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

November, 2012

  • Education

    How to get a Flash website working smoothly on Windows 8 and Windows RT


    This blog post is for developers, designers, and content publishers who have created websites that use Flash Player, and want to know what the right steps to take are to get those sites running smoothly on Windows 8 devices. This is pretty important in education, where there have historically been lots of websites using Flash, that either don't work, or work poorly, on a wide range of mobile devices. And turning them into a more standards-based web format, such as HTML5, isn't an overnight job!

    However, with Windows 8 starting to appear in classrooms and homes, in the hands of students, there are some things that you can do to improve your users' experience.

    Here's an introduction to the background, and links to more detailed articles:

    Supporting Flash in Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8

    IE logoInternet Explorer 10 is one web platform that provides two browsing experiences: the new Windows Internet Explorer in the new Windows 8 interface which is optimised for touch, and the traditional browsing experience of Internet Explorer for the desktop. As a Windows Store app, Internet Explorer 10 runs without plug-ins so that you have a clean, fast, and secure web browsing experience, though it does provide a native Flash player with support to play Flash content for sites listed in the Flash section of the Compatibility View (CV) list.

    By designing a web experience that doesn't require plug-ins for the browsers, users will benefit from better performance, longer battery life, as well as increased security, privacy and reliability. All of which are critically important to educational customers. Typically plug-ins are used for delivering video and graphics (Flash, QuickTime, Silverlight, Java applets) as well as offline storage an communication (Flash, Java applets, Google Gears). For all of these uses, there are equivalent web technologies that comply with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards, in HTML5 video, audio and graphics; web storage, file and application APIs; and HTML5 Web Messaging standards.

    For developers, the benefit of developing web sites that don't need plug-ins is that using the W3C standards increases interoperability across browsers and devices, and increases forward-compatibility. Standards-based technologies, specified by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), like the ones comprising HTML5 offer similar capabilities to various plug-ins. These technologies have strong support across modern web browsers, making it possible for web developers to write the same markup and script that works across all modern browsers, without writing or maintaining any additional code that has third-party framework and runtime dependencies. (For more on this, read "Get ready for plug-in free browsing")

    On Windows 8, both modes of Internet Explorer 10 use the same integrated Flash Player, removing the need to download or install an additional player. Internet Explorer 10 for the desktop provides the same full Flash support as previous versions of Windows Internet Explorer that relied on the Flash Player plug-in from Adobe, and continues to support other third party plug-ins.

    What developers and publishers need to know to get Flash websites working with Windows 8

    There's a detailed article on MSDN, "Developer guidance for websites with content for Adobe Flash Player in Windows 8", which provides guidance and guidelines from Adobe and Microsoft for designers, developers, and content publishers. It provides some really simple tips that will allow you to ensure that your website always open in the desktop version of IE10. This means that as soon as a user opens the site, it will give them a prompt to open it in Internet Explorer on the desktop.

    It also describes the Compatibility View (CV) list to enable content for Flash Player to execute inside the Internet Explorer 10 browser, and the process for developers to submit sites to be considered for the CV list. The aim of this is to make sure that sites work well in this mode – for example, that they'll support a use of touch on a tablet device, and not requiring users to do things such as a mouse double-click.

    The article also provides advice to enable developers to test sites that require Flash Player in Internet Explorer 10 before they submit it to the CV list.

    Learn MoreRead more:
    Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 – the similarities and differences
    Get ready for plug-in free browsing
    Developer guidance for websites with content for Adobe Flash Player in Windows 8

  • Education

    The biggest factor affecting student retention happens before the student arrives


    I've been in a lot of discussions about CRM for student recruitment and student retention systems in the last month, and today I'm spending the day in a planning workshop, so I thought I'd share a controversial thought bouncing around my brain about higher education student attrition:

    There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the biggest factor impacting student attrition is their preparation for university before they arrive. And if we were to ‘game’ student retention improvement, the most effective mechanism would be to alter the intake of students. But is that fair to do? Or, are we already doing it?

    One factor that impacts student retention is prior academic achievement. It appears that students with lower academic scores on entry are more likely to drop out, although that be covering up other factors such as parental engagement, preparation for the style of learning in universities.

    According to Steve Draper, from the University of Glasgow:

    “If a student’s parents both went to university, preferably the same university; if their school assumed they would go and pre-trained them e.g. to take notes, use the library, to write essays exhibiting critical thinking, etc., then this may make that student more likely to succeed. Furthermore there are associations, almost certainly causal, between wealth and family support on the one hand, and retention on the other. More accurately, different families demonstrate different amounts of commitment to keeping a student in education. Previous academic achievement is a measure of this because it measures their demonstrated commitment to date, and so selecting for achievement is also likely to select for continued support, and against students who may have to leave to support their families which is a common cause of dropout.”

    We already select students on their academic ability. Is it also okay to select student intake, based on their preparation for university (some already do)? And if so, do you draw the line at selecting according to the parent’s university history? Especially if you know that’s a real factor that drives student retention and attrition.

    Find MoreFind related articles on CRM in education, for student recruitment and retention

  • Education

    Making student recruitment and retention systems more user-friendly


    As we move towards a more consumer-centric world of IT in education – for example, as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) models are sprouting right across Higher Education, TAFE and schools – there's pressure too on the big enterprise systems that users are forced to use (finance, CRM, management reporting) to become more consumer-friendly. For example, there are two very different approaches to things like online procurement platforms:

    • Corporate online procurement systems tend to be complex, require end user training and complex support help desks and top-up training
    • Consumer online procurement systems (aka online shopping) then to be simple to use, require no training and if they are not intuitive, they fail (sometimes, along with the business that built them)

    With the same mindset impacting corporate IT systems, then we're going to see a shift in systems and interfaces. If employees are walking around with a web-connected tablet, how do we help them do their job on that?

    One of the areas where this is a definite opportunity is in the area of student recruitment and student retention in universities and TAFEs. I'm involved in lots of projects where the Dynamics CRM system is being used to support student recruitment and reduce student attrition, and what's clear is that there are two types of users of a system:

    • People who spend most of their time in student recruitment activities, and use their CRM or other system on a daily basis
    • People who's role involves student recruitment, but only occasionally have to record activities or look up information in the main system

    One of the things I've noticed is that the people who occasionally use the system tend to have workarounds to avoid actually using the system – for example, they keep information offline in a spreadsheet, on paper or in their heads. Whilst it might work for them, it means that there's no visibility of progress and activities to others.

    So how do you encourage more people to actually use your CRM system as the core place to record information and activities on student recruitment, or student attrition activities? Part of the answer has to be to make it easier for your users to use the system, so they don't feel the need for extensive training, or experience disorientation if they are only using it a few times a week/month/year.

    We've just announced a new release of Dynamics CRM, called Polaris, which is designed to improve the experiences of every day, and occasional users, by:

    • focusing on streamlining processes for users
    • improving the experiences for specific users across browsers, mobile devices
    • improve the integration with Microsoft SharePoint and Lync, as well as Skype and Yammer

    There's plenty more detail on Polaris over on the Dynamics website, but the best way I've seen the journey described is the video below, which demonstrates the vision that the Dynamics team are working towards, and shows what the future interface for Dynamics CRM might look like:

    If your users across the campus had this kind of intuitive, and simple, application, would it make it easier to encourage them to use your CRM system holistically, rather than having separate silos of information on paper, cards, spreadsheets and hand-built systems?

    Learn MoreRead more about the long-term vision for Dynamics CRM (PDF)

    Read more about the features of the Polaris release in the Release Preview Guide (PDF)

  • Education

    SAP announces Windows 8 app plans


    This caught my eye because there are so many SAP users in Australian education institutions, across schools, TAFE and higher education. Many education organisations are using SAP for their financial and HR systems, and a challenge for these conventional ERP systems is to make them more user-friendly – especially as so many employees are using self-service systems for every day tasks.

    As an ex-SAP user, anything which helps users get at their data and workflows in SAP more easily is a great thing, and this announcement of SAP Windows 8 apps, featuring the clean, modern, touch interface is a really good sign of support by vendors of enterprise-grade systems for Windows 8:

      SAP today announced plans to deliver six new SAP mobile apps for Windows 8, bringing new innovations for SAP customers. SAP also announced forthcoming support for Windows 8 development on the leading SAP Mobile Platform, as well as security enhancements to the SAP Afaria mobile device management solution. Through these apps, platform support and security enhancements, SAP plans to extend business processes to Windows 8 to accelerate a business’ ability to run better with devices of various form factors.  

    They announced plans for six business apps for SAP running on Windows 8, for use on different types of Windows 8 devices, focused on key functions such as training, HR recruiting and sales. These mobile apps include SAP WorkDeck, which will be developed first for Windows 8. It's a new app described by SAP as being:

      A new persona-centric app that offers contextual integration of various information sources and processes into a role-based view. SAP WorkDeck allows employees to initiate new requests, oversee upcoming events and monitor the progress, as well as enables managers to react and process workflows on-the-go, such as travel, leave and purchasing requests.  

    In addition, they are going to be producing five more SAP Windows 8 apps:

    • SAP Manager Insight: an employee profile app that provides managers with access to key indicators, such as diversity, headcount, employee talent by location, as well as employee profiles, to drive collaborative and informed human resources (HR) decision-making.
    • SAP Learning Assistant: a training app that gives on-the-go workers tag-along teachers. It makes on-demand, online training available anytime, anywhere so workers can access required classes to address compliance and job requirements.
    • SAP Interview Assistant: a recruiting app that eases the cumbersome task of arranging interviews. It also helps managers review candidate information, prepare notes, record results, and provide immediate feedback to HR.
    • SAP Customer Financial Fact Sheet: a customer profile app for account executives to access financial data, invoices and critical sales orders in real time.
    • SAP GRC Policy Survey: a policy app for employees to review and acknowledge relevant policy changes and fill in surveys to ensure they understand the policies.

    SAP Manager Insight screenshotAccording to SAP these apps aim to take advantage of the touch capability and features of the new Windows user interface, such as zoom, tiles and Snap mode, enabling users to easily interact with SAP data. Sebastian Kramer shared this screenshot (right) of the SAP Manager Insight demo on Instagram, which gives a good idea of how different the apps looks from previous SAP screens.

    All mobile SAP apps for Windows 8 are planned to include a trial mode to allow customers to be able to download the apps from the Windows Store and evaluate them before purchasing.

    And there's also work happening on the SAP Mobile Platform, to support creation and deployment of mobile apps for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. SAP intends to enable the large community of Microsoft developers to quickly create apps (HTML5 and JavaScript) using Visual Studio, as well as enable developers to access SAP Mobile Platform services for enhanced security and authentication, user/device/app provisioning and push notification to help ensure a consistent user experience across devices of different form factors on a single platform.

    Hopefully the vision will make it easier for employees to be able to create expense claims, sign off approvals, get training etc, whilst they are away from their corporate systems and corporate network.

    Learn MoreRead SAPs press release about Windows 8 apps

  • Education

    Update: Microsoft Education roadshow in Sydney on 23 November, then Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth



    A reminder of our roadshow – which kicks off in Sydney in a week's time

    We've got together with a couple of our partners – Generation-e and Paradyne - and are heading out to Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth with an education roadshow for schools. And the timing's perfect, because we've got the opposing effects of rapid technology change and squeezed IT budgets, happening right now.

    So we thought you might want some help to consider how to make effective use of cloud technology, and providing your students with sustainable access to a 'no compromise' learning device. Plus, for the IT enthusiasts, there's a need to fill the insatiable appetite for learning about the new technology and product releases – like Windows 8 and Office 365. And that's what the roadshow is all about.

    Logos - Microsoft Paradyne Generation-e


    The aim of the agenda is to pack in as much as possible, and still leave enough time at the end for you to talk with colleagues from other schools and get the chance to see some of the latest Windows 8 devices, and touch and feel some of the new laptops, slates and all-in-one computers.

    8:45am Registration
    9:00am Welcome
    9:15-10am Learning Re-Imagined with Windows 8
    10am-11am Windows 8 Deep Dive: Management, Security, Usability, Devices and more
    11am-11:15am Morning Tea
    11:15am-12pm How to empower your staff, increase productivity and reduce IT costs with cloud computing
    12pm-12:45pm Enhancing collaboration and communication in schools with Lync
    12:45pm-2pm Lunch & Showcase of some of the latest devices

    Make a date: Find out more, and register for the Microsoft Education Roadshow in one of the following cities:

    Make a dateSydney on 23rd November, at our North Ryde offices
    Adelaide on 26th November, at the Microsoft Adelaide office
    Melbourne on 28th November, at our South Bank office
    Perth on 30th November, at Wesley College, Como

    I'll be speaking at the Sydney one, so I'll look forward to meeting some of you face to face next Friday. I'd better work out what I'm going to talk about soon Smile

  • Education

    Supporting and Enhancing Office 365 deployments with IT Academy


    Office 365 Microsoft IT Academy logoAre you using Office 365 for education, or thinking of it? Well, there's some help available in the IT Academy programme to ensure all your staff, students and administrators are using it to its fullest potential. Which, let's face it, can be a huge task for a school or institution. Each individual has separate training requirements and starts with a different understanding of Office 365.

    IT Academy now offers a seamless access to its training materials and resources through Office 365 for Education. Not only do you get resources to enable a successful deployment and implementation of Office 365, but all Office 365 for education users can have single sign on to the IT Academy's members site.

    If you're not quite sure what IT Academy is, it's a global skills program that enables academic institutes to gain training and certification on Microsoft technologies; everything from fundamental productivity skills (e.g. MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Windows 8 & Office 365) to Advanced IT Professional courses. And in Australia there are over 450 institutions delivering it. There's more info on IT Academy in Australia here.

    IT Academy offers the following:

    • The latest Microsoft software for labs, classrooms, and PCs used by students
    • Access to a wide range of Microsoft E-Learning courses and the Instructor Learning Management System (LMS) to help track and monitor student progress
    • Discounts on official courseware that is available to academic institutions only
    • E-Reference Libraries that offer instant access to over 127 Microsoft Press books online
      (Hmm, as you'll realise I just copied that line from somebody else. I'm guessing that 'over 127' means there are 128 books online Smile)
    • TechNet subscriptions, which provide a wealth of resources for educators seeking to expand their professional development and students mastering IT professional concepts and skills
    • Marketing tools to promote the association with the Microsoft brand and official certification

    Office 365 Content & Resources

    For Office 365 users, and those planning deployment, the Office 365 content in IT Academy is split into 2 bits - administration & deployment and users. There is a range of eLearning, certification and press books available to complete your user and administrator training plan.

    Administration & deployment training

    For managing and deploying Office 365, Microsoft exams are available now for Administering Office 365 and Deploying Office 365

    And the learning resources are:

    • Administering Office 365
    • Getting Started with Office 365
    • Managing Office 365 Users, Roles and Identities
    • Installing Client Computers with Remote Connectivity for Office 365
    • Administering Exchange Online Mailboxes and Groups in Office 365
    • Managing Exchange Online Security and Compliance in Office 365
    • Configuring Exchange Online in a Hybrid Environment for Office 365
    • Integrating SharePoint Online with Office 365
    • Integrating Lync Online with Office 365

    User Training Content

    The Microsoft exam for this part is the Office 365 Microsoft Office Specialist Exam

    And the learning resources are:

    • Communicating and Collaborating with Microsoft Office 365
    • Sharing and Working with Teams Using Microsoft Office 365

    And the accompanying Microsoft Press books are:

    IT Academy is available for direct purchase or can be added to any volume licence agreement. For more information about IT Academy please visit or contact Richard Ryan our Australian IT Academy program manager.

  • Education

    The Imagine Cup team that made it into Time's Best Inventions of the Year 2012


    In TIME magazine's Tech website, they've recently published the Best Inventions of the Year 2012, which includes indoor clouds, a drifting fish farm, the MakerBot Replicator 2, the Tesla Model S and Enable Talk gloves.

    Enable Talk gloves and the Imagine Cup

    The fact that the Enable Talk gloves are in TIME's Best Inventions of the Year 2012 list is amazing because of the back story.

    They were created by four Ukrainian university students as their entry to the Imagine Cup, to allow speech and hearing impaired people to communicate more easily. The gloves contain sensors that recognise sign language and translate it into text on a Windows Phone, and from that into spoken words. So they quite literally allow somebody with speech impairments to talk – without the listeners having to learn sign language.

    imageThe four students were the Ukrainian team that entered into the global Imagine Cup, which Microsoft run.

    The Imagine Cup 2011 provided me with one of my most inspiring days of 21011, so it was fantastic to see the global finals for the Imagine Cup come to Sydney in 2012 – with teams from 75 countries competing to win the Imagine Cup. And I was lucky enough to be there at Imagine Cup 2012 as a staff volunteer, watching these inspiring students pitch their ideas to a worldwide bank of judges, and to aim to beat the other 300,000 students who entered, to be crowned as winners of the Imagine Cup.

    The Ukrainian's eventually won the Software Design category with their project, and obviously impressed more than just the Imagine Cup judging panel.

    I've always been a fan of the Imagine Cup, and it's power to help students take the world stage of innovation – and to see a small group of dedicated students go from competitors to appearing on a TIME Magazine list of 'Best Of…' is just amazing!

    To see Enable Talk in action, watch their video from the Imagine Cup finals, below and find out more about the team at

    The Imagine Cup 2013

    The 2013 Imagine Cup is in Russia, and the wording on some of the advertising for it now makes absolute sense in the context of the story above!

    The Imagine Cup 2013

    The worldwide finals for the Imagine Cup 2013 are going to be held in St Petersburg, Russia. And they are open to teams of four students from high-schools, TAFEs and universities around the world (students must be 16+). Teams must register by March next year, and the Australian judging finals will take place by April 2013 – they'll pick the team to represent Australia in St Petersburg.

    Do you know any students who are ready to start their journey, and perhaps make it onto TIME's list of Best Innovations of 2013?

    Find MoreFind out more about the Imagine Cup 2013, and how to enter

  • Education

    How to help students fly first class?


    I'm starting to see a number of Windows 8 apps that are creating a personal experience for their users. And the latest, for Emirates - one of the world's fastest growing airlines- made me think about the parallels to education.

    The Emirates KIS app for Windows 8

    Emirates have just announced that they are using a custom Windows 8 application, and touch slate, to personalise the journey for their passengers.

    They serve over 15 million passengers a year, on 125,000 flights to 74 countries. It's a pretty diverse customer base, and one of the challenges they will face is how to deliver a personal experience for their passengers – and to continue to improve already great experience for their First Class passengers. To help, the cabin staff will have a Windows 8 tablet, with the Knowledge-driven Inflight Service (KIS) app next year:

      The KIS app is a fully immersive crew and customer management solution that captures important passenger data around preferences and history. For example, details around previous trips, any issues a customer had during their travels, preferences (food, wine, seating, etc.) are stored in the app to help the crew better serve the needs of customers. Pursers use the app prior to each flight to brief the cabin crew, enabling them to provide an exceptional level of personalized service. The crew can also use the app to upgrade Emirates Skywards members while in flight to Business Class or First Class, as well as record customer feedback that is delivered straight to Emirates management once the flight lands.  

    Over the next year, they will roll out 1,000 devices, so that the purser on every flight will have access to the app, and the customer data that they need to enhance the customers' experiences. Their goal is to increase productivity, enhance teamwork, help with performance management and improve customer service. You can see it in action in this video below:

    So why do I think there are parallels to education?

    What I find interesting is that the scale of personalisation needed here is massive – 15 million passengers a year – and the data that they have on their customers is relative light (even their good customers are only going to be giving them a relatively small number of data sets a year) compared to every day student interactions.

    So with the depth and breadth of student data that is available to every principal, leader and teacher in education, what would the Knowledge-driven Learning Service app look like? What are the design principles that apply to make the right data available to the right teachers, at exactly the right time – and on the right device? I know that there are people working on this kind of problem right now – and some early models of what it looks like are around.

    But going forward, I think that there are some lessons from outside of education that might guide us into the future.

    We have the data across the education system, what we need are increasingly sophisticated – and simple – ways of making it immediately valuable for teaching staff.

    Learn MoreYou can read the full Emirates KIS case study on the global Microsoft case studies website

  • Education

    Accessibility in Office 365 for education


    Office 365 logoThe Microsoft Accessibility team  run a wide range of initiatives, including a global network of Accessibility centres, an online Accessbility tutorial programme for Windows, Office and Office 365, which includes Office 365 for education. They also publish a comprehensive range of general guides for specific types of impairments:

    Accessibility in Office 365 for education

    The precise details of the accessibility features available to you will depend on which components of Office 365 for education that you use, and which web browsers your users select, but I've summarised the accessibility for the key components and features below:

    • Accessibility features in Office Web Apps
      Office Web Apps provide screen reader support, keyboard accessibility, and high contrast modes. Office Web Apps run in a web browser so you can also use your web browser's accessibility features to improve the readability and accessibility of Office Web Apps, such as screen zoom, colour and font controls.
    • Support for assistive technology products in Word and PowerPoint Web Apps
      The Word Web App and PowerPoint Web App have display modes that make them accessible to screen readers. If you use assistive technologies, such as a screen reader or speech recognition software, you will have the best experience in Office Web Apps if the assistive technology that you use supports WAI-ARIA.
    • Accessibility in Lync Online for instant messaging, calls, and meetings
      Lync provides many accessibility features including keyboard navigation, high contrast, keyboard shortcuts, sharing notification, and screen reader support. You can setup Lync to hear incoming messages read aloud, as well as using keyboard shortcuts to make it easier to navigate and move between active windows
    • Accessibility in SharePoint Online for team document collaboration and websites
      SharePoint Online includes More Accessible Mode, keyboard shortcuts, easy tab navigation, and help for web managers who want to ensure the webpages created are accessible.
    • Accessibility in Exchange Online for email and calendaring
      With Exchange Online, you can listen to email on your desk or mobile phone, manage your calendar, and use familiar keyboard shortcuts when you are managing email and your calendar online.

    Learn MoreThere's plenty of detailed information on the Microsoft Accessibility website but perhaps better still, a handy downloadable handout, "Accessibility in Microsoft Office 365" for education, to share with colleagues who are starting to use Office 365 for education.

  • Education

    A free course from Charles Sturt University on developing Windows Phone 8 apps


    To coincide with the release of Windows Phone 8, IT Masters are offering a free short course in developing Windows Phone 8 applications.  All facets of the course will be delivered online in 11/2 hour sessions, with live, after hours Workshops being run by one of the industry’s leading experts in Mobile Applications Development.  The course commences on this evening, at 7PM, the 21st November.


    Make a dateMake a date: Find out more, and register

    More details on the IT Masters Windows Phone 8 course

    The short course will be run over 4 weeks with lectures being delivered via weekly after-hours webinar presented by Nick Randolph (recordings of the Webinar will be available if you are unable to make the live event). In between the webinars, you will be asked to do 10-12 hours of study including doing practice Labs, reading reference materials and doing assessments.

    Week 1 Webinar 21st Nov -  Windows Phone Development: The Tools and Technologies

    Don’t be fooled! This is the opening session for this four part training series and there is plenty to cover. In this session you’ll experience the tools and technologies that you can leverage to build your first Windows Phone application.

    Week 2 Webinar 28 Nov - Windows Phone Lifecycle, Background Agents and Notifications

    Building on the overview you saw in session 1, in this session we’ll cover the lifecycle of a Windows Phone application. You’ll learn about the agent model that your application can use to run in the background and how you can use notifications to alert and inform the users of your Windows Phone application.

    Week 3 Webinar 5th Dec - Maps, Sensors, Audio and Video with Windows Phone

    By now you might be feeling a bit lost – never fear, we have enough maps and sensors to get you out of trouble. This session is all about integrating your Windows Phone application with the device capabilities around location, media and of course phone features such as contacts and sms.

    Week 4 Webinar 12th Dec - Beyond Windows Phone Development

    In the last session in this series we’ll highlight some of the unique aspects of the Windows Phone application. You’ll learn how you can leverage different pricing models, trial mode and much more in order to optimise your revenue from the Windows Phone store.

    Final Exam:         Wed, 7-8.30pm, 19/12 (optional, open book exam that you sit at your computer)

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