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  • FE blog

    Education Technology Repost: Microsoft @ BETT2014


    Originally posted on the Education Technology website, 27th January 2014.

    Rebecca Paddick caught up with Steve Beswick, senior director of education Microsoft UK, at Bett 2014.

    Microsoft’s focus at this year’s Bett show was helping primary schools teachers prepare for the new computing curriculum.

    The tech giant unveiled a brand new suite of materials aimed specifically at primary school teachers, at the ExCel last week.

    Launched in partnership with educational publisher Rising Stars, the free Switched On Computing resource has been developed as part of Microsoft’s wider effort to ensure primary school teachers – who have never taught this kind of computer science before – have the skills, confidence and tools to deliver the new curriculum within the next nine months. Read more about Switched On Computing here.

  • FE blog

    Mobile Devices in the Education Sector


    Mobile Devices in the Education Sector Webinar– 28 February 2013 – Register Here

    imageSchools, colleges and universities face unique challenges when it comes to managing the thousands of devices their users expect to be able to use. Students, applicants, teachers, parents, governors and support staff all require access to your systems on different kinds of device. Add to that the rapid turnover and huge numbers of users and you potentially have a monster job on your hands. How do you manage all that?

    Our webinar on 28 February, focuses specifically on these challenges and comes up with some cunning secure, automated solutions using technologies designed with identity, mobile and cloud at their heart. We’re pleased to welcome Jude Ndu to our webinar who will describe the approach they’re taking at Sir George Monoux College, London, harnessing the power of InTune.

    Managing devices, PCs and applications needs to be effective and secure; the risk to your assets and information if you get it wrong is considerable. Don’t take that chance. Please join us by registering on the link on the button below.

    28 February 2014 | 12 noon (UK) | Duration: 45 minutes | Presented by: Mat Richards, Nick Lamidey & Jude Ndu




  • FE blog

    Another look at BETT 2014


    Guest post by education writer Gerald Haigh

    Writing or talking about the BETT show inevitably means describing software, devices and systems. That’s why we go there, after all, whether as visitor or exhibitors. All technology, though, is made, sold, enthused over and looked after by people, and in this blog, I propose to mention some of the great Microsoft-connected folk I encountered on my BETT visits. So, quite early on on the first day I bumped into Adrian Edgar and Chris McKinley of SharePoint Edu Tech, whose speciality lies in helping schools to make the most of SharePoint in a branded and bespoke way. They were visiting the Microsoft stand before flying off to the Microsoft Global Education Partners Summit.

    ‘We focus on adding value to SharePoint and Office 365,’ said Adrian. ‘And we’re here meeting existing clients and seeking new ones.’ Their emphasis, he says, is on working with client schools over time to develop their SharePoint solution. ‘We don’t just put it in and say goodbye.’

    imageAdrian’s track record in schools as a teacher, senior leader and IT director is a considerable help in that. School experience, counts, too, for Civica, whose own ‘Cloudbase’ learning environment is Office 365 based.

    ‘Our e-learning team, made up of teachers from all sectors – primary, secondary, subject specialists -- adds real value,’ said Marketing Manager Nicola Herd. There were lots of enquiries at BETT, says Nicola.

    ‘Once people realise the power of it, and we show its capabilities, they become interested.’
    Making the most of what you have is also a mission of the Tablet Academy, who were running an Interactive Classroom on the Microsoft Stand.

    Led by their CEO Professor Steve Molyneux, a team from the Academy were intent on David Fuller Tablet Academytheir core purpose, which is to help teachers to use mobile devices innovatively to support learning. When I captured trainer David Fuller between sessions, he pointed out to me how important it is for schools not only to make the right choice of tablet for now, but to realise that children, learning needs, and devices themselves all change over time.

    ‘A tablet’s life might be three years, but a child is in school for thirteen years and go through perhaps five generations of tablet. Schools need to wake up to that.’

    Underlining the need to make good choices, Microsoft were showing a wide range of mobile devices on the stand. Surface, unsurprisingly, was strongly featured, and Surfaces in Education Marketing Manager Jacqueline Russell was in from Seattle to help spread the message. She was struck by the number of teachers at the Show who had been individually using other devices, such as iPads, but were looking at alternatives as they considered ‘one-to-one’ devices for students.

    ‘I’ve been showing them how great Surface is for working with  Office 365, and ‘One Note’. For example I’ve shown history teachers how they can import video into PowerPoint, and I met some maths teachers and shown them the various maths tools in One Note and they’ve been very excited by that.’

    Windows 8, though, is hugely flexible, and appears on the widest possible range of devices, many of which were to be seen on the Microsoft Stand which was where, for example, I met Jay Pitchford from Nokia. Jay was showing how their Windows 8 range goes seamlessly from a range of Lumia smartphones, through the six inch Lumia 1520 ‘phablet’, to their Lumia 2520 ten-inch tablet. ‘There’s been fantastic interest,’ Jay told me. ‘And it’s not just been the number of conversations, but their depth – teachers discussing the convenience of a six-inch device for their everyday work for example.’

    Toshiba devices Toshiba’s eight-inch ‘Encore’ Windows 8 tablet, filling a gap between six inch ‘phablets’ and ten-inch Surface-type tablets, was also part of Microsoft’s display. I was impressed by it, and walked to the Toshiba stand for a closer look. It really is a great little device, full Windows 8, handbag size, and with a blue-tooth folding keyboard, what else would you need on the 0739 to Waterloo?

    Or, on second thoughts, perhaps you really need a small laptop. In which case, said Toshiba’s Dave Howson (clearly not a Sales Account Manager for nothing) why not treat yourself to both?

    ‘You could get probably find both an Encore tablet and a Satellite Pro NB10 Windows 8 laptop for around £500.’ Now there’s a thought.

    I wandered off to the Lenovo stand, too, to check out some of their beefed up laptops for schools. To use their word,  they’re ‘Ruggedised’ , with strong hinges, and tight lids that you can’t slip a biscuit into. It’s a reminder that you need to think carefully about hardware that’s going to be used in the classroom.

    I have to say, though, that I was distracted on the Lenovo stand by Lenovo’s Client Technologist Mertens Flemming, who showed me their Idea Centre Horizon ‘Table PC’ – an all-in-one 27inch Windows 8 touchscreen device that can be lowered down horizontally so that users can sit around it – like sitting round a table -- and work, or play, together.

    ‘It’s very popular in the Nordic countries for collaborative work in pre-school,’ said Mertens, and it’s not difficult to see the same thing happening in UK.

    Really, that’s just a taste of my BETT 2014 experience, I haven’t even touched on the teenage app wizard, or the Olympic torch-bearing global Skype enthusiast, or Microsoft’s primary computing curriculum materials, or…..well, you get the drift. Some of those call for blogs all to themselves, and we’ll get to them, no fear.

  • FE blog

    Pinpointing quality teaching resources with BrainPOP Featured Movie App


    Teachers are always searching for better ways to engage students, but may have trouble pinpointing quality resources. One such resource, however, is the BrainPOP Featured Movie app for Windows 8. It should be an integral part of every teacher’s toolbox.


    The app provides a different animated movie each day, with themes relating to current events, holidays, or curricular topics. Featured Movies provide a quick and easy way for students to learn more about a relevant topic. The app is free, and those with a BrainPOP username through their school can log in to the site directly from the app at no additional cost. This gives curious kids the ability to explore an unprecedented breadth of movies on more than 750 topics within Science, Math, Social Studies, English, Engineering & Tech, Arts & Music, and Health – all from the palm of their hands.

    BrainPOP movies are an ideal way to introduce a new topic at the start of a lesson, or for review before a quiz. New content and features are added regularly, so there’s always fresh content.

    The app dovetails perfectly with BrainPOP’s web site (www.brainpop.com), and is perfect in learning environments from Bring-Your-Own-Device to 1:1 and beyond.

    My 6th- grade students responded so well to the lesson I did on the scientific method, incorporating the BrainPOP app.

    As a whole class, we kicked things off by watching BrainPOP’s movie on the scientific method. Students took notes while watching, and then created their own mock experiments. The experiments had to relate to environmental science and had to be solvable through the scientific method. The class leveraged the same steps Tim and Moby followed in the movie. In partners, they used the BrainPOP app to watch the movie a second time, and then revised their experiments as needed.

    Students shared the experiments and environmental issues they’d come across and discussed the importance of each Scientific Method step. To wind things down, I had them log on to individual tablets and take the BrainPOP quiz. As a teacher, BrainPOP was a highly valuable component of the lesson.

    Students at Roosevelt Middle School (West Palm Beach, FL), loved the app and its quizzes, which add an air of competition to the classroom. Among the comments I heard from them?

    Faris, told me he likes the videos because they are “short, to the point and don’t waste time.” Another student, Kyra, said she likes BrainPOP because they “always have something new for us to watch and I like learning new things.”

    BrainPOP’s second Windows 8 app is due later this month. Designed for learners in grades K-3 (ages 5-9), the upcoming BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week app will make age-appropriate educational content available to a larger audience – at school, at home, and on the go.

    For a good overview of what BrainPOP has to offer, check out the “snackable” video you’ll see right here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awaaD0Mt5dg

    About the Author: Todd LaVogue is the STEM Programs Coordinator and an Environmental Science Teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in West Palm Beach, Florida. He is a Microsoft Teacher Trainer and a member of Team USA, Microsoft in Education 2014 Global Forum, Barcelona, Spain.

  • FE blog

    BETT 2014: CSE Education Systems: meeting the challenges of BYOD and the Cloud


    CSE Guest Post

    CSE provides IT hardware, infrastructure, software and services to UK education establishments, and has done so for nearly 20 years. In that time, the pace of change in education has increased exponentially. Now BYOD, the Cloud, flipped teaching and classrooms, a proliferation of device types and systems all present new worlds of learning opportunities and challenges.

    From our work in schools, we at CSE identified what we believe are the key deliverables needed to meet these challenges:

    • Anytime, anywhere, any device’ access to all the resources needed to teach, learn, and be productive. As a long-standing Microsoft® partner, we understand how vital it is for most education establishments that these include
    • Microsoft® Office applications
    • An ability to access files, resources, and apps, whether they reside locally or in the Cloud.
    • Accessibility, an engaging interface, and simple administration.

    Aside from these, BYOD alone presents many practical issues. Who pays for devices? What work is it practical for students to carry out on different devices? And how do you guarantee security? All these questions have to be addressed, but this can be achieved relatively easily through good network management practice and clear school policies.

    This still leaves the vital question of pedagogy: for schools, the most vital question of all. How do you teach a class using a myriad of device types – from smartphones to laptops – and half a dozen different operating systems, who need to access resources that may be hosted in the Cloud, or on the local network?

    prev_MSC12_Erin_001How can your students access and save their work to appropriate locations, and even if they can, how can you instruct them when they may be using differing versions of applications (such as Microsoft® Office applications) to do so? If you’re planning to implement a flipped classroom, they’ll need to be able to access these resources from anywhere, any time as well – and this access needs to be secure.

    As you’ll have gathered, we’ve created a solution designed to meet these needs: Magellan from CSE. It provides a responsive web desktop that enables your students (or groups of students that you assign) to open the same resources, files, and applications using Active Directory® credentials, and save their work to appropriate locations, irrespective of what device they are using. It’s completely device independent, providing single sign-on access to both locally-hosted and Cloud-hosted resources and acting as a reverse proxy to keep sensitive resources secure.

    Perhaps most importantly, we’ve given education establishments autonomy over which resources they provide through the desktop, and to which users, so students and staff can work using the applications they need and save their work to suitable locations.

    The aim is for education establishments to gain all the benefits of BYOD – including enhanced learning and user engagement, reduced equipment costs, and flipped classrooms – with far fewer complications. We’re launching Magellan at Bett 2014, so do come along to stand C340 and judge for yourself! We’ll be glad to meet you.
    Stewart Priestley is an Engineer at CSE Education Systems

  • FE blog

    BETT 2014: Showcasing the best of SharePoint with Core ECS


    Guest Post Written by Core ECS

    The education technology extravaganza that is BETT is just about upon us again. It’s definitely one our highlights of the year and a great chance to meet new people and catch up with old friends.

    For those of you unfamiliar with Core ECS, we are specialists in integrated SharePoint solutions for education consisting of a team of very dedicated and talented individuals!

    imageBett is also a great time to showcase the new developments, products and solutions we have that can provide real positive educational outcomes. At bett 2014 we will be demonstrating our TALMOS solution which is now based on Microsoft SharePoint 2013. If your school is looking to improve homework monitoring, assessment tracking or parental engagement we would love the opportunity to show you our modular solution which can encompass –

    •    Intranets image
    •    VLEs
    •    Collaborative learning workspaces
    •    Shared Drives
    •    Public websites

    Utilising SharePoint 2013 our new HTML5 'responsive' interface designs means that your platform can be used on all device types including tablets and smart phones. We implement custom branding to match the school identity. Each design is unique and tailored to the school’s requirements. Responsive design dynamically scales to fit any tablet or smartphone.

    Our SharePoint specialists can advise on design, workflows, custom development and provide training to administrators and end users.

    imageWe use Microsoft Single Sign-on technology to integrate SharePoint, Exchange, Moodle, MIS and many more systems under a single AD login. Below are a couple of our most popular SharePoint 2013 Web Parts but come along to stand B150 to see the whole range.

    The timetable web part displays the user’s timetable within the SharePoint page. The timetable module allows teachers to easily set lesson work and homework through the periods within the timetable.

    Homework Tracker
    Homework tracker shows a more detailed view of homework set on the timetable and allows teachers to manage, mark and return submitted work within a easy to use environment. Parental logins can view child homework and timetable data live.

    Assessment Tracker
    The Web Part displays SIMS Assessment Manager data in a configurable, simplified, view. Teachers can use the pupil selector drop down to find pupil assessment reports, or parents can see data relating to their child.


    Exam Tracker
    The Exam Tracker Web Part displays SIMS-derived examinations timetables. The Web Part is secured for use by students and parents so that they can only see data that is applicable to them.

    Attendance Tracker
    The Web Part displays SIMS attendance data in an accessible view. The Web Part can be used to display secure information to different user groups.

    Event Tracker
    The Event Tracker Web Part extends the functionality of SharePoint / Outlook calendars allowing a single calendar to be used across the school. Events can be categorised by event type and permissions easily set to be viewable by defined user groups.
    Pop-ups from the Web Part provide a range of events views including day listings by category and by time. A month view and bulletin summary can also be used.

    imageIn addition to our SharePoint 2013 solutions we will also be showcasing the work we are doing with schools with Office 365, this includes configuration and customisation but more importantly extends to training for both users and content managers.

    With our Core ECS solutions not just working on tablets now but being designed for tablets with their responsive interfaces, we are also supplying a very special tablet bundle especially for education. Using market leading hardware (including Windows 8), award winning educational software, a flexible finance package and supporting insurance and warranty arrangements we can help schools meet their goals of achieving 1:1 ratios quicker.

    So if you are visiting BETT, it would be great if you could come along and visit our stand B150
    It��s always been our approach to have a wide range of skills manning our BETT stand due to the broad range of inquiries and questions we always get asked, this year will be no different for Core with members from the implementation and support team, the pre-sales team and the content and design team all supporting our sales team.

    Look forward to seeing you there

    The Core ECS Team

  • FE blog

    BETT 2014: Connecting Teaching and Learning


    It’s no surprise that discussions on mobile learning programmes have become ubiquitous within the Education Technology industry. For most schools, the question isn’t whether mobile devices should have a place in the classroom, but rather what approach is the best.

    WIN13_Sony_04Mobile learning programmes and one-to-one initiatives, which aim to provide each student with a tablet or laptop that they can take home, are sprouting up around the world. It is easy to see why. Handhelds, laptops, netbooks, tablet PCs and other mobile devices can allow students to take their learning with them, beyond class walls and school bells. 
    They can use digital content as a cost-effective alternative to traditional textbooks, offer easier opportunities for personalised instruction, increase student-teacher communication, and provide anytime access to class resources and assignments. The use of technology itself also gives students hands-on, consistent interaction with the devices and tools that will no doubt fill their higher education and careers. In fact, research has shown that learning is enhanced when students use mobile devices at home to continue work initiated at school.

    Many of the schools that we currently work with, that have begun a 1:1 initiative, wanted to enable every student to access school work online from any place, at any time. Traditionally Schools would spend half a million pounds on servers, cables, computers rooms, laptop trolleys and so on, but at the end of the day when school finishes, that infrastructure stays in school. What they want to do is have something in place where that investment goes home.

    But a successful mobile learning programme must also recognise the inherent risks that come with allowing students to use school resources away from the school network and requires the implementation of technology solutions to ensure that resources are properly used, users are effectively protected, and devices are secured…. all with limited budget and staff.

    However, all of this technology in student hands can bring some management challenges. Schools need to ensure appropriate use, push apps to many students, and ensure devices are learning tools rather than distractions.

    Our cloud-based Mobile Manager was made just for schools, and balances management between IT staff and classroom educators. It is designed to be easy for both technicians and teachers, giving schools the simplicity and time-savings they need. They tell us, “The interface is really intuitive and easy to use.

    “We didn’t want a complicated system; it was all very self- explanatory.” Even teachers have commented that “It is so easy to use; it’s brilliant!”

    With such a simple and effective way to control the devices, schools can save resources and keep the focus on learning. Schools conclude, “It’s a much more interactive experience for the students: they’re much more connected with their learning and they’re much more connected with their teachers.”

    To watch a video explaining about Lightspeed Systems MDM click here:


  • FE blog

    Classroom management on tap


    Tablets are already a familiar sight in many classrooms, and schools have been quick to recognise their potential to make learning more interactive, immediate and fun. So much so that by the end of 2015, almost a quarter of all student-facing computers in schools will be tablets according to new research from the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA). In some schools, this percentage will no doubt be considerably higher.

    While students enjoy exploring new ways of learning thanks to a growing range of innovative educational apps, it’s not surprising that their teachers would like an app that can help them too.

    MSC12_Sarah_001Introducing SIMS Teacher app
    As a former teacher myself, I would have loved to get my hands on something that could simplify everyday classroom tasks so that I could spend less time on the admin and more on the teaching, and that’s why we are excited about the launch of the new SIMS Teacher app.

    The app is part of SIMS Learning Gateway, our online portal which already provides school staff, pupils and parents with access to information such as students’ attendance, behaviour and achievement, from anywhere with an internet connection.

    So how does it work?  I think the best way to find out is to put yourself in the place of a busy teacher…

    Present and correct
    •    As you log on at the start of a lesson, SIMS Teacher app knows what time it is and which lesson you’re taking, and it automatically presents pictures of the students in the class.
    •    If everyone is where they should be, you can simply touch the screen to select all as present and get on with your
    •    However, you spot that Billy’s desk is empty. When he turns up, the app automatically suggests how many minutes late he is.

    Knowing your students
    •    During the lesson you can tap any of your students in the SIMS Teacher app to call up key elements of their SIMS profile.

    On the move
    Our busy teacher can also access key pupil information when on playground duty, in the sports field or at home. The app works even when no internet connection is available, synchronising with SIMS to update attendance and behaviour.

    Safe and sound

    Although the inspiration behind SIMS Teacher app is to make data more freely and easily accessible, the data is secure as everything that teachers download onto their tablets is encrypted.
    Staff members can only access data which they are authorised to and which is relevant to them, so confidential information remains confidential.

    Find out more
    Many of the teachers I meet tell me that they just want to get on with the important business of teaching – I’m looking forward to seeing how SIMS Teacher app will help them do just that.

    Capita SIMS will be on stand B260 at BETT 2014, where we will be previewing SIMS Teacher App and exploring future developments in mobile technology for schools. If you would like to know more, please visit www.capita-sims.co.uk/teacherapp.

    Capita SIMS (School Information Management System) is a management information system used by over 22,000 schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

  • FE blog

    BETT 2014: It’s all about devices


    Guest post by Education writer Gerald Haigh

    There’s a lot of emphasis on hardware at BETT this year. Or is that just my impression? If it is so, then it’s probably inevitable. We are in the middle of some kind of device revolution. Once, a well equipped school was one that had one or more up-to-date computer suites. Now, quite suddenly, I’m hearing statements like this one from an academy vice principal,

    ‘Computer suites are becoming seriously outdated. They are expensive resources not just in terms of the hardware but because of the inefficient way the rooms have to be booked and tied up often unnecessarily.’

    The answer – a kind of holy grail for many – is for each child to use a personal device, whether school-provided or their own.

    But which device?
    That decision as we’re so often reminded, has to be driven by learning needs. It’s important not to be seduced by advertising, the power of ‘cool’, or the need to keep up with the school down the road.

    That, though, implies that there ought to be a good selection of devices from which to choose the most suitable. So, sure enough, suppliers are now putting a steady stream of products out for us to see, many of them on show at BETT, some of them to be seen on the Microsoft stand displaying the versatility and power of Windows 8.1. In fact I expect to be blogging about some of them over coming days.


    There’s an inbuilt paradox here of course. It’s great to have a good choice of devices that we can browse among and try out. But as we do that, our focus on the learning needs of our children can very easily fade, overtaken by the immediacy and seductiveness of the objects themselves.

    You can’t touch and handle a learning need in the way that you can feel the cool magnesium body of a Microsoft Surface. And so, before you know where you are, the thoughts you’re having, and the conversations with your colleagues on the Microsoft, or Lenovo, or Toshiba stands become once again all about the devices.

    ‘I like the look of this one!’
    ‘Yeah, it’s really neat.’

    To be fair, I know that the Microsoft people will work to keep all enquirers focussed on what they want their device for, and I’m pretty sure all reputable exhibitors will do the same. It’s up to teachers and school leaders, then, to resist gadget allure and come to the stands with a clear idea, written down if necessary, of the vision for learning that’s brought them there in the first place.

  • FE blog

    BETT 2014: Acer deploys the Iconia W510 at Saltash.net Community Academy


    “The Iconia W510 is the perfect device for those looking for the best mix of portability, performance and battery life. It removes the walls of the classroom and lets me lead and facilitate perfect lessons from any conceivable location or environment” - Scott Wieprecht, Mathematics Teacher, Saltash.net Community Academy

    The objective was to improve 24/7 access to the school’s virtual, online curriculum, using affordable, accessible technology.

    Following a selection process and review of available devices, the school selected Acer to deliver the Iconia W510 Windows tablet. Use of the tablets has enabled collaboration and innovation in the classroom and exposed students to the latest technology solutions.
    In making their selection for the appropriate tablet device, the school drew up a list of criteria, including:
    Operating system
    Screen size
    Battery life
    Expansion ports

    Operating system
    It was important for the school to have full Windows 8. Having reviewed the operating system, it was clear it was optimised for a touch screen experience. Commenting on the choice of Windows:

    “A touch screen makes Windows 8 the best ever, and it is much better for students to be forward thinking and use the latest technology and software that, let’s face it, will deploy out to nearly every job by the time they enter the market,” said Scott Wieprecht.

    Screen size
    The school concluded that the optimum screen size for their requirements was from 8” to 12”. The
    W510, with its 10.1” HD IPS display was ideal.

    As the devices were intended for word processing, surfing the internet and regular use, the Iconia’s 1.5ghz dual core processor proved that it easily met performance requirements.

    The keyboard was an important element to the school’s decision making process. The ability to easily click the tablet in or out of the keyboard dock in seconds brings big advantages in the classroom.

    Battery life
    The key attribute of the Acer Iconia W510, considered by the school to be exceptional, was its battery life. The school needed a tablet that would last the full school day - not just six or seven hours. The tablet needed to be available for use both at after school clubs and on the bus. If a pupil forgot their charger, the tablet still needed to last. The school determined that the Iconia W510, with keyboard dock, offered excellent battery life. The W510 remains charged for approximately 18 hours when plugged into the dock, and both keyboard and tablet have approximately nine hours each.

    Expansion ports
    The school was with the number of expansion ports offered by the W510. With a full and micro USB, headphone and speaker, micro HMDI and micro SD, they could connect almost any hardware they needed. This was particularly helpful when using external media such as the school’s 3D cameras. The school was also impressed with the on-board camera.

    The classroom ICT strategy has contributed to students delivering excellent results:

    “The strategies I employed with the assistance of ICT this year in my classroom meant all of my exam classes achieved at least a grade C at GCSE, with 40% of them excelling their target by at least one grade. ICT is about making life easier, definitely, but also about making our curriculum and lessons richer and more fulfilling,” said Scott Wieprecht.


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