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January, 2008 - 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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January, 2008

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Free Partners in Learning DVD


    Following on from my blog article earlier this week about the five-year extension of our Partners in Learning programme, you may want to get hold of a copy of the DVD that we distributed at the BETT show. It's a free DVD full of helpful resources from the programme.

    We handed out over 15,000 at the BETT show, but I imagine many of them are still languishing at the bottom of BETT carrier bags, groaning under the weight of brochures, freebies and flyers. So if you've lost the one you picked up at the show, then ask for another one.

    There are loads of resources on the DVD, and some of the highlights are

    • Enquiring Minds - this innovative new curriculum, and supporting web tool, places students at the centre of their learning, using personalised and enquiry-based learning in practice.
    • Childnet e-Safety Materials - Practical help for everyone involved with teaching at Key Stage 3 on the latest child e-safety issues, along with suggestions and materials on how to embed e-safety in the curriculum.
    • Cross-Curricular Projects - Virtual Classroom Tours to support innovative uses of ICT for collaborative approaches to teaching and learning in Maths, Science, Design & Technology and other subjects such as Business Enterprise and PE.
    • Student Helpdesk - End-to-end curriculum and teacher resources to help you set up and train pupils to run a IT Helpdesk, to provide them with key 21st Century skills such as communication, team-working, problem solving and independent learning.
    • Digital Literacy This Microsoft curriculum teaches and assesses basic computer concepts and skills so that people can use computer technology effectively in everyday life.
    • 101 Ideas - Templates for the creative and effective use of ICT within teaching.

    To get your own copy of the DVD, all you need to do is email your name and address details to us, and we'll send you one.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    ICT up close and personal


    Following on from the BETT exhibition in London, one of our partners, RM are taking their show on the road. Between now and March, RM staff (and their very big truck) will be taking to the roads around the country, to visit schools, colleges and local authorities - giving you the chance to see some of the new products launched this year, and get your hands on Community Connect 4 and the Kaleidos Learning Platform (you won't be surprised to know that both are based on Microsoft's technologies underneath). You won't quite get the same atmosphere as BETT (but let's face it, queuing up outside Olympia can be a drag) and you'll probably get more chance to have an in-depth discussion about how things could fit together into your schools ICT systems.

    The tour starts in the South West, and then heads to the Home Counties and the East Midlands, before ending up in the North West in March.

    More details, venues and registration details are all on the RM website

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    BETT 2008 Presentation downloads


    If you missed BETT 2008, or you made it to BETT and want to use some of the presentation materials you saw, then you can now download all of the presentations we gave on the stand during the week. Most of the presentations were given by our customers, telling their stories about how they have used ICT to support teaching and learning in the classroom and across their school community.

    All of the presentations can be downloaded, including Claire Satchwell's use of Instant Messenger to support learning outside of school hour, Simon Brennand's use of Office 2007 in his school, and Alex Pearce's work on the Microsoft Learning Gateway. The other high profile presentation of the week was the Shireland Learning Gateway, which was included within the opening address by School's Minister Jim Knight. It was amazing to see how many people made it our theatre during the show, and hopefully these presentation downloads will help you to tell the story to other members of your school's community!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Partners in Learning programme relaunched


    For the last 5 years we have been running a programme, called Partners in Learning, to extend and expand the development of learning, and especially the ways that ICT can support learning in schools. Globally this programme has invested £125 million into projects run in partnership with governments, and government education agencies. In the UK, we have invested £3m, and have been working in partnership with organisations such as the Training Development Agency for Schools (TDA), Futurelab, Childnet and Becta.

    As these first projects head towards their conclusion, the next stage of Partners in Learning was announced by Bill Gates at the European Government Leader's Forum last week. This is a further investment of £120m over the next 5 years, and over the next few months we'll be developing the UK programme plan, again in partnership with government and education agencies.

    The next five years

    There are three streams for the PiL programme going forward:

    • Innovative Schools, which is a programme to help schools to move beyond the limits of the classroom and traditional learning models. The Innovative Schools programme assists 12 schools worldwide by providing intellectual property, technology expertise, experiential knowledge, and the support of the Microsoft community. We work with them to inspire big thinking and discover best practices. Through our shared experiences and goals, we are creating models that any school, any system, can use in the future, to prepare children for success in the 21st century. The Innovative Schools worldwide include Bowring Community Sports College in Knowsley.
      There's plenty of information on the Innovative Schools programme on our global education website, and a short video on Bowring's involvement with Innovative Schools.

    • Innovative Teachers, which enables teachers to connect across the UK, or globally, through the Innovative Teachers Forums and Innovative Teachers Network. It gives you the opportunity to network within a global community interested in education focused on 21st century learning, and be recognised for your efforts to prepare students to become productive 21st century citizens.
      The Innovative Teachers programme is described on our global education website, or you can hop straight over to register for the Innovative Teachers Network.

    • And finally, Innovative Students, which is a programme specifically designed to support government purchasing of PCs for students. Microsoft has developed the Microsoft Student Innovation Suite for governments seeking to improve students' access to PCs and transform education, and offers reduced price software directly to governments where they are providing access to PCs for underprivileged households.
      You can read more about this programme here.

    And the last 5 years?

    Since 2003, the Microsoft Partners in Learning programme in the UK, has reached over 2.4 million students, as well as providing training materials and resources to around 134,000 teachers, in the UK alone. This amounts to a UK investment of £3 million to date. Through working in partnership with organisations such as the Training Development Agency for Schools (TDA), Futurelab, Childnet and Becta, the focus in the UK has been on building teacher confidence to integrate technology into the learning environment, as well as providing training that has helped foster the innovative use of technology in schools.

    As Steve Beswick, Director of Education for Microsoft UK, explains

    “Technology underpins the key developments and policy directives that will affect UK education over the next five years. Whether it’s providing the kind of world-class education outlined in the Children’s Plan or ensuring that young people leave education with the skills that equip them for life and work in the world today, ICT is playing an increasing role in the learning environment.

    “Microsoft realises that technology alone is not sufficient for true education reform. We need to ensure that teachers and students are confident in using ICT if they are to reap the full benefits. It’s also about inspiring schools to think more creatively about how technology can make learning more exciting and relevant for the 21st Century”

    Partners in Learning initiatives in the UK have included:

    • The Gateway Project – a ‘virtual’ school environment created to allow schools in England, France and Spain to work collaboratively on a shared curriculum. Developed in partnership with the TDA to support the teaching of modern foreign languages (MFL) in primary schools. The programme also helps support teachers’ continued professional development (CPD) around technology integration into teaching.

    • Enquiring Minds – a £1 million joint research and development programme led by Futurelab aimed at developing ways in which schools can develop curriculum and learning methods appropriate for the needs of young people in 21st Century. The programme aims to place students at the centre of their own education, encouraging more personalised and enquiry-based learning, in line with recommendations made in the Gilbert Review of teaching. Browse the Enquiring Minds website for more information on the programme, and find out how you can get involved.

    • Know IT All – resources for trainee and practicing teachers, developed in conjunction with Childnet, the TDA and Becta, to support educators in dealing with e-safety issues in the school environment. The initiative helps teachers to better support and educate children around a wide range of e-safety issues in line with the Government’s ‘Every Child Matters’ programme. Take a look at the resources available on the Know IT All website, which also includes resources for parents.

    Stephen Sayers, Director of Operations and Planning at Futurelab, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to innovation in education, comments: "Microsoft Partners in Learning has been of vital importance in supporting the Enquiring Minds programme of research. Without their resources and support, it would not have been possible to bring the outcomes of this ground-breaking research to such a wide audience of teachers.”

    Tim Tarrant, Head of ICT at the TDA, adds: "Since 2005, Partners in Learning has provided the TDA with new opportunities to have a positive impact on schools in the UK and abroad. Microsoft's support for our jointly funded projects has been a great asset, as has the ICT expertise it has also enabled us to access."

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Live Meeting: Reducing those hidden costs – a new way to deploy applications


    Taking place online at 3.30pm on Thursday 31st January, this session will discuss some new approaches to deploying applications to your students, teachers and administrators desktops using the new features that Windows Server 2008 has to offer.


    During our time at BETT earlier this month, one of our stand staff had a conversation with an IT technician who had to manage the 200 machines in his school on his own, with no technology to make things easier and more secure. It brought to mind a comparison with the painting of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco - by the time you get to the end, it's time to go back to the beginning and start again (except, you'd probably never get to the "end").


    A real challenge when managing your IT infrastructure this way is ensuring that essential patches and updates are deployed quickly enough to ensure the integrity and security of your network - so that the computers in your school are always available when your staff and students need to use them. It wouldn't be acceptable for one of the classrooms in your school to have broken furniture and lights that didn't work, and with the ever increasing focus on using technology to enhance and personalise the learning experience, teachers expecting are being raised about IT availability.


    If any of this sounds familiar and you're concerned about keeping your network running on a tight budget, then our next Live Meeting is a must.


    The online Live Meeting at 3.30pm on Thursday 31st January, will discuss some new approaches to deploying applications to your students, teachers and administrators desktops using the new features that Windows Server 2008 has to offer. Discover how SoftGrid and Virtualisation can not only make deploying applications easier but also provide greater insight into how the machines on your network are working and cut costs through power saving features and the automated deployment of patches, updates and new software.


    You can register here in advance, then at 3.30pm on Thursday just log on to view and listen to the presentation, in which Steven Audis, an Education Technology Adviser in the Microsoft UK Education Team, will show you how the management of your network doesn't have to be a painful, frustrating and expensive experience.



  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Windows Server 2008 - Launch Invitation



    The launch team have just released the link to be able to sign up for the Windows Server 2008 launch event (actually, it's also the Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008 launch too). This is going to be held on the 19th March, at the ICC in Birmingham. The event is going to feature both Microsoft and external speakers - and I know that some of the early adopters, taking part in the launch, are from education.

    I have been told that places are extremely limited, so don't hesitate to sign up


    There are two agendas - one for "IT Professionals" and the other for developers, so choose carefully! (Otherwise, like me at IT Forum, you could end up in the wrong room, with somebody using more unintelligible acronyms than your ears can cope with)

    There will be breakout sessions, hands-on labs ready for you to work directly with the products, an Expo area where you’ll be able to see the latest trends in hardware, application development and systems integration, and Ask the Experts where our technical teams will be on hand to answer all your questions.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    OneNote - an unsung hero?


    Ask most people what's in the Office suite, and they'll be able to tell you about Word, Excel and PowerPoint. And at a push, they'll mention Access, or Publisher. But most people haven't even heard of OneNote, or even tried it. And yet, of all of the Office programmes, it is the one with most untapped potential for education.

    It's a little scary to start with - for me, with my logical mind, it was a bit of a shock to realise that I could put the cursor anywhere and start writing. When you've always worked on word processors, you get used to the structure which starts at the top left of the page, and you work down and right from that. Structured. Logical. Nice. Whereas with OneNote you can start anywhere, and then move things around, and you can type or handwrite, or draw, and then drag in multimedia objects - pictures, video, weblinks, screen clippings. Which means that it is ideal for students and teachers to collate information, structure ideas, keep notes etc

    I've just finished watching a video, from a school in the US, who talk about using OneNote in their lessons.

    John Phillips, Director of Educational Technology, Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart says
    "There’s a relationship, a synergy, that develops between teacher and student with OneNote … and because of this, we’re seeing some exciting things in the classroom that we never would have expected."

    And Maths Teacher, Palie Cantu says
    “I use OneNote to present notes to my class, and it also allows me to keep my own work organized. When I’m done teaching, my work is already filed, organized, and preserved.” When it’s time to prepare for a different class, “it’s literally the click of a mouse and I jump from one classroom set of materials to another. That, to me, is invaluable.”

    Enough from me. You can read their mini-case study, and I'd recommend watching the video to see how they are using it in lessons.
    And you can read more about OneNote, and download a free trial, on the Office website.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Broadclyst Primary School and Windows Vista


    Broadclyst Community Primary School, in Devon, are well known locally for the way that they use ICT to enhance learning. Knowing that they tend to be at the leading edge of new technologies, I asked a colleague to visit, to look at how they are using Windows Vista to support teaching and learning in their school


    Over the last 15 years, Broadclyst Primary School has been pushing the boundaries of ICT to bring educational benefits to its pupils. Always looking to adopt the latest technology, the school was one of the first to develop a home access system over 8 years ago, loaning PCs to parents and tapping into the idea of e-learning portals. Since then the school has continued to develop its focus on a collaborative and creative online learning space. Delivering a rich, dynamic and multimedia learning experience needs support at base level. Having successfully used Windows XP for the past few years, moving to the latest operating system Windows Vista seemed a natural progression for them. For the school, successful learning is all about communication and collaboration, and the senior management team felt that Windows Vista was the perfect platform upon which this could take place.

    Windows Vista button

    Jonathan Bishop, Deputy Head at Broadclyst Primary School commented: “We were one of the first schools to roll out Windows Vista soon after it was launched. With over 350 networked PCs, our roll out was not on a small scale and we obviously had a steep learning curve. As with any new technology, it required an investment of time and effort but once we had the first processes in place, the adoption and implementation was straightforward. Having a strategic plan that involved looking at the compatibility of all the existing hardware and software and analysing the upgrade requirements was fundamental. We worked very closely with Microsoft throughout the project and found the company to be extremely supportive, not only in helping us set up the system but also in understanding what we wanted to achieve educationally once Windows Vista was in place. It is important to place an operating system within the context of what we want to achieve as a school and the extra functionality and media focused environment offer us an all round better experience and more opportunities for learning, especially when combined with Microsoft Office 2007 and our network.”

    With the Government investing large amounts of money into educational ICT, it is easy to see how schools have become fixated on PCs and technology. However, as Broadclyst Primary School has found, it is the adults, not the pupils who have hang ups about advancements. Most pupils see PCs as a tool, one that is motivating and engaging when used for learning. The new Windows Vista system has been quickly embraced and adopted by the pupils.

    Jonathan continued: “Ultimately Windows Vista is the next generation of operating system, offering more stability, security and functionality than previous systems. With Windows Vista now successfully integrated into our learning environment alongside all the communications and collaboration tools that our school has both sourced and created, we have a complete, networked ICT resource that has brought us real educational benefits. Having seen the difference that Windows Vista makes, I would never go back to Windows XP.”

    Read the full article

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Is your data at risk?


    2008 hasn't really started any better than 2007 finished - a laptop is stolen from the boot of a car, containing 600,000 personal data records - heaping data disaster upon data disaster. Reality says that laptops will be stolen, even when we think they are secure. I've had a laptop stolen from a hotel room, as have many friends and colleagues, and I know of friends and colleagues who've had laptops stolen from cars, or worse*

    While it's wise to do everything to avoid theft (I always use a Kensington lock on my laptop in hotels now), the other important step is to minimise the impact of the loss. According to the BBC news report "Teachers put pupil data at risk", which was prompted by research by RM, teachers in nearly half of England's primary schools back up pupil data on CDs and memory sticks, which they then take out of school. The survey of 933 schools found only 1% of respondents were encrypting the data. And I'm pretty sure that you'll have members of the leadership team in your school who take home a complete copy of your pupil database each night on their laptop (hint: go and look at the laptop belonging to the timetabler first).

    So what can you do to avoid becoming the next headline?

    The information that I wrote last July on data security is still accurate today, and contains an action plan, but here's a very quick reminder of two ends of the scale:

    • It should be absolutely non-negotiable that anybody using a laptop for school work (and which will therefore have some personal data on it) should always have to type in a password at logon. Do all of your school laptops conform? Do all laptops used by staff in school conform, even if they are not school owned? Has anybody 'tweaked' the system to avoid having to type their password in every time. I know it's a pain (I will admit that I used TweakUI to automatically log on to my home PC, but changed that a couple of years ago when I realised what would happen if my computer was stolen) but it's an important basic step.
    • At the other end of the scale, if you have staff taking home personal data which it would embarrass you to lose, then use encryption of one kind of another.

      imageIf it's a spreadsheet or document file, encrypt the file. (Under the "Prepare - Document for Distribution" menu in Office 2007") 

      If it's a complex database, or series of data files, then you should consider encrypting the whole file storage system, stopping people from easily accessing the data. Windows Vista Enterprise Edition (which is the version you normally licence in education) has BitLocker built in, which allows you to ensure that all files are encrypted (without it becoming a hassle for your users - see Russell's video).

    This is potentially quite a boring subject (and can be quite dry, as I discovered researching this), but the alternative to doing nothing is that you go through quite an 'exciting' time, like HMRC.

    We've been through it ourselves - to read our Trustworthy Computing web site for more about our security journey.

    * Worse: One friend took his laptop into a supermarket (to avoid leaving it in his boot) and had it stolen from his trolley. Or so he thought. When the security staff at the supermarket watched the CCTV tapes, to help him find the thief, it appeared he'd walked in with an empty trolley. So where was the laptop? On the roof of his car...  
    Before you laugh to hard, I bet you've heard of people leaving phones on the roof of their car, and driving off...

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Live Meeting - Heavy Workload? Try collaborating for success


    Collaborative working is seen to be the way forward to help us all work better and more efficiently and ensure that everyone has easy access to the resources they need, wherever they may be.


    In schools, that is often more tricky, as individuals are often not available at the same time - some will be teaching, whilst others will be free, and there's bound to be somebody away on a training course. And the diary is already full of meetings that start after 3:30pm, so what are the ways available to collaborate more effectively? With that in mind, this week's Live Meeting focuses on the Microsoft solutions that can help you collaborate and communicate with your colleagues and students more effectively. This session will teach you how to easily share and find information in one centralised location, making it easier to work more efficiently so saving you both time and money.


    The Live Meeting, which you can attend online, is on Thursday 24th January, from 3:30-4:15pm and will once again be presented by Steven Audis, Education Technology Adviser in the Microsoft UK Education Team.

    You can register here for this meeting, and also find out about future meeting subjects and dates. If you’d like to see any of our previous Live Meetings, which have covered topics such as Learning Platforms, Virtual Learning Environments and Windows Vista for Education, you can view them here.

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