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May, 2007 - Microsoft UK Schools blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The UK Schools Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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May, 2007

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    SharePoint 2007 - want to really know what it can do for you?

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    My colleague, Phil Allen, who's our resident educational-techie, has provided me with a document of links to really good SharePoint resources. Bless him, he wants to help you all find good stuff, but 7 pages of document, with each page containing long link lists! Phew, I think it might take a while working through that.

    So I've done some of the hard work, and looked for the stuff that I think you might like. If you want the full list, then feel free to take a look

    Ray's edited SharePoint link list

    A nice easy start, with an introductory SharePoint Flash Demo

    Warmed up? How about installing a trial version of SharePoint 2007

    Specific resources for education include the SharePoint Learning Kit (a free, community source toolset we've developed which helps you construct course structures for content delivery, and automate some of the teaching management process)

    We've developed SharePoint to be a vital component within the Microsoft Learning Gateway, and if you want to build one yourself, then you can find get the technical resources for Learning Gateway 2007, and join up with the Learning Gateway Community. And the final education piece are the Moodle web parts to help you integrate their virtual learning environment into your SharePoint 2007.

    And some final technical stuff - a technical 'deep dive' on SharePoint search and the TechNet Centre for SharePoint - a good point to start looking for all the other stuff!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Windows Vista this summer?

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    A number of schools have started deploying Windows Vista, some for pilots or evaluation, and some right across the school (eg Long Eaton). And so, I wondered whether you would need any additional information or help..and at the same time my colleague Phil Allen was writing the first part of a series (so he tells me!) of articles for schools on whether and how to deploy Windows Vista in a school context.

    I've placed Phil's article onto a separate page, as it goes into some depth on your considerations and options. If you'd like Phil to write more, then please just add a comment to this post, or to the page itself, and I'll feed it on to him.

    ps Phil's also working on a more detailed deployment guide for schools - if you'd like an early copy of that, add a comment too

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    No more school

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    Projects are like this all the time - you set out to create one thing, and end up creating something completely different. But in the case of the Government's "Building Schools for the Future" programme, you would think that the name of the programme says it all...that it's all about "Building Schools". But of course it isn't - it is actually about creating a model of transformed learning for the future. Addressing fundamental questions about how we move from an "industrial" age of learning to an "individual" age.

    So the article No more school as council opens 'learning centres' in The Independent makes interesting reading. To quote a couple of parts:

    "Knowsley Council in Merseyside, which - for years - has languished near or at the bottom of exam league tables, has abolished the use of the word to describe secondary education in the borough. It is taking the dramatic step of closing all of its eleven existing secondary schools by 2009. As part of a £150m government-backed rebuilding programme, they will reopen as seven state-of-the-art, round-the-clock, learning centres..."

    "Youngsters will not be taught in formal classes, nor will they stick to a rigid timetable; instead they will work online at their own speeds on programmes that are tailor-made to match their interests. They will be given their day's assignments in groups of 120 in the morning before dispersing to internet cafe-style zones in the learning centres to carry them out.

    "Madeleine Cotson, the headteacher of Bowring, said: "Provided they can show they have developed their learning, there is no reason why they couldn't do some of their learning from home."

    "Let's stop right now building new old schools," said Nick Page, who is in charge of transforming children's services in Knowsley. "We're building for the next 25 to 50 years and 25 years is a hell of a long period if we get it wrong."

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Moodle Web Parts for SharePoint 2007 released

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    When I last wrote about the Moodle integration with SharePoint, it was only with SharePoint 2003.

    The new web parts developed to help you to integrate Moodle into a Learning Gateway based on SharePoint 2007 have been released, and are now fully available on the CodePlex Moodle page, our "open source project hosting website". CodePlex is an initiative for 'communities'n building solutions using our technologies. You can download work from current projects, join existing project teams, or start your own new project. Although it is Microsoft that has kick started CodePlex, there are an increasing number of non-MS projects starting up.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Long Eaton School - the first school to deploy Windows Vista and Office 2007?

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    I'll start with a proviso on this - I don't know if Long Eaton were the first school to do a widespread deployment of Windows Vista and Office 2007, but the easiest way to find out is to make the bold statement, and if you know better email me or add a comment to this blog!

    When I went to Long Eaton recently (blog) I saw a school that was highly focused on working out how they were going to support their overall objectives with the use of ICT, and had a driving belief that investing in ICT was a key to transforming learning.

    My colleague, Lucy, who came along with me, wrote an article about their story, and describing some of the aspects of their technology. Read the article.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Free software for UK charities

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    I learnt this week that one thousand charities have so far benefited from free software through one of our most successful charity partnerships. The Computer Charity Trust manages a software donations program called CTX on our behalf, which enables charities, of any size, to access free licensed software. Because the scheme hasn't had wide coverage I though it worth a mention here, as I know that many schools get involved in activities with charities, and school employees are often involved in charities in their private lives.

    There's an important note at this point: the scheme's small print means that it cannot be used by independent schools, and there are limits to the amount of software any single charity can apply for - The Computer Charity Trust website has more information

    This year Changing Faces was one such charity who were able to upgrade their whole system thanks to the scheme.

    Each year, around 3,000 children are born with cleft lips, craniofacial conditions or birthmarks. The NHS sees 40,000 people with burns or scalds; a similar number are treated for cancer of the head, neck, mouth, throat and skin. Changing Faces is the UK national charity that supports people who have disfigurements of the face or body – whatever the cause, helping people to develop high self-esteem and self-confidence and have access to the very best health and social services throughout their lives.

    Christine Muskett is Head of Operational Support at the organisation, which has 21 members of staff including two based remotely in Scotland and Wales.

    “There was little consistency to the software being used across the organisation,” explained Christine.

    “We don’t have the budget to consider a routine 3-year upgrade cycle, so had a mix of software versions running, all needing support and troubleshooting.”

    Charities often naturally struggle to find resources to invest in back-office efficiencies. Here it was no exception – the upgrade was an opportunity that simply wouldn’t have been available without CTX and Microsoft. "The project wouldn’t have been on the agenda,” notes Christine. “We’d have just had to get by. As it was, we upgraded the whole charity for the money that we might have spent on three, maybe four users. That was an incontrovertible financial argument.”

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Harnessing Technology - a white paper to reality

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    A few years ago the DfES published the e-strategy guide "Harnessing Technology" - a view of how technology would be used to support learning, raise the engagement between home and school, and to contribute to raising standards across all schools. If you don't want to wade through the 71 pages of the guide, and would instead prefer to see a practical example of what is possible, then why not read the Shireland Language College story. Read how they created a Learning Gateway for themselves and their partner schools, and used it to connect with their learners, parents and the wider community. It was described last year by Tony Blair as "one of the most remarkable ICT systems in the country", and so it makes a great exemplar.

    The case study is published on our world-wide case studies website


  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Building Schools for the Future Conference

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    We've just had confirmation that the Partnerships for Schools presenter is Steve Moss, who will be presenting with us at our second annual Building Schools for the Future conference at the British Library in London on 15th June.

    Steve's views on the role of ICT in the BSF programme, and his disarming openness in presentations, will make his session highly useful for delegates - there always seems to be some hidden messages hidden between the lines of Steve's words - really helpful for long-term planning!

    Check out the full details, and register for the FREE event.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    How do I do that? .... Buying software as a student (for less)

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    If you're a student, and you want a copy of Office 2007 for your home PC or laptop, what are the chances of paying a lot less than anybody else for it? Well, they are pretty good, if you know how...

    One way is to buy the "Home and Student" version in a shop, which contains Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote ...But better than that...

    SoftwareforStudents

    One company is about to launch a new scheme for school students where they can buy software for up to 80% less than the normal retail price. It's a partnership between Naace and one of our partners, Software4Students.

    The idea is that students go to www.software4students.co.uk where they can buy a whole host of MS software for a lot less than normal retail software (for instance Office Pro Plus 2007 comes down from £365.85 to just £68.90!) They verify what school they attend, and if these schools are Naace members the school also becomes eligible for a rebate off their licensing costs. It doesn't just stop at Office Professional either, they also supply other versions of Office, like Enterprise - which includes OneNote and Groove - other Microsoft applications, and even Windows Vista.

    It's helping to address issues like the digital divide and home access, not to mention ensuring that students are equipped to get the best learning experience possible.

    The rebate probably won't be a big deal for some of the small primary schools, but I think the real value in this scheme arises from how it brings low cost, high quality software to students with absolutely no administrative hassle for the school. This is all made possible by the special Academic pricing available to educational users if they belong to a licensed education establishment - and because NAACE have signed a master agreement on behalf of all of it's members covering schools and local authorities.

    The program is just about to go live so keep your eyes peeled for more updates!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Building Schools for the Future - Microsoft's second annual conference

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    We've just published details of how to register for our second annual Building Schools for the Future conference at the British Library in London on 15th June.

    Although the event is primarily aimed at local authority staff involved in current or future BSF projects, if you want to know what is going on with BSF, and perhaos wanted to take a look at the BSF Showcase that people have been talking about recently then this may be for you...

    The speaker line-up includes:

    • QCA, talking about the curriculum of the future
    • Partnership for Schools, talking about lessons from current BSF projects
    • Directors from Knowsley and Sandwell local authorities, giving their perspective of the wider implications of BSF (things like transforming Building Schools into Rebuilding Communities)
    • Students from Hugh Christie Technology College, giving their perspective on learning in the future (if my 11-year old daughter is anything to go by, then it's probably in a different place to learning today!)

    Check out the full details

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