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News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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February, 2012

  • FE blog

    Unlock the business value of information – Free webinar with the Register


    Information is one of the most important assets of public sector organisations. Unlocking the value of information and making it available for citizens, regulators and management whilst avoiding any data privacy issues is a constant challenge.

    Microsoft and The Register have recently commissioned an independent study conducted by Freeform Dynamics on the challenges relating to Business Intelligence in the Public Sector.

    At our webinar, hosted by Jon Collins of the Register, you can find out more about this illuminating research and hear directly from:

    Webinar: Unlock the business value of your information

    When: Tuesday March 13th 2012, 11:00-12:00

    Register: Online here

    The webinar will address a number of key issues identified by the research and explore real-world solutions that may help you to make more effective use of your current investment in business intelligence tools:

    • How to manage the growing requirements for information to comply with statutory obligations
    • How to make information more accessible to the public without compromising security
    • How to manage the deluge of information requests both internally and externally (e.g. FoI requests)
    • How to be more agile in adapting business intelligence capabilities to the needs of the business
    • How to unlock the value of information by providing more ‘self-service’ business intelligence tools and capabilities

    You can find out more and register online here to take part in the Microsoft and The Register interactive webinar on how to ‘unlock the business value of information’ in your organisation.

    All participants at the webinar will also receive a FREE copy of the report on ‘Unlocking the business value of information’ prepared by Freeform Dynamics on behalf of Microsoft and The Register

  • FE blog

    Behind the Screen – the new computing GCSE project led by e-skills UK


    Behind the Screen is the working title of e-skills UK, a new project to create a computing GCSE. Working with teachers, students, universities and employees, this GCSE has been designed to equip students and young people with a wide range of skills from programming to game design.

    With more IT employers looking for wider skill sets, the current school IT curriculum is not providing the skills needed to work productively in IT hence the decline in the number of students deciding against an IT-related education of future career and IT related GCSE’s has fallen by 57% since 2005.

    Behind the Screen has a goal to create a new computing CGSE to cover systemic thinking, software development and an understanding of how technology is created and works in real life challenges.

    To find out more or get involved, you can find out more via the Behind the Screen website

  • FE blog

    Microsoft System Centre 2012 Launch Events and webinars


    We would like to give you the opportunity to invite you to register and attend the Best of Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) UK 2012 in May in Manchester, Reading and London respectively. These will be our official System Centre 2012 launch events in the UK.

    · 8th May, Manchester (Hilton Deansgate)

    · 10th May, Reading (Thames Valley Park)

    · 17th May, London (Cardinal Place)

    Alternatively, if you have difficulty with T&E, you can attend by registering to one of our System Center 2012 – Virtual Launch Events on 22nd March and 21st June


    We have a wave of new product launches and announcements for the Microsoft Private Cloud in 2012 starting with the release of System Center 2012, which allows you to manage your virtual, physical, and cloud environments from a single console, using common and consistent management experiences that provide full control across your existing datacentre investments.

    We have also introduced a new edition line-up and simplified licensing for System Center 2012 to address both your server and client management needs including Virtual Machine Manager, Operations Manager, Configuration Manager, Data Protection Manager, Service Manager, Orchestrator, Endpoint Protection and App Controller.

    Best of Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) UK 2012

    This 1-day event will provide you with the best possible opportunity to learn about what’s new in System Center 2012 and our next step forward in the Microsoft Private Cloud vision, strategy and roadmap with deep dive sessions on infrastructure management, service delivery & automation, application management, desktop & device management.






    Microsoft’s Private Cloud: Built For The Future, Ready Now


    What’s New in System Center 2012




    Infrastructure & Fabric Management




    Service Delivery & Automation


    Application Management




    Desktop & Device Management



  • FE blog

    Playful Learning: Computer Games in Education (new eBook)


    We are thrilled to announce the availability of our latest eBook, titled ‘Playful Learning: Computer Games in Education’.

    Written by leading light in this field, Ollie Bray, this eBook combines thoughts, observations, tools and practical tips to help you understand more about using and making computer games in the classroom. In short, it is a guide to get children excited and re-energised about learning.

    View/download the full eBook on Gaming in Education below:

    If you are keen to learn more about the use of computer games in education, Ollie will be speaking on this topic at the Microsoft sponsored breakout session at the NAACE 2012 Conference. Hope to see you there!

  • FE blog

    3 core elements to a successful BYOD strategy


    With the plethora of device types now available, the power to work and study where you choose is now a reality. Want to revise in the park sipping a latte, or update a presentation on the bus, there is now an app and device perfectly suited to your needs.

    This trend, commonly known as the Consumerisation of IT in Education or BYOD, is driving the demand for flexible working and studying often using more consumer orientated devices. Within an academic institution, this is not without its challenges, though, and IT professionals within schools, colleges and universities need to consider the impact and management of BYOD from a more holistic perspective to ensure the needs of both the user and enterprise are met.

    Lets consider the needs of the students for a second. Gen-Y, who are predominately active users of social media and mobile technology, expect to also use these technologies as a core element of their learning experiences. Is this is often a reality within institutions, though?

    Furthermore, with Forrester research reporting that 35% of workers in the US already use a personal device at work, and I am sure the UK numbers are not far off this, the BYOD trend in the enterprise is rapidly gaining momentum. With people becoming more tech savvy, how are institutions also embracing the opportunities of consumerisation of IT in education/BYOD with faculty and admin staff within institutions? Are institutions working to meet the needs of their users?

    Via my conversations with network managers and teachers at institutions across the UK, I get a mixed set of responses to these questions. Some institutions are openly embracing BYOD, while others are passionately against these trends.

    Ultimately, I don’t see these trends as a threat to an institutions IT strategy, but does require IT managers within institutions to work in a new way and to think differently.

    People power, or BYOD, is not without its challenges but requires a balance between freedom, risk and cost to ensure a practical and workable solution for IT users within an institution. IT Managers want to enable anytime, anywhere learning/working for all, I am sure, but also have a responsibility to keep systems and data safe.

    To make this a reality, a solution needs to provide anytime, anywhere access to data and apps, consider the most suitable device type to meet the needs of users and, as mentioned previously, mitigate cost and risks.

    The consumerisation of IT video below discusses this in more detail.

    So, how do IT managers within academic institutions make this a reality?

    From a device perspective, multi purpose devices should be front and centre of BYOD strategies. With the pace of change in devices types, it is now possible to get devices that are light weight, have a great battery life and are well suited for both content creation and consumption. These multi-purpose devices can also be managed within a standard IT management environment with increases the security of the device and reduces the overall cost of ownership.

    UltraBooks, for example, offer much of the flexibility of slate devices but, in the case of Windows 7 devices, can be managed and secured electronically.

    iPads, for example, are fantastic content consumption devices, but offer challenges when it comes to content creation and security/central management. This often leads to the need to have multiple device types to cater for both sets of needs. This adds to the overall cost of the device estate and, particularly in the case of education, adds significant cost to an overall IT budget.

    The video below showcasing some of the latest PC's, for example, gives a good feel for how powerful multi-purpose devices are becoming.

    With the advances in the cloud, access to data and apps via the browser irrespective of platform is also becoming commonplace. App virtualisation, via VDI and remote desktop, can also help provide flexible and secure access to core apps and act as a fundamental element of an institutions BYOD strategy.

    When these 3 elements, device type, the cloud and unified management comes together, institutions have the perfect recipe for BYOD success.

    Food for thought, for sure. What do you think about this topic? How are you meeting the needs of your users in the age of BYOD? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

  • FE blog

    LWF12: Anthony Salcito - The New Classroom Experience


    Anthony Salcito’s session from the recent Learning Without Frontiers 2012 Conference has now been made available online.

    For some inspiring thoughts on the future of teaching and learning, the session is well worth taking 20 minutes out of your day to check out.

    We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

  • FE blog

    Changing Hearts and Minds of Teachers – Ireland


    Originally posted on the daily edventures Blog

    Deirdre Butler’s passion in life is exploring what being digital in learning can mean. This means finding new ways for digital technology to revolutionize learning — by challenging us to examine how we learn and to question our assumptions about “traditional” models of schooling. Butler’s expertise led to her serving as a judge at Partners in Learning regional and global forums since 2006, and as lead judge at the recent European Forum in Moscow and US Forum in Seattle. We recently asked Butler about her passion for digital learning and her work in training the next generation of teachers.

    Deidre Butler - USA

    What role does digital technology play in teaching?

    Technology in teaching is not new – I’ve been using technology to teach for more than 30 years. At first, it was video and audio, then computers. Today, using every available tool, we can shift from text-based teaching to multiple modalities. Teachers once were simply transmitters of information. Technology makes learning dynamic.

    You started as a teacher, and then became a researcher. Now your focus is on teacher education. What inspired your career path?

    Like Nelson Mandela, I believe that “education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” To do this I believe that teachers are the key change agents. Mindful of Mahatma Gandhi’s words, “You must be the change you want to see in the world,” my work centers on teacher learning. The challenge is how best to design sustainable, professional development models and support structures that will foster and develop teachers as self-determined learners. I have tried to understand this complex problem by designing challenging yet supportive and sustainable learning environments for teachers.

    How has the community you’ve built supported your efforts?

    I have worked to build alliances with people in other institutions and agencies, establishing an extensive network across education, government and industry sectors. The network includes links with students and teachers at primary and post-primary level as well as advanced learning institutions nationally and internationally.

    What projects have come out of these partnerships?

    I’m particularly proud of the Empowering Minds (EM) Learning Community, which is a collaboration between St. Patrick’s College, the MIT Media Lab, Media Lab Europe, the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) and primary schools across Ireland. Project work engaged in by the community’s children and teachers (50+ schools nationally) is shared at the Annual National RoboShow at St. Patrick’s College. I’m also the National Director of TeachNet Ireland, a continuing professional development project that encourages Irish teachers at primary and post-primary levels to develop educational resources for publication on the web. To date, the project has published 500+ online curriculum units and these are available free of charge through the website www.teachnet.ie.

    Over the past two years, TeachNet Ireland has focused on developing a Web 2.0 strategy which builds on teacher collaboration and use of web tools such as blogs and podcasting. We have also developed a range of high quality online courses to reach a greater number of teachers. The TeachNet portal now includes a blog, podcast and teacher project resource listing as well as a range of online courses to support teachers.

    As someone training the teachers of tomorrow, are you optimistic about the future of education?

    I am – so long as we continue to shake up assumptions and beliefs. Technology is not a silver bullet. We must set up environments to stimulate teachers and to enable them to experience different learning environments. We must change hearts and minds.

    Deirdre Butler believes we must question our assumptions about the learning process. How have you questioned your own assumptions, and what was the result?


    About Deirdre Butler

    Deirdre Butler is a senior lecturer in St. Patrick’s College (a constituent College of Dublin City University) with chief responsibility for designing and coordinating learning programs for undergraduate and postgraduate students using a broad range of digital technologies. Butler has consulted for and participated in educational development work using expressive computational materials in Mexico, Costa Rica, many European countries, as well as rural and urban areas of Ireland. Prior to St. Patrick’s College, Butler worked in primary schools for nearly twenty years.

    Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
    Current residence: Dublin, Ireland
    Person who inspires me most: Seymour Papert, whom I had the privilege of working with as my PhD advisor.
    Favorite childhood memory: Getting that much loved Crolly Doll for Christmas when I was very young, particularly in light of my escapades some months earlier when I had done some “interior design” work on the much prized new bathroom that been installed in our home. I had found a container of gloss paint which my father had been painting the fence in the back garden with. He had briefly left the paint outside the back door while he nipped inside to have a cup of tea. Seeing my opportunity to put my artist skills into action and spruce up what I thought was a very boring bathroom, I took the
    paint brush and container and set to work. Let’s say when I was discovered singing and painting happily a short time later my parents were to put it mildly less than impressed. So that year I had been rather worried that Santa would definitely have me on the “naughty list” and keeping with tradition he would leave me a bag of cinders at the foot of my bed instead of my much longed for Crolly doll.
    Next travel destination (work or pleasure): First week in March to Austin, Texas to meet with the other members of Microsoft’s Higher Education Advisory Board. I will also be presenting at the SITE (Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education) Conference on the teacher professional development work (LEAP21) that I have been involved in with ITL (Innovative Teaching and Learning) research (www.itlresearch.com).
    Favorite book: Currently, Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. A constant favorite since my early teens is The Prophet, by Khalil Gibran.

  • FE blog

    Coffee and Stats: Supporting Students IT Employability Through Professional Certification


    During a regular catch-up with my colleague, Greg Pearson, he shared some interesting stats around the global IT industry and how this relates to job growth, with a particular emphasis on the tech sector.

    I thought it might be worth sharing some of these stats on the blog. It definitely got me thinking about young people and the skills they need to find employment after they graduate. Food for thought, for sure…

    • Global IT Spend is expected to grow to $1.7 trillion in 2013*
    • Global IT jobs will grow from 35.6 million in 2009 to 41.4 million by 2013*
    • 98k new IT business projected to be created by 2015**
    • UK requires 550,000 new entrants in to IT and Telecoms by 2015***

    That is pretty impressive potential growth figures, yet during the same conversation with Greg it turns out that the tech industry is actually struggling to find the right skills.

    The following stats puts this into perspective:

    • +20% of Application Development jobs require SharePoint skills****
    • 92% of IT Leaders indicate it is challenging to secure necessary IT skills*****
    • Universities now have a focus on employability within 6 months of graduating in subject that was studied

    With these stats in mind, there are clearly huge opportunities for young people who possess the right skills to pursue careers in the tech sector. The challenge now is for the curriculum in schools and beyond to offer the correct platform for people to embrace these opportunities and meet the demands of industry.

    So what are hiring manager within tech firms looking for from a qualifications perspective? Maybe the following stats can help answer these questions:

    • 91% of Hiring Managers consider employee certification as a criterion for hiring₁
    • 81% of Hiring Managers feel that certified individuals perform better₁

    It is going to be interesting to see how the curriculum develops and evolves to create an environment that provides the best platform for the UK to achieve its full potential in the tech sector. To support this, Microsoft's IT Academy programme can help provide industry specific skills and knowledge needed to achieve success.

    Keeping with the theme of stats, 60% of IT Certification Holders say a certification led to a new job₂. Additionally, 53% of individuals believe that obtaining a certification makes them more marketable3.

    Earning Microsoft Certifications Will Help Your Students:

    • Gain a competitive edge in the job market and differentiate themselves
    • Demonstrate their commitment to the IT profession. The IET recognises MCP towards their membership
    • Validate their real world IT skills and knowledge
    • Differentiate their institution against graduates from others

    More information on the ITA Academy can be found on our website, or alternatively download/view the presentation below from our 2011 ITA Summit event.

    **Source: IDC Economic Impact Study, Global, 2009

    ** Source: IDC, Microsoft’s Economic Impact, 2011

    *** Source: eskills Technology Insights report, 2011

    **** Source: www.itjobswatch.co.uk

    ***** Source: TEKSystems Report, October 2011


    1 MCP Program Satisfaction Study 2010

    2 Network World, November 2011

    3 Intrepid Survey

  • FE blog

    Microsoft Private Cloud Whitepaper: A comparative look at functionality, benefits and economics


    Private cloud is a computing model that uses resources which are dedicated to your institution. A private cloud shares many of the characteristics of public cloud computing including resource pooling, self-service, elasticity and pay-by-use delivered in a standardised manner with the additional control and customisation available from dedicated resources.



    In our latest whitepaper, we compare private cloud solutions from Microsoft and VMware. We do this by defining private cloud using industry standard concepts, explain the Microsoft products needed to create a Microsoft private cloud solution and then define the technology benefits a Microsoft private cloud solution provides.

    The full whitepaper can be viewed/downloaded below.

  • FE blog

    Carmel College Virtualises Servers and Saves Thousands of Pounds to Reinvest in IT


    Carmel College wanted to reduce IT overheads through virtualisation. After finding VMware expensive and difficult to integrate, it decided to virtualise its servers with Hyper-V technology—part of the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system—to reduce power, cooling, licensing, and maintenance costs. The solution saves the college an estimated £40,000 a year in staffing and operational costs, and power and cooling overheads have been cut by 50 per cent.

    “With the Microsoft platform, we can integrate systems so all applications work smoothly. We’ve reduced operational and staffing costs, equivalent to around £40,000 a year.” Kevin Burke, IT Services Manager, Carmel College

    To learn more about how Carmel College embraced Windows Server 2008 R2 and saved £40,000 a year, view/download our full case study below.

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