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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

    Three steps to create talking books for students with Word

    • 4 Comments

    To improve accessibility for students, did you know that you can create talking books for students with visual and learning disabilities, using Microsoft Word? The system using a worldwide standard for creating accessible digital resources, called DAISY (the Digital Accessible Information System). And there are just three steps for you or teachers to easily create a talking book in DAISY format:

    Step One: Download the DAISY add-in for Microsoft Word

    Download and install the Save as DAISY add-in from Open XML to DAISY XML Translator (also known as DAISY Translator). The DAISY Translator folder is now in your Start menu, with the Instruction Manual and the Getting Started tutorial, and the Accessibility tab is on your Word 2010 ribbon. (Tutorial video on Step One is here)

    Step Two: Create a digital talking textbook

    imageAfter you have installed the DAISY Translator, you see a SaveAsDAISY option on the Accessibility tab in Word 2010. All you need to do is click on the option, and choose from one of the four DAISY formats. (Tutorial video on Step Two is here)

    Step Three: Listen to your new talking book

    To listen to a DAISY file, you need a DAISY-compatible software playback tool or software reader installed on your computer. You can find several tools, many of which are free, on the DAISY Consortium software playback tools website. (Step Three tutorial video here)

    Learn MoreSee the other blog posts about Accessibility in education

  • Education

    Do you really need a Learning Management System?

    • 3 Comments

    I was reading a blog post from Jonathan Rees earlier – a Professor of History at Colorado State University – where he discusses briefly the usage of the Learning Management System (LMS) (‘An uncharacteristically subtle post for me’). It was accompanied by a chart showing the use of different components of their Learning Management System (I suspect this could be many LMSs, in many, many other institutions).

    LMS Usage

    The point I inferred from his blog post is that, most of the time, the data show that users are using their Learning Management System to do things that are basic features (like document sharing) and these are the things you don’t really need an LMS for, because you could achieve it on almost any web platform.

    So if your staff are using a Learning Management System as a place to share documents, make announcements, and publish student marks, would you actually be better off just using the standard platform your institution probably has in place already and linked to your existing IT systems and identity system (like SharePoint or Office 365), rather than having a completely separate IT system dedicated to it?

    Is this pattern created by a procurement mindset of “Let’s list all of the things we could possibly do, and they buy the thing that meets all of those needs”? The risk is that the focus becomes the delivery of the features, and not the use of them.

    In the example above, if only 1% of your users actually use wikis within their course, does that justify the need for everybody to have it?

    I believe that in the future we’re going to see people choosing systems that give them the core functionality as a platform to build on, and then adding the parts they need for specific groups of users; not specifying an all-singing, all-dancing system from day one which has absolutely everything you need built from the ground up before any users have started using the system and experimenting. We’re going to see the shift to more agile systems, and more agile developments to support the way that users use their enterprise-wide systems.

    So, does that mean you don’t need an LMS? And if not, what do you need?

  • Education

    Windows 8 in education–which version of Windows 8 will you use?

    • 2 Comments

    In the last couple of days, the Windows team have published more details about Windows 8, and what’s in which version. I’d encourage you to read the full blog posts for the detail (Announcing the Windows 8 Editions and Introducing Windows 8 Enterprise and Enhanced Software Assurance for Today’s Modern Workforce), but thought I’d provide my take on it in a short summary from a “Windows 8 in education” perspective.

    There are four versions of Windows 8:

    • Windows 8
      The entry-level version that’s likely to be the version you find on a standard Intel-based PC, laptop or Slate bought from a store
    • Windows 8 Professional
      The standard business version of Windows 8, and likely to be the version you buy from B2B suppliers
    • Windows 8 Enterprise
      The version that’s (normally) included as an upgrade within a Microsoft academic subscription (eg an EES/Campus/School agreement)
    • Windows RT
      The version that will be pre-installed by the manufacturers of ARM-based slates

    So the reality is that most education customers in Australia will have the rights to use the Windows 8 Enterprise edition in education, because they’ve licensed their computers through our academic subscription licences (I believe this is the case for most universities, TAFEs, government schools, many Catholic schools and many of the independent schools).

    So what’s in which version of Windows 8?

    There is a extensive table on the Announcing the Windows 8 Editions blog post, but I’ve narrowed that down to the feature differences that I think are important to education customers, plus I’ve added in a column for the Enterprise version:

     

    Features

    Windows 8

    Windows 8 Pro

    Windows 8 Enterprise

    Windows RT

    Start Screen, Semantic Zoom, Live Tiles

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Windows Store

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Microsoft Office pre-installed

     

     

     

    Yes

    Internet Explorer 10

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Microsoft Account
    Optional linked cloud login, provides link to Microsoft cloud services (eg SkyDrive) and cross-device synchronisation

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Install desktop software (x86/64)

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

                      

    Install Metro software

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Windows Defender
    Anti-malware protection

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    File History
    Allows you to automatically keep older copies of files as you update them

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Picture Password
    Login by drawing a pattern on an image, rather than typing a password. I initially thought this was great for younger students, but am actually loving it for myself too!

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Remote Desktop (client)

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Remote Desktop (host)

     

    Yes

    Yes

    VPN Client

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    BitLocker and BitLocker to Go
    Hard disk and removable storage encryption

    Yes

    Yes

    Client Hyper-V
    For virtualisation

    Yes

    Yes

    Domain Join

    Yes

    Yes

    Group Policy management

             

     

    Yes

    Yes

    Windows To Go
    A fully manageable corporate Windows 8 desktop on a bootable external USB stick. This could allow support for “Bring Your Own PC” and give access to the your IT environment for users’ own devices without compromising security

    Yes

    DirectAccess
    Provide secure remote access without needing a separate VPN

    Yes

    AppLocker
    Create lists of approved & banned apps which can be installed and/or run

    Yes

    VDI enhancements
    Enhancements in Microsoft RemoteFX and Windows Server 2012, provide users with a rich desktop experience with the ability to play 3D graphics, use USB peripherals and use touch-enabled devices across any type of network (LAN or WAN) for VDI scenarios.

       

    Yes

    Windows 8 App Deployment
    Domain joined PCs and tablets running Windows 8 Enterprise will automatically be enabled to side-load internal, Windows 8 Metro style apps.

       

    Yes

    Please bear in mind that this is my personal summary of the published info, as I think it applies to a typical education customer. I don’t have any special inside knowledge, so there’s a danger I’ve misinterpreted something too! If you spot any errors or manglements (no, not a real word), add a comment to this blog post and I’ll respond

    Learn More about Windows 8For the full story, you should read these two blog posts from the Windows team:

  • Education

    Academic Award Certificates for Word and PowerPoint

    • 1 Comments

    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

    The 6 weirdest blog search queries

    • 1 Comments

    Every now and again, people end up on this blog because it shows up in a Bing/Google/Yahoo search. Sometimes it’s about things you’d expect (it’s great that it appears as the number 2 result for ‘SharePoint school websites’ or number 1 for ‘accessibility of SharePoint’).

    But sometimes the search terms that people use amaze me.

    So here, for nothing more than entertainment, are the top 6 weirdest search engine queries that led people to this blog online:

    1. Can I make my email replies look like I’m out of office when I’m not? (got them to this page)
      What? You want to make it look like you’re not in the office. Surely somebody can just walk by your desk and spot the trick?
      • How to make beautiful school (got them to this page)
        At least I understand why you’d ask this. And fortunately, the page they get will show them to pretty up their website! Oh, and go me, I’m the first result in Google for that search Smile
        • I’m out of the office (got them to this page too)
          Why would anybody type that into a search engine? Maybe a journey of self-discovery
          • How to win a ward (got them to this page)
            Please tell me they weren’t trying to win a new hospital wing
            • Do I need a job title? (got them to this page)
              I cannot imagine any reason to type that into a search engine
              • Describe how using Microsoft technologies in your solution helped you win against the competition(got them to this page )
                This is just like copying your homework from somebody else. It was one of the questions on the form to enter for Microsoft Education Partner of the Year, and obviously somebody was looking for some help!

              Anybody other bloggers have any experience of this and want to share your examples?

            • Education

              Less than two years to go before Windows XP is unsupported

              • 1 Comments
              Windows XP logoThere’s still a sizeable proportion of computers in schools, TAFEs and universities that are running Windows XP. Whilst I know that some staff will like this (after all, they have a reputation for resisting change), it does mean that students are probably getting the worst deal.

              97% of students have their own PC at home - and the overwhelming majority will be running Windows 7 on it.

              And then they come into the classroom. And they are expected to use a computer running Windows XP - an operating system that was launched in 2001. And that doesn’t do any of the cool, media savvy things that they can do on their home computer.

              What’s my point?

              Students are used to living, working, collaborating and communicating in a digital age. And if we want them to be engaged in the classroom, then perhaps asking them to turn their clocks back ten years when they switch on a computer isn’t fair, and isn’t going to engage them.

              So, to put it into perspective, here’s ten things that your students have never lived without - and which didn’t even exist when we launched Windows XP…

              Ten things that didn’t exist when Windows XP was launched in over 11 years ago

              1. The iPod (came along in November 2001)
              2. Xbox (also November 2001)
              3. iTunes for Windows (that didn’t arrive until April 2003, nearly two years after the iPod)
              4. 3G phones (didn’t arrive in Australia until April 2003 either)
              5. LinkedIn (that wasn’t invented until May 2003)
              6. Skype (August 2003)
              7. Facebook (that arrived in February of 2004)
              8. Xbox 360 (ie the connected one. That arrived in May 2005)
              9. Video chat as part of MSN Messenger (came along in August 2005)
              10. Video chat in Skype (even later, January 2006)

              So if you’re still running any Windows XP in your network, and your users are using them, then not only are you leaving them living in the last decade, you’ve also got the added risk on the horizon of running an unsupported operating system (see info here on end of support for Windows XP, due April 2014)

              Please make sure you’ve got a plan to fix that…

            • Education

              Microsoft and the Cloud – what it means for education

              • 0 Comments

              There’s recently been a lot of discussion within education about different models of ICT services. Individual universities have tended to use a mix of services provided on-premise and cloud-based services . And newer models of teaching and learning have accelerated the trend towards cloud-based services – and at the very least, services which absolutely rely on a 100% reliable Internet connection. And this hybrid model, relying on both on-premise and cloud-based ICT infrastructure, looks like it is going to become more common across education.

              But this doesn’t just affect education – the integration of on-premise and cloud-based services is a hot topic for all IT Directors across business and the public sector, from small local businesses to global enterprises, and for all levels of government agencies and departments.

              How do all of the dots join up in this new IT services picture? Well, thinking about it has prompted me to write a summary of what’s going on with cloud-based services at Microsoft, to fill in some of the picture from an education viewpoint.

              Microsoft Online Services and Education

              imageWe’ve made a public big shift in our emphasis towards cloud-based services; but behind the scenes there have been very big changes going on for years to get ready for the day that cloud takes off right across the world.

              I’m going to use ‘Cloud’ to represent all of the Internet services that users and institutions might be using. It might be a mix of desktop and web-based software, or an entirely web-based service. Either way, it’s something that involves a web-service as part of the IT delivery.

              image

              So here’s my summary of the cloud-based services that Microsoft do that may be directly relevant to education, and the essential differences.

              The first two services, Live@edu and Office 365 for education are education-specific, and not available outside of education. The other services are designed for a wide range of business and public sector customers, so you’ll see some overlap between the different services. Although that can feel like duplication, it also means that you’re able to select your online services rather like an a la carte menu – choosing the combination of options to match your exact needs.


              imageLive@edu

              Live@edu is a free hosted service, designed specifically for education, which allows you to outsource some of your IT infrastructure to the cloud. The starting point for many is email, where you keep your existing email domain (institution.ac.uk) and point it over to our email servers – and we then run an Exchange 2010 mail service from our data centres for you, with each student getting a 10GB email inbox. As part of the service, each student gets their own Windows Live ID, which also means that they can use the hosted SkyDrive service too – with 7GB of personal file storage hosted on the web for each student.

              How do you buy it?

              As it’s free, you can simply sign up directly at the Live@edu site

              Where to find out more

              Visit the worldwide Live@edu website


              Office 365 for education logoOffice 365 for education

              Office 365 for education, which will be available from the (northern hemisphere) summer is a hosted service, designed specifically for education, which allows you to outsource a large set of your IT infrastructure to the cloud. The starting point for many, like Live@edu, is email and calendars, but the key additional functionality in Office 365 is the whole productivity suite offered by Office 365 online – SharePoint, Lync, Office Web Apps etc. So you could use Office 365 for education for something as complex (and money saving) as replacing your existing telephone system!

              How do you buy it?

              You have to wait until it’s available shortly, and until then I’d suggest you have a chat with your Microsoft account manager.

              Where to find out more

              Read more about pricing, and then jump over to worldwide Office 365 for education website


              imageWindows Azure

              Windows Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing operating system. This is essentially a set of services that developers, software vendors and systems integrators can use to develop applications and new business models. We host the servers in the cloud, running cloud versions of the same platforms that would normally run in-house – things like web servers or highly-available SQL servers. The developers use exactly the same tools as today to develop their applications (eg Visual Studio) on their own desktop/in-house machines, and then they can choose to deploy locally or onto Windows Azure in the cloud.

              Because our job is to run an agile, efficient, secure and trustworthy central service through our worldwide datacentres, it means that the developers don’t need to worry about building and managing virtual machines, patching operating systems, and designing their own redundancy system. That’s the Azure team’s job.

              The Windows Azure Platform also allows you to integrate your on-premise and cloud infrastructure.

              How do you buy it?

              It is based on a pay-as-you-go subscription, calculated on the volume of data/workload that’s used. In a sense it is very similar to a normal utility, like gas and electricity – you use as much as you want, and pay for what you use. And just like the electricity company, it’s our job to make sure the capacity is there when you want to use it. It also allows you to convert capital expenditure into resource expenditure – because you aren’t buying big fixed capital infrastructure – just simply renting the capacity you need, when you need it.

              Where to find out more

              http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/


              image

              Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

              This is a cloud-based customer relationship management service that can be accessed through Outlook or an Internet browser, and has rich integration with Office applications – Word, Excel and Communicator. It’s a comprehensive service which includes marketing automation, sales force automation, and customer service and support capabilities, as well as integrated workflow and business intelligence. In education, this is most likely to be valuable to independent schools, colleges and universities.

              The beauty of this cloud service is that you can start a deployment in a small way, without having to build your own infrastructure, and then grow it as you need to. The cloud system is built on the same code as the on-premise system, so you can move between deployment options in the future.

              How do you buy it?

              It’s so easy that you can simply sign up for a subscription, using a credit card. But the majority of education customers will choose to work with a Microsoft partner here in Australia to get the system setup and configured for your needs – and there are already a bunch of partners who offer education products (eg student recruitment systems) based on Dynamics CRM.

              Where to find out more

              http://www.microsoft.com/online/dynamics-crm-online.mspx

              And yes, there’s a free trial (available on the link above)


              image

              Microsoft Private Cloud Infrastructure

              This is a set of resources, products, and management tools that allows you to run your own private cloud (or contract another organisation to do it for you), using the best practice techniques that we have developed for our cloud infrastructure. It enables you to dynamically pool, allocate, and manage resources to deliver flexible/agile Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Capabilities like self-service portals let your end-users rapidly consume IT services by self-provisioning (and decommissioning) infrastructure on a shared server fabric, virtualised by Windows Server Hyper-V and managed by System Center. Departments are thus able to deploy their applications with a lot more speed and agility. This allows your own IT team to focus their time on solving business problems rather than worrying about keeping the basic infrastructure running. It provides a less complex, more agile and more efficient infrastructure, in-house. And there’s also a hybrid model, where you contract a service hoster to provider a ‘virtual private cloud’, perhaps as a top-up to your in-house infrastructure.

              How do you buy it?

              Well, because it is based on a set of best practice advice, you’ll find that the key components are being built into the products you already have – like Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V – and the Systems Management Server products. And in addition, we’re releasing free toolkits – like the Dynamic Infrastructure Toolkit for System Center and the Dynamic Data Centre Toolkit for Hosters.

              Where to find out more

              http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/private-cloud/default.aspx


              image

              Office Web Apps

              The Office Web Apps are online companions for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Office Web Apps provide quick viewing of Office documents and basic editing capabilities. There are three methods of accessing Office Web Apps.

              • Individuals (eg your students off campus) can use the Web Apps in Windows Live, and the files are stored online in their webspace on their SkyDrive.
              • For institutional use, they can be hosted on premise on your SharePoint 2010 or they can be hosted with Microsoft Online. In this mode, files are stored within your infrastructure. It is mainly intended as a companion to the full Office suite, but available over the web when you don’t have Office installed, or when it speeds up sharing and collaboration.
              • Office Web Apps is included within the Live@edu and the Office 365 for education services (see above)
              How do you buy it?

              Individuals can access it on Windows Live using their Windows Live ID. For institutional use, every licence for Office 2010 under a volume licence scheme (such as a Select licence) includes an additional licence for Office Web Apps.

              Where to find out more

              http://www.microsoft.com/office/2010/en/office-web-apps/default.aspx


              imageForefront Online Protection for Exchange

              This is a fully hosted service for managing the inbound and outbound flow of e-mail, through e-mail gateways with multiple filters that provide organizations with a defence against e-mail-borne malware, including spam, viruses, phishing scams, and e-mail policy violations. In addition, the service has a Web-based administrative console for writing rules to help enforce your organisation policies governing e-mail usage (eg limiting which domains users can send/receive email from etc)

              How do you buy it?

              You would normally buy it through your existing volume licence agreement, on a per-user or per-device basis.

              Where to find out more

              http://www.microsoft.com/online/exchange-hosted-services/filtering.mspx


              imageWindows InTune

              This is a cloud service for managing Windows PCs over the web. It allows you to use a single web-based console, with tools for updates, malware protection, troubleshooting, remote assistance, security policy configuration and desktop virtualisation. The aim is to simplify PC management and improve the end-user experience. 

              It is ideal for smaller networks, such as managing a primary school network, or a remote network in a university which isn’t fully managed through your existing IT infrastructure.

              How do you buy it?

              You will pay per-device, per-month, and it can be purchased individually, or as part of your existing volume licence agreement.

              Where to find out more

              www.windowsintune.com

            • Education

              How would you make a job advert for a teacher attractive? They’ve done it for school bus drivers

              • 0 Comments

              I’ve written before about the impending teacher shortage in Australia (more about the Australian Teacher shortage here and here). And then I saw this set of adverts, from the side of Southland School Buses in Canada, and marvelled at the way they’ve made being a school bus driver sound attractive:

              image

              So here’s a job that’s important to schools, and they are obviously having difficulty finding employees. Exactly the same challenge that will apply to teacher recruitment in the future. And the pay’s not great either (here in Australia, working at a supermarket checkout pays more than $16.25 an hour).

              How to recruit teachers effectively?

              It got me thinking – if you had to break the mould on teacher recruitment, and actually make the job attractive, what would you say? As opposed to the current model, which is to advertise a list of jobs and the capacities you want in an applicant, and do very little to sell the job to motivate people to apply (and from some terrible stories I’ve read, sometimes do little to motivate people once they’ve applied).

              Here’s a weekend challenge: What could you say about a teacher’s job to motivate somebody to apply?

              All ideas into the comments box below…. (you may need to click on the story headline above to get the page with the comments box)

              Need inspiration? Take a look at the Southland video adverts for school bus drivers on YouTube

            • Education

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

              • 0 Comments

              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

              Microsoft Education Publisher Briefing–Singapore 15/16 May

              • 0 Comments

              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)

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