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October, 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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October, 2012

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Virtualisation – settle for less metal

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    A virtualisation project can pay for itself in three years. After that it’s saving all the way.

    Some of the most spectacular examples of cost saving that we’ve reported on in recent times feature server virtualisation using Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V technology, which provides built-in virtualisation as a no-cost option. Following the availability of this technology, in 2008/2009, we began to learn of cost-reduction stories from schools, as they drastically reduced the number of their physical servers, saving money on hardware replacement costs, electricity, and technical support. 

    We found that a typical school virtualisation project might reduce the number of physical servers from 20 to 6, reducing the annual rolling replacement bill by £7000. Associated energy savings – on air conditioning as well as power for the servers – are reported at £8000 or more annually. At this rate, the payback on investment rapidly turns into straight saving.

    One of our popular free eBooks on virtualisation, covers the topic in detail, and includes a blow-by-blow account of how joint author Alan Richards carried through a virtualisation project at West Hatch School.

    Two points, however, are heavily emphasised by Alan, and others.

    1. Careful and knowledgeable planning is essential.  But there’s plenty of help available out there from Microsoft and Microsoft Partners as well as from school IT managers with experience.
    2. Cost savings are welcome, but the gains in efficiency are equally, or even more, important. Being able to provide users with a better and more reliable experience is worth a great deal to a network manager.

    So, well managed virtualisation achieves a better service for much less outlay of both capital and running costs.

    For more information and some great examples of schools saving money using Virtualisation, our Cost Savings in Education eBook can be viewed in full below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    24 schools in 24 hours: Windows 8 Launch around the world in education

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    Originally posted on the Daily Edventures Blog.

    Wow, what an edventure the last 24 hours has been!

    It has been a phenomenal day.

    To celebrate the launch of Windows 8, I’ve just completed 24 events in 24 hours across 24 time zones, visiting with thousands of educators and students via the Microsoft Education Skype-athon (#MicrosoftEducation #Windows8).

    During this whirlwind of activity, I spent time in classrooms, stadiums, and auditoriums across the world – showing off all of the amazing things Windows 8 can do for educators and students, answering great questions and sharing my excitement about how it can make a difference to teaching and learning.

    It was extremely inspiring for me to spend time with these students, our future leaders.  They have a thirst for knowledge and they have genuine enthusiasm about new technology.

    Their energy kept me going for 24 hours (plus Dr. Pepper and Sour Patch kids).

    We started in New Zealand yesterday at Botany Downs Primary School, then over to Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India, Russia, Europe, an awesome event with 700 students at Eunice High School in South Africa, South America, and the US, finishing up here in Seattle with an in-person event at Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart.

    What a fabulous journey.  Some of my favorite tweets @anthonysalcito that kept me going all night long are:

    • #microsofteducation is going to start a revolution and change the world
    • All I want for Christmas is #Windows8!!!#microsofteducation
    • Don’t pilot a device…pilot a pedagogy@anthonysalcito
    • @anthonysalcito emphasizing that education is not about the gadgets but the learning it enables.

    It’s been an amazing 24 hours, and a journey I won’t soon forget.

    I’m so excited to show how Windows 8 is helping bring about a new era of technology both inside and outside of the classroom. Windows 8 has been re-imagined for learning and is optimized to bring learning to life, enabling students to consume, collaborate, and create in new and exciting ways — all with no compromises.

    The personalization and productivity experiences in Windows 8 will bring new life to the classroom and I can’t wait to see what it will do to help re-invent education for the 21st century!

    I want to thank all the phenomenal educators around the world that welcomed me into their schools and shared with me all the innovation they’re creating in their classrooms each day.

    I’ve found some real leaders in education that I hope I can showcase here at http://www.dailyedventures.com in the coming months.

    Now I look forward to getting some sleep!

    Best,

    Anthony
    @AnthonySalcito

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Windows 8 in Education: Relevant and Personal

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    Excerpt from our Windows 8 in Education eBook.

    For learners and teachers, one of the major attractions of Windows 8 is its seamless performance across a range of devices – tablets, ultrabooks, notebooks, the various hybrids and ‘all-in-ones’.

    image

     

    Windows 8 offers the user a no-compromise, single sign-on experience across all these device types. So, a teacher could start lesson preparation on a staff room PC, then pick up their Windows 8 tablet to continue the same task on the train. Arriving home, they relinquish the tablet to a child with homework to do, and settle down to carry on their work on a family laptop. In each case they’ve encountered the familiar look, feel and efficiency of their own personalised version of Windows 8.

    This potential to move between devices without the distraction of changing operating systems is huge. Learners encounter, wherever they go, the same unified interface with a modern look and feel. The same familiarity will then extend into working life, where Windows is the global operating system of choice.

    Our full Windows 8 in Education eBook can be downloaded via our SlideShare account. Alternatively, the eBook can be viewed below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Windows 8 in Education eBook - Now Available

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    Our new Windows 8 in Education eBook is hot off the press. Written by leading practitioners, the eBook can get you started and inspire you about many of the great features of Windows 8 from an education perspective.

    image

    The eBook is in sections. One is for hands-on educators, teachers and lecturers, while another is directed at network managers, the people who will have to stay one step ahead and make sure that educators and learners have the best Windows 8 experience. There’s also a section that covers ‘top Apps’. The Windows 8 Apps are key feature of Windows 8, and you’ll find quite a lot about them in various places in this eBook.

    Finally, we include a short section on App development with Windows 8. As we know, this is going to be a key feature for education. Young people are great App users, but they don’t want to leave it there. They’re increasingly keen to develop their own Apps, and the way it can be done with Windows 8, the Windows Store, and Microsoft development tools, offers them an absolutely unrivalled opportunity to be ahead of the game, alongside professional developers. Teachers are going to seize this aspect of Windows 8 in a way that has the potential to transform and re-energise ICT teaching in schools, colleges and universities.

    The full eBook can be downloaded from our SlideShare account. Alternatively, the eBook can be viewed in full below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Windows 8 in Education Launch Day

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    With the launch of Windows 8 now only a day away, the excitement is building as we countdown to the general availability of our new OS. The ads are prepped and ready to go (if you haven't had a chance to see any, check out an example below), our partners have created an inspiring selection of devices to suit every requirement and the orders for Surface are coming in thick and fast. The 26th is going to be an epic day!

    With all this excitement around our consumer launch, though, what about the Windows 8 in education launch? Well, let's just say we are not being left behind…

    Tickets for our launch event at QPR sold out in days and promises to be a brilliant afternoon looking at Windows 8, devices and apps through an edu lens. With prize draws and a rumoured appearance by a QPR first team player, it's going to be quite the afternoon. Walking on the pitch of Loftus Road is going to be a highlight, for sure!

      clip_image001

        In addition to this, our Schools Business Managers, Mark Reynolds and Sean O'Shea, are embarking on a race against the clock tour of SE London to visit 8 schools in a day as part of '8 in a Day'. The goal of '8 in a Day' is to visit 8 schools and share some insight into Windows 8 and how it can make a difference to teaching and learning and help raise attainment.

        Students at the 8 schools have been invited to submit a response to the question 'how would having your own device at home make you more effective at school'. All entries will be entered into a prize to win an RM laptop (huge shout out to RM for supporting this activity!) and we will be sharing the best quotes via the blog at a later date. Really looking forward to see what all the students come up with!

        clip_image002

        With Friday being the start of 1/2 term, it's going to be quite the challenge to get around all 8 schools in a single day as it’s a short school day. You can follow their antics on Twitter via the hashtag #8inaday. Mark and Sean will be tweeting their thoughts, stories and pictures as they go. The full route is shown below. It's going to be tight!

        clip_image003

        To keep up to speed with the Windows 8 in education launch day in general, follow us on Twitter at @microsofteduk. Drop us a note, either in the comments below or via Twitter, and let us know what you are looking forward to most with Windows 8!

      • Microsoft UK Schools blog

        Windows RT or Windows 8 devices for your school?

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        Guest post by Sean O’Shea

        With the upcoming Windows 8 launch happening tomorrow (Friday 26th October), I recently did a keynote speech at an event with one of our partners. We had a great turn out including head teachers, deputy head teachers and ICT leads from primary and secondary schools. It was overwhelming how much positive response we got from the audience about Windows 8, and we had some excellent feedback and questions from the education staff who attended.

        image

        I’ll go into these in more detail later on, but in a nutshell the main things people at the event got excited about were:

        · The choice of hardware available with Windows 8 and Windows RT

        · Windows 8 is able to run legacy apps

        · Compatibility in the classroom – USB slots on both Windows RT and Windows 8 (you can find a good compatibility matrix for Windows 8 and Programs/Devices here)

        · Office Home and Student on Windows RT

        · If pupils are embracing BYOD or taking devices home, the availability of Windows 8 and Windows RT family safety settings are really valuable. Parents can even set controls on what rated apps children can download

        So it’s great that teachers and IT staff are already seeing the possibilities of Windows 8 and Windows RT for their schools. Although one thing that struck me after my discussions with the education staff at the event, was the number of people asking about the differences between Windows RT and Windows 8. Deciding which devices and OS to work with in schools is a big decision, so I understand the importance of schools leaders and IT decision makers needing to know what features they will gain from each Windows OS version.

        Before I separate the two, I just want to say that the teachers and ICT leaders at the event seemed to clearly spot the key advantage of both Windows RT and Windows 8 - the choice of devices. There is such a large range of devices available with these two operating systems, which means you are not limited to just one piece of hardware, and you can really tailor a device that’s right for your school. You can find just a few options for hardware here.

        Detailed below are some of the main features of both Windows RT and Windows 8, which seemed to be most important to education staff at the event.

        Windows RT

        Window RT devices use an ARM processor. This includes many features that are important when using a device in the classroom.

        image

        Quick on / fast boot

        With Windows RT devices booting up in seconds, no class time is wasted. The Samsung Ativ Tab, for example, is ‘always ready to go!’ with a quick boot up time.

        Thin and light
        Windows RT devices are portable and easy for pupils and teachers to transport to, from and around school. Devices fit in a school bag easily without weighing it down. Surface with Windows RT, for example, weighs just 676g and is 9.3 mm thin.

        Battery life

        With most Windows RT devices having a battery life of at least 8 hours or more, this is enough for the duration of a full school day. Therefore there’s no need to worry about lesson interruptions from low battery life.

        Multiple user profiles

        As mentioned above, with and increasing amount of pupils using BYOD for school and taking devices home, it’s vital that internet safety is practiced. With the option of multiple user profiles on Windows RT, parents can monitor and set what apps and content children can download.

        Office Home & Student 2013 is included with Windows RT

        Windows RT includes Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote – all essential apps for the classroom.

        USB 2.0 slot

        Connect external peripherals such as external hard drives for extra storage and backup.

        Printing compatibility

        You can print documents in the classroom with Windows RT.  Dell and Hewlett-Packard have published a compatibility list of printers for Windows RT.

        Keyboard option on many devices

        Touch screen is great, and it provides a really immersive and engaging experience, but when it comes to typing you can lose half the screen with a touch keyboard. Lots of Windows RT devices have detachable keyboards or a keyboard dock (some include battery charging) for flexibility of type or touch, and the option of a fully viewable screen whilst typing.

        Windows 8

        Legacy apps

        You can bring all the apps that you use in Windows 7 over to a Windows 8 device. So all your learning tools you currently use in the classroom can still be used exactly as they are in Windows 8 (any Windows 7 application win32 .exe will work).

        Join to your domain

        With Windows 8 devices, schools are able to join to their domain. The main advantage of this is that schools will be able to manage devices in a traditional way such as doing updates, managing security and deploying software.

        Like a PC

        Windows 8 devices are built to work like your desktop PC, including inbuilt drivers. They are designed with the power and capability of an ultrabook, in a tablet form. Think space saving in the classroom and working outside of the classroom. Consider the flexibility of working on Windows 8 devices - they are much more portable so pupils and teachers can work anywhere, anytime, with all the functionality of a desktop PC. Take your class outside, on a trip, or around the school - with devices in tow.

        Stylus Support

        Some Windows 8 devices offer stylus support. Stylus accessories are great for pupils to take written notes with a device pen, which can then be digitized into documents. An example is the Asus Vivo Tab.

        Windows To Go

        Windows To Go enables the creation of a Windows To Go workspace that can be booted from a USB-connected external drive on PCs that meet the Windows 7 or Windows 8 certification requirements, regardless of the operating system running on the PC. This provides efficient use of resources for alternative workplace scenarios. This is all about mobility. Schools are looking at ways to provide mobile solutions for pupils. If a school wants a teacher or a pupil to have access to their school desktop and school network (apps, settings etc) from home, it’s easy with Windows To Go. At the moment schools might look at complicated solutions such as VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure). Windows to go will provide an incredibly simple alternative that will allow pupils and teachers to experience their full windows 8 school desktop at home with just a USB drive.

        Flexible price points

        It looks like there’s going to be some really great deals coming for Windows 8 devices, so again the choice of hardware design relative to your budget is huge. A nice example is the Acer W510 which is reportedly going to be priced at around $500.

        image

        I hope that gives you some valuable information on Windows RT and Windows 8, as well as some help with choosing devices for your school.

      • Microsoft UK Schools blog

        It’s the difference between ‘Technology for Learning’ and ‘Technology in Learning’

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        Excerpt from our Exciting Learning eBook.

        When I think about technology and life, I find it hard to think of examples where technology has not revolutionised or had a profound impact on what we do, how productive we are and even how we behave.

        Some examples include:

        image

        Don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. There is still a place for going to the shops or the bank, playing outside and meeting people for a coffee. It’s just that sometimes technology helps us make the actual purpose of why we do these things easier.

        Of course, there is one area of society where, in my opinion, we are yet to consistently see truly revolutionary transformation as a result of technology. This is sometimes illustrated well by the example first told by Dr Seymour Papert in the early 1990’s and has been re-told in various forms ever since.


        “A mid-nineteenth-century surgeon is magically transported though time to a modern operating theatre. Once there, he finds himself completely at loss to know what to do or how to help. In contrast, a mid-nineteenth-century teacher is transported through the years to a modern classroom. Once there, he picks up seamlessly where his modern peer left off”.


        As Facer (2011) explains, ’The implication of the narrative is clear; unlike medicine, the education community has failed to appropriate the technology advances of the contemporary world’.

        image
        The key here of course is not to flood a classroom with technology, as we know that, alone, this normally has very little impact on learning and teaching. What we need to do is modernise the classroom in the same way that we have modernised the operating theatre and other aspects of society over time. We need to make investments in technology for the right reasons and because there is a need. Rather than investments in technology because we think that it is the right thing to do. So, after keeping children safe, what is the number one thing that we are trying to do in our classrooms, schools and education systems?

        Surely, we are trying to improve learning, because improving learning will deliver better outcomes and provide better life chances for children. Put simply, it’s the difference between ‘Technology for Learning’ and ‘Technology in Learning’. The learning must come first and the technology should be invisibly supporting what we do.

        The full Exciting Learning eBook can be downloaded via our SlideShare account. Alternatively, you can view the eBook in full below:

         

      • Microsoft UK Schools blog

        £20,000 scholarship for Computer Science teachers

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        Taken from the Department for Education press release and educationgovuk

        As part of the Government's mission to ensure Britain competes and thrives in the global race, Education Secretary Michael Gove today set out plans to boost the teaching of Computer Science by training up the first generation of outstanding new teachers in this vital subject.

        This comes as the Government announces the end of funding for the current outdated Information and Communications Technology (ICT) teacher training courses, to make way for new Computer Science courses from September 2013.

        Top graduates will be enticed into a career in teaching with a new prestigious £20,000 scholarship programme set up with BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and supported by industry experts such as Microsoft, Facebook, BT and IBM.

        Industry experts, working with education professionals, have also for the first time ever set out the requirements for the subject knowledge and attributes all new Computer Science teachers should have before they start their training. This includes being able to demonstrate an understanding of key Computer Science concepts and approaches such as algorithms, data representation and logic.

        This is all part of the Government’s drive to recruit and train a new cadre of teachers with the expertise and enthusiasm to drive improvement in the quality of Computer Science teaching in schools.

        A recent Royal Society report looking at computing education in UK schools found teaching was ‘highly unsatisfactory’. It said that many pupils were not inspired by what they were being taught and gained nothing beyond basic digital literacy skills such as how to use a word-processor or a database.

        Education Secretary Michael Gove said:

        Computer Science is not just a rigorous, fascinating and intellectually challenging subject. It is also vital to our success in the global race.
        If we want our country to produce the next Sir Tim Berners-Lee – creator of the Web – we need the very best Computer Science teachers in our classrooms. They need to have the right skills and deep subject knowledge to help their pupils.

        Around 50 scholarships worth £20,000 each will be available in the first year. Any graduate with a 2.1 or first class degree will be eligible to apply for the scholarship to do a Computer Science Initial Teacher Training (ITT) course.

        Working with experts in the industry and in teaching practice, BCS will award scholarships to candidates with exceptional subject knowledge, enthusiasm for the study of Computer Science as well as an outstanding potential to teach. BCS’s relationship with the scholars will continue into their teaching careers to develop a cadre of outstanding Computer Science teachers who are part of a community across schools, universities and industry.

        Bill Mitchell, Director of BCS Academy of Computing, said:

        The UK needs far more technology creators and entrepreneurs if we are to stay competitive in the global economy. That means students need to be taught not just how software and hardware works, but also how to create new digital technology for themselves.

        The best way to do that is to have outstanding computer science teachers in as many schools as possible, which is why these new initiatives are so important.

        Ian Livingstone, Life President of Eidos and Chair of Next Gen Skills, said:

        Having dedicated, high-calibre computer science teachers in schools will have a powerful effect. They will inspire and enable children to be creators of technology rather than being simply passive users of it.  Whether it’s making games, fighting cyber-crime or designing the next jet propulsion engine, computer science is at the heart of everything in the digital world in which we live. It is essential knowledge for the 21st century.

        The BCS scholarship comes as part of the Government’s teacher training strategy, Training our next generation of outstanding teachers. It follows on from the success of the physics scholarship with the Institute of Physics, a recent announcement of a new scholarship with the Royal Society of Chemistry.

        The plans announced today also include:

        • Allowing top universities and schools to provide new Computer Science teacher training courses from September 2013, whilst ending Government funding for the current Information and Communications Technology (ICT) courses. This follow on from the Government’s announcement earlier this year freeing up the ICT curriculum to allow schools to focus more strongly on Computer Science.
        • New, tough requirements for the subject knowledge and attributes all new Computer Science teachers should have. This includes being able to demonstrate an understanding of key Computer Science concepts and approaches such as algorithms, data representation and logic.
          This has been designed by a panel of experts including representatives from the grassroots Computing at School Working Group along with professional associations such as the British Computer Society (BCS), Naace and the Association for Information Technology in Teacher Education (ITTE).
        • Training up around 500 teachers in Computer Science through a new ‘Network of Computer Science Teaching Excellence’. Part funded through a £150,000 Government grant, over the next year existing teachers with an ICT background will be trained to better teach Computer Science. Around half of these will be expert teachers who will share their skills and knowledge with other teachers across the country and help support professional development for their colleagues.
          The network will help forge long-term links between schools, top universities involved in Computer Science and employers. Around 540 schools have already registered interest in the network and top university Computer Science departments including those at Cambridge, Imperial and Manchester and employers such as Microsoft, BT and IBM have also signed up.

        Professor Chris Bishop, Distinguished Scientist at Microsoft Research, said:

        Microsoft is passionate about improving the way that we teach technology in schools, but also how we use technology to teach. As founding members of the Computing at School working group, we’ve been working to inspire both teachers and young people about the importance of computer science for a number of years.

        Scholarships such as those announced today will be vital in ensuring that the UK maintains a healthy pipeline of computer science talent, which can only be a positive thing for this country’s future prosperity.

        Simon Milner, Facebook’s Director of Public Policy for UK & Ireland, said:

        Facebook welcomes the scholarship programme for teachers announced by the Government today. It is a positive step to help get high quality computer science teachers in schools, and therefore ensure more young people gain the right skills to join and lead our digital industries.

        We get excited by how the work of Facebook engineers and outside developers is transforming the way millions of people communicate, so we can't wait to share our passion and expertise in this area to inspire the next generation.

        Simon Peyton-Jones, Chair of the Computing at School Working Group (CAS) and Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, said:

        We need to attract outstanding new computer science teachers, and we must support our existing ICT teachers as they start to teach the subject. CAS fully supports today’s announcements, which give unmistakeable Government support to both these challenges. We look forward to playing our part, and working with Government to make a substantial and lasting improvement to our children’s education in the vital subject.

      • Microsoft UK Schools blog

        Warwickshire County Council move 185 schools to the cloud

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        You might remember a guest post by Mark Reynolds earlier this year about how Warwickshire County Council were moving their schools to the cloud. Well six months on, here is a detailed story by Harvey Woodall (Warwickshire E-Learning Adviser) about why this project came about, the migration to Office 365 for education, positive feedback from the 185 schools subscribed, and future plans.

        image

        Through a PFI project known as We-Learn, Warwickshire schools have had access to a centralised ‘Learning Platform’ since 2004. At the start of this project the Learning Platform product provided by a Microsoft partner was not really fit for purpose and offered no real benefits for schools. This is not a criticism of the partner, but rather a reflection of the software and technologies available at the time. The Learning Platform did improve significantly throughout the eight years of the PFI project and although never perfect, became an important tool for communication, collaboration and learning support within a large number of schools and indeed across the authority.

        Although the option to continue with this Learning Platform was available at the end of the We-Learn contract (August 2012), the pricing (without PFI subsidy) was beyond what most schools would be prepared to pay. As such, the search for a replacement product started in April 2011 with a significant number of meetings with all of the main VLE/Learning Platform suppliers. It became clear that most of the products were very similar in what they offered, many were over-complicated by too many features and toolsets and prices varied very considerably. Our experiences over the last seven or so years had demonstrated that schools wanted a product that was simple to use with an effective range of communication, collaboration and storage tools. They specifically didn’t want VLE –type functionality with the ability to assign work to pupils, take it back in and mark it electronically. This had been available in the previous partner product and had been little used. Integrated email was an additional requirement as was the ability to ‘plug’ in other third party products or content in the future.

        image

        By the end of 2011 we had focused our attention on developing a solution around Google and were working with a third party to pilot this in a number of schools. Around the same time, Microsoft approached us with an offer of some support and a recommended partner (BFC Networks) to look at an in-house SharePoint 2010 solution. Proof of concepts for both the Google and a SharePoint solution were developed and presented to schools at a series of meetings in early 2012. Feedback from schools was positive for both solutions. However, there was recognition that the familiarity of the SharePoint solution (the previous Learning Platform was based on SharePoint 2007), together with the improved functionality in SharePoint 2010 had particular benefits for our schools. The SharePoint solution was therefore developed further and in particular to create ‘template’ sites for both primary and secondary schools which could be used as a starting point for each school’s Learning Platform site.

        As the solution development continued, the decision to concentrate on SharePoint 2010 was further supported by Microsoft’s decision to make the Office 365 for education A2 plan available to schools free of charge. Our focus had to change slightly as there are differences and some limitations with SharePoint in Office 365 for education when compared to a local installation. The final solution was actually to combine a local instance of SharePoint with the Office 365 for education cloud service, with the local instance being available to provide the facility to integrate code which otherwise would not have been possible in the cloud. Warwickshire has the benefit of a single active directory that contains all school users. This provided the basis of a federated solution with the required Office 365 for education active directory. Warwickshire had provided a hosted school email system based on OWA for a number of years. The move to Office 365 for education provided the opportunity to migrate this older mail system across to the cloud service.

        In May 2012 presentations were again made to schools demonstrating the Office 365 for education SharePoint sites as well as the new email system. At this point, schools were asked to commit to a two year subscription to the service. Certain third party products including Purple Mash and Autology were bundled with the subscription to add value and given this, the subscription price offered represented an exceptionally good deal. We had anticipated between 100 to 150 schools would subscribe; to this point 185 schools have committed with the majority being primary. Most of the school’s SharePoint sites required were created prior to the end of the summer term with administrator access available to allow their customisation.

        image    image  
        Learning Blogs created and ready to go                                                                      
        Telford infant school

        Over the holiday period a great deal of very complex work went into ‘breaking’ our dependencies with the original system and creating the required users in the Office 365 for education environment. There were significant challenges along the way, but by the first day of the new term we had migrated all but a handful of the required 85,000 users to Office 365 for education and provided access for them to email. It took a further three weeks to make the sites available to all school users and work is still on-going with some of the single sign on integrations to third party products. Advisers have been busy supporting schools in customising their SharePoint template sites; many of these are shown on our twitter page (https://twitter.com/welearn365). Additionally, a number of schools have undertaken the customisation and building process themselves using just basic help guides. The simplicity of the template together with the range of tools and features available within Office 365 for education SharePoint has helped to make this process very accessible.

        The start of term was particularly challenging because of problems relating to password re-setting and, yes, there are minor bugs that are only just coming to light as the SharePoint sites are starting to be used more. However, the feedback from schools that have started to use their new Learning Platform has been very positive. On the whole users are finding it simple to use and easy to configure/customise to meet the needs of their individual schools. Future developments to the platform will provide accounts for parents and a method of surfacing basic MIS information in a secure but cost-effective manner. Further integrations are expected with other third party products and we are now also starting to look at the implications of SharePoint 2013.

      • Microsoft UK Schools blog

        Windows 8 in Education Launch Event: New Places Added

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        With only a week to go until our Windows 8 in education launch event at QPR FC, we have just added a few additional places for the event.

        The agenda for the event is as follow:

        • Registration & Tea and Coffee: 2.30pm - 3.00pm
        • Welcome (Matthew Cocks - Microsoft): 3.00pm – 3.10pm
        • Introduction to QPR (QPR): 3.10pm – 3.20pm
        • Windows 8 in Education Overview (Anthony Salcito - Microsoft): 3.20pm – 3.40pm
        • Windows 8 Devices in Education (Lenovo): 3.40pm – 4.00pm
        • Windows 8 Education App Showcase (Steve Connolly - Hodder Education): 4.00pm – 4.10pm
        • Loftus Road Stadium Tour – including Education Centre Visit: 4.10pm – 4.45pm
        • Drinks & Networking: 4.45pm – 5.45pm

        Venue

        Queens Park Rangers Football & Athletic Club

        Loftus Road Stadium 

        South Africa Road 

        London 

        W12 7PJ

        Tickets

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