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April, 2011 - Education - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The Australian Education Blog
Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

April, 2011

  • Education

    What are the key issues for University CIOs in Australia?


    CAUDIT logo

    CAUDIT (the Council of Australian University Directors of Information Technology) has just published a really useful list of the key issues for University CIOs and IT Directors within Australia - or, as they describe it, those issues which were keeping them awake at night.

    They are:

    1. Mobility & Personal devices
    2. Cloud Computing Issues
    3. Funding & Resourcing
    4. Data Storage & Management
    5. Business Continuity
    6. IT staff – Re-skilling for the future
    7. Governance & Strategy
    8. Constant Change
    9. Research Support
    10. IT staff – Recruitment & Retention

    If you're working with University CIOs in Australia (or hoping to), what do you do that could help them with managing or solving these issues?

    Learn MoreA summary, including the trends for the last 3 years can be downloaded from their site

  • Education

    Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 Review of the Economic Impact


    imageWindows MultiPoint Server 2011 is the latest version of the clever technology that allows you to share one computer between multiple students - saving money on hardware, power and IT management costs. It's an ideal solution where you have banks of fixed computers, and it's coming up to replacement time - or where you need additional computers to supplement access for a 1:1 scheme. The kind of places it's popping up are in computer labs and resource centres/libraries. The beauty of it is that you can still provide plenty of access for your users - each gets their own keyboard, mouse and screen - but you typically only have one computer driving six screens.

    Now Forrester Consulting have done a Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 Review, looking at the Total Economic Impact of it. What they've done is to look at the long-term costs of running two alternative scenarios - individual computers and MultiPoint Server 2011 systems. And their comparisons look at the software, hardware, energy and management costs.

    As they are IT consultants, they use a lot of technical terminology and acronyms to describe the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), Risk-Adjusted ROI, and the 'can't-live-without-it' Nett Present Value (NPV). So if you love numbers, formulae and analysis, then you'll love this report.

    Here's my simple summary of their conclusions:

    • A school using Windows MultiPoint Server will spend 66% less than an alternative one using standalone computers
    • The three-year 'cost per seat' drops from $1,145 to $391 (which brings it down to about $130 a year)
    • Over the three years of use, you'll save 67% on energy, 66% on hardware, 99% on maintenance - and you'll spend 64% more on software.

    Learn MoreRead the full Forrester Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 Review of Economic Impact here

  • Education

    Ribbon Hero 2 - bringing gaming and learning closer


    It just might change the way we think about end-user training - ZD NetIt seems that one of the trendy topics discussed at education conferences these days is the combination of gaming and learning. Most of the time, it’s discussed in the context of the classroom or of students, but a few years ago we applied it to product training, in one of our experimental Office Labs releases, called Ribbon Hero. It was designed to test the effectiveness, feasibility and appeal of delivering Office training in a game-like setting. The heart of Ribbon Hero was a set of challenges that users play right in the Office applications. And to add the competitive element, Ribbon Hero integrates with Facebook so you can share your success (or in my case, failures) with your friends. Ribbon Hero offers to post an update to your Facebook profile when impressive point levels have been reached.

    Ribbon Hero 2

    The team behind Ribbon Hero have gone even further, with Ribbon Hero 2 - incorporating a completely new, cartoon style interface, and a new job for Clippy (the really annoying 'helpful' paperclip from Office 97-2003).

    Ribbon Hero

    Ribbon Hero is a free download, and has got to be a big step up from conventional training ideas and manuals. Having heard Sir Mark Grundy of Shireland Collegiate Academy talk about the way they get their students learning by having a leader table for educational games, I can imagine the same kind of thing happening with this.

    Ribbon Hero screenshotI could tell you more about it - but it is much easier for you to download it, and have a five-minute play, than for me to try and describe how good it is to use. And remind yourself as you're using it, that it's the equivalent of a long dull training course. Imagine how you'd have conventionally learnt what it's teaching. Next time somebody talks about gaming and learning, you can wisely point them towards an example they may not have seen!

    Learn MoreFind out more, and get the free download for Ribbon Hero 2

  • Education

    SharePoint training boot camps


    Icons_teacherStudent_blueAlthough this isn't specifically just for Education partners, the upcoming CIAOPS SharePoint boot camps running in Sydney on the 25th and 26th of May and Melbourne on the 19th of May are ideal if you are looking at how to help your customers make more use of their existing SharePoint installation - especially where you have a solution which helps them to turn it from an IT-centric document storage system to a process-handling, learning environment supplementing ICT system.

    Each course is limited to a maximum of 20 attendees and will provide attendees with hands on knowledge of a range of SharePoint products and technologies.

    Amongst other things you will learn:

    • how to work with SQL Server which is the heart of SharePoint storage
    • how to install, migrate and maintain a variety of SharePoint products
    • understand how to recover from SharePoint disasters
    • how SharePoint integrates with Microsoft Office 2010
    • how to design business solutions that can be templated

    Each attendee also receives a 12 month subscription to the CIAOPS SharePoint Guide ( valued at $299 as well as hard disk (valued at $100) containing virtual machines, documentation and more. The full day course costs $399.

    For more details visit or contact Robert Crane ( to sign up.

    Remember, that places are strictly limited and the courses are filling fast (they aren't just for education partners) so if you want to learn more about SharePoint and how to make it work for your business and your customers, sign up now.

  • Education

    Education storage doubles every year for the last five years.


    A year ago, Computerworld wrote an article about the use of internet bandwidth across NSW schools, following the roll out of student laptops - and the rapid growth in demand. Although it's a year old, it's worth a look if you're not familiar with the scale of the ICT within the NSW education system.

    At the bottom of the article, almost as an afterthought, is a list of interesting statistics of the scale of ICT in New South Wales education. As I read the list, I thought about the parallels to business IT - and how big educational ICT is - such that it would make it a significant ICT business, anywhere in the world.

    • 1.3 million students — 500,000 K-12 students, 800,000 in further education
    • 96,000 employees, including 5500 IT staff
    • 500 support staff at schools for the Digital Education Revolution.
    • 2411 locations
    • 280,000 PCs,
    • 7000 physical servers on site at schools and TAFEs
    • 3500 virtual servers on site at schools and TAFEs
    • 1560 virtual servers in the DET’s two data centres
    • 800 physical servers in the DET’s two data centres
    • 280TB of storage space which doubles every year for last five years.
    • 96 per cent of DET schools are connected by fibre.

    The bit that astounded me is that they have 280TB of storage space, and that's doubled every year for the last five years!

    Learn MoreRead the original Computerworld article

  • Education

    Australian Education Partners at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference



    I've already mentioned that the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) is in Los Angeles this year, from 10-14th July.

    This year the education partner activities will be planned to ensure that you don't miss out on other activities at the event. This means that there will be specific Education sessions during the Industry Track during the week. What's always a challenge is finding enough time during those tracks to dive into enough detail about our education solutions. One proposal is to add on a morning after the main conference has closed, to allow us to put on a mini-version of February's Global Education Partner Conference, that has been held in Seattle in the last few years.

    If that idea appeals to you - or you'd simply like to be kept in the loop on plans for education sessions at GEPS - drop me an email

    At the moment, you can still get the early-bird rate on the 5-day All Access Pass (which works out at less than US$400 a day) until 25th April.

    I'll get more details on the education content shortly, but I'd definitely recommend registering to the conference, and considering entering yourself into the WPC Awards too (deadline extended to 29th April). If you're looking for a great way to reward a valuable member of your team, a trip to WPC would definitely be a memorable experience which would deliver significant business benefits back to you too.

    Learn MoreLearn More about the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference

  • Education

    Australian Government ICT Strategic Vision 2011 - draft


    Agimo blog logoThe Australian Government draft ICT Strategic Vision has just been published for consultation and feedback. They've published on the AGIMO blog, which is where they've invited public comments.

    I'm going to have a detailed read today, but a quick scan over the weekend highlighted what a well written, easily understandable document it is - and it directly addressed some of the issues that I've spotted with ICT in the public sector since arriving at the end of January. Overnight, I'll share more of my thoughts, but for the meantime, you should take a look at the draft Australian Government 2011 ICT Strategic Vision, and consider commenting - as well as considering how it might affect your strategy going forward.

    Learn MoreRead the draft ICT Strategic Vision

    The AGIMO is the Australian Government Information Management Office, which works across Govt to keep Australia position as a leader in the productive application of information and communications technologies to government administration, information and services.

  • Education

    Microsoft Australia Schools Roadshow - May 2011 - Building skills for tomorrow



    Next month we're running a series of roadshow events for school Principals, IT managers and Curriculum leaders. We're aiming to cover the country, with events in Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, from 10th May to the 2nd June.

    There are three separate streams to the day, with a breakfast session for Principals (from 7:15 to 9:00 am), a full-morning session for Curriculum Leads from 9:30am to 1pm; and IT Managers get the full works, from 9:00am to 3:00pm.

    The day will have a mix of deep sessions on key issues, customer case studies, and product showcases - including some of the latest whizzy products that are relevant to education - cool laptops and tablets, unified communications and video conferencing, and the Kinect for XBox 360. With speakers including Principals, Innovative Teacher Award winners, and other school staff, the day will provide a good insight into life in schools today, and the issues affecting them.

    You can find out more about the events - and register to attend - here. If you're working at a Microsoft education partner, I'd encourage you to register and join the audience - think of it as a training event - hearing about some of the customer success stories that will help you in your work, as well as get up to speed on the ways our education team talk about our products and services.

    Venues and Dates for the Building skills for tomorrow roadshow

    Tues 17 May AEEC Adelaide Showground

    Tues 10 May QPAC

    Thurs 5 May The Hutchins School

    Thurs 2 June Melbourne Park Function Centre (note changed date)

    Thurs 19 May Duxton Hotel

    Wed 25 May Australian Technology Park

    Learn MoreFind out more, and register

  • Education

    Ways to preserve student data on laptops


    imageVillanova University in Pennsylvania have created a case study with us on their use of Windows 7 right across their campus - for 10,000 students and nearly 2,000 staff. So far, they have migrated 7,000 computers, with just 3,000 left to do before August.

    The case study has some great 'sound bite information' in it, including the fact that those 10,000 computers are supported by a team of just 16 people in Technology Support Services! In addition, they run a walk-in help desk centre called TechZone, staffed by 25 paid students.

    How to reimage a computer without losing students' data

    The driver for migration from Windows XP was to make their network more manageable and speed up their processes. In 2009 there was a noticeable increase in students bringing malware infected laptops in for repair, caused by online sites. If they couldn't clean up the computer, they'd resort to reimage them - which took up to a day and wiped off the user data. As Jill Morrison, the manager of the Software Support Services team said:


    Students place tremendous value on their digital lives and it’s not unusual for them for have about 100 gigabytes of data on their computers. Although the university backs up all faculty and staff data, we can’t provide backup services for all that student data—and students often don’t do their own backups. Our students were understandably upset when they discovered that the process of fixing their computers could delete all of their personal and academic information, and that they would have to recreate or reload all their documents, pictures, songs, and videos.


    By moving to Windows 7, not only have they got a more secure and reliable environment, but when things do go wrong, they are easier to fix. Villanova IT staff now can fix corrupted student computers without deleting their data. As Ben Alfonsi, the Technical Support Manager, says:

      Windows 7 is architected in a way that allows us to do file-based imaging instead of sector-based imaging. This is really important. With Windows 7, we can restore an image rather than replace it and keep all the files and data intact. Now we can repair students’ computers while preserving their digital lives. Needless to say, our students are much more satisfied with Villanova TechZone services.  

    Reducing Windows 7 migration time

    The migration itself was rapid - 85% of their applications worked immediately in Windows 7, and for the rest remediation was easy. And they used Windows Easy Transfer to migrate staff data using USB flash drives as part of the upgrade - transferring data in under an hour, compared to 12 hours with network-based migrations.

    And the other benefit for the small IT team is that they have reduced from creating and maintaining 35 different Windows installation images to just 2 - one for 32-bit and one for 64-bit.

    I've met education customers who have told me that they 'don't have time to think about upgrading from Windows XP' - and then you read case studies like this Villanova University one, and it shows how a small amount of up-front time investment can be a real time-saver in the long run.

    Learn MoreRead the full Villanova University case study

  • Education

    Curtin University moves more services to the Cloud with Windows Azure


    First they moved the students' email

    Every year, in the UK alone, 9,000 USB sticks are lost in the laundry*. How many of them contained a student's thesis?

    If you were a student at Curtin University from 2009, imagine how pleased you'd be if your email inbox capacity jumped up from 40MB to 10GB, and you could suddenly access your email from any computer and on your phone - and then you had a further 25GB of Cloud storage. You'd suddenly become a lot less reliant on USB sticks to keep your vital thesis drafts on. That's 40,000 students suddenly more relaxed about doing their laundry.

    The case study on Curtin's first moves into the Cloud covers their move to the Microsoft Live@edu service.

    Then they moved their own internal systems

    iPortfolioThe second step for Curtin University to the Microsoft Cloud was to move one of their other internal systems - iPortfolio - to support students whilst at university, and also when they were job hunting after graduation. Like many university systems, the challenge was to take an internal system, creaking under the weight of 40,000 students' data, and update it, reduce the cost - and make it available to students in 100 countries.

    iPortfolio allows Curtin students to upload multimedia learning materials into a personal portfolio, so that they have their own personal learning bank available throughout their studies - as well as giving them an electronic portable portfolio that they can present to prospective employers. The system was so useful, that within six months of building it in 2009, they were already hitting the storage challenges of success. Happening right at the time that they were trying to move away from capital-intensive IT projects!

    The project team migrated from their existing Oracle-based system, using expensive SAN storage in the university data centre, to the Windows Azure Cloud service - allowing them to more flexibly scale the system, and reduce the ongoing infrastructure support costs.

    Many of the examples of Windows Azure are about software development companies, moving massive consumer systems to the Cloud. What makes the Curtin University story interesting is that the developers in the University did most of the programming - they didn't get it taken out of their hands, but were able to keep control of their project and their data.

    Education in Australia is moving to the Cloud quite rapidly - and the reasons for it are clearly defined in this example, where the students, the staff and the university IT department all get a benefit.

    Learn MoreRead the full Curtin University Windows Azure case study

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