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  • 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.

  • FE blog

    Anthony Salcito at BETT 2014


    In this short video, Anthony Salcito, Vice-President Microsoft Worldwide Education, shares his thoughts on the exciting new trends that emerged at the BETT show last month.

    Touching on areas such as how students are now getting involved in the creation of tools to improve teaching and learning and how institutions are thinking more holistically in how technology can drive change and raise attainment, this video gives a interesting synopsis of the key trends from the event.

  • FE blog

    Thoughts on student experience, culture, MOOC’s and more…


    I was recently asked by the folks over at University Business magazine to contribute to a New Year themed Q&A piece on the HE sector. The final article seems to be offline only, but I thought it would be good to share my contribution to readers of the blog.

    In your opinion, what have been the most significant technological developments in the UK university sector in 2013?

    With exciting new trends and technologies such as game based learning maturing and building momentum, mobility solutions that offer access to core university services becoming more widespread and infrastructure investments now making ubiquitous connectivity a reality for many HE students, 2013 has been a significant year for technology across the HE sector. These technology trends are helping to better connect students, create more emotional connections with learning and raise attainment.

    The drum roll moment here though, in terms of what is actually the most significant technological development in the UK isn't actually technology related at all, in my opinion. While these are unquestionably making a real difference to the experience of students, faculty and staff across the sector, I believe the key 'stand out' development with regard to technology across the sector in 2013 is culture.

    With emerging technologies, combined with areas such the cloud now maturing and reaching the mainstream, without the cultural transformation that has supported these developments the sector would not be as flexible, supportive and experience orientated as it is currently.

    With the importance that technology plays within the overall sector, this cultural transformation, alongside cloud technologies etc, has created a perfect storm for shaping an environment where staff can be more effective and students can excel. Roll on 2014, and beyond. It's going to be an exciting ride! 

    Will the student experience continue to be a major focus in 2014?

    With the intense level of competition across the sector, student experience can't afford not to be a major focus in 2014. We have heard for some time now the mantra that 'students are consumers' and the level of service that they experience from HE institutions needs to delight, surprise and exceed their expectations.

    Offering ubiquitous connectivity, great devices and anytime, anywhere access to learning materials is only a small part of this overall equation. In order to create great experiences for students, institutions need to become more proactive in developing and offering a unique and personalised offering for students.

    Business Intelligence (BI) technologies or analytics need to be featured at the heart of this dedication and commitment to creating compelling and action orientated experiences for students. With BI technologies, for example, at the heart of any student experience initiative, institutions can gain greater insight and turn data into a set of actions that can help improve grades and increase the likelihood of helping the student meet their objectives and get a job within a highly competitive market.

    Institutions need to start with the desire to put the student first and be dedicated to creating memorable experiences. With this as the foundation, institutions then need to get serious about creating a holistic view of the student, which can then help shape a tailored journey through their university career from recruitment to alumni. Business Intelligence solutions can act as the key to unlocking the door to delivering exceptional student experiences and should definitely be on the Christmas wish list.

    Will 2014 present any new challenges in the higher education sector? If so, what will they be?

    The last few years has seen some serious innovation within the HE sector, particularly with regard to technology. Some of the key challenges the sector faces over the coming years, though, will be about creating an even stronger environment for this innovation, in both technology and teaching and learning, to flourish.

    MOOCs, for example, are offering democratised access to world class content and bring new competitive pressures to universities (as discussed in the excellent 'An Avalanche is Coming'), but what about the assessment? Without the formal assessment, and recognition of these achievements, the full impact of these exciting development will not be realised.

    I am incredibly excited about what 2014 will bring, but it's up to the whole sector to ensure that we are stepping up to ensure that the support, pedagogy and culture keeps pace to ensure that we are delivering an environment and experience that takes full advantage of the technologies and best practice available to us.

    I would love to hear what you think. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

  • FE blog

    Free Event: Local Authority Education Conference




  • FE blog

    Getting Started: OneNote Web App


    Originally posted on the Office Blogs 28th January

    The OneNote Web App lets you capture and access notes and ideas from any web browser. With no download required, you can use it anywhere: at your friend’s house, at the airport, or even on a device that doesn’t have OneNote already installed. If you’re new to OneNote, it’s fast and easy to give OneNote a quick spin on the web.

    Get started using OneNote Web App

    It’s really easy to get started using OneNote on the web:

    Go to onenote.com, then at the top of the page, click Sign In.

    Go to onenote.com and sign in

    On the sign-in screen, enter your Microsoft account email address and password. (Note: If you don’t already have a Microsoft account, you’ll be prompted to create one.)

    After you’ve signed in, you’ll see a list of your OneNote notebooks and notebooks that others have shared with you—just click them to open. (Note: If you have only one notebook, it will automatically open. If you don’t have any notebooks yet, OneNote will automatically create one to get you started.)

    List of OneNote notebooks

    Just like before, your notebooks are stored on SkyDrive. Now you can easily access them from onenote.com!

    Updates to navigation pane for OneNote Web App

    Once a notebook is open, you might notice some updates to the OneNote Web App navigation pane. To make it easier to navigate sections and pages, we made some interaction and visual improvements to the navigation pane. Now there’s a column for your sections and a column for your pages.

    Updates to the OneNote Web App navigation pane

    Tell us what you think

    We would love to hear what you think. Please leave us comments with your feedback!

    Download OneNote: onenote.com
    Follow OneNote: twitter.com/msonenote
    Like OneNote: facebook.com/OneNote

  • FE blog

    Step by Step Teachers Guide to Using Miracast in the Classroom


    Blog Post by Kevin Sait, Head of IT Strategy at Wymondham High Academy Trust

    I have been asked frequently to demonstrate how Miracast works on the Microsoft Surface, in the classroom, so I thought I would take the opportunity to show how easy it is to connect a device which supports Miracast to a classroom projector.

    Like most IT decision makers recently, we have been looking at life beyond the IWB (Interactive White Board), IWB’s made a big appearance in the 90′s with a plan to turn teaching and learning on its head. Unfortunately this has never happened with the majority of users not maximising its potential in the classroom.  However now we find ourselves looking to replace old whiteboards, with a price tag £800 + and potentially 40 units in our school suddenly equals a big chunk of budget over a period of time.

    So with our recent adoption of Surface and Surface Pro in the classroom we have investigate the use of Miracast to bring the interactive element into the classroom instead of leaving it bolted to the wall.

    Miracast is the method to connect to a ‘display box’ like the NetGear Push TV box which in turn plugs into your digital classroom projector via HDMI.  This simply means the teacher now has a wireless connection to the projector allowing them to be anywhere in the classroom and mirror the display on the projector.

    Sounds good?  well it is and is easy to setup. First off please remember that this does not work on the 1st gen Surface RT  even running Windows 8.1, so here is how it works on the Surface Pro instead.

    Step 1 Connect the Push TV box to the projector using HDMI and also connect to the USB port on the projector for power. This means every time you select the HDMI input from the projector the PushTV box will power on.

    Surface Pro

    Step 2 Power on the Surface Pro (2, 2 Pro) and then swipe right and tap change PC settings. Next choose PC and Devices, then Devices, then choose Add Device.  The Push TV box should be showing , tap on the device to connect.

    Step 3 You should now see on the screen a PIN number from the Push TV box, enter that on the connection screen on your Surface. The wireless connection will now be created and you will mirror your desktop on your projector.


      Connecting to the PUSH TV box


    Surface Pro using Miracast in the classroom

    So if you are investing in a mobile device platform especially Windows 8.1, my advice is to make sure you purchase devices that support either Miracast or WideEye, this will then give the scope of looking how mobile devices can affect life in the classroom rather than the traditional IWB which has become not so interactive.

  • FE blog

    BETT 2014: Tablet Academy Free Training Days


    imageBETT 2014 was a great experience for the Tablet Academy. CEO Steve Molyneux, is a BETT veteran, having visited every year for the past 30 years and it was very interesting for him to experience the changes that had occurred in mobile learning just over the past 12 months.

    Other representatives included MD Mark Yorke, and fellow trainers David Fuller and Dave Foord. Their role to deliver hands-on Interactive Classroom sessions on the Microsoft stand.

    The challenge was to run 15 x 15 minute taster sessions from our Windows 8 training catalogue on each of the four days, but with the fantastic support from our colleagues at Microsoft.  Included in this was a session involving Education Secretary Michael Gove and his family looking at programming using the BETT award winning: KoDu. 

    The response to our sessions that explored the use of Windows 8 Tablets in the classroom was amazing and the measure of our success and the interest in Windows 8 tablets can be demonstrated by the fact that over 1200 people participated in the workshops in the Interactive Classroom – Powered by Tablet Academy.

    Mark Yorke, Managing Director of the Tablet Academy said

    “People were generally excited about the potential for Windows 8 Tablets. It seemed to me that many schools are about to start their journey of using mobile devices and they were pleased to see a complete solution that would easily integrate into their existing infrastructure.”

    The Table Academy would like to thank Microsoft for the opportunity to support there stand at BETT 2014 and for the support from all individuals involved in making our interactive classroom sessions a success.

    Looking Forward to 2014

    The Tablet Academy are now busy delivering 100 free training days for schools who purchase 20 or more Windows 8 devices before 31st March 2013. For more information email info@tablet-academy.com



  • FE blog

    Father Son Work Experience


     Guest blog post by Billy Beswick

    In mid-December, I was lucky enough to gain work experience with Microsoft’s UK education team in which my Dad, Steve Beswick is a part of. Of course it was amusing to see my Dad at work but the valuable information and advice that I would not obtain throughout my educational career is something I can use for the rest of my life.


    I was lucky to shadow the Microsoft education team at such a critical however exciting time for them. This is because Microsoft is in a decisive transaction period of going from a predominantly desktop and software business to also entering the hardware market with the Surface and the Windows Phone. This was evident within the education team because instead of focusing on selling software to schools/universities, Microsoft education now has to embrace their new surface and compete against Apple with the use of tablets in education.


    Being in year 13 and studying Business in school since GCSE, what I’ve learnt from my experience which surprised me was the gap between learning about business and then practically working for a business. A simple example is at school I’m taught what selling is because that’s in the exam, but why I am not taught how to sell? This is much more valuable if you want a career in business after education. I know each person has unique selling techniques but to learn fundamental skills such as this would help many students to make the transaction from education to working life much easier.


    During the experience I saw how brilliant the working environment was at Microsoft. I loved shadowing different parts of the team such as Marketing and Sales and came to learn there is so much more to what is stereotyped by the the job title. Such as in one day, a person had to deal with PR, sales, organisation of the upcoming BETT Show and lead an interview. A particular highlight for me was listening into a call with all the interns at Microsoft, in which 2 interns presented what the marketing department were working on with the Windows Phone. I was absorbed by how specific the target market is and how Microsoft has to change how it markets its products in different countries because of the difference in culture. A prime example of this is the difference in the US and UK versions of the Nokia Lumia 1020 advert.



    Now when I am at school and I’m sitting in my business class, I won’t be thinking lets learn this just so I can get an A in my A-levels, I will be thinking how this would relate to a business such as Microsoft. It has also given me the determination to really improve my skills and CV so maybe one day I can work for a company as prestigious as Microsoft.

  • FE blog

    Student Advantage Deployment Guide


    Student Advantage is a volume licensing benefit where students get Office 365 ProPlus at no additional cost, provided institutions meet the following criteria:

    1. Institution has an EES agreement or an OVS-ES agreement

    2. Licenses 100% of Faculty/Staff organization wide for Office (i.e. Office 365 ProPlus, Office 365 Education A3 or A4, or Office Professional Plus 2013)

    3. Institution places an order for Student Advantage licenses through their reseller

    Since various institutions order licenses for Office 365 for Education differently, we have produced a handy ordering and deployment guide for you, with details of how to assign your licenses to your Students.

    So, if you are an existing Office 365 for Education customer (either through EES or directly through our web site) with single or multiple tenancies or if you are a brand new Office 365 for Education customer please take a look at this deployment guide and FAQ to find out more about how to get up and running quickly

    Any questions, please get in touch with your reseller.

  • FE blog

    Microsoft IT Training Academy Officially Open at Wirral’s Sixth Form College


    News release from The Sixth Form College, Birkenhead, www.bsfc.ac.uk

    The Microsoft IT Academy and Microsoft Training Centre officially opened at The Sixth Form College last Wednesday, enabling the college to offer computer training and support packages to the wider community, local businesses as well as our staff and students.

    The Academy is fitted with the latest advanced technology and has been provided as part of a package - Microsoft Office 365 Education - which allows students at the college to access a range of valuable software programmes and tools such as Microsoft Office Web Apps, Microsoft Project Online and Sky Drive Pro – a cloud storage service with 25GB storage capacity, on top of a 50 GB mailbox. AS Computing students at The Sixth Form College, Callum Dean and James Finegan were able to Beta test the Office 365 package prior to it being available across the college and were both extremely impressed by the technology.



    Microsoft Business Manager for F.E, Mike Morris, attended the opening of the Academy and Training Centre, and commented on how happy he is to be working with the education provider. Mr. Morris said: “We are delighted to be working alongside Wirral’s Sixth Form College. They are leading the way in their sector, being one of the first education providers in the North West to hold both the Microsoft IT Academy and Microsoft Training Centre status. What really strikes me as special about their IT Academy is the ambition for its success both in the college and in the larger community, and the strategic technology approach that is being embraced by the college. The Sixth Form College really has embraced my offer of a unique relationship with Microsoft and I hope we can continue to build on this.”

    Kathryn Podmore, Principal at The Sixth form College in Birkenhead, further commented, “It is fantastic that we are able to offer such valuable technology to our local community and help local businesses to support their staff with their technological development. We are extremely proud as a college to hold status as a Microsoft Academy as we had to meet very strict criteria in order to achieve this.”

    Kathryn Podmore Mike Morris

    If you would like further information about The Microsoft IT Academy and Training Centre, please contact Mal Blackburne via email: most@bsfc.ac.uk.

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