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  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Innovate, disrupt and have fun – An insight into the Global Forum by David Rogers

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    [2014-03-13%252008.09.37%255B6%255D.jpg]

    Last week I was humbled to spend the week with 250 teachers from around the globe.  The common element was not the flavour of the technology, but a desire to transform the lives of young people. This is an attempt to reflect upon the experience. First a few pointers to dispel with the bonkers position that some hold: only one flavour of technology:

    • I’m an evangelist of what works.  I know it works because I’ve used it in the classroom myself.
    • There is no such thing as an education ‘app.’  Anything can be used to enhance, transform and modify learning from a cardboard shoebox to a space ship.
    • Technology in the hands of a great teacher transforms learning. Technology in the hands of a poor teacher doesn’t transform their teaching.
    • The day that I only advocate one flavour of technology is the day I’m not a teacher but being paid by a technology company to push their stuff.
    • Teachers change the world of learning, not technology.

    Whilst in Iceland, on a school trip and needing to kill some time one evening, I filled out the online application to become a Microsoft Expert Educator.  The rest, as they say, is history. The Global Forum comes at the mid-point of the year long programme (would have been better at the end as a celebration and progress check of what we’d accomplished maybe?).  This post may change, and I’m certain to update it and add further posts.  I believe sometimes it’s worth putting down what you think and getting it out there.

    This isn’t a blow-by-blow account of the week – read my Twitter stream for that.  This is just what stuck out.

    The week was incredible.  Firstly, there’s the perspective.  I was there with a pretty good project.  Others were there with projects about getting clean water in impoverished nations with access to one battered laptop.  Certainly puts perspective on the ‘first-world’ problem of Ofsted inspections.  Indeed, in one region of India all schools are told exactly what to deliver, when and how.  In contrast, UK educators really have some massive freedoms that are perhaps taken for granted?  The highlight of the week (apart from working with the awesome Stu Ball and UK Team) was the most difficult learning experience I’ve ever been through.  That’s right.  Tougher than the week long Mountain Leadership assessments or learning how to fly a plane.  We often spout out the ‘allowing failure’ mantra.  How many have been thrown together with four other nationalities (two of whom have no English) and told to produce a plan to change the world and present it to education experts (including children) the next day? Walking the walk.

    2014-03-14 11.56.252014-03-13 11.09.53

    So, myself, a Kiwi Scientist; an Indian Mathematician; a Saudi Social Studies Teacher and a Taiwanese Artist set out to get children to tell Ban Ki-Moon that some of the Millennium Development goals needed to be better.  I won’t go into detail, except to say that the personal learning experience was immense.  When was the last time you really had to learn?  I wondered about the last time I had to do something rather than a choice.  There are some lessons in there for me to take into the classroom.  I was also pleased that students in the UK contributed through the twitter stream.

    The rest of the week saw the usual (and by now depressingly predictable) keynote speeches that preach to the converted and I find rather too self-congratulatory rather than challenges.  To me, a group of educators of the calibre gathered need to look at what we are doing wrong as well as what we have right.  There are some great new tools shaping up to use in the classroom soon (some of them that are designed for the classroom too…).  Microsoft may have been late to the party, but their stuff looks great.  I’m yet to find something that equals OneNote as a digital, collaborative exercise book for example.  Indeed, if I were in a 1:1 school tomorrow, OneNote would be doing most of the hard work.

    I did enjoy listening to the politicians and princes, and found the Spanish Education Minister’s keynote heartfelt and refreshing.  Spain has over 40% unemployment.

    Another highlight was TeachMeet Europe.

    2014-03-14 00.13.40This is what happens when you enjoy a late night malt with Stu Ball: he convinces me that we could pull off a TeachMeet Europe with a days notice, no room, no technology, no one familiar with the concept (interestingly, no one in the room outside of the UK knew hat a TeachMeet was).  I’m so happy I said yes and compared the event.  We had seven nationalities presenting and had presentations ranging from a modified ‘I have a dream’ speech to close up photographs of stuff to some brand new (to me) online tools.  

    It all goes to show that what I believe: if you throw teachers together and ask them to talk about what they do everyday, you don’t need a plan or technology to leave inspired and full of ideas to try in the classroom tomorrow.  Of course, there was free beer too…..

    I also enjoyed making some extra contacts ad heading to the expert panels.  The second of these, on 1:1 learning, was great as the chair opened up to the floor early and an engaging conversation followed with many making contributions.  One thing I would like to see is a feature where teachers from some of the less developed countries get to post some problems, perhaps ‘barcamp,’ style. Others could see where they could contribute and get involved with trying to solve those issues / build lasting partnerships.

    Things that I will investigate more and get involved are:

    • YouthSpark – a citizenship project that is making real waves.
    • ChronoZoom – like Google Earth but for history – visualising historical events.
    • Hour of Code – I don't think that coding is necessarily about producing software engineers, but the process does develop creative problem solving skills.

    It’s going to take a while to reflect and act upon everything I saw – there are some things that if I were still a head of department I would have put in to place already.  However, there were are few gripes:

    • There doesn't seem to be a master plan to support and grow Partners in Learning between the events: there are many of the same faces which runs the risk of it turning into the technological equivalent of the ‘old boys and gals club’;
    • For an education conference, some of it was excruciatingly impersonalised.  This was accentuated by 250 teachers from around 90 countries being present, all from differing contexts.  In my view, it needed to be put together by the educators involved;
    • There was an almost undetectable undercurrent that we should be selling / championing specific devices / software instead of developing pedagogy and telling stories about what works.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not numpty enough to expect anything but Microsoft being talked about, but there’s a difference (at least in my mind) between a teacher who evangelises a great learning project that happens to use a certain technology and a teacher that evangelises a device;
    • The main message is still content delivery and not content creation.  I would have liked to see some workshops between teachers and Microsoft engineers along the lines of ‘ This is what Microsoft Research are working on right now, how could you use it in the classroom and can we help shape it?’  Then having teachers working together (in a similar way to the learnathon above) in order to adapt / subvert / use the tool.  One of the main issues with new technology is that it takes a while (and often some VERY patient early adopters) to figure out what it does / how it can be used.  I think that Microsoft should be tapping into the community to produce case studies before the product launches.  That way, teachers will get it straight off the bat and the impact would be felt much wider than the attendees.
    • I’m not going to mention (much) about #coffeegate Winking smile

    Having said that, I think Microsoft Education have it right and are heading in the right direction with both their product offering and general approach to putting learning first and supporting teachers.  I would recommend getting registered (for free) on the Partners in Learning Network.  Download and explore some of the free stuff and see how you could use it.  If you find no use, nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Saying you won’t look just because it’s Microsoft is failing your children.

    A massive thank you to Stuart Ball and the Microsoft Education Team and to Team UK – you may have shunned my offer of a 10 mile run, but you kept me sane, challenged and will motivate me into well into the future.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Windows XP? Don’t become vulnerable to security risks and viruses…

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    What is Windows XP end of support?

    Microsoft has provided support for Windows XP for the past 12 years. But now the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences.

    As a result, after April 8, 2014, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available, including automatic updates that help protect your PC. Microsoft will also stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP on this date. (If you already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, you will continue to receive antimalware signature updates for a limited time, but this does not mean that your PC will be secure because Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates to help protect your PC.)

    If you continue to use Windows XP after support ends, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Also, as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you can expect to encounter greater numbers of apps and devices that do not work with Windows XP.

    How do I stay protected?

    To stay protected after support ends, you have two options:

    Upgrade your current PC

    Very few older computers will be able to run Windows 8.1, which is the latest version of Windows.

    We recommend that you download and run the Windows Upgrade Assistant to check if your PC meets the system requirements for Windows 8.1 and then follow the steps in the tutorial to upgrade if your PC is able.

    Download and run the Windows Upgrade Assistant

    Tutorial: Upgrade to Windows 8.1 from Windows XP

    image

    Get a new PC

    If your current PC can't run Windows 8.1, it might be time to consider shopping for a new one. Be sure to explore our great selection of new PCs. They're more powerful, lightweight, and stylish than ever before—and with an average price that's considerably less expensive than the average PC was 10 years ago.

    What do I get with Windows 8.1?

    Windows 8.1 makes it easy to do all the things you're used to doing with Windows XP while opening up a whole new world of possibilities for you to explore and enjoy.

    Find out about all the exciting things you can do with the new Windows

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Power BI for Office 365 Education: Unlock the data within your institution

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    As both the possibilities around Big Data and the manipulation of this data within the education sector become realised, and the long discussed benefits such as personalised learning become a reality, recent innovations in business intelligence tools are making it easier for institutions to unlock their data to provide key and actionable insights for faculty and staff.

    Through the evaluation and systematic measurement of student performance, feedback and preferences etc., institutions are finding new and interesting ways to provide more relevant, engaging and unique learning experiences for their students.

    Unlock your data

    The key to achieving this, though, is offering a way to easily unlock the data that sits within your institution and being able to interpret this data in a user friendly way. Customers across the sector love Excel for analysing data, but power BI tools are needed to truly unlock the full potential of your institution’s data.

    With this in mind, we have now built Power BI for Office 365 Education directly into the core Excel experience and enabled more people to discover business intelligence through their data.

    Power BI for Office 365 Education

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    Within Power BI for Office 365 Education, users can take advantage of ‘Power Query’, which offers the ability to search and access key data sources, both on and off premise, all within Excel. Furthermore, with the addition of 3D data virtualisation tools for mapping and interacting with data, it is now possible for institutions to gain real insight and make faster and more informed decisions. 

    The video below offers a great demonstration of the power of the Power BI and Power Query tools as part of Office 365 Education. If you have any questions, or want to learn more, share your details in the comments below or reach out via Twitter.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Azure & StorSimple: Upcoming Free Events and Webinars

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    We’ve got some great Azure based webinars and events being held over the next few months. These include hands on technical events while others are introductions to Azure and StorSimple. If your keen to find out more information on what Azure can do for you, please join us at one of our free online or in person events.

    StorSimple Briefings and Webinars

    60TB of geo-replicated Cloud storage with a further 10TB onsite for c£33k per annum!! Better still, automatic data tiering and de-dupe are out of the box.

    Find out how you can capitalise on the benefits of Microsoft’s Azure cloud and specifically how cloud based storage can help reduce storage costs, improve data management and deliver business benefit. Join us for an overview of a new class of storage technology called Cloud-integrated Storage, or CiS

    Agenda:

    •        Intros & welcome

    •        Windows Azure Overview

    •        Cloud Storage & StorSimple

    •        Azure Demo and Customer Case Study

    •        Q&A

    2nd April, 10am - 12pm - Microsoft, Cardinal Place, Register by emailing: t-rospa@microsoft.com

    7th May, 10am - 11am, Online Webinar, Please Register Here

    4th June, 10am - 12pm, Microsoft, Cardinal Place, Register by emailing: t-rospa@microsoft.com

    Identity & Access on Azure

    Learn more about how Azure can help enhance your identity management and access control for on-premises, hosted and public cloud environments. Windows Azure Active Directory is a comprehensive identity and access management cloud solution enabling you to manage user accounts, get single sign on across Windows Azure, Microsoft online services like Microsoft Office 365 and a world of non-Microsoft SaaS applications

    Agenda:

    •        Azure overview and update

    •        Identity & Access and Windows Azure

    •        Hybrid scenarios / architecture guidance

    •        Windows Azure Active Directory

    •        Windows Azure Multi-Factor Authentication

    •        Examples & typical ROI and benefits


    26th March: 9:30 to 12:00, Microsoft, Edinburgh, Register by emailing: t-rospa@microsoft.com

    10th April: 9:30 to 12:00, Microsoft, Cardinal Place, London, Register by emailing: t-rospa@microsoft.com

    Big Data on Azure

    Learn how Azure can help unlock data in your organisation and reveal new insights to help drive better decision making using Windows Azure HDInsight, a Big Data solution powered by Apache Hadoop. This briefing will also explain how to surface those insights from all types of data to business users through Microsoft Business Intelligence toolsets and show you how to get BigData with no hassle.

    Agenda:

    •        Azure overview and update

    •        Introducing HDInsight - How to implement BigData on Windows Azure

    •        Architectural patterns and guidance

    •        Visualisation with PowerBI tools

    •        Examples & typical ROI and benefits

    10th April: 14:00 – 17:00, Microsoft, Cardinal Place, London, Please register by emailing: t-rospa@microsoft.com

    SharePoint on Azure

    Leverage the benefits of your existing SharePoint investments whilst at the same time begin to take advantage of the economic benefits and agility of public cloud. Whether is it reducing your SharePoint data storage costs using Azure or taking your test and development environments for SharePoint to the cloud this briefing will help you understand how these two platforms can be used to achieve cost savings of IT hardware and infrastructure.

    Agenda:

    • · Azure overview and update
    • · SharePoint & Azure
    • · Hybrid scenarios / architecture guidance
    • · Example - Building a SharePoint farm for DR
    • · Typical ROI and benefits
    • · SharePoint test and development on Azure scenarios

    17th April: 9:30 to 12:00 , Microsoft, Cardinal Place, London, Please register by emailing: t-rospa@microsoft.com

    Test and Dev on Azure

    Learn how Windows Azure can help create faster development and test cycles for your applications. Learn how to rapidly self-provision as many virtual machines as you need for your application development and testing in the cloud without waiting for hardware, procurement or internal processes. Learn how to connect globally to your on-premises network with Windows Azure Virtual Network and confidently scale up, scale out, and generate load to deliver applications faster.

    Agenda:

    •        Azure overview and update

    •        Test and development on Azure

    •        Architecture guidance

    •        Examples and typical ROI and benefits

    20th March: 13:30 to 16:00        Microsoft, Cardinal Place, London, Please register by emailing: t-rospa@microsoft.com

    26th March: 13:30 to 16:00        Microsoft, Edinburgh, Please register by emailing: t-rospa@microsoft.com

    20th April: 13:30 to 16:00        Microsoft, Cardinal Place, London, Please register by emailing: t-rospa@microsoft.com

    Big Data Hands On Experience Workshop

    With Windows Azure HDInsight, our Big Data solution powered by Apache Hadoop will allow you to surface and unlock new insights from all types of data through Microsoft Excel.

    Hadoop with No Hassle:

    - Quickly build a Hadoop cluster in minutes when you need it

    - Choose the right cluster size to optimize for time to insight or cost.

    - Seamlessly integrate HDInsight into your existing analysis workflows


    Agenda:

    · What is Windows Azure

    · Big Data - What do we mean by this?

    · Experimenting with big data

    · The art of data visualization

    · Introduction to HDInsight Service

    · Hands On Demo's

    · Build a HD Cluster

    · Run a script

    · Map your results onto EXCEL

    · Big Data in Mobile Gaming

    · Specific use cases and typical benefits - ASOS

    · Art of possible and future of Big Data 

    27th March: 10:00 – 14:00, Microsoft, Cardinal Place, London, Please register by emailing: t-rospa@microsoft.com

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Why you should go green with the end of Windows XP

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    With the end of support for Windows XP, many organisations and individuals, including schools, are looking at replacing their computers. Aside from features like battery life, touch enabled screens etc, one aspect of selecting the right device for your school is the environmental profile of the device. This is not just about the planet but also has financial benefits.

    • Just by changing the operating system from Windows XP to Windows 7 or Windows 8, you can save up to 30% of the electrical running costs,
    • If you move to a more modern portable device with new hardware chipsets designed to work with a modern operating system like Windows 8, you can expect up to 60% power savings.

    When spread across all the PCs in your school, this can be a great saving, both financially and for the planet. Students at West Wycombe Combined School, which undertook such an upgrade, produced a great in-school project where the children measured the changes in power use, and what impact that would have on the planet. See our blog story on this.

    The device decision you make has knock on impacts on the planet, so it is worth it to consider:

    • Does it use lamps contain mercury for the display which can cause problems when the device is disposed of at the end of its life?
    • How much of the case is made from recycled metals or plastics, rather than requiring more ore or oil to be extracted and processed?
    • Does the manufacture offer programs to recycle the device at the end of its useful life?

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    Some large organisations ask questions like this when they go out to tender for new devices, but clearly no school has the time or resources to take an approach like that. The easy solution is to look at some of the environmental certification and registration programs that have been developed, and just specify them when you select new devices.

    The largest of these is EPEAT which:

    • Operates in 42 countries around the world.
    • Is used by governments, universities, and multinationals, including Microsoft as part of the criteria for devices they buy.
    • In 2011, 32% of the world laptops sold were registered with this program.
    • Has 23 mandatory criteria which get a Bronze rating, and 28 optional criteria; achieving 50% of these merits a Silver rating, and 75% gets the Gold EPEAT badge. The criteria cover not only the device, but also the organisation that makes it.
    • All the big PC manufactures produce PCs that qualify for the program e.g. HP, Dell, and Apple.

    As a school, specifying you only want to be offered EPEAT registered devices will still ensure you are provided with great choice. However, you are also ensured that they have gone through some checks around environmental sustainability that should give you financial saving through efficient power consumption, and improved product quality from the greater scrutiny around the manufacturing of the PC.

    While EPEAT is the most widely used worldwide standard to help recognise greener PCs, there are some drawbacks. Currently it does not cover tablets, mobile phones and servers. They have stakeholder groups working on this which should enable them to expand to this in the next year or two. In the meantime, there are some less widely used standards you can consider. For tablets you could use the Swedish TCO Tablet standard.

    If you want to learn more about this subject area there is a Microsoft sponsored site that provides more information – see www.greeneritchallenge.org

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Farewell Windows XP – 8th April 2014

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    If you're still an XP user or were an advocate of this version of Windows you may have already heard that support for the product is soon to be finishing up. Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 will go out of support on April 8, 2014.

    Why is Microsoft ending support for Windows XP and Office 2003?

    In 2002 Microsoft introduced its Support Lifecycle policy based on customer feedback to have more transparency and predictability of support for Microsoft products. As per this policy, Microsoft Business and Developer products, including Windows and Office products, receive a minimum of 10 years of support (5 years Mainstream Support and 5 years Extended Support), at the supported service pack level.

    If your institution has not started the migration to a modern desktop, you are running behind. Based on historical customer deployment data, the average enterprise deployment can take 18 to 32 months from business case through full deployment. To ensure you remain on supported versions of Windows and Office, you should begin your planning and application testing immediately to ensure you deploy before end of support.

    If you are still on XP - what this means for you

    "It means you should take action. After April 8, 2014, there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates"

    Running Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 in your environment after their end of support date may expose your institution to potential risks, such as:

    Security & Compliance Risks: Unsupported and unpatched environments are vulnerable to security risks. This may result in an officially recognized control failure by an internal or external audit body, leading to suspension of certifications, and/or public notification of the organization’s inability to maintain its systems and customer information.

    Lack of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) & Hardware Manufacturers support: A recent industry report from Gartner Research suggests "many independent software vendors (ISVs) are unlikely to support new versions of applications on Windows XP in 2011; in 2012, it will become common." And it may stifle access to hardware innovation: Gartner Research further notes that in 2012, most PC hardware manufacturers will stop supporting Windows XP on the majority of their new PC models.
    .

    How to begin your migration

    Enterprise Customers: Microsoft offers large organizations in-depth technical resources, tools, and expert guidance to ease the deployment and management of Windows, Office and Internet Explorer products and technologies. To learn more about migration and deployment programs, please contact your Microsoft sales representative or Certified Microsoft Partner. Learn how to pilot and deploy a modern desktop yourself, download the free Microsoft Deployment Toolkit and begin your deployment today.

    Small to Medium Business: There are many options for small and medium businesses considering moving to a modern PC with the latest productivity and collaboration tools. Small to mid-size organizations should locate a Microsoft Certified Partner to understand the best options to meet their business needs. If your current PC meets the system requirements for Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you can buy Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8.1 Pro from a local retailer or Microsoft Certified Partner. If your PC does not meet system requirements, consider purchasing a new business PC with Windows 8.1 Pro.

    Over the next few weeks we'll be publishing useful information and resources to help with the migration and help you to understand your options.

    Getting up to date with Windows and Office means more than simply being supported. It offers more flexibility to empower employees and students to be more productive, while increasing operational efficiency through improved PC security and management. It also enables your organization to take advantage of latest technology trends such as virtualisation and the cloud.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Microsoft Global Education Forum - Changed Forever by Saltash.net Student Leaders

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    Article originally posted on the Teachers Blog, by Stuart Ball.

    Last week were at the Microsoft in Education Global Forum in Barcelona. Before I write about what went on during the week, I wanted to share with you the experiences of those who turned out to be the most influential people there. The students form Saltash,net community school.

    For the last nine years Microsoft has provided a Global Forum for Education in which Teachers, School Leaders and Ministers of Education share the very best practice from around the world and award the best of the best internationally.

    This year’s Global Forum in Barcelona was different. For the first time in the history of the Forum, students took part as educational experts in their own right. Four students from saltash.net Community School presented their ideas to ministers of education, school leaders and teachers from over 100 countries. They judged awards, provided a help desk and guidance for teachers, were interviewed by Anthony Salcito; worldwide head of education at Microsoft, interviewed Steve Beswick; the head of Microsoft Education in the UK and launched a worldwide student leadership project for schools all over the world. Together with their teacher Mr Scott Wieprecht they were presented with an award at the final Gala dinner by the Catalonian Secretary of State for Education.

    The students; George, Amy, Jack and Rowenna from years 8 and 9 were photographed, videoed and interviewed all week like the Global superstars they are. James Bernard, Head of Global Partnerships at Microsoft was one of many to make a special point of thanking each of the students for the transformational role they played at the event.

    Day by day at the event

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    Four teachers and four students flew from Bristol to Barcelona on the day before the conference.

    On day one the students presented the now award winning project devised by Scott Wieprecht called the ‘OffPerts’: a student-led expert group that investigates features of Office 365 and produces guides for students and teachers. The students devised, shot and edited videos and these soon gained the attention of Stuart Ball: Education Programme Manager for Microsoft in the UK who has supported the group ever since, inviting them to be the first students to present at a product launch in the UK and then the Global Forum in Barcelona.

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    On day two the students presented their personal experiences of being involved in projects at saltash.net in which they provided assistance to teachers when each student in the class had access to a laptop / tablet for all their lessons. The audience was made up of over 150 global leaders in education who had come to the conference to plan similar projects on a larger scale. The advice of the students was used to inspire them as they started their two day workshop.

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    Later the students demonstrated new software to teachers and school leaders from over 100 countries and listened to internationally renowned keynote speakers, some of whom they were able to ask questions. There was growing realization by the on looking media that the students opinions were based on their firsthand knowledge of leading innovative projects and so the queue for interviews and photos began getting longer and longer.

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    On day three the students split into two pairs; Rowenna and George worked together with Spanish students to develop the essential features of future schools. They then presented this back on stage to the audience of global education leaders. This was highlighted as one of the best sessions in the conference by delegates. Jack and Amy each joined judging panels for teacher projects. They each listened to a range of projects and then debated their views with judges from Microsoft, School leaders and Educational leaders. The judges tweeted later how enormously impressed they were by the students and asked can they really be only 12 years old?

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    On the final day of the conference, the student’s launched a project open to all of the mentor and showcase schools in the conference in which they offered to assist in helping student leadership projects develop all over the world by running monthly virtual student-led sessions.

    On the final day of the conference, the students pre-launched a global project, with the working title “Project Aspire”, to delegates on the schools track. The project, available to any forward thinking school in the World, would see schools regularly link up and exchange ideas about student leadership projects, and give suggestions of ways students could progress with there over a variety of levels.

    They attended a keynote speech by non other than the Prince of Spain and European representatives together with a panel of teachers and school leaders from around the world who agreed that the role of students was changing in education. Julio Fontan from the world famous Fontan school in Colombia stated that he had seen a shift in the role of students at this conference compared to the others he had attended which made him more hopeful for the future of education globally.

    After the keynote the students fitted in interviews including one with the Head of Microsoft in the UK; Steve Beswick. The students shared their ambition for a national student led conference to be held in Cornwall in 2015. Mr Beswick was extremely impressed and requested for them to send him a costed business plan.

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    After the interview with Steve there was time to visit the world famous Sagrada Famila which the students averaged as 7.5/10 compared to 8/10 for the cable car.

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    On returning to the hotel the students discovered that their interview with Anthony Salcito for his Daily Edventures blog earlier in the week had impressed the boss so much that it had earned the honour of seating at the top table for themselves, the four teachers from saltash.net and Stuart Ball at the Gala Dinner.

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    And finally, the suspense of the awards ceremony where, in front of over a thousand delegates from the world of education, Mr Scott Wieprecht from saltash.net had his student-led OffPerts project honoured with an award presented by the secretary of state for education to loud applause from the audience.

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    Later we returned to the stage for more photographs with some of the people who made the whole event possible. Thank you to all of the students for an amazing week after which the Microsoft Global Forum will never be the same and thank you to all of those who worked so hard to make this happen including staff from saltash.net; Scott Wieprecht, Grant Taylor, Sam Owen, Ben Rowe, Isobel Bryce, David Jones, Kellie Alders, Katie Boothman and Dan Buckley; and staff from Microsoft; Stuart Ball, Steve Beswick, Anya Ruvinskaya, Maria Langworthy, Razan Roberts, James Bernard and Nasha Fitter.

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    Day five should have seen an exhausted group of students and teachers but no; fired up by their success, the students were planning how to take the OffPerts project to the next level and introduce a UK wide and global project later this year.

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  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    CreateBook: Free until the 21st March

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    Great news to kick start your Monday! The Tablet Academy's amazing new eBook creation app for Windows 8, CreateBook, is going to continue to be free until the 21st March.

    Since its recent launch, educators and students have been busy creating media rich eBooks that include video, text and audio.

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    With an intuitive interface, CreateBook is great for creating everything from narrated story books to multimedia revision guides. Furthermore, with the ability to easily preview and share your books, export password protected content and instantly export screenshots of your books, CreateBook offers a comprehensive eBook creation experience that is proving to be one of the most popular education apps within the 'New and Rising' category in the store.

    We love this app and highly recommend grabbing this while its free. Let us know what you create using CreateBook by sharing an update in the comments below. Even better - share your actual books via Twitter @microsofteduk.

    Look forward to seeing what you and your students come up with!

    CreateBook: Download from the Windows Store today

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    A presenter’s dream: using your Nokia Lumia to connect to the interactive whiteboard

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    It doesn't get easier than this… I have found myself with an overwhelming need to share this cool video which beautifully demonstrates how easy presenting can be for teachers, lecturers and students thanks to the power of technology and Windows devices in education.

    Challenges of presenting

    So I'm sure most of us would agree that one of the last situations we want to find ourselves in is the flustered, sweaty hiccough of our technology failing us during a presentation. In my opinion, the only dignified space for heart rates to be racing that high is in the gym. If you're in the situation of single-handedly presenting and managing your device and slides (most likely), it can be limiting in terms of freedom to 'walk and talk'. I also believe it cuts into your ability to concentrate 100% on what you are saying, as you may be worrying about the potential occurrence of a technical fault, particularly if AV is involved with embedded videos!

    Truly 'Mobile'

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    Phill Ruffell, a lecturer at North Hertfordshire College is challenging presentation limitations with his Nokia Lumia Window's Phone which he uses to be fully mobile while presenting - that's right, no HDMI cables needed!

    You'll see from the video that he can simply connect his Windows phone to the interactive board by downloading the 'Nokia Beamer' app on his phone and then flashing up a QR code via www.beam.nokia.com on the interactive board with his pc. All he then has to do is scan the QR code on his phone and his Windows Phone is synched!

    He can then effortlessly propel his PowerPoint presentation via the Office 365 app on his phone, which will automatically be synced up to his docs on his PC through his Office 365 account and Microsoft account.

    I'll stop there and let you learn from the pro himself..

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Student Advantage: Office for all

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    Any institution worldwide that licenses Office for staff and faculty can now provide access to Office 365 ProPlus for students at now additional cost. At BETT 2014 we literally spelled out our latest offer, Student Advantage, in chalk!

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    Watch the video below as the artist showed visitors to our stand how schools, colleges and universities can now get Office, on up to 5 devices (PC or Mac) for all their students.

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