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June, 2010 - 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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June, 2010

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Office in the cloud and on the desktop

    • 2 Comments

    I was having a chat with Jack Kenny, a journalist, in the middle of last week, and we were talking about the many different ways that your teachers and students can access Office in ‘the cloud’. As I summarised it for him in our conversation, Jack prompted me to write a more detailed summary too – something which I’ve committed to do with this blog post. So here it is – an overview of the different ways that students and teachers might use cloud-based versions of Office - the Office Web Apps.

    Overview of Office Web Apps

    The suite of Office applications available through Office Web Apps are browser-based, lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. This means that you can start editing a document in Office 2010 on your laptop or desktop computer, and then view, edit and share the document using the web version. You can read a more detailed overview of the Office Web Apps on the Office website. So it means that your students can edit Office documents at home, without needing the full version of Office on their computers. And it works with a broad range of web-browsers, so they don't even need to be running a Windows computer.

    So if your question is "How do I get Office Web Apps?", then there are three answers:

    Office Web Apps in SharePoint 2010

    The new version of SharePoint released this summer, SharePoint 2010, now includes Office Web Apps as part of the package. Which means that your students and staff can access documents directly in the browser on your SharePoint site - they don't need to load Office to preview a Word document, or to do basic editing etc. This is particularly useful if you wan to upload a worksheet onto your learning platform, and then ask students to work on it collaboratively - they can edit it at the same time, and the SharePoint version of Office Web Apps will manage all of the changes simultaneously.
    For a summary of Office Web Apps in SharePoint, take a look at this article. And one of the nice things about the Office 2010 suite you install on your desktop/laptop is that it now has the option to save directly to your SharePoint, making it easier to share documents and upload them onto your Learning Platform (if it's SharePoint-based)

    Office Web Apps in Windows Live

    If you have a free SkyDrive account (which is part of the Windows Live service), then you can also save documents from Office 2010 directly to your SkyDrive. SkyDrive is a 25GB web-based storage area, based in our datacentres. You can store files there for your own use, or share them with specific other people, or save files that you want anybody to access - it's what I use quite a bit to share documents for this blog. If you haven't tried out SkyDrive, then just sign up for a free account at http://skydrive.live.com - either using your existing Windows Live ID, or by creating a new one.
    The benefit of this option is that the data is stored in our cloud-based data centres, not on your school server. That's good for some situations (especially for students to access files from home), but it isn't something you'd use for any school data that's sensitive (ie don't go putting your exam performance analysis spreadsheets up there!). Once your files are there - whether that's done by uploading them, or by saving them directly to your SkyDrive from Office 2010, you can then use the Office Web Apps to view, edit, print them etc.
    There are step-by-step instructions to getting started with Office Web Apps in WIndows Live here.

    Office Web Apps in Live@edu

    In many ways, this option is similar to the Windows Live service above, in that your students and staff will have a Windows Live login to get to their free email inbox, SkyDrive and Office Web Apps. However, it fits more effectively into your school IT infrastructure, as you manage all of your Live@edu user accounts (normally via your own Active Directory). This means that when you add new student on your server, it automatically creates their email account (on your own .sch.uk domain) and their account that can be used for SkyDrive, Office Web Apps etc. You can either read a brief overview of Live@edu, or for a deeper view of the technology and roadmap, take a look at the Live@edu blog

    In a nutshell, what are the differences between the three options?

    • With Office Web Apps in SharePoint, you need SharePoint 2010 in school (or from your Learning Platform provider) and all of the data is stored within your SharePoint.
    • With Office Web Apps in Windows Live, any person can sign up for a free account, and the data is stored in our datacentre - it's basically a consumer-centric service
    • With Office Web Apps in Live@edu, you manage all of the accounts for your school, allocating .sch.uk email addresses, but the data is stored in our datacentre.

    Read the Getting Started with Office Web Apps article to continue the journey... 



  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    School carbon emissions targets - Things I Learned This Week #6

    • 2 Comments

    1. Schools create 2% of UK greenhouse gases, and have a target of a 53% cut in energy emissions by 2020

    imageAccording to the government’s carbon management strategy for schools, "Climate change and schools" on Teachernet, the government target for schools is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42% below 1990 levels by 2020 - and, because schools’ energy use has gone up since 1990, this equates to a 53% cut on current emissions. (This is higher than the 2008 Climate Change Act, which set a target of a 34% reduction for the UK). Now the good news is that the government believe that new school capital programmes (like BSF and the Primary Capital Programme) will lead to a 44% reduction compared to current levels.

    Schools’ emissions from total energy use in school buildings have increased by 24% from 1990 to 2006, with the largest increase being in electricity (up by 31%). The theory is that the increase in electricity consumption has in part been due to the widespread roll-out of ICT, as well as the extension of school hours.

    The document identifies a number of key groups that are stakeholders in achieving the reduction targets. And it does identify IT teams (although they are lower down the priority list than caretakers!)

    Building Managers/Facilities Managers/Caretakers/ICT Technicians
    A highly important group of people, who need to be experts in managing heating, lighting and other systems, and training users of the building. These groups are often active in equipment specification and liaison with suppliers, and may be the key contact for Local Authority Energy/Sustainability Managers.

    You can find the fully detailed report "Climate change and schools" on Teachernet.

    2. In Microsoft Office, 60% of people print more than 60 times per month.

    Yet another proof, were it needed, that the paperless office is further away, rather than closer. And from the same source, another Office 2007 statistic - Insert Picture is the fourth most common command on the Insert tab and is used by nearly one-third of Office users.

    3. Four out of five schools haven’t yet virtualised their servers

    I’ve been writing quite a bit about virtualisation recently, because it is one way of saving money on both your IT and energy budgets (and in the context of the carbon reduction targets above, a big help for that too). And in the latest Becta Harnessing Technology school survey, the data showed that just 21% of schools have virtualised one or more of their servers. The average cost saving being quoted by secondary schools who have virtualised their servers is over £20,000, so there’s potentially a saving of more than £55M possible if all secondary schools were to virtualise their servers.

    The comparison of virtualisation for other parts of schools’ IT infrastructure is:

    • Virtualising Storage – 10%
    • Virtualising Applications – 10%
    • Virtualising desktop environments – 8%
    • Virtualising Networks – 6% (to be honest, I’m not quite sure what this means, but 6% of schools have done it, according to the survey!)

    There’s plenty of other useful information within the Harnessing Technology survey, but it takes a while to find it amongst the tables and the report document, so I’m going to try and put some time aside to dig deeper over the next week or so.



  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    OPENHIVE Leadership Forums - The Future of Learning Platforms

    • 0 Comments

    Synetrix are running two free Leadership Forum events at the Microsoft campus in the next two weeks. The first event is for local authorities, whilst the second is for school leadership teams. 

    11th June - Investments built to last, built for success

    The first event is aimed at staff from local authorities, regional broadband consortia and BSF teams, and has an agenda which looks at the future of education using cloud-based services. Speakers include:

    • Benedict Arora, Programme Director for Education from NESTA
    • Jason Rousell, Jay Neale and Patrick Kirk from Synetrix
    • Ben Jones, consultant from Capita SIMS

    Full description, agenda, and booking details are here

    15th June - Intelligent services that grow with your users

    In the following week, this event is for schools - Directors of ICT, Curriculum Advisers, Head Teachers and Deputy Heads - interested in learning about the future of Learning Platforms and MLE’s. Speakers at this event include:

    • Paul Kelley, Head Teacher of Monkseaton High School, talking about his 21st Century School
    • Steve Beswick, UK Education Director for Microsoft
    • Jason Rousell, Patrick Kirk and Jay Neale from Synetrix
    • James Frampton from Capita SIMS, talking about convergence of MIS & Learning Platforms
    • ...and me, talking about the world of 2020

    Synetrix have a strong vision about Education in the Cloud, and the day will finish with Patrick Kirk describing how Synetrix sees that future being built.

    Full description, agenda, and booking details are here

    Synetrix's OPENHIVE learning platform has been created on top of SharePoint, and is built on Synetrix's experience as the infrastructure provider for London Grid for Learning, East Midlands Broadband Community and Leeds Learning Network 

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Next Friday’s event - Fun, Free Friday for Schools

    • 0 Comments

    image

    It’s your last chance to book for our "Fun, Free Friday for Schools" event.

    The whole idea of the day is to share with you some of the free software and resources that are available for schools.

    I know that it is sometimes difficult to justify getting out of school for the day, but I am sure that you’ll be able to save money through some of the things we’ll be showing – for teaching and learning, for the leadership team, and for network managers.

    It’s at our main Microsoft Campus in Reading on 11th June 2010 and is for any staff working with and within schools, so that they can find out all about the free software and resources that Microsoft produces that support teaching and learning.  The agenda for the event runs from 9:30am to 2:30pm with breaks to catch up with colleagues from other schools, and chat with Microsoft staff.

    It will be a fast-paced and fun event, with 3½ hours of rapid demonstrations, featuring a dozen presenters and lots of different free Microsoft software programmes that schools can download and start using in the classroom, school office or IT suite.

    Fast paced demonstrations

    To keep the pace moving rapidly, no demonstration will last more than 15 minutes, and although it won’t be a PowerPoint-free zone, we’ll keep to a limit of a maximum of 2 PowerPoint slides per presenter!

    Free software for every attendee

    During the day we will be demonstrating at least 20 pieces of software that can help you to deliver teaching and learning, and absolutely every single one will be free for you to download.

    Save money with Microsoft

    We know that you’d like to do more with ICT, but that budgets are tight. That’s exactly why we’re putting on this event – to give you inspiration and ideas to take back to share with everybody in your school. Ideas that will appeal to teachers, IT Co-ordinators and the senior leadership team.

    Agenda for the Fun, Free Friday

    The day starts at 10:00, with a picnic lunch planned (beside the lake on our campus), and we’ll finish at 2:30, so that you’ve got time to get back home before the weekend begins.

    We won’t be issuing an itemised agenda, but some of the products you can expect to see on the day include SkyDrive, Windows Live Movie Maker, Windows Live PhotoGallery, Bing Maps, Photosynth, Pivot, XNA Game Studio, Visual Studio Express, Chemistry Word Add-In, Flashcards, Autocollage, Songsmith, Worldwide Telescope, Windows Live Writer, Maths Worksheet Generator, Office Moodle Add-In, Office Web Apps, Office Ribbon Hero, Bing Search, Microsoft Security Essentials, DeepZoom, Live Sync, Kodu, Digital Storytelling Curriculum Guides, Mouse Mischief, DreamSpark, Microsoft Robotics Studio, Live Family Safety Settings, Microsoft Digital Literacy Curriculum, Windows Live Translator, IE8 Accelerators, PhotoStory 3, Community Clips, Virtual Earth, pptPlex and Live@edu.

    And continuing the free theme: if you arrive by public transport, there’s even a free bus from Reading Station to the Microsoft offices.

    imageBook your free place now 




  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Translating your school website into 30 languages

    • 0 Comments

    In the ‘good old days’, whenever school leaders were presenting their school stories at conferences, they would always include the proportion of children on Free School Meals – if the number was high, it was shorthand for saying “We’re in a challenging area”. Now, I’ve noticed that people are proudly proclaiming the number of languages their pupils talk at home, and the proportion of pupils for whom English is a second language.

    When I saw the new version of the Microsoft Translator tool, I realised this will therefore be really useful to many of you. It’s free, and it translates webpages into 30 languages

    Basically, it’s a little web widget that sits on your website or learning platform, and allows visitors to translate your website with a mouse click into one of 30 languages. You don’t have to do anything except add a small piece of code to your website (or Learning Platform or SharePoint etc).

    You can try it using the blue widget at the bottom of the page (you will need to view this post on its own page – if you can’t see the widget below, then click here to see it) which will translate this web page for you. Imagine if you can add it to every page on your learning platform – how pleased would your teachers be?

    How to use the Microsoft Translator on a website

    1. Go to this page: http://www.microsofttranslator.com/Widget/Default.aspx?ref=MSTWidget

    2. Select the colour you want to match your website
      image

    3. Click “Generate Code”

    4. And then simply copy and paste the code, and pop the resulting short script onto your website page design

    It’s really simple, and really easy to use. But most appealing of all, you can make yourself look really good to the rest of the senior leadership team in the school – because it’s something they’d like, but might never have thought to ask for.

    The evil approach to this:

    1. Plant the idea of website accessibility and inclusion in a management meeting.
    2. Ask if they’d like you to investigate the possibility of doing something with the school website.
    3. Wait for a sunny day, and take the IT technician down the pub for an afternoon of “EAL Website Planning”
    4. Next morning, do steps 1-4 above.
    5. Bask in the glory

     

     



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