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  • FE blog

    An Education in ICT Efficiencies - a Dimension Data event on the 3rd November


    Well, it seems that saving money's and cutting costs is on the agenda. But talking about saving money with ICT, and actually doing it, can be two different things. For example, knowing that you should be virtualising your servers to reduce cost is fine, but it would be handy to have somebody explain how.

    If you want to start moving from cost saving ideas to cost saving projects, then here's an opportunity.


    Dimension Data, one of our partners, is hosting an event here in Reading on Wednesday 3rd November, focusing on cost savings in education, through improving and introducing efficiency by the adoption and deployment of technology. As they put it:


    We are confident this will be a sound investment of your time, and we will answer the following questions on the day though presentations, discussion and demonstrations:

    • What technologies will drive efficiencies, and reduce cost?
    • How will they save cost, and how much can be saved?
    • How can I build confidence through examples and case studies?
    • How do I adopt the technology and start saving?

    We have secured key speakers from Microsoft and Dimension Data and you will also hear from an influential education establishment who is benefiting from these efficiencies. 


    Agenda for 'An Education in ICT Efficiencies'

    The agenda runs from 10am to 3pm, and they Dimension Data team have packed in a great line-up of practical sessions into the day - including Paul Chapman from Leicester College talking about his server virtualisation project, and James Akrigg from Microsoft. Oh, and I've been volunteered to talk about Cost Savings in Education.

    9:30 Registration
    10:00 Introduction - Simon Bliss (Dimension Data)
    10:15 Keynote: Cost Savings in Education - Ray Fleming (Microsoft)
    11:00 Break
    11:15 Virtualisation and Systems Management - Stuart James and Dan Frost (Dimension Data)
    12:00 Cloud, Windows and Business Productivity - James Akrigg (Microsoft)
    12:45 Lunch
    1:30 Case Study - Paul Chapman (Leicester College)
    2:00 Unified Communications - Chris Clark (Dimension Data)
    2:30 Microsoft Licensing - Clive Pugh (Dimension Data)
    2:45 Q&A, conclusions and next steps - Simon Bliss (Dimension Data)
    3:00 Close

    If you have to go to your manager to ask to be out of college for a day next Wednesday, then I can't imagine a better investment of time - it could pay back in weeks.

    Just click here to register by email with Dimension Data

  • FE blog

    The Salford Software 15-minute Friday webinar


    Salford Software is running a series of webinars every Friday specifically for education.  This week’s webinar may be of interest, the topic is "Migrating your services to Microsoft – What are the real benefits?" . The session, from 11:30-11:45, only lasts for 15 minutes and offers the opportunity for you to raise questions on and offline.  If you would like to receive an invitation to the webinar this week, then just drop an email Lisa at Salford Software.

  • FE blog

    Microsoft Office 365 for Education appears on the horizon


    imageLast night we officially announced Office 365, which is the next generation of cloud services – bringing together Exchange 2010, SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Lync (previously known as Office Communications Server) and Office (on both the web and your PC). And the good news is that there will be an education specific version of it.

    As with most of our announcements, the product release is scheduled for next year although we haven’t announced dates, but we did announce a public beta programme that you can sign up to and start using.

    Here’s some of the key information, summarised from mass of data published on the web:

    Summary of Office 365

    Microsoft Office 365 brings together cloud versions of our most trusted communications and collaboration products with the latest version of our desktop software and companion Web Apps. Office 365 is designed to meet the needs of organisations of all sizes — from independent professionals to small, midsize and large businesses and from government agencies to educational institutions — helping them save time, money and free up valued resources.

    Office 365 Key Benefits

    • Access to e-mail, documents, contacts and calendars on nearly any device
    • Simple and highly secure collaboration with colleagues and others within and outside of your organisation
    • Works seamlessly with Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Lync
    • Business-class features, such as IT-level phone support, financially backed 99.9% uptime, geo-redundancy, disaster recovery, and robust security and privacy controls and standards
    • Comprehensive solutions, such as desktop productivity applications, portals, extranets, external websites, instant messaging (IM), voiceconferencing and videoconferencing, webconferencing, e-mail, voice mail and unified messaging

    What’s in Office 365

    • Microsoft Office
      The world’s leading productivity tool on the desktop (Office Professional Plus) and on the Web (Office Web Apps) now seamlessly connected and delivered with cloud services — for a comprehensive productivity experience across the PC, phone and browser.
    • Exchange Online
      Cloud-based e-mail, calendar and contacts with the most current anti-virus and anti-spam solutions. Includes the ability to get e-mail on virtually any mobile phone and options for voice mail, unified messaging and archiving.
    • Office SharePoint Online
      Cloud-based service for creating sites to connect colleagues, partners and customers. Includes enterprise social networking and customization options.
    • Lync Online
      Cloud-based IM, presence, and online meeting experiences with screen sharing, and voiceconferencing and videoconferencing

    Office 365 for Education

    Cloud-based services for colleges can help save money and give students access to familiar, next-generation productivity tools — while helping you free up resources. By eliminating the time and effort spent managing servers, IT staff can deliver the latest services to students while still maintaining control.


    • Large 25GB mailboxes and the ability to send attachments up to 25 MB
    • Anywhere access to e-mail, important documents, contacts and calendar on nearly any device, including PC, Mac, Windows Phone, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry
    • Works with the programmes students know and use most — Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote
    • Student access to Office Web Apps for viewing, sharing and light editing of documents
    • Team sites to share, manage and search for information and resources
    • Industry-leading, always-up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spam solutions
    • Optional student access to 25 GB of free online storage on Windows Live SkyDrive
    • Latest version of Microsoft Live@edu, which has thousands of education institutions and millions of student users today

    And the good news is that this is now the roadmap for Live@edu, as we expand it well beyond the email system that many people use today.

  • FE blog

    Do you want to download Windows 7 in Welsh?


    Did you know that we run a worldwide 'local language programme' which provides language packs for a range of our software? And that if you're in Wales, you can use them to run Windows and Office in Welsh natively?

    Welsh is one of Europe's oldest languages, and is growing, with over half a million speakers, especially amongst young people. Since 1993 public bodies have been required to provide services in both English and Welsh, and so Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Torfaen uses ICT systems running on Windows 7 and Microsoft Office in Welsh. Historically the school had computer labs for lessons across the curriculum, but while students could create documents in Welsh, and look up Welsh websites, the interface of the applications was in English. “The tool bar and menus were in English. I found myself having to use English words to talk about the technology,” said Alun Thomas, Head of ICT at the school. “This was interrupting our practice of immersive learning, and giving the impression that Welsh is not a language used within modern technology.”

    Microsoft partnered with the Welsh Language Board to develop the first Welsh Language Interface Packs, for Windows XP and Office 2003, and has continued to develop these as new versions came along - with the latest being Windows 7 in Welsh. Of course, the main benefit is for the students, as they can now stay fully immersed in their Welsh work. Once the interface is implemented, the applications automatically open in Welsh. As Alun said:

    Everybody’s accepted the new interface easily. The technology that used to be in English is now in Welsh. Staff have taken to it well because it’s easy to integrate it into more lessons. Even people who were used to working on an English menu are using it more because it supports the ethos of our school—providing an immersive education in Welsh.

    You can read more details in the Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw case study, or download the full range of language packs (Welsh packs are available for Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Office 2007, Office 2003, SharePoint 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services).

    Here's the quick links for the most recent Welsh packs:

  • FE blog

    The new RM Slate PC


    I was away at the end of last week, so I didn't see that details on RM's upcoming slate PC had made their way onto their website. Called the RM Slate, it does exactly what you'd expect - a fully functioning PC running Windows, in the style of a pad/tablet/slate device.


    imageYou can read more details on Merlin John's website too, but here's the key specifications:

    • 11.6" multi-touch screen
    • 1.66GHz Intel processor
    • 32Gb flash drive and 2Gb RAM
    • Front-facing 1.3 megapixel webcam
    • WiFi & Bluetooth
    • 2 x USB ports
    • HDMI, SD & SIM ports
    • And less than 1 KG

    And, very importantly, it's going to sell at £399. Which seems like a great price for a fully specified PC - especially in these days when smaller and lighter seems to more more cost.

    I've always been a fan of truly portable PCs, and owned one of the original RM Tablet PCs, which went round the world on a year-long family gap year trip seven years ago. It wasn't designed as a ruggedised PC, but it withstood 12 months of backpacking, with no special protection (and even survived twice when I dropped it in the street). In fact, it was my mainstay device until I destroyed it by cracking the screen under a chair leg (don't ask!).


    And the new tablet that RM have produced is the first tablet device that I've really, really wanted since then. To me, it means that I can have the convenience of leisurely web-browsing  sitting on the sofa, whilst having a full Windows PC when I'm out and about. This probably makes the perfect student device - a device just as capable for creating information as for consuming it.

  • FE blog

    Upcoming Live Meetings - System Center in Education



    After the success of the last few Live Meetings, with over 100 attendees at each, the 'System Center in Education' series Continues with a closer look at each of the products and what they mean to Education Customers. They have been scheduled as a series in advance, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, at 10:30, until the end of November, so you can pop them in your diary as a regular session.

    Registration is simple - register once and choose which meetings you would like to attend.

    System Center Configuration Manager 2007

    System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 has long been a favourable choice for education organisations of all sizes to comprehensively assess, deploy and update servers, clients and devices across physical, virtual, distributed and mobile environments.

    The upcoming version R3, introduces the ability to centrally monitor and control the power consumption of Windows clients, and can therefore help organisations decrease their carbon footprint and potentially realise significant cost savings on energy bills and reduce their overall environmental impact.

    In this live meeting with Microsoft Partner Dimension Data we will explore some of the key capabilities of SCCM and give you chance to ask the experts your questions.

    Tuesday October 19th 10:30-11:30 or

    Thursday October 21st 10:30-11:30

    System Center Data Protection Manager 2010

    Data Protection Manager (DPM) provides a fast and reliable backup and recovery solution for Windows Environments. DPM seamlessly uses disk and tape to provide a scalable and cost effective solution. DPM provides unified protection of a growing number of Microsoft Servers including SharePoint, Exchange, SQL, virtualisation and file-servers.

    DPM provides native site-to-site replication for Disaster Recovery to either another DPM server or an off-site cloud provider and can also be extended to non-Microsoft workloads for a unified solution across the campus.

    In this live meeting Microsoft Partner Esteem will discuss the many benefits DPM can bring to education organisations.

    Tuesday October 26th 10:30-11:30 or

    Thursday October 28th 10:30-11:30

    System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2

    System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) provides a straightforward and cost-effective solution for the unified management of physical and virtual machines. VMM provides a host of features including Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) for dynamic and responsive management of virtual infrastructure and the consolidation of underutilised physical servers. Converting existing physical servers to virtual is easy using the P2V (Physical to Virtual) converter. In addition to Microsoft Virtualisation, VMM can also manage and migrate VMWare virtual machines.

    Tuesday November 2nd 10:30-11:30 or

    Thursday November 4th 10:30-11:30

    System Center Essentials 2010

    For smaller organisations managing less than 500 PCs and 50 servers, System Center Essentials provides a comprehensive management solution where perhaps the entire suite might be a little excessive.

    SCE provides a unified solution with a single console for managing a broad range of tasks across your physical and virtual servers, clients, hardware, software, and IT services.

    Tuesday November 9th 10:30-11:30 or

    Thursday November 11th 10:30-11:30

    System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2

    System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) provides end-to-end service monitoring enabling Operations and IT Management teams to identify, and resolve issues affecting the health of distributed IT services – before they become problems. SCOM can monitor both your Microsoft on non-Microsoft environments and therefore provide a unified solution across the entire campus.

    Microsoft partner Inframon will be presenting this session and will be available to answer any of your questions.

    Tuesday November 16th 10:30-11:30 or

    Thursday November 18th 10:30-11:30

    System Center Service Manager 2010

    System Center Service Manager is Service Desk solution providing incident and problem resolution, change control, and asset lifecycle management. By unifying knowledge across the System Center suite, Service Manager helps IT continuously adapt to new business requirements while reducing cost and lowering time to resolution.

    This session presented by Microsoft partner Silversands will provide a good overview of the key functionality of the product – and give you chance to get your questions answered.

    Tuesday November 23rd 10:30-11:30 or

    Thursday November 25th 10:30-11:30

    Windows InTune

    Join this live meeting for a glimpse of the future of cloud based PC management. Currently in Beta, Windows InTune is a comprehensive solution that includes PC management, malware protection, windows upgrades, remote control and more. This could potentially be a great solution if you are managing a number of organisations, or distributed IT systems (for example, managing multiple primary schools, or remote university departments or learning outreach centres of a college)

    Tuesday November 30th 10:30-11:30 or

    Thursday December 2nd 10:30-11:30

    And there's a bonus for attending…

    Richard has also got his hands on a limited number of full DVD sets of the Microsoft Management Summit 2010, which include:

    • Keynotes
    • Breakout Tracks
    • Hands-on Lab manuals
    • Supporting Materials from Microsoft and Event Sponsors
    • Videos recorded during the even

    On each Live Meeting he'll be giving one set away to a random attendee - but you've got to be at the Live Meeting to get into the draw.

    Learn More

    You can register for the whole series, or individual live meetings here

  • FE blog

    The TechNet Springboard Tour - free event in Reading on 1st November


    The Microsoft Springboard team, based at our headquarters in Seattle, create really good content on TechNet to help you to understand and deploy our latest technologies. In a way, they are a IT manager's best friend, because they provide useful web guides that provide step-by-step processes for things like Windows 7 deployment.

    At last, they're hitting the road, and coming out to join us in Europe, with a free event in Reading on the 1st November. If you're looking for a single day when you can rapidly get up to speed on deploying our latest products  included in your Campus Agreement - Office 2010, Windows 7 and the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack - then this is for you.

    imageAt the five-hour workshops you will:

    • Learn about Office 2010 IT investments.
    • Learn about key deployment strategies for Windows 7 and the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack.
    • See the opportunities for training and certification in these key products.
    • Learn why Windows 7 has received rave reviews from IT organizations and is setting records as the fastest selling operating system in history.
    • Gain a clear understanding of the tools, tips and tricks you need now to jumpstart the successful deployment and management of your Windows desktop environment today.
    • Meet and network with members of the Windows and Office US Product Teams, as well as local Microsoft Technology Evangelists for technical training, professional networking, and real world guidance

    You can read the fully detailed agenda on the website, but here's a quick summary:

    Time Session

    9:30 – 10:00

    Registration Opens

    10:00 – 10:10

    Welcome & Introductions

    10:10 – 10:30

    Riding the Windows 7 and Office 2010 Wave

    10:30 – 11:30

    Office 2010 Investments for IT

    11:30 – 12:00

    Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Application Compatibility in 30 Minutes

    12:00 – 12:30

    Application Virtualization and Deployment

    12:30 – 13:15


    13:15 – 14:25

    Moving from XP and Office 2003 to Windows 7 and Office 2010 – A Deep Dive into MDT and P2V

    14:25 – 15:15

    Desktop Management and Support

    15:15 – 15:30

    Closing / Panel Q&A

    Places really will go quickly for this, as it is open to all UK organisations, so I'd recommend booking soon.

    Learn MoreFind out more about the Springboard tour in Europe
    Or Register Now for the 1st November event in Reading

  • FE blog

    Find out more about Microsoft System Center for Education - an upcoming Live Meeting webinar



    Richard Lane, who is the UK education team's resident techie is getting the bit between his teeth and running an increasing number of Live Meetings. As soon as we're sure there's enough demand, then we'll start to schedule a specific day and time each month, so that you can put them in your diary, and schedule yourself to sit down at your screens with a pair of headphones and a cup of tea. And to get us rolling Richard's lined up a webinar, to look at Microsoft System Center in Education, for next month.


    Microsoft System Center has evolved greatly over the last few years to become a suite of technologies which can manage the entire IT infrastructure across organisations of all sizes - whether it's for a secondary school or a university. This session will provide a high level overview of the products that make up the suite and serve as a good introduction for new users and provide an update for existing users.


    • We will discuss how Service Manager integrates with other technologies such as Active Directory and Configuration Manager to provide an integrated Service Desk product.
    • We will see how System Center Essentials can provide IT Managers with a concise management solution for organisations with up to 500 PCs.
    • We also get a view of emerging cloud based management technologies such as Windows InTune that can manage environments without the need for onsite servers.

    Dates and Times

    Option 1: Tuesday October 12th 10:30-11:30

    Option 2: Thursday October 14th 10:30-11:30

    Register for the System Center in Education meeting

    Register now for the webinar, and we'll send you a reminder for your calendar

    What equipment do I need?
    You will need a PC with a web browser and either headphones or a telephone to hear the audio - To save time before the meeting, you can easily check your system to make sure it is ready to use Microsoft Office Live Meeting, using this link

  • FE blog

    Getting started on cost saving–a practical seminar at Microsoft from Dimension Data


    Dimension Data are running an event here at Microsoft HQ on 3rd November, which will provide practical steps to saving money with ICT.

    So the budget cuts have arrived or are heading our way (goodness knows what happens in next month's budget). There have been various doom-laden forecasts of the impact of these cuts, but although the government have cut the specific ring-fenced Ischool CT spend by 50%, colleges have always decided how much of their own budget they too will invest in ICT to support teaching and learning.

    Of course, things are not good. It’s going to be tougher to justify investment in ICT – especially after so many years of plenty. And ICT leaders in colleges around the country are going to need to hone their skills to justify the investments they are bidding for.

    Find out how to get started on cost saving with ICT

    Through technologies like virtualisation, power management, or embracing unified communications, the savings can soon mount up, and the savings are year on year, every year. It’s time to switch, stop and save. You can see more examples of saving through technology here.

    Dimension Data, in partnership with Microsoft want to take you on a journey, to show you the art of the possible, and the real world savings that can be made through technology. You’ll also hear from a Leicester College on their experiences, and the savings they’ve made in costs and energy reductions.

    If you’re interested in understanding how Dimension Data and Microsoft can help you, please register with Dimension Data. The event will be held on the 3rd November at Microsoft Campus, Thames Valley Park, Reading.

    And as a special offer, the first 10 people to register today before 3:00pm (16th September), and attend, will receive a free Infrastructure Optimisation Assessment, courtesy of a Microsoft-trained consultant from Dimension Data, enabling you to understand how your existing investments, combined with new technologies can help you better address your challenges.

    Learn MoreEmail Dimension Data to provisionally reserve a space and find out more

  • FE blog

    Start the term with new Office academic templates


    Am I the only one who gets bored with a document format after a few months, and then wants a completely different design? That PowerPoint that looked so smart last year looks a bit clichéd this term. A document which looked professional when you first published it, doesn’t look quite so good when it comes up on the screen this year.

    Well, if you, or your staff, have that feeling, then time to explore the Academic Templates Collection on the Office website. The Office team are spending a lot of time getting good templates and training materials ready, and have released a big batch of templates that are specifically designed for use in education, in a massive range of categories:

    • Award certificates
    • Calculators
    • Calendars
    • Design slides
    • Diagrams
    • imageFlash cards
    • Forms
    • Letters
    • Lists
    • Maths tables
    • Notes
    • Notebooks
    • Outlines
    • Papers
    • Planners
    • Plans
    • Presentations
    • Quizzes and tests
    • Reports
    • Schedules
    • SmartArt Graphics
    • Surveys

    How many hours could you save colleagues by pointing them towards just one of these categories, or using our templates as a basis for creating your own template, with your logo etc.

    You can find them all over on the Office Academic Templates Collection

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