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September, 2010 - 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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September, 2010

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    A free tool for creating SCORM learning materials for remote learning



    Have you heard of the free Microsoft Learning Content Development System? We’ve just updated it to version 2.5, which now supports more complex content, and is Firefox and Silverlight 4 compatible. It is a free tool that lets you create high-quality, interactive, online courses, and publish them in SCORM 1.2 packages (exactly what your Learning Platforms/VLEs like to consume!).

    It allows you to publish e-learning courses by completing the easy-to-use forms that seamlessly generate highly customised Silverlight-based content, interactive activities, quizzes, games, assessments, animations, demos, and other multimedia. And you can create a course structure that is easily rearranged at any time.

    It’s the system we use internally to create all of the courseware for our various Microsoft qualifications, including the Microsoft IT Academy courses, and we also make it available free of charge for customers to use.

    If you are looking for ways for your staff to create structured courses for their curriculum materials, and make them available on your learning platform or SharePoint system then it is worth investigating. And you can also use it to create standalone learning packages, that can be distributed on websites, CDs or memory sticks.

    Here’s the link to find out more and download the Learning Content Development System. If you want to talk to others about their experiences, and to connect with other users, there’s a user forum here

    It’s another one of those free bits of software we make available, that very few people know about – and which I think could be incredibly useful to universities.

    imageQuickly find all the other Free Stuff posts on this blog

  • The UK Higher Education 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 long list 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

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Kingston University starts virtualising the desktop experience for 25,000 students and staff


    I’ve just been reading a press release from Quest, about Kingston University’s project to to give staff and students virtual access to their university desktop and learning resources from any location, on a wide range of devices, at any time. With 23,000 students, and 2,000 full-time staff to serve, their project is aiming to create a ‘university without walls’, so that their users can access their files and applications from any of the 9,000 university PCs or from users’ own personal computers – wherever they are.

    What caught my eye was this quote from Daniel Bolton, who’s a technical analyst at the University:

    Kingston University has been researching Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solutions for two-and-a-half years with the aim of providing our staff and students the best solution for flexible access to learning resources regardless of their location. Our aim of achieving a ‘university without walls’ when it comes to flexible virtual access has been truly recognised with Quest vWorkspace. We initially looked into Citrix and VMware solutions, but felt that Quest’s user environment management and personalization features were more advanced.

    The whole solution has been deployed on Hyper-V, which is part of Windows Server 2008 R2, and is now the largest planned deployment for both Quest and Microsoft to date. Phase one of implementation is due to complete in October.

    You can read the full release on Quest’s website. I’ll keep an eye out for updates as the project goes into implementation.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    The Microsoft Higher Education Briefing 2010 - 15th November 2010 - Microsoft Campus Reading



    We will be holding our annual Microsoft Higher Education Briefing on Monday 15th November 2010 at the Microsoft Campus in Reading, Berkshire. The agenda for the event runs from 10:00 to 4:15 with breaks to catch up with colleagues from other universities.

    As well as getting the latest news on Microsoft’s plans and our product roadmap, there will be the opportunity to hear from other universities and to hear how they are responding to the economic pressures that all universities are feeling.

    Richard Wilderspin, the Microsoft UK Higher Education Business Manager, will lead the day, introducing experts from Microsoft, and our partners, and bringing case studies from our customers.


    09.30 Registration

    10:00 Introduction and University Case Study

    11:30 Break

    11:45 Cost Saving and Cloud Services

    13:00 Lunch

    13:45 The Hybrid Organisation

    15:00 Break

    15:15 Unified Communications / Windows Azure Cloud Services

    16:15 Close

    We’ll be holding the briefing at our Campus in Reading, so there will be plenty of Microsoft colleagues available for discussions during the day.

    Learn MoreBook your place for the Microsoft Higher Education Briefing 2010

    If you prefer, you can book by phone on 0870 166 6680 quoting reference 3769

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Remote IT Solutions webinar - Optimise your desktop–Wed 15th Sept



    The team at Remote IT Solutions, one of our certified partners, are running a webinar on desktop optimisation –  where you can learn about the different components of the solution, and how it can help you to reduce your technical support and management costs for your university infrastructure. The webinar is hosted by Dave Moore, a Datacentre and Virtualization Technical Specialist who has been involved with complex projects for a range of organisations (and I think that given the range of applications and user scenarios in universities, it is likely that your scenario would definitely count as “complex”!)

    The seminar is Wednesday 15th September, from 10:00 – 11:00, and includes live demonstrations. The agenda is:

    • How the solutions fit together
    • Application and Hardware Compatibility
    • Operating System Migration
    • Application Virtualisation
    • Enterprise Desktop Virtualisation
    • Citrix & Microsoft Better Together


  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Windows 7 deployment advice for university IT managers


    Sometimes we publish so much information on a subject, in so many different places, that it’s tricky to find the wood from the trees – and that problem is as big for me as it is for people outside of Microsoft. So I’m always happy to find a resource where somebody applies an editorial approach – making judgements about the key resources to publish, and structuring them together, so that you can easily find the right needle in the haystack*

    Which makes the TechNet Springboard site for Windows 7 definitely useful. If you’re thinking about Windows 7 in any way (either because you’re going to deploy it in the next couple of years, or because you’ve already deployed it), then this is a site to add to your bookmarks. Not only does it contain the definitive guide to resources for IT management teams, it also groups them into three key stages:

    Which means that you can easily find the resources that apply to you at the moment, whether your planning for the future, getting ready for an imminent deployment, or want resources to help you manage an existing Windows 7 network.

    And on the home page, you’ll also find some key introductory documents, such as:

    Find out more about Springboard for Windows 7

    Windows 7 Resource Banner
    Discover and Explore Windows 7 Resource Banner Pilot and Deploy Windows 7 Resource Banner Manage Windows 7 Resource Banner

    * I just won a packet of Smarties from a colleague, for getting two metaphors in one paragraph**

    ** Childish, I know Smile

  • The UK Higher Education 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

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Webcast: How to deploy Windows 7 when you’re tied to IE6


    If you are one of the universities that need to use Internet Explorer 6 to stay compatible with a specific application you use in some departments, then you may find it useful to know that there are options to help you to move your ICT infrastructure forward, whilst keeping IE6 support on your network for certain users.

    One option is to read the “Tools to make working with Internet Explorer 6 in Windows 7 easier” blog post

    An alternative is to put an hour aside to join the Springboard virtual roundtable on 30th September, at 5pm.

    Roundtable: Deploying Windows 7, but still running Web applications based on Internet Explorer 6?

    Join us live on Thursday, September 30, 2010 for a virtual, interactive roundtable discussion on migration strategies, standards, and support for organisations moving from Internet Explorer 6 to Internet Explorer 8.

    As organisations deploy Windows 7, many still depend on web applications that were designed for Internet Explorer 6. Will they still work, and what can you do when they don’t? Join a panel of IT Professionals, Microsoft specialists and technical experts to discuss best practices to simplify and accelerate the migration to Internet Explorer 8. Topics will include an explanation of the causes of and solutions for application compatibility issues (including policy, code, and virtualisation solutions), an introduction to tools, and a review of best practices.

    Ask your questions live during the event with our online tool - or submit your questions in advance to

    imageFind out more, and register for the Virtual Roundtable

  • The UK Higher Education 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

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