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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

    Understanding how Windows 7 improves secure remote access for staff

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    With all of the changes in the way that ICT is being used in learning, there’s an increasing demand for staff to have remote access to schools systems, from home or other times when they are away from school. Sometimes it can be enough to provide access to your learning platform, but it is becoming increasingly common that a teacher or member of the leadership team needs to have more comprehensive secure access to the school network. In the past, the single solution for doing this was to implement a Virtual Private Network (VPN), but with Windows 7 there are many other ways to provide secure remote access to school networks – giving you ‘Anywhere Access’.

    There are a number of key parts in Windows 7 that can be used to create anywhere access for staff:

    • Mobile Broadband
      Historically each mobile data card or dongle comes with their own software to manage the connection, whereas now Windows 7 manages the connection in the same way as it handles your WiFi and normal network connections – meaning staff have one consistent way to get online.

        • Direct Access
          Rather than configuring a VPN, Direct Access allows you to create a secure connection between a computer outside of your network, and your servers. It uses features both in Windows 7 Enterprise Edition (which is the version you get on a subscription agreement) and in Windows Server 2008 R2. The beauty of it from a users perspective is that it doesn’t get in the way of a users Internet access from home, only re-routing the traffic that needs to go to your servers. A traditional VPN connection re-routes everything through your servers, and typically slows down Internet access. The other relevant benefit of Direct Access is that you can configure it for two-factor authentication with a smart card, which is required for access to MIS data remotely. 
          I use Direct Access on my Microsoft laptop, so when I’m working at home, I simply insert my Smart Card to get to the Microsoft network, whereas before I had to enable VPN and then watch all the rest of my internet access crawl along as it was redirected through the corporate connection.

            • VPN Reconnect
              If you’re still using a VPN connection, and not yet ready to switch to Direct Access, then you’ll like the fact that Windows 7 has VPN Reconnect built it – basically if you’ve got a temperamental internet connection (either at home, or when using mobile internet), it re-establishes the connection after a temporary glitch without the user being aware.

                • BranchCache
                  This is useful for multi-site setups, eg when you have a community outreach centre, or study centres in different places. In a nutshell, it speeds up access to frequently used information, and reduces the bandwidth use (and delays) when accessing files on the main network.

                 

                imageThe information above is only a brief summary – to read more detail about each of these, then take a look at the Windows Team blog post “Understanding anywhere access with Windows 7”



              • Microsoft UK Schools blog

                Do Network Managers and Teachers have to clash?

                • 1 Comments

                Gerald HaighI’ve asked Gerald Haigh, a freelance journalist and author of a number of educational leadership books, to take some time out to share his thoughts on some of the topical education issues you’ll have seen on this blog or elsewhere.

                This week, he’s been thinking about some research I wrote about last month (Network Managers and Teachers have a relationship problem), where the researchers had uncovered some of the tension that exists between teachers and Network Managers, and started to look at some of causes.

                I’ll let Gerald explain more:

                I’ve been thinking about the survey that you reported on a month or so ago, in a posting called “Network Managers and Teachers have a relationship problem”.

                Now I don’t propose to take sides in this issue. I couldn’t be less qualified to do that. What I can do though, is point out what I’ve seen, and been told, in schools where the relationship seems to be working.

                I’ve been in quite a few ICT-savvy schools in the last year or two, usually helping to capture good practice in case studies. And what they all have in common, it seems to me, is an ICT strategy that’s being driven along by a senior leadership team member who has a clear vision of what technology can do for learning. Not a co-ordinator, or a middle leader with ICT responsibility, but a deputy or assistant head with a vision and enough experience and management clout to make it happen. That person will have, of course, really effective support from whoever’s at the top of the technical team, but there’ll be no doubt, to put it bluntly, who’s the boss. Somebody, say, like Simon Brennand, deputy head of Philip Morant School, who’s passionate about ICT for learning and heads a strategic ICT group of senior teachers and technical staff.

                “We see that relationship as fundamental to the pace, breadth and depth of school improvement,” he says.

                Having that very clear lead from a senior teacher does, it seems to me, take away some of the potential for irritability and misunderstanding.

                It was Isobel Bryce, head of Saltash.net Community School Cornwall who first alerted me to the importance of clarity in the ICT management structure. In the case study of Saltash.net I wrote for Microsoft last year, she defines three key staff roles, all of them in place at Saltash.net

                “a strategic thinker in the senior leadership; a strong classroom practitioner at assistant head level, supporting learning; and an effective Network Manager.”

                (And we take it as read that there has to be head teacher like Isobel, who knows what ICT can do for learning.)

                As I visited more schools, I kept that model in mind, and often raised it with the people I spoke to. That, as you’d expect, threw up some questions. Not everyone believes, for example, that you need all three levels in a smaller school. What’s never in question, though, is the need for that strategic lead from SLT level.

                Isobel also mentions the Network Manager. It has to be someone, she says, who understands that it’s all about the learning, and that can be quite hard for someone who’s come up via the technical route. It may be that the senior person has to be assertive in pointing out the priorities. This, of course, is one reason why the strategic leader has to carry authority. (In the army it’s called “Solving it by putting rank on it”.)

                Ideally, of course, there’s no conflict, and it’s all done in a developmental way. Monkseaton High School, for example, famously grows its own technical people. Network Manager Andrew Johnson is a former student who started as an apprentice in the school’s technical team at age sixteen, going on to be mentored by the school through a series of accredited learning milestones. Now, five years on, he’s an Open University graduate, with a highly saleable set of skills and a deep understanding of what ICT can do for students and the school community.

                Another kind of ‘grow-your-own’ strategy featured in a report I did last year on Marsh Academy where, as part of a Microsoft Partners in Learning initiative with the TDA and QCDA, a group of Year 11 students were trained as student technicians, running a real live ICT helpdesk in school. The point here is that most of the training was done by the school’s technical team, who as a result became much more directly engaged with teaching and learning.

                So have all tensions disappeared from these places? Of course not. You still hear grumbles about knee-jerk cries for help from a teacher when a plug comes out, and heavy sighs from the technician sent to help. None of that’s ever going to disappear. But my guess is that once the structure’s right, the roles clarified and the core business of teaching and learning kept firmly in view, the relationship’s going to stay professional, purposeful and progressive. And they probably have some good laughs too.



              • Microsoft UK Schools blog

                The Home Access Programme starts to wind down

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                Becta have updated the Home Access website to say:

                Last call for application packs to be sent to eligible families...

                The Home Access has been very successful with over 200,000 grants awarded. Based on current application return rates it is unlikely that we will be sending out application packs for the main programme after the third week of June. We would strongly encourage any families who think they are eligible for a Home Access Grant to apply without further delay and anyone with an application form at home should complete it and send it back immediately.

                So it seems that the 270,000 grants for free computers are nearly all allocated – with just a week left for parents to apply to get their application pack (PC Advisor reckons it may close Monday). I wrote an overview of the Home Access Scheme here if you want a quick summary of which parents may qualify, and to help them to act before the scheme closes. And I also wrote a summary of my recommendations for Home Access supplier choices.

                Given the messages about the perilous state of the deficit, it’s a pleasant surprise that the scheme has continued to the end of the original grant amount – but I’m guessing we’re not likely to see an extension, as I would think it would be hard for the Treasury to find the funding to extend it.



              • Microsoft UK Schools blog

                What other people are saying about the Fun, Free Friday

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                Last Friday we ran our Fun, Free Friday at our offices in Reading. The aim of the day was to share some of the free software that Microsoft makes available, and which is useful for teachers and others in schools. It was a very upbeat day, and we all had a lot of fun – partly because we kept the agenda to a very fast pace, with lots of demos, no boring PowerPoint presentations, and a maximum of 15 minutes per presentation. In all we got through 30 different free products in four hours.

                In addition to lots of Twitter chatter on the day (which you can read with this search on Twitter), it’s also been nice to see some of the attendees writing about their thoughts on the day, and which things they’ve already found useful:



              • Microsoft UK Schools blog

                That Bacon Brownie Recipe

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                imageAt our Fun, Free Friday event, we spent most of the day giving away things – not just the free software for schools that was on the agenda, but plenty of small prizes for people who participated in the demos, or answered quiz questions. But the prize for the most imaginative give away went to Ben Nunney, who gave away little bags of Bacon Brownies. Given that they went so quickly, and to much critical acclaim.

                If you came along to the event, and want to get your hands on more of the munchy-bacon-snacks, then head over to DeepWire’s blog for the recipe.





              • Microsoft UK Schools blog

                Deploying Windows 7 in schools–June Live Meetings

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                image

                Whether you will be deploying Windows 7 over the summer or just want to know more about what is involved, this one hour live meeting will give you an overview of the tools and methods available to deploy Windows 7 effectively, as well as giving you the chance to ask questions. This Live Meeting session will be jointly presented by Microsoft and one of our education partners, Design & Management Systems, who have great experience in helping a number of UK education organisations to effectively migrate to Windows 7.

                We will look at the tools and techniques available to streamline your deployments including:

                • How to simplify assessing your current PC estate for suitability
                • Checking your application compatibility – and reducing the impact of any that aren’t compatible
                • Application deployment methods to reduce your workload
                • Creating an MDT 2010 file structure– that can go on differing makes and models of PCs
                • Capturing and migrating existing user data
                • Automating deployments – from light touch to zero touch installations

                The information level in this session will be relevant for school IT managers and technicians.

                As it is a Live Meeting, you don’t need to leave your desk, and no travel is needed – you can simply logon to the Live Meeting website, and you can join in, and ask questions as we go along.

                Dates and Times

                • Option 1: Tuesday June 22nd 10:30 – 11:30
                • Option 2: Friday June 25th – 15:00 – 16:00

                You’ll need to register in advance here

                You will need a PC with a web browser and either headphones or a telephone to hear the audio - To save time before the meeting, you can easily check your system to make sure it is ready to use Microsoft Office Live Meeting, using this link 

                 



              • Microsoft UK Schools blog

                Learning Gateway Conference 2010–14th July

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                image

                Alex Pearce has dropped me a note to remind me that it’s exactly one month until the Learning Gateway Conference 2010, on 14th July. Last year it was at The Belfry, this time it’s moved to Church House, in Westminster. Last year’s conference was well attended, and everybody I met during the day was enthusiastic about what they were learning. It’s not an event run by Microsoft, but instead focuses on schools sharing their good practice with others, along with a number of external presenters.

                This year there’s a new third track 'School Stories', in addition to the existing 'Building the Learning Gateway' and 'User Adoption' tracks. This will consist of speakers from schools who have adopted the Microsoft Learning Gateway and SharePoint telling you about their journeys, both their success stories - and failures!

                Whether you are starting out with SharePoint or have a mature Learning Gateway; whether you are using SharePoint 2003, 2007 or 2010; or whether you want to know more about the technical aspects or usage, come and hear from some of the industry recognised speakers, hear what they have to say, ask them questions and take what you have learnt back to your school.

                imageFind out more, including booking fees and details







              • Microsoft UK Schools blog

                Four out of five schools outsource their ICT –Things I Learned Last Week #7

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                This week, I’ve been reading the Becta Harnessing Technology Survey in a lot more detail, and especially some of the spreadsheets of questions which didn’t make it into the final report. And the following things I learned are courtesy of the survey.

                1. Four out of five schools are already outsourcing some of their ICT

                At a time when cost pressures are becoming more acute, there has been plenty of discussion about where outsourcing helps. Is it something that’s good for cost control? Does it help improve service delivery, or does it get in the way?

                Well, according to the survey, many schools have already outsourced one or more of their ICT services to a third-party:

                The question Becta asked was: “Are any of your ICT resources provided as a service by third parties over the Internet?”, and this is the response:

                • Email – 54%
                • MIS – 32%
                • Office – 10%
                • Desktop – 6%
                • Applications – 18%
                • None – 19%

                So 81% are outsourcing some part of their ICT already, and for the majority that’s email. I suspect that’s a result of so many primary schools using their Regional Broadband Consortia’s email service

                2. One in 10 schools provides IT technician support to other schools

                Becta asked how often the school provides technicians to other schools or colleges, and the answer was 9% for network support - which rose to 14% for secondary schools.

                3. 76% of Year 10’s live in a home with two or more computers

                They asked over 1,500 Year 10 students (14-15 years’ old) “How many computers do you have in your home”. Just 2% said “None”, and 20% said “One” – with the rest having more than one computer at home. (Although an unfortunate 2% disappears, presumably as a rounding error).

                The actual responses were

                • 2% said None
                • 20% said One
                • 27% said Two
                • 23% said Three
                • 12% said Four
                • 14% said Five or more


              • Microsoft UK Schools blog

                Free Microsoft software for schools, from the Fun and Free Friday event

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                Today, we had a fantastic day at the office, when we hosted the “Fun, Free Friday for Schools”. Just over 100 schools attended, and we had an absolutely packed agenda, as we demonstrated lots of the free Microsoft software available for schools to use.

                All of the links to the various downloads we mentioned during the day are below. During the day we asked people to share ideas of how they would use the software to enhance their curriculum teaching, but we didn’t get the chance to write them all down – so if you attended the day, we’d appreciate it enormously if you’d add a comment to the blog to say how you hope to use one or more of the resources you saw on the day. And if you were one of the lucky ones who won a copy of Office, then go here to find out how to get the Office 2010 upgrade under the Tech Guarantee programme.

                 

                Bing Maps

                Bing Maps is so much more than just maps and directions. Bing Maps delivers a truly immersive experience that connects people to the world and a growing number of useful and valuable applications. Whether you want to find and view photosynths, see Twitter feeds, explore environmental projects or just explore the world; Bing Maps is a great resource for educators and students to enrich their learning experience.

                Photosynth

                Photosynth is a tool that takes your photos, mashes them together and recreates a 3-D scene out of them that anyone can view and move around.

                Community Clips

                Community Clips is a free download from Office Labs that allows you record activity from your computer screen, narrate that activity and save it as a video file. This makes it ideal for recording simple instructional videos and to record student computer activity for assessment purposes.

                You can download the Community Clips screen recorder at - http://www.officelabs.com/projects/communityclips/Pages/Default.aspx

                Worldwide Telescope

                Worldwide Telescope is a free download that enables you to access a huge collection of stunning images of the universe from the Hubble Space Telescope and many other space and earth observatories . These can be used to engage students, and to support teaching and learning in Maths and Science. It is a great tool to encourage students in research and project based learning around the planets, the solar system and the stars and to give them an appreciation of the scale, complexity and beauty of the universe.

                Worldwide Telescope can be downloaded from http://www.worldwidetelescope.org/Home.aspx

                 

                Pivot

                Pivot is a visual way of presenting and analysing data, from Microsoft Live Labs. It’s very difficult to describe in words, so perhaps the best way to see what it can do is to watch this video from the TED Conference 2010

                You can download Pivot from the GetPivot website, and use it straight away with the Pivot Collection – or if you’re technical, you can create your own Pivot collection, either in Excel or from a data source. (I used the Pivot Collection Tool for Excel for the SIMS example)

                DeepZoom

                DeepZoom allows students to create image compositions that can be viewed at different resolutions. Photos can be embedded within one another making it an ideal resource to develop thinking skills and digital storytelling.

                A great example of the use of  DeepZoom technology can be found at the Hard Rock Café - http://memorabilia.hardrock.com/. (You will need the Silverlight plug in to view this)

                To make your own Deep Zoom compositions, download a free copy of DeepZoom Composer

                You can find a series of tutorials about how to use DeepZoom Composer on the UK Teachers Blog

                Live@edu

                Outsource your email and collaboration solution using this free offering – give all of your staff and students a 10GB Exchange mailbox, 25GB storage and collaboration space, access to the office web app – oh – and it works on almost any platform and in almost any browser, too.

                http://www.microsoft.com/liveatedu

                SkyDrive and Live Sync

                SkyDrive is 25GB of online storage that you can access from any PC to store your files and either keep them private, share them with friends or make them public.  It’s at http://skydrive.live.com

                Windows Live Sync is about to get an update to keep your PCs and web storage in sync.  Giving you 2GB of web storage space and the ability to sync content between multiple PCs, Live Sync is a great way to tool to keep you files and photos up to date. Unfortunately it is still in beta but will be part of the updated Windows Live Essentials – keep an eye out at http://get.live.com

                Office Web Apps

                The Office Web Apps have just launched this week. They’re at http://office.live.com and they provide free, lightweight editing of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents through the browser.

                Windows Live Messenger

                More than just instant chat! Live messenger can be a great way of engaging your students in a more exciting and innovative way of learning. It’ll help save money with free simple video conferencing, and to take the pressure away from email - file sharing becomes instant. You can download it as part of Windows Live Essentials

                Bing Translator

                Ever been stuck with a bit of text or a website that’s in a language you don’t speak? Needed to get something across to a teacher across the seas? Or wanted to have an IM conversation that wasn’t limited by language barriers? Bing Translator bridges the gap between languages, so whether you’re chatting to someone or reading an article, you’re covered.

                http://www.bing.com/translate

                Windows Live Writer

                Live Writer is a programme that allows you to write blog posts offline, and then upload them onto your blog (and it works with all kinds of different blog platforms, like WordPress, Blogger, Community Server, SharePoint, Live Spaces, and lots of others). You can find out a little more about it in my “I love Live Writer” blog post, and download it free with Windows Live Essentials.

                Windows Live Photo Gallery

                Organise and find your photos really fast by date, descriptive tags or people tags.  Richard demonstrated how you can make your photos look better by tweaking exposure, colour or detail.  And then it allows you to share your photos easily by publishing to various online services such as SkyDrive or flickr.
                You can download the current version as part of Windows Live Essentials

                Windows Live Movie Maker

                Import your existing photos and digital videos and create great looking movies which can be burned to dvd or published to online services such as SkyDrive or YouTube.
                Add impact to your movies with stunning visual effects and soundtracks. Create an animated movie by displaying lots of still images at speeds of up to 33 frames per second.
                You can download the current version as part of Windows Live Essentials

                Songsmith

                Singing in the shower is so last year – get your students creative juices flowing across the entire curriculum using Songsmith - a quick & easy way of creating songs, raps, rhymes and tunes out of whatever comes into your head. Although normally you’d pay for SongSmith, it’s free to education in the UK via the Partners in Learning Network

                Maths Worksheet Generator

                If you spend a lot of time searching for worksheets with practice problems to give your students, then you'll like Maths Worksheet Generator. You can easily create your own in just a few seconds with the Math Worksheet Generator. This is a tool that generates multiple maths problems based on a sample problem you provide, and then creates a worksheet that you can distribute. By analysing the initial problem you provide, or one of the built-in samples, the generator determines the structure of the expression and provides similar problems. And it tacks on an answer sheet too.
                You can download it from EducationLabs.

                Photostory 3

                Photostory 3 allows your pupils and students to create videos from still images. They can add narration, music and special effects. It is ideal resource to use in all areas of the curriculum.

                Photostory can be downloaded for free at - http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/photostory/default.mspx . You will also find this resource on Digital Storytelling in the classroom useful.  - http://www.microsoft.com/education/teachers/guides/digital_storytelling.aspx

                Microsoft and Moodle

                If you’re using Moodle, you don’t have to miss out on some great free tools – using our Office for Moodle plugin you can open from and save directly to a Moodle site, and with the Moodle Plugin for Live@edu, you can get your recent mail and calendar items right within your Moodle learning environment.

                http://www.educationlabs.com

                Autocollage

                Autocollage allows you to take a group of photos and turn them into exciting collages with the click of a button, which can then be printed or emailed.
                Autocollage also interacts with Windows Live Photo Gallery for a seamless connection to your extisting photo libraries. It's a great time saver, for example when you've got photos from a school trip, or you need to get students to create a mood board. There's a video demo on the Microsoft Research site. Although AutoCollage is normally sold as a product, if you're in UK Education (teachers or students) you can download it free from the Partners in Learning website.

                Kodu

                Kodu is a visual programming language for creating games designed to be accessible for children and an ideal way to ignite an interest in computer science whilst teaching other skills such as cooperation, logic and creativity.

                www.fuse.microsoft.com/kodu

                DreamSpark

                DreamSpark is a programme designed to give all students access to Microsoft tools and training materials at no cost.

                www.dreamspark.com

                Digital Literacy Curriculum

                http://www.microsoft.com/uk/education/schools/curriculum-resources/digital-literacy-curriculum.aspx

                This is the home page for the English version of the Digital Literacy Curriculum – which is available in 34 languages – including Welsh!   It’s a lovely set of curriculum resources with an interactive interface which allows people to study at their own pace and in ways that suit their own learning style!   It’s available online and it’s also FREE !!   The goal of the Digital Literacy Curriculum is to teach basic computer concepts and skills so that people can use computers in everyday life.  Modules cover Computer Basics; Desktop Applications; the Web; Safety and Security; and Digital Lifestyles.  Once you have completed all five modules, you are ready to take an Entry Level 3 qualification with OCR or City and Guilds and you have the foundations for a journey to higher level skills which could provide a real boost to your employability.

                 

                Office Ribbon Hero

                The new prototype Office Ribbon Hero is designed to test the effectiveness, feasibility and appeal of delivering Office training in a game-like setting.  The heart of Ribbon Hero is a set of challenges that users play right in the Office applications. These challenges expose users to features that they might not be aware of and which can help users get their work done faster.

                In addition, Ribbon Hero awards points for using both basic features, such as, Bold and Italic, and for using the features introduced in the challenges.  Ribbon Hero does some analysis of the person’s usage patterns to prioritise the order in which it presents challenges. And then to add the competitive element, Ribbon Hero integrates with Facebook so you can share your success (or in my case, failures) with your friends.

                You can read a little more, and download Office Ribbon Hero, from my earlier blog post.

                Mouse Mischief

                Want to keep your students' attention? Try a little Mischief. Mouse Mischief is a tool that Microsoft makes available free of charge, and that allows teachers to work with Microsoft Office PowerPoint to make interactive presentations. Mouse Mischief integrates with Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 and Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007, enabling teachers to insert questions, polls and drawing activity slides into their lessons. Students can actively participate in these lessons by using their own mice to click, circle, cross out or draw answers on the screen.

                You can download Mouse Mischief, and see a demo video, on the UK website

                Flashcards

                Create online personlised revision materials for your students and pupils. These flashcards can contain images and audio, making them an ideal resource for language and special educational needs teaching. The Flashcards give feedback on how well students and pupils are doing, allowing them to identify the areas they need to improve. Go to EducationLabs to find out more and to create your own Flashcards.

                Internet Explorer Accelerators

                With Internet Explorer 8, Accelerators reduce the time it takes to do simple tasks, such as find an address, translate a word, or perform other routine tasks online? Until now it was likely a series of cutting and pasting information from one webpage to another. Now there's a better way. The new Accelerators in Internet Explorer 8 help you quickly perform your everyday browsing tasks without navigating to other websites to get things done. You can find out about, and download Accelerators here

                pptPlex

                pptPlex is a free add-in for PowerPoint that makes it simple to present non-linear content and interact with your slides more dynamically – it’s a very different way to present.

                XNA

                XNA is a games development platform for Windows OS, Phone and Xbox 360. It is an ideal way to engage your most enthusiastic students and teach them some core programming skills applicable to all Microsoft platforms.

                http://creators.xna.com

                Innovids

                Innovids are a series of instructional videos created by teachers for teachers as part of the UK Partners in Learning Network programme. Using community clips and Moviemaker, teachers have recorded how they use a range of Microsoft applications in the classroom. These include Office 2007, as well as applications such as AutoCollage and Bing. Each video shows not only how to use the software , but a context in which to use it effectively to support learning across the curriculum.

                You can access and download these Innovids from the UK Partners in Learning Network -  http://uk.partnersinlearningnetwork.com or the UK Partners in Learning YouTube Channel - http://www.youtube.com/innovativeteach

                Partners in Learning Network

                This a global community of teacher who value innovative uses of ICT that improve and support learning. By joining the UK Partners In Learning Network, you can:

                • Create or join communities & discussions
                • Find lesson plans and activities, as well as share your own resources
                • Download free software such AutoCollage and Songsmith
                • Collaborate with like-minded colleagues, to develop best practice  in your own classroom and community

                Our UK Teachers Blog supports this  Network, with all the latest developments, ideas and news that we think can help and support teachers.

                UK Teachers Blog -

                UK Partners in Learning Network - http://uk.partnersinlearningnetwork.com

                 



              • Microsoft UK Schools blog

                I love Live Writer

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                I’ve noticed that over time, I’m using Word less and less, and Windows Live Writer more and more. I guess it reflects two things:

                • Most of the things I write are designed to be published on the web – often on this blog
                • I love software that makes it really easy to publish on the web

                And that’s where Windows Live Writer comes in. If you, or your students, write for a blog, then read on…

                What is Windows Live Writer?

                Basically, I think of it as a word processor for blogs. It lets me write an article or blog post, easily add images, links and videos, and then publish it onto my blog. And because it’s an application on my laptop, I can write my blog posts offline, and then when it’s finished I hit publish. When I used to write blog posts directly in the blog website, I’d often accidentally hit the wrong button in my Internet browser, and lose all my work.

                imageAnother problem it solves is that of consistent formatting of information on your blog. Often, when editing posts online, I’d paste in a bit of text from somewhere else, I’d find it was published with bizarre fonts and formatting. Live Writer solves that and strips away the kind of formatting you don’t want (like funny fonts) but leaves in the things you do (like bold and italics, and especially hyperlinks).

                And it makes it easy to put fancy pictures into your blog posts, because it automatically formats and uploads them – all with one click of the “Publish” button

                Where do I get it?

                You can download Windows Live Writer free as part of Windows Live Essentials suite.

                Inside secret: There’s a new version of Windows Live Writer coming soon, as the Windows Live team are working on a whole new wave of Live software. You can read about this work, and be first to get the new version, by keeping an eye on their blog.





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