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October, 2007 - FE blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The FE Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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October, 2007

  • FE blog

    Ultimate Steal - Office 2007 offer Update


    We've made a few changes to the Ultimate Steal website (Office 2007 Ultimate for students, for £38.95), all of which are good news. Here's what we've done:

    Added the Backup DVD option to the ordering options
    To be honest, we have been trying to put this here ever since launch, but some technical glitches stopped us. It's now there, so students can order media at the same time as ordering the licence. This is handy if they don't want to use the download service, or they want a backup.

    Added email verification BEFORE entering the purchasing process

    We've been getting hundreds of students who have incorrectly entered their email address during the purchase process, which means they haven't received their licence key after purchase. It's tricky for us to resolve these individual problems quickly, and also inconvenient for students. So now, before you get to the online shop process, you have to provide your student email address (ending in .ac.uk) and then get an email confirmation and website login. This way, if you put in the incorrect email address, you won't get your website login - you'll have to go back and enter it again correctly.

    Even more reasons to tell your students about the Ultimate Steal

  • FE blog

    Mass SCORM Conversion Tool


    Have you been looking for a way to convert older learning resources into SCORM format? Well Hunterstone may have the answer for you.

    HunterStone announced it has developed a "Mass SCORM Conversion Tool."  The company developed the tool for use in projects that require large amounts of content to be converted to SCORM.  Targeted for use in projects with publishers and organizations that have very large databases of content and learning materials HunterStone President and CEO Neil Richards stated "the tool will save organizations countless hours of time which will directly translate into saving tens of thousand if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in SCORM conversion endeavors."


    The tool is thought to be among the first of its kind used for commercial purposes.  SCORM's adoption rate is forecasted to accelerate during the next few years and HunterStone's strategy as a leading provider of SCORM eLearning services is further solidified by this announcement.  Previously, the company released its leading SCORM Conversion and Authoring product suite THESIS for general use by instructional designers, subject matter experts, and trainers throughout the world.  Additionally, Microsoft's Education Product Group licensed a portion of THESIS technology for use in its Learning Essentials Program and provides Microsoft Academic Customers the ability to author SCORM content with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.


    THESIS is a suite of eLearning tools which adheres to the SCORM specifications and integrates with Microsoft Office. This enables a user to author eLearning resources and objects straight from familiar Microsoft Office applications such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Visio and Producer. The THESIS "Learning Object Manager" allows a user to author complete SCORM courses and quizzes for online instruction, using multiple learning objects from different sources. THESIS Librarian "SCORM enables" Microsoft SharePoint to create Learning Object Repositories where subject matter experts can collaborate on course development and also use the tool as a meta-data manager.

  • FE blog

    10 Ways to Work More Securely


    What's the biggest risk to your IT system security? Probably your users! For all of the efforts that you make, it only takes one user to do something really dumb inappropriate, and suddenly you're back to firefighting.

    And how many times have you had to remind your users about some of the things in this list?

    1. Work with your IT department
    2. Use strong passwords
    3. Don't enable the Save Password Option
    4. Use network file shares instead of local file shares
    5. Lock your computer when you leave your desk
    6. Use password protection on your screensaver
    7. Encrypt files containing confidential or business critical files
    8. Don't open questionable e-mails
    9. Encrypt e-mail messages when appropriate
    10. Use the Junk E-mail Filter in Outlook

    At the start of the new term, you might want to remind all of your users about these rules again. We recently covered this list, with further advice and actions, in our At Work newsletter, so if it adds power to your message, then send them this link, or find another way to put the page in front of them (how about redirecting their home page for a week until they get the message!). And this list is also (mostly) applicable for home users too, and with increased connectivity between home and your college systems, the more you can encourage good practice on any computer, the better protected you are.

  • FE blog

    Microsoft SharePoint and SharePoint Learning Kit - Live Meetings


    We have a series of Live meetings scheduled over the next few months to provide more information on the use of SharePoint in learning. My colleague Steven Audis, the Microsoft Education Technology Advisor in the UK, will be running them, and he's provided some more information on their content:

    "In these sessions we discuss how Further Education customers can benefit from Microsoft SharePoint Learning Kit and the Microsoft SharePoint Community Kit, which have both been designed to further extend Microsoft Learning Gateway and e-learning opportunities.

    With the Microsoft Learning Gateway, colleges can readily build a standards-based education portal for administrators, educators, and students to share information, collaborate on projects, and access rich learning resources from a single point of access. The new Microsoft SharePoint kits are built on SharePoint technology that enables Web sites to provide document and information sharing capabilities. These kits offer tools and source code to help educators, administrators and industry partners to customise their portals to be as unique as their colleges and deliver e-learning resources through the Microsoft Learning Gateway.

    The Microsoft SharePoint Learning Kit is a standards-compliant e-learning tool that makes it easy for educators to deliver both basic and interactive resources through the Microsoft Learning Gateway. The kit is compliant with Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) 2004 and SCORM 1.2 and provides basic functions for any electronic resource in a SharePoint document library, including Microsoft Class Server resources."

    clip_image004[9] Tuesday, Nov 6, 2007 15:00-16:00

    To attend, just log on to the following URL (about 5 minutes before, if you need to download the Live Meeting client)


    clip_image002You'll need the Meeting ID:   MCGZW3

    And then dial into the meeting on your phone for the audio. Dial (0118) 909 2000 and use Participant code  2164215

    Tuesday, Dec 18, 2007 10:00-11:00

    To attend, just log on to the following URL (about 5 minutes before, if you need to download the Live Meeting client)


    clip_image002You'll need the Meeting ID:   29ST4H

    And then dial into the meeting on your phone for the audio. Dial (0118) 909 2000 and use Participant code  2164215

  • FE blog

    When data goes bad...a student study


    We've been doing a lot of work with students recently, and from that I've learnt quite a bit about their ICT habits. Two years ago universities reported that three-quarters of students turn up with their own PC, with some reporting that 99% of students do. Judging on the research panels we've held recently, that number appears to be pretty much 100% across the board now. And the mix has shifted towards laptops, although not completely. I'm not aware of any statistics for colleges, but anecdotal information points to the trend moving in the same way for college students.

    But the bizarre thing is how they are used. You've got a laptop. What do you do with it? Well, it appears that you leave it at home, and just carry your data around on a memory stick. Again, that's what virtually every student told us they did.

    So what happens if you lose your memory stick? Or it suddenly packs up (as my favourite one did this week, losing an important spreadsheet I hadn't copied elsewhere). Well, the data goes with it.

    In this world of web-enabled everything, there's got to be another way. That's where SkyDrive comes in. It's part of the Windows Live @ Edu mail service, or UK students can just sign up separately for it. It gives you a 500MB password-protect storage space on the internet, where you can store files, and if you want share them (I use it for most of the downloads I want to make available on this blog) you can just pop them onto the public folder in your SkyDrive. Or you can make it available only to specific people.

    It's the equivalent of giving all of your students a 500MB memory stick, and backing it up for them every minute of the day.

    Of course, it's not something that every student might want. But when you start to put together some of the new online services, you can see how they can be put together in a way that enhances service delivery to students:

    • Hosted web-based email with a 5GB mailbox, with Windows Live @ Edu
      • with mail forwarding, so that students can automatically forward their .ac.uk email address to their "every day" email address
    • 500MB file storage with Windows Live SkyDrive
    • Live Spaces for blogs, social networking and other places for students to publish, share and talk.
    • And next? Well, Office Live Workspaces take the SkyDrive idea into a context specifically for Office users (due for launch in 2008), so that you can save your Word, Excel and PowerPoint files directly from within the software

    Oh, and did I mention that ALL of this is free?

  • FE blog

    Software Asset Management - Phoenix events


    A colleague has just told me about the free Software Asset Management events that Phoenix & Microsoft are running together, coming up in the next couple of weeks.

    • Reading - Friday 19 October
    • Edinburgh - Wednesday 24 October
    • London - Tuesday 30 October
    • Manchester - Friday 2 November

    They may be of particular relevance if you are responsible for licensing in your college, or if you are looking for a way to expand your IT management capabilities. With the release of the new international Software Asset Management standard (ISO/IEC 19770-1), there are a set of standard ways of managing software, and tools available to help with this. As users start exerting more control over their computers, and can start to compromise your best-laid plans by downloading/installing software, you may want to consider how you respond.

    We ran a smaller workshop last year, with IT managers from colleges and schools, and I was surprised to see the length of the "To Do" lists that the delegates wrote for themselves, and the way that they were going to use SAM techniques to wake up their senior managers to the need for them to be given more control to deliver more structured IT management practices.

    The events start at 10am, and finish at 1:30pm

    You can register for these free events on the Phoenix website

  • FE blog

    Go to an event - without leaving the IT room


    Over the next few months, we are going to running a series of briefings on specific aspects of ICT in education, relating to some of our newer technologies and their use in education. They are all running as Live Meetings, where you are able to watch the PowerPoint presentation on your screen, and hear the presenter talking through your phone.

    • The upside is that you can join in during a normal day, without having to drive a hundred miles to get to a venue somewhere else in the country.
    • The downside is that you don't get coffee and biscuits at the beginning of the meeting - unless you make it yourself!

    You don't need to register in advance for these - simply login on the day (give yourself 5 minutes to download and install the free Live Meeting software at the beginning)

    23rd November 10.00-10.45am

    Education Infrastructure Optimisation

    How mature is your IT Infrastructure? This session introduces Microsoft’s Infrastructure Optimisation (IO) initiative in Education. Get an overview of the tools and methodologies available to help you measure your IT infrastructure maturity, and produce a roadmap towards a dynamic IT environment. The IO model is based on a model from Gartner, and has been used successfully globally in the commercial world by businesses to help them to analyse the next steps in their IT infrastructure development.

    Click here to put this into your Outlook Calendar, with the joining instructions

    Attendee URL: https://www112.livemeeting.com/cc/microsoft/join?id=EDUIO&role=attend

    The URL above will let you access the presentation. To hear the presenter call 0118 909 2000 and use participant code: 9395559

    Presented by Nick Umney, an Account Technical Specialist in the UK Education Team


    5th November 10.00-10.45am

    Windows Vista in Education

    This session will explore new features in Windows Vista for teachers and Learners that make Windows Vista a tool for learning. We will also look at the new features for system administrators to create and to protect the virtual campus.

    Click here to put this into your Outlook Calendar, with the joining instructions

    Attendee URL: https://www112.livemeeting.com/cc/microsoft/join?id=SQH3DD&role=attend

    The URL above will let you access the presentation. To hear the presenter call 0118 909 2000 and use participant code: 9395559

    Presented by Steven Audis, a Microsoft Education Technology Adviser in the UK Team


    19th November 10.00-10.45am

    Microsoft Office 2007 in Education

    Get an overview of the latest Office system from Microsoft, which provides the ultimate arsenal of productivity tools for your students, educators, administrators, and support staff. From word processing to classroom presentations and animated Web design, the Microsoft Office system delivers a powerful and easy-to-use experience. Introducing Learning Essentials 2.0.

    Click here to put this into your Outlook Calendar, with the joining instructions

    Attendee URL: https://www112.livemeeting.com/cc/microsoft/join?id=GMBMJ6&role=attend

    The URL above will let you access the presentation. To hear the presenter call 0118 909 2000 and use participant code: 9395559

    Presented by Steven Audis, a Microsoft Education Technology Adviser in the UK Team


    17th December 10.00-10.45am

    Connect Learning Community - Learning Gateway for Further Education

    The Microsoft Learning Gateway is a powerful education portal that enables the people throughout further education share information and work together on projects from a single point of access. The Learning Gateway uses innovative collaboration and communications technologies to help you get more out of your existing applications—using familiar tools and extending the value of your investment in Microsoft technologies.

    Click here to put this into your Outlook Calendar, with the joining instructions

    Attendee URL: https://www112.livemeeting.com/cc/microsoft/join?id=NTZ477&role=attend

    The URL above will let you access the presentation. To hear the presenter call 0118 909 2000 and use participant code: 9395559

    Presented by Steven Audis, a Microsoft Education Technology Adviser in the UK Team

  • FE blog

    Handheld Learning Conference 2007 Slides


    Steve Beswick, Microsoft UK's Education Director, was on stage yesterday at the Handheld Learning 2007 Conference in London, in the plenary "Technologies for Learning 2012". Steve looked at the world of work, home & education in 2012, and explored the impact of change, and technology, on each of these. Steve's slides are below, and I thought that if I shared the bullet points on his summary slide, you might get an idea of the direction of his message!

    • IT in the home will drive IT in Education
    • World class education is an imperative for competing in a global economy
    • IT can help drive the UK to be a knowledge based economy

    You can download the slides here:


    During the presentation, two videos were shown of future technologies under development at Microsoft. You can find out more, and see both videos on the links below:


    The Photosynth Technology Preview is a taste of a new and exciting way to view photos on a computer. The software takes a large collection of photos of a place or an object, analyses them for similarities, and then displays the photos in a reconstructed three-dimensional space, showing you how each one relates to the next. Here's the video that was shown at the conference.

    Microsoft Surface

    Surface, Microsoft’s first surface computer, provides effortless interaction with digital content through natural hand gestures, touch and physical objects. Surface computing breaks down traditional barriers between people and technology, changing the way people interact with all kinds of everyday information — from photos to maps to menus. It's easier to see than to read about - the Surface website contains some good videos which give you a feel for what it can do (but do excuse the voiceover!)


    SeaDragon is a current incubation project. Its aim is nothing less than to change the way we use screens, from wall-sized displays to mobile devices, so that visual information can be smoothly browsed regardless of the amount of data involved or the bandwidth of the network. It is also closely related to HD View, a research project working on creating multi-gigapixel images with a capability to just keep zooming in for more detail. It has uses on mobile phones and handheld devices, where you can overcome screensize and bandwith issues to explore rich and complex content

    Here's the video that was shown at the conference.

  • FE blog

    Build a Green Datacentre


    At the UCISA conference, earlier this year, there were some astounding figures quoted with regard to the cost of the running a datacentre - environmentally and financially. A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories report states:

    "The energy used by a typical rack of state-of-the art servers, drawing 20 kilowatts of power at 10 cents per kWh, uses more that $17,000 per year in electricity. Given that data centers can hold hundreds of such racks, they constitute a very energy-intensive building type. Clearly, efforts to improve energy efficiency in data centers can pay big dividends. But, where to start?"

    Well the debate is having an impact on the way people think about datacentres. Companies around the world are announcing ways to save energy and reduce costs by buying new hardware and services. Yet, there is little guidance on how you can take action to control energy costs. In the past, electricity has been treated as an overhead expense, like the cost of space. But with rising power costs and issues regarding reliability, supply, and capacity, electricity requires its own specific strategy.

    My colleague Dave Ohara has written an article for TechNet magazine about the issue, looking at the importance of Energy Monitoring Systems, helping define 'the green datacentre' and going on to conclude that "Knowing is half the battle".

    It's a good read, and provides a useful insight on how to get started.

  • FE blog

    Microsoft Volume Activation Technology 2.0 - Training from partners


    I received information from Viglen on a new training course that they are running, which is designed to demystify your options for activating Windows Vista volume licence keys. It will help you make the right decisions now, so that as more products (for example Windows Server 2008) come along using the same methods, you'll have a structured and effective mechanism in place. This course is relevant to all colleges and universities using any of our volume licence schemes, such as Campus Agreement or Select. Here's the detail on the courses:


    Do you know about Volume Activation Technology 2.0?

    Volume Activation 2.0 (VA 2.0) features enhanced Volume Licence Key (VLK) protection:

      • Centralised VLK management and protection
      • Lower probability of keys leaking
      • Reduced risk of needing to re-key entire organisation

    Do you understand the implications of Volume Activation Technology 2.0?

    Beginning with Windows Vista, there will be two types of Volume Licence Keys: Multiple Activation Keys and Key Management Service.  Windows Vista must be deployed using this technology.  Windows Server  will also be deployed using the same mechanism.

    Do you know your MAK from your KMS?

    The Multiple Activation Key (MAK) activates either individual computers or a group of computers by connecting directly to Microsoft servers over the Internet or by telephone. Your organisation can host the Key Management Service (KMS) internally to automatically activate computers running Windows Vista.

    How does this affect you?

    When you choose to deploy Windows Vista or subsequent operating systems (for both server & desktop), you will be required to use Volume Activation Technology 2.0.

    What can Viglen do to help you?

    As one of the top tier licensing resellers in the UK as well as an OEM, we are well placed to understand the product deployment needs of our customers.  We also understand the implications of this type of technology when it comes to large scale roll-outs of important applications such as desktop and server operating systems.

    Therefore we have designed a “bespoke” TECHNICAL training course to help customers understand how this technology works. 

    Contact servicesdivision@viglen.co.uk for further information and course dates or call us on 01727 201890

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