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

June, 2012

  • Education

    Who’s office. Ours. In Austria


    Darn, I moved to the wrong country. How nice would it be to work in the Microsoft Austria office?

    Our office in Sydney is a very, very nice place to work – the open plan, activity based working layout setup is brilliant (It’s about what you do, not where you do it). But I will admit to a hint of envy when I saw the slideshow on the Innocad website, when I saw what they’d done at our Vienna offices. An open plan meeting area with a slide. Meeting rooms with personality.

    Microsoft Austria's slide in the office

    Click on the image below for a look around


    Probably a good time to mention that we’ve just been named Australia’s Best Employer 2012?

  • Education

    How to use keywords to recruit students


    Late last year, I ran some workshops for some Microsoft education partners, focusing on reaching more customers through blogging and other online engagement (for many, the reality is that their potential customers simply don’t know that they are there, and what services they offer).

    One of the areas that I spent quite a bit of time on was keywords – the words or phrases that you want to be discovered by when people search on Google and Bing - either in the search results, or in the adverts.  This is as important to student recruiters as it is to our Microsoft partners. And keywords used effectively can also be a great way of getting free advertising.

    Whilst there are some technical tips to getting this right, one of the most important aspects is to ensure that you are using the same language as your audience. For example, people don’t search on the internet for “books at no cost”, they search for “free books”. Once you start to think about people searching the internet, you can end up making much more findable content, because you can focus on the question “What would I put in the search box to find it?”.

    For example, the top six phrases that people type into Google and Bing, and then click through to this blog, are:

    1. Jobs of the future
    2. How to use OneNote on iPad
    3. Office 365 for education
    4. Using OneNote on iPad
    5. Best SharePoint sites
    6. Bring Your Own Device school

    They are all real phrases that real people would use, rather than dry technical terms that often normally appear on a technology blog.

    If you want to recruit students, it isn’t just about having the best student recruitment CRM system. It’s about having enough students coming in at the top of the marketing funnel too. I’ve noticed that in Australia, a lot of money is spent on billboard advertising for universities and TAFEs, but with a general squeeze on funding, I’m sure we’ll continue to see a move to online advertising.

    There’s a great article on .eduGuru about the four factors for a successful online advertising campaign, and factor one is all about keywords. It’s written by Mike Cready, a Web & Social Media Strategist at Lethbridge College, so it comes with good practical experience. Here’s his take on keywords:


    Ensuring you select keywords that target the right people looking for your products is critical.

    Blanketing all related keywords or “spraying & praying” is a poor practice that may generate many clicks and easily spend your ad budget, but will not yield conversions or leads. At one point we used an external consultant to develop our Google Ads campaigns.  They took the “spray & pray” approach with our keywords.  For example, one of our academic programs is heavy equipment technician. Some of the keywords they targeted were “heavy equipment rentals” and “heavy equipment sales.”  Shortly after, I removed all unrelated keywords and focused on keywords that included terms like “diploma”, “degree”, “certification”, “education”, etc. After revising all the keywords, we saw a 46% decrease in our  ad spend and a 5% increase in lead generations.


    He goes on to give you direct advice about how to choose the right keywords, target the right audience and, critically, make sure that the webpage your advert goes to is doing the right job.

    Learn MoreRead Mike's full article on .eduguru

  • Education

    Hear University of Canberra speaking about 'Automating the Annual Report' at the CALUMO user group


    Club CALUMO headerNext week there’s an open invitation from CALUMO to attend one of their Club CALUMO meetings, in either Sydney or Melbourne. The events are run like a user group, and for the last year they’ve thrown open the doors to non-users, giving people a chance to learn about how their Business Intelligence system is being used (and let’s face it, if you’re thinking about implementing a business intelligence project, there’s a huge value in being able to learn from other people’s experiences).

    CALUMO have built up quite a bit of experience of BI systems and projects within education, and have helped universities and TAFEs with things like student load planning, smoothing the budget planning process, and the production of annual reports and financial updates. At this month’s meeting they have a case study from Graham Hoy, from the University of Canberra, talking about the automation of their annual report processes (read more here), and also a demonstration of what the CALUMO team describe as the ‘hidden features’ in our Analysis Services system, and the latest version of the CALUMO software that sits on top of the Microsoft BI platform.

    Club CALUMO: Dates and venues

    Venue Date Time
    North Ryde
    19th June 2012 5:30 – 7:30pm
    South Bank
    21st June 2012 5:30 – 7:30pm

    When I went to my first Club CALUMO last year, I came away with some really interesting insights into the way that some of their customers were solving business problems using the CALUMO BI system, and especially about how they were simplifying the whole process for their end users – and some great stories to share with colleagues. CALUMO describe the event as being suitable for “CFOs, FCs, CIOs, BI Managers, IT Managers, Database Administrators, SSAS/SSRS/SSIS Power Users, Report developers, Project Managers and other managers interested in the latest approaches and developments across various applications and industries” – so you can be sure that whatever your level of knowledge, there’ll be content suitable. And it could contribute to any CPD/CPE hours for the year…

    As usual, the event is free, and the bonus is that they’ll be including the usual selection of beer and pizza Smile

    Learn MoreFind out more details, and register here

  • Education

    Dynamics CRM in Education–10 slides in 10 minutes


    I’ve just provided a brief 10 minute overview to our CRM partners about the use of CRM systems in Education within Australia. It isn’t a detailed presentation that’s intended to provide all the answers to everything – it’s more of a quick introduction into the use of CRM within Education institutions in Australia – including universities, TAFEs and schools.

    The reason for providing the briefing is that I’ve noticed that many of our CRM partners are starting to see increasing enquiries from education customers about the use of CRM systems, and a quick overview helps them to understand the context (for example, by understanding the way that student recruitment works at a high level, they can see how it is similar/different to commercial organisations – eg membership recruitment for private companies).

    Here’s a quick overview of the slides:

    (If you can’t see them above, or want to copy emailed, then use the Contact Me link at the top of the page)

  • Education

    Moving to Windows 8. My top tip


    Every few months, I seem to get a new computer to try out, and this year I’ve also got to try out a few versions of a new operating system. Which means that I’ve got used to switching all of my files between computers.

    Sometimes I’m installing a temporary computer (eg to give it a test run, or for a demonstration), but other times I’m switching my main computer. 

    imageToday, I’ve moved to a brand new computer, running on Windows 8. The process is pretty smooth – within Microsoft we have control over our own machines, so all I needed to do was set it up for a network boot, and hit F12 to install a new operating system from the network. And the data migration tools that are part of the Windows 8 upgrade make it pretty easy to move my data. Last time I upgraded my old computer, it migrated the data as it upgraded the operating system, whereas this time I’ve moved computer, so I’ve used Windows Easy Transfer to move the files from my old computer to my new one, via a removable hard disk. And Easy Transfer gives me a list of the applications that were installed on my old computer that aren’t installed on the new one.

    Although it makes the data migration painless, the one thing it doesn’t do is actually move applications between computers. And over time, I have learnt a trick to make moving between computers easier. This trick applies to self-managed computers, like your home computer or a BYOD PC.

    So my simple top tip is…

    Every time I have downloaded and installed a new application or add-in in the past, I saved the install file in my Downloads folder (in a specific ‘Installed Software’ directory). And then when I move machines, Easy Transfer automatically copies over the folder, and I just run the install files again on my new computer. Which means that it takes me about half an hour to re-install all my apps, and I don’t miss anything, nor do I need to go hunting on the Internet to find the apps.

    This isn’t rocket surgery, just a tip that’s saved me hours, and something I shared with a colleague who said “You could write a blog about that…” Smile

  • Education

    Windows 8 "Finishing School" in Melbourne


    Windows 8 logo 

    Nick Hodge is one of our resident Windows 8 developer evangelists (ie he loves Windows 8 and loves talking to developers about it). And his latest venture is the Windows 8 “Finishing School”, to help app developers as they prepare for Windows 8.

    Windows 8 is now in Release Preview, with a Store ready for Australian developers to publish their apps to the world. This event will assist you in taking your App idea or code and make it ready for App submission.

    The event will be run in an informal consultative style, on two separate days. You can pop along on either day. We will provide hands on assistance and guidance to move your Windows 8 App go to the next level. Come in at any time during Friday 22nd or Saturday 23rd June in Melbourne.

    If you’re an app developer, hop over to Nick’s blog for more info.

  • Education

    Windows 8 Briefing for Education Partners


    Microsoft EBC SydneyOn the 7th and 8th June we are hosting a limited number of briefings in Sydney on Windows 8 for our key Australian Microsoft Education partners. Hopefully you have already had the chance to use Windows 8, or see some of the videos of Windows 8.

    Built on the solid foundation of Windows 7, Windows 8 helps businesses unleash the full power of their people while meeting modern users’ expectations of technology. With seamless connections to people and information, full-screen immersive applications, and built-in malware resistance, strong authentication, and data encryption, Windows 8 provides a great user experience along with a more secure and manageable platform.  In this session we'll look at the specific investments we are making with Windows 8:  devices and experiences users love; new possibilities in mobile productivity; enhanced end-to-end security and virtualisation advancement.

    The briefings will provide an insight into some of these areas, and will help to provide you with unique insight for use in your customer conversations. And the small group size – a maximum of 12-15 people – will mean that you will have the opportunity to ask your own questions.

    I wanted to offer you an opportunity to book a place to attend one of these briefings at our Sydney Executive Briefing Centre in North Ryde, on either the 7th or 8th June. If you’d like to attend one of these sessions, please use the link below to book your place.

    Thursday, 7 June

    Session 1 - 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

    Session 2 - 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM

    Friday, 8 June

    Session 2 - 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM

    This invitation is specifically for Microsoft Education Partners in Australia*. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

    * If you don’t qualify, don’t worry – you’ll be hearing lots more about Windows 8 soon, or you could download and try out the new Release Preview of Windows 8 for yourself Smile

  • Education

    Headline writers versus reality


    The media sometimes seem to use education as a point-scoring football eg in my first 9 months in Australia, I noticed that much of the media focus on education focused on a narrow debate about school funding. (In fact, if I was an alien landing in Australia from deep space, the media and political debate might convince me that the purpose of the education system was somehow connected to moving money around, not delivering teaching and learning Smile)

    This week I’ve seen a cracking example of bad focus in the headline writing in tech sites in the US. It comes from a long interview with Bill Gates by the Chronicle of Higher Education. As you may know, Bill Gates now spends almost his entire time on the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which focuses on global development and health, and has a US programme focused on education and libraries. It is because of the work in the US on education that his interview with the Chronicle is set. And there’s a long article, with a complete transcript of the conversation and short video clips, on their website. The focus was on the future of higher education.

    When The Verge reported it, they ran with the headline “Bill Gates: tablets in the classroom have a ‘terrible track record’ ”. Which surprised me hugely, as I had always believed Bill Gates has been a fan of tablet devices in education for years and years. So I went back to the transcript, and found what he had said was:

      Just giving people devices, that has a really terrible track record. You really have to change the curriculum and the teacher and those things…  

    Now, that’s a sentiment I completely get behind. I absolutely and positively believe that simply dropping technology into education or business, or anywhere else, doesn’t change anything. You have to provide the support for effective change management. He wasn’t saying 'tablets have a terrible track record', what I think he was saying was 'dropping technology into the classroom without pedagogical and change management support has a terrible track record'. And I can think of tens of examples of that horrible track record over the last decade (and even before that, I think perhaps the first example was the scheme of dropping Prestel into schools, which became known as the 'modems in cupboards' scheme in the late 80's). So they've created a misleading headline.

    I absolutely believe that without change management, Business + Technology = More Expensive Business.

    Whereas with effective change management you get a more efficient and effective business. And I believe the same is true in education. Simply adding more technology, without effective pedagogical support and change management, can simply result in more cost. But support change effectively, and you can make a huge difference to teaching and learning.

    Learn MoreRead the full interview 'A Conversation With Bill Gates About the Future of Higher Education' on The Chronicle

  • Education

    Deadline for Microsoft Australian Partner Awards extended by a day


    Already entered? Then, this is for you:

    Look, I know it’s a holiday weekend for most of you. And you’ve got better things to be doing (like getting home to see your family). But if there’s one thing to do before you log off tonight, you should hit ‘Submit’ on your APC Award entry. I’ve just looked at the report, and one third of the entries for Education Partner of the Year are sitting at ‘Draft’ rather than ‘Submitted Status’. Don’t forget to hit submit. Thanks. Have a great weekend.

    Not yet entered? Then this is for you:

    C’mon, you’ve now got an extra day to enter to win Australian Education Partner of the Year. The deadline’s extended to end of the day on Tuesday 12th (so, if you’re in NSW/QLD/VIC/TAS/NT etc, no, you don’t have to spend the Queen’s Birthday typing your entry. And if you're in WA, you've got an extra working day to polish your entry). And just imagine how good you’ll feel if you’re hopping up on the stage with hundreds of other Microsoft partners applauding you on. Find out how to enter here, and don’t forget to read my hints and tips to creating a winning APC Awards entry.

    Have a good weekend…and look forward to seeing you at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on 4 September.

  • Education

    Learning from classroom innovations


    Richard Ryan, Ray Fleming, and the Other RayMy colleague Richard Ryan (in the pic, he’s the one on the left of me and the Other Ray) is responsible for extending the Australian Partners in Learning programme – which is all about creating an Australian community as part of a global network of teachers sharing good practice and innovative ideas. The Partners In Learning programme now covers 114 countries, and since it was started here in 2004 it’s trained over 250,000 teachers, students and leaders across Australia since then. Jane Mackarell runs the programme in Australia, and she’s given Richard the task of finding ways to share more of the work of the programme with teachers across more schools (up to now much of the development work has focused on working very deeply with a smaller number of government schools in each state).

    Richard’s also started blog writing for teachers and school leaders, and so far he’s notched up a weekly blog post for the last three months. So if you’re looking for some interesting classroom-centric ideas, then can I recommend that you follow Richard’s writing over on his Innovative Education blog.

    For an idea of the types of content, his top 5 blog posts so far have been:

    Learn MoreRead the Innovative Education blog

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