bird rate on the 5-day All Access Pass (which works out at less than US$400 a day) until 25th April.

    I'll get more details on the education content shortly, but I'd definitely recommend registering to the conference, and considering entering yourself into the WPC Awards too (deadline extended to 29th April). If you're looking for a great way to reward a valuable member of your team, a trip to WPC would definitely be a memorable experience which would deliver significant business benefits back to you too.

    Learn MoreLearn More about the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference

  • Education

    Australian Government ICT Strategic Vision 2011 - draft

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    Agimo blog logoThe Australian Government draft ICT Strategic Vision has just been published for consultation and feedback. They've published on the AGIMO blog, which is where they've invited public comments.

    I'm going to have a detailed read today, but a quick scan over the weekend highlighted what a well written, easily understandable document it is - and it directly addressed some of the issues that I've spotted with ICT in the public sector since arriving at the end of January. Overnight, I'll share more of my thoughts, but for the meantime, you should take a look at the draft Australian Government 2011 ICT Strategic Vision, and consider commenting - as well as considering how it might affect your strategy going forward.

    Learn MoreRead the draft ICT Strategic Vision

    The AGIMO is the Australian Government Information Management Office, which works across Govt to keep Australia position as a leader in the productive application of information and communications technologies to government administration, information and services.

  • Education

    Microsoft Australia Schools Roadshow - May 2011 - Building skills for tomorrow

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    image

    Next month we're running a series of roadshow events for school Principals, IT managers and Curriculum leaders. We're aiming to cover the country, with events in Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, from 10th May to the 2nd June.

    There are three separate streams to the day, with a breakfast session for Principals (from 7:15 to 9:00 am), a full-morning session for Curriculum Leads from 9:30am to 1pm; and IT Managers get the full works, from 9:00am to 3:00pm.

    The day will have a mix of deep sessions on key issues, customer case studies, and product showcases - including some of the latest whizzy products that are relevant to education - cool laptops and tablets, unified communications and video conferencing, and the Kinect for XBox 360. With speakers including Principals, Innovative Teacher Award winners, and other school staff, the day will provide a good insight into life in schools today, and the issues affecting them.

    You can find out more about the events - and register to attend - here. If you're working at a Microsoft education partner, I'd encourage you to register and join the audience - think of it as a training event - hearing about some of the customer success stories that will help you in your work, as well as get up to speed on the ways our education team talk about our products and services.

    Venues and Dates for the Building skills for tomorrow roadshow

    Adelaide
    Tues 17 May AEEC Adelaide Showground

    Brisbane
    Tues 10 May QPAC

    Hobart
    Thurs 5 May The Hutchins School

    Melbourne
    Thurs 2 June Melbourne Park Function Centre (note changed date)

    Perth
    Thurs 19 May Duxton Hotel

    Sydney
    Wed 25 May Australian Technology Park

    Learn MoreFind out more, and register

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