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September, 2012 - 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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September, 2012

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    8 things you didn’t know about Microsoft in education (Infographic)

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    Our new ‘8 things you didn’t know about Microsoft in education’ infographic is still work in progress, but thought it would be fun to share the current version via the blog. It is Friday, after all Smile 

    We will have our final version available in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime, we would love to hear what you think. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

    You can download the draft infographic via our SlideShare account. You can also view the full infographic below:

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Cost Savings in Education eBook

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    Building on the launch of our new Exciting Learning eBook yesterday, we are excited to make our new Cost Savings in Education eBook available via the blog for the first time.

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    The eBook is packed full of great examples of how schools, colleges and universities are saving money using a wide range of our technologies.

    We will be sharing some of these examples via the blog over the coming weeks, but if you want to get a head start on how best to save money within your institution, the full eBook can be downloaded via our SlideShare page. Alternatively, you can view the eBook in full below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Exciting Learning eBook

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    After a summer of hard work from Ollie Bray and members of the Microsoft Education team, we are thrilled to make our new Exciting Learning eBook available via our blog for the first time.

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    The new eBook aims to address the following:

    • Enhance the understanding of the benefits of ICT and technology across the curriculum including literacy, numeracy, technology, personal, social and health education
    • Provide practical information on how technology can be used to increase student motivation and enhance learning
    • Give teachers the confidence to use technology in class as a learning and teaching methodology that reaches across all subject areas and age groups
    • Reinforce the importance and place of ICT skills for productivity and the 21st century skills agenda
    • Encourage teachers to consider using games design and other technologies with students to help children become creators rather than consumers of content
    • Improve advice on how teachers and school leaders might tackle some of the common challenges encountered when trying to develop the use of technology in schools

    The full eBook can be downloaded via our SlideShare Profile. Alternatively, the eBook can be viewed below.

    We hope you find it useful and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

    Tim

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Announcing the UK’s Microsoft Pathfinder Schools

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    Originally posted on the Teachers Blog.

    Microsoft Partners in Learning not only works with teachers, but also has a Schools Programme that can help and support a school in achieving it’s vision towards 21st century learning. This global programme connects schools around the world to share best practice on how technology can help deliver a 21st century learning experience for their students. You can find out more about the Partners in Learning Schools Programme at www.pil-network.com

     

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    I am pleased to announce that the two UK schools accepted on the programme for this year, as part of a global group of 60 schools are :- Willows High School in Cardiff and Havant Academy in Hampshire.

    Willows High School are the first school in Wales to be accepted in the programme, and are looking for help in engaging the number of students who opt out of school. Ian Whittaker, Deputy Headteacher, said ‘the solutions that we think we need are difficult to achieve. To be able to explore strategies from schools around the world is a unique opportunity, we are convinced will help achieve our long term goals’

    Havant Academy are in the process of a complete school redesign. Building learning spaces around the needs of learners and identifying how technology can allow them to do that. Julie Taylor, Headteacher said ‘ The opportunity to work with experts from Microsoft, not just in terms of technology, but world experts in teaching and learning, is exciting and highly motivating for staff and students alike’

    You can find out more about the range of programmes Microsoft Partners in Learning offers by joining for free at www.pil-network.com

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    “Technology can bring the real world into the classroom, which means that as teachers we can better prepare kids for the exciting adventures that they will face in their future.” Dan Roberts – Seychelles

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    Originally posted on the Daily Edventures blog.

     

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    Dan Roberts is a self-professed “geek” who has always loved school…and is sometimes known as “The Chicken Man” (a moniker bestowed on him by his students during an especially unique class project called “Recharge the Battery”). As he explained to the TED London crowd, “Learning actually saved me several times as I was growing up.” Luckily for his students, Roberts has kept that love of learning, and it translates into his teaching each day.  So much so, he has won numerous national teaching awards, most recently the ICT Visionary in Education at the TES Schools Awards. He has held various positions of responsibility within secondary schools, including Deputy Headteacher at Saltash.net Community School in Cornwall,  and most recently he was named Headteacher at the International School of Seychelles.

    It almost goes without saying that Roberts is extremely passionate about 21st century learning. Perhaps most important, he pushes the status quo of how schools use and view technology. “Taking [technology] away from a child in school today would be like taking away a pen from me when I was learning,” he says.

    It’s my pleasure to share today’s  Daily Edventure with you about Dan Roberts.

    Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced
    innovation in education?

    I think the best way to sum this up is to quote what was written about me last week when I won a national award for ICT Visionary in Education. The judges said:

    “Dan Roberts deserves the title of ‘visionary’ for being consistently innovative in educational ICT over a long period of time. He is no one-trick pony (or even a one-trick chicken), but a bold scavenger who explores all sorts of different technologies and discovers new approaches for other teachers around the world…One example of his work is the Recharge the Battery science project, which began when pupils wanted to rescue battery chickens from a local intensive farm to live a free-range life at the school. This scheme became the basis for a unique curriculum involving the innovative use of technology such as webcams, which has since been disseminated around the globe by Microsoft.”

    What has changed as a result of your efforts?

    From the feedback that I have had from teachers and students that I have collaborated with all over the world, I have inspired them and transformed the way they approach learning.

    How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

    Embrace technology to empower young people and the adults that they connect with. Through new technology and the changing global landscape of education there is a whole new set of possibilities, we must be relentless in the pursuit to unleash the greatness in the quality of teaching and learning that is happening inside and outside the classroom.

    How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

    This has been so easy, really it isn’t rocket science, it is all about empowerment and encouraging the children and staff to take risks. All I have done is support them to use technology to make a fantastic contribution to the quality of their learning by doing things differently. I often use a quote from the Wright brothers: “If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance.”

    What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?

    I think the biggest obstacle for students over the years since I have been teaching – and it is not just where I am currently but everywhere – has been the quality of teaching. The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) in 1996 published a report analyzing the quality of education over the last 50 years. One of the main findings about what made a successful school was that “The quality of a school cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.” Often for a child, the quality of their learning experience can be a lottery, each school has variance within itself, as it does at regional, national and international levels…it is rare to get a completely consistent approach. Students only have one chance at education, I have strived and been driven to make sure that they have the best  opportunities they can to be engaged and inspired in learning.

    What is your country doing well currently to support education?

    One good thing here in the Seychelles is that students all have the potential to receive a free education, which is not necessarily the case everywhere in the world. I haven’t been here long enough to discuss in detail what the country is doing well and what it needs to do to improve.

    What conditions must change in your country to better support education?

    One huge challenge for the country will be the conditions that they need to create over the next few years with the advancement in technology. Literally in the last month or so, the country received the capability of fiber optic cable to bring high-speed Internet access to the country. The potential power of this technology means that there is a great responsibility for the government and the community to educate the students, teachers and parents how to use technology responsibly and effectively. In the next few years there will be changes educationally and socially in the way that people live and learn both inside and outside the classroom. It will be an exciting time.

    What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?

    Technology/ICT has been advancing at a phenomenal rate – kids are extremely lucky in some ways to have such potential – if only they are allowed to use it. ICT is not just a tool for learning, but a whole new way of learning. Kids can learn anytime, anyplace and anywhere! Technology can bring the real world into the classroom, which means that as teachers we can better prepare kids for the exciting adventures that they will face in their future. Technology does help to create lifelong learners, encourages, engages the disaffected, extends and challenges the more able learner, and can support the most vulnerable. It is engaging kids in a way that it has never before, to put it quite simply, the learning possibilities are limitless.

    I do believe, however, that there are still many children around the world that simply don’t have the same opportunities. You may think I’m talking about developing countries where they may have one computer in the whole school, but I’m not. Many of these schools are doing amazing things with that one computer – I’ve seen this first-hand. I’m actually  talking about those schools that see ICT or technology as “evil,” “dangerous,” or a “distraction.” They ban, block, filter and confiscate. What is the learning like in those classrooms? We educators have an obligation to this generation of children to embrace technology and allow them to use it.

    What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?

    Have the confidence to take risks inside and outside the classroom, but at all times in everything that you do, make sure in taking these risks you always safeguard the children that you work with and yourself. Be true to your own core values and strive to make an incredible difference to the lives of young people. I always remember a quote I read when I trained ten years ago which has stayed with me all of this time:

    “I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate, humour, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crises will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanised or de-humanised.” – Taken from Teacher and Child by Haim Ginott.

    What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?

    New technologies.  The best thing about the advances in technology is the empowerment for students. Their learning experiences and opportunities can create a legacy for those in years to come. They have a global audience and the power to make a real difference in the lives of everyone for the future.

    If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

    I would give every child everywhere in the world an inspirational teacher because is this is the single most important factor in helping a child have the best educational experience they can have.

    —————————————————————————————————————————————————

    Join the Partners in Learning Network and experience global collaboration!

    Innovate in the classroom, help your students build the skills they need for the future—such as problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity—with Partners in Learning.

    You’ll meet other innovative teachers for collaboration opportunities, get access to free teacher resources, and learn about great ways to improve your personal teaching practice using technology.

    Embraced by the theme ‘Your Ideas Matter’ the Partners in Learning Network is a community for you, by you, and further amplifies the great work that is being done every day by teachers and schools around the world.  With this idea in mind, we invite you to try out this global online resource and community designed to encourage collaboration and the spread of ideas for the betterment of education worldwide.

    The new Partners in Learning Network is the next generation of the global network serving educators and school leaders in over 115 countries.  To facilitate a truly global community of innovative educators, the site is now available in 36 different languages, thanks to the use of Microsoft Translator Services.

    Sign in, create an account and start connecting with thousands of educators worldwide here.  

    —————————————————————————————————————————————————

    About Dan Roberts

    Birthplace: Cheshire, England
    Current residence: Seychelles
    Education: BSc (Hons), Med, NPQH
    Website I check every day: http://www.twitter.com
    Person
    who inspires me most
    : The children that I work with, they are a daily inspiration to me and relentlessly help shape innovative and creative ideas for the future.
    Favorite childhood memory: Playing on a beach with my family in the sunshine.
    Next travel destination (work or pleasure): No plans whatsoever…so could be anywhere, which is exciting.
    When was the last time you laughed? Why? Yesterday evening I attended a fundraising event on the beach here in the Seychelles for children from a children’s home. I was laughing at my son who is two, dancing with a hula hoop on the beach getting in the way of all the other older children.
    Favorite book: 1984 by George Orwell
    Favorite music: A real mix anything from rock, reggae, rap, R&B!
    Your favorite quote or motto: “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” - John Lennon

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Two Schools, One Play: How Skype Helped Make it Happen

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    Originally posted on the Skype Play Blog.

    Skype soliloquys? Apparently so, and "All the world's a stage", as we recently caught wind of two acting studios who decided to join forces and put on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. There was just one catch: one studio was in Australia at the Wollongong Drama Studio, and the other was in New York at the Stella Adler Studio for Acting.

    Luckily, distance didn't deter studio directors Fiona Finley of Wollongong and Tom Oppenheim of Stella Adler. Instead, they saw this as an opportunity to get creative and try something new. With the use of Skype video call, the two studios were able to put on the same play with thousands of miles between them. We had the chance to catch up with Fiona Finley to find out how she and Tom managed to take Romeo and Juliet into the 21st century.

    What gave your studio the idea of putting on Romeo and Juliet between the two schools via Skype?
    I'm always looking for ways to get the kids to have new and different experiences. I was brainstorming and remembered that the National Youth Theatre in London runs a program each year where students go overseas. However, I misinterpreted what they had done and thought that they had their overseas plays via Skype, when in fact they went overseas to perform the plays in person. When I was first starting out as a director, I went to the Stella Alder Studio for Acting as an assistant director and got in contact with their Artistic Director and President Tom Oppenheim. We always wanted to find a way to work together without all the travel costs involved, and it just developed from there.

    How were you able to execute the play with half the cast on Skype?
    Romeo and Juliet seemed to be the best fit for this type of play, since the two worlds are clearly defined. Our side played the Montagues, and New York played the Capulets. The production in Australia was reversed in America. New York's Juliet was displayed on a huge screen here, and our Romeo was interacting with her on stage, and it was vice versa in America. It was the same production but from two different angles.

    How has the reaction been?
    It's all been great! It's definitely going to be the start of a magnificent relationship between our school and the Stella Adler Studio in New York. This could very well change the way we work in theatre. It means that companies can reach out to each other from the other side of the world and have interactive experiences and plays without huge budgets and travel needs. Also, it kind of reminds me of when having a pen pal was popular, as kids from both studios are now maintaining the friendships they made through doing this play and are staying in touch via Skype.

    skypesoliloquys

    Studio director Fiona Finley with Romeo and Juliet lead actor Matt Latham. (Image c/o Justin Huntsdale/ABC Illawarra)

    What was the most fun aspect of doing something like this through Skype?
    I get excited with everything to do with theatre. It's exciting to have kids talk to each other and realize that even if they're on other side of world, they still share the same interest and love for theatre. It's a very beautiful thing to see, and it changes the way we communicate. It's so much better than just having typed conversations and sending mail back and forth.

    Do you plan on making any changes in your future Skype plays?
    We were looking at potentially using group video calls for our next Skype performance. One feature we would love would be to have the ability to prerecord things on group video calls.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    eLearn eTeach: Hampshire County Council and Microsoft working together to unleash the power of technology in the classroom

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    (Guest post by Mark Reynolds, Schools Business Manager – South)

    The partnership between Hampshire and Microsoft has developed over many years, but two major advances in the last 12 months have started to bring significant change and exciting possibilities to the county’s schools. They have also given us a new way to think about how Local Authorities support and enable great teaching and improve outcomes for children in Hampshire and beyond.

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    We’ve written previously (in the School in a Box eBook) about how Hampshire have used a combination of Microsoft technology in their “Private Cloud” combined with Office365 to deliver the Hosted School Service (HSS). So having offered their schools an innovative way of delivering IT Infrastructure, how do they follow that through and ensure that innovation is also happening in the classroom? I’ve been speaking to Andy Martin (IT Manager for HCC Children, Schools and Partnerships) about their new eLearn eTeach programme, to find out:

    “Technology has revolutionised the classroom for both teachers and learners. The challenge is no longer “What do you know?” but “Do you understand and can you use what you know?”. Technology is exciting and has the power to motivate and engage learners and to provide access to a whole world of knowledge, experience and opportunities within the classroom. Microsoft is a key partner of ours in promoting the vision of eLearn eTeach. The centre not only provides Microsoft accredited training but industry experts will give sessions on using Microsoft software and products in the classroom.”

     

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    Hampshire’s vision for eLearn eTeach is to help schools to help teachers and learners by:

    • networking with other professionals and sharing good practice
    • keeping up to date with curriculum and technological developments
    • understanding how technology can be used as an effective tool for learning
    • investigating how current and developing technologies used outside the classroom can operate within a formal learning environment
    • gaining transferable skills that can be used to support all areas of learning now and in the future.

    One of the six priorities in Hampshire’s Children and Young People’s Plan is to: “Provide opportunities to learn that raise children and young people’s aspirations, encourage excellence and enable them to enjoy and achieve beyond their expectations.”. But for teachers it can be a challenge to capitalise on the increasing technological expertise of their learners. They have to be able to keep-up, but also where possible to get ahead – so they can introduce new and engaging technology which their students may not have access to at home. So how are Hampshire dealing with the challenge of teacher CPD?

    “eLearn eTeach offers flexible professional development with access to the latest interactive teaching technology. In addition, teachers and students have the opportunity to learn together through personally designed programmes at The eLearn eTeach Centre, in their own institution or online. This flexible approach is further promoted by ten flightcases of equipment that can be delivered to sites, along with associated training.”

    In addition to delivering face-to-face training courses and the use of “kits” which schools can hire, Microsoft is also helping Hampshire explore the possibilities of Distance Learning using Lync. The Open University has already used Lync to great effect, highlighting the ability for teachers in Hampshire to learn new technology and attend a “classroom” environment, without having to travel to the eLearn eTeach centre every time.

    There are 8 “sides” to eLearn eTeach. Andy gave me some more information on those 8 sides and how they can help schools develop their use of technology:

    Data to inform

    Getting the best out of the data in your school, turning it into useful information available to the right people at the right time. This is where an advanced knowledge of Capita SIMS is vital (built on Microsoft SQL server) combined with better use of the simple “business intelligence” features in Microsoft Excel.

    Hands on Technology

    Schools can hire technology-packed flightcases which let them let try new hardware before they buy. And we’re inviting technology suppliers to come to Hampshire and run workshops for school staff at our venues.

    Digital literacy

    It’s essential to use technology to locate, organise, evaluate, analyse and communicate information effectively. We will help people learn effective methods of teaching to promote ICT skills and capability in learners. We’re running courses on Microsoft Office, eSafety, Web 2.0, and Control Technology in the classroom.

    Computer studies

    Computer Studies at GCSE has become a highly valued subject that promotes higher order thinking skills. Our experts will help schools understand the concepts that sit behind Computer Studies, learn essential computing and coding, and identify effective methods of teaching students to become the next generation of software developers.

    Sharing expertise

    Great learning uses the experience of others and develops it further. We want to create opportunities to find real life examples of good practice, to talk with colleagues, and benefit from resources that have been shared by others for use elsewhere.

    The cutting edge

    It can be difficult to navigate through the endless changes in technology and apply them to learning. Partners (including Microsoft!) will meet our delegates and share the latest technology with them, showing what it does and how it can be used in learning and teaching.

    Curriculum development

    Looking at developments in the ICT curriculum, examing models of planning and assessment and considering how these could be implemented in school.

    Further education

    With the leaving age due to increase and the changes in the ICT curriculum, level 2 courses are going to be taught post-16 more often. Our courses will support schools with these developments, both with software and in understanding the delivery of the specifications.

    Microsoft is very proud to be involved in such an exciting partnership and I think Hampshire are an excellent example of how Local Authorities can “buck the trend” and operate innovative sustainable business models in the current political climate. I asked Andy Martin to sum up what their work on both the IT Infrastructure and CPD for schools would mean to the young people of Hampshire:

    “We have two main ambitions for all of our school services: to improve the outcomes for children and schools through embedding excellent practice in the every day, and to help teachers and other professionals gain confidence in using appropriate technology to provide interesting, challenging and relevant learning experiences. If we can help professionals to network either on-line or face-to-face and share a wealth of expertise and experience this will help greatly towards these goals. As much as anything, it’s about connecting people through technology to high quality teaching and learning experiences. Where we have expertise, we want to be able to permeate this through all of Hampshire’s schools to help all the children and families in Hampshire. Essentially this is what eLearn eTeach is about.”

    For more information on eLearn eTeach visit www.hants.gov.uk/elearneteach

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Windows 8 for Education – is there more than ‘touch’?

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    Guest post from Daley Robinson, Stone Group.

    With the imminent arrival of Windows 8 on 26th October 2012, there are undoubtedly a number of educational institutions anxious to understand what Microsoft’s next generation operating system offers. With a fresh, clean interface also comes significant new advantages and benefits. Windows 8 for education now offers students a completely new experience, providing intuitive access to digital content alongside a fully functioning suite of learning enhancing tools that allow for more productive teachers, more engaged students and enhanced interaction and collaboration.

    So aside from the well publicised benefits for touch screen devices, what makes Windows 8 better than its predecessor? We’ve highlighted some of the benefits that the upcoming Operating System can bring you as a school or academy for any PC, whether it is touch-enabled or not. :

    Enhanced Security to improve e-safety

    Secure Boot is a feature enabled by UEFI, which replaces the traditional PC BIOS found in previous version of Windows. Within education particularly, security features are exceptionally important and the risk of losing data because of malicious viruses etc can prove to be catastrophic from an e-safety perspective. The enhanced security features of Windows 8 brought about by Secure Boot are designed to prevent such viruses and unsolicited programs initiating on your PCs before Windows and all of its built-in safeguards are launched.

    Improved Start Up times to get pupils ‘on-task’ quicker

    One major change to Windows 8 is the improved start up times and faster performance. This will allow students and staff alike to get on task and lessons far quicker than previously, reducing the amount of wasted valuable teaching time waiting for the system to load up.

    There are various user reports online testing the performance of Windows 8, showing boot times of 12 seconds with a HDD, or 8 seconds from an SSD – a notable improvement on Windows 7.

    Personalised Learning with User Roaming Profile

    User Roaming Profile has been devised to address the challenges in today’s multi-user and multi-device environment. User Roaming Profile allows you to synchronise your pupil or teachers’ profiles, settings and apps so that regardless of where they are, they’ll still get the same end user experience. When the user logs in to another device with the same ID, the settings are downloaded from the cloud and synchronised with the local machine – this means that students can experience a single, unified personalised learning experience. All settings, wallpapers, apps and so on are available to any Windows 8 device offering the ultimate in flexibility.

    Locked down off-site access to the school’s own image with Windows-to-Go

    One of the most innovative features in Windows 8 is Windows-to-Go. A more admin-focused personalised learning tool, Windows-to-Go ultimately gives educational institutions the ability to provide the full experience of Windows 8 on a machine other than that within the school’s local area network (e.g. a home PC) by directly booting from a USB drive. Once the instance of Windows 8 is initiated, it functions and is maintained by the usual Microsoft system administrator tools such as System Centre Configuration Manager and Active Directory group policies.  Windows-to-Go can transfer any PC running Windows 7 or above to offer the same Windows 8 experience to a pupil as they are accustomed to whilst at school, giving them the benefits associated with a single unified interface and platform to enhance their learning potential.

    With student files saved on Windows Live SkyDrive, Office365, or a third party cloud based VLE your school can enable true anytime, anywhere learning.

    Windows Bitlocker – ensure you meet your data security obligations and avoid costly ICO files

    Another major benefit of Windows 8 as Windows 8 Bitlocker now comes as standard on all Windows 8 Pro devices. For PCs that have TPM (Trusted Platform Module), of which most of our PCs come with TPM as standard, there is now an ‘out of the box’ software encryption solution to make data security a priority in all educational institutions. With the Information Commissioner’s Office having the power to hand out fines of up to £500,000 for data security breaches, with a recent UK public sector fine of £325,000 for one NHS trust, Windows BitLocker as standard in Windows 8 Pro offers schools a cost effective way to make sure their reputation or their finances aren’t significantly damaged.

    This will mean you can send teachers home with their laptops safe in the knowledge than any rogue locally stored files won’t be to the detriment of your school’s data security policy.

    Universal Sharing – maximising creative ICT opportunities across multiple applications

    One of the more advanced features to Windows 8 is Universal Sharing. This allows the student to be working in Photoshop, for example, and drag images into a PowerPoint presentation, add some cool animation and drag it straight back to another application, such as the Virtual Learning Environment - where it can then be posted and submitted for assessment without the hassle of opening and closing multiple applications separately.

    Windows 7 Compatibility – don’t lose the use of your existing software assets

    Everything that runs on Windows 7 will also be capable of running on Windows 8 too meaning that you won’t need to upgrade your ICT suite just to accommodate Windows 8.

    Whilst many may still be cautious about the upgrade to Windows 8, it is set to bring a no-compromise experience across all PC devices. It will give students the functionality and skills they need with enhanced learning tools and a solid, secure framework on which to move forward with your vision for ICT in the classroom.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Sean’s Top 10 Tips for schools looking at using Microsoft technology…

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    Guest post from Sean O’Shea, Schools Business Manager – North.

    I always enjoy reading a “Top 10” or “The Best 5” lists so I thought I would create one of my own. There is so much that Microsoft do as a company, not just in terms of the sheer amount of different software and services that we offer, but also various programs and initiatives that it’s hard to keep track sometimes! Therefore, I decided to create a “Top Ten Tips” to show what Microsoft can do for schools. I used Twitter to send them out (#seanstoptips…now there’s a mouthful) and had a good reaction. So for anyone that missed it, please find them below. Enjoy!

    Tip 1: Make sure your school is licensed in the most cost effective way with EES: http://www.microsoft.com/uk/education/schools/software-licensing/types-of-educational-licence/enrolment-for-education-solutions.aspx

    Tip 2: Provide your staff and students with free email, collaboration and communication apps with Office 365 http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/office365/education/compare-plans.aspx#fbid=3tvpnNdrT7Q

    Tip 3: Connect (for free) with over 4 million other teachers globally in the Partners in Learning Network http://www.pil-network.com

    Tip 4: Download free apps for schools with the Learning Suite http://www.pil-network.com/Resources/Tools/Details/9db2ca32-098d-40ad-a4c4-d236d50bd4dc

    Tip 5: Free tools, resources and software for schools and students on gaming/app design/coding and much more with Dreamspark https://www.dreamspark.com/Default.aspx

    Tip 6: Sign your schools up to IT Academy to provide CPD for staff & technicians as well as certification for students http://www.microsoft.com/uk/education/schools/curriculum-resources/IT-academy/default.aspx

    Tip 7: Save money and power by using Azure to move your server into the cloud! Have a go with a free trial http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/

    Tip 8: Looking at BYOD? Worried about how to manage different devices and operating systems? Microsoft can help http://blogs.technet.com/b/server-cloud/archive/2012/09/10/system-center-2012-configuration-manager-sp1-beta-and-windows-intune-update.aspx

    Tip 9: Talking about what to do with Computer Science in your school? Have a look at the new GCSE from AQA which is aligned to the Microsoft Technology Associate certifications http://web.aqa.org.uk/qual/newgcses/ict/computer-science-microsoft.php?id=10

    Tip 10: Last tip… make sure you have a look at all of the options when choosing a Windows 8 device for your school! There are some great choices available http://blogs.msdn.com/b/education/archive/2012/09/12/what-are-you-going-to-choose-for-the-new-academic-year-new-windows-8-devices-coming-soon.aspx

    Anyway, I hope you found this useful. I love telling people about all of the amazing stuff that we do, but the hard part is finding a way to speak to everybody! If you have any suggestions for future posts (or top 10’s) then please let us know.

    Sean

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    A Titanic Lync Up

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    Guest blog post from Steve James from Kent County Council.

    The 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster was a great opportunity to create some learning experiences. The H2L team in Kent had the ideas and the material and had previously used Flashmeeting to deliver their content. They had already heard of the Lync and Learn sessions that had been introduced by EiS and this was an ideal opportunity for them to try out Lync for themselves.

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    EiS are a self-funded business unit which is part of the Kent County Council local authority and have provided a Microsoft Learning Gateway to Kent Schools for about four years. Lync and Learn sessions have recently been introduced by EiS to provide a range of 30 minute training sessions at the end of the school day for technicians and teachers.

    The consultants put together a programme of Lync sessions which were then advertised to Kent schools to participate in. Teachers from the schools were given a training session and lesson resources to support the Lync sessions.

    Over the course of several days, 15 Lync sessions were held involving 425 pupils. The consultants played the parts of key characters from the Titanic, the captain and survivor Molly Brown for example. Pupils were then able to ask questions of the characters, bringing the experience right into the classroom. Feedback from the sessions was excellent;

    "I preferred the video conference to reading a book because I like being able to ask questions and get an instant response.”
    Year 6 pupil Slade Primary School

    “The video conferencing really worked well too, some of them wrote copious notes and it really helped them get into what we were doing. I think it helped them get a sense of the fact this was a real, human tragedy, and how one event can have so many different perspectives when looked back upon”
    Mr.Peters Sellindge Primary School

    Following the success of the Titanic exercise, other similar activities are now being planned using Lync to deliver a further element to classroom learning by introducing characters from time into the classroom. Content for Pirates and Smugglers, Charles Dickens and Guy Fawkes are being pulled together.

    Storytelling via Lync has also been successfully trialled reading ‘Room on the Broom’ to an entire Infant school of 290 pupils! Further story time sessions are also being planned into the diary, reading further stories to meet schools needs for men reading to pupils.

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