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

  • Education

    What's this blog about - the education blog tag cloud

    There's a lot of people discovering this Education blog for the first time (nearly 10,000 of you in the last two months). You're probably used to the usual 'About This Blog' page - but perhaps you're a visual learner like me. So here's the real 'About This Education Blog' page - a picture of the last two month's worth of content.
    You can click and explore any of the content, and discover it for yourself.

    And thanks to Tagxedo for the brilliant tag cloud design. It's free and I can imagine that teachers could create some wonderful online classroom resources, as well as poster prints, with this.

    A nice feature is that you can set Tagxedo to search specific websites when you click the tag cloud - in my case, this blog.

  • Education

    Microsoft's Licence Mobility - how it works for education


    Icons_gears_blueLast week, I wrote about changes in our licensing, which introduced Licence Mobility, arriving from 1st July 2011. This will give customers much more flexibility in their decisions about deploying applications on-premise, and in shared data centres in the Cloud. For example, they can now use their licences to run key applications in a data centre which is shared between different customers (previously, a completely different licence type - called SPLA - was needed for shared data centres).

    I've now found a more detailed presentation that steps through the scenarios, and explains in detail what is now possible. For example, this slide demonstrates the gap filled by the new licence mobility, and differentiates between this and the SPLA licensing. Basically, licence mobility allows you to run a dedicated application on shared hardware, whereas SPLA works for shared applications on shared hardware.


    Here's an example of the way that the licence mobility might work in education:

    A school wants to use a SharePoint-based learning management system - and rather than having it setup on a school server, they want their partner to run the servers in an offsite data centre. (This makes lots of sense, as the hoster is likely to provide 24x7 uptime support, which is exactly what students expect in today's learning environment. If they can't get to their revision notes at midnight before the exam, they get riled!)

    The partner is happy to host the SharePoint, but wants to run it on virtualised servers (who wouldn't?) which means that the hardware is shared - there may be a bunch of other systems running on the same physical server.

    Previously, the partner would have had to license this through SPLA licensing, and because this was complicated, it tended to put people off (both partners and customers).

    With Licence Mobility, what now happens is that the education customer simply moves their Academic licences to cover the hosted setup, avoiding the potential duplication of licences, or confusion of multiple licence types. The partner is responsible for licensing the Windows Server hosts - which isn't a change for them - but the customer now buys or provides the licences (in this case SharePoint) for the applications.

    As customers' attention turns to Cloud solutions, this opens up more opportunities for education partners to help them build a more agile and robust ICT system.

    Learn MoreDownload the full 'License Mobility' presentation for more info

  • Education

    Cloud migration strategies in Education


    I've just updated the list of webcasts on Cloud migration strategies - which focus on the migration of internal Microsoft business applications to the Cloud with Windows Azure, by adding the interview with two key architects - Scott Richardson and Tom Woods.

    They talk extensively about the cost-saving aspects of moving to the Cloud, but one of the other parts I found interesting was the framework that they have used to assess all of our internal applications. As organisations think about Cloud migration strategies, there are both technical and business issues to consider. Scott and Tom talk about the way that they used some set criteria which allowed them to develop a prioritisation framework, based on two key aspects:

    • Business aspects

    - Criticality of the application
    - Regulatory issues
    - Information sensitivity

    • Technical aspects

    - Complexity
    - Monitoring needs
    - Access to source code
    - Database size

    By rating applications on these criteria, they were able to categorise each application as Basic, Intermediate or Advanced. And then they could used these to plan what to move to the Cloud and in which order.

    The parallels between our internal business systems, and IT systems in education are strong. If you were to do the same for your application portfolio (whether you're a software developer or CIO), what would it look like? And do your current plans reflect the priorities?

    You can download the MP3 of the interview here, or use the link below for the full list of webcasts:

    Learn MoreSee all of the TechNet radio episodes on Microsoft's experiences of Cloud services migration

  • Education

    Connected Learning Workshop and Training for Education Solution Partners



    Microsoft would like to invite our education solution partners in Australia to our free technical workshop on the Connected Learning solution area being held in Malaysia on 4th - 6th May 2011.

    This workshop is designed for pre-sales technical, consultants, system engineers and technical decision makers with an interest in Microsoft platform solutions for education collaboration including the Learning Gateway framework and Live@edu. We expect that after this training you will be able to deploy education solutions based on these platforms that leverage SharePoint, Exchange and Microsoft’s cloud platform for education – Live@edu.

    Date and Location

    4-6 May 2011
    Kuala Lumpur

    Course Objectives

    After completing the instructor-led Connected Learning workshop, attendees will be able to understand:

    • What is Live@edu and what it provides for education
    • What is Live@edu value for partners
    • How to plan and start Live@edu engagement
    • How to sign up and provision users into Live@edu,
    • How to implement single sign-on and federation with Live@edu
    • How to integrate Live@edu with SharePoint
    • How to migrate email to Live@edu
    • What is new in SharePoint 2010
    • What is SharePoint Learning Kit
    • How to deploy Office Web Apps
    • How to implement SharePoint workflow using Visio
    • Example of Learning Management System (LMS) using SharePoint 2010

    Who Should Attend?

    Microsoft partners are invited from across the Asia-Pacific region with an interest in the education sector, including solution integrators and ISV partners. You don’t necessarily have to be an existing partner in education – the purpose of the workshop is to expand your technical skills for solutions in education. Prior technical knowledge (level 200) of SharePoint, Powershell and Exchange is highly recommended.


    You will need to register before Friday, 23 April - confirmation will be on a first-come-first serve basis.

    Detailed agenda for the training and venue

    Registration and accommodation details form

  • Education

    Webinar - Managing Documents and Content in SharePoint 2010


    Icons_teacher_blueThere's a webinar on 21st April from 12:30-2:30PM (AEST) that will be of interest to all of those who've got SharePoint, and are working out how to get more value from it.

      Everyone can dig a hole to store content, finding that content and getting it out again is the key.  

    The challenge with SharePoint in education is to move it from a tactical asset (somewhere to put files and distribute work) to a strategic asset (to use it to improve the model of teaching and learning in your school/college/university). One of the challenges of building a great SharePoint is to stop it turning into the dumping ground for info (just becoming another Shared-Drive). In education I've seen great examples of student portals, where students use it for everything from homework assignments to exam revision; and parent portals, where parents can easily find attendance and attainment information for their children, and can access all of the previous school reports. And there are plenty of tricks that can be used to make it easier and simpler for different groups of users - for example, to allow students to email their work from home straight into a document library at school.

    So this webinar, on 21st April, will be really useful for you if you want to know what your SharePoint is capable of - and some insight into ideas that could be used to support your teachers and students.

    Learn MoreFind out more, and register for the SharePoint Document Management webinar

  • Education

    The Australian Education Market by the numbers


    There is no shortage of data on the education marketplace - but finding a summary of the whole market is tricky. So I created one from trawling across the various government sites and statistical bulletins.

    So here's my 'home movie' version of the key numbers for the Australian Education Market, which summarises:

    • Total Australian government spend on education
    • Total number of schools, TAFEs and universities in each state
    • Mix of state, catholic and private schools
    • Total number of students in Australian schools, TAFEs and universities
    • The Top 10 Australia universities, by student size


    What other data would be useful to have in here?

    Total education budget - Productivity Commission Report on Education and Training 2010
    TAFE budgets - NCVER Statistics
    Number of schools - ABS
    Number of TAFEs - NCVER
    TAFE staffing - Productivity Commission
    Higher Education staff - DEEWR
    Higher Education students - DEEWR
    Schools by State - ABS
    Higher Education by state - DEEWR
    TAFEs by State - NCVER

  • Education

    What does the NSW data centre consolidation project mean for education?


    The New South Wales government have started to implement their data centre reform programme, with education (specifically, the NSW DET - Department of Education and Training) as one of the key drivers. The government in NSW currently runs around 130 data centres, and to goal is to bring that down to just two, over the next decade.

    The NSW CIO has said that will save 473GWh of electricity* over the next 15 years , so there's a cost driver. And it will also drive more scalable and robust capacity.

    What it's likely to mean for education users and partners is that there will be more pressure to either deliver a complete service (eg a cloud-based service) or use the new central government data centres. The days of projects which require discrete networks of servers, with high upfront capital costs, will be limited.

    * If, like me, a GWh doesn't mean much, then here's a comparison - 473GWh is half the total annual electricity consumed in the state of Victoria in 1990.

  • Education

    The mindset of a university CIO - Part three - Monash University's IT support shakeup


    If you're involved in Higher Education IT, then there's an article over on that's worth a read. The story is about the way that Monash University (Australia's largest university, with 60,000 students) has consolidated their IT service requests function, moving from supporting users through 50 different IT teams, to just one. Here's a key section from the article:


    “Everything was locally determined and this gave an inefficient delivery model,” Tebbett said of the IT infrastructure prior to the transformation.

    “That started to be recognised in 2007. It got more serious in 2009 when it moved to a shared services view, and that led to the definition of the CIO role which hadn’t existed until that stage.”

    Tebbett said the dispersed nature of the university’s networks was reminiscent of a traditional approach towards technology in the higher education sector and Monash was heading towards a shared services model.

    “The higher education sector is probably one of the last to get real about it,” he said. “We’ve got a number of expectations in the higher education sector. There’s a lot more collaboration going on between disciplines, other industries and other institutions.”


    Over the last three days, the CCAEducause conference has been running in Sydney, attended by hundreds of CIOs, IT teams and information specialists from universities across Australia - and what's clear is that there is a shift happening in the role of IT in learning support - and in how the IT team are shifting to a 'business support' mindset - as opposed to a historical 'IT support' position.

    Time to reset your historic perceptions of the IT team's role in Higher Education…

    Learn MoreRead the full article "Monash Uni reduces IT teams after consolidation project"


    See also: The Mindset of a University CIO - Part One and Part Two

  • Education

    Education Partners at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference



    The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) is in Los Angeles this year, from 10-14th July. If you've been before, then you'll remember that it's one of the key times of the year when we announce new information - and specifically focus on where it fits into our partner's business strategy.

    Last year's WPC had quite a few education specific sessions, including a very deep-dive into the Learning Analytics market, as well as looking at the wider opportunities for developing solutions for today's education market across schools and universities.

    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. 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

    What is a Learning Platform?


    Whatever phrase you use - Learning Management System/Learning Gateway/Learning Platform/VLE - the idea of providing an interactive learning environment for students, staff and parents to access 24 hours a day can be difficult to explain in simple terms. Especially to people with different perspectives on what it should be.

    Can I recommend the following video - it's a great cartoon style explanation of a 'learning platform' - which is the UK-centric phrase for a Learning Management System. Featuring my two favourite characters - Mr Spleen, the Geography Teacher, and Miss Print, the school business manager.

    There's a really important message, supported by research, that comes at the end:

      Of course, by itself, the learning platform isn't going to transform anything. It will all be down to how the staff and students use it.  

    It's something to remember when it comes to looking at implementing systems - sometimes the technical features take precedence over the change management planning - and in the case of learning management systems, that can be a million dollar mistake.

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