Blog Repost, Originally Posted on Ray Fleming’s Education Blog
We announced recently that Yammer for education customers will be free of charge from 1st April 2014, through your Office 365 for Education subscription (which is also free). Which means that educational institutions are able to have a communication system (through Office 365’s email and Lync service), collaboration and document storage (through Office 365’s SharePoint and OneDrive), and secure social networking and collaboration (through Yammer) – all of which is free.
The beauty of Yammer is that it can be fully integrated into your user database – so you create a private place for just your users to collaborate and mingle, and can enable and disable users easily. And then within Yammer you can create public and private groups – so staff can have private planning and discussion areas that others can’t access. Or groups of students can be placed into individual communities, for classes, subjects, sports and social groups etc. It also has a range of apps for mobile devices, so your users can access it on the go from their iPhone, Windows Phone, Android phones etc
There has always been a basic free version of Yammer that users can sign up to individually, and create communities and groups, and some education users in Australia have already been using that for some time (some of them with hundreds or thousands of users). But when you want to have organisational control over your users, then in the past you would have had to paid for the full Yammer Enterprise version. But from 1st April, that’s the version that education customers can get free.
The major difference between Yammer and other social networking systems is that your Yammer network is private, and controlled by you. You don’t have individual teachers uploading lists of students to third-party websites, and managing them outside of your existing systems. Instead, your IT team have full control over your users in the same way that they do for other systems in your school, TAFE or university. Adding and deleting/disabling users is all done centrally. And you have control and visibility of the content and conversations that are happening.
Some of the key features of Yammer that are relevant for education customers are:
Once Yammer Enterprise is available, Office 365 Education tenant administrators will receive an activation link in their Office 365 admin portal. You then visit the Office 365 Admin Portal to begin the self-guided provisioning process. There’s a complete Yammer Activation Guide here. There are also additional resources on activation and provisioning from Yammer.
Learn more about Yammer
To assist educators, students and parents find resources to take them beyond the Hour of Code, the Code.org UK website features some amazing resources, tutorials and lesson plans that can be used to inspire the next generation of developers.
All these resources are fun, engaging and intuitive and are well suited for those students just taking their first steps. There is also a great selection of resources for those who have a little more experience under their belts.
A selection of the resources include the following (click on the images to access):
I am definitely going to be giving some of these a whirl over the weekend! Let us know what you think in the comments below.
On behalf of Microsoft and as a Microsoft Partners in Learning establishment, we are asking for your assessment of the impact the partnership is having on student engagement, motivation and attainment outcomes.
As part of their 'GET ON' campaign to support the attainment of students across the UK, Microsoft has commissioned NERP to assess the reach and impact of Partners in Learning establishment. The aim of the research is to provide the education community with an assessment of the reach and impact of the various services, including innovative teachers. We have ensured that the questions are quick and easy for you to complete and ask no more than 10 minutes of your time. All responses will remain anonymous and secure. Microsoft will only receive an analysis of the cumulative results of the research.
Excerpt from ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’
This is the most important but often the most over looked aspect of any 1:1 initiative or technology deployment designed to change culture and teaching methodology. By creating a policy related to continuous teacher professional development and writing it into your roll-out plan you will formalise the need for training within your staff team.
Professional development should include both technical and pedagogical training. It should also include a blend of face-to-face (expert and/ or peer led) and on-line learning. Staff should be given as many opportunities as possible to share ideas and learn from each other’s practice.
Microsoft Partners in Learning (PiL) is a 10-year, 500+ million dollar global initiative aimed at improving teaching and learning. Since 2003, it has led the way in partnering with education professionals, helping nearly 8 million educators and reaching more than 190 million students in 114 countries. At the heart of PiL is the Partners in Learning Network, an online professional development community that helps educators and school leaders connect, collaborate, create and share so that students can realise their greatest potential. For more information of PiL join the online discussion today at www.pil-network.com.
The focus on Learning and Teaching is really important to ensure the success and impact of any 1:1 project and this is discussed in more detail within our ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’ eBook.
The full eBook can be viewed/downloaded below.
Guest post by Education Writer Gerald Haigh
Following up on the recent blog post ‘Computer Science in the National Curriculum: Program or be Programmed’, I had a conversation with Claire Lotriet, ICT Co-ordinator and Year 5/6 leader at Henwick Primary School in Greenwich. Claire is author of the primary school resource, ‘Switched on Computing’, a joint enterprise of Microsoft and publisher ‘Rising Stars’.
We talked particularly about Unit 6 of the resource, which is built around Microsoft’s visual programming language ‘Kodu’. During the Autumn of 2013, ahead of the publication of ‘Switched on Computing’, Claire used Unit 6 and Kodu extensively with her Year Six class. How did the children take to it? I wondered.
“It went down a storm,” she says. The attraction, she explained, lies in Kodu’s use of the gaming concept.
Most of the children are into games, on the Xbox and so on, and when she showed them that Kodu is about creating their own computer games, they were hooked. Kodu, of course, is free, which benefits children as well as the school.
“It meant that a lot of them downloaded it at home”, says Claire.
“They would work how to do different things and then bring the ideas back to class. This, in turn, led to growing peer support, as children answered each others’ questions. They were definitely pushing Kodu further than I expected.
They would work out things that I hadn’t taught them – how to change the lighting in the sky for example. Kodu promotes that – the interface is an invitation to explore, and more and more children were coming back into class knowing how to do more things with it. That’s not to say there were no stumbling blocks along the way. When they produce a sequence of code, as often as not it won’t work as they want first time. They have to evaluate it, see what needs to change. It was something of a learning curve and some children struggled with it at first”
But as she says, that process of ‘debugging’ is in the very nature of computer programming, specifically mentioned in the curriculum.
“It’s important and it doesn’t just apply to computing” says Claire. “If we teach writing, for example, we place the same importance on going back and editing and correcting.
The children also had to learn to judge the level of difficulty of their games.
We were producing them for an audience of younger children, and the games had to be difficult enough to pose a challenge but not so hard that it turns the player. Pitching at the right level is another skill to be learned.”
To see Kodu used by children is to realise just how rich are its creative and cross-curricular possibilities. The starting point, which is the creation of a unique world, with an infinite number of possible landscapes and features, is a richly stimulating challenge in itself, even before the serious business of adding characters, challenges, chases and surprises.
“What came across to me when we were creating the worlds was that we didn’t have any that were the same. The settings were so varied. Kodu games, like all computer games, are stories, and their creation offers many teaching and learning opportunities.
We were able to discuss how the setting can change the feel of the story, creating moods”
There are also many links with literacy.Unit 6 of ‘Switched on Computing’ is called not just ‘Creating’, but ‘Creating and Advertising a Computer Game’. This means there is an element of enterprise education. Children learn about the importance of cover design and text, advertising copy, persuasive writing, and methods of marketing.
Now, with enthusiasm running high, Claire plans to enter at least one team in Microsoft’s Kodu Kup competition which, given the demands of the curriculum, and the increasing use of Kodu, looks like being a major event.
To find out more about The Switched on Computing range from Rising Stars, follow this link: http://www.risingstars-uk.com/all-series/switched-on-computing/
Originally posted on the UK Developers Blog.
I develop for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. I like the versatility of Windows, it is so open and really attractive from a UI perspective. Visual Studio isn't restricted to just one programming language, the interface is nice and it is easy to create attractive and powerful content in a small amount of time. I use DreamSpark, free Microsoft software for students, to get Visual Studio and for a developer license. I first learnt to code at home using websites like YouTube and through trial and error. I used to come up with an idea, think what stages would be required to achieve this end, and then searched for code snippets or tutorials for each individual stage. I consistently improve my skills by coding, learning new things myself.
I have a published app in the Store. My app is called Face The Facts, in both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 store. It is a quiz based app. It presents the user with categories, where when selected will present a random fact. The user has to decide if the fact is true or false, and is rewarded with a point if the fact is correct. The user can also add facts, and create and view custom quiz pages. I presented Face the Facts at BETT this year, demoing my app to passers-by on 'the app wall'. I attended the event for the first time last year so getting to present this year was an amazing experience. I attended all 4 days and it was great to spend a week with Microsoft, surrounded by technology (which of course I love) and interesting people. I also learnt about the world of developing from a 19 year old developer called Jamie Clarke, whose app My Study Life is already number 1 app in Education. I learnt a lot from Jamie, especially about the human side of coding - the little things that you don't learn unless you meet other developers. Things like code efficiency, and what happens after your apps are published. BETT was a really great experience for me as a young developer.
We do coding in school for computing, but not many students are interested enough to code at home to really develop their skills and enjoy it. I am very interested in programming, but I also see it as something to do to keep me entertained, I think more students could benefit from knowing this. You have the advantage of time which puts you further ahead of most, and I know I will be significantly ahead of peers in IT exams for example. I wouldn't say the real benefits of learning to code young are in school, though. If anything, being good at coding is a negative in ICT lessons as it means you are bored and you feel you could be doing something more productive to develop your skills.
In the future I want to run my own computing or software company, or be employed as a programmer. This is what I believe learning to code young has really helped me with. I can write apps now, and hopefully as I build my experience I can build a company at a young age. The younger and more experienced I am, hopefully the greater chance of success.
Today’s e-zine explores how becoming a Microsoft IT Academy and introducing Microsoft services such as DreamSpark, Office 365 and Yammer improved ICT opportunities for a typical student…
Original post: Kevin Sait I’m going to explain. My name is Jason Brown and I am a student at Wymondham High Academy in Norfolk, England. Currently, I am a Year 11 GCSE student with a passion for IT (both hardware and software) as well as photography, web design and multimedia. Come September 2014, I am hoping to go into Wymondham High’s Sixth Form and study Computing at A Level. Whilst the introduction of this A Level course (which is aimed towards those with a strong interest in computers and programming) is a great way to learn computer programming, why wait until September when I can start learning now…
One of the biggest benefits which becoming a Microsoft IT Academy brings is the opportunity for all students to get involved with professional Microsoft Qualifications. There are several different qualifications which students can choose from, for example Windows OS and Office Fundamentals, Server and Networking Fundamentals and Software Development Fundamentals. These qualifications are highly sought-after and usually cost hundreds or possibly thousands of pounds to do (my father did an MCSE in Windows Server 2003 R2 Fundamentals around 10 years ago and paid a lot of money). The fact that students can now do these qualifications for free is simply amazing and opens doors to a future career in IT. Some of the best-paying jobs in IT will look for candidates with some of these qualifications. There are different levels which students can undertake, ranging from MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate) which is the most basic qualification (but still highly looked-upon), to MCSA and MCSE which are the higher qualification levels which you can progress towards once you have completed your MTA.
I’ve been programming in Visual Basic.NET since the summer of 2010 and have used every version of Visual Studio since 2008. I am now undertaking an MTA in C# Software Development Fundamentals in order to ‘progress’ from Visual Basic.NET to C#. In order to aid me with my MTA, the school have provided me with a free copy of Visual Studio Premium 2013 which I am currently using to learn C# on (I am learning C# in two key ways, explained later).
I have obtained my free copy of Visual Studio 2013 through DreamSpark, which is a Microsoft service which the school provide and allows students to access all kinds of Microsoft software for free. Software you can download ranges from Windows 8.1 Pro and Visual Studio 2013 to Autoroute 2010 and Windows Server 2012 R2 and even older software such as Windows 7 Professional and Windows Vista Business are all available to download for free. If I were to buy Visual Studio Premium (with MSDN) 2013 from the Microsoft Store today, I’d be paying £6,200 or thereabouts. From DreamSpark, I got it for free. This is fantastic because it allows students to take advantage of the latest software without having to pay for it, eliminating financial reasons as an excuse not to get learning. By not having to pay for the products, students can always be up to date and use the latest versions of their desired software for free. The brilliant thing is that there are multiple versions of most software online for students to download. So whilst I am using Visual Studio Premium 2013 on my desktop, I have also downloaded Ultimate 2013 to download on my laptop (when I get round to buying one). Visual Studio Ultimate (with MSDN) 2013 costs £13,500 to buy from the Microsoft Store, so by using DreamSpark to legally acquire free Microsoft software, I have already saved just under £20,000 on two copies of Visual Studio. There is easily over £100,000 worth of software for students to download and use for free, which is just astonishing. Very few companies currently offer services like this for students (in fact, the only other one I can think of is AutoDesk).
I am still only in the process of learning C#, hoping to sit the Software Development Fundamentals MTA exam in August or September 2014. In order to start learning, I purchased a copy of John Sharp’s ‘Visual C# 2013 Step By Step’ (published by Microsoft) which is a great way to learn because it encourages you to complete the lesson files whilst reading. This is great for kinaesthetic learners. I am also being taught C# and Visual Studio by somebody I know outside of school over Skype and TeamViewer, which sparked Kevin Sait and I to come up with a project we have called ‘School Without Walls’, allowing us to teach some of this content over the internet using Microsoft e-learning software to children in local schools who do not have the same IT opportunities as those at Wymondham High do. We believe that where you are being educated is irrelevant: you should be entitled to the same opportunities and this is what our School Without Walls programme is all about.
The introduction of Office 365 and Yammer is really beginning to take off at school. There have been several teacher training sessions recently and now the teachers are beginning to join Yammer. Yammer is great because it allows students to quickly, securely and easily contact their teachers. It is ‘the enterprise social network’. Kevin Sait and I use it frequently to talk and discuss things, for example today he sent me a message asking me if I would be interesting in writing this article through Yammer. Mobile apps available for Windows Phone, Android and iOS means that it doesn’t matter where you are, you are just a few taps away from getting help from your teachers should you require it.
Office 365 is another fantastic addition. Students who may not have the money to go out and buy a copy of Office 2013 to use at home can now download and use Office 365 for free from the school. Again, like DreamSpark, this is fantastic because it eliminates any financial worries and allows students to keep on using the latest software and learning. Office 365 is a cloud-based service, and with their SkyDrive accounts (which the school are also providing), students can save documents on SkyDrive and work on them at home and school, having the piece of mind that it is being kept safe and protected. Documents saved on SkyDrive can also be viewed and edited on mobile devices too, thanks to SkyDrive apps provided by Microsoft for most major mobile platforms. With the advent of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, it is becoming increasingly important that documents can be created and edited on mobile devices.
With Office 365 also comes some great blogging features, which students can use to blog about work they are doing in order to quickly share information. I am using Office 365 to create a blog documenting my learning of C# – you can read it here. The idea is that once I have put more content on my blog, we will be able to use it to show other students (not necessarily in Wymondham High) how a real student at Wymondham High achieved his MTA qualification – hopefully documenting the journey from writing ‘Console.WriteLine(“Hello World!”);‘ in Visual Studio to gaining the qualification. I have started by creating some videos explaining some basic c# code and also uploading some Visual Studio solutions so that users can download them, open them up in Visual Studio and experiment. The best way to learn is by doing – the best way to prove to somebody else that you know what you’re doing is by teaching.
We use the SharePoint Web App to organise our online teaching resources within the school. This also comes as part of Office 365 and every student can access this. From here, students can visit Yammer, check their emails (using Outlook Web App), create bogs, visit the DreamSpark store and even download Office 365 for free (which was mentioned earlier). Students have been involved in the design of the WH-AT’s SharePoint Web App homepage, which you can read about here. The design of the SharePoint homepage has become a cross-curricular activity involving art students as well as our ‘Office 365 Team’ (who like to be known as the ‘O Team’). The design currently fits in with our black and lime green colour scheme which the school has.
On top of this, the school has purchased several Surface tablets which we aim to start using in lessons, and we are currently planning to roll out Windows 8.1 Enterprise over the summer (replacing Windows 7 Enterprise), ready for September when the new school year begins. We have already replaced Office 2010 with 2013 (for better SkyDrive integration), as well as replace Windows Server 2008 R2 on our
terminal server with Windows Server 2012 R2. The school is always aiming to update its software, using the very latest to ensure maximum efficiency and reliability. Technology moves along at such a fast pace nowadays that the school needs to keep up with the software which students may already be using at home.
To summarise, the benefits of becoming a Microsoft IT Academy and introducing these new services are available for everybody in the academy to use and enjoy, maximising learning potential, whilst minimising cost.
Your school should already have a policy on ICT acceptable and responsible use. However, with the introduction of 1:1 it is very likely that you will need to up-date or adapt your policy. You need to be very clear about what is and what is not acceptable on a schools network and behaviour that is expected of young people, along with any sanctions that you will action 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. Co-created acceptable use policies help give young people ownership over the 1:1 project and create a sense of collective responsibility.
One 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. It is also important that it is reviewed regularly – the best acceptable use policies are regularly ‘hacked’ by users using a wiki or collaborative document to ensure it is constantly up-to-date.
Also as well as including specific references to 1:1 in your institute’s ICT policy you should also 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?
1:1 and other projects that improve the access to computing in classrooms is also likely to lead to increased use of Social Media in your school or institution. As a result a specific mention of social media 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: (justice.vic.gov.au/socialmedia7).
This chapter was taken from our ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’ eBook written is association with Ollie Bray. The full eBook can be viewed/downloaded below.
Excerpt from ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’
It might surprise you to find out that actually it is not the best ratio all of the time. But, 1:1 will be the best ratio some of the time.
In terms of the question, “What is the best ratio?”, there is no easy answer to this. It really depends on what it is you are trying to achieve. But it is important to remember that sometimes 1:many (one device for many learners) is fine and that there is also absolutely nothing wrong with a lecture style presentation.
Of course an advantage of all learners having their own device in a lecture environment means that they can provide feedback and ask questions during the presentation (sometime referred to back channelling). Devices can also be used to follow up links that the presenter has mentioned – these can be bookmarked for exploration at a later date or quickly shared with others across social networking spaces.
One important consideration during this type of environment is that this type of interaction, although powerful, does not come naturally to young people – it is a skill that is required to be taught and practiced if it is going to have any real impact.
As well as 1:many, there are also lots of examples when 1:3/4/5 (one device for three, four or five learners) might be appropriate. These are all good ratios to support collaborative learning and group work.
The use of a tablet or hybrid device can be useful if there is going to be more than two learners to a device on a collaborative activity. A laptop screen can sometime become a barrier to learning and prevent others in the group from seeing what is going on.
Research from Professor Sugata Mitra (University of Newcastle) and others has also proved time-and-time again that 1:2 (one device for two learners) is also another great ratio for learning (particularly for younger children). It’s small enough to allow opportunities for children to get time on the computer without arguing who should be in the driving seat, BUT it also allows dialogue and conversation between children as they work to solve real world problems and consolidate their learning task.
Of course the nice thing about having 1:1 (one device for each learner) is that all of the above can be achieved but children can also work with their own device where appropriate.
Schools who have been making use of 1:1 for a while now are also noticing that in reality many students use at least two devices to help them with their learning. Their main device is normally a laptop or a tablet but increasingly a companion device, such as a smartphone, is also being used.
What we have observed over the past few years is that students tend to use the main device for the bulk of their work. But the companion device is used as a communication tool (to ask questions on social networks etc.) and for its other more portable functionality (for example to take pictures, or to carry out quick web searches). It is important for educators to remember that this is the way that many young people work at home (many adults work in this way as well). Our challenge is allowing young people to work in this way in a school environment.
Does 1:1 improve standards?
There is no evidence that 1:1 (or any technology for that matter) in isolation improves attainment standards. A weak teacher with great technology will still not deliver the results that our children deserve. However, there is growing evidence that good teachers with great technology can really raise the bar of expectation amongst young people and deliver improved experience and results.
However, I truly believe that a good or excellent teacher, who is committed to professional learning and who is supported by great technology has the potential to transform lives. It is also important to remember that technology is only part of any model for educational transformation.
This chapter was taken from our ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’ eBook written by Ollie Bray. The full eBook can be viewed/downloaded below.
Guest post by Paul Harris, UK Academic Licensing Sales Specialist
Firstly, an introduction – as the UK Academic Licensing Sales Specialist (LSS – we love a 3 letter acronym at Microsoft – in fact there will be 4 in this blog post alone!) an important part of my role is to try and help our Education customers understand the intricacies of our Academic licensing programs
Over the coming months, I’m going to write a regular blog which will hopefully de-mystify some of the key licensing topics – if there are any burning questions you have, feel free to get in touch – my contact details at the bottom of this blog entry.
The first topic is actually something which went under a lot of peoples radar when announced back in December 2012, but is a pretty big change which means that Education customers can provide productivity services to Students in a cost effective way
With the launches of Lync Server 2013 & Exchange Server 2013, External Connectors for both Exchange Server and Lync Server were discontinued and removed from our price lists. At the same time the SharePoint for Internet Sites (FIS) license was also withdrawn. Instead, all the usage scenario’s previously covered by external connectors/FIS are now included in the Server license.
OK, so what does that actually mean & why is this good news?
Students no longer need a Client Access License (CAL) to access Exchange Server or Lync Server, and in most scenarios SharePoint too*!
This new approach to licensing our productivity solutions is a clear indication of our goal of anytime, anywhere learning for all and demonstrates the flexibility we can provide when considering our platform.
Whether you are looking to move to the cloud through Office 365 for Education (which provides Exchange Online, SharePoint Online & Lync Online free of charge), or you are looking to keep your staff & students productive through your on premises investment, or if you are looking at hosted services through a Microsoft partner or maybe even a mixture of these approaches, Microsoft is making the hybrid IT approach a reality….and saving you money
But what about Windows Server & RDS I hear you cry! Well no changes here. If your users are authenticating with a Windows Server then they will need a CAL, same goes for RDS….if you are providing access remotely using RDS, then a RDS CAL is required.
If you are looking to cover a lot of Students then a cost effective way of licensing Student access to Windows Server & RDS is via an External connector. The concept is pretty simple – you purchase a Windows Server External Connector for every server to which you are allowing access and all of your students are covered** Same goes for RDS – purchase an external connector for the servers you are allowing RDS access to and they all get the right to use.
What’s more the external connector also permits access by
· Parents/legal guardians
· Prospective students
· Alumni (student and faculty/ staff)
· Student and faculty/staff of collaborating academic institutions or government institutions.
If you have a small number of students you wish to license then purchasing individual CAL’s may be more cost effective – ask your reseller for more info/pricing to compare your options
Any questions? My contact details below & my next blog will be around Virtual Desktop Access i.e. delivering Windows from your datacentre
Paul Harris - Academic LSS
*A-ha – the dreaded asterisk! – when I say most scenarios, CALs are not required to access content, information, and applications that you make publicly available to Students/Parents over the Internet e.g. extranet & internet sites
** and another asterisk!! External connectors cannot be used for faculty and staff – a CAL must be purchased for Faculty & Staff