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November, 2009 - FE blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The FE Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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November, 2009

  • FE blog

    South East Essex College and DMS do Windows 7

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    Certainly the first in the UK and Europe, South East Essex College went for a complete roll-out of Windows 7 for the start of term in September, making it the biggest educational user of Windows 7 at the start of term.imageThey moved everything together – all of their workstations moved from Windows XP and their servers moved from Windows Server 2003 – to give all of their 950 staff and 13,000 students a new technology experience as they came back in from the summer break.

    You can read more about their upgrade in this case study, published by the Microsoft partner they worked with – Design & Management Systems (DMS) – who are a Microsoft Gold Certified partner.

  • FE blog

    Who will be the next Bill Gates

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    The next Bill GatesXMA and Toshiba have launched a competition, called “The next Bill Gates”. In a world of competitions and campaigns all the time, it’s a bit of a “does what it says on the tin” competition. It’s for students who’ll be applying for university next year, and students enter by recording a 60-second video answering the question “Why are you the next Bill Gates?”

    The prize is £3,500 of tuition fees, a Toshiba laptop and a summer 2010 placement with XMA.


    As far as I know, it has absolutely nothing to do with Microsoft, but darn, why weren’t we quicker thinking of this idea :-)  Every year we take in about 80 interns for a full year as well as offering work experience for pupils from local schools, but hadn’t thought of offering it as the chance to become the next Bill Gates…

  • FE blog

    Office 2010 Beta Available

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    Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Project 2010 and Visio 2010 have all reached the Beta milestone and are now available for download.

    Remember how sometimes you felt smug when you were running Windows 7 Beta at least 6 months before your colleagues and friends? Well, you can feel it once again!

    What’s new in the Office system?

    On Monday 9 November, Microsoft Exchange 2010 became the first product launch in wave of innovation across the Office system. The first half of 2010 will see this wave continue with the release of Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Project 2010 and Visio 2010 .

    • Microsoft Office 2010 provides rich and powerful new ways to deliver work. New features include enhanced tools, customisable templates, photo editing and the ability to work with multiple people from different locations at the exact same time using new co-authoring capabilities. By offering more ways to access files from virtually anywhere, Office 2010 gives users greater control. Learn More
    • Microsoft SharePoint 2010 enables organisations to connect and empower people through an integrated set of rich features. SharePoint 2010 facilitates business collaboration in its broadest sense and helps colleagues, partners and customers to work together in new and effective ways. Learn More
    • Microsoft Project 2010 provides teams and organisations of all sizes with the right project collaboration tools, and a pathway to step up to more advanced Project and Portfolio Management capabilities as their needs evolve. Learn More
    • The advanced diagramming tools of Microsoft Visio 2010 help you simplify complexity with intuitive and professional-looking diagrams, dynamic and data-driven visuals and new ways to share these on the Web in real-time. Learn More

    In addition, with this beta we are unveiling several new features and products:

    • Office Web Apps for business customers, available through SharePoint Server, allows SharePoint sites to host browser-based Web Apps accessible from virtually anywhere.
      To me, this is one of the most significant developments of SharePoint 2010 – you can provide Office applications, from your SharePoint server, to your students whether they are on campus or off. Which means they can start a piece of work on campus using Office on a library computer, and then continue it at home using their laptop or home PC – either using Office if they have it, or Office Web Apps in a browser.
    • Outlook Social Connector, a new feature that brings communications history and social networking feeds into the Outlook experience.

    Happy downloading

  • FE blog

    Infrastructure Planning and Design Guide for Direct Access

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    The TechNet site has a growing series of Infrastructure Planning and Design Guides for all kinds of areas – virtualisation, Windows Server 2008, SQL Server, Online Services and the Optimised Desktop.

    The one that jumped out as me was the IPD Guide for DirectAccess in Windows 7. This is especially useful in colleges, where you have staff who are as likely to need access to your network from home as they are in college (especially if you have a large number of part time staff).

    With DirectAccess, your users can have access to your college network without having to use a VPN or Remote Access setup – whenever they have access to the internet from their college laptop, they have access to your network. To get this level of convenience  without compromising security means that you need to setup your network carefully, and the IPD guide is designed to help with that.

    The Infrastructure Planning and Design series guide for DirectAccess provides actionable guidance for designing a DirectAccess infrastructure. The guide’s easy-to-follow, four-step process gives a straightforward explanation of the infrastructure required for clients to be connected from the Internet to resources on the corporate network, whether or not the organization has begun deploying IPv6.

    You can download the Direct Access Guide here

    On the same subject, you may find the IPD Guide for Network Access Protection useful too, as it talks you through the ways that you can allow students and staff to connect their own laptops to your network without compromising security. In an environment where students are increasingly arriving with their own laptop, it allows you to save money and improve capabilities.

  • FE blog

    Scaling up Innovation

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    The Microsoft UK Education team has a dozen people in it (surprised?) who are focused full-time on education – across schools, colleges and universities. Which means that we’re awfully busy and spread across many, many things all the time. But fortunately we have the help of other similar teams around the world, and a much bigger team in our offices in America. Sometimes we produce work for the rest of the world (like the Innovative Schools case studies, focusing on journeys of innovation and the lessons that innovative schools have learnt on their way), and sometimes the work flows the other way – towards us.

    One of the things that has been done as part of the worldwide Partners in Learning programme is The Scaling Framework – an interactive tool that helps analyse how you move an innovation from being something done by 1 or 2 people, to making it widespread.

    imageIt made me think of two specific cases where today there is a challenge of scaling innovation. The first is Virtual Learning Environments, where it is proving to be difficult to take good practice from one lecturer/department/college to the whole system. And the other is taking an innovative ICT teaching initiative and spreading it to other departments.

    The Scaling Framework is a simple interactive tool that explains the five dimensions of scale, and then digs down into areas such as “Traps to Avoid” and “Next Steps to Explore”.

    You can either us this as an individual, or pop it up on your whiteboard next time you’re holding a leadership team meeting, and explore interactively.

    Take a look at the interactive Scaling Framework, and see if it can help you

    I was interested in the “Spread” dimension – and the trap to avoid: “Developers should realise a somewhat less powerful innovation that reaches much greater numbers of use is a step forward”.  We were talking about this at lunchtime today, discussing a new piece of software for teachers which may only appeal to innovators, meaning that the majority of users won’t be affected by it. So is it better to try and promote something a little less innovative, but likely to be used by more people?

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