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  • FE blog

    Microsoft Office Competition for Students ...

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    How would you visualise this English-language panagram ‘’The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.’’ ?

    Microsoft has teamed up with Student Beans to give a student the chance to win a state-of-the-art HP Pavilion dv6-3125sa Entertainment Laptop. All you need to do is enter with an imaginative and creative PowerPoint slide that brings to life this panagram.

    If you think you have the flare and creativity, you can find out more information and how to enter here

    All entries need to be in by April 1st 2011.

    Good Luck!

  • FE blog

    And so the cost saving story continues…..£50,000 saved with ICT at Walsall College

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    Cost saving stories are being heard more and more throughout the schools of the UK, however it doesn’t stop there. We are now hearing dramatic cost saving stories from further education as Gerald Haigh, independent writer to Microsoft explains how ICT has benefited Walsall College.

    At the 12,000 student Walsall College, the introduction of SharePoint has brought cost savings claimed to be around £50,000 a year – and that, I’d guess, is probably a cautious estimate. A careful audit of efficiency savings would probably unearth a much bigger figure.

    It all started with the college’s move, in 2009, to a brand new £64 million building. In the run up to the move, Director of Learning Technologies, Jayne Holt, and her team were determined to see that the student and staff online environment would be as exciting and efficient as the new physical surroundings.

    “We didn’t just want to transfer the old systems and practices,” says Jayne. So the first step, ahead of the move, was to find a more dynamic and interactive replacement for the existing static open-source management system. The aim was to provide every student with a live individual learning plan, and a real-time flow of personally targeted data about their timetable, attendance, punctuality and achievements. There’d be effective staff-student communication, and hugely improved monitoring of student progress. Meetings would be informed by real time information, and communication and collaboration across the whole college would be transformed.

    But how to achieve all that? The answer, as so often, SharePoint.

    As Jayne explains, “We looked at a variety of systems, commercial and open source, but it was clear that SharePoint would enable us to achieve everything we wanted. The key feature is the ability of SharePoint to present specific information to a defined group audience or to an individual. That’s what matters. It’s not necessarily about technology. It’s about people.”

    It was a bold vision, but two years on, it’s largely been achieved, due to effective and enthusiastic college leadership, with adoption across the whole institution by curriculum, business support areas and students. Supporting all of this is the technical capability of SharePoint 2007.

    The impact of the new system, on learning, collaboration, communication and management systems, has been huge. Meanwhile, it’s worth singling out here the effects on the college budget. Some specific areas to look at;

    Student surveys

    Student voice, collected by regular surveys, is an important driver of planning. Three such surveys are carried out each year. As Jayne Holt says, though,

    “It’s not so much capturing the data, it’s the sophisticated analysis that makes it useful. We used to have it done by an external provider, but now, with the survey presented to students through SharePoint, we don’t need the provider. And because it’s easier for students to do it the level of response has gone up.”

    Saving, from the cost of outsourcing – £20,000 per year.

    Managing Staff CPD

    Staff development at Walsall College goes on all day, every day. Before SharePoint was used, it was a time-consuming and frustrating paper-based business of negotiating staff and course tutor availability, individual needs and the timetable of continued personal development (CPD) offerings. “Just to arrange one session for a time when everyone could attend might take hours,” says Jayne.

    Now, with SharePoint, staff can see what sessions are available, whether there are spaces, and then book their own attendance.

    Saving, on efficiency and time – £20,000 per year.

    Paperless meetings

    Meetings, instead of being serviced by packs of paper, are now informed by real time online information, graphically presented.

    Saving paper is conservatively estimated at £2,000 per year, however it’s clear that the real benefit here is measured in terms of efficiency and the availability of accurate, up to date information, open to analysis and comparison.

    Attendance and Retention

    Tutors are highly approving of the ease of use of the new system and of its interactivity, giving them easier access to students and more control over their learning.

    At the same time, monitoring and tracking of students – groups and individuals – has been made hugely easier and more efficient.

    All this is reflected in improved attendance and reduced drop-out from courses. Across the College, attendance is up by 4% to 93%, and retention up by 3% to 93% with achievement at 85%

    Resulting efficiency savings in monitoring and tracking are conservatively estimated at £5000 a year

    Total of these figures –  savings of £47,000 a year

    Our experience with other cost saving stories suggests that this is likely to be a safe, conservative estimate. Increased efficiency permeates into the far corners of an institution, speeding things, up, making life easier, saving time in all sorts of ways. So our headline figure of £50,000 a year saved with ICT at Walsall College is still likely to be an underestimate. And as the SharePoint learning system matures, improves and importantly migrates to SharePoint 2010, the story can only get better.

  • FE blog

    Lync Server 2010 Event, Cardinal Place, 4th March 2011

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    How Microsoft Lync evolves the education experience, improve staff & student learning/collaboration while driving down costs

    I am delighted to invite you and your colleagues to join us at Microsoft London (Cardinal Place) for a Lync education event on the 4th March 2011.


    Modern education establishments require a modern communications solution. One that enables staff, students, external bodies to connect effortlessly with each other, regardless of location, the device they're using or the type of content they want to share.
    Lync Server 2010 is that solution. Its unified feature set brings colleagues together, promoting collaboration, flexible working and responsiveness. A familiar Microsoft interface and compatibility with popular Microsoft software makes it simple to adopt. All in all, working with Lync Server could enable you to reduce total cost of ownership by 39 per cent, relative to other solutions*.
    To demonstrate how Lync Server can help your organisation improve communications, productivity and profitability, we invite you to share the experiences of those that have already invested in the next generation of Unified Communications technology.

    Event Overview

    Agenda:

    09.30 - 10.00 Welcome and Registration

    10.00 - 10.15 Why Microsoft Lync in an Education environment?

    10.15 - 11.00 Introduction to Microsoft Lync – What’s it all about?

    · Microsoft’s Vision and strategy for Lync (previously Office Communications Server)

    · Let's have a quick look at some technical and business benefits of Lync

    · Evolution of Lync from the past to the present to the future...

    11.00 - 12.00 A day in the life of “Lync Learning” – our Lync enabled educational establishment

    · How does Lync work with my existing technology investments? How does it make them better?

    · Presence & IM (Instant Messaging) – How can I use this to improve online collaboration between students as well as students and staff?

    · Audio/video calls – What difference can this make to on-premise, home and distance learning?

    · I’d like to immerse my students in a really collaborative online classroom environment – How can Lync help me with that?

    12:00 - 12:40 Lunch, networking time with Microsoft and partner experts

    12.40 - 13.20 Lync as Enterprise ready PBX / Telephony solution and more

    · Enterprise Voice capabilities – Can I use Lync to provide complete voice solution for my institution?

    · Expected cost savings & benefits – How much can I expect to save by moving to a software based voice solution and replacing my ageing PBX?

    · Do I need to deploy Lync on premise or is there a Cloud solution?

    13.20 - 14.00 Customer case studies across Schools, FE and HE

    14.00 - 14.30 Expert Q&A (Microsoft and partners)

    A limited number of seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Secure your seat today by registering here

    Invite Code: 5C36CE

    Phone Number: 0870 166 6680 ref - 5516

  • FE blog

    Presentations from Efficiency using Microsoft SharePoint Event, Walsall College, 28th January 2011

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                                       Capture

    After the successful event at Walsall College on 28th January 2011, the presentations  from Walsall College, Microsoft, Capita and RSC-WM for the conference “Efficiency using Microsoft SharePoint” can be downloaded here. There are still some to be uploaded to our blog but you can expect to see these in the next couple of days.

    Welcome to Walsall College

    Managing technologies and adoption using Microsoft

    Business process improvement with SharePoint

    SharePoint and Information System Integration

    SharePoint 2010 Overview

    Office 365

  • FE blog

    Announcing the Hyper-V Cloud Roadshow - Invite Your Customers TODAY!

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    Your Invitation To The Hyper-V Cloud Roadshow!

    For a growing number of businesses, the journey to cloud computing starts with a private cloud architecture. A private cloud pools and dynamically allocates your IT resources across business units, so that services can be deployed quickly and scaled out to meet business needs whenever they occur.

    Microsoft provides the full range of cloud capability in both the public and private cloud. Windows Azure, Windows Server, Hyper-V, System Center, are a key part of our approach to cloud computing, enabling you to build out a dedicated cloud environment to transform the way your team delivers IT services to the business.

    With so many people talking about the benefits of Private Cloud, one of the key questions on your mind must be – “What’s it all going to cost?” Together with its strong partner community, Microsoft has invested a lot of thought into ways these technologies can significantly reduce your OPEX, CAPEX and cost of transition!

    · LONDON – Wednesday 9 March 2011

    · BIRMINGHAM – Tuesday 22 March 2011

    · READING – Thursday 24 March 2011

    · MANCHESTER – Thursday 31 March 2011

    · EDINBURGH – Tuesday 5 April 2011

    Five of Microsoft’s leading partners are delighted to host and deliver these events in conjunction with Microsoft. These 1-day events will provide you with deep insight into the Microsoft solution for “Private Cloud” – built on Windows Server platform with the Windows Server Active Directory identity framework, Hyper-V virtualization capability, and System Center end-to-end service management capabilities – enabling you to build out a dedicated cloud environment to transform the way you deliver IT services to the business.

    Finally, you will have the opportunity to benefit from a new set of programs & initiatives: Hyper-V Cloud – helping you deploy commercial private and public clouds with Microsoft. These are designed to help reduce the risk, cost, and time associated with testing and deploying a cloud environment.

    For more information on the Microsoft Private Cloud, please visit: www.microsoft.com/privatecloud.

  • FE blog

    Partner Event: Microsoft Office 365 prep for Education Providers

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    At Microsoft in general, but especially in the UK we have a fantastically rich partner ecosystem, and within the education space alone there is a huge number of partner companies out there who can help with all sorts of projects. Oxford Computer Group, experts in identity and access management, are one such partner and they are running a webinar on February 3rd 2011 to talk about how to prepare for the move to cloud services and some of the processes around provisioning and de-provisioning accounts and managing access.

    The brief for the event is:

    “For several years, Microsoft Live@edu has provided hosted email and collaboration tools for education providers. It has been deployed by thousands of organizations and is used by millions of students. For 2011 Live@edu will become part of Microsoft Office 365 which brings together cloud versions of Microsoft's most trusted communications and collaboration products, including Office, Exchange, SharePoint and Lync for IM, voice and video conferencing.

    This 45 minute webinar is intended for education providers who have been considering Cloud solutions, such as Live@edu, and who need to understand not only what Office 365 brings, but perhaps more importantly, how to prepare for the move to Cloud services and how to provision and de-provision accounts and manage user access.

    We start by providing a simple overview of what Live@edu provides and what Office 365 will provide. We then examine real-world case studies to understand how organisations have prepared for their move to Cloud services, bringing out some of the specific challenges and how to address them.

    In education, perhaps more than any other sector, managing the entire lifecycle of a digital identity can be challenging! Therefore we will show you how Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager 2010 is being used to automate the administrative tasks associated with identity management, highlighting the many benefits this brings. The webinar will conclude with a short Q&A session.”

    If you’d like to find out more about the event, including registering for it, you can find out more on their website.

  • FE blog

    Efficiency using Microsoft SharePoint Free Event - Walsall College, 9.30am-15.30pm, 28th January 2011

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    Capture

     

    Walsall College would like to invite you to a free event on 28th January 2011  showing efficiency of using Microsoft SharePoint with sessions from Walsall College, Microsoft, Capita and RSC WM.

    • Personalisation using SharePoint
    • Live@EDU and integration with SharePoint/Moodle
    • Managing technology changes
    • SharePoint 2010 – what’s new!
    • SharePoint and information systems integration
    • Business process improvement with SharePoint

    If you would like to come along and understand more on Microsoft SharePoint, please contact Mir Baloch  to register a place.

  • FE blog

    Halving the cost of servers at Leicester College with virtualisation

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    As we talk about cost saving we keep coming back to server virtualisation. I don’t feel the need to make any excuse for that, because as so many colleges have discovered not only does it provide substantial cost savings – and we all know how important that is – but it can also provide a better and more reliable experience for users.

    We’re typically talking about using virtualisation to reduce the number of physical servers from say a dozen or so down to four or five. Now, though, we’re seeing examples in further education that make the case in even more dramatic terms. Earlier this year, for example, we published a Microsoft Case Study of virtualisation at Leicester College, one of the biggest FE colleges in England, with 26,000 students.

    Like many colleges, it deals with a very mobile, diverse and dispersed body of staff and students. There are three main campuses in fact, as well as 200 other venues including churches, halls and community centres.

    It’s no surprise, then, that IT is vital for binding the whole enterprise together, nor that by the time the network staff looked at virtualisation, they were maintaining 100 servers with the prospect of more to come and nowhere to put them.

    “If we continued adding servers every time we wanted to offer a new service, we would have run out of space. Plus, our air conditioning system was inadequate and a new one would have been beyond our budget,” says Head of Libraries and E-Strategy, Paul Chapman.

    Virtualisation was the obvious answer, and they’d considered and even piloted it before with limited results. It wasn’t until they consulted Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Dimension Data, who recommended Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V technology that the project became viable.

    The case study describes how it was done, by Dimension Data people and College staff working together, over a very short period of time. You can also read about the very significant cost savings – a 50% reduction in the cost of the servers themselves; energy costs down by 18%; better and more cost-efficient use of staff time. And, importantly, a significant contribution to the College’s environmental strategy.

    You can read the full Microsoft Case Study of virtualisation at Leicester College here

  • FE blog

    System Center for education - webinar recordings from end of November

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    At the end of November, Rich Lane the resident techie of the education team ran a couple of webinars. If you want to have a listen in, you can view the recordings below.

    Secrets of successful desktop virtualisation: The Optimised Desktop

    VDI is a hot topic at the moment but what actually is it? When is it the right solution … and when not?

    In this session, Quest discussed the future trends for the desktop, the options available, and how to blend different approaches for the right results.  They also discussed their current VDI project at Kingston University rolling out globally to 20,000 students and staff –  making this a practical session which cuts through the confusion and hype to provide realistic ways forward.

    View Recording

    System Center Service Manager

    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 delivered by Silversands included a demo of the product.

    View Recording

    Want to find out more? All  recordings of our Microsoft Education webinars can be found via this link

  • FE blog

    Salford Software Cloud Event for FE - 19th January at Microsoft Reading

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    Salford Software would like to invite you to an event for colleges and Universities at the Microsoft office, Reading on the 19th January.
    The purpose of this event is to share the experiences of Hopwood Hall College with like minded academic organisations.
    Hopwood Hall College, in Manchester, had a clear vision to be a leader through technology. Through the use of Microsoft technologies the College are now providing their students and users with an enhanced learning environment.
    Derek O'Toole and Simon Evans from Hopwood Hall College will discuss their vision and challenges.  Experts from both Microsoft and Salford Software will also be attending this event. 
    The agenda includes presentations from:

    • Richard Green, Microsoft Live@edu UK Business Manager, who will present the roadmap and updates on Microsoft Live@edu and Cloud.
    • Matt Dunkin, Principal Architect at Salford Software will discuss the benefits of using technologies like Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager and introduce you to solutions including The Hub and Student Centre
    • Matt McSpirit, Technology and Virtualisation Advisor from Microsoft, will introduce Building Your Private Cloud.

    Whilst student numbers are on the increase, so is the requirement for improved services.  Solutions like The Hub allow students to work collaboratively and promotes efficient online working.  As a trusted advisor, Salford Software can help you to understand how to overcome some of the challenges that are currently being experienced across the FE sector.  Salford Software plan to demonstrate how, by maximising the benefits of your existing Microsoft skill sets and taking advantage of the low cost licensing available to education, your organisation can improve the way that services are managed and delivered. 

    This event is open to those from FE and HE organisations.  If you like to know how to provide cutting edge services whilst maintaining efficiency and ensuring compliance please register your place online here.

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