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August, 2012

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    The 20 Best Blogs About Game-Based Learning

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    Guest post from Microsoft UK Schools Blog reader, Jasmine Hall, from Online Colleges.

    Overview of the top 20 best blogs that cover gamification/game-based learning.

    1. Gamification:

      Learn all about how games revolutionize more than just education through the extremely useful, insightful Gamification blog. Not only does it deeply explore how teachers and parents can utilize gaming platforms and developments in the interest of getting kids (and adults!) to hone their academic and practical skills alike, the site also goes into how they assist law enforcement and other initiatives.

    2. SeriousGameBlog.com:

      Read SeriousGameBlog.com in English or French when seeking all the latest news about game-based learning and other serious applications of digital gaming. Anyone interested in the market especially will find plenty of interesting reading here, and Succubus International’s decade of experience in serious gaming lends it considerable credence.

    3. Educational Games Research:

      Although this resource’s update schedule crawls when compared to some of its contemporaries, it certainly merits visiting when looking to find out what sort of conferences and other relevant game-based learning events are taking place. In addition, it also follows through on the title and posts information about the latest studies into the most and not-so-most educational games strategies.

    4. Serious Games Market:

      Anything and everything involving both game-based learning and serious gaming gets covered here, regardless of structure or application, making it a wonderfully thorough read. It’s especially interesting to catch up on how gaming can prove a valuable educational tool outside the classroom.

    5. PIXELearning Blog:

      One of the most comprehensive blogs about GBL boasts perspectives from several different writers and delves into all sorts of different and exciting corners of the concept. The eponymous company specializes in delivering learning sims and other gaming technologies at the most affordable possible cost.

    6. GALA Blog:

      GALA stands for Games and Learning Alliance, which should probably clue readers in on what they’re all about (PROTIP: It ain’t the Hokey Pokey). Multiple representatives from multiple serious gaming companies open up about their latest developments and approaches to the nascent industry.

    7. Pamela M. Kato, Ed.M., Ph.D.:

      Serious gaming expert Pamela M. Kato travels around the world to promote and discover the latest and greatest movements within game-based learning. She only recently took to blogging her experiences, readings, and research, but has nothing but interesting and highly informative things to share so far.

    8. David Renton’s Educational Blog:

      This popular edtech resource focuses mainly on the role gaming might very well play in a classroom setting, but looks into other digital venues from time to time for a broader glimpse at what all tech-savvy teachers have at their disposal. David Renton especially adores the Kinect’s educational applications, so anyone looking to harness its potential will likely find plenty to love and appreciate here.

    9. Ray Chambers:

      Like David Renton, Ray Chambers stands as a devoted acolyte of the Kinect, though his blog definitely covers other game-based learning strategies, though not nearly as often. Stop by here when looking for some of the best games and ideas connected to the device he adores — or even share something new and exciting from your own experiences!

    10. Cooney Center Blog:

      Of interest to parents and teachers of preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school students, the official blog of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop covers gaming and other digital media’s potential to get kids learning. Follow their progress in developing some great methods for harnessing the newest technological developments and participate in discussions about GBL’s possible futures.

    11. MyGamification.com:

      Hit up MyGamification.com for updated information regarding the latest gamification news, which impacts GBL in the classroom and boardroom alike. BigDoor Inc., which provides such services to Dell, MLB.com, Nickelodeon, and more, knows a few things about harnessing gaming for both promotional and educational ends.

    12. The UK Schools Blog:

      Microsoft’s UK Education Team illustrates how the company’s technology can be harnessed in order to provide students of all ages with engaging educational tools. While not exclusively about gaming, the ubiquitous corporation certainly provides plenty of excellent expert information on the subject.

    13. Bill MacKenty:

      This edtech enthusiast frequently covers gaming’s role in getting both kids and adults learning, though he doesn’t shy away from writing about other new media phenomena, either. Read through his posts for some fabulous insight into how all these developments fit together for a uniquely 21st century educational experience.

    14. Sealund’s Serious Games Blog:

      Both the blog and its accompanying podcast focus on Sealund’s serious gaming innovations and developments, which they hope provide maximum learning and engagement in its user base. Despite its somewhat erratic updating schedule, it really does offer up a great, detailed look at how educational games are created, developed, marketed, and utilized in the classroom.

    15. The Official World Education Games Blog:

      Thanks to the magic and wonder that is the Internet, schools now compete in international competitions testing students’ math and spelling acumen – even if thousands of miles and cultural boundaries galore separate them. All the events associated with the World Education Games, which partners with UNICEF, stand as excellent examples of serious gaming’s highly effective, incredibly enjoyable potential.

    16. Serious Games at Gamasutra:

      Despite Gamasutra’s status as a general resource for game developers and similar professionals, it pays more than lip service to the game-based learning community, offering up an entire section devoted solely to serious gaming. Give it a look when wanting to absorb all the most recent goings-on in getting kids learning and audiences enthralled using new media formats.

    17. Unity Technologies Blog:

      More tech-oriented teachers might want to try creating their very own educational games using Unity 3D, which simplifies the process and allows them to concentrate more on content than style. At their official blog, anyone curious about the platform can pick up further information about getting the most out of the product and how to utilize it for various useful purposes.

    18. Ian Bogost:

      Step up those GBL practices by learning a few things about the theory and practice of video games themselves, from a man who has studied the ways in which it has and might very well revolutionize politics, education, and more. Giving both Ian Bogost’s blog and website a look makes it easier to understand how all the intricate little components of technology and serious gaming fit together.

    19. Future of game-based Learning:

      With a title like that, it’s not too difficult to glean exactly what this blog hopes to share, but — for all those out there whose reading comprehension skills aren’t so hot — it’s about the future of game-based learning. Developers, educators, and others fascinated by the topic gather here to exchange ideas and information about what works, what doesn’t, what’s available, and (obviously) what’s to come.

    20. Center4Edupunx:

      Even visitors not adhering to the DIY and/or edupunk movements these days could still easily pick up some great pointers about using games and augmented reality for educational ends from the Center4Edupunx blog. Its content centers around getting the most out of GBL without compromising “creativity, whimsy … and a very limited budget,” making it great for the cash-strapped home or mainstream classroom.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    SharePoint in education webinar month (Guest Post)

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    Guest post from David Coleman, SharePointEduTech.

    In September schools colleges and universities everywhere start again for a new academic year, so all through September we will be hosting education focused webinars and I am very lucky to be joined by 2 fellow education focused SharePoint MVP’s Alex Pearce and Alan Richards and also Mike Herrity below you will find the session details and registration links I hope to see you.

    Alan Richards, Alex Pearce, Dave Coleman, MVP, SharePoint

    Using Office 365 in education

    Registration Link http://www.metavistech.com/webinar/using-office-365-education

    September 5th 2pm EDT 7pm BST

    We have all heard that Office 365 for education is free and with that we can get Lync, SharePoint and Exchange but what are the early adopters doing with it. Find out more about Office 365 for education, what a single school have done a group of academies and a whole Council/District.

    Alex Pearce (SharePoint MVP) founded BFC Networks who are a UK based company who specialise in SharePoint for education. As a keen blogger http://www.bfcnetworks.com/ajp he shares useful information about SharePoint and how it can be used in the education industry. Since the announcement of free licensing of Office 365 for education, Alex has changed his focus from SharePoint to include Lync and Exchange completing the Office 365 suite. BFC Networks have also changed their focus from just SharePoint to Office 365 for education and have deployed customised solutions from between 300 and 100,000 user tenancies. Recently Alex released a starter manual for Office 365 for education which will help you in your deployment.

    Using SharePoint to Cut Costs

    Registration link http://www.metavistech.com/webinar/using-sharepoint-cut-costs-education

    September 19th 2pm EDT 7pm BST

    School districts everywhere have been affected by the economy and are looking for ways to control costs while maintaining the highest educational standards. In this Webinar, you will learn how to use SharePoint 2010 along with InfoPath and SharePoint Designer to create feature rich online forms to streamline your education processes to control costs. SharePoint expert and Education consultant, Alan Richards, will demonstrate practical skills that will enable you to build workflow based forms that will cut your costs while providing your users with all the data they need. Alan Richards has been working in the education sector for over 17 years and during that time has been at the forefront of using IT. He has led teams that have been among the first to roll out Windows 7, Exchange 2010 and SharePoint 2010, many of these successes have been showcased in Microsoft case studies. With the launch of Office 365, Alan has been carrying out migrations for clients from on Premise system to ensure clients get the full advantage of using the cloud. Alan is also a regular blogger and speaker at various events.

    SharePoint v2.0 for Education- the Next Generation of Learning Platforms

    Registration Link http://www.metavistech.com/webinar/sharepoint-v20-education-next-generation-learning-platforms

    September 26th 2pm EDT 7pm BST

    The arrival of SharePoint 2007 saw the widespread adoption of SharePoint as a Learning Platform for educational establishments across the world. As organisations rolled out SharePoint there was initially confusion and frustration for many over what they had bought and how it could be used as a learning aid. Five years later, the latest version of SharePoint (2010) is increasingly adopted across the education sector. People have come to terms with the challenge by understanding that SharePoint is a platform and not a total solution. As educational establishments experiment with a wide variety of customisations and additions we are starting to see the rich educational solutions which make SharePoint a compelling tool to support learning.

    Join Mike Herrity, international SharePoint expert in the educational field and author of http://www.sharepointineducation.com/ as he takes us through some of the cutting edge SharePoint solutions created in educational institutions across the globe. This webinar will provide a rich resource of ideas and solutions to enable you to move your SharePoint Learning Platform forward or to decide whether to adopt SharePoint for the first time. Examples will include schools, federations, Local Authorities, Districts, Colleges and Universities from the UK, US and Australia.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Free ebook: Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (Second Preview)

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    Originally posted on the Microsoft Press Blog.

    image

    We’re happy to release the Second Preview of our free ebook Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, by Kraig Brockschmidt, today. Here’s a description of the ebook from Kraig:

    Kraig here. Hello again! Now that the RTM build of Windows 8 is out and available to developers, along with upgraded tools, I’m delighted to offer the next preview release of my book, Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Since the first release in June, we’ve added eight more chapters, bringing the total to 12 out of a planned 17. The new chapters cover collection controls (everything you wanted to know about ListView!), layout (especially view states), commanding UI (app bars, message dialogs, and their friends), the all-important topic of managing state, a close look at input and sensors (a form of input, really), media, animations, and contracts (share, search, the file pickers, and contacts). The earlier preview chapters (1-4) have also been updated and refined.

    Writing a book like this has always been a journey of exploration for myself, and I’m truly grateful that I also have the opportunity to share the results with you. The process has involved many discussions with the Windows engineering team who created the platform, often taking me into far-off corners of the galaxy, so to speak. I’ve also been doing my best to follow app-building discussions both within Microsoft, on the MSDN forums, and StackOverflow so that I can try to anticipate and answer questions that will likely arise in your own mind. And with this over-abundance of information and experience, my goal has been to pull together a narrative story from start to finish, blazing a single trail through what can seem at times like a thick jungle. I would love to hear from you how successful I’ve been at this endeavor.

    As evidenced by its title, this book is about writing Windows 8 apps in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The earlier chapters are indeed very specific to that particular choice of language and presentation layer, along with the Windows Library for JavaScript.

    Somewhere around Chapters 7 and 8, however, we really begin to transition more into the WinRT APIs that are applicable to apps written in any language. I’m finding this especially true as I’m writing Chapter 13 on live tiles and notifications—very little of it, other than the code snippets, is unique to JavaScript, especially when talking about tile-updating web services written with server-side technologies like PHP and ASP.NET! My point in saying this is that while I’ve written this book ostensibly for web developers who are and will be looking to create apps for Windows 8 and the Windows Store, much of this book will also be very helpful to Windows 8 developers in general. And since it is now and will be a free ebook, you can’t lose!

    As the release date for Windows 8 has been set for October 26th, we’re now on the home stretch toward the final release of this full ebook, which we plan to have ready in time for the Build conference in Redmond (October 30- November 2). I hope to see many of you there! And for those who cannot attend in person, keep an eye on http://buildwindows.com because the conference will also be presented online.

    Happy reading, and coding!

    DOWNLOAD LINKS:

    You can download the Second Preview (PDF only) here (13.5 MB).

    And you can download the Second Preview’s companion content here (64.9 MB).

    (We’ll release the final version of this free ebook in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats.)

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Office 365 for education Starter Manual

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    SharePoint MVP and Microsoft partner, Alex Pearce from BFC Networks, has created a very useful starter manual for Office 365 for education.

    This starter manual will give you a step by step guide to implementing Office 365 for education for your school or college. It will include the subscription process, how to register your first domain to some simple Exchange, Lync and SharePoint housekeeping.

    The guide can be downloaded directly from BFC Networks. Alternatively, you can view/download the full eBook below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Microsoft Press ebook: Programming Windows 8 Apps (free eBook)

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    Great eBook about writing Windows 8 style apps for Windows 8 using HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript.

    You can download the Second Preview (PDF only) here (13.5 MB).

    And you can download the Second Preview’s companion content here (64.9 MB).

    The full original version of the eBook can be viewed below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Microsoft Office 365 for education - Migration Masterclass

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    Is Office 365 right for your institution?

    This master class from Quest and Microsoft provides you with a valuable insight for the Education sector into:

    • Is Office 365 right for your institution?
    • How do you migrate from what you have now?

    Quest tools simplify your Office 365 migration, co-existence and management and in this session Quest staff share their real world experience of working with customers migrating to Office 365 for education.

    If you have already deployed a cloud based email solution, this session will show you why and how you can migrate to Office 365 for education.

    If you have a more traditional environment, this session will also demonstrate how you can migrate from on-premise Exchange and SharePoint, Lotus Notes, GroupWise, Exchange public folders and Windows files.

    Please register below.

    http://www.quest.com/webcast/microsoft-office-365-migration-masterclass818159.aspx

    Registration date and time information:
    18 September 2012 12:00

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Can a smart phone improve my son’s grades?

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    Originally posted on the OneNote Blog.

    (Guest blogger Christina Tynan-Wood writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle magazine, and is the author of "How to Be a Geek Goddess." She has been covering technology for decades and blogs at GeekGirlfriends.com and Family Circle's Momster.)

    Can a Smart Phone Improve my Son’s Grades?

    My son Cole (16) -- like many men I know -- is very good at appearing to listen when he isn't paying any attention at all. Whenever a conversation takes the form of a lecture, his attention drifts. His imagination kicks in. He finds something to do with his hands. Sometimes he even absently gets up and leaves the room. When he was younger, he got into quite a bit of trouble in school for this inattention. So over the years, he has learned to strike a pose of rapt attention before allowing his mind to wander. I'm sure this nonverbal tendency has contributed to a few of his more shocking report cards. Thankfully though, in this digital age, his high-school teachers tend to take a liberal attitude toward the use of technology. As long he is quietly using his tech as a study aide (not to cheat, text, or watch TV), his teachers quietly turn a blind eye.

    So, to bolster my hope of someday celebrating college acceptance letters with him, I decided to teach him how to use Microsoft OneNote - in conjunction with his Windows Phone -- to improve his note taking skills.

    I'm a journalist. Years ago I ditched notebooks and rely instead on OneNote keep track of research. It looks like a digital three-ring binder. But the more you use it, the more you realize how limited a three-ring binder is. I recently added a Nokia Lumia 900. ($49.99 with a contract at AT&T) Windows Phone to my work arsenal. And the combo allowed me to ditch the backpack, handheld recorder, and camera I once sported for note taking. When I jot a note, snap a photo, or record a conversation using OneNote on my Windows Phone, those notes are instantly synced (via Sky Drive) with OneNote on my Windows PC. So when I get back to my office, all my notes are waiting for me. No carrying. No filing. No organizing. It's all done.

    Being a journalist is a lot like being a perpetual student, I figured. So -- hoping these tricks will help my son, too -- I grabbed a laptop, cornered him, and said, "We need to come up with a plan to help you do better in school."

    He had a terrible year last year so he knew he wasn't getting out of this conversation. He sighed, sat down, and pretended to pay attention.

    "Do you take notes in class?" I asked.

    He said he did.

    "Can you show me some of them?"

    He looked panicked and started tossing out excuses. Some of them contradicted each other. It was funny.

    "So you don't really take notes?"

    "I mean to," he admitted. "I bring a notebook. I get it out. It's just so boring."

    I've known this boy a long time. So I know that listening to someone talk for ninety minutes is harder for him than jumping off an Olympic high board would be for me. (I don't like heights.) He's also nocturnal. So a long, early morning math class -- even though he likes math -- is an endurance sport, one where he is not the favorite to win. This all gets worse as the year goes on because if he daydreams through one lecture, the next one makes even less sense. With every class, he becomes more completely lost.

    I opened OneNote and showed him that it looked like his notebook but was better.

    Then I showed him how simple it was to create notebooks that are stored online at SkyDrive.com so he can access them from anywhere. He already has a Microsoft Account so we logged in from OneNote and created a new class notebook that would be stored in the cloud.

    Then I showed him around the note-taking features of OneNote on his PC. It allows him to capture Web research (and remembers where he got it.) It lets him record video. He could drop scans of homework assignments in here and toss the originals. He could jot ideas. He could create to-do lists. And all of it is searchable.

    It would even let him enter mathematical formulas.

    This was all very cool, he agreed.

    "But I'm not bringing my laptop to class," he told me. "Only dorks do that."

    I knew that. But he, too, has a Windows Phone. The selling point for him was its seamless integration with Xbox not its seamless integration with Office and SkyDrive. But he's hooked on it. So my evil plan was already working. In fact, he had it in his hand while we were talking. I pointed out Office Mobile (which, in addition to OneNote, features Word, Excel and PowerPoint) and told him to tap it. His phone was already logged into Windows Live - that's how he keeps up with his gaming peeps -- so when he opened Office on his phone, the new school notebook we'd just created was already there waiting for him.

    I showed him how to create a new note in that notebook, right from his phone.

    "So, when you can't pay attention anymore in class," I told him. "Start a new note and tap that little microphone icon to record the lecture. That way you can listen to it later - and use fast forward and rewind - so you know what material was covered." His idea of studying is to go watch Sal Khan explain things in a way he can relate to at The Khan Academy. That usually brings him right up to speed. But he needs to know what the teacher covered in class to do it.

    He was impressed. "This would be handy for when you start these random lectures and force me to listen to you," he told me, smiling and tapping the microphone icon to record our conversation.

    Within seconds, the recording showed up on the computer screen. And now I had his attention.

    I pointed out that the camera icon would be handy for taking photos of the homework assignments on the blackboard - since he never seems to remember to write those down, which leads to missed homework assignments, and - eventually -- terrible grades.

    I had him now. I know he wants to be a better student. But, in addition to his attention problems, he's also a hip guy with a social life. And sitting in class, hanging on the teacher's every word and copying things off the board are not - in his mind - the way to win a pretty girl's heart. (No matter how many times I tell him girls like smart guys.) But this sort of note-taking? He could do without anyone noticing. In fact, it would give him a chance to show off his tech savvy. And, if he does miss something in class and finds himself having trouble with a tough homework assignment, he can switch on his Microsoft webcam and Skype his friends-or that cute girl from math class-to figure it out.

    Whether all this technical firepower will improve his grades still remains to be seen. But I'm certain it would have helped me get better grades back when I was a student.

    You can find OneNote -- and the other Office applications I think are great for students - in Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010. Even better it's on sale until September 14! When you buy Office Home and Student 2010, Office for Mac Home and Student 2011 (3 pack), Office University 2010 or Office for Mac University 2011 you get 15% off.

    For more ways to replace old-school tools with tech, check out the September issue of Family Circle Magazine for my feature, "Tech that's Anything But Old School." Or come visit my "Family Tech Christina" blog at FamilyCircle.com/tech.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    A Different Outlook

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    Guest post from Kristian Still, Assistant Vice Principal, Hamble Community Sports College.

    Microsoft’s announcement of an all new, fantastically fast (and IMHO attractive), cloud-based email service at Outlook.com that ties into SkyDrive (now you have 7GB of free storage space) and open attachments right inside the new Web apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. You can chat or message directly from within Outlook.com, connecting to Facebook messages (not that I am a FB fan), and other networks, (eg LinkedIn of which I am a fan) and will some time later this year integrate with Skype.

    It is not for me to tell you how to manage you email INBOX, but there are some handy tools for that too with Outlook.com. There are categories, the very useful ‘sweep’ feature and also instant actions for reading emails.

    Now for the real barrier to changing your email address. Keeping your old, memory filled account, and creating a new professional alias. Well Outlook.com can take care of that.

    Step one – Create an Outlook.com account or update or even rename your old account, instantly losing the nickname, underscore and mythical number.

    Step two - If you want to keep your memory field email, now take the opportunity to create an alias. In this case, a more professional alias. Basically it appears to create a ’new email account’ but its stored in the same INBOX. You might chose to do this if you are looking for a new position at a new school. Creating a bespoke email address for that all important application / conversation email chain. What is even better is that Outlook.com then creates a folder to collect the responses to that alias.

    Step three – add and verify additional email accounts to your Outlook.com. They do need to be POP-enabled, but Outlook.com checks that for you. Now, when you compose a new message, you get to choose to send it from any of the associated accounts. Your recipients may see: “From kristianstill@outlook.com on behalf of name@example.com” even though you sent it from Outlook.com. Replies are sent to the originating email address.

    Add Outlook.com and the SkyDrive App to your smart phone and I think you just about have all bases covered.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Saving money with Office 365 for education

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    Guest post from Gerald Haigh. Gerald writes regularly for the Microsoft education blogs.

    Office 365 for education is much more than a money saver. It has the potential to change and streamline communication and collaboration across the whole of an institution. It’s important to set that out at the start.

    However, short term cost saving is high on the agenda in schools and colleges, and the fact that Office 365 for education is free (for plan A2) to academic institutions, needs no on-site maintenance, and has the strong potential to make considerable efficiency savings is bound to attract attention.

    image

    So, even though it’s early days with Office 365 for education, IT leaders have to look ahead, and I decided to look at some of the stories and case studies that are already coming from early adopters.

    Immediately, it became apparent that invariably it’s the availability of free cloud-based email that’s the initial attraction. For The Schools Network (formerly the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust) for example, Office 365 for education solved the problem of how to replace an ageing email system in a climate of much-reduced funding. The removal of upfront server and licensing costs saved over £34,000.

    But that’s only part of the story.

    "We would have had to invest thousands to have ensured the level of uptime and support that Office 365 for education provides as a standard service," says Head of Information Services Julian Elve. "There was never a question of us matching that level of support ourselves. There was simply no budget to do that." http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Case_Study_Detail.aspx?CaseStudyID=710000000494

    It was a similar story at the 1,900 student East Norfolk Sixth Form College where IT Services Manager Eric Stone took the opportunity, with help from Microsoft, to be an early adopter of Office 365 for education last Autumn. They, too, faced the need to increase storage capacity for their on-site email system.

    “One of the main drivers for changing to a cloud based product was the saving on storage and backup,” says Eric. “We believe we saved in excess of £5000 in capital expenditure for additional storage, whilst providing the students with an improved user experience, simply by moving the email accounts over to Office 365 for education.”

    There’s a pattern emerging here which shows that Office 365 for education isn’t just a marginal cost-saver, a tweaker of the balance sheet, but is actually opening up new pages in the account books by helping institutions to make improvements that they otherwise simply couldn’t afford.

    Take the story of the 5,500 student Kilmarnock College, for example. There, the ICT Service team had looked at upgrading the Exchange Server that was providing staff email and found they’d have to find £15,000 for hardware, £10,000 in deployment costs in the first year, and then an annual maintenance cost of at least £2,000 per year. None of this was at all feasible, so moving to Office 365 for education both eliminated those costs and vastly improved the level of service. http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Case_Study_Detail.aspx?CaseStudyID=710000000987

    But each of these innovators know that taking on Office 365 for education in order to reap the efficiencies and cost benefits of email is just a first step. All the other Office 365 for education applications are there to be used. At Kilmarnock College, for instance, there are plans to use SharePoint Online, included in Office 365 for education to complement and enhance their existing online content management system. IT Service leader Brad Johnston doubts whether, with their existing staffing levels, they could have deployed on-site SharePoint in the same way. And Brad’s also working on introducing users to Lync Online,

    “We’re now telling our users that the emphasis on phones is no longer there because you have this whole communication tool built into Office 365,” says Brad. “It’s a million miles away from where we would be without it.”

    Eric Stone, at East Norfolk Sixth Form College is adopting ‘one step at a time’ strategy, so although the whole of Office 365 for education will be available, from September, administrators in the College will stay with the familiar Office 2010 suite for now. As Eric says, there’s nothing to be lost by waiting,

    “And students will certainly use Office 365, saving themselves some licensing costs.”

    So is there a catch? Apparently not. Reliability of service, for example, is typically better than with an on-site system. Eric Stone says,

    “I believe we’ve exceeded Microsoft’s best estimate. In the whole year we lost connection for just five minutes on one afternoon.”

    More of these stories will emerge, and as they do it will become increasingly clear that the most significant cost savings of all will come from increased efficiency – better communication and collaboration, more effective deployment of technical staff, instant and effortless availability of the most up to date software. In this regard it’s well worth taking a look at a significant report on cost saving with Office 365 for education prepared for Microsoft in June 2011 by Forrester Consulting, looking at Total Economic Impact (TEI) of Office 365 on small and medium sized businesses. It reports dramatic savings, with a return on investment (ROI) of 321%, and while the many areas of potential saving that it lists aren’t all applicable to schools, many of them certainly are.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Windows 8 Release Preview Guide

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    With Windows 8 now at RTM and General Availability for our new operating system scheduled for October 26th, now is a great time to become better acquainted with the Windows 8 Release Review.

    To help guide you through  some of the new features of Windows 8, and the Release Preview in particular, we have produced an overview document that you might find useful.

    The full document can be viewed/downloaded below:

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