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News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Making coding fun with Xbox for Education!

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    I challenge you!

    I'm going to kick-start this blog with a little interactive exercise. I challenge you to ask your class to shout out what they think Mark Zuckerberg, Will.i.Am, Victoria Beckham and Oprah Winfrey all have in common (I promise there is a useful educational learning check-point to this celebrity name-dropping).

    I'm going to guess that the most common replies will be that "they're successful" and "they're rich", unless one of your students has heard of a secret skincare regime that they all follow, which I don't know about.

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    No, if you scratch beneath the surface, you will find one other fundamental link to their expensively coiffed, blinged out, and generally successful persons: this is none other than technology, specifically coding, which can be brought down about 20 pegs from their level of success to the current educational level of your students, with Xbox for Education! Each and every one of these celebrities has utilised the internet's omnipresence and coding in one way or another. So this is the key bit - they all directly or indirectly use coding for very different purposes to achieve their various aims and goals. Zuckerberg directly created his ubiquitous social media platform, Facebook (need I hyperlink?), by personally piecing together algorithms and lines of code. On the opposite end of the star-studded spectrum, Victoria Beckham's entourage have used code to position her fashion label online so that shoppers world-wide can buy her clothes. So my message here is that careers involving Computer Science don't have to be purely aligned to scientific and technological industries, but can be applied to every industry and business out there, from the most clerical to the most entrepreneurial creative start-ups.

    The Education department at Microsoft are passionate about breaking down the stereotyped barriers that many students still have of computer science careers as being 'geeky'. There are a whole host of solutions and products we provide to help teachers deliver the Computer Science curriculum and one of our latest initiatives, which will certainly be appealing to students, is the new Xbox for Education programme.

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    Package 1                                                                               

     

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       Package 2

     

    What is Xbox for Education?

    Xbox for Education is a programme whereby your school can purchase one of two offerings (see slide below for details) of an Xbox 360 console + a 3 Year standard DreamSpark subscription. What better way to get students excited about Computer Science than by providing them with a familiar games console as a platform for learning coding and development?

    If you're not familiar with DreamSpark, it provides the tools to help students design and create applications and games for Microsoft Xbox as well as Windows Phone and Windows 8. DreamSpark equips students with professional developer software and resources to explore the world of computing and to develop their passions and skills – at home as well as at school. It also equips and supports teachers through the provision of software and lesson plans. It’s the perfect resource for teachers to implement into their lessons to give students the latest and most engaging tools to learn to code with!

    We believe that by making the learning environment more fun and accessible, more students will become interested in coding and learn highly valued skills to pursue exciting careers in the future. With more and more opportunities in Computer Science blossoming around the globe, it's a great avenue for students to pursue to develop rewarding and dynamic careers.

    Cost-effective too :)

    To add a sprinkling of sugar to your strawberries, you'll be delighted to hear that the two Xbox packages offer at least £135 saving regarding purchasing which makes the Xbox a very cost-effective means of delivering the new UK ICT curriculum to your students.

    Are your students curious about careers in coding?

    Finally, if your students are curious about a career in coding, I urge you to share this article which provides 10 very different indications that coding could be a career for them, from possessing problem solving skills to being a people person. For more information on Xbox for Education, click on the link below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Bringing UK government into the cloud: A guide to cloud computing for the public sector (eBook)

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    The UK Government is committed to encouraging public sector organisations take advantage of cloud-based computing. The aim is to drive down cost, improve efficiency, and assist the development of service transformation by taking a Digital by Default approach to public services.

    In 2012, the UK Government launched the “G-Cloud” initiative. This comprised of a Framework for cloud suppliers and the first CloudStore, allowing organisations from local councils to health authorities browse pre- approved cloud products and services.

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    In May 2013, the Cabinet Office went a step further and announced its Cloud first policy, mandating public sector bodies consider cloud solutions before non-cloud alternatives. The target is for 50% of new public sector ICT spend to be in the cloud by 2015. There is sound business sense behind this campaign.

    Moving to the cloud not only helps cut ICT spend but enables dramatic reduction in costs in other areas. It has the potential to transform the way the whole organisation works. It can break down barriers, free people to work more efficiently and effectively and enable members of the public to engage government in ways that suits them best. It can also help you become more responsive and agile and allow you to make better decisions more quickly.

    In this eBook we’ll show you, step-by-step, how the cloud could help you cut costs, improve performance, collaborate more effectively and empower the public. On the way, we’ll share some of our experience from helping public sector organisations harness the potential of the cloud.

    You’ll discover how:

    • Wiltshire Council is saving £2 million annually thanks to moving to the cloud and bringing ICT management in-house
    • Local authorities across the country are keeping streets cleaner, while slashing the associated costs thanks to a handy cloud-based Smartphone app
    • How a flexible collaboration tool helped Transport for London staff and volunteers work together to keep London moving during the Olympics.

    If you haven’t already made your first move onto the cloud, this eBook could give you the reassurance and knowledge you need to take the leap with confidence. If you’re an old hand, we hope you will still be able to learn something new.

    Download or view the full eBook via our SlideShare channel below:

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Geomaster Plus: Great Geography App for Windows 8

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    Geomaster Plus is a great geography app that offers 16 geography themed challenges across a variety of topics ranging from flags, capital cities, seas & mountains.

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    With over 40 difficulty levels, the app offers a full screen chromeless experience that takes full advantage of a touch first environment. The app also works really well with keyboard and mouse and in my experience actually allowed me to be a little more precise with my answers to questions that require you to place a pin on a map.

    The app offers something for students off all levels and, even for someone that has a geography degree, can be very challenging in places. In my defence, though, it has been nearly 20 years since I first started my degree ;)

    The app gives a score based on both getting a correct answer and also how quickly the question is answered. These scores are then presented on a scoreboard, which offers a nice gamification element to the app. I spent longer than I would care to admit trying to beat my high score on a number of the different levels. Turns out my knowledge of African countries is nowhere near where it could be…

    The app is free and offers enough variety to be useful tool within classrooms for some time.

    You may want to ask your class to use the app with headphones or with the sound turned down low, though, as there is a 'soundtrack' that could become interesting with 30 devices all playing at the same time. There are also a few translation errors in places, but all in all this is a great app and would be a useful tool for primary and early stage secondary age learners.

    Download the app from the Windows Store. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Power BI in Education - What is it and what can it do for me?

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    Following on from our recent blog post on Power BI within Office 365 Education, we have had a number of questions via both the blog and Twitter seeking some additional information on how Power BI can help you take advantage of the data within your institution, big and small.

    For those that missed our previous post, Power BI for Office 365 is a collection of features and services that enable you to visualise data, share discoveries and collaborate in intuitive new ways. Power BI works seamlessly with Excel and allows you to create compelling content, data models and visualisations and then share and collaborate around those insights with your colleagues, teams and study groups.

    More specifically, features within Power BI that extend the data-specific capabilities of Excel 2013 include the following:

    Analyse data with Excel: Easily discover and access public and corporate data

    Power Query, a feature of Excel, enables you to more easily discover, combine, and transform data from multiple data sources with the familiarity of Excel

    • Search both public and institutional data
    • Clean and transform data for ease of analysis
    • Merge data from multiple sources

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    Visualize and explore

    Power View and Power Map, features of Excel, allow you to create interactive data visualizations to explore and uncover insights and present findings.

    • Bring your data to life with interactive data visualizations
    • Add depth with 3D geospatial analysis
    • Tell stories with interactive data views and tours

    Create powerful data models

    Power Pivot, a feature of Excel, provides powerful analytical modelling. Data is processed in-memory allowing you to work quickly with data volumes in excess of 100 million rows, in split second times.

    • Create relationships, custom measures, hierarchies, KPI’s
    • Analyse data quickly with in-memory processing

    Share and Collaborate with Power BI for Office 365

    Enable anyone to quickly create a collaborative BI site to share data and insights with Power BI.

    • Create Power BI sites to share data and reports
    • View and explore live reports up to 250MB in size

    Keep reports up to date with data refresh

    Keep your reports up to date by scheduling when the data should refresh. The Data Management Gateway allows reports that have been saved to the cloud to connect back to on-premises data sources to refresh data.

    • Scheduled data refresh for your reports
    • Connect cloud based report to on-premises data

    Manage data queries for the team

    With Power BI people can share not only workbooks but also the queries they create using Power Query in Excel. This allows members of the team to build and manage data queries for others to use when creating their own reports.

    • Create and share queries using Power Query in Excel
    • Manage and monitor query usage in Power BI

    Maintain a Data Catalog of searchable data

    Your IT departments can now use the Data Catalog feature of Power BI to make it easier for everyone to find and connect to corporate data. Searching for data with Power Query in Excel will return accessible corporate data.

    • Enable data search for IT managed corporate data
    • Enable data search for data queries saved to Power BI
    • Track data usage across your organization

    Ask questions of your data in natural language

    With the Q&A feature of Power BI people can type questions they have of the data in natural language. The system will interpret the question and present answers in the form of interactive visualizations.

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    Stay connected with mobile access to your reports

    Mobile access to reports in Power BI is provided through new HTML5 support and through the Power BI mobile app.

    • Navigate and explore browser based reports in HTML5
    • Access your favourite reports in the Power BI mobile app

    To learn more, and request a free trial, visit out Power BI microsite for more information.

    Additionally, if you are looking to get up and running our 'Getting Started Guide' can be viewed/downloaded below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Accelerate your Insights Live Event – featuring Power BI for Office 365

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    Accelerate your Insights

    How data and insights are driving innovation

    All organisations are seeing huge opportunities to use data and insights to create a virtuous engagement cycle with their customers and stakeholders, delivering improved customer value propositions and operational excellence.

    In order to achieve these goals, employees require powerful and easy to use tools to enable them to discover and use insights to make effective decisions, customers want to use personalised, high performance and convenient online services and IT requires a secure, scalable and comprehensive information platform.

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    Want to learn more? Join us to see how to drive real-time business, from apps to insights, through a deeper look into the comprehensive in-memory technologies in Microsoft SQL Server 2014, Power BI for Office 365, SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse, and Windows Azure HDInsight.

    REGISTER HERE

    Attending this one-day event will allow you to get a running start on understanding the extensive innovations we’re delivering around data that will empower your business with the tools you need to quickly uncover business insights and make smarter business decisions.

    Morning Agenda 9:00 – 12:30

    9:00 – 9:45 Registration and Breakfast

    9:45 – 10:45   Keynote, Quentin Clark CVP Data Platform Group

    Rafal Lukawiecki – Project Botteceli
    Dan Sommer – Gartner Research Director


    11:15 – 12:30, Customer Case Study Sessions
    Jabil – Self Service BI in Manufacturing

    Afternoon Agenda 1:00 – 5:00

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  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Anthony Salcito interviews the Microsoft in Education Pitch Competition Winners

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    Anthony Salcito, Vice President Worldwide Public Sector Education at Microsoft, interviews the 3 School Leaders who won the Microsoft in Education Pitch Competition, at the Global Forum in Barcelona, Spain.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Power BI for students!

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    The ultimate student challenge

    clip_image001For most lucky people, the beginning of April normally brings a bit of a bounce to the step with the prospect of a chocolate-filled Easter break, and just further round the corner, hazy scents of mown Summer lawns and barbeques wafting in the warm air. However, for poor students all over the UK, this time of year is about as welcoming as a cold cup of tea. April only means one thing: dissertation deadline!

    With my year at Microsoft now approaching its last leg, daunting emails from my academic tutor have been creeping into my inbox regarding dissertation topics for next year. What to write about? How to make a thorough analysis? How to find and analyse my own original primary data?

    Well, the answers, certainly for the last two questions on my mind, became apparent last week when I was introduced to Power BI for Office 365 in Education.

    The answer is Power BI

    Power BI is a sensational tool which is used by academic institutions to unlock useful data to help, for example, improve student retention through better engaging with students. Essentially, institutions like businesses use Power BI in education to find trends in data to better their processes. However, I think Power BI could equally be of incredible value to students, particularly in carrying out data research and interpretation for a thesis, dissertation or school project. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Power BI, in a nut shell, it runs on Office 365 apps Excel and SharePoint, offering a familiar environment for educators and students to find data, track and illustrate trends, which can then easily be shared.

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    The gooey centre

    Plunging into the core features of Power BI, I'll illustrate those which I think would make Power BI an invaluable student tool. First of all, Power Query is a feature which allows students to find data sources both internally and externally which can then be manipulated. One of the most challenging things for students is gathering good primary and secondary data for serious reports, which is why Power Query bedazzled me when it was demoed to me.

    STEP 1) Source data - To illustrate, if a student was researching trends in eating habits amongst teenagers in the UK, they would type their request in the 'Search box' and Power Query would enable them to gather data from anywhere, for example external government websites, whereupon the data would automatically be slotted into Excel. This would save students oodles of laborious data entry time!

    STEP 2) Manipulate data - with the data safely slotted in Excel, the student can then go on to edit the categories and filters, moulding the data in line with their dissertation aims.

    STEP 3) Analyse data - Once categorised appropriately, the student can figure out trends for their analysis. They can use another Power BI feature Power Q&A to type in a natural language query against the data to explore trends. To highlight, the student could type "what percentage of 13-15 year olds prefer fast food?" and the data would reveal an answer: ex it was found that 62% of teenagers in the UK between the ages of 13 and 15 prefer eating fast food.

    STEP 4) Illustrate data - Once the student has found some interesting trends, they can use Power View to illustrate their data with charts and visual graphs. The beauty of Power View is that once graphs or charts have been drawn, say the student wants to pinpoint the trends of one demographic against another, they can click on one demographic within an illustration, for example the orange demographic of the pie chart below (see Image 1), which will then filter the data specification in all the other illustrations (see Image 2).

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    Power View Image 1

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    Power View Image 2

    Power Map

    I want to flag one final feature, Power Map which would light up any presentation or report with a geographic data illustration. Power Map beautifully plots your data on an interactive 3D global map, perfect for presenting 3D tours of your location-based data. I can imagine this being a really useful feature for students who have found geographical trends on data. Returning to our UK food example, a power map would clearly illustrate which cities in the UK have the highest percentage of fast-food consumption amongst 13-15 year olds in the UK.

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    Make your students more employable!

    What's more, being proficient in Power BI would set up students with highly desirable analytical skills for the increasingly competitive job market. Anything to get them ahead of the game in my opinion would set your institution apart. A recent survey has disclosed that this year alone, there is a 33% increase in applications for graduate schemes, with hundreds of thousands of students applying for jobs each year. This is highly competitive and students are thus looking to differentiate themselves from their peers in as many ways as possible.

    To help you understand how useful skills in Power BI could be for graduating students to employers, I'll give you a glimpse into how it is used in business. Power BI is used by organisations in a business context to find and manipulate data to improve the way they run their business through spotting trends. To illustrate, online clothes retailers would use Power BI to calculate trends in their cavernous pool of user data, such as what styles individuals are prone to purchasing, and then use that information to flag each individual browser with targeted shopping suggestions which would hopefully increase their revenues.

    Just imagine how impressed an employer (particularly for analytical roles) would be if the candidate was able to talk in an interview about their own practical experience and understanding of analytical enterprise-grade software, Power BI!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Introducing Windows Phone 8.1

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    Last week Microsoft staged BUILD event in the tech epicentre of the earth, San Francisco, where all Microsoft developers congregated to talk about the future of the Windows platform.

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    At the very heart of the announcements was one exciting piece of news, the Windows phone update to Windows Phone 8.1! Those of you who have previously been using a Windows phone will know that its beauty lies in its malleable personal design, which enables you to choose your favourite apps and tiles, colour schemes, layout and photos for your start screen. This has been great for educational purposes, as teachers and students have been able to pin any important Office 365 documents to their start screen for easy access, to edit or check work on the go. For example, students might want to access notes on the way to an exam, for that final revision push.

    So what's different about the new Windows Phone 8.1 update?

    It's all about being even more customizable to your personal preferences. There are many new features but I'm going to pick out a selection for you today. For more info, take a look at the Windows Phone blog.

    1. Third Column

    The Windows phone now has a third column, enabling all Windows phone users, no matter the size of your phone, to have even more personalised tiles on your start screen. This could be really useful for educators and students who want to be able to quickly access a larger variety of apps for working and having fun on the go. Just think, in an instant touch a student could be Skyping their friends, to reading their maths notes, to calling mum, to checking out their Asos app for that dress they need for Saturday's party!

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    2. Start Background

    I love the new Start Background feature - it enables you to choose your favourite picture which runs through all of your tiles. A nice little feature for educators during a stressful class or exam time, to quickly glance at their phone and take themselves back to that peaceful Summer afternoon sipping an aromatic red on the beach in South of France.clip_image004

    3. Lock screen

    The lock screen can now ingeniously be personalised. You can download an app which will enable you to choose between a wide range of interesting "Lock Screen Themes" which will instantly differentiate your phone from anyone else's. Just think how useful this could be for helping students to avoid losing their expensive phones. How many times have you heard students whimpering "Miss/Sir, I left my phone on the bus"? As the Windows phone 8.1 enables you to instantly differentiate your phone lock screen, they would easily be able to inform the bus driver of their phone's personalised distinguishing feature, helping them to retrieve it. Likewise, on a school trip, there would be no problem with students going home with the right phone.

    4. Cortana!

    You're probably asking yourself, what on earth is Cortana? Well the real question is Who is Cortana. Cortana is "the world's first truly personal assistant" who was inspired by the breath-taking digital assistant of Master Chief on Halo. Who knew the Microsoft Windows developers had such a romantic side!

    Powered by Bing, Cortana is the only digital assistant that gets to know you, builds a relationship that you can trust, and gets better over time by asking questions based on your behaviour and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something. She detects and monitors the stuff you care about, looks out for you throughout the day, and helps filter out the noise so you can focus on what matters to you.

    When will Cortana reveal herself?

    The second half of 2014! So hold tight to get yourself your very own personal teacher's/student’s assistant.

    Let's take a closerclip_image005 look at Cortana

    In Windows Phone 8.1, you get to Cortana by either a Live Tile on your Start screen or by pressing the search button on your device. This will take you to Cortana Home. To interact with Cortana, you can either speak or type—if you’re in a school meeting, just type and Cortana won’t talk out loud, embarrassing you in front of your head teacher and colleagues. But if you ask her a spoken question, she’ll answer verbally and even carry on a natural conversation. Fabulous for that lonely drive home :)

    Once she’s learned a bit about you, Cortana’s home populates with information that is curated just for you. You’ll see things like flight information she’s found from your email confirmations, weather, the latest news, and even traffic information once she learns your commute routine, such as from work and home.

    What’s more, because Cortana is powered by Bing, some of the interests in Cortana’s Notebook will light up on Bing.com when you sign in on the web. Bing.com will give you and your students access to the things Cortana tracks for you, like students' UCAS application status - a nail-biting time!

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    The Windows developers have also designed Cortana to be able to interact with 3rd Party Apps installed on your phone. You can ask Cortana to help you or your entire class make a video call in Skype in the Classroom, help students look up relevant news articles to research for an essay, look up a news feed on Facebook when you're driving or send a tweet using the Twitter app.

    And finally, Cortana isn’t just a dry computer returning search results. Just as she has in the game Halo, Windows Phone’s Cortana has a bit of personality. But you and your students will have to talk to her yourself to see what I mean by that. Or… I bet you’ll be able to find some videos on the web pretty soon to see what I mean.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Working together, achieving together – How Tibshelf Community School’s technology came to embody its educational mission – Part Two

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    Selecting an ICT partner - Why Stone?

    • · Innovative cloud technologies
    • · Proven on-premise solutions
    • · Committed staff
    • · Proven specialist in the UK education field

    Tibshelf invited suppliers to tender for the school’s ICT requirements, at the centre of which was the notion of ‘infrastructure first’. Priorities were:

    • · Infrastructure
    • · Single consistent user experience
    • · Anytime, anywhere
    • · BYOD
    • · Future-proofing
    • · Interactivity in the classroom

    Brian explains: “For us it was all about the infrastructure. Our consultation ignited this vision of a single consistent user experience, delivered anytime and anywhere regardless of device. We knew the foundation for this utopia was the network and the wireless. We were not at all concerned initially with what hangs off the end of that. We wanted it to work like a tap. You just turn it on and it works. In fact, due to the strong BYOD element, and with an uncertain view of future budgets, our tender was written around not providing any devices at all.

    “Our priorities also involved a level of future-proofing, providing a scalable platform on which to adapt to future curriculum requirements and changes in technology.”

    Mark explains: “Audio visual was a big area for us. Ten year old interactive whiteboards do not move premises easily and our projectors were all due for replacement as they had been stretched beyond use.”

    Once interested parties had sent back their tender responses, as Mark points out responses were varied:

    “At one end of the scale, we had an education ICT business recommending we did it the same way every other school they supplied did it. On the other end of the spectrum, we had another organisation claiming if we adopted their cloud only ICT infrastructure model we could be up and running within 10 minutes.

    “Stone Group sat nicely in the middle with a good blend of innovative cloud technologies with proven on-premise solutions. It was all underpinned by a healthy dose of innovation, while still giving us comfort that it was not so far on the cutting edge that support would be impacted.

    “Stone Group’s people also proved themselves committed to what we wanted to do from the very outset. Some competitors were new in the education market and this presented unnecessary risk to the project as a whole as Stone were proven specialists in the UK education field.”

    The solution - Hardware:

    • · Eight digital signage screens
    • · Two C-touch interactive displays
    • · Interactive touch boards in each classroom
    • · Over 40 whiteboards with eBeam interactive technology
    • · Lenovo Ultrabooks

    Infrastructure

    • · Microsoft server technology
    • · Microsoft Hyper-V private cloud
    • · Intel WiDi technology
    • · Unified Windows 8.1 across all devices

    With tight construction deadlines, Stone as the ICT partner had to begin work before construction on the school had finished.

    Once budget was in place, things moved extremely quickly. Between the £14.9m funding being confirmed from Derbyshire County Council and the school opening to pupils was only 20 months.

    Once Stone had been appointed, to ensure that pedagogy would be at the heart of the new ICT solution, the school once again engaged relevant stakeholders – governors, teachers, admin staff and pupils.

    Brian explains: “During the second consultation, some of our faculty used it as an opportunity to introduce new techniques in the classroom. For example, one of our ICT teachers rotated his class around so that desks were facing away from the teacher. Chairs swivelled to front-of-room lecture style delivery, then when working on-task the pupils would turn 180 degrees – giving the teacher full visibility of each individual learner’s grasp of the subject matter. Double projection boards also allowed students to see lesson content regardless of their orientation.”

    In PE, there are two C-Touch interactive large format displays. These are used in conjunction with touch screen devices to allow GCSE students to critically analyse performance and technique as conducive with Active Participant research.

    Eight Digital signage screens adorn the walls throughout the school. Equipped with the latest Smart Signage Platform, the Samsung screens are powered by system-on-chip – meaning no PC players are required to power the screens. Management and administration is again undertaken from both within the school and anywhere with an internet connection using the cloud-based SignageLive solution.

    Interactivity came in the form of interactive touch boards in each classroom, with eBeam Edges providing touch screen functionality for over 40 interactive white boards. Classes are inherently interactive while helping to keep costs down when compared with native touch-screen displays.

    All teachers are equipped with the latest convertible Lenovo Ultrabooks, adding to the touch screen interactive capabilities. Access to the projectors powering the interactive touchscreens are all wireless, using the very latest Intel Wireless Delivery (WiDi) technology. Using this technology, we hope to see teachers presenting from anywhere in the room, giving students the ability to interact directly with the boards without moving from their seats.

    Streamline network management

    The school’s server infrastructure is based on the latest Microsoft technology and includes:

    • · Windows Server 2012 R2 as the backbone – 4 Hyper-V hosts, 7 physical servers, 40 virtual servers in all powered by Hyper-V private cloud
    • · Unified Windows 8.1 across multiple smartphone, PC and tablet platforms – Windows Server 2012 R2 remote access and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure functionality
    • · DirectAccess through Microsoft’s server platform – gives teachers and admin staff across the school seamless three-factor authenticated remote access

    Mark explains: “With the Microsoft backbone, we now have resilience in the infrastructure that we’ve never had before. We now have high availability as standard, with failover in case of an issue. Crucially this means our pupils, teachers and admin staff are non-the-wiser in the event of a malfunction on one of our physical servers.”

    “The benefits for Tibshelf are tangible and have been far reaching.” Mark explains: “We knew we had it nailed when we looked at the network logs and saw we had pupils logged into the school’s systems on Christmas Day!”

    Consultation on the school’s BYOD scheme illustrates that in excess of 95% of the school’s students will use the BYOD provision.

    Bearing in mind the school’s desire to future proof and ensure the latest technology was underpinning academic ambition, Windows 8.1 was standardised across all PC technology. Likewise, the VDI solution ensures that a consistent Windows 8.1 experience is available even on other tablet and smartphone operating systems.

    Training and engagement

    Putting in a new ICT infrastructure has required a change in behaviours for many teachers and staff, in order to mirror the innovation in the classroom.

    End-user training sessions delivered by Stone started before the school’s move and continue to be part of the school’s commitment to CPD. For end users, sessions are focused on helping to familiarise all the faculty with Windows 8.1 and ensure that the nuances between each teacher’s pedagogical approaches can be accommodated. From a technical perspective, Tibshelf’s internal ICT support staff engage with Stone’s infrastructure specialists to ensure that they are fully abreast of the latest technology developments. This enables their staff to get the most out of the systems for the whole school’s benefit.

    Formal end user training has been supplemented by peer-led learning. Mark explains: “Functionality such as the ability to add custom tiles pointing to specific folders and creating a bespoke user interface, is something that has spread from teacher-to-teacher. Word of mouth has enabled best practice to spread quicker than that of our formal training.”

    Tibshelf is an early adopter of Microsoft’s Student Advantage programme, and will be giving all pupils within the school and up to 5 members of their family a free copy of Office 365 ProPlus to use on both BYOD devices and those used in the home.

    Integral ICT

    ICT within the school has gone from being difficult to introduce into lessons at all, due to a lack of provision, to now being integral to the vast majority of curriculum delivery. Mark explains: “As a network manager, during lessons I used to be able to wander freely around the building undertaking administration tasks. Now I get accosted on every corner as learning has truly gone beyond the four walls of the classroom at Tibshelf. Pupils are outside lessons, capturing content on digital devices and using the core infrastructure we have provided to further their personal development.”

    Already offering a supreme level of support to the school, Mark’s network management team has benefited from new network management tools. Microsoft System Centre Service Manager 2012 R2 monitors the network and provides alerts, meaning the school’s internal helpdesk offers ITIL compliant processes.

    Impero Classroom Management is deployed across the school’s estate, combining network management, desktop management and classroom management in one single consolidated solution.

    Technical Overview

    Core Infrastructure/networking

    • · Cat6 cabling throughout the school
    • · 10Gb Fibre connectivity
    • · HP Procurve Switching
    • · Meraki Cloud Managed Wireless

    Server infrastructure & storage

    • · 7 high specification Stone Servers optimised for virtualisation
    • · Huawei OceanStor S5500T storage

    End User Devices

    • · Over 250 x Stone NT310 notebooks with 8 laptop charging trolleys.
    • · 75 Touch screen Lenovo Ultrabooks for all teachers
    • · 2 x 30 Stone Ultra Small Form Factor Desktop PCs

    Audio Visual

    • · 8 x Samsung MD40C digital signage screens with centralised Signagelive cloud management.
    • · In the auditorium, stepped seating. They have full audio visual stack, including 2 x projection to provide the ultimate in backdrop flexibility.
  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Office 365 for iPad video

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    In response to our blogs this week reviewing Office 365 for iPads in Education, we’d like to share with you a nifty video which captures the features in a nutshell!

    See for yourself how familiar apps, Word, PowerPoint and Excel look and function on an iPad to enable collaborative editing and creation of docs at school.

    For more information on the full Office 365 Education experience and associated licensing requirements of Office 365 for Ipads in schools, have a look at the flyer below.

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