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July, 2011 - 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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July, 2011

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Free SharePoint 2010 Webinar from Alan Richards (SharePoint MVP)


    Guest post from Alan Richard’s from West Hatch High School:

    If you have ever read my own blog ( or seen any of the posts on here then you will know that I have a passion for cost cutting. In the current climate cost cutting in Schools is very much still on the agenda but I believe it shouldn’t be cost cutting at any cost, there should be an end goal, a clear and obvious benefit for all stakeholders.

    So when I was privileged enough to receive my SharePoint MVP in July of this year I started to think how I could use some of the benefits you get as an MVP to spread my cost cutting agenda.

    Now one of the big benefits we get as MVP’s is a free live meeting account, so as a start I thought I would deliver a free webinar on my cost cutting project using SharePoint 2010.

    The webinar will cover how using SharePoint 2010, InfoPath 2010 and SharePoint Designer 2010 I have managed to harness the power of SharePoint to collect and analyse data and reduce the need for paper forms.

    The session will cover how to use the three products to create codeless solutions to use online forms to collect data from users and then use workflows designed around your business needs to analyse the data.

    At the end of the 1 hour webinar I hope you will go away with a clear idea of how you can bring added value to all the stakeholders in your organisation while also cutting costs – a win, win situation surely.

    Here are the time and date details

    Thursday, 11th August 2011 | 5:00pm – 6:00pm BST | 9:00am – 10:00am PDT

    To register for the webinar follow the link below

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    NAACE Fun, Free Day–downloads for you




    Thank you to all those who attended the NAACE Fun, Free day on Friday 1st July. Below is a list of all of the software solutions, some of which were presented, many of which are free that Microsoft have to support learning in the classroom.

    SkyDrive and Office Web Apps

    Get online@home


    Windows Live Movie Maker 2011

    Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011

    Bing Maps

    Bing Search

    Bing Translator

    Community Clips

    Worldwide Telescope

    Small Basic

    Partners in Learning Network

    AutoCollage – sign up to PiL for free download!

    Office Ribbon Hero 2



    Deep Zoom Composer


    Windows Live Writer




    Mouse Mischief

    Microsoft EES Licensing

    Microsoft Learning Suite - more free downloads

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide People’s Choice Award – Go Vote!



    Imagine cup.png

    The Microsoft Imagine Cup brings together students from all over the world and asks them to use their creativity and passion for technology to help solve the world’s toughest problems. This year, more than 350,000 students from 183 countries and regions registered to compete and, from July 8-13, the finalists (more than 400 students from 70 countries) will meet for the Worldwide Finals in New York City.

    Beginning today, people around the world will have the opportunity to get involved in the excitement through the Imagine Cup People’s Choice Award.

    And we want to ask for your help.

    Please go to the People’s Choice Award site and vote – and then ask your friends, family and network to vote. The more people learn about this, meet the students, and see the projects, the more they see how innovative our technologies are and how they can be used to truly change the world.  

    Here are some of the examples of our technologies in action through Imagine Cup: 

    · It’s not just the phone that’s smart: Windows Phone7 is the most commonly used technology with 47% of the project teams (53 total) creating WP7-based solutions ranging from finding the nearest recycling center to helping disaster victims broadcast their location.

    · Head in the clouds: 46% (31 teams) of Software Design teams are using Windows Azure in their projects – whether it’s aggregating crowd-sourced data, overcoming geographical boundaries or integrating satellite data.

    · Students take the lead on new technologies: 10 projects feature Microsoft Kinect technology ranging from physical rehabilitation to educational engagement.

    · No need to ask for directions: 30% of project teams (34 total) integrated Bing Maps into their solutions – ranging from showing malaria outbreak locations to helping with traffic management to helping cities become more accessible.

    · Bringing it all together: 16 of the projects use Azure, Windows Phone 7 AND Bing Maps with solutions ranging from finding carpools to predicting disasters due to water flow. 

    The People’s Choice Award is just one component of several competitions and prizes at the Imagine Cup. From creating apps and videos to building Web sites and embedded solutions, students are truly helping to change the world with Microsoft technologies. Please take advantage of YOUR opportunity to  support these students to realize their full potential, helping them grow academically, start companies that thrive, and have an impact in their communities and around the globe.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    South Korea to go ‘all digital’ for textbooks by 2015


    A recent blog post from Ray Fleming that I thought would be worth sharing on the UK schools blog:

    The South Korean government have announced that by 2015, they will move from physical textbooks across to digital content, and will move their national academic tests online too. The plan is to digitise all primary school subjects by 2014, and high schools by 2015. That’s not the only disruptive activity planned - they also plan to encourage students to take the ‘University Level Program’, allowing students to take higher level courses, and also run after-school programmes using IP TV to teach foreign languages, multiculturalism and other subjects.

    It’s a big bold step - early research has shown that simply handing out eBooks and digital texts to students isn’t necessarily going to improve things - so it will be very interesting to watch what happens.

    Read the original story on eSchool News

    I’ve noticed my laptop backpack has been getting lighter recently (my new laptop gives me an all-day battery, so now all I need to carry is my laptop, wireless mouse, and paper notepad), but I’ve also noticed that my daughters’ backpacks are getting heavier. It’s because they now have a school laptop, alongside all of their exercise books and text books - as well as lunch, water and sports gear. Some days their load weighs more than 10 kilos. So perhaps what’s being proposed in South Korea is part of the answer - to replace some things with other things, rather than to merely keep adding things.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Serco Pioneer Days


    The following has been written by Gerald Haigh, Freelance Writer for Microsoft:

    Towards the end of June I went to Sandringham School in St Albans. I was looking in on one of a series of “Pioneer Days” being run by Serco for the 25 schools which will be the first to adopt the new “Progresso” Management Information System. The schools have been selected from existing Serco customers, users of the existing “Facility” MIS. Together they represent all sectors (primary, secondary, academy and independent).

    “Progresso”, built on Microsoft’s SQL Server 2008 R2, is a new and potentially very strong contender in the school MIS market. Developers have done a lot of listening to teachers over many months, and this latest development phase will peak in October, when the pioneer schools start to adopt the system. They’ll be working with Serco to ensure that the product really does what both sides wish for.

    So just what are the waiting users hoping for, I asked?

    One common theme is a desire to have all of the school’s management and administration functions in one place. Simon Chappell, for example, ICT Director at the Wellington Academy, says “I’m looking to Progresso to be the hub of the academy, the first stop for everything. I don’t want people to have to create their own spreadsheets and use different applications.”

    The same thought comes from Andrew Daly, Deputy Head at Swavesey Village College. “The analogy for me is that ‘Toys R Us’ slogan – Everything under one roof.”

    Combined with an easy-to-use point of entry, this kind of integration makes it possible for teachers – whether classroom specialists or senior leaders – to collect rapidly the information they need on any student or group. That’s vital when a school’s focussed on improving life chances for students. As Andrew says, “We’ve done a lot of school improvement work with other schools as well as our own, and really the need is to keep things simple – straightforward data at peoples’ fingertips. We see a real opportunity to provide that with Progresso.”

    In many of these schools, key players will be form or group tutors each with a direct responsibility for monitoring the overall learning progress of groups and individuals. As Tim Murphy, deputy head at Sandringham explains, “The role has changed dramatically over the years, from the traditional pastoral tutor to the academic mentor.”

    And yet, of course tutors are also classroom teachers with full timetable commitments. So, Tim continues, “I want it to be a system that any form tutor can use easily no matter how reluctant they are with technology.”

    Even better, he says, he’s hoping for “pushed” information – alerts that something’s changed and needs to be looked at. “Wouldn’t that be great? The tutor gets an automatic alert saying, ‘These students underperformed in a Geography assessment’. So she can say, ‘What happened in Geography then?’ It changes the whole nature of the conversation.”

    Central to this ease of use is the concept of the “dashboard” – the first point of entry to the system. The pioneers I spoke to very much liked the Progresso dashboard, a strong feature of which is, that as well giving access to the MIS, there’s the prospect of single-sign-on integration with web services and email through Live@Edu.

    Simon Chappell says, “When I saw that first dashboard with sms, email and the noticeboard all in one place, a communication hub that we can set up to suit us, I thought. ‘Wow, this is going to save us so much development time’.”

    Andrew Daly feels the same way, “I’m excited about communication – SMS, Exchange, Calendars. All students have an Outlook Exchange account I see lots of opportunities for link with Exchange. That’s a key win for us.”

    Interestingly, although Progresso is a cloud-based product, with data hosted by Serco, few of the pioneers raised issues about this. And Serco’s Head of Product, Paul Harrington remains relaxed about customers’ responses. He clearly feels that cloud is the future, with all the increasingly well known cost and convenience benefits, but he points out that Serco’s happy for customers to host Progresso on their own servers if they prefer.

    “To me you’re either comfortable with cloud hosting or not,” he says.

    Of the pioneers I spoke to, the one who spoke most strongly about cloud hosting was Tim Murphy at Sandringham, who’s looking towards cloud hosting not only for the school MIS, but for their VLE, and to the implementation of Office 365 “I see cloud as where we’re going as a school. We intend to take all our learning into the cloud environment. The days of school based servers should be on the way out.”

    For some pioneers, though, the biggest buzz comes from the prospect of smartphone access to Progresso, currently being developed across every smartphone system iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7 and others. Far sighted ICT leaders see great possibilities of this for anytime, anywhere access, and it’s already suggested that some users, at least, will be able to do all they need to do on Progresso through their phones, without opening a laptop. Stewart Bendon, ICT Manager at Fulston Manor School in Kent, says,

    “I’m very excited about the mobile apps. The majority of the staff here have some form of smartphone that they use in school.”

    Microsoft values the partnership with Serco, and is taking a keen interest in the way Progresso uses the Microsoft software “stack” to produce an innovative and responsive management tool for schools. So we’ll be following the progress of these pioneer schools, here on the schools blog, over the next few months.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Interesting Links – 8th July


    Collection of interesting edtech related links from the last week or so.

    Have you come across any interesting stories in the last week?

    Have a great weekend!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    How do you showcase students’ work to a much wider, perhaps even global, audience?


    Blog post created in association with Steve Gillott, Head of IT at Wootton Bassett School:

    Wootton Bassett School in Wiltshire run an annual exhibition of students’ work in their Design, Art and Technology Show, and have used Microsoft Photosynth and the free Image Composite Editor to create a virtual exhibition of students’ work on the web.

    The panoramas of the Design, Art and Technology Exhibition were created by taking a number of photographs of the exhibition which overlapped, and then imported into the Microsoft Image Composite Editor, a free download from ICE then stitches all the photographs together seamlessly and can upload the resulting high-resolution panorama to the Photosynth website. You can see the finished panoramas at and


    But to really get a feel of what it was like to be at the exhibition, Steve Gillott, Head of ICT at Wootton Bassett School, also created a Photosynth which you can see at Photosynth creates a 3D visualisation from many photos taken from lots of different angles and perspectives. Steve said, “The synth allowed us to recreate the exhibition in 3D, so virtual visitors can really get a feel of how the exhibition was laid out in the hall. The Photosynth also allows you to step much closer to the work to see it in even greater detail – almost like being there! The really exciting and powerful use of the tool is getting feedback on the work from people all over the world. The students are really excited to know that their work has reached such a global audience.”


    By using the ‘highlights’, you can quickly move to a particular point in the hall, and step closer and closer to see the detail in the work.

    clip_image003 clip_image004

    You can find other synths such as Stonehenge and the Sphinx which make great classroom resources to explore at You’ll need a Live ID and the latest version of Silverlight installed to create your own synths.

    If you would like to write a guest post to showcase how you are embracing technology within your school, leave your details in the comments below or get in touch via Twitter.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Genius on a Shoestring: Interesting competition from RM Education


    Quick post to share the details of an interesting new competition being run by the folks over at RM Education – Genius on a Shoestring!

    Open to all schools and colleges across the UK, RM are inviting institutions to come forward and showcase their innovations in teaching and learning.

    With an emphasis on big thinking, even on a small budget, RM are offering some great prizes for those institutions that have really moved the bar forward in terms of enhancing the delivery of teaching and learning.

    RM Competition 

    More information can be found on the RM website, and registrations should be received by the 16th September. Final submissions must be with the judging panel before the 30th September, 2011.

    Get your video cameras ready!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Master students report key talks and discussions at The Sunday Times Festival of Education


    festivalOn 25th and 26th June 2011, The Sunday Times Festival of Education took place at Wellington College, Berkshire. Here Wellington brought in a team of nine student reporters from the Masters course in journalism at City University and invited them to write some short reports on some of the talks and discussions during the event.


    Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education

    Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education

    Sir Martin Rees with Dr Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College

    Lord Robert Winston


    All PDF’s to these reports can be found here

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Software Licensing Training Course at Stockton Sixth Form College, 5th August 2011



    Do you want to know more about EES (Enrolment for Education Solutions)?
    Do you need to know more about Microsoft licensing, including:

    • Client/Server Licensing
      • What’s a CAL
      • Core CAL Suite
      • Enterprise CAL Suite
      • Device CAL & User CAL
      • Processor Licensing (inc Multi-Core)
      • External Connectors/Internet Licences
      • Terminal Services/RDS
    • Work @ Home / Home Use Programme
    • Student Licensing
    • Software Assurance & Other Benefits, including:
      • MSDNAA
      • Dynamics CRM AA
      • IT Academy
      • Live@Edu / Office 365
    • OEM & Operating System Licensing
    • Virtualisation – impact on licensing
      • VDA & VDI Licensing (including access to Applications)
      • Windows Server
      • Windows 7
      • SQL
    • Product Activation
    • Downgrade Rights
    • Licence Transfer
    • Step-Up Licences
    • Re-imaging Rights
    • Desktop Optimisation Pack
    • Licensing products to use with the Apple Mac
    • VLSC (Introduction to)
    • Online Services
    • Multi-user licensing (i.e. Multi-Point Server licensing)

    What can Viglen do to help you?

    As one of the top licensing resellers in the UK as well as an OEM, we are well placed to understand the licensing needs of our customers. 
    Therefore we have designed a training course, covering all the above subject areas, to help customers understand how Microsoft licensing works and how you can get the best return on your investment.  Our trainer has over 20 years’ experience of software licensing and is regarded by many in the education sector as one of the primary experts on Microsoft licensing in the UK.

    Venue - Stockton Sixth For College

    Course timings:

    0930-1000               Coffee & Registration
    1000-1115               Training Part 1
    1115-1130               Coffee Break
    1130-1300               Training Part 2
    1300-1345               Lunch (& opportunity to discuss issues with your peers)
    1345-1500               Training Part 3
    1500-1530               Q & A Session / Close

    If you wish to attend, please complete the attached Booking Form at the earliest opportunity. 

    If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us –  email or telephone 01727 201890

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