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

October, 2011

  • Education

    How many ways can you use SharePoint in education?

    • 3 Comments
    Alex Pearce, is a SharePoint Most Valuable Professional (MVP) in the UK who works with education customers, and writes extensively about SharePoint in Education on his blog at BFC Networks. In this guest blog post, Alex gives some thoughts on the many ways SharePoint can make for productive learning in the classroom:
     

    There are many ways to get SharePoint 2010 in your school, whether you’re using it as part of a package from a supplier, using a hosting company to host your own SharePoint or using your EES licence to host your SharePoint internally.

    All of the successful SharePoint implementations I have seen are those that have integrated SharePoint into their daily school lives and don’t use it as just another web page that student and teachers use if they want to. There are loads of great examples of how schools use SharePoint in their school and have a 100% adoption rate but how can this be done for your environment?

    I often talk to different schools about this very subject and I split the conversation into three different sections - management, learning and social. These three can be tackled by the school one at a time or all at the same time, but each of these can help you integrate SharePoint into your school.

    Whether you are looking at going with a third party hosting solution or building your own SharePoint, consider the following and ensure you can achieve these with the solution being provided.

    Management

    Any process in your school, whether it’s the approval of staff external training, hiring of equipment from IT or keeping the staff calendar up to date it, has a process from the request to information staff of the change/approval. SharePoint can help in any of these and any other process that comes to mind. Let’s take a look at how two of these processes can be used within in SharePoint.

    • Example - A member of staff requested some Maths training
      Navigate to the CPD site on their SharePoint and click on ‘’new request’’ which opens up Microsoft Word. They fill in the request and click ‘’save’’ which saves the document back to the CPD site. In the background, SharePoint is doing its thing and has emailed a copy of CPD Request to your manager for approval. They then open their email and get a link to the document which opens up in Internet Explorer using Office Web Applications and shows them the request you have made. They are happy and so they click ‘’approve’’ in SharePoint. This sends off the email to the finance department letting them know to send a purchase order to the training provider. During this time, two other emails have also been sent, letting the Timetable Manager know that you will not be in school on that training day and therefore need to arrange cover. The other email is to let you know that your course has been approved and you can attend.

        • Example - You want to borrow some digital cameras from the ICT Support department
          Navigate to the SharePoint page they have setup. You click on ‘’digital cameras’’ which loads a page that looks similar to your Outlook calendar and look for you the time you want. You can see that another member of staff has them already booked at that time, so you decide to use them the next lesson. You have to fill out an online form that includes the date and time and the room you require them in. When you have submitted the request, an email is sent to the ICT support team who approve the request. The day arrives for you to use the cameras but you are worried you don’t know how to use them. Help is at hand. Go to the same SharePoint page the ICT Support department use to book the cameras, see that they are still booked and there is a help wiki that’s been setup on the cameras which shows you everything you need to know.

        imageLearning

        Pupils are given out worksheets all the time in class which, 9 times out of 10, are generated in Word or printed off the internet. Why give them something that can be lost, screwed up in the bottom of the bag or used as an excuse for not doing their homework?
        SharePoint is a great tool for document storage and management. You can store any type of document and even edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in your Internet browser without having to have these installed on your computer or smart phone.

        Documents can be tagged allowing you to easily find content with a same relevant name. As the English teacher, you can upload content for your Romeo and Juliet topic and tag all the documents with Romeo and Juliet included. With the right setup, it will automatically tag the documents with English and Shakespeare.

        Social

        There is always an interesting question about where to use social networking in a school. Personally I believe that students use it every day out of school, so we should be doing the same within the school and integrate into their education. SharePoint can help in many ways with an educational angle.

        During the learning section of the post we talked about the ability to tag documents. In SharePoint 2010 we can use these tags within the User Profile services.

        imageA student can subscribe to one of these tags allowing them to see content as it is uploaded. As a student, I am working on Romeo and Juliet in English and I see Romeo and Juliet in a Tag Cloud. This then allows me to see all updates made to this tag, giving me more information on each of my subjects as other use it in the school.

        Each user has their own ‘’profile’’, allowing them to upload an image and give some general information about themselves. (SharePoint allows us to manage this, so you can do things like block photos). One of the features is the ability to say you are an expert in a subject. Link this to your tagging (like Romeo and Juliet) and a student can then use SharePoint Search to find the most relevant documents, the ability to filter and the most relevant member of staff who can help them on that subject.

        SharePoint for All

        Whatever the learning asset, document or process, it can be done in SharePoint, don’t be afraid to ask someone on twitter or on an education community forum such as Edugeek.

         

        Learn MoreRead more about SharePoint in education on Alex Pearce's blog

      • Education

        Where are the IT jobs?

        • 2 Comments

        I just read an interesting article on the APC magazine website, about the hot skills required in 2012 for IT jobs. If you’re thinking about the skills that students will need as they enter employment, then it’s a great article to share with your students (and if you’re hoping to influence students to choose a computing subject as they make future course choices, it’s a cracking article to share!). According to Peter Noblet at Hayes IT recruitment, and the Clarius Skills Index reports, there’s high demand for IT candidates across the board, with a forecast shortage of IT workers nationwide:

         

        The strongest areas of demand are related to growing use of virtualisation and cloud computing in large enterprises, says Noblet, with many organisations looking to implement Exchange 2010 and moving to a virtual environment that’s creating demand for Exchange, VMware, and storage candidates.

        Microsoft applications like Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Exchange, SharePoint and the Lync unified-messaging platform figure strongly in recruiters’ activities due to the ongoing demand for in-house corporate messaging and collaboration platforms: “organisations are captivated by the perceived benefits and capabilities of SharePoint,” Noblet says.

        The market has, he adds, been equally voracious for lower-level skills like Java and .NET development, as well as higher-level business analyst and project management nous. And cloud computing expertise, particularly because the sector is relatively young, may prove to be exceptionally valuable to employers.

         

        It goes on to quote Michelle Downing at Dimension Data Learning Services, talking about the demand for skills training by employers, with a over half asking for training in Microsoft technical skills, compared to 3% needing VMware and 2% needing Citrix technical skills training. Business related skills needed by clients include ITIL, project management and business analysis.

        If I was in charge of IT courses in an education institution, I think I’d have this whole article projected  on a wall of every IT lab!

        Learn MoreRead the full APC article "Where are the new IT jobs"

         

        NB Can I also put a plug in here for the Microsoft IT Academy programme, where your students can earn professional industry qualifications whilst still at school/TAFE/university, and bump themselves up the pile of job candidates!

      • Education

        SharePoint Composites - the future of the Learning Management System?

        • 1 Comments

        I’ve been reading quite a few articles recently about the future of Learning Management Systems (LMS). These have attempted to look over the horizon - beyond today’s monolithic LMS - for a future where it’s likely that these systems will be comprised of a mash-up of different ‘best in class’ components, highly integrated. Although the majority of institutions aren’t near the point where this model be mainstream, it’s something that bears thinking about in your long-range strategy. Personally, I believe that the key platform to connect all of these different components together will be SharePoint, which I think of as a platform for education web applications, in the same way as Windows is the platform for local applications.

        The descriptive term for what I’m discussing is ‘composite applications’. A composite application combines data, documents and business processes through a series of building blocks to create a business solution. But how will these applications be built? And is this already happening?

        SharePoint Composites

        There’s a ‘SharePoint Composites Handbook’ which describes some of the common scenarios for these composites, and talks about how they would be produced in SharePoint (both process and tools). I think it’s useful for people with two interests:

        • Understanding how to take the next step in using SharePoint as a strategic tool across your institution by building quick composite applications, like expenses, leave and training solutions;
        • Considering how you can connect together your existing systems (learning management systems, student management systems, finance systems) in a way that gives you more flexibility in the future.

        Although the handbook does dive down into IT detail, there are sections of it that are useful for senior managers outside of IT who want to know what their current systems are capable of. Here’s the introduction to Composites at the beginning of the handbook:

         

        In short, a SharePoint Composite is a “do-it-yourself” business solution. A SharePoint Composite bears close resemblance to the often-used term, “mashup”. A mashup (in contrast to a classic shrink-wrapped software product) is a quick Web application that incorporates data into a simple, visual, and interactive solution. However, the term “composite” emphasises the breadth and depth of solutions you can build on the SharePoint 2010 platform.

         

        In Part II, the handbook also identifies 20 common design patterns for composite applications, including social computing, dynamic diagrams, business process and workflows, content management, records and media management, web databases and business intelligence. And from page 65 it lists 40 pre-made application templates, with sources, including budgeting and tracking, contact management, absence and leave requests

        Learn MoreYou can download the SharePoint Composites Handbook from this page

      • Education

        What's Next at Microsoft

        • 1 Comments

        Microsoft is a big place - with tens of thousands of people designing, creating, coding and building things around the world. There’s simply too much going on to keep up with it all. With just under 100,000 staff, it’s the equivalent of trying to keep up with what’s happening in every government school in NSW and Victoria put together.

        And as a result, I’m often catching up on new developments at the same time as you may be (if you’re an avid reader of other Microsoft blogs!). One of my favourite blogs to keep ahead of the curve is the Next at Microsoft blog, written by Steve Clayton, an old colleague from the UK. Steve’s a natural story-teller, and he has managed to get access to some of the amazing work going on behind the scenes in our research labs.

        Four days ago, Steve linked to a Microsoft Research video on the ‘HoloDesk’, which takes some of our latest inventions to a whole new level. If you’ve seen Kinect in action, you’ll be familiar with the concepts, but when you see where they’ve taken this, I’m sure you’ll be amazed.

        Watch the Microsoft Research team share their work on the HoloDesk

        What learning experiences could this allow you to create for your students? What’s not possible today that would be with this? And which sci-fi films now look slightly old fashioned?

        Learn MoreRead more about this project on the Next at Microsoft blog

      • Education

        How safe is my cloud data? And what’s the USA Patriot Act?

        • 1 Comments

        Cloud iconEarlier in the year, I wrote a blog post titled “Is my data safe in the Cloud?”, where I explained that actually my personal data was safer in the cloud than it was on my own laptop - because there’s less chance of it disappearing (and through clever syncing using Windows Live Mesh, I ensured that I could have it both in the Cloud and on my laptop).

        But when people ask “Is my data safe in the Cloud?”, they can often be thinking about another aspect - whether it’s safe from other organisations looking at it.

        If you’re using a Microsoft Cloud-service, you can find out about our data security, privacy and compliance principles at the Microsoft Online Services Trust Centre.

        The other aspect people are concerned about is whether governments can go dipping into the data to find out things. Specifically, people have often asked about the US Patriot Act, which they’ve assumed gives the US government the right to dig into data. It definitely doesn’t provide for routine access to data stored up in the cloud. Jeff Bullwinkel, Microsoft’s Associate General Counsel and Director of Legal & Corporate Affairs in Australia, wrote a blog post recently about the US Patriot Act and what it does (and doesn’t allow). It’s worth reading if you’d like to understand some of the background to the impact, but I’ve pulled out one key quote from his post, relating to data access in criminal cases:

          …Australia and the United States, like most countries around the world, cooperate closely in law enforcement matters. Under a longstanding bilateral mutual legal assistance treaty providing for law enforcement cooperation between Australia and the United States, either government can gain access to data located within the territory of the other.  

        The point Jeff concludes with is that there are common misunderstandings and confusion about data protection in the Cloud, and that when you’re considering what you might be doing with data in the Cloud, you need to carefully pick out the genuine issues from the mass of confusing opinions (often with no basis in fact) that bounce around.

        Within education in Australia, there are more examples of Cloud-based services being used by staff and students. Sometimes it is individuals using them, and sometimes it’s big organisations. One of the things that often helps people to understand whether it is a possibility for their own projects is to do a side-by-side comparison of the data risk for their own system today, versus using a system in the cloud. That often leads to some surprising results!

        Learn MoreRead Jeff's article about data in the Cloud, and the US Patriot Act

      • Education

        Next week’s Briefing event in Melbourne for Universities - Business Intelligence for Finance

        • 1 Comments

        A reminder that we’re co-hosting a free ‘Business Intelligence in Universities’ event in Melbourne on the morning of Wednesday 12th October, at our Freshwater Place offices. It will be a focused roundtable event, where you’ll be able to learn from the experiences of other universities, as well as the speakers from Microsoft and CALUMO.

        Senior executives from both Finance and IT will benefit from attending the event.   It’s an opportunity to learn what your peers are doing, have achieved and the lessons learned.

        CALUMO, who are specialists in applying effective Business Intelligence at Higher Education Providers, will bring you up to date on trends and achievements in the Higher Ed sector, including

        • Top BI implementation lessons for Universities
        • Exposing Load Planning from out of the ‘black box’
        • Course profitability – is it a dirty word(s)?
        • Issues around Research Reporting and compliance
        • Making budgeting and forecasting useful to everyone involved
        • How to trust your data
        • How the value of the Finance & IT Teams were recognised in previous projects

        The Microsoft speakers will provide updates on the key capabilities and the next evolution of the MS offering, including;

        • The current version of MS SQL Server 2008 R2, and what’s coming in the next release, code named “Denali”
        • Data Mining to better understand trends and relationships (for Alumni donations, student planning, learning analytics)
        • Master Data Management and BI Symantec layer – Cleaning and managing data
        • Statistical forecasting and predictive analytics
        • Enhanced visualisation for information delivery.

        We will also discuss how Universities are managing Cost Reduction, obtaining extra value from existing licensing arrangements and delivering at lower cost to the Uni.

        The best value from the briefing will be achieved through having an attendee from both Finance and IT, so that both the user-perspective and the IT-services perspective can be discussed.

        If you’d like to get an invitation to this briefing, then drop an email to Mike Henegan at Calumo, who will provide full details for event, which is from 9:00AM to 11:00AM on Wednesday 12th October

        Learn MoreEmail Mike Henegan for more info

      • Education

        How many Internet-connected devices do your students have at home?

        • 1 Comments

        Of course, we all know we’re living in a connected world, with ‘always on’ technology. Our students have never known a different one. My children live in a fairly high-tech household, but even I was shocked when I realised we’ve got 13 internet connected devices in our household - all squeezing data through a wireless router connected to a very thin Internet pipe. My kids have never experienced anything else. So this video, which gives you a trip across a day full of hidden devices, wouldn’t seem strange to them - it’s how they live.

        This was made by the Windows Embedded team, to show some of the places where Windows exists

        I know I’ve grown up in this world too, but it’s when you stop and think about the huge change that’s occurring that you realise that the ‘old ways’ of doing things are gone forever.

        What made me think about this was the fact that I was in a supermarket, whilst on holiday, that was selling packs of 3.5” floppy disks. Three things hit me: (1) I didn’t realise people still used floppy disks (2) How did I ever cope with storage media that could only store 1.44MB (3) For my kids, it was a museum exhibit, just like a dinosaur - they were extinct before they were born!

      • Education

        This week’s webcasts for education customers and partners 31 Oct - 4 November 2011

        • 0 Comments

        There are two webcasts to know about this week - one education-specific one (the Tech Tuesday) and one general one for technical teams.

        All of the timings for the webcasts are AEST (Australia East Coast time).
        See ** below for more details on how the webcasts work

        This week’s webcasts

        Tech Tuesday - IT Academy in Education

        The Microsoft IT Academy is a programme that provides students with future-ready technology skills they need to be successful in careers. Read more about the IT Academy programme

        Tuesday 1st November 11AM-12PM AEST - Register here for the webinar

        Microsoft Office 365: Deployment Overview

        This session provides guidance for individuals responsible for coordinating and performing customer deployment and migration activities related to migrating customers from their current environment to Office 365 for enterprises. This session guides attendees through three key deployment project phases: Plan, Prepare, and Migrate, focusing on the tasks handled by partners and customers, and providing a high-level review of tasks handled internally by Microsoft services teams. This session does not cover processes that occur prior to deployment (Sales and Initial Assessment) and post-deployment (Operations).
        Note: This session is relevant for education customers, although the session covers generic Office 365, not specifically Office 365 for Education

        Tuesday 1st November 2-4PM AEST - Register here for the webinar


        Future webcasts

        Date
        Title
        Register Here

        8 November

        Tech Tuesday -The Microsoft Office Suite in Education
        Tech Tuesday’s are education-specific webinars, hosted by the Australian education team at Microsoft.

        Find out more, and register

        8 November

        Upgrading to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server Code-Named "Denali": A Comprehensive Look

        Find out more, and register

        11 November

        Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012: What’s in It, and How It Enables the Building of Private Clouds and Federation to the Public Cloud

        Find out more, and register

        15 November

        Tech Tuesday - Learning Management Systems in Education
        Tech Tuesday’s are education-specific webinars, hosted by the Australian education team at Microsoft.

        Find out more, and register

        15 November

        Taking Office to the Cloud: Integrating Microsoft Office 2010 and Windows Azure

        Find out more, and register

        22 November

        Tech Tuesday - Microsoft Partner story - nSynergy
        Tech Tuesday’s are education-specific webinars, hosted by the Australian education team at Microsoft.

        Find out more, and register

        22 November

        Managing Windows Azure Applications

        Find out more, and register

        22 November

        Integrating Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

        Find out more, and register

        25 November

        Integrating the Microsoft System Center Stack for Process Compliance and Automation

        Find out more, and register

        29 November

        What’s New in Microsoft SQL Server Code-Named “Denali” for SQL Server Integration Services

        Find out more, and register

        6 December

        Microsoft Lync 2010: Audio, Video and Web Conferencing Architecture and Experience

        Find out more, and register

        ** By running them as webcasts, our aim is to allow you to get the latest news, without travel costs, or event fees. And with all of the advantages of being able to watch an online webcast whilst also being able to do other things if necessary. All of the free webcasts this week are one/two hour sessions, and combine presentations and live demonstrations.

        You’ll need to register in advance, and you’ll then receive a Calendar note, as well as info on how to join the Live Meeting online. All of the timings given are for Australia East Coast time.

      • Education

        This week’s webcasts - 3-7 October 2011

        • 0 Comments

        As most Australian schools are still on holiday this week, there’s only one webinar to note - although it is not specifically focused on education ICT, Lync could be of interest to IT managers across education.

        All of the timings for the webcasts are AEST (Australia East Coast time).
        See ** below for more details on how the webcasts work

        This week’s webcasts

        Microsoft Lync 2010: Setup, Deployment, Upgrade and Coexistence Scenarios

        Microsoft Lync Server 2010 features a new suite of planning, setup and deployment tools to use when planning new installations or making changes to a deployed system. This session reviews these new planning and deployment tools, how they streamline initial setup and help manage ongoing changes to an operating infrastructure. This session covers the supported coexistence and migration scenarios for Lync Server 2010, and touches on the process used to implement coexistence. The value of the tools and approaches for setup, deployment, migration, and coexistence is illustrated via a hands-on demo of Topology Builder creating a basic Lync Server 2010 topology.

        Tuesday 4th October 2-4PM AEST - Register here


        Future webcasts

        Date
        Title
        Register Here

        14 October

        Virtualization: State of the Union

        Find out more, and register

        11 October Tech Tuesday - Microsoft Partner Story - Polycom
        Tech Tuesday’s are education-specific webinars, hosted by the Australian education team at Microsoft.

        Find out more, and register

        18 October

        Tech Tuesday - Microsoft Partner Story - Dimension Data
        Tech Tuesday’s are education-specific webinars, hosted by the Australian education team at Microsoft.
        Find out more, and register

        18 October

        What's New in Manageability for Microsoft SQL Server Code-Named "Denali"

        Find out more, and register

        18 October

        Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Office 365: How to Set Up a Hybrid Deployment

        Find out more, and register

        21 October

        Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2012: Overview

        Find out more, and register

        25 October

        Tech Tuesday - IT Academy in Education
        Tech Tuesday’s are education-specific webinars, hosted by the Australian education team at Microsoft.

        Find out more, and register

        25 October

        An IT Pro View of Windows Azure

        Find out more, and register

        28 October

        What Are the Bridges between Private and Public Cloud?

        Find out more, and register

        1 November

        Microsoft Office 365: Deployment Overview

        Find out more, and register

        8 November

        Tech Tuesday -The Microsoft Office Suite in Education
        Tech Tuesday’s are education-specific webinars, hosted by the Australian education team at Microsoft.

        Find out more, and register

        8 November

        Upgrading to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server Code-Named "Denali": A Comprehensive Look

        Find out more, and register

        11 November

        Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012: What’s in It, and How It Enables the Building of Private Clouds and Federation to the Public Cloud

        Find out more, and register

        15 November

        Tech Tuesday - Learning Management Systems in Education
        Tech Tuesday’s are education-specific webinars, hosted by the Australian education team at Microsoft.

        Find out more, and register

        15 November

        Taking Office to the Cloud: Integrating Microsoft Office 2010 and Windows Azure

        Find out more, and register

        22 November

        Tech Tuesday - Microsoft Partner story - nSynergy
        Tech Tuesday’s are education-specific webinars, hosted by the Australian education team at Microsoft.

        Find out more, and register

        22 November

        Managing Windows Azure Applications

        Find out more, and register

        22 November

        Integrating Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

        Find out more, and register

        25 November

        Integrating the Microsoft System Center Stack for Process Compliance and Automation

        Find out more, and register

        29 November

        What’s New in Microsoft SQL Server Code-Named “Denali” for SQL Server Integration Services

        Find out more, and register

        6 December

        Microsoft Lync 2010: Audio, Video and Web Conferencing Architecture and Experience

        Find out more, and register

        ** By running them as webcasts, our aim is to allow you to get the latest news, without travel costs, or event fees. And with all of the advantages of being able to watch an online webcast whilst also being able to do other things if necessary.

        All of the free webcasts this week are one hour sessions, and combine presentations and live demonstrations.

        You’ll need to register in advance, and you’ll then receive a Calendar note as well as info on how to join the Live Meeting online. All of the timings given are for Australia East Coast time.

      • Education

        How do I set up Windows on a touch PC?

        • 0 Comments

        The Microsoft IT team are the people responsible for keeping the Microsoft internal IT systems running and providing the users with support - in the same way that IT teams in schools/TAFEs/universities do. (And in the case of some universities, on a similar scale!)

        Work Smart GuidesPart of their role is providing training and user documentation for us - in the form of Work Smart Guides - which we use to get to grips quickly with new technologies available internally. They are simple user guides, on subjects as diverse as our unified communications systems, how to use our internal SharePoint etc. In your first month at Microsoft they are absolutely essential reading, as our working environment is so different from many organisations that new employees come from (for example, the Sydney office has no conventional telephones and nobody has their own fixed desk or office).

        The latest of the Work Smart Guides is “Using Windows 7 Professional on a Slate PC”, and just like many of the others, they have published it for our customers to use as well as part of the Microsoft IT Showcase programme. You can either use it ‘as is’, or for a starting point for your own user documentation. It includes tips on setup, the use and customisation of flicks and gestures in Windows, Internet Explorer and other applications, screen touch optimisation for things like menus and scroll bars, and calibration.

        The “Using Windows 7 Professional on a Touch PC” Work Smart Guide is a free download (PDF)

        Learn MoreYou can download all of the other 23 Work Smart Guides from this link.

        Find other blog posts related to the Microsoft IT Showcase programme

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