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.
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.
Virtualisation technologies help customers’ lower costs and deliver greater agility and economies of scale. Either as a stand-alone product or an integrated part of Windows Server, Hyper-V is the leading virtualization platform for today and the transformational opportunity with cloud computing.
With Hyper-V, it is now easier than ever for organisations to take advantage of the cost savings of virtualisation, and make the optimum use of server hardware investments by consolidating multiple server roles as separate virtual machines that are running on a single physical machine. Customers can use Hyper-V to efficiently run multiple operating systems, Windows, Linux, and others, in parallel, on a single server.
Windows Server 2012 extends this with more features, greater scalability and further inbuilt reliability mechanisms. In the data centre, on the desktop, and now in the cloud, the Microsoft virtualisation platform, which is led by Hyper-V and management tools, simply makes more sense and offers better value for money when compared to the competition.
To learn more about Hyper-V and how it can make a difference within your institution, download our new ‘Why Hyper-V?’ whitepaper. Alternatively, the full whitepaper can be viewed in full below.
Looking for some great advice, examples and best practice in the use of the wide range of Microsoft technologies and programmes in schools? Then this series of events hosted by some of our school partners could help. Each month we will publishing a list of events being held around the country.
To attend any event, please contact the school directly or by the email contacts listed here.
8th Oct 4pm
saltash.net community school
Innovative use of mobile technologies
9th Oct 4pm
New Line Learning Academy
PowerPoint – Beyond the basics
10th Oct 4pm
Sawtry Community College
Microsoft Digital Literacy Curriculum
11th Oct 4pm
Djanogly City Academy
Microsoft Free Stuff
Calderglen High School
15th Oct 4 pm
Broadclyst Community Primary School
Using Media across the curriculum
26th Oct 4pm
Bring and Brag – Share your ideas
30th Oct 4pm
Using Microsoft OneNote
5th Nov 10am
Hugh Christie Technology College
Office 365 – Email
5th Nov 12pm
Skydrive in the Classroom
6th Nov 10am
Kodu in the Classroom
7th Nov 4pm
MOS accreditation & Self Learning Programme
14th Nov 5pm
Microsoft Free stuff
26th Nov 4pm
Working collaboratively online
28th Nov 4pm
Strategic Leadership of ICT
You can find out more about the range of programmes Microsoft Partners in Learning offers by joining for free at www.pil-network.com
Guest post by Dave Coplin, Director for Bing UK, Microsoft.
We live in incredible times. Today, many of us walk around with more computing power in our pockets than used to sit on our desks just a few short years ago. We are more connected, more engaged and more in control of our lives than ever before and yet, incredible though it is to believe, we are still right at the very beginning of our society’s journey with technology.
We have learned to love (or in some cases, tolerate) the power of social media and the increasingly real-time nature of our world. The power of the internet and mobile technology has enabled us to live with and access an incredible range of data, information and services that offer us the capability of augmenting all of our real-world experiences, joining the digital and analogue worlds together, in order to help us to become greater than the sum of our own parts.
There has been much discussion in the UK recently about the importance of getting the right approach to the role of technology in schools. Many have used this as the opportunity to reinforce the need for greater emphasis on the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) with further focus being given to the need to create a new generation of “kids who code”. Whilst this on its own is an incredibly important initiative, it is vitally important to continue to remind ourselves that it is still just a subset of the overall duty of care we have as technologists to ensure that every single aspect of society is empowered by technology. Yes that means having great software, and as such brilliant computer scientists, but more importantly it means ensuring that every single member of society knows how to make the best use of technology whatever their societal role – this is our modern equivalent of a “PC on every desk”.
Over the next twenty years, the increasingly connected nature of every action and every “thing”, combined with technological developments like the incredible prevalence of screens, e-ink and display surfaces and natural interfaces (those that use a range of human interaction from typing and mechanical devices like the mouse through to more natural methods involving gestures, speech and even thought), will take us to a new level of reliance and integration of technology. However, there are still some crucial obstacles that remain in our way, blocking our ability to take advantage of the advances on offer.
Some of these challenges exist at a cultural level, with privacy being perhaps the most fundamental of all such sociological debates. However, often hidden beyond such issues are significant barriers pertaining to the spread of knowledge and literacy that, if left unheeded, weaken the very foundations of our society (and economy).
None of these challenges are new, in fact a great deal can be learnt from our past. As such, the four key challenges we face should be familiar:
Within our brave new digital world, one of the most important skills we must learn is “critical thinking” a concept that rather incredibly, dates back to Socrates over 2000 years ago, but after being “recently” updated in the 20th century for a modern society by many great scholars, it provides a powerful framework for our internet age as every single day we are bombarded by millions of signals of data, information and content, and the quantity of information we are exposed to grows exponentially. These days we are still looking for the needle, it’s just that now it’s in one of a billion haystacks.
Most of us use critical thinking every day and for most of the time, we are barely aware of it. Every time we read a newspaper article, watch a documentary or look something up on Wikipedia we are aware of a whole range of biases, influences and emotions that may interfere with the validity, accuracy and overall conclusion of the content and, if we’re doing our job properly, we take all of that into account as we parse the information, reflect on it drawing in a range of other context and ultimately use it to draw conclusions and make decisions.
Fortunately for many of us, we’ve had years of practice and experimentation to get this right but in this new digital age, where children and young people have so much access to an incredible world of information but have yet to develop the skills to know how to deal with it becomes something we simply cannot take for granted.
From an early age, we need to ensure that anyone using the internet are able draw upon critical thinking skills to:
Where we need help now is not in the squabbling on the frontline of the digital/analogue boundary debating about which tools we should be teaching but is instead around the core principles of extending knowledge and literacy in a modern society, ensuring that, like our ancestors before us, our greatest knowledge assets (both digital and analogue) do not succumb to the ravages of time; that people can find relevant information in a vast ocean of content – ultimately finding a needle in a billion haystacks; ensuring that our children and every other member of our society are equipped with the cognitive capability and skills that enable them to harness the incredible potential that technology brings us. It should not just be a case of feeding them with the basic tools that will become obsolete tomorrow, but instead teaching them to “fish” in a growing digital pool and ensuring that every single member of our society, regardless of location, background, skills and wealth, can benefit from all that is on offer.
Guest post from Janet Murray on behalf of the Education Innovation Conference.
The ICT curriculum has been widely criticised for being out of step with developments in technology. But with the subject currently under scrutiny, as part of the National Curriculum review in England, there is an opportunity to develop a syllabus that is a much better fit for today's learners. So what are the biggest barriers to progress? Speakers from the upcoming Education Innovation conference have their say.
Michael Shaw, deputy editor of the Times Educational Supplement (TES)
The big issue must be how teachers can harness the true potential of ICT for learning - not to carry on using tech as simply a flashy, digital version of the same teaching tools schools have used for centuries. Quite extraordinary results are being achieved where pupils are learning on their own online. That raises big questions about the role of teachers, and some will find those questions scary. I do believe we will always need teachers - but, to quote the futurologist David Thornburg, ‘Any teacher who can be replaced by a computer deserves to be’.
Mary Bousted, General Secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers
The biggest challenge around ICT is the increasing ‘digital divide’. There are still too many young people without access to technology or without adequate training on its use, which impacts on ability to do homework, learn IT skills required for the modern workplace or search online for jobs or training courses. As these young people often come from lower socio-economic groups, the digital divide widens as technology moves on and they’re left behind.
Maggie Philbin, TV presenter and co-founder of Teen Tech, an organisation that provides one-day careers events to give young people an insight into careers in science, technology and engineering
I think it's an exciting but very challenging time for teachers who want to do their best by students but may feel guidance is coming from many directions.
It's vital our education system responds to the demand for digital skills, which should be seen as a tool across all disciplines and not a separate subject area.
In a fast moving subject like ICT maybe we should encourage more student/teacher collaborative explorations of topics.
We probably need to look closely at Maths and how we can encourage more students to study the right kind of maths for longer.
Emma Mulqueeny, co-founder of the Coding for Kids movement
Parents and teachers are wary of exposing children to the perceived risk from paedophiles and may struggle to allow their children the freedom to learn online – the only place they can pick up some of the digital skills necessary for them to practice advanced programming.
Often, the solution to the digital renaissance is to close, protect and hide pupils and educators from the digital unknown, but this approach will fail in a digital world.
Simon Humphreys, co-ordinator, Computing at School
We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a decisive and lasting change to our children’s education in ICT. The consensus is that we need to refocus computer science as a proper, rigorous, high-status, school subject, on a par with other sciences.
We need to focus not on the technology, but on the underlying discipline – and balance the need for computer science in schools with the demands for digital literacy and IT.
Equally, we must support teachers as they begin to engage with computer science in their classrooms but lack confidence in their own knowledge and understanding of the subject.
Education Innovation is being held at Manchester Central on March 8th and 9th, 2013
Charteris Microsoft technologies case study
The Edinburgh Academy may be nearly 200 years old, but its use of technology is completely up-to-date. With support from Charteris, this prestigious independent school for boys and girls has implemented the latest Microsoft desktop and server operating systems. This leading edge ICT infrastructure is enriching the learning experience for pupils, while also reducing costs and improving efficiency.
Edinburgh Academy faced two distinct challenges. Firstly, the school needed to update its aging IT infrastructure, to enable it to offer the very best facilities for its current and future pupils. “The independent schools market is very competitive on the IT front,” explains William Paris, head of information technology at Edinburgh Academy. “Families are attracted to schools that can offer excellence in ICT. It is therefore very important for us to offer modern and current technologies that capture the interest and imaginations of pupils and give them the desire to learn.”
Secondly, the school wanted to relieve the workload on its internal IT team. At the time, there were over 1,000 pupils and 175 members of staff, spread across two separate campuses, and the IT department of three and a half people was struggling to support these IT users. Paris explains: “There were a lot of manual processes that completely consumed our time. We were just treading water.”
To address both these challenges, the school decided to migrate to current technologies for its operating server platform and its desktop operating system. This move, it believed, would then pave the way for it to bring in some of the brand new applications that teachers and pupils would benefit from using. At the same time, it would provide an opportunity for the IT department to eliminate as many manual processes as possible and improve its efficiency.
Because its IT team was already working at full capacity, Edinburgh Academy decided to bring in a firm of external consultants for the project. It evaluated three different organisations before selecting Charteris. “I wanted a firm that I could trust and that would offer value for money,” says Paris. “Charteris stood out from the other firms I met because of the strength and breadth of its Microsoft technical skills.”
Delivered on schedule
At the time, Edinburgh Academy was using Microsoft Windows XP as its desktop operating system, and its server platform was primarily based on Microsoft Windows Server 2003. Every system had its own physical server, so consequently the school had more servers than was absolutely necessary.
Paris decided to migrate to a virtualised environment and asked Charteris to review and validate the architecture that he had designed. Charteris also helped him to create a high-level technology plan that covered the entire school estate, and this then provided the framework for the whole project, as well as other future IT initiatives.
Next, Charteris implemented Microsoft HyperV Server 2008 R2 as the base platform for the school’s new IT infrastructure. The consultants then layered on Microsoft Windows 7 to provide a new desktop operating system, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 for database management and Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 R3 for systems management. Throughout this process, the consultants demonstrated their expert understanding and experience of working with Microsoft technology.
The entire IT project was carried out by Charteris during the school summer holidays to minimise disruption to pupils and teaching staff. “The project went live on schedule,” recalls Paris. “The Charteris consultants worked very well with everyone in the IT team and were good at passing on their Microsoft knowledge to us. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, Charteris has the ability to go direct to Microsoft with any queries, and this was hugely advantageous to us.”
A complete transformation
The IT upgrade that Charteris undertook has completely transformed the ICT environment at Edinburgh Academy. The school can now boast that its systems are thoroughly up-to-date and provide its pupils with access to the very best IT facilities in support of their studies. “Our new ICT infrastructure has put us in a position to be able to leap-frog some of the other independent schools in terms of technology,” Paris says.
With its new IT platform, Edinburgh Academy can now, very easily, introduce any new applications that teachers believe will add value to pupils’ education. “It is now very easy to add additional new technologies that will keep us in the game,” Paris says. “The systems that Charteris have helped to set up are 100% scalable – and will continue to meet our needs into the future.”
The deployment of Microsoft SCCM has given the IT team greater control of its network and desktops and eliminated almost all manual processes. Now, the IT team can deal with user issues and reload desktops remotely, without having to visit individual offices and classrooms, which has freed up, on average, 10-15 hours of IT team time per week. “We are able to do 90% of our work from our desks,” Paris says. “I can even allow staff in the IT team to work from home in adverse weather conditions, and in a school environment that’s pretty much unheard of.”
By migrating to a virtualised IT environment, Edinburgh Academy has been able to reduce the number of servers in the school by 50% from sixteen to eight. “This helps me reduce my power bills and improves my ‘green’ credentials greatly,” notes Paris.
Since the project went live, the Charteris consultants have contacted Edinburgh Academy regularly to make sure that the system is continuing to perform as expected. Paris concludes, “The follow-up has been spectacular.”
When the Coventry University IT team was asked to cut £1 million from its budget as part of a strategic initiative, it re-evaluated virtualisation technologies. A previous foray into virtualisation had proved to be expensive, with the team finding it a challenge to make the most of the technology. After comparing several solutions, it chose to deploy Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacentre because the licensing model immediately saved the university £129,000.
The IT team is now using Hyper-V technology—included in the solution—to virtualise as many virtual machines onto one server as it needs, without requiring licences for each virtual machine. The team has also reduced staffing needs by one full-time staff member through the consolidation of platforms. With the new environment, the university saves £1 million of its allocated budget.
To learn more about this project, the case study can be downloaded from our SlideShare account. Alternatively, you can view the full document below.
I originally wrote about Windows 8 apps for education a few weeks ago.
And since last time, that I've installed some more apps, so here's my additional recommended education apps for Windows 8:
Windows Store link for Mathrathon It's a simple maths game – you're shown two numbers along with a simple addition or subtraction sign, and the answer. All you need to do is to click Correct or Wrong. Mathrathon creates 60 random questions (and the most difficult I got was 143-87=22). Sounds simple? Well, turns out it's a lot trickier than you imagine, and it's actually turned into quite a competitive challenge amongst a group at the office. As this is listed in Games, not in Education, it's also a reminder to check that category too for great learning games.
Windows Store link for SAS Flash Cards This is a flash card app with a great list of additional things that are good for teachers as well as students. Probably the best one is that you can create your own flash cards by uploading a spreadsheet. I could imagine that would make it much easier for a teacher to create flash cards to match their lesson plans. And the second handy addition is that, in Quiz mode, the results can be emailed – so that students could send their results back to a teacher, which would be great for assessment of/for learning.
Windows Store link for QuickMath QuickMath is a simple app for improving your calculation knowledge. It presents you with a calculation of two numbers from 0 to 99 which you have to multiply. After you submit the result the app shows if your answer was correct or wrong. To be honest, this turned out to be quite tricky for me to do, but made me think quite hard for the mental maths tricks I could use to get the answer more quickly.
Windows Store link for Viewer for Khan Academy This is an independently developed video player for educational videos from Khan Academy, which was developed by Joel Martinez as a Coding4Fun Community Project.
Read my previous list for additional recommended education apps for Windows 8
Original post by Ray Fleming
Guest post by Sarah Garcia from Kilbowie Primary School, West Dunbartonshire.
Sarah is a Primary 7 (11-12 year olds) teacher at Kilbowie Primary School, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. She has been teaching for seven years and loves helping children to learn. Sarah really enjoys trying to find innovative ways to get children excited about learning and allowing them to explore a wide range of relevant, purposeful learning experiences, which will prepare them for the future. Sarah is particularly interested in new technologies and game based learning, which is a happy coincidence as that is something the children are interested in too.
Brandon Generator Project
I got the idea for developing a Brandon Generator project after seeing the project mentioned on Twitter (a great place for sharing teaching ideas). I watched the first episode and instantly thought my class would love to get involved. I pretty much dropped what I had planned for the upcoming weeks in literacy and looked at how I could develop their skills using Brandon Generator as a stimulus. We worked as a class developing Brandon's story and watching the various episodes, the children were excited to see that similar ideas to theirs had been incorporated into the animation. We discussed writer's style, choice of vocabulary and structure, the writing process (drafting editing etc.), character development, plot.... the children got a real working understanding of the process of story writing. The children also created their own songs and podcasts of the voicemails they thought would be on Brandon's phone. Additionally, the project allowed the opportunity for philosophical debate about creation, reality and existence which the children really enjoyed.
I didn't really predict how engaged the children would become with the project. I think the secret ingredient was the opportunity to collaborate with real authors, it gave their writing a real purpose and a live audience - so they really gave it their all. I was really amazed by the quality of writing they had produced; some real authors in the making!
It was great to see even the more reluctant writers absorbed in their work, scribbling away, taking work home to finish! Some children were inspired to write songs about Brandon and were out in the playground with paper and pencils, leaning on a book and writing songs words together. Brilliant stuff.
Kodu in the Primary School
The Kodu project was a cross-curricular game based project, spanning across of curricular areas allowing for the involvement of a wide range of secondary subject teachers . Games were created in the primary schools and each school voted two winning games (one per primary 7 class) to save and take to high school for use in the project. As well as creating the games children took part in a variety of learning activities in the primary school. They took notes during the game making process, developed their Kodu characters and wrote imaginative character descriptions whilst exploring vocabulary: adjectives, adverbs, metaphor and similies.
They wrote back stories for their games and developed a narrative to go with their game. They also explored different genres and styles of writing and wrote a review of their computer game.
I only really had to run through a basic tutorial with the children and go over a few key features of Kodu. The children were creating their own games straight away, the programme is fairly intuitive and children were creating and discovering things for themselves as well as teaching me new things!
The project engaged all the children, particularly those who perhaps are not top of the class in other subjects such as English and maths, they were allowed their moment to shine and designated the role of 'Class Kodu Experts' and helped others to learn.
Kodu at High School
Once at the high school the children were put into mixed groups from the various feeder primary schools. The children were given the opportunity to play and review the Kodu games created by the various P7 classes. Each group was assigned a particular game to market and formed their own marketing company. The children came up with their own company names and designed company logos. Within their company they then created task teams, which focused on a wide range of learning tasks such as: creating game websites, game advertising podcasts, writing game reviews, designing promotional materials and launch invites, exploring finance, event planning, photography, film and even providing catering and hospitality for the parents’ event . The parents event took the shape of a games launch event and the children were able to show parents around the school and share their transition work.
The children really enjoyed the Kodu transition project, they were so motivated to create the games and were learning so much without really realising it. It was great to see the children teaching their parents their new skills at the games launch.
If you would like to speak to someone from Clydebank High regarding the Kodu transition project, Hazel McLaughlin the depute head teacher co-ordinated it.
Game Based Learning
I will continue to use Kodu as part of ICT. Game design features in the new Scottish Curriculum for Excellence and am keen for children to develop these skills. I also aim to develop a game based project using maths as the focus, using XBOX 360 and London 2012 game is an idea at the moment.
If you are using Windows XP and Office 2003 in your school, college or university, we wanted to make you aware that the support for this will end in April 2014.
Microsoft plans to end support for Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 in 2014, and that will affect your education institution if you are using this software. On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer provide hot fixes, product updates, and most critical, security patches for Windows XP and Office 2003. This could affect your internal network security and regulatory compliance and potentially expose secure employee and organisational information. That’s why we recommend that your school, college or university updates its operating system.
There are so many benefits to the modern education desktop including increased security, easier networking, better features and cost saving opportunities, so upgrading Windows and Office will be likely to increase productivity in your institution. For education specifically, upgrading will give you access to education apps and resources such as Learning Suite. Learning Suite is a free set of innovative applications that, when combined with the power of Microsoft Windows and Office, creates a robust, flexible and collaborative learning environment for both students and teachers.
Also with the exciting approach of Windows 8 general availability launch on Friday 26th October 2012, there are lots of reasons to think about upgrading to the latest version. There are now over 220 education apps in the ever-growing Windows Store, and with a fresh, clean interface also comes significant new advantages and benefits of Windows 8 for education. 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 now is the time to gain the many advantages of upgrading your operating system in your school. While April 2014 may seem far away, we know that changing infrastructure is a time-consuming activity, requiring extensive planning and preparation. It’s important that your education institution has migrated from Windows XP and Office 2003 well before April 2014, and that you are using technologies like Windows 7 or Windows 8 and Office 2010 or the new Office, which are proven to be much safer, and also more economical to operate.
Any change is requires careful planning, and moving from Windows XP and Office 2003 is no exception. By investing the time early to do this well, it will make things a lot easier. Microsoft and our partners have been helping schools, colleges and universities move to Windows 7 and Office 2010 since they launched and will do the same for Windows 8 and the new Office. A lot has changed in the decade since we released Windows XP; we have much better tools to help manage your environment (desktops, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, and even employee-owned devices), and help automate the migration process as much as possible.
For more information, please visit: www.microsoft.com/endofsupport, which contains additional information on the options available to you, as well as pointers to a variety of helpful resources.
You can also contact one of education partners for more information about upgrading.