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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

    Supporting and Enhancing Office 365 deployments with IT Academy

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    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 www.microsoft.com.au/itacademy or contact Richard Ryan our Australian IT Academy program manager.

  • Education

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

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    image

    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

    Agenda

    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

    SAP announces Windows 8 app plans

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    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

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

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    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

    Today's online ESSA Science test in New South Wales

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    It’s on again, the annual online science assessment (the ESSA test) that brings all year 8 students, in all Government, Catholic and Private Schools in NSW, together on one day to do an online science assessment. And it's happening right now, with help from Microsoft's cloud services.

    ESSA Test 2012

    Each year this assessment happens online through a combination of using cloud platform technologies (from Microsoft's Windows Azure) and the latest techniques for building scalable assessment systems from Janison, a Coffs Harbour company. Of course, the scale of the assessment, with anything up to 85,000 students taking the test in one day is huge. Wayne Houlden, CEO of Janison told me a little about it:

      Last year we peaked at 500 schools active at the same time – this year we think we might go just a little higher. We are also expecting a few more students on this year, so this year we have 500 Windows Azure processor cores to handle the demand.  

    You can see below, that pretty soon after 9AM last year, hundreds of schools were logging and getting their students started.

    clip_image002

    Watch the ESSA test progresss in real time

    Possibly one of the most interesting things about the test is that you can watch it happening in real time. The Janison team have built a Metrics site where you can watch the statistics as they happen – the number of schools logged on, the number of students taking the assessment every second, and the utilisation of the cloud services and technology that sit behind it.

    Here's a screenshot of the Student Status screen taken a couple of minutes ago:

    image

    So, as oftwo minutes ago, 16,889 students had already completed their test, and a further 9,933 were in progress.

    There's a heap of further detail showing in the live stats – head over to http://cafemetrics.cloudapp.net/essa2012 for a look.

    Find MoreFind more articles on this blog about Janison and the ESSA test

  • Education

    Can education IT keep up with the speed of innovation?

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    Last week the annual EDUCAUSE 2012 conference, for Higher Education IT people, took place in Denver. As usual, there was a buzz of stories that appeared on HE news websites like The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    What struck me, following the news and discussions, was that there's a real focus on the pace of change happening (or believed to be just around the corner) in higher education, and the fact that the 'old ways' of doing things just aren't going to work in a world dominated by rapid change and consumer-led thinking of your customers (whether that's external customers – students, research funders) or internal ones (the faculty and administration that choose to use IT services).

    Out of the hundreds of hours of talks, and tens of thousands of words that happened at the conference, here's two quotes from two different parts that struck home:

    Clay Shirky at EDUCAUSE 2012

    Clay Shirky, in his keynote kicking off the conference, talked about how he believes that technology is changing everything across education, from research to publishing to studying. And his idea for the conference was about the benefits of, and revolution possible through, a spirit of openness and collaboration created through social media. There's a short summary on The Chronicle of HE, but I'd recommend watching the whole session here, as I'm only going to highlight one single soundbite from a much longer, brilliantly engaging keynote (at 58:30 in the video)

    Here's the two sentences that struck me as completely pertinent to Australian universities (start watching the video at 52:45 for the analogous story):

      Do not put together an interdisciplinary team from 12 departments and give them a budget of a quarter of a million dollars, and a year and a half deadline. Find five people and ask them what can you do in a month—for free. I think the results will surprise you.  

    Start-Ups at EDUCAUSE 2012

    And this quoted make me think of another session from EDUCAUSE, where education-technology start-ups were pitching to venture capitalists for their money. It was the last three sentences in The Chronicle report, quoting the founder of one of the start-ups, Matthew Racz, that struck me:

     

    …ed-tech start-ups faced a challenging market because colleges move so slowly in adopting new products.

    “There’s a 9-to-18-month decision cycle,” he said. “That’s a little too slow for innovation to happen.”

     

    So here's my question: Can IT keep up with innovation?

    Why did I find these two particular quotes important? Well, as I reflected on the statements above, it challenged my thinking about IT in education – and made me reflect on projects in the past. I've often seen IT projects at the leading edge – where IT has been enabling and driving change, sometimes at a speed that is faster than users can easily adapt to. And here we are being told that change isn't fast enough. Have we been banging our head against a brick wall?

    No, I don't think we have. But the challenge is the way that projects and procurement processes can support an agile, innovative organisation.

    Example: I once worked with a university on a project that could deliver an ROI for an investment in energy reduction in 7 days (ie the project paid for itself in a week). But it took them 9 months from start to finish on the procurement process – which meant that 97% of the time, they were throwing money down the drain.

    I've no doubt that IT teams can keep up with the speed of innovation in education, but to do that, some of today's processes are going to have to change. When…

    • It takes longer to write a specification than it does to create the final project that results;
    • The specification process takes so long that the specification is out of date by the time the project delivers;
    • It costs more to run the procurement process to choose a product, than the actual cost of the product;

    …then it's time for change. I often see exactly these three characteristics above in projects for Business Intelligence systems and also for CRM systems

    IT can keep up with the speed of innovation – and continue to lead change. But some of the approaches to project are likely to have to change significantly to allow this, especially with the fragmentation of control and decision making that we're facing by individuals, managers, leaders, and departmental organisations.

  • Education

    Update 5: Windows 8 apps for education – ClickView Windows 8 app

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    imageThe first Australian education apps are starting to appear, and the charge is being led by ClickView, which is used by thousands of schools around the country.

    The native Windows 8 ClickView Player app allows you to search and playback videos, podcasts and vodcasts from the ClickView library, and the ClickView Exchange content.

    There's tons of video content in the ClickView library from TED, ABC, Discovery Education, NASA etc. And it's clearly structured under subject and topic headings. And then ClickView Exchange allows schools to share content including videos from free to air TV stations, recorded and uploaded by ClickView users. This online source of relevant, educational content contains 15,000+ titles that have been added by teachers around Australia. Yep, ClickView had to be really careful with copyright for all of this, which is why only educational users in Australia can get access to this.

    Find out more about the overview of ClickView service, or the ClickView products they offer – from in-school video delivery and recording systems, to storage and management of digital media.

    What does the ClickView Windows 8 app do?

    ClickView Windows 8 app users can create their own playlists and vodcasts, and get HD streaming and video playback using the optimised Windows 8 player.

    You can download the free ClickView Windows 8 app here.

    • Existing ClickView customers just sign in with their normal ClickView account details
    • For new users, you'll need to have a ClickView account – so you may want to take advantage of the free 30 day ClickView trial

     

    MAPA 2012 - ClickView

    Find More 

    Get the ClickView Windows 8 app on the Windows Store

  • Education

    Making student recruitment and retention systems more user-friendly

    • 1 Comments

    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

    Which Windows 8 device for next academic year?

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    Windows 8 device range

    There's all kinds of new devices running Windows 8 appearing on the shelves of retailers and online stores at the moment. In fact, it seems as if new ones pop up every time I walk away from my screen. Which might lead you to looking at the choices for different Windows devices for next academic year.

    Typically, in most education institutions, there's a need for a range of different devices for different users and scenarios. Something portable and robust for students; something for computer labs; something different for staff; oh, and something really shiny and fast for the leadership team. Whatever the scenario you're buying for, you're going to find a computer that's been tailored precisely for your use - whether it's tablets, convertibles, ultrabooks, laptops, desktops or all-in-ones.

    A good place to start to find out what's available is the Australian Windows 8 website, which highlights some of the great devices now available:

    imageFor my own use, I'm looking for a new home PC that's an All-In-One, that I can put on the countertop in the kitchen for photos, music, video, and to become the hub for my other laptops around the house. And my current favourite is the Sony VAIO Tap 20, which seems to have the right design to be acceptable to my wife, the right portability to make my children happy (it's got a built-in battery, so we can move it onto coffee table for games or video), and the right price and specification to make me happy.
    And the hidden bonus that according to the picture, it can levitate Smile

    Find MoreFind your new Windows 8 PC here

  • Education

    Microsoft Education roadshow coming to Sydney-Melbourne-Perth and Adelaide in November 2012

    • 0 Comments

    image

    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

    Agenda

    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 for once!

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