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July, 2008 - FE blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The FE Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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July, 2008

  • FE blog

    Promoting Innovation through Virtual Learning


    Whoops – the title might have set your expectations too high!

    I was chuffed to bits to be invited back to Wales yesterday, to present the keynote at the “Promoting Innovation through Virtual Learning” conference. It’s the third time in the last year that I’ve been to South Wales, and each time I seem to be drawn further up the valleys – this time to Merthyr Tydfil, almost at the foot of the Brecon Beacons.

    A number of people asked me for the presentation, so here it is for download, as a PowerPoint file

    I used a couple of videos during the presentation, so have put the URLs on the slides for them.

    There were moments during the conference when I felt like a bit of a sore thumb – not because I was English -because there was a lot of references to free or open-source software.

    One presenter kept referring to the fact that “FE doesn’t have much money”, and that was why they tried to base their ICT strategy on free software. Not sure if I agree with the logic of that – if you need something because is critical to success, do you only choose it if it’s free? Or do you evaluate what will give the best value (which may be free software, or it may be software you pay for) – especially when almost every research project into TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) shows that most of the cost of ICT is related to training for, running and supporting systems – not buying them in the first place.

    If you were running an FE college, and you were on a tight budget (no huge leap of imagination required!), what would you do about teaching staff? Take whoever is willing to work for free or hire the best you can afford?

    Is the fact that some colleges put “Is it free?” at the top of their criteria for choosing software an indicator that they aren’t yet thinking of ICT as a strategic contributor to learning, and to the objectives of the college?

    And while we’re on the subject :-)

    Average spend on ICT per FTE student (2006/7)

    Schools £58 - source: BESA

    FE colleges £265 - source: interpretation of FERL/Becta data

    Universities £300 - source: interpretation of UCISA data

    So is FE under-funded for ICT?

  • FE blog

    Event: Waterstons - The future of technology in education


    Waterstons, one of our education partners is hosting a free event with us and Durham Business School in Durham on the afternoon of the 6 Augustimage.

    The event starts at 12:00, and the agenda covers:

    • Introduction
    • IT Strategy: Durham Business School
      • Colin Ashurst , Senior Teaching Fellow in MIS at Durham Business School talks about the institute’s strategy for using technology to improve the student experience.
    • Virtual Learning Environment
      • Waterstons’ Chris Fenly and Daniel Halliday discuss the benefi ts of using SharePoint 2007 as the platform for a comprehensive Virtual Learning Environment for full time, part time & distance learning students.
    • Efficient Administration
      • Lesley Renteurs and David Challenor from Waterstons discuss the use of Microsoft Dynamics CRM for admissions and programme management and the use of business intelligence tools in education.
    • Effective Marketing
      • Advice on how to use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to provide high quality service for prospective students and SharePoint as a web authoring tool.
    • Virtualisation in Education
      • Simon Birbeck from Waterstons will discuss the use of the latest technologies for creating a secure and resilient IT infrastructure

    You can get a brief insight into Durham’s use of IT to connect with their students and distance learners in the video which they filmed with us for the launch of Office 2007

    Durham Business School Video Case Study

    To book for the free seminar, or for further details, please contact Michael King at Waterstons on 0845 094 094 5

  • FE blog



    Not sure if I can get away with such a corny title but, hey, I’m trying to unleash my creativity for the summer holidays


    OneNote I’m a fan of OneNote, but I know that it’s relatively undiscovered by teachers and students. It is included in the version of Office Home & Student that’s sold through retailers and also in the Office Enterprise version that many colleges use. It’s a good organisational tool for students, because it allows them to drop their thinking onto a page, without having to think about structure or fitting into a pre-conceived idea of whether a spreadsheet, word processor or presentation tool is the right thing to start with.

    As well as allowing handwriting, it is also good to drop text, photos etc into. And if you want to clip a bit of info from a website, it also makes a note of the URL it came from – which means that a month later, when you want to find the source of the pretty chart/clever quote, you can find your way back easily. Which makes it especially useful for students as they go through a year taking notes and assembling information.

    The only problem I find with OneNote is that it is difficult to get started with, because you start with a blank piece of lined paper, and can start typing/drawing/pasting anywhere on the page (which for me, brought up in the word processor generation, is a bit odd – I like things to start in the top left-hand corner!).

    So it was relief to come across Mike Tholfsen’s blog – he’s one of the Test Managers on the OneNote team, and has an infectious enthusiasm for everything OneNotey.

    The OneNote and Education blog has some really useful pointers – to sample student notebooks, the teacher toolkits and training videos. Mike’s got an infectious style, and spends a lot of time with searching out OneNote stories from education around the world, including IslayIan from the UK.

    And if you wanted an incentive to see how OneNote could be used, then take a look at the video below, from the OneNote Tips page on microsoft.com

    Video: Collaboration using OneNote
  • FE blog

    Microsoft’s Information Security Symposium Event


    The steam roller of Information Security continues to run down the hill towards education. Becta’s in the driving seat, and they haven’t really started the engine. By the time the new term begins, there will be new guidance on what you should be doing (read my previous posts on the Schools Blog). So it is absolutely timely to think about half a day aside to attend the free Microsoft Security Symposium for the Public Sector on Tuesday September 16th at our London offices, near Victoria Station.

    If you’ve not heard about new Government guidelines for Information Security, then sit down before you read this website and the specific Mandatory Mininimum Measures (and yes, it does apply to colleges)


    Effective use of information is absolutely central to the challenges facing Government today – whether in improving health, tackling child poverty or protecting the public from crime and terrorism.  Those in public service need to keep that information secure in order to build public confidence.  This is essential to underpin greater data sharing to deliver personalised services and make us more effective.”

    Sir Gus O’Donnell, Cabinet Secretary
    Foreword to Cabinet Office Report – Data Handling Procedures in Government, June 2008

    Managing information risk today means looking even further into the future. Increasingly, mobile and distributed technologies require new forms of monitoring and data protection.  Internet-based applications and services that store and process valuable information need new levels of responsibility on the part of management and users.  Regulations against leakage will only be met through unprecedented levels of security awareness and information expertise on the part of users.

    Recent reviews by the Cabinet Office (Data Handling Procedures in Government - June 2008) and the Information Commissioner (Data Sharing Review – July 2008) are a clear indication of how seriously Government takes the challenges of information security. 

    The Microsoft Security Symposium for the Public Sector on Tuesday September 16th at the Microsoft Office in London will focus on the unique challenges that all Public Sector organisations need to address to protect citizen data and sensitive information more effectively.  Our Security Symposium takes a holistic view of information governance and security by examining the people, process AND technology components of effective organisational security.

    You’ll have the opportunity to hear from a range of security experts including:

    • Roger Styles, Head, Central Sponsor for Information Assurance (CSIA), Cabinet Office
    • CESG (they're the approval agency for technology that meets Government’s security requirements)
    • Jacques Erasmus, Director of Malware Research, Prevx
    • Ed Gibson, Microsoft UK’s Chief Security Advisor
    • Tony Neate, Managing Director, Get Safe Online

    The event is open to all IT, security and information governance and compliance in education.

    You can review the full agenda, which runs from 9.30-1.15, and reserve your place here:

    ONLINE: http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032383169&Culture=en-GB

    PHONE: 0870 166 6680 (Event reference: 3169)

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