There are 9 million citizens in the UK who do not have regular access to a PC and are not enjoying the benefits of the internet. For many of your customers, and in many of the communities you support, the last significant barrier to getting people connected is the cost of a PC at home. BBC research shows that everything you do to inspire and encourage people – and to give them the right skills to go online – will gradually slip away if there is no PC at home to keep the excitement alive and provide easy, instant access to the internet. It’s not enough to go online once – our goal is to make it possible for them to stay online – and to feel the wonderful benefits of Skype-ing with friends and family – unlimited video calls to any part of the world; to find information just when they need it; to make the most of learning opportunities and develop their particular passions. You can help your customers overcome this final barrier by pointing them towards the GetOnline@Home website – the best place to buy a no-nonsense, affordable computer, which will give them a chance to stay online for good and to enjoy all the benefits we take for granted.
BT, the Post Office, 3, Microsoft and many other Race Online 2012 partners are behind the GetOnline@Home offer which includes:
If you think that this would be a good offer or solution for any of our customers or their communities – please help us to get the message out as far and as wide as possible. To make it easy to share the news about this offer, we have developed a presentation (attached) and a range of materials, all available to download from “Support for your Computer” section of the GetOnline@Home website:
We will expand and develop the GetOnline@Home offers over time and for anyone who would prefer to have a laptop, rather than a desktop, we are aiming to have a laptop offer available before Christmas. And we expect that, if take-up continues to be good, we will be able to reduce the price of the “open to all” refurbished PC at the same time. What we can promise, though, is that this site will always have fantastic computer packages for beginners. The GetOnline@Home site truly offers the best in breed for no-nonsense, affordable computers. The sale price does not include the cost of a huge marketing campaign – so we are depending on you to share the news and hope you will use the resources above to reach out as widely as you can – to boost the number of beginners who are able to go Online @ Home.
Also, the GetOnline@Home site is hosted on Windows Azure and is ready to cope with whatever demand you can generate to the site!
Cost saving in FE is a core aim for the majority of FE institutions across the UK. With this in mind, a large and very successful Further Education College uses its Microsoft Campus Agreement to the full in its quest for efficiency and doing more with less. By doing so it is able to provide proven quality services for staff and students in a highly cost effective way.
Highbury College is a large Further Education College with 11,000 students on five sites in and around the City of Portsmouth. The latest Ofsted report (20 June 2011) finds the College Grade 1 “Outstanding” overall. Furthermore, in terms of student outcomes, the Data Service’s National Success Rates place Highbury top of a list of all English FE colleges on overall success, with a percentage of 92.1. This gives the college the right to its headline claim,
“We are Number One – the top general further education college in England.”
The IT department plays a full and energetic part in this success, supporting learning, administration and management with a range of applications and systems.
At the same time, in order to achieve cost-effectiveness, and a strong focus on teaching and learning, the college constantly reviews its financial policies and practices.
“We have a strong internal culture around managing costs, but also for maximizing educational benefit,” says Paul Rolfe, Highbury’s Head of IT and Library Services.
Making the most of Campus Agreement
Microsoft Campus Agreement allows FE and HE institutions to use a wide range of Microsoft products for a year without having to track individual licences. Because software licensed under the agreement is heavily discounted, there are significant cost benefits to be had.
For these benefits to be fully realised, though, requires robust internal communications channels to be in place and a full awareness of the overall needs of the institution, from an IT perspective.
With this in place and by utilising the agreement fully, the institution could prevent unnecessary investments by embracing a product covered under the Microsoft Campus Agreement rather than sourcing an alternative product.
This is an area where there’s a clear need for confident IT leadership and management, with the support of a Microsoft partner who fully understands licensing and the portfolio of products available.
At Highbury, Paul Rolfe and his team have brilliantly shown what’s possible. Working with Microsoft partners Phoenix Software and Silversands, they’ve put their campus agreement to work, matching subscriptions to need and ensuring that Microsoft products are considered and evaluated first before considering more expensive options that don’t always integrate as well. Now, as a result, they’re realising the financial advantages of the agreement as fully as possible.
This hasn’t been achieved overnight. It’s meant a methodical drive, spread over several years, both to improve the use of IT for learning and to ensure that the most cost-effective solutions are in place.
“The IT team have been reviewing Microsoft’s complete portfolio,” says Paul Rolfe, “Rationalising and harnessing the power of the campus agreement and focussing our minds on efficiency savings as well as bringing new services to staff and students without affecting the bottom line.”
Reaping the Benefits
Key Microsoft products brought into use at Highbury include the Windows 7 Operating System , with “Direct Access” which, says Paul Rolfe, “….has enabled staff with college laptops to connect seamlessly to the college network wherever they have an internet connection. The IT team are also able to provide staff with remote support using remote assistance as well as to deploy new software titles to staff remotely. ‘’Direct Access’’ really came into its own during January 2011 when the college was closed by snow for three days”
Communication has also been hugely improved by the implementation of SharePoint 2010 . With e-Forms and Workflows there’s quicker decision-making and real savings in administration time and resources.
In some cases, it’s been possible to use the campus agreement to replace existing software with less costly Microsoft solutions. Moving to Exchange Filtering for email filtering, for example, has saved £3,500 a year, and moving to Microsoft Forefront for virus protection, free with the campus agreement has also made considerable savings.
So how much is Highbury College saving by making their campus agreement work for its living?
“By utilising the campus agreement, Highbury has reduced the IT annual revenue budget by £13,990 which is 2% of total revenue spend. In addition to this we have managed to save three posts through natural wastage within the IT Team, saving £84,573 a year, which is a quarter of our departmental staff budget.”
The really big savings, though, are the intangible ones that come from what Paul says are, “More responsive, more robust, more reliable integrated systems.”
There’s more to come, too, as Paul Rolfe and his team work on the implementation of Microsoft Exchange 2010 and Microsoft Lync , all bringing the promise of new opportunities for communication and collaboration.
Throughout the Highbury story, Microsoft’ campus agreement, knowledgeably and effectively managed, is the key. It provides a sound foundation of cost-effective IT and has enabled Ofsted inspectors to report, not only that the college has outstanding leadership and management, but that “It has strong financial health and provides outstanding value for money.”
Post originally featured on the SharePoint and Assessment Blog from Questionmark.
Thought leader interview with Ray Fleming of Microsoft Australia about SharePoint’s place and future in Education.
Ray, what do you do at Microsoft?
I’ve worked in education IT for 25 years, and for the last 5 years, I’ve been with Microsoft. I used to be Education Marketing Manager in Microsoft in the UK, but 6 months ago I moved to Australia where I’m working at Microsoft on new strategic opportunities with our partners.
Where do you see SharePoint being used in Education?
It’s very widely used in schools, colleges and universities right around the world, because it brings many web services together into one place – and because learning is all about making connections and collaboration, SharePoint has been widely adopted to help that. In the UK, over 80% of universities are using SharePoint. Some of them use it as a strategic platform, connected to their collaboration systems and they use it as their main portal. Others are starting by using it as a tactical project, almost like using a shared drive, they just happen to use SharePoint instead. There is a similar pattern here in Australia – most universities are using SharePoint, most of the State funded schools are using SharePoint but there’s a huge variety – some see it as a strategic platform, others as just one more service they provide.
What good practice advice would you give people about using SharePoint in Education?
Here are three really important things I’ve come across in the last 5-6 years:
What is your advice to people advocating SharePoint within their institution? How do you make the case for SharePoint?
Ultimately that conversation comes down to the breadth and depth of what you can do in SharePoint. What tends to happen in a web 2.0 world is that a particular teacher will say “I want to do this, so I’m going to put students in a web app in order to do function X”. Then they want to do a learning exercise and that’s a different web app. What you very quickly get is a snowball of different websites being used for different things.
When you look at the underlying functions, you often find that functionality does exist in SharePoint. And the benefit of doing it in SharePoint is that it sits in your existing IT infrastructure; your users are all there, your security is all set up. If a member of staff leaves the school, they automatically leave all of the systems, but if you’re doing things on different websites that isn’t going to happen. So not only do you have all the capabilities of wikis and blogging and assessments and workflow and document storage – but you also have corporate security that means it matches up to your system and your duty of care to students.
The key to help Education understand SharePoint is to take it from that very generic “yes it can do lots of things” down to specific scenarios like: “you need your students to work together on a project and they need to be able to communicate, store files and work on files collaboratively; here is how to do this in SharePoint.”
So not “with SharePoint, you can create lists and flow diagrams” but “you can get students to go through a particular test and record their answers”. Being able to discuss a scenario makes SharePoint more real.
How do you see the application of SharePoint to deliver and report on tests, quizzes and exams?
It’s an area of great untapped potential. If you look at the teaching process, on-going assessment of students is critical to checking understanding and that the student is ready to go onto the next level of the work. Today a huge amount of that revolves around paper. A typical high school in the UK will use a million to a million and a half sheets of paper a year, and yet they’ve got a SharePoint sitting there that could save them huge amounts of effort; not just the cost of paper, but the costs of preparing the tests and getting them duplicated and to the right classroom at the right time and then marking the tests – all of this could be avoided with SharePoint.
There is a real opportunity to optimize one of the key aspects of the learning process, formative assessment, to be sure students are progressing in their learning. So my view, and one of the reasons I follow your SharePoint and Assessments blog, is this seems a big area of untapped potential – it’s core to the learning process. Get it right, you make teachers lives much easier and improve the learning process for individual students.
How much of an impact do you think Office 365 will make?
In the worldwide context, the move to the Cloud in education has been faster than many other segments of industry. I think a key driver for use of Office 365 will be for institutions to move staff collaboration to enable the same level of collaboration that students use every day. I saw some statistics yesterday that says over 85% of the use of the Deakin University LMS takes place outside of the University. So there is a huge logic for putting things into the Cloud, as your users are out on the Internet – not necessarily in the institution when using your systems.
How do you see SharePoint interacting with other learning platforms?
There are LMSs and learning gateways that are embedded completely within SharePoint. In further and higher education, there are a lot of dedicated LMSs like Blackboard and Moodle, and SharePoint is seen as another system, rather than being part of the core LMS.
I think that’s changing. What’s happening worldwide in Education is that people are starting to understand the capability of SharePoint as a platform. For example I’ve been involved in discussions today with SharePoint being used to surface all business intelligence information – getting data displayed and available to people – staff, students and parents – through a SharePoint. This is opening people’s eyes that they can do more with one platform, they can’t just think of SharePoint as an LMS, or a document storage system or a collaboration system but actually it has a potential to do more.
Historically it’s been difficult to describe what SharePoint is, because SharePoint can do so many things. We’ve avoided pigeon holing SharePoint in one particular box, but that’s also led to customers not fully understanding what’s possible, because the answer is always “Yes, you can do that with SharePoint; now what is it you want to do?” as opposed to a learning-specific system where someone can be very clear that it does some things. SharePoint can do those things, but it can also do other things.
Where do things go from here?
We are starting to see the end of the idea of the big monolithic learning management system where you buy one system that does everything. What we’re going to see going forward is best of breed solutions – best of breed assessment engine, best of breed collaboration engine, best of breed content delivery system, lecture capture system, online course delivery. We’ve been building bigger and bigger central LMSs to do more of these things in one system. What we’re going to see is a fragmentation of this, and people are going to be asking – what is the platform we can put all of these on?
And that’s where SharePoint is going to come into its own. If you put Moodle on top of SharePoint, you get better document management, you get better security, you get backup, you can edit documents live rather than having to take them offline to edit them. The same is true of adding an assessment system like Questionmark on top, it links in with everything else you’ve got going. So I think we’re going to see less and less of a single LMS and more and more of interconnected components that make a great learning experience for students.
You can follow Ray Fleming on Twitter at @RayFleming or see his blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/education/.
Andrew Bettany, IT Academy Manager at York University has literally done just that.
When an earthquake hit Haiti in the Caribbean of January 2010, over 200,000 people lost their lives. Since then, the Haitian people have been trying to rebuild their lives as best possible with very little resources and money. Many of the skilled workers were those who lost their lives meaning aid workers found it difficult to find skilled people to call upon to help rebuild the infrastructure of the island.
Shortly after the earthquake Microsoft and NetHope established links to the island and conducted a IT Skills boot camp for 39 young people, which then led to a six month internship with relief aid agencies which were quickly mobilized to the country.
Andrew remembered a presentation by Ken Rosen of Microsoft Learning about NetHope, a non-profit organization partnered with Microsoft who uses IT to assist in relief efforts around the world. At the MCT Summit in Zurich a few years ago, Ken spoke to the audience of 450 IT Trainers about the issues that the aid workers across the world were facing and asked for any volunteers to go out and help rebuild the technology skills infrastructure.
So, after reading about the success of the initial wave of IT Training in Haiti, Andrew, a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) for 5 years, volunteered to go out to Haiti and train IT Professionals and Developers from local colleges to become Microsoft Certified Trainers.
He suggested an additional program which would train the Haitians to become MCT’s themselves - ‘’Train the Trainer’’ - a fantastic idea that would mean Haitian residents could once again become self-sufficient and in turn enable them to take control of their own destiny and train others directly; thus providing a local skill base of IT professionals in Haiti.
Before Andrew travelled out to Haiti, he set up a plan and agenda to implement the training in a week long ‘boot camp’’, which included a packed out week of training, exams and presentations, testing all round skills of the students.
Together NetHope, Microsoft and Andrew narrowed the 35 online applications to just 13 whom demonstrated the necessary desire, experience, ambition and learner focused mind-set to attend the week’s training in IT and delivery skills hosted and supported in a community college (Ecole Supérieure d’Infotronique d’Haiti (ESIH), based in Port-au-Prince, the Haiti capital.
Over the course of the week, the student’s boundaries of learning were indeed stretched. Many were shy and didn’t like to initially ask for help when unsure, and could take up to an hour to complete a task that many of us could complete in a couple of minutes. Andrew had the job of teaching everything from technique and how to apply skills learnt as well as the actual MCT program. The days were long and hard in a room with very little air-conditioning and basic amenities, but incredibly rewarding.
However over the days, more and more shone through and soon were able to stand up in front of the class and deliver a short 15 minute presentation, such as Windows 7 Firewall, overview of DNS or DHCP, giving good examples of using the skills needed to become an MCT.
All 13 participants succeeded at the "Train the Trainer" part of the boot camp, and of the 13 students taking the Microsoft Certification Professional (MCP) exams, 5 passed first time and could apply for MCT status, more than doubling the number of MCTs already on the island, with those who didn’t pass, being able to retake over the coming months.
Microsoft and NetHope will be working together again at the NetHope IT Academy Internship Program at the end of September, an event where the newly minted MCT’s will have the opportunity to present modules in front of 30 recent graduates which aims to help them secure IT work experience with aid agencies to rebuild not only the infrastructure using IT but also help those displaced after the earthquake.
It’s just over 18 months since the earthquake hit Haiti, many people are still without homes, choosing instead to live in communities built up of tents. Maybe this is down to being frightened that if hit again, they would lose what they had. Hopefully with the help given between Microsoft and NetHope as well as individuals like Andrew, Haiti can slowly begin to re-establish itself. This will not be easy and certainly will not happen overnight, however giving people the confidence and more importantly the ability to use IT to grow and rebuild can only mean they are on their way up.
Andrew with his class of students
You can read more about this ''Boot Camp'' and read all about the NetHope IT Academy Internship Program via Born To Learn website.