On Tuesday 9th November at 2pm, Remote IT Solutions, one of our education partners, are running a one hour webinar for education establishments on application virtualisation. Given the large numbers of applications that you're supporting, across a wide range of curriculum areas, then this is one route to get a more manageable network, and to remove dependencies between software versions.
Two typical scenarios in education that it's really useful for are:
In this Remote IT Solutions Live webinar, Dave Moore, Datacenter & Virtualization Technical Specialist will discuss and demonstrate how you can accelerate your application migration projects by automating application deployments with using Microsoft Application Virtualization. The demonstrations will show you how to integrate Citrix VDI with Microsoft® App-V, delivering App-V virtualized applications to any user on any device anywhere. You can now extend the benefits of Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack to reach a broader set of devices including lightly managed and non-Windows devices across local or wide area networks. Learn how to create, configure, publish, and maintain virtual applications with Microsoft Application Virtualization.
Dave's going to be doing live demonstrations, including:
You will have the ability to ask questions and get answers throughout the webinar, and they've promised that it won't end until all your questions are answered!
Sign up here for the webinar (2-3pm on 9th November)
I've just heard about another free event, on Friday 5th November, focused on cost saving with ICT. Although it isn't specifically education focused, I think that there will be a lot of readers that would appreciate a whole day full of network management tools (oh, and a lot who could imagine nothing worse ). The entire day is dedicated to the Microsoft System Center suite, which is becoming more widely used in universities, colleges and schools.
The event is being run by one of our partners, Inframon, and has a big list of Microsoft System Center specialists and product managers, who are travelling over from the States for the event. There must be a mid-atlantic BA flight that's full of Microsoft people, as on the agenda there's the Senior Director for System Center Product Marketing, the Director of the Management and Security Product Management Group, four Senior Technical Product Managers, and two Senior Programme Managers - all coming over from Seattle to talk.
The agenda for the day is focusing on how System Center can help you to reduce your network infrastructure costs, and your workload, whilst improving the reliability and flexibility of your network. Some of the issues it will cover include the impact of more mobile users, application virtualisation, managing multiple platforms like VMWare and Oracle, data protection, and an extensive look into the future product roadmap for the System Center components.
The Inframon team have gone to town on the "War on Cost" theme, and are hosting the event in the Cabinet War Rooms in Whitehall, right underneath the Treasury buildings, and just around the corner from Downing Street. And towards the end of the day, there's a full tour of the War Rooms lined up too.
The event is on Friday 5th November, and runs from 9-5
Find out more, and register, here
Over the last few months, I've been focusing on cost savings with ICT - you'll have seen many of the posts. But talking about saving money with ICT, and actually doing it, can be two different things. For example, knowing that you should be virtualising your servers to reduce cost is fine, but it would be handy to have somebody explain how.
If you want to start moving from cost saving ideas to cost saving projects, then here's an opportunity.
Dimension Data, one of our partners, is hosting an event here in Reading on Wednesday 3rd November, focusing on cost savings in education, through improving and introducing efficiency by the adoption and deployment of technology. As they put it:
We are confident this will be a sound investment of your time, and we will answer the following questions on the day though presentations, discussion and demonstrations:
We have secured key speakers from Microsoft and Dimension Data and you will also hear from an influential education establishment who is benefiting from these efficiencies.
The agenda runs from 10am to 3pm, and they Dimension Data team have packed in a great line-up of practical sessions into the day - including Paul Chapman from Leicester College talking about his server virtualisation project, and James Akrigg from Microsoft. Oh, and I've been volunteered to talk about Cost Savings in Education.
If you have to go to your manager to ask to be out of school for a day next Wednesday, then I can't imagine a better investment of time - it could pay back in weeks.
Just click here to register by email with Dimension Data
It's half-term. Although for most of the school it will come as a relief, as the corridors and classrooms empty rapidly, for many of you, it will be a busy week, as you finally get the chance to do some of those ICT projects that can't be done during term-time. And it is also a time to grab a chance for long-term thinking, because your day is less likely to begin with 20 urgent 'must do' requests.
How do you make sure that you've got the senior management support for your future projects, now that every bit of funding is previous? One of the things I've been spending time thinking about is how to help you to ensure that your contribution to your school is recognised - especially with the risk of being seen as a 'cost centre'.
Recently, I've been working on an idea for a simple letter that could help get more support from your head teacher - something from you that any head* would love to see on their desk when half-term is over.
How would your head feel if this was waiting for them next Monday?
Dear Head Teacher,
The big thing at the moment is cost saving. You and the governors are looking closely at every budget heading. That being so I want to draw attention to how much we in your IT team can help.
Usually, I know it’s easy for people to think of IT in terms of spending rather than saving – more machines, more software. I’d like you to know, though, that we really can save money – for the whole school, not just for us in IT.
So, for example, we’ve been looking at virtualising our servers. Whether you know what that means technically doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that when we do it, we’ll need fewer humming boxes in the server room – a lot fewer in fact. That means we’ll spend less money on replacing them, and on the contract for supporting them and we’ll use less electricity on running them and keeping them cool. I’ve talked to another school about this and they’ve worked out server virtualisation will save between £15,000 and £23,000 a year. You know you could spend that money very productively on staff – or it might even save someone’s job. Now I don’t know whether we’ll save as much as that, but I know we’ll at least get somewhere towards it. I’ll be happy to give you the figures if you’d like me to spend some time working them out.
Then there’s paper. Have you any idea how much money this school spends on paper each year? And I don’t just mean buying the stuff, I mean total spend on copying and printing. I know in other schools figures like £40,000 and £50,000 - and over a million sheets of paper - are being quoted. We’ve done our bit, working to get as much as we can up there on the network – student work, assignments, information for parents, reports. We could do a lot more of that, but I have to say that getting the full benefit depends on all of us changing our habits. We all, staff, students, have to start thinking of sharing documents on the network instead of printing them out. Evidence in other schools is that it’s difficult to persuade people to do that, and frankly it needs a strong lead from the top – rules, if you like, about what’s to be printed and what’s not, and close control of printers and copiers. The reward could run to a five figure impact on the school budget.
In schools we’ve come to think that because staffing is far the biggest budget item, that’s where you make savings, and anything else is just tinkering.
Well, we’re here to say that some of the cost savings we in IT can achieve – and there are others besides the ones I’ve described here - are a good bit more than tinkering. So, please can we have some time to examine these issues with you to see how they might work in our school for our students?
Your school ICT team
You can read the main Top ICT Money Saving Tips article to learn more about the savings ideas above, and other ways that ICT can help save money in school budgets
Or find all related Money Savings articles on this blog
* Some head teachers have already had the chance to see this letter, and they thought they'd definitely see it as a good contribution towards helping with their budget worries.
After last week's post about saving money by printing less, I asked Gerald Haigh if he could have a chat with Ian Stuart at Islay High School, to get an update on their project, first reported in the Guardian a couple of years ago. They too were aiming to reduce their printing costs. Gerald picks up the story:
There are some schools you just long to visit. Islay High School’s one of them. So I typed their postcode and mine into the AA Routefinder.
454.1 miles it said; 12 hours and 30 minutes, including two and a half hours on a ferry. Not this week, then. Maybe in the Spring.
Islay High School, with 222 students aged 11 to 18, serves the islands of Islay and Jura. I’ve talked to Ian Stuart, ICT Coordinator there a couple of times, originally because I was interested in his drive to save paper and printing costs by persuading staff to move their paperwork to the school network. What I hadn’t realised at first though, was the extent to which that project was very much part of an overall plan to transform teaching and learning at the school by giving every student a netbook, and every teacher a tablet PC.
It all started, says Ian in 2006, when Ian had discussions over two days with Mark Adams of Microsoft.
“We talked about everything, including our values, one of which is the confidence to try new things. Mark suggested we should be looking at UMPCs and I began to develop a vision around note-taking.”
It was then that OneNote was mentioned, and Ian took time to renew his knowledge of it.
“I realised that there were so many ways it could be used in learning and teaching.”
In fact, what Ian’s done, with his colleagues is develop an entirely new classroom approach, using students’ netbooks, teachers’ tablet PCs and digital projectors. The lesson builds on the ‘board’ (in fact, says Stuart it’s a complete white wall) while the teacher walks the room with the tablet and students contribute from their netbooks. It’s true collaborative learning, made possible with One Note LiveShare.
For me it brought back a conversation I had maybe ten years ago when I was a chair of governors. Our head, always an ICT pioneer had the idea of classroom where teacher would walk the floor with a tablet wirelessly linked to the interactive whiteboard, from time to time handing the tablet over to a child who wanted to contribute. It was the right idea, but difficult then to put in practice. Ian’s approach, with a device for everyone, a digital projector in every classroom, and the right software, neatly and efficiently achieves what that head was tentatively groping towards.
And the paper-saving? It could almost be called a side-effect of Islay’s classroom revolution, except that of course the cost benefits have significantly contributed to the funding of the hardware. Up to 2006, this school of 220 students was spending £20,000 a year on paper and printing. Rigorous application of a “No printed handouts or memos” rule reduced this by an astonishing 80% in 2007, although later relaxation after cries of pain has evened this out to about 65%. In cash terms it’s added up over four years to £40,000 and the school is now embarking on its second generation of netbooks.
So the conclusion is - there are big savings that can be made - in Ian's case, he has saved his school £40,000 over four years.
Would you make your head happy by saving them £10,000 this year?
Read more about cost saving with ICT, and find related articles
Last night we officially announced Office 365, which is the next generation of cloud services – bringing together Exchange 2010, SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Lync (previously known as Office Communications Server) and Office (on both the web and your PC). And the good news is that there will be an education specific version of it.
As with most of our announcements, the product release is scheduled for next year although we haven’t announced dates, but we did announce a public beta programme that you can sign up to and start using.
Here’s some of the key information, summarised from mass of data published on the web:
Microsoft Office 365 brings together cloud versions of our most trusted communications and collaboration products with the latest version of our desktop software and companion Web Apps. Office 365 is designed to meet the needs of organisations of all sizes — from independent professionals to small, midsize and large businesses and from government agencies to educational institutions — helping them save time, money and free up valued resources.
Cloud-based services for educational institutions can help save money and give students access to familiar, next-generation productivity tools — while helping educational institutions free up resources. By eliminating the time and effort spent managing servers, IT staff can deliver the latest services to students while still maintaining control.
And the good news is that this is now the roadmap for Live@edu, as we expand it well beyond the email system that many people use today.
Did you know that we run a worldwide 'local language programme' which provides language packs for a range of our software? And that if you're in Wales, you can use them to run Windows and Office in Welsh natively?
Welsh is one of Europe's oldest languages, and is growing, with over half a million speakers, especially amongst young people. Since 1993 public bodies have been required to provide services in both English and Welsh, and so Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Torfaen uses ICT systems running on Windows 7 and Microsoft Office in Welsh. Historically the school had computer labs for lessons across the curriculum, but while students could create documents in Welsh, and look up Welsh websites, the interface of the applications was in English. “The tool bar and menus were in English. I found myself having to use English words to talk about the technology,” said Alun Thomas, Head of ICT at the school. “This was interrupting our practice of immersive learning, and giving the impression that Welsh is not a language used within modern technology.”
Microsoft partnered with the Welsh Language Board to develop the first Welsh Language Interface Packs, for Windows XP and Office 2003, and has continued to develop these as new versions came along - with the latest being Windows 7 in Welsh. Of course, the main benefit is for the students, as they can now stay fully immersed in their Welsh work. Once the interface is implemented, the applications automatically open in Welsh. As Alun said:
You can read more details in the Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw case study, or download the full range of language packs (Welsh packs are available for Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Office 2007, Office 2003, SharePoint 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services).
Here's the quick links for the most recent Welsh packs:
Kristen and Stuart, who run the UK Partners In Learning programme, are hosting the Innovative Education Forum in Manchester on November 30th. It’s a free event with a great line-up of inspirational talks including Sugata Mitra and Michael Furdyk. However, I know that it’s not easy getting days out of school for professional development these days, so they are also going to run a much more informal evening event on Monday 29th November. It’s the first time of running an event like this, so I’ve already marked it in my diary to get there, and learn from it. Would it be useful for you too? Spending an evening amongst enthusiastic teachers, sharing their use of ICT in the curriculum? Is it something for other members of staff in your school?
Here’s the details from Stuart, who’s planning it:
Please join us for drinks and canapés (which I think this is a posh word for crisps) and hot topical debate, with a bit of fun thrown in, at the Hilton’s vibrant Cloud 23 bar, that provides 360-degree views of Manchester.
If you have been to a TeachMeet or an unconference like event before, you will have a good idea of what to expect at this event. If you haven’t, then you will enjoy the informal nature of this event.
We are looking for volunteers to speak in the following:-
We will also have some Microsoft minute presentations, from our Innovative Teachers highlighting the great free stuff we have to offer.
What to discuss and present
We are not looking for product demos or examples of work, unless they illustrate your issue or theme. We would like presentations on issues that are relevant to teachers and learners. For example:-
Through such topics we hope to spark debate, conversation and inspire some ideas on how to meet such issues.
How do I sign up to attend?
If you are looking to attend pop over to our Teachers blog for details
We will end the evening with the presentation of awards to this year’s Innovative Teachers, we hope you will join us to celebrate their achievements. There is still time to enter our awards, more details here.
See you there….
Mini Presenters - 10 mins
Nano Presenters - 3 mins
On Monday, I wrote about the beautiful RM Slate, and how much I wanted one.
Well tonight I've found the RM Slate web page for it on the RM website (not sure why this isn't highlighted on the home page, because if I was selling something so attractive, it'd be slap bang in the middle!)
Anyway, the news is that you can pre-order one of the first shipment - due in on 15th November - for £399.
Hmm, wonder how I'll sneak it in past my wife?
How much does your school spend on reprographics - paper, toner, printers, photocopiers, and the staff to run them and keep them running? I'm sure that the average secondary school is spending more on reprographics than they do on their whole ICT budget.
Mike Herrity, at Twynham School, found out his school used over a million sheets of paper a year (add to that cost, the printing cost). It's an obvious way to save money in the school budget!
How long would it take you to work out your spend? A quick trip to the office for the ESPO invoices? And is there a big saving that's possible? But we've been hearing about the paperless office for year. Is "the paperless school" any nearer? And can it really save a lot of money and paper?
News of progress towards that elusive goal of “the paperless school” comes from none other than Alan Richards, Information Systems Manager at West Hatch High School in Essex. What he and the team have done is put the latest Microsoft products to work in a way that saves costs and improves efficiency right now, and opens up even more possibilities for the future.
The key is to transform paper forms into truly interactive documents on the school’s SharePoint Learning Gateway. The starting point was to tackle the extensive paperwork supporting the school’s Academic Review Days. There are two of these days a year for which staff collaboratively prepare two documents for each student– a Progress Review, and a Target Setting Document. Both are two pages long which makes four pages, twice a year, for each of 1,300 students. So moving just this process online (using the Serco MIS for the Progress Review, SharePoint for Target Setting) saves 10,400 sheets of paper.
The Target Setting document for each student is agreed by teachers, parents and students individually at the academic review day meetings. Up to now it’s been a paper exercise. Starting with the next review day, however, at the end of November, it’ll be done on an interactive form on SharePoint, created by InfoPath in Office2010. Each student, with their parents and a teacher will together work on the teacher’s laptop to come up with a set of targets. When they’re all agreed, the teacher will press “submit” and the final version will go off by email to the parents and to the student.
Inspired by this, West Hatch staff have looked around to see what other commonly used forms could be moved to SharePoint. One obvious candidate was what Alan calls “The training form” – a request by staff to go on a course.
The plan is to do the same for all commonly used forms. And as Alan points out, though easy collaboration and access from home are real plus points, they’re only part of the story. The real bonus lies in the way that once the documents and forms are on SharePoint it’s easy to easy to extract data from them.
There’s real enthusiasm at West Hatch for moving away from paper.
Importantly, says Alan, the project is an excellent demonstration to the whole school community of what the ICT infrastructure is capable of.
Our governors have spent a lot of money on our ICT. And this is one way of showing clearly how ICT impacts on the way the school works. What we’re doing is working a lot smarter.
You can read about the details of the implementation of the technology for the West Hatch Paperless-school project on Alan's blog