Guest post by Education writer Gerald Haigh.
We’ve all learned that when it comes to choosing the right device or software for the job in hand, the correct option might be not to use technology at all. When I talk about this, I often refer to one of the most toe-curlingly embarrassing memories I’ve ever inflicted upon myself. It concerns the time when I used a Yamaha CX5M Music Computer to accompany a large choir. The year was 1985, and I had to conduct the final item in a big choral concert. The composer had provided a fine organ accompaniment, but at the time I was deluding myself that I was some sort of technology guru, and I decided that we should ignore the intentions of an authentic musical genius and let the Yamaha, my toy of choice at the time, play the score instead. A local IT enthusiast helped me to program the notes into the machine, painstakingly over many hours. The result, inevitably and entirely foreseeably, was disastrous. The accompaniment was inflexible and mechanical, and the sounds in the Yamaha were not, at that time, up to the job.
Choir members were furious, and the audience was just bewildered. It was an object lesson in how to take good technology – fine in its place, and ahead of its time in many ways – and use it inappropriately to solve a non-existent problem. Along the way I made unnecessary work for several people, annoyed lots more who deserved better, and ended up with inferior results.
The piece, incidentally, was Balfour Gardiner’s beautiful ‘Evening Hymn’ and to underline just how absurd was my whole concept, here’s how it should be done:
I don’t think many readers will have done anything quite as crass as that. I’m sure, though, that some will have let their enthusiasm run ahead of common sense in less obvious ways. We’ve all seen those ‘over-engineered’ smartboard lessons that could have been done just as well – perhaps even better -- with a stick of chalk and a blackboard. And now, of course, we have, in some schools, despairing and ill-prepared teachers trying to find ways of squeezing value from a windfall of tablets bought without too much thought.
The problems come, I’d say, when teachers, or leaders, or both, become enamored with just one kind of IT, pushing ahead too quickly and too far with it, without regard to the appropriateness of the technology or to the context within which they’re working. Which, of course, is exactly the mistake I made with that Yamaha computer all those years ago.
Then, it seemed easier to make that kind of mistake, because in those early days we tended to see each product as a one-off solution to a particular problem. So, for example, a word processor was a standalone machine, presumably the result of someone trying to build a better typewriter. Then in the early Nineties, many schools spent big sums of money on single-purpose electronic registration systems, introducing them ‘big bang’ style without first reviewing the their whole-school attendance policy. I saw the resulting tears and grief for myself.
The computer-aware school then was often little more than a school with some gadgets stuck on in fairly random fashion. Some of these gadgets were helpful. Others made no difference. A few just messed things up.
Now, hopefully, we’ve all moved on. Microsoft in particular, offers a rich environment covering productivity in the classroom, storage and sharing of work, project management, administration, communication at every level, and ‘anytime anywhere’ working. But it still has to be used appropriately and with regard to the core business of learning, and so, to round of the complete offering, there’s an extensive hinterland of professional development and activity best exemplified by the ‘Partners in Learning’ network. The whole really is greater than the sum of its parts.
Note. The Yamaha Music Computer was essentially an MSX-DOS based home computer with a built-in synthesiser. MSX originated with Microsoft in Japan and became the system of choice across the Far East, the Soviet Union and parts of Europe into the Nineties, but it never really took off in UK and USA.
Guest post By Alan Richards, Senior Consultant at Foundation SP and SharePoint MVP.
This time last year the computing worlds view of Microsoft Windows changed forever, Windows 8 changed the way we interact with not only our PC’s but also our laptops, phones and tablet devices. Windows 8 was not only a new operating system for your PC but it was also a new way of working, a single consistent interface across all your Windows based devices with the ability to have all your settings, document, images & videos accessible from any Windows device you logged onto.
Now that was the really cool bit, suddenly all my Windows devices were personal to me, I took a photo on my Windows phone and it was immediately available on all my other devices, no more emailing it to myself. This was just cool, no other description for it.
So a year on, everything has settled down and the release of Windows 8.1 has been and gone, have you made the move yet? Perhaps, it’s now time you took that step and upgrade all your devices to Windows 8. Let’s look at your options in three distinct areas; hardware requirements, ways to upgrade & licensing
The hardware requirements for Windows 8 varies depending on what device you want to run it on; do you want touch, do you want game level graphics or do you simply want a device to get some work done.
The basic hardware requirements are very reasonable, in fact if you have a device that runs Windows 7 it will quite easily run Windows 8.
The table below shows the system requirements for Windows 7 & 8
If you still have Windows XP and are looking to upgrade you may very well need to buy a new Windows 8 device, of which there are numerous choices as you can see from the images scattered around this article. From normal PC’s & laptops to convertible devices, from tablet devices to all in one computers.
So you are going to take the plunge and get your new view on the world, personalise your device experience and why not, upgrading is easy. Let’s look at the options; if you are simply upgrading your personal device then you can simply get an anytime upgrade if you have a compatible current Windows OS, or you could go out and buy the DVD and install it on to your device. If you want to check in advance then why not use the Windows 8 upgrade advisor, a nifty little tool supplied by Microsoft, check out the page here
If you are a large organisation then you have a few more choices because, let’s face it, running around 100’s of devices with a DVD is not really an option.
This one is a bit like a DVD install but you upload the contents of your volume licensed Windows 8 media and do an in place upgrade of your current version of Windows, assuming of course that your current version has a direct upgrade path (use the upgrade advisor to find out) Only really any good for a small number of devices, I really wouldn’t recommend this for 100’s of devices.
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit
This toolkit brings together various pieces of software such as the Windows Automated Installation to provide a system which can capture and deploy images of Windows to both bare bones devices & devices that already have a Windows installation. The toolkit is downloadable from Microsoft for free using this link.
Install it onto a server with Windows Deployment Services and you have a system from which you can create base devices, sysprep them, capture the image over the network and then deploy the image to multiples of devices.
The toolkit also has the ability to preload drivers to ensure the Windows installation goes without a hitch, all you need is the driver software to load up to the management interface of the toolkit.
All of the deployment options are configured using scripts which you can adjust to meet your needs. You can have a deployment that asks the end user all the usual installation questions right the way up to a completely zero touch installation.
This beast of a piece of software is the installation gold standard. In essence it gives you the same functionality as the Deployment Toolkit in that you can capture & deploy images and do it all using scripts. However the big difference is the functionality and control you have over the installation. System Center gives you so much more, allowing you to send packages to the machines once they are installed. Automating the installation of applications & service packs, allowing you to view the hardware of devices, check upgrade statuses.
If you are licensed for its use then System Center should be your choice for full control over your devices.
Unfortunately something this good doesn’t come free but Microsoft licensing makes it fairly simple to get your hands on Windows 8. How you license your copy of Windows will depend on your personal circumstances; individual, business or education.
For individuals you can purchase an upgrade version of Windows 8 as long as you are currently using a licensed version of a previous version of Windows. If you currently don’t use Windows or are using a version that doesn’t fulfil the upgrade requirements you will need to purchase the full versions from an IT store.
Businesses & education have a multitude of ways to purchase Windows 8, you can purchase the full version or upgrade in the same way that individuals can, however, they can also use their current licensing arrangements to purchase their upgrade to Windows 8. Volume licensing with software assurance allows you access to the latest software for your organisation and so upgrading to Windows 8 is as simple as checking your hardware meets the requirements and then downloading the install package. Do remember though that software assurance only allows you to install an upgrade version of Windows and so the device you are installing it to must already have a fully licensed previous version of Windows.
Windows 8.1 has now been released, so we should look at the licensing arrangements around the latest upgrade. Well the simple answer is - its free!!
If you are a personal user already running Windows 8, then simply update your device to the latest Windows 8.1 version.
If you are a business or education customer who buys copies of windows outright then the same process applies as per an individual user however if you have a volume licensing agreement with software assurance you can download the Windows 8.1 upgrade to install as an ISO onto your devices, remembering of course that they must have a fully licensed copy of a previous version of windows.
Windows 8 is new, it’s different, and it’s personal. Now all your files and settings follow you from device to device. There are also plenty of new devices ready to take advantage of the greatest features of Windows 8. However with the reasonable hardware specifications it’s easy for you to use your current device and upgrade to Windows 8 using any of the easy to access licensing methods, whether that’s as an individual, business or education.
So in summary, go out and get rid of that old version of Windows and upgrade to Windows 8 and open up a new view in your world.
Over the next 12 months the Tablet Academy will be supporting Microsoft and a number of Windows 8 resellers to identify the needs of teachers in the classrooms in order to supply training and support, specific to Windows 8 tablets. With 40,000 surface tablets being deployed in schools across the UK over the next few months, the Tablet Academy will be there to support both the teachers and pupils of the schools.
We are really excited about the opportunities of shared knowledge and experience that this relationship will bring across our network of schools/colleges and universities. We’ll be sharing our technology integration stories with you over the next few months, so please do look out for these here as well as on our Facebook and Twitter channels.
In an interview when explaining why the Tablet Academy was formed Professor Molyneux said:
"One of the issues with technology particularly by teachers in the classroom is fear. Fear that the technology will let them down and fear that their skills are no match for those of their pupils. Teachers have to feel comfortable, confident and competent in using technology in a teaching role before any true transformation can take place. We have never given these skills and confidence to teachers in the past. We put PC's in the classroom or laptops in their hands and tried to teach them the technology. In essence, we tried to turn Science teachers, History teachers and English teachers into IT experts. We never trained them in how to mould the technology to meet their needs in the classroom and potentially look at now pedagogic models. The aim of the Tablet Academy is to rectify this situation by not only providing teachers with the necessary competencies but also exploring with them new pedagogic and didactic models that can by achieved using technology in and out of the classroom."
"One of the issues with technology particularly by teachers in the classroom is fear. Fear that the technology will let them down and fear that their skills are no match for those of their pupils. Teachers have to feel comfortable, confident and competent in using technology in a teaching role before any true transformation can take place.
We have never given these skills and confidence to teachers in the past. We put PC's in the classroom or laptops in their hands and tried to teach them the technology. In essence, we tried to turn Science teachers, History teachers and English teachers into IT experts. We never trained them in how to mould the technology to meet their needs in the classroom and potentially look at now pedagogic models. The aim of the Tablet Academy is to rectify this situation by not only providing teachers with the necessary competencies but also exploring with them new pedagogic and didactic models that can by achieved using technology in and out of the classroom."
The Tablet Academy was formerly recognised as the iPad Academy until August 2013 when it officially became the Tablet Academy. When asked why they chose to support other tablets and mobile devices Mark Yorke the Managing Director replied:
"Teaching and learning with tablets or any mobile devices is about enhancing current teaching practice by introducing technology when needed to help increase engagement or attainment. It's not about the technology becoming the focus of the lesson; it's about the pedagogy. We recognise that iPads have a market lead, but as good as they are in the hands of an individual child, we have found that the IOS Ecosystem does create a number challenges for schools in terms of data management, compatibility, workflow and integration. In short the iPad is not the right solution for everyone in the same way that some people prefer Biros to write with whilst other prefer fountain pens. This is why as an organisation who focus their training on teaching we will remain device agnostic so we can support schools regardless of the tablets they choose." "There's a feeling in schools that Apple's dominance regarding tablets in schools is coming to an end as many schools are waiting to get their hands on the range of Windows 8 tablets emerging this Autumn. We have found that each school is different with different needs and challenges - there is no 'one solution fits all' solution and we want to be there to independently support schools through the decision making and implementation process."
"Teaching and learning with tablets or any mobile devices is about enhancing current teaching practice by introducing technology when needed to help increase engagement or attainment. It's not about the technology becoming the focus of the lesson; it's about the pedagogy. We recognise that iPads have a market lead, but as good as they are in the hands of an individual child, we have found that the IOS Ecosystem does create a number challenges for schools in terms of data management, compatibility, workflow and integration. In short the iPad is not the right solution for everyone in the same way that some people prefer Biros to write with whilst other prefer fountain pens. This is why as an organisation who focus their training on teaching we will remain device agnostic so we can support schools regardless of the tablets they choose."
"There's a feeling in schools that Apple's dominance regarding tablets in schools is coming to an end as many schools are waiting to get their hands on the range of Windows 8 tablets emerging this Autumn. We have found that each school is different with different needs and challenges - there is no 'one solution fits all' solution and we want to be there to independently support schools through the decision making and implementation process."
14 November 2013 – Microsoft, Cardinal Place, London
ASCL and Microsoft are delighted to announce Elizabeth Truss MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare, DfE, as one of our keynote speakers at our conference taking place 14 November in London
This new jointly run conference between Microsoft and ASCL seeks to explore the challenges facing school leaders as they respond to the introduction of computing in to the school curriculum.
Spaces are offered on a first come first served basis, so we do encourage you to sign up quickly if you would like to attend.
Follow this link to reserve your place.
Delegates will have the opportunity to participate in workshops featuring presentations from GCSE pilot schools, the examination boards, training providers and specialists in the field of computing including:
Clare Riley, Group Manager, Education Relations, Microsoft
Simon Peyton-Jones, Chair of the Computing at School Working Group and Principal Researcher at the Microsoft Labs in Cambridge
Peter Kent, ASCL Vice President 2013-14 and Head, Lawrence Sheriff School
Duncan Baldwin, ASCL Deputy Policy Director
Sue Sentance, Senior Lecturer in ICT and Computer Science Education, Anglia Ruskin University
Mark Dorling, Specialist School Link teacher, Langley Grammar School
Derrick McCourt, Director of Government, Public Sector, Microsoft
Should you have any questions about this event, please do give us a call on 0116 2991122.
During the event you can also connect with us via @microsofteduk and during the day you can be part of the conversations using #microsofteduk
If you are interested in becoming a showcase school, please read below for some further details on how you can get involved…
I wanted to advise you of our recent schools program aimed at raising awareness of our services and technologies within education geared towards supporting productivity within the school, classroom and raising attainment with professional development.
Please see link to our UK Microsoft Showcase School Webinar on Thursday November 14th, 4-5 pm discussing how we recognise and help your school convey its great teaching with technology learning story. The webinar will cover a range of our offerings and outline key requirements needed to become a Microsoft Showcase School.
If you are a School Leader, ICT Champion, Head of ICT Curriculum, and are keen to learn what Microsoft Education can offer your school then why not join our free webinar ? We have a range of free services and professional development for classroom teachers and school leaders that will help encourage 21st century design.
To register for the free webinar you simply need to email Anthony Nneke at : firstname.lastname@example.org
With Steve Ballmer, an XBOX1 giveaway and much more…
We’d like to invite you to join us from Wednesday 6th – Friday 8th November for our virtual event. As mentioned above we are delighted to confirm that Steve Ballmer will be be joining us on the first day at 12:00 to answer questions from IT Pros and share his views on the exciting developments in the Windows platform and the rapidly growing family of devices.
All sessions are 30-minutes and the experts will be available post-session for further online chat and follow-up to any questions you have.
Registration is now open. Once you’ve registered you will automatically be entered into a competition to win an Xbox One package which includes an Xbox One, two games and a control pad. If you wish to opt-out of the competition please email us at email@example.com.
We’ll also ensure you are the first to know when we have the full programme available so you can schedule your time around the sessions that are of most interest to you.
Follow this link to register your place. You’ll be joining 3,500 technical professionals and developers in what’s set to be Microsoft’s biggest virtual event to date!
Terms and conditions for the prize draw
Wednesday November 6 – Windows Client for IT Pros and Developers
Overview of Day 1
Windows 8.1 - Devices Galore
Windows 8.1 - MDOP (App-V, UEV)
Device Mgmt - InTune Configuration Manager
Interview with Steve Ballmer
Device Mgmt - Heteregeneous Device Management
Cloud Productivity - Managing Office 365
Building Business Applications with Visual Studio DevOps
Windows 8.1 - Workplace Join
Windows 8.1 - VDI
Things you need to know about Intel vPro
Interview with Craig Ashley - Windows Product Management
Wrap-up of Day 1 + Preview of Next Two Days
END OF DAY 1
Thursday November 7 – Server and Cloud for IT Pros
Overview of Day 2
2012 R2 - Virtualisation
Building Windows Server 2012 R2 Networking with System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager
2012 R2 - Storage
Extreme Automation (Learn automation or get better at golf!)
What's new in Ops Manager
Cluster in a box
Moving VMs from on-premise to Azure
Automating the Azure Datacentre with PowerShell
Windows Azure Platform
Wrap-up of Day 2 and Preview of Day 3
END OF DAY 2
Friday November 8 – Visual Studio, Azure, Dev tools for Developers
Overview of Day 3
What's new in Visual Studio 2013 for App Developers
Agile development with Team Foundation Server
Building a Cloud Back-End to connect your Windows Phone and Windows Apps
Using the Nokia Music C# API on Windows Phone 8 / Windows 8
Azure Cloud Services Architecture
From Whiteboard to deployed in 15 minutes
What's new in Visual Studio 2013 for web developers
What's new in Windows 8.1 for App Development
Asynchronous C# development in Visual Studio 2013
Wrap-up of Day 3
END OF DAY 3
The Aspire S7 is an ultra-thin, ultra-light premium ultrabook from the folks at Acer. This touch based device comes in white, with a super durable gorilla glass lid, and offers an amazing Windows 8.1 experience for those students, IT pro's and school/college/university leaders looking for a premium device that ticks both the style and performance boxes. This device is definitely not style over substance!
With an i7 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD, this device literally flies through tasks such as researching on the web, video editing, word processing and is well suited for even the most power hungry users.
The touch screen is responsive and is great for taking full advantage of Windows 8.1. Additionally, the high resolution 1080p screen really makes content shine, whether it's a PowerPoint presentation, lines of code within Visual Studio 2013 or movies.
The S7 packs a responsive gesture based track pad that makes swiping across different apps or scrolling through web pages a breeze. The overall responsiveness of the device also translates over to the keyboard and offers a comfortable and accurate typing experience, whether it’s for a 10,000 word dissertation or an SMT report. It may be a little shallow for some people, though.
The battery life on this device is good, but will not get you through an entire day without needing to reach for the charger. I should say, however, that the version of the device that I was testing was not using the new 4th generation i-core Haswell chip from Intel, so you can expect a nice battery boost with the more current version of this device.
From a connectivity perspective, due to the slim line nature of this ultrabook, a range of dongles are required for connecting Ethernet etc, but this is an easy sacrifice for the overall portability of this device and will definitely be keeping users away from the chiropractor for some time.
All in all this is a beautiful and elegant Windows 8 devices that is aimed very much as the premium end of the market. It's clearly not necessarily for primary of secondary age students, but is a highly attractive option for HE students, IT professionals and senior leaders within schools etc who are looking for a device that both performs and really stands out. It is definitely an early entry onto my Christmas list!
Great new video showcasing some of the awesome new features within Windows 8.1 and the wide range of PC’s that they run on.
This video is a great complement to the Windows 8.1 in Education Infographic we shared recently. In case you missed it, the full infographic can be viewed/downloaded below.
Since the recent announcement introducing Student Advantage almost a fortnight ago we’ve been inundated with questions. I’m super excited at the response to the news. As a result, we’d like you to join us for a live Q&A on Student Advantage at midday (GMT) on 31/10 on Twitter.
We’ll be tracking your questions and conversation on all things Student Advantage on the #SAFAQ hashtag. The two accounts to follow are @ukeducloud and @microsofteduk.
We’ll kick off at 12pm, midday, GMT and we’ll be around “live” for an hour. Of course, we’ll answer any questions that come in at any point afterwards as well, just not so quickly!
To make things a bit easier we’ve already published an FAQ that might answer some of your questions, so please check it out!
The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S is a unique hybrid device that can be used as both a tablet and traditional laptop.
With a vibrant orange colour scheme that really helps make the device stand out, the Yoga 11S offers 4 orientations that provides an ultraportable full Windows 8 experience. With the ability to easily go from a traditional laptop to tent, kiosk and tablet mode, the Yoga 11S is great for group work, writing dissertations or sitting back and watching movies. This device is, in my opinion, a perfect single device for students and educators alike.
More specifically, the high resolution screen is ideally suited for reading eBooks and viewing online lectures, and with 4GB RAM under the hood, the Yoga 11S doesn't lose a step when running multiple applications at once or performing resource intensive tasks such as video editing. That being said, a 1080p screen would be an exciting addition to the next iteration of the device.
The keyboard is both well laid out and responsive and rather cleverly disables itself when the screen is flipped over into tablet mode. It is a little strange at first, though, when you can feel the keys while holding the device in this mode.
The overall finish of the device is very high quality and Lenovo have really focused on the detail. The feel of the device in the hand is solid and well-built and is definitely durable enough for the demands of student life or for educators travelling from class to class or different locations across campus.
Furthermore, as a full Windows 8 machine, the 11S runs both Windows Store and X86 applications, such as Photoshop and Visual Studio 2013, which helps provide a no compromise experience that makes the most of both touch and keyboard and mouse.
This is an elegant device and definitely caught the eye of the marketing intern within our team who said that this would be her ideal device for when she goes back to university for her final year. I had better keep an eye on it ;)