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August, 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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August, 2013

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Devices in Education: Lenovo Yoga vs. iPad


    New video showcasing the awesome new Lenovo Yoga device, the perfect choice for the back to school season.

    Play games, access your files anywhere, do two things at once side-by-side and catch up with family and friends, all on a single device.

    Have fun and get your homework done with a Windows 8 tablet!

    To learn more about which devices is right for you, check out our new Devices in Education eBook. Let us know which is your favourite device in the comments below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    4 weeks left of the Surface RT Summer deal!



    With our Surface RT Summer deal in full swing, and only 4 weeks left to make the most of the fantastic offer, we really wanted to share with you some final tips and pointers on the deal.

    4 more weeks to benefit from the Surface RT Summer Offer

    As previously mentioned, due to the fantastic level of interest the deal has received, the deadline has been extended to the 30th September 2013 so that those of you haven’t been able to make your orders over the holidays, can still benefit from 4 more weeks order time.


    Windows 8.1

    We are excited to share some of the benefits Surface owners will have access to, one of which is a free upgrade to Windows 8.1. With Windows 8.1, colleges, schools and universities will be able to benefit from better security, longer battery life thanks to the embedded wireless radio and simple tag-to-pair printing, avoiding longwinded printer connection setups. Sure to fare well with students rushing to hand in deadlines on time!

    Filling in your order form

    As before, please make sure the 'Bill to' and 'Ship to' sections are both the same to avoid orders from slowing down. Similarly, to avoid delays, make sure to fill in the 'Purchase Order Number' and 'Institution VAT number'. If the VAT number is not applicable, please make sure to write N/A .


    Sending your order form

    All order forms please need to be sent to Please note, the offer is eligible to Academic Institutions only.

    Order Process

    After the inhaul of orders and enquiries, we are happy to report that we have streamlined our order process and reduced lead time from 20 days to 7 to 10 days.

    If your Surface RT delivery comes without attachments such as keyboards, please rest assured that the attachments will follow 3 to 5 days later.


    For any further queries, please send your emails to

    Again, we apologise for any delays you have experienced and thank you kindly for your patience.

    Make the most of the last 4 weeks to come!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Unified Communications Apprenticeship Scheme - a partnership between Freedom Communications, West Herts College and Microsoft



    The growing adoption of innovative communication technology in business is rapidly fuelling demand for today's young workforce to possess voice, IT and business skills. While businesses become more technologically-centred, the communication skill gap of young unemployed people grows, making it harder for local businesses to find trained employees and even more so, for young people to find work. In less than 12 months, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has united West Herts College, Watford-based Freedom Communications and Microsoft IT Academy, a dynamic private-public partnership, to create an innovative apprenticeship scheme that is actively addressing a growing skills gap for the benefit of local businesses.


    The Drive for Partnership

    Freedom Communications delivers communication and network technologies, such as Microsoft's Lync to over 1,000 companies in the UK, playing an active part in the UK's growing communication technology market, valued at £6.6bn. Unified Communication Technology (UCT) skills are new in the UK so Freedom spotted an urgent need for specialist training to be provided to young people, early in their careers. What better way to address the employer/employee UCT dilemma, by synonymously developing young peoples' employability skills, and filling a pool of appropriately trained employees for firms to dip into!     

    Paving the way with a proactive passion for people development, West Herts College welcomed the opportunity to work with Freedom to give their students the training and tools to enhance their communication technology skills and employability skills. Duncan Murray, Deputy Principal of West Herts College recounts:

    "Working in partnership with ambitious companies like Freedom is the ideal way for West Herts College to help drive innovation and growth in the region. Higher-level apprenticeships offer a genuine alternative to higher education, keeping local expertise in the local economy and offering careers with great earning potential.”

    Meeting at the Watford Business Growth Forum, Freedom and WCH quickly realized they shared a passion for skills and people development and formed a partnership with Microsoft to support and inspire young people in developing their UCT skills with Lync.


    The Apprenticeship Scheme

    Working together, Freedom, WHC and Microsoft have created a tailored Apprenticeship Scheme through the Microsoft IT Academy, that meets not only Freedom’s specific requirements for talent, but addresses the skills gap by developing a skilled workforce and foundation for excellent career prospects.

    The level 4 Lync apprenticeship offered by West Herts College has been designed to focus on developing transferrable business skills, delivering live enterprise challenges alongside ITIL foundation and SDI accreditations, to prepare students for a career option at Freedom. We are thrilled to announce the first scheme in July 2013 is already set to appoint two apprentices.

    This dynamic scheme has been made reality by Freedom investing in both skills participation and infrastructure, including a dynamic work environment, acquisition of key resources including Lync trainers and the design and development of learning frameworks, learning standards and outcomes for its college work experience placements.

    Paul Witcombe of Herts LEP sheds light on some of the wider benefits of the scheme:

    "The promotion of the skills agenda and in particular an emphasis on apprenticeships is key to our strategy to drive business led economic growth. Employer-led investments are the best approach to achieving growth. Investment as part of this project will have an immediate and sustainable impact on private sector jobs growth in the local area.”

    Benefits in Abundance

    Perhaps most exciting is the broad impact the apprenticeship scheme will have:

    Young people will be better prepared to meet industry demand for ICT skills, and considerably increase career and salary prospects.

    As for the ICT Sector, business growth will be supported by increasing availability of high-demand Lync skills.

    The Hertfordshire region will provide new employment opportunities for young people, where almost three times the number of 18-24 year olds are out of work compared to 25-49 year olds

    Finally, the UK economy will be enhanced with services skills that ensure home-grown talent stays within UK organisations, so revenue opportunities remain in the UK


    Opportunities for the Future

    Within Hertfordshire, it is anticipated that Freedom, WHC and Microsoft will expand its apprenticeship scheme to involve WHC feeder schools, offering skills development and career support to inspire younger learners considering an ICT career. Plans are also afoot to introduce a Traineeship scheme at WHC, alongside the Apprenticeship, providing work experience and technical and business skills training.

    But you might be asking yourself how the scheme could help your local area?

    While this project focuses initially on the Watford locality, Freedom, WHC and Microsoft have created a blueprint for private-public partnerships that can be adopted by other local enterprises to benefit the UK. This includes replicating the scheme in Leeds, where Freedom’s secondary office is located, and expanding the number of annual apprentice recruits over time.

    We are thrilled to enlighten you with the social benefits of the Apprenticeship Scheme and would encourage you to share and explore the plan with the schools, students and local authority in your local area. 

    I will leave you with one final statement from Chris Luff, Director of Freedom Communications:

    "The partnership is a springboard to future accelerated growth for Freedom and will ensure WHC can develop a training approach that is sustainable beyond the scope of our initial project, to be a leading light in skills transfer and learning.”

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Voice: Kelly Stewart, Student, Didcot Girls’ School, Oxford, UK


    Originally posted on

    My education is important to me because it’s the platform for my future endeavours, success and aspirations.Kelly Stewart, UK

    If you want open and honest feedback about how our schools are doing, just ask a student. That’s exactly what we at Microsoft did recently when 15-year-old UK student Kelly Stewart participated in a week-long work experience at the Microsoft UK offices. Stewart attends the Didcot Girls’ School, a language-focused institution that is working to accelerate technology adoption. Her interviews with fellow students and teachers turned up some interesting insights, and Stewart shared these in a presentation to the Microsoft team.

    “In recent months we have been striving to improve our technology use in order to give both students and teachers better opportunities – however it is very much a work in progress,” says Stewart. So how is this journey progressing, and what would the students like to see more of? Not surprisingly, students were keen on touchscreen technology, noting that interactive learning gets them more involved, makes the lessons more interesting and improves retention (vs. copying notes from a textbook). According to one of Stewart’s classmates, “Even the most stubborn learners can learn through interactive competitive games without even realizing it.”


    At the same time – here’s that brutally honest feedback again – they felt that teachers’ resistance to change is preventing students from learning how to adapt to the technology they’ll need for the future. “The reason we don’t even have newer software is because teachers can’t be bothered to learn something new, and even if we get it, they don’t learn or... don’t incorporate it into the lesson,” one student said.

    In order to get a balanced view, Stewart posed the same questions to her ICT and computer science teacher. When asked about the biggest barrier in education technology, he confirmed that making teachers feel comfortable using the technology – and making them understand the benefits – continues to be a challenge. He noted that teachers must learn how to be more trusting with putting technology in the students’ hands as they are more likely to know more or pick up things more quickly. For example, giving them opportunities to use new technology to present work or set a task and let them decide what tools they will use.

    Stewart’s teacher also highlighted simple technology tools that facilitate the teaching/learning process, like projectors, Microsoft Office applications and flipped learning. He also noted that “ICT for learning... is more powerful in the hands of the learners, as it allows them to do projects in creative ways that other resources wouldn’t be able to provide.”

    In today’s Daily Edventure, we learn more about this ambitious student, and gain some helpful insights about how students perceive the progress of technology in their school. Enjoy!

    Check out the video here.

    What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you?

    My education is important to me because it’s the platform for my future endeavours, success and aspirations.

    Can you tell us about a favourite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?

    Miss King (my math teacher at my current school). She has helped me to achieve my potential!

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

    Once I had to create a radio station, so I used my phone to record the script, then transferred the audio file on to Movie Maker, then created a radio station logo (still image) as the backdrop while presenting it to the class.

    In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?

    Interactive learning – putting the power of the technology in the hands of the students. For example, allowing the students to choose which technology they use for various projects.

    Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?

    While I think all are important, creativity and innovation are the seeds of an idea that can grow into something so much bigger.

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

    Just simple access to the Internet. In so many parts of the world this actually isn’t possible, and I feel we take it for granted.

    What is your country doing well currently to support education?

    The UK is a developed country with access to technology for the majority. There has recently been prioritization of computer programming in schools, and this I feel is very important for the future.

    How must education change in your country to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?

    A key thing is to improve the teaching/learning experience, recognizing the important role technology plays in delivering our education. Through this, teachers will get the confidence to use the technology within the classroom.

    About Kelly Stewart, Student, Didcot Girls’ School

    Oxford, UK

    • Birthplace: Oxford, UK
    • Current residence: UK
    • Education: Student at UK secondary school (9th grade)
    • Website I check every day:
    • Person who inspires me most: Taylor Swift
    • Favourite childhood memory: Holiday in Florida when I was five.
    • Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Italy, Sorrento
    • When was the last time you laughed? Why? My cousin Adam (who has a strong London accent) came back from a trip to America, and told us that the guy in Burger King asked if he knew Ozzy Osborne.
    • Favourite book: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
    • Favourite music: Country music
    • What is the best advice you have ever received? Don’t ever succumb to peer pressure.
    • Your favourite quote or motto: “When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.”

    If you’re interested in participating in a conversation about student voice, go to the Hot Topics page on the Partners in Learning Network.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    DreamSpark Getting Started Guide: Faculty


    We know first-hand the power of a student’s ideas (hello, Bill Gates?). That’s why we created DreamSpark, to give ambitious students a break and help kick-start their careers. 

    Every educator, student and school lab can take advantage of DreamSpark for learning, teaching and research to get the best, professional-level design and development tools - at low cost to schools.

    We want to help you make their dreams come to life with the real coding experiences they need  to build their skills and get ready for their future career.

    A great place to start is Microsoft Visual Studio Professional - the full suite of tools - to help your students build apps, games and sites in HTML, C++, C#, Ruby, Java and more.

    Subscribe to DreamSpark at and start helping your class get ahead.

    View or download our getting started guide below to learn more!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    DreamSpark at the University of Chester


    Great video featuring students and lecturers from the University of Chester discussing what DreamSpark means to them and how it’s used within the university to help students improve their skills and demonstrate their practical experience to employers.

    Check out the full video below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Devices in Education: Senior Managers and IT Professionals


    In our final day of Devices in Education themed posts, we are going to look at the devices best suited for IT Pro’s and Senior Management working within schools, colleges and universities.

    It may seem strange for us to group senior managers and IT pros into one section, but there is reason behind the seeming madness. While these two groups consume different content on their PCs, their requirements are actually quite similar. In their roles, they both need devices with high performance, professional looks and ample storage.




    3 excellent devices for Senior Manager and IT professionals include the following range of Tablets, All-in-One’s and Ultrabook’s:

    All-in-One (Mid Range): HP Envy 23-d010ea

    The Envy’s 3rd generation Intel® processor provides a fast processing speed which gives all the performance that senior managers and IT pros need. Its structure is smart, with edge-to-edge glass design, but doesn’t compromise performance, and you can even mount it on the wall. With the 10-point touch sensitive screen, you can introduce a truly hands-on approach to leadership meetings, or get your team of IT technicians involved in the solution planning process.

    Tablet (High End): Surface Pro

    With the ability to run all the apps and programs you care about, digital ink capabilities and the option to join a corporate domain for full access to your institutions network, we think the Surface Pro is the perfect choice for senior management and IT professionals within academic institutions.


    Ultrabook (High End): Lenovo X1 Carbon

    Another visually stunning device, the Lenovo X1 Carbon has everything you could ask for, and more. The long battery life allows you to stay unplugged all day, so if you’re walking around the school offering support, or in and out of meetings, you can rest assured that your laptop will last as long as you do. The Intel® vPro technology enables you to manage, protect, repair, and locate assets from anywhere in the world, which we know is important to those leading the school and staff. Being on the move can leave you with little time to charge your device, but with Lenovo’s rapid charge technology charging the battery up to 80% in 35 minutes, you needn’t worry about those busy days out of your office.


    For a full overview of our current curated list of devices for education, check out our eBook below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Devices in Education: Educators


    Any educator requires a PC to enable them to prepare, teach and communicate within their school, college or university. They use their devices for a diverse range of activities, from electronic grade records, to communicating with students, parents and other educators, to designing lesson and assignment plans. Their device is often used as the primary teaching and projection device in a classroom, and may therefore be used for video-conferencing and web browsing in addition to the aforementioned. Consequently, they need a device which can keep up with their fast-paced lifestyle, and has the ability to perform multiple functions without slowing down.


    3 great devices for educators, are as follows:

    Ultrabook (Entry Level): ASUS VivoBook S200E

    A sleek, lightweight device with a price point starting at under £350, this ASUS is perfect for a teacher just starting their career. The touchscreen allows you to make the most of Windows 8, but you still have full laptop functionality for those all important lesson plans and emails. The devices size is only a plus, and is easily portable for when your bags are full of various textbooks and worksheets. We know that connection ports are important for teachers, as you need to connect to display equipment, peripherals and other devices, and the ASUS doesn’t let you down, being able to connect to almost anything with its VGA, HDMI and USB ports.


    Hybrid (Mid Range): HP Envy x2

    Boasting up to 14 hours of battery life when attached to the keyboard base, this device will take you from home to work, and survive the journey in between so you can continue your work when commuting. The detachable tablet is perfect for portability, allowing you to move your demos and teaching around the classroom rather than being stuck behind the laptop stand, and the Intel Atom processor, combined with 2GB of RAM, come together to give a smooth experience when multitasking.



    Ultrabook (High End): Acer Aspire S

    This beautiful looking device is great for teachers who want to get things done while looking professional at the same time. The screen can be opened to 180 degrees and laid flat, making it perfect for collaboration, and the Acer Crystal Eye HD camera allows you to video conference with other classrooms around the world using services such as Skype. The Intel Core i7 processor provides a seamless experience, whether browsing the web or running multiple applications, giving you more time to work and less time waiting for things to load. If you want a high performance, lightweight and visually impressive device that provides you with everything you need as a teacher, this is the device to choose.


    More information about the devices featured in this post is available within our Devices in Education eBook. The eBook can be viewed/downloaded below:

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Devices in Education: FE & HE Students


    Day three of our look at devices in education is shifting to FE and HE learners. A student in further or higher education needs a device which can handle intensive use while they research and write essays, create PowerPoint presentations and collaborate with their peers, whilst also being able to handle the demands of their personal life, such as playing games, socialising or even making computer and mobile phone apps. They want something smart and sleek which they can show off, but need something portable enough to take to and from class.

    3 devices that would be great for FE and HE students include the following:

    Ultrabook (Entry Level): Stone NT310

    Designed to withstand the trials and tribulations of daily use, this device perfectly suits a college environment, and is both stylish and durable. The Intel i7 processor delivers the swift, instant response you need as a student, no matter what you’re doing, and the 15.6” HD LCD screen gives you plenty of real-estate to multitask using the Windows 8 snapping function.

    All-in-One (Mid Range): Toshiba LX830-11D

    For students looking for a sturdy and productive, yet entertainment ready, All-in-One device for their bedrooms, or institutions looking to kit out their computer labs with a universally user-friendly device, look no further. The i3 processor in the LX830 provides all the speed a student needs to complete their work, and the 1TB hard drive gives them enough space to store it all once it’s complete. We love the HD graphics too, which bring images and videos to life on the big touchscreen, and are great for keeping you engaged when doing research for projects.


    Hybrid (High End): Sony VAIO Duo

    A gorgeous alternative to standard form factors, the Duo can be transformed from a tablet to laptop in seconds with the SurfSlider™ screen, which slides up to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard, perfect for getting your college and university work done. The Digitizer stylus allows a fluid and natural writing style, which you can use to make notes during class when typing isn’t enough. The Intel i5 processor delivers a fast performance, automatically providing a boost of speed when needed. What more could you ask for when juggling study and personal life?

    To check out the full specs of the machines featured in this post, our full Devices in Education eBook can be viewed/downloaded below/

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Devices in Education: Secondary


    Following on from yesterday’s post focussed on Primary learners, we are now going to shift our attention to the devices best suited for secondary age students.


    A secondary school student needs their device to be quick and powerful to allow them to research and create content using many different tools – Office 2013, Windows 8 apps, websites, search engines etc, but need something with great battery life to get them through a full school day.

    With this in mind, we have selected the following 3 devices that we think are a great fit for secondary age learners.

    Hybrid (Entry Level Device): Acer Iconia W510

    A sturdy, stylish solution for students, this device provides the performance they need to get all their homework done. As a hybrid, the device offers students flexibility to fit into their lifestyle, and allows both high performance and convenience in its laptop and tablet forms. Have fun with the 5-point multi-touch capability, which provides a real hands-on experience, and document school work and your personal life with the full HD audio and video recording.


    Hybrid (Mid Range): Ergo Hybrid

    We think the Hybrid is perfect for providing you with the functionality of a laptop without sacrificing performance, as the included docking station allows you to switch easily to and from the full laptop experience. The headphone jack lets students use applications and research tools which require sound without disrupting the rest of the classroom, and the USB ports let them connect to other devices or peripherals so they can get the class involved with their work from their own device.


    All-in-One (Mid Range): Viglen Integra

    A flexible all-in-one PC, the Integra is great for classrooms thanks to its simple design and compact footprint. With the choice of display size from 17”-22”, you can get this to suit your needs, whether you want a large screen for creative media work or a slightly smaller one to fit neatly into your classroom, and the height adjustable stand means that individual students can alter the screen height to suit them.


    Additional information about the devices illustrated in this post are available within our devices in education eBook. The full eBook can be viewed/downloaded below.

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