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January, 2013 - The UK Higher Education Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The HE Blog
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January, 2013

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Askham Bryan College implement Microsoft Remote Desktop 2012


    Askham Bryan College is one of the fastest growing land based colleges in the country. The college needed to provide its staff with a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Solution that met the needs and demands of all remote staff. The college approached various resellers for quotes on VDI solutions and costs were around £100,000. The college’s IT Department implemented a Microsoft Remote Desktop 2012 hybrid solution utilizing resources from both VMware and Hyper-V which saved them over £80,000. This not only provided a remote solution but a VDI Platform that would provide a return on investment and an saving on the total cost of ownership over the next five years estimated at £640,000.


    Askham Bryan College currently has 8 centres across the North of England that provides HE and FE courses to approximate 7500 students. It is essential that college staff can access Askham Bryan IT resources whilst moving from sites and when using other academic institutes’ IT resources.

    Askham Bryan College is like so many other academic establishments in the UK. We are constantly looking to drive down costs in the current climate and still deliver high quality IT Services for staff and students. The college felt that with all the new technologies hitting the current market, we should not only be looking to save money over the next five year’s but look at providing the college with a state of the art VDI infrastructure and remote access solution at a low cost. 

    Askham Bryan’s IT Department spent a considerable amount of time researching market leading vendors for a suitable VDI solution and the additional products that can enhance performance and end user experience. The college decided to invest in a Microsoft Remote Desktop (RDS) 2012 solution; this allowed the college to integrate other Microsoft products into the RDS solution through the use of the Microsoft campus agreement.


    Askham Bryan College runs the majority of projects internally, not only to save on consultancy costs but to develop internal technical skills. Ryan Mangan the Head of IT Services designed the solution and built the server platform with Nathan Berry, one of the colleges IT Technician’s.

    The Setup for the RDS 2012 solution:

    • ·         600 GB of space for the virtual machines on VMware
    • ·         6 VMware virtual machines running Microsoft Windows Server 2012
    • ·         2 HP ProLiant DL380 G6/8 Servers, Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V hosts
    • ·         2 HP Nvidia Quadro 2000 Graphics cards for Remote FX
    • ·         2 QNAP TS-1279U-E10G/2.88TB-SSD
    • ·         Remote Device licenses for 800 devices. 


    The VMware Virtual setup consisted of two active/active connection brokers configured with a SQL Express 2012 Server. We also built a Remote session host and one webserver/ Remote desktop gateway for external access. The final server we built in the VMware environment was the 2012 KMS server allowing Virtual desktop to obtain licenses without the input from administrators.

    The two Hyper-v Hosts were configured to use Cluster shared volumes providing high availability. We installed the Nvidia Quardro 2000 graphics cards into the Hypervisors allowing us to use Remote FX. Both QNAP storage devices were configured to use RAID 6 to provide redundancy and increase performance.


    The end result has provided improved performance, reliability and ease of management with reduced costs. All users receive standard desktops which has benefits for both administrators and end-users.


    We are currently testing various thin client devices and the use of Windows thin PC on existing hardware. We will shortly be in a position to continue the rollout and plan to replace 60% of the college’s desktops with thin client devices over the next two years. We have also set the foundations for future Brings Your Own Device (BYOD) Projects.

    This solution has exceeded all expectations and has been a big success within the college.


    We would like to thank PHOENIX SOFTWARE LTD WWW.PHOENIXS.CO.UK for providing the licensing for this project


  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Get On invite you to An Afternoon at Microsoft


    On the 8th of February Get On are running an event where F.E. Students can find out what life is like in Microsoft.

    Ever wondered what life is like at Microsoft?

    Well here is your opportunity to spend an afternoon at our Reading offices, see for yourself what goes on behind closed doors.

    So what can you expect from the day?

    • An afternoon run by Microsoft interns, you will hear about their experiences of job hunting and finding work.
    • An introduction to Microsoft and working in the IT industry.
    • Tips on what employers, such as Microsoft, look for in CV's, interviews, and once you're an employee at the company.

    There will be plenty of opportunities for you to pose your questions to the interns and other Microsoft employee's, be it how they got their job or what life in general is like at Microsoft.

    This event is for 16-24 year olds and you will need to register to attend the event. 

    We look forward to seeing you on the 8th February! 

    To register, go to:

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Microsoft at Bett 2013: Microsoft IT Academy Certification Roadmap


    Microsoft IT Academy (ITA) Program provides students with the technology skills they need to be successful in education and a career. With Microsoft Certification, students can validate those skills and pursue a career path in business or technology. A full overview of the IT Academy Certification can be seen below. The roadmap can also be downloaded via our SlideShare account.

    If you have any questions about IT Academy, pop over to our stand at Bett 2013 (D270 & E270) and say hi.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Windows 8 in Education Microsite


    After some great feedback following the launch of our Windows 8 in education eBook, we are thrilled to announce the launch of our Windows 8 in education UK microsite.


    The microsite is designed to help surface, excuse the pun, some key Windows 8 in education assets that look closely at our new OS specifically through an edu lens.

    In addition to the eBook, a key new asset that has literally just been added to the microsite is our Windows 8 in education video. The video showcases how both UCL and Hartsbrook E-Act Free School are using Windows 8 to build 21st skills and create more emotional connections with learning.

    I was involved in the filming of this video and both institutions are doing some amazing work with Windows 8, and technology in general. I personally loved the impact that Windows 8 had on the primary age students at Hartsbrook, though. Seeing the look on the young students faces when a picture they had just taken on their Windows Phone seamlessly synced to SkyDrive on their Windows 8 classroom PC's was awesome! Charlotte Beckhurst, and the rest of the team at Hartsbrook, are doing some fantastic work and I can't wait to see her share her experiences on our stand at Bett next week.

    If you are coming to Bett and want to check out Charlotte's session, our full Learn Live Theatre schedule is available via our Bett 2013 microsite. We hope to see you there!


    Windows 8 apps also sit front and centre of our new Windows 8 in education microsite. With a rapidly growing selection of education apps from the likes of Pearson, RM and Autology, the education category in the Windows Store has definitely been one of the most dynamic and innovative areas since launch.


    Our app showcases offer a detailed overview of specific apps combined with screencasts, screenshots and information to allow you to learn more about how the app can help directly within your institution.

    The intention is not to list every education app in the store, but offer a curated overview of a selection of UK apps available both today and over the coming months.

    We will be adding fresh content, especially around new apps, to the site on a regular basis so be sure to come back regularly and keep up to date with what is going on. We hope you find the site useful and informative look forward to sharing additional updates over the coming weeks/months.

    If you have a favourite education app, we would love to hear more in the comments below. Also, if you are attending Bett 2013, make sure you pop over and say hi. We are on stands D270 and E270.


  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Bett 2013 - Windows 8 Stand


    To compliment our focus on content across both the Bett Arena and our Learn Live Theatre and helping you to use technology more effectively within your institution, we are super excited about the addition of the Windows 8 stand to our presence at Bett 2013.


    Showcasing the Surface RT and a range of great devices from our OEM partners - Asus, Acer and Toshiba - the Windows 8 stand will demonstrate how a combination of Windows 8, Windows Phone, Windows 8 Apps, WMS and Devices can help raise attainment and create more emotional connections with learning.

    The Windows 8 stand is split into 2 distinct areas - the Windows 8 theatre and 4 device pods.

    The Windows 8 Theatre offers bite size chunks of content throughout the day, across all 4 days of the show, to help inspire and inform teachers and IT professionals, alike. These sessions will be delivered by Microsoft staff, Top App partners and our OEM friends. Sessions are pretty informal, so feel free to drop in when you can, either before or after any of the sessions being delivered in the Learn Live Theatre.

    In addition to the Windows 8 Theatre, the Windows 8 stand will also feature 4 devices pods - one per OEM partner (Acer, Toshiba and Asus) and a 4th where we will be showcasing the Surface RT.

    In addition to giving an in-depth overview of the Surface device through an edu lens, staff on the Surface pod will also be available to answer any of your questions regarding other products in our portfolio, such as Office 365 for education, Shape the Future and Windows in the Classroom. Just pop by and say hi and they will be happy to help.

    More information about both the content and the partners featured on our Windows 8 Stand will be made available in future blog posts. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to drop me a note via Twitter - @tbush.


  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Windows 8 at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy


    Guest post from Gerald Haigh. Gerald is a freelance writer who regularly writes for the Microsoft UK Education Blogs.

    My recent short visit to Royal Wootton Bassett Academy produced several memorable moments. For example, I had my first Christmas dinner of the year – turkey and all the trimmings followed by a mince pie and custard. Thank you so much kitchen staff. I intended to say that personally as I left the dining hall, but you were far too busy with a long queue of very hungry but very well behaved students.

    Before that, though, I had the great pleasure of joining Year Seven in PC-equipped classroom as they explored Windows 8 on 23 inch touch screens. That, of course, rather than the Christmas dinner, was why I was there.

    In early November I’d had an email from Steve Gillott, Strategic ICT Leader at the Academy informing me that all ICT teaching classrooms had been newly equipped with touch –screen PCs in preparation for Windows 8.


    I sat up straight when I read it, because Steve was no stranger to me and I knew him to be an innovator. I’d first met him at a Microsoft function in Spring 2009 when he’d attracted attention through his creative use of what was then Office Communications Server for video-mentoring Year Nine students at home. Then a little later he again popped on to the radar when we were looking at how schools were saving large amounts of money through using Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper V. Steve’s school was one of the first to go down this route, and the considerable savings that the school continues to rack up are detailed in a blog I wrote in March this year.

    So, when I read Steve’s email I knew this would turn out to be a real, potentially groundbreaking story, something I had to see and write about, once Windows 8 was up and running in at least one of the rooms.

    Steve met me at Reception and we went straight into a PC-equipped classroom where Year Seven students were exploring Windows 8 on 23 inch touch-screens. To be honest, it was a revelation. There are those – I’ve met them – who, while ready to acknowledge the value of touch technology for very young children who either can’t use the mouse or aren’t turned on by it, are sceptical about its value with older age groups.

    Well, I’ve got news for them. On the admittedly thin evidence of my short visit to one classroom, secondary school students take to the touch-screen like ducks to water. Every single student praised it as natural, immediate, responsive and comfortable in every way. Significantly, I saw several who, in the process of trying out touch-screen PowerPoint were using the on-screen keyboard in preference to the ‘real’ one within easy reach. Very clearly, once they were on the screen, they were staying there.

    Then there was the students’ engagement with Windows 8. Again, I’ve met those who dislike the Start Screen and miss the familiarity of the Windows ‘Start Button’. There’s news for them, too, in the way that those Wootton Bassett youngsters took all that in their stride and immediately appreciated the way that the start screen laid out everything they needed in one place.


    Afterwards I had a chat with Steve, who confirmed the children’s enthusiasm,

    ‘They take to it quickly and naturally. Touch is so prevalent after all. It’s the language they have on their phones and in a very short space of time it’s become embedded.’

    It’s the immediacy of the technology that brings the implications for learning. Bypassing the mouse instantly improves engagement and encourages collaboration in ways that teachers will surely be quick to exploit.

    The upshot of my visit was that I came away resolved to write, over the coming weeks, a full case study of the adoption of Windows 8 at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy, keeping up with the full roll-out to the school’s 800 desktops, and with more than a passing reference to some of Steve’s other plans. These include the installation of touch-screen information points around the school and his innovative ideas for educational use of Lync2013, building on that earlier OCS experience.

    Meanwhile, I couldn’t let this first encounter go without flagging up here what promises to be a terrific story of the innovatory use of ICT in support of learning.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Microsoft at Bett 2013: Digital Exercise Book


    Guest post from Gerald Haigh. Gerald writes regularly for the Microsoft series of education blogs. 

    Continuing my hot pursuit of early Windows 8 adopters, I had an interesting conversation the other morning with David Rogers, Geography Curriculum Leader and Professional Tutor at Priory School in West Sussex. David is a Microsoft Innovative Teacher, and it’s easy to see why, because not only is he full of ideas, but he also has the knack of switching on mental lightbulbs in the mind of the person – in this case me – to whom he’s talking.

    Our chat was about the use of Windows 8 tablets in school, because David’s been trialling six of them, from Asus, Acer and Fujitsu, with some of his students.

    The experience has clearly opened up some intriguing possibilities for him. At the heart of his thinking is the key feature, which is that a Windows 8 tablet presents users with their familiar Microsoft software together with the possibility of easy collaboration and communication between and among students and teacher.


    What really lit up my lightbulb, though, was the way David could see this opening up the possibility of a genuine digital exercise book.

    ‘You can see it working, if they all have a W8 tablet – using OneNote and SkyDrive, teacher giving feedback by annotating work, and recording their voice. Comments could go to one student, or all of the tablets if necessary. I think of GCSE projects, for example, and the ability in OneNote to drag in videos or diagrams.’

    Annotation and the addition of comments and short notes on pieces of work by a teacher or a student is particularly easy, says David, when it’s possible to use a stylus.

    ‘I’d underestimated the importance of the stylus, but the students were off and running with it for handwriting recognition.’

    So, ponder on all that, and then imagine an exercise book that --

    • Doesn’t have to be handed in, at a stroke removing all the familiar logistical and transport issues that come with handling sets of books
    • Offers an on-demand, anytime/anywhere open channel between teacher and student without the need to wait until the work is complete
    • Provides access to further advice from the teacher, including voice or video
    • Can be used for work in pairs, groups or the whole class
    • Preserves a complete record of the work even when the device is dropped into the swimming pool, left on the bus, or eaten by the dog (good luck with that one, Rover)

    That’s what’s possible right now with the Office suite, SkyDrive, OneNote, touchscreen and stylus, all together in a neat tablet. It looks like a winner to me.

    If you are keen to hear more about the concept of the digital exercise book, David Rogers will be presenting twice daily on the Microsoft stand at Bett 2013. The full schedule is available via the Microsoft at Bett 2013 website.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Microsoft Learn Live Theatre


    If you missed our Microsoft at Bett 2013 post yesterday, the Microsoft Learn Live Theatre is going to be a core element of our presence at the show. With content built around the core theme for this year's show, 'A New Era for Digital Learning', a mix of teachers, network managers and Microsoft staff will be sharing insight, personal stories and best practice to help you use technology within your institution more effectively. clip_image001

    Touching on a diverse range of topics, such as Windows 8, Office 365 for education, BYOD and Apps, the Microsoft Learn Live Theatre offers a series of short punchy sessions packed full of actionable takeaways that you can bring back to your institution and make a real difference.

    Content in the Microsoft Learn Live Theatre is repeated twice per day, with the exception of our Partners in Learning Slot, to offer you the flexibility to fit the sessions that appeal most around your visit to the show.

    A full overview of our schedule, as it currently stands, is shown below.


    We look forward to welcoming you at our Learn Live Theatre at Bett 2013! In the meantime, if you have any questions about any of the sessions, please do not hesitate to drop me a note via Twitter - @tbush


  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    ELearning Force at Bett 2013


    Guest post by ELearningforce, one of our Microsoft Bett 2013 partners

    During Bett 2013 ElearningForce International will be running presentations 4 times a day on SharePointLMS, Parent Access Portal, Office 365 Integration and our mobile solutions for Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad and Android devices. The presentations are held on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

    During the demonstrations ElearningForce will show the benefits running a Virtual Learning Environment based on the Microsoft stack and using SharePoint and SharePointLMS to create a true Learning Environment for their pupils and staff.

    After each of the presentations ElearningForce International will be giving away a perpetual SharePointLMS License for up to 200 pupils including a month free support to get you started. Over the course of Bett 2013 ElearningForce International will be giving away a total of over £75,000 in software licenses!


    SharePointLMS is a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that incorporates all the best features available to e-Learning today with a pedagogic user interface supported by the scalability of the Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server. SharePointLMS is the fundamental building block for your Learning Environment which extends way past the VLE element alone. Using SharePoint as your platform of choice you can create Intranet Portals for your pupils, their parents as well as staff. You can extend this further by adding your Public website creating a single solution, single logon and a fantastic user experience for all. No longer will your pupils, staff and parents need to go and logon to separate solution.

    So what is SharePointLMS? SharePointLMS is a tool that makes learning simple and affordable.

    As a teacher you can easily:

    · organise your materials

    · create tests and assignments

    · create and track lesson progress

    · coordinate, collaborate and much more

    With SharePointLMS you get new possibilities to structure your classes and deliver learning materials to your pupils and at the same time you have access to tracking and reporting tools for effortless evaluation of the individual pupils.

    Our new K12 Template will provide even the youngest of pupils with a simple and easy to use interface with only the necessary items show. As a teacher you can create your own lessons, add videos, quizzes as well as complete lesson packages provided by many of the current publishers using the SCORM standard. All results are recorded in the Gradebook.

    Through our Parent Access Portal parents can see how their children are performing as individuals and compared to the class average, they can see what homework assignments they need to complete and when, what school announcements and events are made and in general anything the school would like to share with the parents.

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  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    SCEnAT on Cloud Event at The University of Sheffield, 23rd January 2013


    A technical innovation powered by Microsoft Windows Azure platform led by The University of Sheffield


    The advancement in cloud services now offers Universities and research groups access to an unparalleled level of technological power.  The University of Sheffield will play host this event to demonstrate the Supply Chain Environmental Analysis Tool (SCEnAT), an innovative application powered by Windows Azure. The event will also celebrate the launch of the Microsoft and Janet document pack. 

    This event is being supported by the University of Sheffield, Microsoft, Janet and Shaping Cloud. 

    Register now at:


    Wednesday 23rd January 2013
    Location: Alfred Denny Building, The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN.

    09.45 – 10.15              Registration (Tea / Coffee)

    10.15 – 10.20              Welcome

    10.20 – 10.40              Supply Chain Environmental Analysis Tool - Prof. Lenny Koh Founder of the LSCM Research Centre, University of Sheffield

    10.40 – 11.00              Why Cloud Was The Perfect Fit For SCEnAT - Carlos Oliveira Managing Director, Shaping Cloud

    11.10 – 11.30              Microsoft Cloud Services For Education - Mark McManus Cloud Services Business Manager, Microsoft

    11.30 – 11.50              Janet’s document pack - Tony Lewis Principle Advisor, JANET

    11.50 – 12.20              Panel Discussion

    12.20 – 13.20              Close, Lunch & Networking


    Professor Lenny Koh Director of The University of Sheffield Logistics and Supply Chain Management (LSCM) Research Centre will speak about SCEnAT and its benefits to users.

    Carlos Oliveira, Managing Director of Shaping Cloud will discuss the development of the tool and benefits of utilising the technology. 

    Mark McManus, Cloud Services Business Manager at Microsoft will talk about the Windows Azure platform and discuss the benefits to Universities and research groups. 

    Tony Lewis of Janet will conclude the event by discussing the exclusive contractual amendments and due diligence available to research and education institutions in the form of the Janet document pack.

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