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

April, 2012

  • Education

    Microsoft Partner Network Training–Social media orientation for B2B marketers and managers

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    We’re running a course in a couple of weeks in Sydney, which I think will be useful for some education partners here in Australia. It’s a Social media orientation for B2B marketers and managers hosted by Microsoft and Outsource. It’s a two hour session on 2nd May, and costs $99:

     

    In this two-hour presentation, Liz Marchant, an experienced social media expert, will explain:

    • why social media is a relevant marketing channel for B2B firms (and how it's different to what consumer companies do with it)
    • how social media can work in a B2B environment
    • a best-practice framework for implementing social media in businesses
    • principles for effective social media marketing
    • social media employment policy development
    • common tools that help manage social media

    At the end of this session you will have a much clearer idea of the opportunities and challenges that social media presents for your organisation.

    You will also be more familiar with B2B social media concepts, tools and ways to get started (or improve what you're already doing).

    Cost of the session is $99.00 per person ex GST

     


    It’s hosted at our offices in North Ryde, from 9AM to 11AM on 2nd May

    Learn MoreFind our more about the Social Media Orientation session

  • Education

    Academic Award Certificates for Word and PowerPoint

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    Sample Certificate TemplateSample Certificate TemplateI was browsing around the Microsoft Office website today, and came across something new - the Education Template collection – thousands of different free document templates for Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint.

    Sample Certificate TemplateSample Certificate TemplateNow that it’s the start of a new term, and you might want to find some news ways of motivating your students, how about trying out some new award certificates? There are 149 different templates for academic award certificates on the site for Word and PowerPoint – making it dead easy to hand out something new to some students this term.

    There are templates for  Flash Cards, Diagrams, Academic Year Calendars, Quizzes and test, Surveys, Reports, Planners, Maths tables, Letters etc

    Learn MoreGet the free Office template downloads for Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint

  • Education

    Microsoft Education Publisher Briefing–Singapore 15/16 May

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    Publisher Briefing Header

    At the Microsoft Global Education Partner Summit in Seattle earlier in the year, we held a invitation-only summit for education publishers. Following that, we’ve just announced the date for the Education Publisher Briefing for partners across Asia, including Australia. The briefing will be held on 15/16 May 2012, in Singapore.

    This two-day briefing builds on the successful publisher briefings globally, and gives local publishers the opportunity to understand the Microsoft ecosystem for educational publishers, and the opportunities offered by future Microsoft developments. With millions of Windows devices in the hands of teachers and students in Australia, and Microsoft’s various websites and cloud services used daily by students and staff, the Microsoft ecosystem provides a great opportunity for publishers to reach the widest possible audience at home and in the institution.

    Microsoft Education Publisher Briefing - Agenda Topics

    The agenda for the event will look in detail at the entire Microsoft ecosystem for digital publishing, including Microsoft’s current and future device operating environments, Cloud services, and the links to other Microsoft software.

    • Vision for Education through Partnership with Publishers
    • Emerging Innovation – Publisher Solution Showcase
    • Future Innovations for Publishers
    • Why Digital? Leveraging Microsoft’s education solutions
    • Microsoft’s Education Publisher Marketplace – Offering content and tools in the cloud
    • Edutainment – Integration of content & gaming
    • Future of books – IE9 and IE10, HTML5, Search
    • Driving Efficiencies through Cloud with Windows Azure and Office 365 for education
    • Windows 8, Windows Phone and slate devices

     

    Who should attend the Microsoft Education Publisher Briefing?

    This event is focused on educational publishers and content producers from across Asia-Pacific. It’s a business focused event suitable for:

    • Company Executives
    • Strategy Directors
    • Head of Curriculum
    • Business Development Director
    • CIO or IT Strategy Director

    Microsoft Education Publisher Briefing – APAC Date and Venue

    • 15 May – 8.30am-5.30pm and 16 May – 9.00am-2pm
    • At Microsoft Singapore, Level 21, One Marina Boulevard,Singapore

    Although this is a complimentary event, travel and accommodation are your responsibility!

     

    Register for the APAC Education Publisher BriefingDownload the Microsoft Education Publisher Briefing invitation (PDF)
    Download the APAC Registration Form (DOC)

  • Education

    Is my data safe in the cloud? Part Two – CSA STAR

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    Cloud Security Alliance logoYesterday, I wrote the first part of “Is my data safe in the cloud?”, looking at the work we’d been doing with the Cloud Security Alliance STAR (Security, Trust & Assurance Registry) project – which is an industry-wide initiative to make it possible to compare security practices across cloud services.

    One of the outputs of the project is a standardised list of questions about cloud security practices which are designed to mirror the typical questions that might be asked in an RFP document. And then each of the cloud suppliers is asked to publish self-assessments of the answers to these standard questions.

    Cloud security assessment questions

    The standard sections in the self assessment cover 100 different cloud service requirements:

    • Compliance – 8 areas
    • Data Governance – 8 areas
    • Facility Security – 8 areas
    • Human Resources Security – 3 areas
    • Information Security – 34 areas
    • Legal – 2 areas
    • Operations Management – 4 areas
    • Risk Management – 5 areas
    • Release Management – 5 areas
    • Resiliency – 8 areas
    • Security Architecture – 15 areas

    Sample cloud requirements

    Each section contains a series of individual requirements, which combine to form a very comprehensive list. Here’s some examples of the kind of requirements specified in the CSA requirements documents:

    CO-03 Compliance - Third Party Audits
    Third party service providers shall demonstrate compliance with information security and confidentiality, service definitions and delivery level agreements included in third party contracts. Third party reports, records and services shall undergo audit and review, at planned intervals, to govern and maintain compliance with the service delivery agreements.

    CO-06 Compliance - Intellectual Property
    Policy, process and procedure shall be established and implemented to safeguard intellectual property and the use of proprietary software within the legislative jurisdiction and contractual constraints governing the organization.

    DG-04 Data Governance - Retention Policy
    Policies and procedures for data retention and storage shall be established and backup or redundancy mechanisms implemented to ensure compliance with regulatory, statutory, contractual or business requirements. Testing the recovery of disk or tape backups must be implemented at planned intervals.

    DG-05 Data Governance - Secure Disposal
    Policies and procedures shall be established and mechanisms implemented for the secure disposal and complete removal of data from all storage media, ensuring data is not recoverable by any computer forensic means

    FS-02 Facility Security - User Access
    Physical access to information assets and functions by users and support personnel shall be restricted.

    HR-01 Human Resources Security - Background Screening
    Pursuant to local laws, regulations, ethics and contractual constraints all employment candidates, contractors and third parties will be subject to background verification proportional to the data classification to be accessed, the business requirements and acceptable risk.

    IS-15 Information Security - Segregation of Duties
    Policies, process and procedures shall be implemented to enforce and assure proper segregation of duties. In those events where user-role conflict of interest constraint exists, technical controls shall be in place to mitigate any risks arising from unauthorized or unintentional modification or misuse of the organization's information assets.

    Microsoft CSA STAR self-assessments

    There have been self assessments published on the Cloud Security Alliance’s website for three key Microsoft cloud services, driven by customers asking for information and assurances about the security practices and security controls that different cloud service provider’s use.   This information helps you better understand whether those services meet or exceed your organisation’s compliance obligations and internal standards.  The self-assessments for Office 365, Windows Azure, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM in the CSA’s STAR registry provides cloud customers with the visibility and transparency they are looking for, in a way that is based on standards (ISO 27001) and CSA best practices. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM document, for example, runs to 50 pages, with detailed responses for each of the 100 requirements. Which means that for each of these services you can see the list of answers for each of the detailed requirements:

    How can you use the Cloud assessment documents?

    There are three main ways I see that these documents, and the programme, can help educational organisations in Australia:

    1. If you are going to use cloud services, the requirements make a great starting place for your own RFP documents, as it provides a set of key requirements based on existing international standards (such as ISO 27001).
    2. If you want to see how Microsoft’s cloud services provide security at a physical, organisational and strategic level, the documents provide clear answers for each requirement
    3. Lastly, if you want to do an effective comparative risk assessment between on-premise and cloud services, you could use exactly the same requirements framework to assess your own data security. (for a quick check, read the sample list of requirements above, and self-evaluate your own datacentre and services against it)

    Learn MoreSee all of the STAR self-assessments here
    Learn more about the CSA STAR programme here

  • Education

    Is my data safe in the cloud? Part One – CSA STAR

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    If you are putting, or considering putting, your data into the cloud, then you’ll have thought about security considerations. But the way that you think about cloud data security may be very different from the way that you consider the same issues when it comes to data held on your own servers and computers.

    Visiting a school once, we had a discussion about how secure data would be in a cloud data centre, and as we walked out past reception the Principal pointed out the desktop computer that had all of their student data on it – sitting right in the middle of a desk in the school reception office – within arm’s reach of anybody walking into the school. But, because they could see the computer with the data on it, they felt that it was much more secure than in somebody else’s datacentre.

    The challenge with discussing cloud data security, especially in education, is that we are often dealing with the reality of perception ie that it’s often not about the real situation, but about the situation that people perceive to be real.

    Although there are some frameworks for comparing relative risk between in-house and cloud data services, it’s still tricky today to do a proper comparison of data security between on-premise or cloud services, and between different cloud services. For example, it can be challenging getting information on the security practices used by cloud providers, and it can be challenging to use the information to compare and contrast the different services offered by these providers. There are at least a couple of factors making this type of comparison harder than it should be:

    1. There is no industry standard set of questions that cloud service evaluators can use to ask cloud providers about the security practices they use to manage their services.
    2. There is no industry standard format for cloud providers to provide answers to questions about the security practices they use to operate their service offerings eg different cloud providers might answer the same question in very different ways making comparing and contrasting them difficult

    Which means that organisations evaluating cloud services often have to create their own evaluation criteria.  Some organisations have spent considerable time, resources and budget on developing their own evaluation criteria, or have paid consulting companies to do this for them. Of course, the duplication of effort is inefficient and expensive for both cloud evaluators and the cloud providers who are forced to interpret and respond to a myriad of different requests for information.

    There is an industry initiative, the Cloud Security Alliance “Security, Trust & Assurance Registry” (STAR), which is designed to make it possible to compare security practices used to manage cloud services. The Microsoft Trustworthy Computing group has been working with the STAR programme to create standard Q&A’s to answer security questions about cloud services. The idea is to work across the industry, so that you can easily get answers to the standard questions across different cloud platforms.

    For an overview, Tim Rains and Kellie Ann Chainier have recorded a short video of what’s happening:

     

    For the back story behind this, there’s a series of short videos on Cloud Fundamentals:

    Tomorrow, I’ll point you towards some of the information we’ve published on the different Microsoft cloud services.

  • Education

    The largest education cloud customer starts using Live@edu

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    PR AnnouncementLast week we announced that the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has chosen the Microsoft Live@edu cloud-based email for their 7,000,000 students. The staggering scale of the AICTE – with 10,000 technical colleges, and half a million staff, on top of their 7 million students makes it Microsoft’s largest cloud customer ever. The implementation has already started, and will be finished in three months. It started with the roll out of Live@edu and then will deploy Office 365 for education, to add SharePoint Online and Lync instant communications for users.

    AICTE is the governing body for technical education in India, and manages and certifies technical colleges and institutes right across the country. As the Chairman of AICTE, Dr S S Mantha, said:

      Microsoft’s cloud platform will make for a truly progressive ecosystem and contribute to the country’s technical education by providing a better communication and collaboration platform for institutes and students  

    This project is significant because of the size of the implementation (much bigger than the previous ‘biggest’ deployment, of 700,000 students in Kentucky Department of Education, and also because the AICTE reviewed solutions from Microsoft, IBM and Google as part of taking their decision.

    Learn MoreRead the full announcement about AICTE using Live@edu

  • Education

    Training opportunity - Developing Windows 8 software

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    A reminder - there’s going to be a lot of interest in new applications to run in the Windows 8 Metro interface. If you’ve installed and started playing with Windows 8, like me, you probably really, really want to start running more Metro apps.

    Developing Windows 8 AppsNick Hodge, our resident Windows 8 evangelist (and self-described ‘Professional Geek’) is organising a series of Windows 8 Developer Camps in Australia, and giving over his weekends for the next few months to make them a success. And he’s travelling the country (no really, he’s going to Darwin, Hobart and Adelaide, on top of the usual suspects).

    The events are all free – run by developers for developers – and the promise is that you’ll learn the skills for developing Metro style apps, and put the skills into practice on the day. Nick will be lining up the coffee, food and wireless, so all you need to bring is your laptop, with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview installed. And of course, free doesn’t extend to your bus/train ticket to the training.

    You have to register to get a place – and I’d recommend doing that soon, as I reckon places will be snapped up by developers pretty quickly (because this is open to anybody in Australia, not just partners). I reckon I might sign up for a place too, so that I can migrate my Windows Phone app to Windows 8).

    Although the workshop isn’t specifically about developing Windows 8 applications for education, every single thing that you learn about will be relevant to developing applications for education.

    The first one, in Melbourne, has been and gone, so you need to get your skates on if you want to attend any of the others:

    When and where we’re running the Windows 8 Developer Camps

    Where

    When

    How

    Sydney

    Saturday, 14 April

    Register

    Brisbane

    Saturday, 28 April

    Register

    Hobart

    Saturday, 12 May

    Register

    Canberra

    Saturday, 19 May

    Register

    Darwin

    Saturday, 26 May

    Register

    Adelaide

    Saturday, 2 June

    Register

    Perth

    Saturday, 16 June

    Register

    Why you should be developing Windows 8 applications for education

    If you’ve read this far, you might be wondering why you, or your colleagues, might want to spend a day learning about developing Windows 8 applications for education. Here’s my list of 3 key reasons:

    • The earlier you have an application in the Windows 8 marketplace, the more exposure you are going to get. Today the marketplace has a limited number of applications, so new ones are getting a high profile.
    • Our Education account teams are currently installing Windows 8 onto their laptops and starting to demonstrate it to their customers. If you create an education specific app, I reckon you’re going to get them demonstrating your software to a lot of our early adopter customers in the next few months.
    • You’re demonstrating your innovation, to innovative customers (the people installing Windows 8 right now are the leading edge innovators)

    Learn MoreEven if you can't get to the workshops, do you know about the MSDN Windows 8 Metro App Development Centre?

  • Education

    Forget ‘Business Intelligence’ and start thinking about solving a business problem

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    Yesterday, when I wrote about buying business systems for education, at the back of my mind were a number of business intelligence projects I’ve come across. What I’ve seen is that when a business intelligence project runs out of control, and starts to be ‘all things to all people’, it changes into the kind of project which never gets delivered (but is always ‘just around the corner’).

    One of our partners, CALUMO, have a very clever business intelligence system for education. And their real strength comes from the business problems it solves for their education customers. Although I’ve heard people occasionally talking about it as a Business Intelligence (BI) solution, I’ve more frequently heard users talking about the business solution it gives – like student load planning, or budgeting, or financial reporting. Last month I read one of their small case study articles, looking at how the University of Canberra use the system to produce their annual report. The business benefit is that they can update their report with real-time data, as changes are made in other systems, rather than having to retrospectively go back and edit the report. So it means that if you post a journal change in your finance system, your annual report is up to date within minutes.

    But the CALUMO software isn’t a specific “Annual Report Writing” software package – instead it’s a clever Business Intelligence solution which allows the university to keep their annual report up to date. In the same way that they use the same system for their student load planning. Again, they don’t think of it as their BI system, but as their student load planning system.

    That mindset is just one of the ways that I’ve seen a progression in successful IT projects across education – it’s staying focused on the end-user business problem, and solving them, one problem at a time. It’s easy to expand the scope once you’ve solved one problem – there are always plenty waiting to be solved. And the approach seems to be much more successful than trying to solve all of the problems in one single leap – because the end user with the business problem often seems to have to wait a very long time for their solution.image

    Learn MoreYou can read more about the case study (with a great tutorial video that shows how report updates can be automated) in Warwick Leitch’s CALUMO blog

  • Education

    Buying business systems for education

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    I’ve been involved in a few conversations recently about business systems with a number of education customers. And there’s a recurring question through these conversations, which is:

    Should a university/TAFE/school buy a system for its technical capabilities, or for the business problem it solves?

    Take Business Intelligence as an example. Should you look for the all-singing, all-dancing answer to everything (ie the one that solves the 300 pages of use-case produced in a typical tender), or should you buy a solution to solve a specific business problem (eg something that reduces your budget cycle by 50%; or reduces your cost of producing your annual report by 30%).

    What I’ve noticed with the first approach is that the procurement cycle takes a very long time – because writing the specifications takes a while (and lots of meetings right across the university) – and then implementation can take even longer – often because you are trying to solve lots of problems all in one go. In fact, in some cases the procurement and implementation can take so long that the original requirement has completely changed by the time that something is built. Or the delay has a real financial cost to the institution bigger than the investment (I once was involved in a project where all sides agreed savings in implementation meant the payback period for the investment was seven days – and yet it took 9 months to do the procurement)

    I’ve seen this happen for lots of different business systems* – business intelligence systems; Customer Relationship Management systems; learning management systems – across lots of different education organisations.

    So what can you do about it?

    • Stay focused on solving the business problem, rather than switching to buying a solution for it’s technical capabilities alone
      And I say that in the full knowledge that will make life difficult for us, as we often default to talking about technical capabilities too!
    • Don’t get carried away with solving everything in one go – because scope creep can really delay projects badly
    • Find a partner that shares a mindset about agile development, rather than the historical waterfall method
      ie rather than spending a year writing a specification, spend that year delivering the system, because these days it can be just as quick (or quicker) to configure a system and write the code, as writing a specification document on paper

    This is only my personal opinion, but it’s based on decades of watching educational ICT systems and procurement, and realising that projects that seem to grow in size during procurement, and then promise to solve all the existing and potential business problems at the end, never actually seem to deliver what people want or expect.

     

    * Let’s hope it’s just a coincidence that there’s a correlation between the existence of an acronym (BI, CRM, LMS) and the length of implementation.

  • Education

    Using Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker to create resources that all students can use

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    I heard on the radio yesterday that 12% of students in New South Wales have some form of special needs that requires support from the education system. Which means that in every classroom there;s likely to be three or four students that may need additional support and more accessible resources. Given the commitment by the education system to provide support for these students (here in New South Wales, accessibility is a key consideration with IT, and the policy is to ensure that specifications for the development of new IT systems to include access considerations), I thought I’d write a reminder that the Office applications have a built in Accessibility Checker – so that teachers can quickly check that documents they are publishing are accessible – and make simple changes to ensure that all of their students can access teaching resources, homework assignments etc

    Word 2010, Excel 2010, and PowerPoint 2010 all include the Accessibility Checker. By finding areas that might be challenging for users with disabilities to view or use, and by providing a task pane to review those areas, Accessibility Checker can help fix potential problems with content before it’s shared. (It’s in the File Menu, under ‘Info’)

    If Accessibility Checker finds an issue, the task pane identifies why the content might be inaccessible. It also classifies the identified issue as an error, a warning, or a tip.

    • imageError: Content that makes a file very difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to understand

    • Warning: Content that in most, but not all, cases makes a file difficult for people with disabilities to understand.

    • Tip: Content that people with disabilities can understand but that could be better organized or presented in a way that would maximize their experience.

    After each issues is selected, you then see instructions on how to repair or revise it.

    Learn MoreRead more about the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker.

    For more detail read the
    complete listing of the issues addressed by Accessibility Checker

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