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  • FE blog

    Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning: Teacher Professional Development


    Excerpt from ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’

    This is the most important but often the most over looked aspect of any 1:1 initiative or technology deployment designed to change culture and teaching methodology. By creating a policy related to continuous teacher professional development and writing it into your roll-out plan you will formalise the need for training within your staff team.

    Professional development should include both technical and pedagogical training. It should also include a blend of face-to-face (expert and/ or peer led) and on-line learning. Staff should be given as many opportunities as possible to share ideas and learn from each other’s practice.


    Microsoft Partners in Learning (PiL) is a 10-year, 500+ million dollar global initiative aimed at improving teaching and learning. Since 2003, it has led the way in partnering with education professionals, helping nearly 8 million educators and reaching more than 190 million students in 114 countries. At the heart of PiL is the Partners in Learning Network, an online professional development community that helps educators and school leaders connect, collaborate, create and share so that students can realise their greatest potential. For more information of PiL join the online discussion today at www.pil-network.com.

    The focus on Learning and Teaching is really important to ensure the success and impact of any 1:1 project and this is discussed in more detail within our ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’ eBook.

    The full eBook can be viewed/downloaded below.

  • FE blog

    Tablets in Education: Responsible Use as part of a 1:1 Learning Project


    Excerpt from ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’

    Your school should already have a policy on ICT acceptable and responsible use. However, with the introduction of 1:1 it is very likely that you will need to up-date or adapt your policy. You need to be very clear about what is and what is not acceptable on a schools network and behaviour that is expected of young people, along with any sanctions that you will action if the rules are broken.

    As well as formal procedures it is also useful to work directly with young people so that they can create their own rules around device use (and this should also include the use of social media).

    Schools that have worked with students to co-create acceptable use policies have found that they are more likely to be adhered to in the long run. Co-created acceptable use policies help give young people ownership over the 1:1 project and create a sense of collective responsibility.

    One important thing to remember about any acceptable use policy is that there is absolutely no right or wrong way to write one. Your policy needs to reflect your organisation, who you wish to communicate with and what you feel comfortable doing. It is also important that it is reviewed regularly – the best acceptable use policies are regularly ‘hacked’ by users using a wiki or collaborative document to ensure it is constantly up-to-date.


    Also as well as including specific references to 1:1 in your institute’s ICT policy you should also make sure that it is included in your Learning and Teaching Policy – after all, why are we doing this in the first place if it is not to improve learning and teaching?

    1:1 and other projects that improve the access to computing in classrooms is also likely to lead to increased use of Social Media in your school or institution. As a result a specific mention of social media is also worth including this in your emerging policy. For reference, one country that is very progressive in the development of Social Media Policies in schools is Australia, in particular Victoria. They have provided some good social media guidance on their website: (justice.vic.gov.au/socialmedia7).

    This chapter was taken from our ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’ eBook written is association with Ollie Bray. The full eBook can be viewed/downloaded below.  

  • FE blog

    Tablets in Education: Why is 1:1 the best ratio?


    Excerpt from ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’

    It might surprise you to find out that actually it is not the best ratio all of the time. But, 1:1 will be the best ratio some of the time.

    In terms of the question, “What is the best ratio?”, there is no easy answer to this. It really depends on what it is you are trying to achieve. But it is important to remember that sometimes 1:many (one device for many learners) is fine and that there is also absolutely nothing wrong with a lecture style presentation.

    Of course an advantage of all learners having their own device in a lecture environment means that they can provide feedback and ask questions during the presentation (sometime referred to back channelling). Devices can also be used to follow up links that the presenter has mentioned – these can be bookmarked for exploration at a later date or quickly shared with others across social networking spaces.

    One important consideration during this type of environment is that this type of interaction, although powerful, does not come naturally to young people – it is a skill that is required to be taught and practiced if it is going to have any real impact.  

    As well as 1:many, there are also lots of examples when 1:3/4/5 (one device for three, four or five learners) might be appropriate. These are all good ratios to support collaborative learning and group work.

    The use of a tablet or hybrid device can be useful if there is going to be more than two learners to a device on a collaborative activity. A laptop screen can sometime become a barrier to learning and prevent others in the group from seeing what is going on.


    Research from Professor Sugata Mitra (University of Newcastle) and others has also proved time-and-time again that 1:2 (one device for two learners) is also another great ratio for learning (particularly for younger children). It’s small enough to allow opportunities for children to get time on the computer without arguing who should be in the driving seat, BUT it also allows dialogue and conversation between children as they work to solve real world problems and consolidate their learning task.

    Of course the nice thing about having 1:1 (one device for each learner) is that all of the above can be achieved but children can also work with their own device where appropriate.

    Beyond 1:1

    Schools who have been making use of 1:1 for a while now are also noticing that in reality many students use at least two devices to help them with their learning. Their main device is normally a laptop or a tablet but increasingly a companion device, such as a smartphone, is also being used.

    What we have observed over the past few years is that students tend to use the main device for the bulk of their work. But the companion device is used as a communication tool (to ask questions on social networks etc.) and for its other more portable functionality (for example to take pictures, or to carry out quick web searches). It is important for educators to remember that this is the way that many young people work at home (many adults work in this way as well). Our challenge is allowing young people to work in this way in a school environment.


      Does 1:1 improve standards?

    There is no evidence that 1:1 (or any technology for that matter) in isolation improves attainment standards. A weak teacher with great technology will still not deliver the results that our children deserve. However, there is growing evidence that good teachers with great technology can really raise the bar of expectation amongst young people and deliver improved experience and results.

    However, I truly believe that a good or excellent teacher, who is committed to professional learning and who is supported by great technology has the potential to transform lives. It is also important to remember that technology is only part of any model for educational transformation.

    This chapter was taken from our ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’ eBook written by Ollie Bray. The full eBook can be viewed/downloaded below.

  • FE blog

    Licensing Series: What changes really mean for you and your students


    Guest post by Paul Harris, UK Academic Licensing Sales Specialist

    Firstly, an introduction – as the UK Academic Licensing Sales Specialist (LSS – we love a 3 letter acronym at Microsoft – in fact there will be 4 in this blog post alone!) an important part of my role is to try and help our Education customers understand the intricacies of our Academic licensing programs

    Over the coming months, I’m going to write a regular blog which will hopefully de-mystify some of the key licensing topics – if there are any burning questions you have, feel free to get in touch – my contact details at the bottom of this blog entry.

    The first topic is actually something which went under a lot of peoples radar when announced back in December 2012, but is a pretty big change which means that Education customers can provide productivity services to Students in a cost effective way

    With the launches of Lync Server 2013 & Exchange Server 2013, External Connectors for both Exchange Server and Lync Server were discontinued and removed from our price lists. At the same time the SharePoint for Internet Sites (FIS) license was also withdrawn. Instead, all the usage scenario’s previously covered by external connectors/FIS are now included in the Server license.

    OK, so what does that actually mean & why is this good news?

    Students no longer need a Client Access License (CAL) to access Exchange Server or Lync Server, and in most scenarios SharePoint too*!

    This new approach to licensing our productivity solutions is a clear indication of our goal of anytime, anywhere learning for all and demonstrates the flexibility we can provide when considering our platform.

    Whether you are looking to move to the cloud through Office 365 for Education (which provides Exchange Online, SharePoint Online & Lync Online free of charge), or you are looking to keep your staff & students productive through your on premises investment, or if you are looking at hosted services through a Microsoft partner or maybe even a mixture of these approaches, Microsoft is making the hybrid IT approach a reality….and saving you money

    But what about Windows Server & RDS I hear you cry! Well no changes here. If your users are authenticating with a Windows Server then they will need a CAL, same goes for RDS….if you are providing access remotely using RDS, then a RDS CAL is required.

    If you are looking to cover a lot of Students then a cost effective way of licensing Student access to Windows Server & RDS is via an External connector. The concept is pretty simple – you purchase a Windows Server External Connector for every server to which you are allowing access and all of your students are covered** Same goes for RDS – purchase an external connector for the servers you are allowing RDS access to and they all get the right to use.

    What’s more the external connector also permits access by

    · Parents/legal guardians

    · Prospective students

    · Alumni (student and faculty/ staff)

    · Student and faculty/staff of collaborating academic institutions or government institutions.

    If you have a small number of students you wish to license then purchasing individual CAL’s may be more cost effective – ask your reseller for more info/pricing to compare your options

    Any questions? My contact details below & my next blog will be around Virtual Desktop Access i.e. delivering Windows from your datacentre

    Paul Harris - Academic LSS


    *A-ha – the dreaded asterisk! – when I say most scenarios, CALs are not required to access content, information, and applications that you make publicly available to Students/Parents over the Internet e.g. extranet & internet sites

    ** and another asterisk!! External connectors cannot be used for faculty and staff – a CAL must be purchased for Faculty & Staff

  • FE blog

    Computer Science in the National Curriculum: Program or be Programmed


    What is Computer Science and what's happening in the National Curriculum?

    Our approach to computers and how we use them in our daily lives is changing, and I'm not only referring to the advancement of the technology itself but our thought process behind how a computer or programme really functions. Computer Science amalgamates core competencies from technology, mathematics, engineering and of course science. A combination of a skillset deficiency in the UK workforce when it comes to computing and technology roles and comparisons made to other countries both within the EU and further afield, regarding computer science graduates have been just some of the deciding factors which lead to the change in the national curriculum.

    From September 2014 Computing will become a statutory part of the English National Curriculum, including fundamental Computer Science principles such as unique and creative thinking, problem solving, abstraction, precision, computation and practical application.

    What impact is Microsoft Education UK having on the National Curriculum?

    Having worked alongside educators as well as IT managers in schools and various institutions, Microsoft Education UK have a number of years’ experience working within the sector to help facilitate learning goals through the use of a range of devices and tablets in education as well as offering multi scale platforms and resources to equip teachers to meet the curriculum as and when it progresses. There is not such a fear of progression itself, however teaching what is unfamiliar to can at times seem challenging. 74% of teachers say they feel unprepared to teach computing and 69% are not confident that the government will provide sufficient support.

    With this in mind Microsoft have teamed up with Rising Stars, who specialise in primary school KS1/2 resources to create Switched on Computing, an easy to follow guide, which will walk teachers and students through the new computer science curriculum by working through a variety of engaging mini projects. The idea behind these free resources are to stimulate pedagogical strategies with educators as well as excite pupils about the possibilities of computing and the uses of technology in the classroom. You can find out more about Rising stars and the Switched on Computing range by visiting www.switchedoncomputing.co.uk


    To recap on how Microsoft Education has been supporting and following Computer Science in the Curriculum over the past few months why not check out some of our previous blog posts:

    Xbox for Education Enhances New Computer Science Curriculum

    BETT 2014: A is for algorithm: first steps in primary computing

    Importance of Computer Science in the Curriculum Conference, sponsored by ASCL and Microsoft

    Education Technology Repost: Microsoft @ BETT2014

    UK Hour of Code has arrived!

    What does coding have to do with computer science?

    If you're new to these blogs or in case you've missed it, Microsoft Education are keen advocates of equipping students with the necessary skills to succeed in today's highly digital workforce. A proportionate amount of this surrounds coding and programming. All of us use technology which has an element of code to it, however complex. Yet very few of us have the skills to produce this technology ourselves. It is not saying that everyone should learn to programme to fix or create their own products, but it Is worth considering that there are currently 100,000 vacant jobs in the UK technology market and employees that have the skills required are in short supply. We're all aware of the employment crisis, what if we could equip the next generation and build upon the sector that is growing at an alarming rate. Microsoft believes that with the right training and support, 80% of all computer science related jobs in the UK could be filled by a UK graduate.

    Microsoft has been developing some fantastic free resources to meet those who are keen to learn, right where they are at, and offer a range of other developer platforms and certifications to help them progress on an Individual level. For those wanting to learn, we certainly have the information and learning materials available. TouchDevelop, Small Basic, Kodu, ProjectSpark, Project Siena and DreamSpark to name just a few.

    With an increased demand around coding, Microsoft are pleased to launch Hour of Code with Code.org UK. The UK Hour of Code is a one-hour intro to computer science, designed to demystify code during March 3-9, 2014. Every student will learn the basics to be a maker, a creator, an innovator. To find out more or to sign up check out http://uk.code.org/signup

    Coming Soon…

    Microsoft Education have been working alongside Miles Berry, principal lecturer in Computing Education at Roehampton University, keep an eye out in the next few weeks for our Computer Science ebook which will be available for free download on our SlideShare channel.

  • FE blog

    All in a Flap - How to create your very own Flappy Bird clone (Guest Post)


    Guest blog post from Simon Johnson (Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator)

    With flappy bird removed from online stores, you may be all in a flap over where you are going to get your next flappy related fix. Well worry no more because, thanks to a free online tool called TouchDevelop, you can now create your very own flapptastic app by simply following a few easy steps.


    What is TouchDevelop?

    TouchDevelop is an online app creation tool from Microsoft Research. Originally designed to develop Windows Phone 7 apps, the touchdevelop Web App now allows you to develop Windows Store apps suitable for Windows 8 touch screen devices and runs on iPad, iPhone, Android, PC, Mac, Linux. There is also a dedicated touchdevelop app on the Windows Phone 8. 


    Created for the UK hour of code, this easy to use step-by-step tutorial will teach you how to create your very own flappy bird clone. Just follow this step-by-step tutorial and your flappy bird woes will soon be over.

    Hungry for more?

    If this tutorial has wet your appetite and you want to learn more! Why not sign up for UK hour of code (running between the 3rd and 9th March 2014). Through fun tutorials and lesson plans, Hour of code plans to be the biggest ever national initiative to get students, teachers and parents learning to code in just sixty minutes. Hour of Code has already been extremely successful in the United States with more than 15 million participants. Register for the UK hour of code here: http://uk.code.org

    Where next?

    Like to find out more about touchdevelop or want to try out some more tutorials? Below is a list of courses and schemes of work that introduce you to the programming concepts and the environment of the touchdevelop Web App.

  • FE blog

    Tablets in Education: Williston Northampton School chooses Surface Pro to bring down the walls of their classrooms and make Anytime, Anywhere Learning a reality (video) - updated post


    The Williston Northampton School in Massachusetts is home to 80 Middle School students and 450 Upper School students coming from 27 states in the US and 27 countries.  A couple of years ago, they started envisioning what a 1:1 computing program would look like for their school – but could not find a tablet they thought was ideal for Education, until they saw the Surface Pro.

    Surface with pen

    To learn more about why they selected Windows 8 and Surface Pro to sit at the heart of the their 1:1 initiative, view the full case study video. Details below.

    Tablets in Education – Williston Northampton School Surface Pro Video 

  • FE blog

    Tablets in Education: Devices in Education eBook (Updated)


    Following on from the launch of our Devices in Education eBook last year, we have just created an update to the eBook that covers some of the new devices that we feel are great for an education audience.

    The updated eBook showcases devices such as the Dell Venue 8 Pro and the Surface 2 and can be viewed/downloaded in full below.

    We are currently in the process of creating the next version of this eBook. Let us know which devices you would like us to cover by leaving your thoughts in the comments below.

  • FE blog

    iOS 7 and Windows 8 Mobile Devices in Education


    Written by Jane Gadsby and Luke Shacklock (Current year 13 students studying at Sawtry Community College, Cambridgeshire)

    iphone vs winodws phone

    Following Apple’s rapid growth in the smartphone market through the development of the first iPhone in 2007, the advances in mobile hardware and software saw exponential growth. As the market leader in desktop computing software, Microsoft conveyed its expertise into developing a fresh new mobile OS to compete in this quickly growing worldwide market, offering a host of exciting exclusive features. But we must ask, does this new mobile platform really have the potential to take on its established rivals or is it just an over optimistic attempt that is destined to suffer the fate of the likes of Symbian and Palm OS?

    The way we use our smartphones is changing as we integrate more and more of our lives into our handheld devices. Windows phone 8 realises the growing demand of its consumers and supplies many exclusive features to satisfy accordingly. Unarguably the market leader: 1 billion people worldwide now use Microsoft office (www.winbeta.orgO365 windows phoneWPHONE SKYDRIVE)

    In Windows phone this office suite is adapted for use on mobile devices allowing documents, presentations and spreadsheets to be accessible on the go thanks to the SkyDrive service pushing all files to all devices registered with your Microsoft account. This USP makes the device appealing to the billions of users that choose Microsoft applications in their lives, both in private and public sectors.

    thumbs up Luke and myself asked a group of our peers (Sixth form students at Sawtry Community College, Cambridgeshire) to extract their opinions on the software and hardware differences in the Windows 8 Phone and iOS 7. When interviewing our age group, the responses were mostly positive, with a majority rating it to being very ‘user friendly’. Users reported that they initially approached the metro design with apprehension, which then was quickly dissolved after a brief experience with the software. The individuality is appealing as you are in control of your desktop design; this distinguishes it from iOS, which has a more homogenous user interface.

    We found that many felt comforted when purchasing an iOS device by the lack of fragmentation in Apple’s hardware. With licensed software, third party manufacturers often use third party hardware that isn’t necessarily tailored to the software it powers. However the higher prices of the windows phone products express quality comparable to that of Apple’s design.

    Apple had monopolized the mobile gaming forefront, with a vast amount of applications available to download for free, enticing audiences to engage in gaming without dipping into their disposable income. Microsoft have utilized their strength as the market leader strength by offering the synchronization with Xbox Live allowing gamers to play from home and when travelling.


    Looking from the perspective of a younger aged audience, price is a critical consideration to make when purchasing a mobile. Windows manage to offer a range of budget smart phones that do not dramatically downgrade in build and hardware quality.

    Look feel and features are fundamental in any handheld mobile device. Windows 8 now gives greater freedom to customize the lock screen much more than before; such as Xbox Live friends and game notifications. With provision for multi-core processers and higher resolutions screens, the progression is clear from previous windows 7.5. As such the ‘people-hub’- allows groups of fellow users to communicate and share data. Although weaker in comparison to AirDrop, Apple’s iOS file sharing, which enables easier transferability of documents. However, it must be considered, with of iOS7’s animation and 3D effects, the battery life is undesirably impacted.

    The verdict is Window 8’s secure and organized platform. It offers a fresh, new and appealing environment which incorporates both the users’ demands for work and play. Although it must be considered how both handsets offer definite quality. Tangibly and intangibly windows 8 is the majorities preferable choice.

    Contact details


    Fen Lane

    Sawtry Community College


    PE28 5UZ

  • FE blog

    Tablets in Education: Williston Northampton School chooses Surface Pro to bring down the walls of their classrooms and make Anytime, Anywhere Learning a reality (video)


    The Williston Northampton School in Massachusetts is home to 80 Middle School students and 450 Upper School students coming from 27 states in the US and 27 countries.  A couple years ago, they started envisioning what a 1:1 computing program would look like for their school – but could not find a tablet they thought was ideal for Education, until they saw the Surface Pro.

    To learn more about why they selected Windows 8 and Surface Pro to sit at the heart of the their 1:1 initiative, view the full case study video below. A direct link is also available.

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