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February, 2014

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Can Educators get Yammer for Free?

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    Blog Repost, Originally Posted on Ray Fleming’s Education Blog

    imageWe announced recently that Yammer for education customers will be free of charge from 1st April 2014, through your Office 365 for Education subscription (which is also free). Which means that educational institutions are able to have a communication system (through Office 365’s email and Lync service), collaboration and document storage (through Office 365’s SharePoint and OneDrive), and secure social networking and collaboration (through Yammer) – all of which is free.

    The beauty of Yammer is that it can be fully integrated into your user database – so you create a private place for just your users to collaborate and mingle, and can enable and disable users easily. And then within Yammer you can create public and private groups – so staff can have private planning and discussion areas that others can’t access. Or groups of students can be placed into individual communities, for classes, subjects, sports and social groups etc. It also has a range of apps for mobile devices, so your users can access it on the go from their iPhone, Windows Phone, Android phones etc

    Yammer for Education

    There has always been a basic free version of Yammer that users can sign up to individually, and create communities and groups, and some education users in Australia have already been using that for some time (some of them with hundreds or thousands of users). But when you want to have organisational control over your users, then in the past you would have had to paid for the full Yammer Enterprise version. But from 1st April, that’s the version that education customers can get free.

    The major difference between Yammer and other social networking systems is that your Yammer network is private, and controlled by you. You don’t have individual teachers uploading lists of students to third-party websites, and managing them outside of your existing systems. Instead, your IT team have full control over your users in the same way that they do for other systems in your school, TAFE or university. Adding and deleting/disabling users is all done centrally. And you have control and visibility of the content and conversations that are happening.

    Yammer logo

    Some of the key features of Yammer that are relevant for education customers are:

    • Create and participate in groups – you can define groups and assign members, or your users can set up their own groups and invite members.
    • Announcements – for everybody, or just specific groups. This can be used to send out important updates that everybody in a group needs (eg a teacher might use an announcement to send out a curriculum assignment)
    • Praise – users can give and receive recognition, and accomplishments and badges appear on profiles
    • Interact with other users – just like other social networks, you can @mention people, see who’s online, create private messages and share conversations. Plus users can create quick polls
    • File and note sharing – users can upload Office documents, PDFs etc and share them across their groups. You can have user-uploaded content, as well as ‘Official content’, which appears higher in search results and content directories.
    • IT managers will love the user management features, including Directory Sync, custom branding, and Keyword Monitoring (this allows you to track the use of sensitive keywords, and get instant alerts if they are used on your Yammer network)
    What do I need to do to get Yammer Enterprise once it is available on April 1st?

    Once Yammer Enterprise is available, Office 365 Education tenant administrators will receive an activation link in their Office 365 admin portal. You then visit the Office 365 Admin Portal to begin the self-guided provisioning process. There’s a complete Yammer Activation Guide here.  There are also additional resources on activation and provisioning from Yammer.

    Learn more about Yammer

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Code.org UK Resources and Tutorials

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    To assist educators, students and parents find resources to take them beyond the Hour of Code, the Code.org UK website features some amazing resources, tutorials and lesson plans that can be used to inspire the next generation of developers.

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    All these resources are fun, engaging and intuitive and are well suited for those students just taking their first steps. There is also a great selection of resources for those who have a little more experience under their belts.

    A selection of the resources include the following (click on the images to access):

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    I am definitely going to be giving some of these a whirl over the weekend! Let us know what you think in the comments below.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Higher Education Webinar: CRM in Action

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    Touchstone Higher Education Webinar

    Friday, 14th March 2014 12:00pm, Online // Lync

    Does your organisation struggle to:

    •Attract and retain more prospective students?
    •Manage the student life-cycle from lead through to alumni?
    •Effectively manage business engagement?

    If so, join us for this 45 minute live webinar where Peter Cutts – CRM Business Solutions Specialist at TouchstoneCRM will showcase the direct benefits a CRM system can provide to a Higher Education institution.

    With a tailored demonstration of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 and a Q&A session with Peter and Simon Ibbitt – Higher Education Business Manager at Microsoft, this webinar will ultimately help you.

    To Register, follow this link.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning: Teacher Professional Development

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    Excerpt from ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’

    This is the most important but often the most over looked aspect of any 1:1 initiative or technology deployment designed to change culture and teaching methodology. By creating a policy related to continuous teacher professional development and writing it into your roll-out plan you will formalise the need for training within your staff team.

    Professional development should include both technical and pedagogical training. It should also include a blend of face-to-face (expert and/ or peer led) and on-line learning. Staff should be given as many opportunities as possible to share ideas and learn from each other’s practice.

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    Microsoft Partners in Learning (PiL) is a 10-year, 500+ million dollar global initiative aimed at improving teaching and learning. Since 2003, it has led the way in partnering with education professionals, helping nearly 8 million educators and reaching more than 190 million students in 114 countries. At the heart of PiL is the Partners in Learning Network, an online professional development community that helps educators and school leaders connect, collaborate, create and share so that students can realise their greatest potential. For more information of PiL join the online discussion today at www.pil-network.com.

    The focus on Learning and Teaching is really important to ensure the success and impact of any 1:1 project and this is discussed in more detail within our ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’ eBook.

    The full eBook can be viewed/downloaded below.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Microsoft Higher Education Showcase

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    We would like to bring to your attention a new Higher Education Showcase program that will be tested over the next few months. This is your chance to showcase exciting things that your Students, Lecturer’s and Staff are doing with Microsoft Technology, Devices and Apps.

    The program has been designed so that we can work with University’s to help capture exciting stories that can be showcased on our Microsoft Higher Education blog and with other customers.

    Mission

    To produce a video or illustrated blog to show what students, lecturers and staff are doing with Microsoft technology in your college: this can be development of Windows apps, or usage of devices or software! No story is too small.

    We want to showcase the great stuff that your Staff and Students are doing.

    The story does not have to be long and should not take much time to do, it can be submitted as a short video, a blog write up with a few paragraphs and pictures, or even a quick chat with one of our bloggers so they can write the story for you. Check out the current blog stories to get some ideas!

    Here’s one Simon Ibbitt made earlier (blue peter style!) with his Lumia 925 video camera uploaded to Skydrive - http://1drv.ms/1f67knr

    Faced with a situation where funding is declining but demands for excellence are always on the increase, Universities need to pull together to share best practice wherever they can. We would like to help facilitate this activity by creating a platform for you to share ideas and good experiences. Please throw whatever you have at us and we will help by engaging our social-communication engines for the benefit of all.

    Please send all videos/content to siibbi@microsoft.com

    We will try to post as many as possible. Good luck and we look forward to receiving them!

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Tablets in Education: Responsible Use as part of a 1:1 Learning Project

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    Excerpt from ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’

    Your school should already have a policy on ICT acceptable and responsible use. However, with the introduction of 1:1 it is very likely that you will need to up-date or adapt your policy. You need to be very clear about what is and what is not acceptable on a schools network and behaviour that is expected of young people, along with any sanctions that you will action if the rules are broken.

    As well as formal procedures it is also useful to work directly with young people so that they can create their own rules around device use (and this should also include the use of social media).

    Schools that have worked with students to co-create acceptable use policies have found that they are more likely to be adhered to in the long run. Co-created acceptable use policies help give young people ownership over the 1:1 project and create a sense of collective responsibility.

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    One important thing to remember about any acceptable use policy is that there is absolutely no right or wrong way to write one. Your policy needs to reflect your organisation, who you wish to communicate with and what you feel comfortable doing. It is also important that it is reviewed regularly – the best acceptable use policies are regularly ‘hacked’ by users using a wiki or collaborative document to ensure it is constantly up-to-date.

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    Also as well as including specific references to 1:1 in your institute’s ICT policy you should also make sure that it is included in your Learning and Teaching Policy – after all, why are we doing this in the first place if it is not to improve learning and teaching?

    1:1 and other projects that improve the access to computing in classrooms is also likely to lead to increased use of Social Media in your school or institution. As a result a specific mention of social media is also worth including this in your emerging policy. For reference, one country that is very progressive in the development of Social Media Policies in schools is Australia, in particular Victoria. They have provided some good social media guidance on their website: (justice.vic.gov.au/socialmedia7).

    This chapter was taken from our ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’ eBook written is association with Ollie Bray. The full eBook can be viewed/downloaded below.  

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Building Tomorrows Tech Superstars with the help of DreamSpark

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    Microsoft believes in the power of technology to transform education, foster local innovation and enable jobs and economic growth for everyone. Microsoft DreamSpark is just another way of helping this next generation of young leaders seize the opportunity to harness the transformative magic of software. By offering DreamSpark with a VL subscription agreement, we provide you with a cost-effective way to get all of Microsoft’s productivity, collaboration, and developer tools under a single agreement. 

    How does this benefit your students? 

    With a DreamSpark Membership, your students get the professional-level developer and designer tools they would use to build real sites, apps, and games for Xbox Live®/360®, Kinect™, Microsoft Windows® Phone, Windows and more. Students get a head start on a career, or do better in class. Tomorrow’s tech superstars can be found in dorm rooms and in Microsoft tech clubs on campuses around the world. They will create thousands of next-gen apps, tools, and games. That’s why we’re giving students and institutions the top development and design tools, including Visual Studio Professional, to be used for instructional use at no charge.

    For further reading, why not take a look at our DreamSpark FAQ.

     

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Tablets in Education: Why is 1:1 the best ratio?

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    Excerpt from ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’

    It might surprise you to find out that actually it is not the best ratio all of the time. But, 1:1 will be the best ratio some of the time.

    In terms of the question, “What is the best ratio?”, there is no easy answer to this. It really depends on what it is you are trying to achieve. But it is important to remember that sometimes 1:many (one device for many learners) is fine and that there is also absolutely nothing wrong with a lecture style presentation.

    Of course an advantage of all learners having their own device in a lecture environment means that they can provide feedback and ask questions during the presentation (sometime referred to back channelling). Devices can also be used to follow up links that the presenter has mentioned – these can be bookmarked for exploration at a later date or quickly shared with others across social networking spaces.

    One important consideration during this type of environment is that this type of interaction, although powerful, does not come naturally to young people – it is a skill that is required to be taught and practiced if it is going to have any real impact.  

    As well as 1:many, there are also lots of examples when 1:3/4/5 (one device for three, four or five learners) might be appropriate. These are all good ratios to support collaborative learning and group work.

    The use of a tablet or hybrid device can be useful if there is going to be more than two learners to a device on a collaborative activity. A laptop screen can sometime become a barrier to learning and prevent others in the group from seeing what is going on.

    image

    Research from Professor Sugata Mitra (University of Newcastle) and others has also proved time-and-time again that 1:2 (one device for two learners) is also another great ratio for learning (particularly for younger children). It’s small enough to allow opportunities for children to get time on the computer without arguing who should be in the driving seat, BUT it also allows dialogue and conversation between children as they work to solve real world problems and consolidate their learning task.

    Of course the nice thing about having 1:1 (one device for each learner) is that all of the above can be achieved but children can also work with their own device where appropriate.

    Beyond 1:1

    Schools who have been making use of 1:1 for a while now are also noticing that in reality many students use at least two devices to help them with their learning. Their main device is normally a laptop or a tablet but increasingly a companion device, such as a smartphone, is also being used.

    What we have observed over the past few years is that students tend to use the main device for the bulk of their work. But the companion device is used as a communication tool (to ask questions on social networks etc.) and for its other more portable functionality (for example to take pictures, or to carry out quick web searches). It is important for educators to remember that this is the way that many young people work at home (many adults work in this way as well). Our challenge is allowing young people to work in this way in a school environment.

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      Does 1:1 improve standards?

    There is no evidence that 1:1 (or any technology for that matter) in isolation improves attainment standards. A weak teacher with great technology will still not deliver the results that our children deserve. However, there is growing evidence that good teachers with great technology can really raise the bar of expectation amongst young people and deliver improved experience and results.

    However, I truly believe that a good or excellent teacher, who is committed to professional learning and who is supported by great technology has the potential to transform lives. It is also important to remember that technology is only part of any model for educational transformation.

    This chapter was taken from our ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’ eBook written by Ollie Bray. The full eBook can be viewed/downloaded below.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Licensing Series: What changes really mean for you and your students

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    Guest post by Paul Harris, UK Academic Licensing Sales Specialist

    Firstly, an introduction – as the UK Academic Licensing Sales Specialist (LSS – we love a 3 letter acronym at Microsoft – in fact there will be 4 in this blog post alone!) an important part of my role is to try and help our Education customers understand the intricacies of our Academic licensing programs

    Over the coming months, I’m going to write a regular blog which will hopefully de-mystify some of the key licensing topics – if there are any burning questions you have, feel free to get in touch – my contact details at the bottom of this blog entry.

    The first topic is actually something which went under a lot of peoples radar when announced back in December 2012, but is a pretty big change which means that Education customers can provide productivity services to Students in a cost effective way

    With the launches of Lync Server 2013 & Exchange Server 2013, External Connectors for both Exchange Server and Lync Server were discontinued and removed from our price lists. At the same time the SharePoint for Internet Sites (FIS) license was also withdrawn. Instead, all the usage scenario’s previously covered by external connectors/FIS are now included in the Server license.

    OK, so what does that actually mean & why is this good news?

    Students no longer need a Client Access License (CAL) to access Exchange Server or Lync Server, and in most scenarios SharePoint too*!

    This new approach to licensing our productivity solutions is a clear indication of our goal of anytime, anywhere learning for all and demonstrates the flexibility we can provide when considering our platform.

    Whether you are looking to move to the cloud through Office 365 for Education (which provides Exchange Online, SharePoint Online & Lync Online free of charge), or you are looking to keep your staff & students productive through your on premises investment, or if you are looking at hosted services through a Microsoft partner or maybe even a mixture of these approaches, Microsoft is making the hybrid IT approach a reality….and saving you money

    But what about Windows Server & RDS I hear you cry! Well no changes here. If your users are authenticating with a Windows Server then they will need a CAL, same goes for RDS….if you are providing access remotely using RDS, then a RDS CAL is required.

    If you are looking to cover a lot of Students then a cost effective way of licensing Student access to Windows Server & RDS is via an External connector. The concept is pretty simple – you purchase a Windows Server External Connector for every server to which you are allowing access and all of your students are covered** Same goes for RDS – purchase an external connector for the servers you are allowing RDS access to and they all get the right to use.

    What’s more the external connector also permits access by

    · Parents/legal guardians

    · Prospective students

    · Alumni (student and faculty/ staff)

    · Student and faculty/staff of collaborating academic institutions or government institutions.

    If you have a small number of students you wish to license then purchasing individual CAL’s may be more cost effective – ask your reseller for more info/pricing to compare your options

    Any questions? My contact details below & my next blog will be around Virtual Desktop Access i.e. delivering Windows from your datacentre

    Paul Harris - Academic LSS

    @paulnharris

    *A-ha – the dreaded asterisk! – when I say most scenarios, CALs are not required to access content, information, and applications that you make publicly available to Students/Parents over the Internet e.g. extranet & internet sites

    ** and another asterisk!! External connectors cannot be used for faculty and staff – a CAL must be purchased for Faculty & Staff

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Computer Science in the National Curriculum: Program or be Programmed

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    What is Computer Science and what's happening in the National Curriculum?

    Our approach to computers and how we use them in our daily lives is changing, and I'm not only referring to the advancement of the technology itself but our thought process behind how a computer or programme really functions. Computer Science amalgamates core competencies from technology, mathematics, engineering and of course science. A combination of a skillset deficiency in the UK workforce when it comes to computing and technology roles and comparisons made to other countries both within the EU and further afield, regarding computer science graduates have been just some of the deciding factors which lead to the change in the national curriculum.

    From September 2014 Computing will become a statutory part of the English National Curriculum, including fundamental Computer Science principles such as unique and creative thinking, problem solving, abstraction, precision, computation and practical application.

    What impact is Microsoft Education UK having on the National Curriculum?

    Having worked alongside educators as well as IT managers in schools and various institutions, Microsoft Education UK have a number of years’ experience working within the sector to help facilitate learning goals through the use of a range of devices and tablets in education as well as offering multi scale platforms and resources to equip teachers to meet the curriculum as and when it progresses. There is not such a fear of progression itself, however teaching what is unfamiliar to can at times seem challenging. 74% of teachers say they feel unprepared to teach computing and 69% are not confident that the government will provide sufficient support.

    With this in mind Microsoft have teamed up with Rising Stars, who specialise in primary school KS1/2 resources to create Switched on Computing, an easy to follow guide, which will walk teachers and students through the new computer science curriculum by working through a variety of engaging mini projects. The idea behind these free resources are to stimulate pedagogical strategies with educators as well as excite pupils about the possibilities of computing and the uses of technology in the classroom. You can find out more about Rising stars and the Switched on Computing range by visiting www.switchedoncomputing.co.uk

     

    To recap on how Microsoft Education has been supporting and following Computer Science in the Curriculum over the past few months why not check out some of our previous blog posts:

    Xbox for Education Enhances New Computer Science Curriculum

    BETT 2014: A is for algorithm: first steps in primary computing

    Importance of Computer Science in the Curriculum Conference, sponsored by ASCL and Microsoft

    Education Technology Repost: Microsoft @ BETT2014

    UK Hour of Code has arrived!

    What does coding have to do with computer science?

    If you're new to these blogs or in case you've missed it, Microsoft Education are keen advocates of equipping students with the necessary skills to succeed in today's highly digital workforce. A proportionate amount of this surrounds coding and programming. All of us use technology which has an element of code to it, however complex. Yet very few of us have the skills to produce this technology ourselves. It is not saying that everyone should learn to programme to fix or create their own products, but it Is worth considering that there are currently 100,000 vacant jobs in the UK technology market and employees that have the skills required are in short supply. We're all aware of the employment crisis, what if we could equip the next generation and build upon the sector that is growing at an alarming rate. Microsoft believes that with the right training and support, 80% of all computer science related jobs in the UK could be filled by a UK graduate.

    Microsoft has been developing some fantastic free resources to meet those who are keen to learn, right where they are at, and offer a range of other developer platforms and certifications to help them progress on an Individual level. For those wanting to learn, we certainly have the information and learning materials available. TouchDevelop, Small Basic, Kodu, ProjectSpark, Project Siena and DreamSpark to name just a few.

    With an increased demand around coding, Microsoft are pleased to launch Hour of Code with Code.org UK. The UK Hour of Code is a one-hour intro to computer science, designed to demystify code during March 3-9, 2014. Every student will learn the basics to be a maker, a creator, an innovator. To find out more or to sign up check out http://uk.code.org/signup

    Coming Soon…

    Microsoft Education have been working alongside Miles Berry, principal lecturer in Computing Education at Roehampton University, keep an eye out in the next few weeks for our Computer Science ebook which will be available for free download on our SlideShare channel.

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