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April, 2013 - 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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April, 2013

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Youth Opportunity and IT Careers (video)


    Great ‘HeadsUp’ video from Schools Business Manager, Mark Reynolds, on the basics of the IT Academy and the opportunities it can give young people in a difficult job market.

    Well worth checking out!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    MIEE Top Free Windows 8 Apps for: 21st Century Learning


    With the ever growing recognition to develop 21st century learning with the integration of technology in the classroom; we thought you might find it useful to know which Win8Apps will aid accessibility, productivity and collaboration experiences for your learners. Take a look at some of the apps our Microsoft (Innovative) Expert Educators have identified.

    TaptoTalk Talking Tiles Vislove for Modern Ul  
    Tap To Talk Talking Tiles Visolve for Modern UI  
    Dropbox NovaMind Map Evernote Touch  
    Dropbox Novamind Evernote  
    OneNote Note Anytime My Homework  
    OneNote Note Anytime MyHomework  
    Lync Skype Office 365 Tips  
    Lync Skype Office 365 Tips  

    We hope you find these apps useful and if you have any Windows8 apps you would like to recommend teachers please tweet us using #MSFTPIL. Look out for posts from our MIEE’s who will be sharing how they have used Win8apps as learning activities in the classroom. 

    You can find out more about the range of programmes Microsoft Education offers teachers by joining for free!

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  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    RM Education Windows in the Classroom seminars now awarded CPD Accreditation


    Guest post from Claire Garside, RM Education.


    RM Education is working in partnership with Microsoft to deliver a programme of Windows in the Classroom seminars to schools and colleges across the country.

    These free seminars are facilitated by RM’s team of experienced educationalists who have practical experience with powerful learning technologies.

    Available until the end of June, they are already proving very successful. So much so, we are pleased to announce that they have been CPD certified by The CPD Certification Service! Schools can now register for a session, at their own school, in the knowledge that they are working towards achieving their CPD objectives.

    For some schools the programme has been a great starting point to consider or enhance their 1:1 learning program, and it has also allowed educators to see the diversity of software and devices applied to deliver their vision for learning.

    As part of the programme, we have looked at how Windows 8 applies to learning and how it can be used to inspire students and improve educational outcomes.

    We recognise that schools are increasingly working across phase and location. Seminar content is tailored accordingly and together we are demonstrating the value and capability of these products to enrich and enliven the teaching and learning experience for all students.

    Where do I register?

    You can register for a free seminar on the RM Education Website where you will need to enter a few short details about your school; we’ll then be in touch to arrange a time, date and location. It couldn’t be easier, just register by 31st May to ensure availability.

    We look forward to hearing from you soon and exploring, together, how Windows in the Classroom can help you achieve.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    MIEE Top Free Windows 8 Apps for: Early and Primary School Learning


    We have been really fortunate to have within the Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator (MIEE) group some fantastic early learning and primary school teachers. They have spent some time exploring the windows 8 store and consequently have found some great free apps that can be used for a child’s early learning and development stage. Over the next few weeks we will be posting how the MIEE’s are using some of these apps in the classroom but for now take a look at what they have found.

    Early Learning      
    Kids Shapes Dress Chica First words with Phonics  
    Kids Shapes Dress Chica First Words with Phonics  
    Guru Cool Preschool Actities Kids Colours  
    Guru Cool Play School  Preschool Activities Kids Colours  
    Arabian Nights My baby Piano Screenshot.77362.1000000  
    Arabian Nights – Hidden Object Game My Baby Piano My ABC  
    Primary School      
    Grantophone Piano Chords Play Guitar  
    Grantophone Piano Chords Play Guitar  
    Skitch Touch Fotor Kids videos hd  
    Skitch  Fotor Kids Video HD  
    Fresh Paint SketchBook Express Screenshot.17207.1000000  
    Fresh Paint Sketchbook Express First Puzzle Animal Kingdom  
    Read with Biff Chip and Kipper English Grammer Test istorybooks  
    Read with Biff, Chip & Kipper: Library English Grammar Quiz iStoryBooks  
    National Zoo Science ForKids Planet Story  
    National Zoo Science for Kids Planet Story  

    The next ‘MIEE Top Windows 8 Apps for Schools’ blog will focus on apps that are great for accessibility, productivity and collaboration learning activities. We hope you find these apps useful and if you have any Windows8 apps you would like to recommend teachers please tweet us using #MSFTPIL

    You can find out more about the range of programmes Microsoft Education offers teachers by joining for free!

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  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    BYOD in Education: Access and infrastructure


    Excerpt from our BYOD in education eBook written by Ollie Bray. 

    Infrastructure and Bandwidth

    Allowing students to bring in and use their own devices in schools will not be enough on its own to transform learning. Indeed, many BYOD and other 1:1 learning projects have failed across the world because, although the devices have been put in place, the bandwidth and infrastructure have not been adequate to support them.

    Infrastructure and bandwidth are particularly important in BYOD deployments because most of the content that students will be required to access, and the content that they will be required to create, will be web based. Having wireless
    infrastructure in your school is not enough on its own – many schools around the world already have this. But, by moving to BYOD you are also moving to a computing ratio of at least 1:1 (some students and teachers will want to be logged onto
    your network with more than one device). This is likely to put significantly more pressure on your institute’s network than the current amount of devices that you have connected.


    Minimum Bandwidth

    Answering the question of minimum bandwidth is a tricky one as there cannot be a one-size-fits all model. For example some schools will be bigger than others, and at certain ages and stages within a school it is likely that students will use different types of digital technology than may or may not be more bandwidth heavy that other tools and services (eg: online video editing vs reading a text heavy web page).

    Safety and Security

    Safety and Security around BYOD can really be split into two categories.

    Firstly, there is physical safety and security. Schools need to carefully consider what procedure they will put in place if a student-owned device is stolen or damaged. This should include at school and at home as well as the journey between the two.

    Secondly, there is network safety and security. Schools need to consider how this may be managed.

    A global study of IT & IT security practitioners by the Ponemon Institute (2012) on mobility risks offers some advice into the most preferred technologies for mitigating BYOD security risks, which included:

    • Device-level encryption
    • Endpoint security solution
    • Identity and access management
    • Anti-virus/anti-malware
    • Mobile device management

    The table below (from The Consortium of Schools Networking ) outlines a number of the ways that schools may tackle some of the challenges of managing some of these BYOD perceived security risks and their possible advantages.


    Source: The Consortium of Schools Networking

    Whatever solution (if any) you choose to adopt, it is important that network managers have a healthy balance between protecting the user and making sure that safety and security measure that are put in place do not impact in the quality of the learning experience.

    To learn more about BYOD, view or download our eBook below:

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    MIEE Top FREE Windows 8 Apps for: Maths, English, Science and the Languages


    We have put together a list of the top free Windows 8 apps in education for you. This list includes over a dozen different subjects, and multiple apps per subject. Over the next few weeks we will be posting how our Microsoft Innovative Expert Educators (MIEE) are using some of these apps and more in the classroom. Thus, providing a genuine  teaching and learning insight into how these apps can be used to make learning fun and creative but also aid and raise the attainment of a 21st century learner.

    However, we thought to kick start the series with some recommended apps so you don’t have to spend countless hours trying to find the best. See below possible apps for English, Maths. Science and the Languages disciplines.        
    Nook Kindle KNO Textbooks  
    RM Books Chegg Textbook Solutions    
    CarmenSandiego: Adventures in Math Geometry Circumference and Arc Length Kids 4 Fun  
    Corinth Micro Plant Physamajig Chemistry Lab  
    English Club Learn Spanish with Babbel Learn French with Babbel  
    Learn Portuguese with Babbel Learn German with Babbel Learn Italian with Babbel  

    Tomorrow’s ‘MIEE Top Windows 8 Apps for Schools’ blog will focus on Early Learning and Primary apps for education. We hope you find these apps useful and if you have any Windows8 apps you would like to recommend teachers please tweet us using #MSFTPIL

    You can find out more about the range of programmes Microsoft Education offers teachers by joining for free!

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  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    BYOD in Education: Policy Considerations


    Excerpt from our BYOD in education eBook written by Ollie Bray. 

    However you decide to implement BYOD in your school you will have a number of policy considerations to take into account. Some of these considerations are detailed below:

    Ownership and Insurance

    You will need to make some decisions on the ownership of your student devices. In pure BYOD deployments, the devices are student/family owned, but in reality things are not always this simple. It is important that if you purchase the devices as a school you have procedures in place to transfer the ownership to the student/family. You should also consider insurance for the device, both in school and out of school.

    Before introducing BYOD into education, many institutes run parent briefing evenings to make sure that everyone understands their role within any deployment. These evenings can also be useful to facilitate the signing of devices over to students/families.

    Responsible Use

    Your school should already have a policy on ICT acceptable and responsible use. However, with the introduction of BYOD it is very likely that you will need to update or adapt your policy. You need to be clear about what is, and what is not, acceptable on a school’s network, and behaviour that is expected of young people, along with any sanctions that your institute will use if the rules are broken.

    As well as formal procedures, it is also useful to work directly with young people so that they can create their own rules around device use (and this should also include the use of social media). Schools that have worked with students to co create acceptable use policies have found that they are more likely to be adhered to in the long run.

    The important thing to remember about any acceptable use policy is that there is absolutely no right or wrong way to write one. Your policy needs to reflect your organisation, who you wish to communicate with and what you feel comfortable doing.

    Also, as well as including BYOD in your institute’s ICT policy, you should make sure that it is included in your Learning and Teaching Policy – after all, why are we doing this in the first place if it is not to improve learning and teaching?

    As mentioned above, BYOD is also likely to lead to increased use of Social Media in your school or institution, so it is also worth including this in your emerging policy. For reference, one country that is very progressive in the development of Social Media Policies in schools is Australia, in particular Victoria. They have provided some good social media guidance on their website (

    Equality of Access

    If you go for a pure BYOD roll out, there will be some students who do not have a device or whose device does not meet the minimum specification of your institute.

    For 1:1 learning to be successful, you must ensure that there is equality of access. This means that you are likely to have to put systems in place to ensure that students/families who do not have their own device can be provided with one, or are provided with some capital funding to purchase their own device. It is important that you have clear guidance on this to ensure that children are not deprived of their digital entitlement, but also to make sure that the model you are proposing  for your school is financially sustainable in the long term.

    Some schools, for example, allow students to sign a range of devices out of the school library in the same way that they might sign out a book or game.The library (or learning centre) can also double up as a location where you can get your devices serviced or get training on a specific piece of software or an App. In the most successful examples these ‘service desks’ are run by senior students.

    Shape the Future, an initiative led by Microsoft (in partnership with Intel and RM Education in the UK), is one
    possible way to help supply 1:1 tablets and laptops to UK state schools with possible savings on individual devices.

    What is great about this particular programme is that the hardware comes bundled with some great education software such as Microsoft Office and Kodu game maker.


    The full BYOD eBook can be viewed/downloaded via our SlideShare profile below:

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Pieces of 8 – learning with 'Kodu' tops Microsoft prizes by Tony Parkin


    Originally posted on Merlin John Online

    Working with an expert teacher was icing on the cake for prizewinning primary pupils. Tony Parkin sat in…


    Happy 8in8 winners pick up their prizes from Microsoft's offices in Victoria, London

    “Can you just imagine that business meeting? We have this great idea… there are some birds who have had their eggs stolen by some pigs, and now they are out to get their own back.”

    And a room full of primary children at Microsoft’s Victoria offices burst into laughter as they realised that sometime, somewhere, maybe in smart offices just like these, there must have been just such a meeting. Mark Reynolds, education officer at Microsoft, had their attention.

    The start of the journey to Victoria for these schools began last October when, on the launch day of Windows 8 in the UK, a team from Microsoft and RM toured eight schools in one day, running competitions and awarding a Windows 8 device to one lucky pupil in each school to promote the companies' joint ‘Shape the Future’ initiative. Now groups of pupils and staff from seven of the eight schools were getting a chance to have a fun day learning to use Kodu, and see the working environments that people from the IT sector enjoy.

    One of the aims was to raise pupils' aspirations

    The schools had originally been chosen from among those in the less affluent areas of London, and one of the aims of the ‘8 in a Day’ initiative (known as '8 in 8' after the number of schools) had been to help raise pupil aspirations, and realise that they could maybe get jobs in the burgeoning IT sector. I had the good fortune to meet the exhausted but clearly moved ‘8 in a Day’ team at their final event back in October 2012, the official education launch of Windows 8 at Loftus Road, home to Queens Park Rangers Football Club. “We must get these children a chance to see the type of future that they could have in IT,” Mark had said passionately on that day, “it isn’t just about access to resources, but access to possibilities.”

    And now, by getting them into Microsoft's Victoria offices, he had helped this happen. Alongside the prize-winners from each school, proudly carrying their Acer devices, were nine other students and two staff members, bearing a range of assorted school laptops and set on having a fun day in central London.

     Mandeep Atwal (2)Alongside Mark Reynolds the day was led by Mandeep Atwal, a “scary secondary teacher” as she introduced herself. Though she then proceeded to prove that she was anything but scary as she set the students off on group activities. Mandeep herself had been a prize-winner in an earlier Microsoft competition. As a Shirelands Collegiate Academy RE teacher she had won first the UK, then the European and finally the Global Innovative Teacher Award with Microsoft (see "UK teachers shine at Innovative Education Forum"), and a role with the Taking It Global project. Now she is on secondment with Microsoft and helping develop its education offer in the UK, and in particular enthusing this group of 80 excited primary pupils.

    Getting with the program

    The focus of the day was on games development with Kodu, which none of the teachers or students had encountered before. Hence Mark’s opening remarks about 'Angry Birds’, which of course they all knew, to help them realise that computer games were not only fun, but a possible career. Making the schools aware of the Kodu Kup, Microsoft's competition for students, was one of the aims of the day (see "Programmed to please – the Kodu Kup"). Parallel aims of getting them to meet students from other schools, and to develop their entrepreneurial awareness, were to be met by Mark's novelty 'Crisp Trading' programme. “At lunch”, he warned all the pupils, “you are going to get a bagged lunch with a packet of crisps. You may get salt and vinegar, but prefer cheese and onion. The solution – you will need to negotiate a crisp trade with someone from another school!” More of this later.

    Mandeep outlined the rules of the Kodu Kup, asking each team to develop the outline for a game involving space exploration, water resources or a retro-game, Mark gave a demo of Kodu, and they were off.

    Also on hand to help were Caroline Monaghan of RM, alongside other colleagues from both Microsoft and RM who were involved in the '8 in a Day' and the 'Shape the Future' initiatives. But as the day proceeded it became clear that the pupils had entirely taken ownership of the Kodu challenge, and we adults, including the teachers, could relax into facilitating and encouraging their exciting ideas.

    Excited clusters of pupils huddled around assorted devices, tried out various ideas, argued about scenarios and were clearly having a great time. As I walked among the groups I was struck by how little technical support they needed. They taught themselves the Kodu system as they went, and the staff readily adopted the facilitating rather than instructional role that was required.

    'It's lovely that they are teaching me – I didn’t have a Scooby-doo'

    Kodu, Mark Reynolds

    Mark Reynolds works with '8in8' pupils on 'Kodu' creations

    “I'd love them to be able to use this in their Golden Time,” said Elaine Atkins, assistant from Greenslade Primary School, “ and it's lovely that they are teaching me how to do this, as before I didn't have a scooby-doo!” Teacher Anne Desir from Greenslade was also enjoying helping the team with their ideas. “On the 8 in 8 Day all the pupils had to describe what it would mean to them to have their own 1:1 device, and how they thought it would impact their learning. There were lots of good ideas from many of the pupils, and Leograce was the winner at our school.” Leograce was a tall, somewhat reserved girl who was proud and delighted to have won the Acer W510 device, complete with Office 2010 software, but who quite rightly was now far more interested in working with her school team on Kodu than chatting about her prize.

    So instead I talked to Caroline Monaghan from RM about the day's activities, the earlier 8 in 8 Day, and the Shape the Future programme. “We believe getting devices into the hands of every student is an ideal way to transform teaching and learning,” said Caroline. “'8 in 8' was based around launching Windows 8, but also, importantly, about the impact 1:1 computer ownership can have. We gave eight students their own device to use between home and school and already we can see the difference this has made to their lives. Today it is brilliant to see how far they have come…”

    After lunch, and the Crisp Trading opportunity, the original winners of the devices had the opportunity to present back what they had done with them to date, and the school teams had the chance to say what they had done so far with their game ideas. The Greenslade team's game, "Pollution Problems", had humans (as ever the villains of the piece) moving across the world, dumping garbage, while Kodu's job was to try to catch and clear it up.

    The more garbage was dropped and missed, the lower the water level fell on the planet until it ended in disaster. Each school had come up with at least one such idea. One or two even had rough working Kodu demos already.

    The only minor fail of the day was the Crisp Trading... aiming to get the pupils' entrepreneurial spirit moving. But Mark hadn't accounted for the native cunning of London schoolchildren, who quickly realised that they could have a quick look in the lunch bags and grab their favourite crisps from the start. Mark smiled ruefully: “Not quite how I imagined it, but it certainly showed they aren't short of that entrepreneurial approach we need!”

    You can find out more about the range of programmes Microsoft Education has to offer teachers through our Partners in Learning Network. Join for free at

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  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    BYOD in Education: Why go BYOD?


    Excerpt from our BYOD in education eBook written by Ollie Bray.

    imageGenerally speaking there are three main reasons why you may decide to develop BYOD within your school or education institution. These reasons are described below:

    Student familiarity

    If you own your device it is very likely that you will know how it works and what it can do. In short, this means that, from a learning perspective, you lose less time getting students to understand and wrestle with the hardware and gain more time on focused learning

    Bridge between formal and informal learning

    Most people agree that one way of improving education is to progress towards a model where students can access learning anytime and anywhere. This is one of the components of holistic education transformation mentioned previously.One of the barriers to this adoption is that many students perceive there to be a difference between learning in school and learning at home.

    This is not always helped by the fact that on-line learning content within formal education is often confined to the domain of the school network and therefore often the school computer lab.

    Cloud computing and cloud storage (including services like Office 365 Education) has started to change this. Learners can access their content and a range of online tools from any Internet enabled device.

    Cost and sustainability

    The adoption of BYOD obviously also includes the possibility for cost savings and we should not be ashamed to admit this. In the modern world we simply have to do ‘more’ for ‘less’. In most cases BYOD has the potential to quickly convert your school into a 1:1 Learning environment, where there is an average ratio of one Internet enabled device for each learner.

    However, it is also worth noting that most schools that have been successful in BYOD have often found that their actual costs have not really been reduced. They do, however, have extra resources available to redirect towards network
    configurations, staff professional development and other technology projects. These efficiency savings can also be used to fund devices for learners who are not fortunate enough to have their own device or who are not allowed to bring it into school.

    The important thing to remember here is that BYOD can improve learning and may reduce costs. For other cost saving ideas for education see our popular eBook on ‘Cost Savings in Education’.

    To learn more about BYOD in education, download or view our full eBook below:

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator launch at TVP


    Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert badgeRecently we hosted the very first Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator event at TVP. The event was centred on the new professional development badges Microsoft are offering teachers for their innovative use of technology in the classroom.

    Meet the MIEE’s:

    Highlights from the event:



    Jane Hamilton

    Fox Covert RC Primary School



    Jon Loveridge

    Howe Dell Primary School




    Charlotte Beckhurst

    Hartsbrook EACT Free School


    Ben Rouse

    Havant Academy




    Charlotte Coade

    Simon De Senlis Primary School



    Richard Burgess





    John Currer

    Harton Tech College


    Simon Hett

    Blatchington Mill School




    Jemma Irwin

    Astbury Primary School



    Ben Hemmings

    Howe Dell Primary School




    Mark Gilbert

    Alec Hunter Humanities College


    Chris Burton

    Twickenham Academy




    Scott Wieprecht

    Saltash.NET Community College

    WHAT NEXT from the MIEEs?

    Please look out for on going blog posts and tutorials from each Microsoft Expert Educator who will focus on how to maximise the potential of Win8 Apps in education and the benefits of the Office 365 in the classroom.

    On day one teachers were awarded their first badge by completing the Windows in the Classroom seminar.  Sean and I split the cohort into two teams with the aim of the winning group finding the best Win8 Apps for education. Mark Stewart was on hand to judge the winning team but found that all Win8 apps identified by our teachers had a strong place in education. Lesson plans were completed for each app and these were shared as a learning activity on the to be accessed and used by teachers all over the world. Check out the apps they found here >           
    The afternoon saw our teachers achieve the Teaching with Technology badge. This is online learning designed to give educators a deeper understanding of how ICT integration can enhance the teaching and learning experience for learners via six online learning courses.

    We struck GOLD on day two when the Office 365 education presentation was supported by one of our teacher’s Scott Weiprecht. Scott has taken to Office 365 like duck to water and consequently led the morning’s session demonstrating how he has adopted Office 365 as a teacher. More importantly Scott introduced everyone to his student led team ‘The Offperts’ who have created video tutorials on how great office 365 is for learning. Check out their videos here. Scott then made sure that everyone left with a trial version of wave 15 so they too could experiment with the benefits of the FREE platform when they returned to the classroom. James Marshall also jumped in to provide any technical support and questions the team had; making the experience further more enriching.

    Finally, the group were treated to a tour of the Microsoft Technology Centre. They had a quick overview of what the MTC does and how they assist customers and partners in utilizing the MS stack to its full potential, this was followed by a walk around the MTC Receptions which had some facial recognition technology and some of the latest slates and laptops. However, the group really enjoyed seeing the MTC Envisioning Centre where they were given the ‘art of the possible’ demo.




    Be the NEXT Microsoft Expert Educator, find out how here >

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