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January, 2012 - Education - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The Australian Education Blog
Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

January, 2012

  • Education

    Bring Your Own Device in schools - one school’s experience

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    School IT budgets will come under pressure, as the DER programme reaches it’s zenith, and overall spending on education continues to be in flux. Although we’ve now reached the point of every Year 9-12 student having a laptop, there’s still plenty of schools where the teachers and students don’t have access to IT whenever they want.

    And yet students and teachers now have better and cheaper technology at home than ever before. A spot check of the average 15 year-old’s school bag is likely to reveal a heady mix of smartphones, laptops, games consoles, iPods, cameras, and more power packs and cables than your average branch of Harvey Norman.

    It’s therefore not surprising that schools are wondering whether these two trends can be combined. Is it really possible to allow students and staff to be productive in school, using technology they’ve brought in themselves? Can the school save money buying or replacing hardware, by utilising the devices which have often been banned from the network? Will staff and students actually work harder and be more engaged in their learning and teaching, if it’s all happening on a device which they enjoy using? Or is the idea of “Bring Your Own Device” nothing more than a headache for school IT staff, a massive security risk, and a fad based largely on the principal being in love with their new iPad?What devices do students carry around in their backpacks?

    Two of my UK-colleagues Mark Reynolds and Tim Bush have recently been talking about the issues/opportunities created when students have their own IT devices - and how one English school - saltash.net - accommodates them through their school network. I’ll let them pick up the story from their original blog post:

     

    saltash.net is a fantastic school down in Cornwall where head teacher Isobel Bryce has built a strong platform for her staff and students to succeed. Their most famous son is Dan Roberts, whose Recharge the Battery project won a Microsoft Innovative Teacher award in 2009. We spoke with Adam Ledger, the schools Network Manager. Adam explains their approach to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD):

    “Our network has about 300 fixed desktops and 300 netbooks. We also have about 100 teacher laptops, which are vanilla windows and 30 Macs in a suite for Media. So we’ve got about 700 school owned and managed devices, but in total have over 1,700 devices which have joined the network.”

    The 1,000+ “unmanaged” devices are a huge range of laptops, netbooks, smartphones, iPads, iPods, Kindles, Nintendos and anything else which staff or students want to bring in. To be honest, I nearly fell of my chair at this point, because although I’d been to many schools who allowed guest wireless access of some kind, I’d never come across anything on this scale. Adam explains that Saltash.net has always had this approach, ever since students started asking:

    “Trust always is the starting point. Trust the kids and they will reward you with good behaviour. We say yes to everything, as long as they come and ask us. I can only think of 3 or 4 instances of misuse of the system, and one of those was a member of staff. I know we are lucky with the kids and that it might not work in every school, but it works for us. We enable access on peoples on devices which they WANT to use, and so we have happy customers. They know we can block or remove access if we need to, but they value the trust we put on them and they’re glad to be learning in a way that suits them.”

    So from a technical point of view, how do they keep it secure and manage the process?

    “If you want to bring in your personal device, you bring it to see us (the IT team). We register their mac address, version of anti-virus, make and model, and the serial number of the device. We then use the software that comes with our wireless network to enable that mac address in a whitelist. The same software we use for whitelisting can also do the blocking by mac address (blacklisting) – which it does for any “unknown” mac address, or for any device that needs to be banned from the system. We also periodically then clean out the DHCP databases, and run a very short lease on the IP address given to a wireless device. We want people to have freedom of access, but also want to know what’s on our network.”

    And that, really, is that. They give wireless access to devices they know about and they block anything they don’t. It is then down to the teaching staff to manage the way students use those devices when they are in school. That is one for Dan Roberts to explain, which we’ll do in another blog post. Just walking round the school though, that feeling of trust and mutual respect is noticeable. I can only assume that the same respect students have for their teachers, they have for the freedom they are allowed when it comes to technology. They’re enjoying their learning, and feel able to use the technology that suits them.

     

    Microsoft is planning to make the management of BYOD networks much easier, with the launch of System Centre 2012. Not only will System Centre offer the best possible management of your existing Windows network, but it will also offer support for management of iOS and Android devices too. There is a public beta available already, which you can read about and download here.

    Learn More

    The UK team have created a Consumerisation of IT in Education whitepaper, which you can download from Slideshare
  • Education

    Education pricing for Kinect for Windows

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    I am one of the latest of the 18 million people who’ve bought a Kinect sensor for my Xbox (one of the Microsoft CES announcements - the 18m number, not the fact that I’m a user) 

    imageIt seems I’m a laggard when it comes to gaming and home entertainment technology, having only just setup my Xbox and bought a Kinect this Christmas. The two things I’ve discovered and never used before, is the voice control feature, and the ABC iView app on my Xbox, which means that we can now watch catch-up TV on our TV, rather than having to watch it on a laptop computer. So over the holiday the whole family have become re-addicted to Spooks. I feel silly not having set this up before, because I’d thought of it as a gaming box, rather than a home entertainment system.

    Anyway, just as I’m catching up with Kinect on the Xbox, the world has shifted again with the CES announcement of Kinect for Windows. From the outside, the sensor looks the same, and works in the same way, giving you control over your computer via your hand and body movements, but unlike the Xbox version, it’s now optimised for close-up use - from 50cm away rather than having to stand a couple of metres away. That means that it will allow people to use Kinect while they are sitting in front of a desktop setup.

    What we’ve announced is that this new Kinect sensor hardware and software will be available from the 1st February, and it’s been priced at AU$299. The even better news is that later this year there will also be special education pricing for Kinect for Windows, bringing the price down (I don't have an Australian price yet, but in the US it's planned to come down to $149). You can read all the details on the Kinect for Windows blog here.

    Because Kinect is able to do full body tracking, and now has it’s new ‘near’ mode, I can imagine a heap of scenarios that it will be useful for in education:

    • Replacing interactive whiteboards with a Kinect, to reduce the hardware cost and allow more to spent on teaching resources
    • Giving special needs students the ability to interact in new ways with IT, without needing to use the keyboard or a mouse
    • Creating simulations - eg science  experiments - where students are able to control virtual equipment and manipulate them

    imageWith the education pricing for Kinect around the corner, I guess the KinectEDucation community is going to get even busier in the near future, with teachers and developers collaborating on new teaching and learning ideas for Kinect.

  • Education

    Ideas for using Kinect for Windows in education

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    Kinect - it’s amazing to think what one small sensor could do for teaching and learning. Yesterday I wrote about the education pricing for Kinect for Windows that’s due later in the year, and mentioned some examples of how it might be used in schools, TAFEs and universities. And I also mentioned the KinectEDucation website, which is a community of developers and teachers who are working on projects to use Kinect in education.

    For some more ideas, take a look at the video, from the KinectEDucation team, with some more inspiring scenarios:

  • Education

    Microsoft Education Case Studies from Australia

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    Education Case Studies iconOne question that I’m asked frequently about new projects is:

    Who else is doing this?

    In some cases, what people (partners/customers) are looking for is confirmation that they’re going to be at the innovative edge - and that what they are doing hasn’t been done before. And other times, they are looking for reassurance that somebody else has taken the journey before them.

    So I thought that I’d try and collate a list of public case studies and examples from within Australia, which will help answer the question. What’s interesting to note is that there are some areas where there have been lots of case studies published, and yet others where there have been few or none (despite the fact I know of examples, they just haven’t been published anywhere that I can find).

    Even though the list below isn’t exhaustive, there’s a fair number of education case studies from Australian education institutions - both Microsoft published case studies, as well as those published in the media and by our partners.

    If you pop your mouse over each of the links, you’ll see a few more details on each of the examples.

    Case Study Subject

    Schools

    TAFE & Vocational

    Higher Education

    Dynamics CRM

     

    Box Hill TAFE

    Australian Technical College

    Tennis Australia

    Curtin University

    Melbourne Business School

    Business Intelligence

    Brisbane Catholic Education

    John Paul College

    William Angliss Institute of TAFE

    UNSW

    Macquarie University

    University of Canberra

    SharePoint

    Marist College

    Catholic Education Office Paramatta

    Drummond Memorial Public School

    Abbotsleigh

    Cranbrook School

    John Septimus Roe

    Box Hill TAFE

    Australian Institute of Fitness

    Melbourne Business School

    Education websites built on SharePoint

    Abbotsleigh School

    Trinity Grammar School

    Brisbane Catholic Education

    John Paul College

    Hale School

    Gordon Institute of TAFE

    Bendigo TAFE

    Australian School of Business

    Lync for unified communications

    Tasmanian Polytechnic

    Scotch College

    Tasmanian Polytechnic

     

    Windows Azure - Cloud case studies

    NSW DEC ESSA tests

     

    Curtin University - 1

    Curtin University - 2

    Curtin University video

    Virtualisation

    St Leonards College

     

    University of Canberra

    Office 2010

    Luther College

    Prince Alfred College

    Varsity College

    Immanuel College

    Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College

    NSW DEC

    NSW DEC

     

    Live@edu

    Redlands School

    Prince Alfred College

    Brisbane Catholic Education

    Prospect High School

    South Australia TAFEs

    Western Australia TAFEs

    Curtin University

    Office 365 for education

     

     

    Curtin University

    Others…

    St Margaret’s (IAG)

    Dallas Primary School (Kodu)

    Lakelands School (Photostory)

    Proserpine State High School (Songsmith)

    Peter Moye School (Windows 7)

    Miller Technology High School (AutoCollage)

       

    If you know of other case studies, let me know and I can add them to this page for others to see and read. It doesn’t need to be formally published information like an article or case study - it could be a story told in a newsletter or other place - as long as it’s in the public domain on the web.

  • Education

    Manage the student lifecycle in Higher Education with Dynamics CRM

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    I’ve just been watching a video case study I thought was worth sharing, of Liberty University, in the US, who have been using the Dynamics CRM system to manage their student lifecycle - from recruitment, to their time on campus, and then through to alumni.

    It’s interesting to hear the university staff talk about the student lifecycle, for example - how they are able to manage students at-risk of dropping out - by tracking interactions and their academic progress, and to then intervene before there are issues that get worse. They also talk about how they are able to present the right profile of the university to students, to match their interests and goals.