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  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Windows Magnifier makes a difference for visually impaired students at Highbury College


    Guest blog post by Mary Anne Davies-Barrett, LSI for the Visually Impaired, Highbury City of Portsmouth Centre

    clip_image001I work at Highbury College Portsmouth with Visually Impaired students, mostly teaching IT courses. I started supporting one visually impaired student and now we have around 18 visually impaired students attending the college learning how to use a computer. We have a specialised classroom full of resources for the visually impaired.

    Easy to use & effective!

    Over the years we have used magnification software and speech software like Supernova, Zoomtext and Jaws.  Unfortunately, this software can be very expensive. When the college upgraded to Windows 7, I discovered the Windows Magnifier.  Windows Magnifier can be accessed by just pressing the Windows key and the plus sign. It has made such a difference to the visually impaired students as they can access this for free. In fact sometimes I make use of the Magnifier myself. So easy to use and can be accessed from any computer wherever you are in the College, at home, in a library and other places. Some students actually prefer Windows Magnifier rather than other magnification software.


    Accessible for students

    They find it easy to use and do not need to spend money on the expensive software. I also personalise the windows colour and appearance to each PC to suit each individual student’s needs.  As Windows magnifier can be accessed from any PC around the college, the students do not have to worry if they are moving from one class to another. We also use the Ease of Access Centre.

    Simple shortcut for teachers to know

    I have also started to train other members of staff around the College how to use this magnifier and make them aware of it as you cannot tell when you are going to need it.  I have trained the Learning Assistants around the college and they were amazed how useful this information is for them when they are supporting students in various parts of the College.  I am also going to train others how to make use of the Windows key and other shortcuts using the Windows key.

    I am passionate about my work with the Visually Impaired and enjoy working with these wonderful people. They are amazing! And I could not do this without Microsoft. So thank you from me and the students.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    A student/intern review on Windows 8 Notebook devices in education: featuring the HP Pavillion TS 11-e030sa 11.6"


    On with the Notebook tour of devices in education and we’re onto HP today! The HP Pavillion TS 11 is a lovely notebook device which packs the full Windows 8 menu into a work-friendly 11" notebook shell at a price of £329.99. Office Home and Student 2013 can be bought additionally to enhance the experience of studying with familiar tools, in the cloud.


    PC Format

    Some of you may worry that with tablets, they may snap or crack if they are accidentally sat upon or dropped, but the beauty of Notebooks such as the HP Pavillion TS 11 is their protective folding screen/case combo. Many students and educators enjoy the flexibility of hybrid devices where you can click in the screen and use it as both a tablet and laptop, however there certainly is a place for the notebook format: for those of you who are keen to avoid equipment from getting lost, such as sleeves and cases if being shared by students, or for mobility of students being able to work on the go, or on their laps without a kick stand.

    Why buy a notebook over a laptop or tablet?

    The main difference between the notebook and a laptop is the size and weight, which is more adaptable to travel and work in transit. It has the same working features as a PC, although much less memory space, so is best used for note taking and accessing Office and Windows files when away from the school server or the desktop PC at home.

    My tip is to regard the notebook as a device which you use alongside a desktop PC at home and at school. It basically replaces a tablet, serving its purpose as a portable device which students can easily access work and be productive on while in lectures at university or studying in class at school. Once home they can log back into Office with either their Microsoft Account or Office 365 credentials and pick up where they left off. It saves students and educators time from scribbling work and notes on notebooks and then typing up at home and is great for empowering 1:1 learning which you can read more about in our new 1:1 Learning in Education e-book! The main difference with the tablet is that it has the form of a laptop which basically falls down to preferences - do you prefer the detachability of a tablet or the compact PC-style of a notebook?


  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Microsoft announces Office for ipad


    Microsoft is devoted to providing the tools which enable people from all walks of life to work anywhere and on any device. The ever increasing portfolio of Windows based devices available lay testament to that and with over a billion users of Microsoft Office globally we are now delighted to share that Office for ipad has now been released and is available to download on Apple's App Store.


    At the Mobile First, Cloud First Press Briefing yesterday Satya Nadella made his CEO debut and announced that the Office suite including Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel would now be available for use on the ipad.

    Within hours of the launch Word became the most downloaded application for ipads within the Apples App store, with Excel and PowerPoint following closely behind.

    At the event in San Francisco, Satya began by sharing some of the core foundations, this decision would be built upon:

    clip_image002"So first thing is about people. At the end of the day, if you look at our daily life, we have a set of activities that we do. We could be reading, we could be capturing, we could be listening, collaborating, organizing, researching. These are all activities that we do across a variety of devices. We're not bound, in fact, to one device, one place or one time. And the real goal for us is to step up to provide the applications and services that empower every user across all of these devices and all of these experiences. So that's perhaps the job No. 1 that we do, which is to empower people to be productive, do more across all devices."

    He also added that the announcement was part of a strategy to empower people to be productive across all devices with Microsoft software.

    For users wanting only to view and scroll through their documents on their tablet, the application is available for free, and for those wanting full functionality it will involve an Office 365 subscription.

    For students and educators this opens many doors, particularly in institutions where a BYOD infrastructure is in place, for those students unable to purchase a new device they still are empowered to use the best Microsoft Office productivity tools, with the device they already own.

    Satya closed by saying “We are absolutely committed to making our applications run what most people describe as cross-platform great. There's no holding back of anything. It is about being able to excel everywhere our customers are. One of the questions is, is this a massive tradeoff for you? There is no tradeoff. It's reality for us. It's not a competitive reality. That's not what motivates us. What motivates us is the realities of our customers. What motivates us is to make sure that we build the great experiences that span the digital life and digital work of our customers, both individually and as organizations. And that's what you can count on us doing, both with Windows as well as other platforms. And that's what's driving us”


    The official Office Blog talks more about the latest announcement “We thought a lot about what people want to do when they’re on their tablet, iPad functionality, and touch-first when we were building Office for iPad. We reimagined Office on the iPad, while retaining what people love about Office. We hope you’ll be as pleased with the results as we are. In the future, we will bring Office apps to the Windows Store and other popular platforms. In addition to Office for iPad, we’ve gone a step further in our mobile first and cloud first approach, and like Windows Phone, we’ve now made Office Mobile for iPhone and Android phones available for free” 

    Read the complete blog and FAQ here

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    A student/intern review on Windows 8 Notebook devices in education: featuring the Acer Aspire V5-122P


    Continuing our stroll through the Windows 8 Notebook devices in education neighbourhood, today I'm going to share with you my thoughts on the Acer Aspire V5-122P, a safe and sturdy notebook perfect for students and educators to carry to work and pull out at and use at any time.



    As you can see, the Acer, at 11.6", with sizes ranging from 11" to 15", is the perfect size to slip into a rucksack or brief case and pick up work in a coffee shop, on your lap whilst commuting or sitting on the sofa at home. Its screen size makes it large enough to be able to comfortably write a long essay or report on, yet small enough to easily transport to university, college or school and work from any location.

    Work online & offline

    Perhaps one of its greatest advantages, and this is also relevant for the entire series on Notebooks I will be blogging about, is that the Acer Aspire V5 can be used to browse web pages and apps online whilst similarly using offline documents. It must be noted, that Office 365 doesn't come readily built into the Acer Aspire V5 but can be purchased separately. To paint a scenario, a group of students could be sitting in class, doing research online for a presentation. Whilst researching online, they could snap a PowerPoint deck onto the other half of their screen and browse and create simultaneously. Once offline and on their way home, if a sudden idea comes to mind, they can open their PowerPoint doc, just like they would with a regular laptop, and jot their ideas down. Unlike the Chromebook which is dependent on internet access, I think this makes the Windows Notebook a little more aligned to students' and educators' mobile working style. For more info on Office 365 in education, check out our new Office 365 in Education e-book.


    Where can I get one?

    The Acer notebook retails in at £349.99 which I think is a great price for people looking for a larger sized notebook and small enough laptop with full working functionalities, to easily transport. For more info, have a look at the PC World website!

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    What we learnt from the recent SharePoint Conference for Education


    With Office 365 an every changing and evolving platform and new features being added at least every 90 days, it’s important to understand these changes and what is happening to the service and how it is being improved and upgraded.

    There are a few different areas to check which include

    The Office Blogs where when new features are shown for the first and explained as well as early previews to up and coming updates.

    Office 365 System Requirements Wiki and Office 365 Administrator Task Wiki give you information to ensure your computers and server that are working with Office 365 have the latest patches as well as technical changes required to your tenancy.

    The other and most recent was an event held by Microsoft called the SharePoint Conference 2014 in Las Vegas earlier in March.


    Here Microsoft announced several new features including

    Office Graph and codename Oslo which is about mapping of users, what they are doing, viewing and creating in Office and Office 365 to then connect them to other people within their Office 365 tenancy.

    Yammer integration into Office Online so conversation can be made when working together on a document for a project and providing feedback.

    Increase of SharePoint Online site collection quota restrictions raise the amount of data that can be held from 100GB to 1TB of SharePoint sites, lists and libraries.

    While attending the conference I was able to get some air time on SPCTV talking about how Office 365 Education is changing as well as having a few others on the panel to talk about their experience of cloud solution.

    All sessions from the conference are now available so you too can learn about some more of the changes to Office 365. Here are my top 5 sessions to watch.

    Using SharePoint as the canvas for student creativity and inspired solutions

    Here Louise Zulli Jr (Partners in Learning: Global Innovative Educator) talks about how students who have been doing computer coding for many years are developing solutions for the school on their SharePoint environment. This real showed where coding could go in education.

    Shireland Collegiate Academy: moving from private cloud to Office 365 for Edu

    Hear how Shireland Collegiate Academy are using Office 365 Education and their migration story moving over 1TB of data to the cloud service.

    UW: Students and teachers store, sync and share - OneDrive for Business in EDU

    Listen to how the University of Washington in the US are using OneDrive for Business (formally SkyDrive Pro) with their students

    Introducing the New Office Video Experience

    New video capabilities coming to Office 365

    How to become a Yammer Power User in 75 minutes

    Learn more about Yammer which is being added to Office 365 Education in Spring 2014

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    College and Career Readiness – Students Say it Best


    During February’s “College and Career Readiness” virtual event, Kathy Schmidt, a teacher at Kalama High School in Kalama, WA, shared how the town of 2,500 is on the tech-skilling fast track at the high school level, thanks to IT Academy. Watch this clip to hear Kathy’s tips on teaching with MOS certification and keeping students motivated.

    Also hear from James Willman, a Kalama High School junior who won the 2013 FBLA National Championship for Microsoft Office 2010 Excel Core and Expert, about the confidence he’s gained through certification.

    “Certification has given me an amazing amount of confidence,” James says. “I go out and apply for jobs that I never would have applied for. I’m certified and I’m confident.”

    Watch more interviews, discussions and presentations on our YouTube channel. And be sure to register for our upcoming monthly webinars—live virtual events where IT Academy team members and special guests provide insight into skills development, certification, employability, and job opportunities for college and career-bound students. 

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    A student/intern review on Windows 8 Notebook devices in education: featuring the Asus X102 Laptop 10.1"


    Choosing devices in education can be tricky when there are so many to choose from!

    Some of the thoughts that might be going through your mind are what form factor should I go for, how heavy will it be, will the students like using it, especially if you are purchasing online without the chance to sample the device for yourself.

    So, in the spirit of our brand new Devices in Education e-book refresh, we thought we'd share our thoughts on a range of Notebook PC's which we've had fun playing with and trialling out.

    Today's piece will focus on the Asus X102 laptop 10" device. Although the 'laptop' reference in the name refers to it as a PC, we are classing it as a Notebook due to its small size.



    My first impression, which I was pleasantly surprised by, was how light, yet sturdy the device is. To put this into context, you wouldn't anticipate a primary student having to shuffle guiltily to their teacher with a shattered screen hidden behind their back if they dropped the Asus notebook, yet it's light weight would suggest differently.

    Modern interface including Office 365!

    This notebook is perfectly suited for our Windows Education apps to run from, thanks to its touch screen capability, setting it apart from the traditional models of notebooks which have zero touch features. What's more it comes with Office 365 Home and Student 2013, which I think really sweetens the price of £299.95! Picture a student in a hurry to scribble down an important statistic or quote in a lecture, they can quickly snap an Office Notebook app open, alongside their lecture slides, with a couple of swipes rather than scrabbling about with the track pad.


    Modern appearance

    I must say, out of the notebooks I've seen, the shiny cover and thin case makes the Asus perhaps one of the most stylish on the market, well suited for those students and teachers who like tablets and PC's with modern finishes.

    Overall, the Asus notebook is a great device running full Windows 8.1 and Office 365 Home and Student 2013, providing a solid platform for creativity and learning. At a fantastic budget price, available at John Lewis, I would recommend this to Primary schools, colleges and universities!


  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Stay on top of classes and assignments with myHomework for Windows 8


    I am a big fan of apps that allow me to sync my data across all my devices, and myHomework is a great example of a Windows 8 app that does just that, all within an elegant and clean environment.


    For those of you who are unfamiliar with the app, myHomework is an awesome cross platform student planner that lets you easily track your courses, homework, tasks, projects and lessons. myHomework accounts are free to create and can be setup using either a Facebook login or your email address of choice.

    The Windows 8 app, in particular, has an intuitive interface and supports full integration, which makes it easy to add classes and assignments etc directly to the app. If not, classes can be added manually in a matter of minutes. For example, I added details about some C# and Excel Pivot Table courses that I am currently doing and was literally up and running with all the relevant data in the app and synced to the web interface in no time. Very cool!


    With courses then set up within the app, it was also really straightforward to add any homework I might have for these 2 courses and set due dates etc for coursework I needed to complete. What is nice is that within the app you are then presented with a concise overview of all your courses/homework within a central dashboard. A red flag is then shown against any outstanding actions. Which reminds me, I really must go and complete that IDE class…


    With an interface that is perfect for touch devices, but also works really well with keyboard and mouse, cross device syncing and notifications, this is a great app for students of all ages who are looking to stay on top of their classes and assignments.

    Download the app from the store today and let us know what you think in the comments below. 

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    UCISA 2014


    Microsoft in Education is delighted to be exhibiting at UCISA 2014. We’ll  be on stand 52, sharing details of how students at eligible educational institutions can now take advantage of all that Office 365 ProPlus has to offer, each subscription license will allow you to run Office on up to five devices at no additional cost, all through our Student Advantage initiative.

    Find out more on our Schools blog or have a look at the following guide on our SlideShare Channel.

    Additionally we’ll be showcasing Yammer in Education.
    Adopting a social platform within a learning environment is a recognisable social approach to digital communication, we’ll be sharing information on how Yammer can help speed up communication, unlock information and boost collaboration across your faculty and staff. Read more.

    Windows Azure has already unlocked learning opportunities for education institutions around the world.

    Whatever your requirements, Azure has the ability to build, deploy and manage a bespoke solution, using cloud based applications. For further information on Azure, our Higher Education Blog has a great ebook you can read or come and chat to us on the stand.

    We would also like to encourage you to join Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft who will be delivering a keynote session at 10am on Friday 28 March. 'Preparing for the world of work'. Click here to view Dave's profile as well as the other speakers from within the conference programme.

    For the most up to date Higher Education news from Microsoft Education, follow our dedicated HE blog

    We look forward to meeting you at UCISA.

    Microsoft Education Team.


  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Moving forward with Windows 8.1 and those questions answered


    Over the past week we've been publishing a lot of content around the end of support for Windows XP on the 8th April 2014, we know there are many users still attached to this platform, and although we're aware of its high regard with customers it's now time for us to finish up the support we offer for XP and focus our attention to our modern platforms.

    If you are considering moving over to our latest version, Windows 8.1 here is a useful FAQ guide to answer any questions and help you make an easy transition.

    How do I update to Windows 8.1?

    Here's how to update to Windows 8.1 depending on the version of Windows you're currently running:

    If you're already running Windows 8, you can update to Windows 8.1 in the Windows Store for free. For more info, see Updating to Windows 8.1 from Windows 8.

    If you’re running Windows 7, you can buy and download Windows 8.1 using Windows 8.1 Upgrade Assistant. In Upgrade Assistant, you'll have the option to install Windows 8.1 now, later, or using media with an ISO file or a USB flash drive. For more info, see Upgrading to Windows 8.1 from Windows 7.

    If you're running Windows Vista or Windows XP, you'll need to perform a clean installation with a DVD. Make sure to review system requirements before buying a DVD. For more info, see Upgrade to Windows 8.1 from Windows Vista or Windows XP.

    Some editions of Windows 8 don't support the update to Windows 8.1 from the Windows Store. For more info, see Why can't I find the update in the Store?

    If you're updating from Windows RT, see Windows RT 8.1: FAQ.

    If you're updating from Windows 8.1 Preview or Windows RT 8.1 Preview, see Update from Windows 8.1 Preview to Windows 8.1.


    How much does Windows 8.1 cost?

    If you're already running Windows 8, it's free. Go to the Windows Store to update to Windows 8.1.

    If you're running a previous version of Windows, you can see current pricing on the Compare and decide webpage or in Upgrade Assistant.

    How much free space do I need to update?

    If you're running Windows 8, you need 3,000 MB of available space for the 32-bit version of Windows 8.1, and 3,850 MB of available space for the 64-bit version of Windows 8.1. If you're running Windows 7, we recommend that you run Windows 8.1 Upgrade Assistant to check if you have enough available space. If you're running Windows Vista or Windows XP, we recommend you check the system requirements before installing Windows 8.1.

    You need a total of 16 GB (32-bit version) or 20 GB (64-bit version) of space on your hard drive for Windows 8.1.

    This is simply a snippet of the larger FAQ for Windows 8.1 deployment, if you want the full list of questions follow this link.

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