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November, 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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November, 2007

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Get Safe Online week


    Get Safe Online week (12th – 16th November) is upon us again. And in the last 12 months, the subject of getting safe, and staying safe, online has become even more personal to me.

      1. More personal like having to spend a whole day restoring a relative's PC, when it was subject to a self-inflicted trojan (self-inflicted - yup, he pressed the key to allow it in, and then watched it infect his machine with 30 other viruses).
      2. And more personal like finding my own home PC with a trojan and 3 viruses in an hour, after an inadvertent key press (a little bit more training and guidance for members of the Fleming household!)
      3. And more personal still when one of my friends asked for advice about a contact their daughter had made on Messenger, who was taking the conversation in an inappropriate direction (see below)*.

    So, Get Safe Online week is a valuable contribution to reminding users everywhere to keep one step ahead of the criminals targetting us. Get Safe Online is the UK’s first national Internet security awareness campaign, founded in 2005 - a joint initiative between the Government, the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA), Microsoft, and other private sector sponsors from the worlds of technology, retail and finance.

    The initiative aims to help individuals and micro-businesses to protect themselves against Internet security risks by raising awareness of the need for Internet security and providing information, advice and updates through its website

    This November sees the third annual Get Safe Online Internet Safety Awareness Week, and, as in previous years, a road show will be touring the country next week visiting six UK cities from Bristol to Edinburgh. To find out more about activities in your area, visit the Get Safe Online website.

    And if you want something for your staff or students, how about challenging them to see who scores highest in the "Just How Safe are you?" quiz - which teaches as well as tests.

    ReportAbuse* My advice on 3: Block the contact, sit down and talk about making contacts online, and if appropriate, hit the "Report Abuse" button in Messenger, that goes straight through to the police to report any appropriate behaviour online with or to a child.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Free Word 2007 Maths Add-in


    The Free Microsoft Math Add-in adds computational and graphing capabilities to the Equation Tools Ribbon of Word 2007.

    With the Microsoft Math Add-in for Word 2007, you can:

    • Plot a function, equation, or inequality in 2-D or 3-D
    • Solve an equation or inequality
    • Calculate a numerical result
    • Simplify an algebraic expression

    You can download it free from the Microsoft Downloads site

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Software for school pupils - at education prices


    Students don't have much money. Christmas is coming - along with a new PC. What do they do about software?

    Well, it has always been possible for pupils to buy Microsoft software at educational prices (ie cheaper than they can buy it from normal retailers and online stores), but I have to admit that it's been a tricky thing for them to do. Over the last few months, that has changed. First Software4Students launched their online student shop, and then today RM have launched something similar, called "The Basement".

    The site offers a range of the main Microsoft software directly to school students. All they have to do is register on the site, which includes telling the website which school you attend. (This is then also used to allow schools to claim cashback when your students buy)

    BasementOffice BasementStudent
    Here's a couple of examples of the kind of deals students can expect - Office Professional Plus 2007 (the version that includes Publisher 2007 & Access 2007) for £51 - that's significantly cheaper than the cheapest home user version on Amazon or in retail stores (I just checked Amazon - they come in at £81 for the Home & Student edition (which doesn't include the above). But the best version on The Basement is Office Enterprise 2007 - that includes OneNote 2007 and Groove 2007 too - and that is only £62.99 - still cheaper than Home & Student.

    The other example is "Student with Encarta Premium 2008", which is normally around £40 in the shops/online. In The Basement this is £8.50. Other software in the shop includes Windows Vista and lots of the new Microsoft Expression design suite

    This seems a pretty nice move for everybody - students (and/or their parents) save money, the school gets an incentive to tell their students about it, and you are also ensuring that your homework assignments can be done on home PCs if appropriate.

    The basement's most important note: The licensee of the software must be a full-time school student in the UK, and the software is designed for home use. So, no, you can't buy this software for school use. But if you're not already buying at similar prices, then check out my guide to getting the best deal on Microsoft education software

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Chamberlayne Park School - Creating a Resource Bank in SharePoint


    SharePoint is used in many different ways. Take a look at the example below from Chamberlayne Park School in Southampton:

    Dave Woolcock from Chamberlayne Park School is in the process of setting up each subject on their resource bank so teachers can upload and view files as they can for ICT. So far Dave has set up Science, English, PE, and Geography with some resources already uploaded. The resource bank has been demonstrated to middle leaders and departmental inset training is taking place with staff on how to use it.

    Chamberlayne Park has also used the repository to send across an independent learning task for year 9, and letters have been sent home to all year 9 parents explaining how their children can access the portal to complete the work.

    Ross's career form has also been put into the student area and all year 11 pupils have been instructed to fill it out. The intention is to create other forms soon such as applications to join the school and teacher detail forms.

    Here are some screenshots of a form in use. Click on them to see a larger version:

    Career Form 1 (2)

    Career Form 2 (2)

    Career Form 3 (2)

    Career Form 4 (2)

    A separate site has also been created that allows students to assign learning resources to themselves:

    self_assignment (2)

    Microsoft UK Schools News Blog

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    e-Safety in schools - some help for you


    Becta have recommended that each school has a nominated E-Safety officer - which could mean that in staff rooms around the country, people suddenly make themselves busy when the head walks in with a letter in his hand! So, if you've got the job, or one of your colleagues has it and is looking for some help, then here's some good news.

    We've been working with partners to create a set of valuable resources for e-safety in schools. Called "Know IT All for Teachers", it's a resource pack that provides practical help for trainee teachers, existing teachers and support staff, and offers suggestions and materials on how the subject of e-safety can be embedded in the curriculum both within schools and initial teacher training.

    The resources have been developed by Childnet with the support of the TDA, Becta and Microsoft. The key “Know IT All” training resources used for the materials are Childnet’s “Jenny’s Story” and Microsoft’s “Rome Group” which was created by Microsoft as part of their “Getting to Know IT All” child safety campaign.

    E-safety relates to many parts of the curriculum and the Know It All websites contain links to a range of comprehensive learning resources, information and advice to keep trainee teachers and teachers up to date with child e-safety issues and to provide guidance on managing issues which may arise in the school environment. 

    The materials cover issues such as online grooming, cyber-bullying to the viewing of inappropriate content and plagiarism.

    Know IT All for Teachers includes : A free DVD designed for self study in e-safety, including a short impactful film followed by e-safety questions for teachers to consider, and a website which clearly explains the technology, and provides links to further resources on a range of issues.

    The free teacher’s DVD will be available to order from the website - you'll have to come back on the 10th to get the URL and details of the Know IT All website...

    The “Know IT All” for Trainees and Teachers initiative reflects the growing supporting role teachers play, alongside parents, in teaching children about e-safety.   An in-depth research report of 400 trainee teachers also revealed a need for child e-safety training.

    Attend the Know IT All launch

    The resources are being launched on the afternoon of Monday 10th December in London, and there are still some places available if you'd like to attend. To register for your place, drop Shamina Begum at the TDA an email ( The launch kicks off with a (free!) lunch at 12:30, at the Isaac Newton Centre for Continuing Professional Development, 108a Lancaster Road, London, W11 1QS.

    I've seen the Childnet "Jenny's Story" first hand, with a group of parents at my local school, and know the impact it had for us as parents, and can imagine how powerful it is as a resource for driving a discussion, so if you can make it, I'd definitely recommend the launch, or ordering the DVD on launch, to help you to support your pupils.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    What does the "next-generation PC" look like?


    Over the years I've seen many "radical" designs for new PCs - I vividly remember being shown an Intel design for a PC that sat inside a leopard-print footstool, designed for the home (sadly, the design was a little premature then, because PCs were still consigned to the study/spare room). But few of these have made it into production - in fact, the visible leap we've made in production PCs is to go from beige to black a few years ago. Isn't it time to do something about it?

    I've learnt that we're sponsoring a design competition, along with the IDSA, for the next generation of PCs - with prizes up to $10,000 (yes, it's a global competition). It is open to students 14+ (in fact, it positively encourages entry by students, with an extra award going to the school adviser).

    Entries close on the 14th December, but it might be a great way to engage students in thinking about practical implications of product design, led by how they think technology fits into our lives:

    "Designs for practically any Windows-based PC design concept may be entered; however, challenges of manufacturability should be considered. Reinvent the entire package, from hardware to accessories to the out-of-box experience (the experience of unpacking and turning on your computer for the first time).
    This year's competition focuses on designs that help people do what they feel passionate about. When it comes to music, traveling, photography, or any number of pursuits, people can spend a significant amount of time developing their skills for it. The challenge is to create a Next-Gen PC that enhances the experience through great design. Your Windows-based design can include current Windows Vista features, or new and improved features for future versions of Windows software. The goal is to more closely match what we supply with what people need to pursue their passions (and refraining from supplying what they don’t need), which requires a more customised approach than the traditional general purpose PC."

    Full details of the competition are on the website

    One thing I noticed in the small print is that some countries (not the UK!) are excluded. I can understand some of the list, but what's with Canada?Open to amateur, student and professional industrial designers who are 14 years or older at the time of entry; however residents of the following countries are ineligible to participate: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. In addition, residents of the Province of Quebec are ineligible to participate.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Live Meeting for Virtual Classes?


    We've had a few questions about the use of Live Meeting and whether we have examples in the UK. The short answer is no, not at the moment. However, we do have a case study from the US which looks intertesting and worth a look.

    Let us know if you want more information on Live Meeting as we'd love to have a UK Education case study. Here's the overview:

    Barry University, a private school with 9,300 students in Miami Shores, Florida, wanted to better meet the online communications needs of its administration, faculty, staff, and students. The university was using both Microsoft® Office Live Meeting (2003) and third-party videoconferencing equipment for distance education classes, training, and meetings. The videoconferencing solution, however, was costly and lacked integration with the university’s network infrastructure. In June 2007, the school deployed the latest version of Office Live Meeting. Now, university employees and students have access to live video, document sharing, live chat using VoIP, and archived video recordings. Barry University calculates that using Office Live Meeting could save more than U.S.$100,000 at the main campus and more than $20,000 at each of the school’s 20 satellite campuses in 2007.

    We're running a Live Meeting about Live Meetings on the 6th December - find out more

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Accessibility: DAISY Add-in for Office


    What is DAISY you might ask? The DAISY Consortium, a coalition of talking-book libraries and nonprofit organizations, was formed in 1996 to harness the rich capabilities opened up by the transition from analog to digital technology to ensure that all published information is available to people with print disabilities at the same time and at no greater cost in accessible, feature-rich, navigable format.

    What does this mean? Well early next year Microsoft will release for Word a downloadable plug-in at no charge that will enable the millions of Open XML documents to be translated into DAISY XML, the lingua france of the globally accepted standard for digital talking books.

    DAISY-formatted files enable users to scroll through auditory content using simple keystrokes to hone in on specific sections, and configure its playback to skip over items like footnotes.

    DAISY material can be played on dedicated devices or on PCs by installing special software.

    “It gives you the power to be a sophisticated reader,” says George Kerscher, secretary general of the DAISY Consortium. DAISY’s specifications have been shaped by feedback from talking book users and the spectrum of needs they identified, he says.

    Those with low vision lamented, for instance, that with auditory cassettes they could hear the words but not see how they were spelled, Kerscher recounts. Accordingly, DAISY gives these users the option of visually following the text in large print as it is heard. People who are blind can track auditory output using a refreshable Braille display composed of tiny electronically-activated pins that pop up to denote words on screen as they pass their fingertips along the display.

    DAISY works by creating a digital audio file narrating the document’s content that maps to a text file with the XML structure of the text marked up.

    For much more information go to the press announcement which can be fund at:


  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Get Safe Online Week II


    We're in "Get Safe Online Week":

    The initiative aims to help individuals and micro-businesses to protect themselves against Internet security risks by raising awareness of the need for Internet security and providing information, advice and updates through its website

    It's entirely coincidental that I've just spent an hour at the IT Forum conference, listening to Vinny Guloto, General Manager for the Microsoft Malware Protection Centre. IT Forum is a gathering of over 5,000 IT Directors and service managers from all over Europe. It includes over 100 delegates from UK education establishments - mainly colleges and universities.

    Anyway, back to Vinny. He presented today on the work that the centre is putting into the world of threat research, and both reactive and proactive response. Some of the numbers he used were astounding - around 1995, there were 20,000 viruses on the loose - now there are about a quarter of a million (with even more variants of core viruses). No wonder we need anti-virus software!

    He mentioned some statistics in relation to Windows Defender (a piece of free software from MS which looks for things like adware and spyware, rather than specifically "malicious" software - it isn't anti-virus software). Using Windows Defender as an example, he shared some facts about intercepted threats:

    • In the first six months of 2007, it detected 50 million pieces of potentially unwanted software
      • 16 million items of Adware
      • 7 million items of "potentially unwanted software"
      • 6.5 million Trojans
      • 3 millions items of "remote control" software

    To read more about the work that Vinny's team do, check out their Microsoft Malware Protection Center Portal

    And if you want to help your staff and students avoid the 50 million bits of nasty software out there, let them know about Get Safe Online

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Windows SteadyState for PC Management


    Whether you manage computers in a school computer lab or an Internet cafe, a library, or even in your home, Windows SteadyState helps you keep your shared computers running the way you want them to, no matter who uses them.

    Windows SteadyState 2.5 Beta

    Features Included with Windows SteadyState
    Windows SteadyState includes the following features to help you manage your shared computers:

    • Getting Started – Provides the initial steps to help you during your first time use of Windows SteadyState.
    • Windows Disk Protection – Help protect the Windows partition, which contains the Windows operating system and other programs, from being modified without administrator approval. Windows SteadyState allows you to set Windows Disk protection to remove all changes at a certain date and time or to not remove changes at all. If you choose to use Windows Disk Protection to remove changes, any changes made by shared users when they are logged on to the computer are removed when the computer is restarted.
    • User Restrictions and Settings – The user restrictions and settings can help to enhance and simplify the user experience. Restrict user access to programs, settings, Start menu items, and options in Windows. You can also lock shared user accounts to prevent changes from being retained from one session to the next.
    • User Account Manager – Create and delete user accounts. You can use Windows SteadyState to create user accounts on alternative drives that will retain user data and settings even when Windows Disk Protection is turned on. You can also import and export user settings from one computer to another—saving valuable time and resources.
    • Computer Restrictions – Control security settings, privacy settings, and more, such as preventing users from creating and storing folders in drive C and from opening Microsoft Office documents from Internet Explorer.
    • Schedule Software Updates – Update the shared computer with the latest software and security updates when it is convenient for you and the shared users.
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