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June, 2009 - The UK Higher Education Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The HE Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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June, 2009

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Tech Ed – a week of developers and IT support teams in Berlin


    This year Tech Ed is moving from Barcelona to Berlin. It’s also been squeezed into a single week – 7,000 developers and IT professionals descending on Berlin to enjoy a packed week full of technology. My first Tech Ed was only a few years ago, and I couldn’t believe the size of the event (and that was when it was two separate events in separate weeks) nor the amount of information that I was trying to take in in such a short period.

    We’ve also traditionally been able to offer significantly reduced places to a few university customers, and a general academic discount for many others. This year, we’ll still be offering the Academic discount – details below – but unfortunately no free places. (Sorry). Hopefully, if your job involves making your university’s technology work smoothly and developing it as a strategic asset for the future, then you’ll still find enough in the agenda to justify the cost from the training budget. (Not sure if my wife’s tactic would work for this – don’t tell them the price, simply tell them that you’ve saved €800 on the normal registration price, and it’s less than half price)














    Special Academic Registration Fee €795 + 19% VAT

    Save over 60% off the full conference fee - We think you’ll love Tech·Ed Europe 2009. Not like it - love it! Tech·Ed Europe is the premier Microsoft gathering of IT professionals and developers in Europe. It’s an amazing opportunity for you to learn, share and network.


    Tech·Ed Europe 2009 will again be focused into a single week for both the developer and IT professional communities. As Microsoft’s leading technical education and networking conference, get countless opportunities to explore the latest cutting-edge Microsoft technologies.


    Be seen as an innovator and connected to the latest technologies


    Immerse yourself in new ideas and stay ahead of the game


    Empower yourself to create cool and impactful solutions


    Get the edge in recommending technology investments which will result in real benefits and boost your career

    Alongside nearly 7,000 technology experts and community influencers; customise your own unique learning experience with a choice of over 600 learning opportunities – be a part of the experience.

    We are pleased to be able to offer Academics a special discounted registration fee of €795 + 19%.

    You’ll need to email us (Dominic Watts or Ray Fleming) directly as we’re not allowed to put the code online, in case non-Academics get hold of it!

    See the Website for detailed registration information.

    We look forward to welcoming you in Berlin!








    ps Just in case you thought you’d missed another budget announcement, don’t panic. The 19% VAT thing is because the event is held in Berlin, and the EU rules stipulate we have to charge the VAT rate of the country where the event is delivered.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Business Intelligence for universities - how Northumbria University turned data into information


    With increasing governances and fiscal demands, Northumbria University needed a way for their managers to quickly and easily track critical financial and student data.  After implementing its Microsoft Business Intelligence solution, their stakeholders now have access to near real-time, streaming reports to support effective decision making.  Working with Microsoft Gold Partner, Waterstons, Northumbria has implemented the best BI solution I have seen in Higher Education so far.

    “Thanks to our new Microsoft Business Intelligence solution, instead of spending the majority of their time locating and gathering data, our information officers can tackle critical projects that add even more value to our schools, programs and the university.”

    David Chesser Performance point picture
    Deputy Vice Chancellor and Finance Director
    Northumbria University

    Benefits include:

    • Data Accuracy
      • Providing certainty to all decision makers
    • Online Portal increasing transparency
      • Self service allowing everyone to ask their own questions
    • ‘Big picture view’
      • Provides holistic, current and reliable information

    For more information you can read the full Northumbria University Business Intelligence case study

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Using SharePoint for Social Networking in universities


    The SharePoint team have created the Social Computing with SharePoint website. Although it is primarily designed to examine the use of social computing within a business context, it is relevant to universities in the UK, and there is an excellent video and written case study of the Washington State University’s use of SharePoint to create an e-portfolio and social collaboration tool for their students.

    Nils Peterson, Assistant Director of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology is quoted as saying:


    Students using Office SharePoint Server 2007 will gain experience with collaboration and intellectual property management tools that will provide a personal foundation for the lifelong learning process. Endquotes

    The university gives each student their own MySite, which gives them an online storage space, as well as a personalisable site that they can use for a combination of document storage, document sharing, collaborative working and a social networking space which can be used for blogs, wikis and podcasting.

    Nils Peterson

    You can watch the video, which gives examples of SharePoint in use for Social Networking on the team’s site, and also download a written case study

    The use of My Sites created by students support WSU’s objectives of creating global outreach, by enabling students to collaborate with people outside the university and around the world. The university is able to control the limits of what information is shared outside of the university, as well as using the capability to provide effective security within the university with the linked user-management capabilities that are provided through the network.

    By adopting SharePoint as a social networking platform, WSU are avoiding the challenges some universities are facing, where their individual members of staff (and students) are creating alternative virtual learning environments by ‘hand-stitching’ web-based systems together. Although this often creates a solution which can be setup outside of the control of the university IT team, that same virtue introduces challenges – for example, where staff export lists of students from their laptop to create user lists on a website. They often don’t understand the obligations that the university is under to protect and control the use of the data.

    Doing the same thing through a SharePoint integrated into your IT systems delivers similar flexibility (and end-user control), but with the added safety of knowing that list of users, classes, and individual’s files, are all stored within your infrastructure (and if you delete or suspend a user, that immediately restricts them across all of your connected IT systems).

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Last day for the ultimate steal


    Friday 26 June is the last day, more info here

    (this post is so short it could have been on Twitter – more on that later…………..)

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Dealing with university email spam


    Over the last few months, there have been a few occasions where universities have been falsely identified as spammers – either because their mail sending services inadvertently set of spam detectors, or because they were genuinely being used to re-route spam mail. This problem is likely to increase rather than decrease, as so much of our daily email is categorised as spam. Yale University found out that 94% of all email that went through their own servers was spam last autumn, which is only slightly higher than the average.

    Understandably when a spammer is blocked, the ISP or mail provider doesn’t tell them, otherwise it would turn into a cat-and-mouse game between spammers and email services.

    So if your university email is blocked by an ISP or email service, the first you may know about it is when one of your students or staff tells you that an important email they sent didn’t arrive.

    JANET have provided some generic advice on avoiding false-positives on spam detection, and my colleague Ben has provided some very specific advice on how to ensure that your university email system isn’t blocked by Hotmail or other Microsoft mail services.

    Email_3[1]Ben’s is a step by step guide, with a lot of very specific links and instructions that you can follow, including a good deal of background reading to help you to understand why the situation happens, as well as how to avoid it.

    Sometimes you can have your mail blocked because recipients report it as spam in their mail client (eg if you have a mailing list which includes potential applicants, and they report your newsletter as spam to their mail service provider), so it is definitely worth following Ben’s guidance, especially if somebody in your university is planning any massive e-mailshots this summer. In those cases, you may feel that it is unfair that you’ve been identified – but spam is measured through the eyes of the reader, and not everybody trusts the “unsubscribe” option, and simply ticks the “this mail is spam” button instead.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Office tools coming to a browser near you soon


    Microsoft Office Live WorkspaceAnother update on the earlier post today on Office Live Workspace.   Many of you will already know that there are office application editing capability is coming to OLW but here are some screenshots of what they are likely to look like.  Surprisingly similar to the PC tools.


    Personally, I can’t wait for this to launch because it means I can then access my study documents anywhere and from any PC.

    This is a good site in general for what’s going on on OLW and some good edu content in there.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Recovering lost USB memory sticks



    You must have seen them – plaintive, desperate or just plain panic. It hasn’t taken long for the USB memory stick to turn into something that everybody has (and yet, I can still remember that sense of satisfaction when I was given my first freebie memory stick with 16MB of memory!). Now it’s not uncommon to see students with 2GB memory sticks plugged into whatever computer they are using.

    BUT as well as being a solution to portable data storage, they are also a problem. Because one day it might go missing. And it is not uncommon to find desperate pleas around computer suites asking for help in finding a missing USB memory stick.

    We’ve been suggesting for a while that students use either SkyDrive or Office Live Workspace to store files online. It also means that they can share files if they choose, and collaborate on work. And in the case of Office Live Workspace, they can Open & Save into their storage on the web, directly from Office. And they are both free.

    But, it’s a bit of a boring subject isn’t it? Until you’ve lost your memory stick. (A bit like doing PC backups – boring until it’s too late!)

    So the Office Live Workspaces team have created a video that just might appeal to your students.

    Ever wondered where student’s lost memory sticks end up?

    So now you know.  And you can either encourage students to use their free Office Live Workspace individually, or provide it as a free service to all of your students through the Live@Edu service

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Windows 7 Application Compatibility in education


    A last week I wrote “Windows 7 is getting closer”, and one of the readers posed the question about Application Compatibility – their point was that they used over 450 applications, so couldn’t we test them all to check they work on Windows 7. Hopefully it’s no surprise to learn that we can’t do all of that, but that there’s been a big focus on overall application compatibility in Windows 7 – back to both Windows Vista and Windows XP.

    Later today, Mark Russinovich is hosting a worldwide roundtable on Application Compability that you might want to join in. As it is a single event for the whole world, it is at 7pm our time tonight, but I’ve had a look at the telly schedule and there’s nothing exciting on (thank goodness Britain’s Got Talent has finished – for so many reasons!).

    Here’s the blurb:


    “Windows 7 is approaching fast and from the application standpoint is very similar to Windows Vista. We’re going to examine Windows 7 application compatibility not only from the perspective of moving from Windows Vista, but also for those coming from Windows XP. Join us to discuss the most common challenges around application compatibility when coming from a legacy operating system, why changes were made along the way, compatibility technologies inside the OS and methods for getting incompatible applications to run on Windows 7. Along the way we share tips and tricks, demonstrate free tools to analyze and fix applications and answer your specific questions about application compatibility live.”

    You can attend using this link – just logon a few minutes before 7pm:

    As part of the “virtual” experience, you may submit your questions about Windows 7 Application Compatibility to the panel live during the event—or submit questions in advance to

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Windows 7 and Server 2008 at Newcastle University with VBUG


    Thanks to jonoble for posting a link to an event on his blog.  Jonathan has picked out a couple of things which he is interested in and one of those certainly matches with my favourites and that is Direct Access; this is a killer app.

    More details of the event at Newcastle University on 8 July 2009 is here

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Microsoft HE community - EduCoMS


    On Tuesday, I’m travelling down to meet Eduserv and UCISA to discuss the EduCoMS community website which looks to have had zero activity for around 6 months since Jonathan Noble from Newcastle posted an article on Windows Vista and the one before that was from me, also on Vista.

    I should have asked this earlier but what does the community want?  Please let me know via email if you can.  Jonathan Noble has already and he came up with some good ideas (check his blog) and I’d love to hear more.

    Alternatively, start using the site and make your feelings known there and I look forward to supporting you where I can.

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