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January, 2013 - Education - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The Australian Education Blog
Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

January, 2013

  • Education

    How Deloitte made learning a game–Harvard Business Review


    Gamification of learning continues to be a hot topic for education (and as with most things within the education system, there's plenty of divided opinion on how it could be used in the classroom with students). But it's not limited to conventional education systems – we're also seeing gamification being used in the world of corporate learning too.

    I'm lucky to work closely with the team at Janison Learning Systems, in Coffs Harbour, who have used the techniques of gamification to enhance the Deloitte Leadership Academy, which has just been featured in the Harvard Business Review site. When you look at the line-up of logos along the bottom of the website, you can see the exalted company that Janison keep these days:

    Deloitte Leadership Academy - website footer

    Deloitte has seen it's Deloitte Leadership Academy grow through the inclusion of gamification techniques – missions, badges, leaderboards, online connections to widen the participatory group – and that's resulted in a 37% increase in the number of users returning to the site each week. There's a really good overview of it on the Harvard Business Review site, and a small tick list of three questions to ask before getting started with using gamification for learning and development, that I think is immediately applicable in education too:

    • What are your (business) goals?
    • Who is your audience?
    • How will you track success?

    There's a really important point right at the bottom of the article, which is important to keep at the front of your mind when thinking about gamification:

      The goal is not to "game" or manipulate target audiences, but rather to mesh behavioural science with social technologies to increase collaboration and engagement levels among your users.  

    It's that key phrase "mesh behavioural science with social technologies" that hits me – it's important to remember that it's about intrinsically rewarding the behaviours, and avoid the problems some gamification projects have had when they have veered off into rewarding the processes, not the goals.

    Learn MoreRead 'How Deloitte Made Learning a Game' on the HBR Blog Network

    This project is just one of hundreds that Janison have built – which might explain why their client list on their website runs to five pages – including a number of education projects like the NSW ESSA Online Science Assessment and the ACMA Online Cybersafety project.

  • Education

    Getting started with building a sophisticated student support app for Windows 8


    The Education section of the Windows 8 store is packed with new apps, as people are busy developing Windows 8 education apps. One of the things I've noticed is that many of them are intended to do just one job well – they're not really creating a whole learning journey for a student, but enabling specific activities. Yet one of the advantages of a Windows device over other tablets is that you can connect everything a student does together, and connect the data and experiences of their learning journey, instead of having to hop into separate apps for each part of their learning.

    Microsoft Learning Companion app screenshotTo demonstrate what's possible, and to make it easier for Windows 8 education app developers to create this experience for students, Microsoft have developed a sample Windows 8 app for institutions who are using Office 365 for education and Windows 8.

    The Contoso Learning Companion app for Windows 8 allows students and teachers to access their SharePoint/Office 365 for education learning environments directly from a Windows 8 device. This sample application is designed to be customised by our partners and customers, who can then release their own versions of it.

    • A partner or software developer can take the code from the Contoso Learning Companion, and continue to develop it to provide specific versions for their market - eg popular learning management systems, and/or their customer configurations of Office 365 for education.
      Under the licence partners can create what are called 'derivative works' from the sample app, and can distribute them free or for sale.
    • An education institution could create their own custom Windows 8 education app (or get a partner to develop it for them), based on the sample app and release it under their own name.
      For example, there could be a Learning Companion app for a specific university or school that has their full branding, and can be linked to their cloud services, their specific Learning Management System, and contains news feeds and information specifically for that university or school.

    Features of the Learning Companion App

    • Aggregated view of current events, classes, and study groups in SharePoint/Office 365 for education
    • Access to class and study group sites, and their respective, events, materials, and related features in SharePoint
    • OneNote integration for consumption and management of lessons and assignments via a class notebook

    Developers can customise the look and feel with institution branding or by integrating imagery as a background. They can also extend the UI by adding additional components, such as news feeds and other institutional data sources.

    Why develop an app, when there's a website already?

    The benefit of creating specific apps, rather than simply pointing your students, parents and staff to an Office 365 website, is that you can create a seamless integrated experience. Most education institutions have websites that are designed to do everything from recruit new students, to publishing official data, to connecting with alumni. And somewhere in there are the resources to support current students. Whereas with an app focused on providing support for current students, you can make it a much better (and more mobile) experience – for example, by keeping your users permanently 'logged in' to their data, and enabling offline use with OneNote so that the students can work when and where they need to, not just when they are within reach of a wifi signal.

    The other significant benefit is that the Learning Companion for Windows 8 provides a touch-friendly interface to support Office 365 for education (and potentially your LMS). It provides users with an aggregated experience that would otherwise require the user to access multiple sites via the browser.

    As the sample app also integrates into OneNote, the powerful learning support app that is part of Microsoft Office. Within OneNote, sections are created for the teacher to input the required lessons and assignments for students to access. Private groups are also created for each student—visible only to that student and the teacher—where they can keep their notes, work on assignments, and collaboratively work on assignments with teacher input. By using OneNote as the repository, the teacher is able to manage all student submissions at a glance.

    How to turn the Learning Companion sample app into a real app

    Once you've downloaded the sample code, you'll be able to change, extend and compile your own Windows 8 education app yourself. You'll need Windows 8 and a Visual Studio for Windows 8 application development, as well as a SharePoint or Office 365 setup (you can get an Office 365 trial account here). And, of course, your programming skills Smile

    Find MoreYou can download the source code for the Learning Companion free here

  • Education

    Microsoft Office training in Australia in early 2013–for partners and customers


    Office training in Australia from MicrosoftThe new Office has already been made available for our volume licence customers (yep, that pretty much means every education customer in Australia has been able to install it since early December, so I know what some IT teams will be busy with over the summer holidays). Well, to go with it, there's a pile of new training courses under the 'Ignite' brand for partners and customers coming up in the next couple of months (the first run of these filled up too quickly).

    And some of them are free, whilst others you'll pay for, but they all offer the same great experience of hands-on Office training in Australia:

    Lync Ignite – four day training workshop

    The Microsoft Lync Ignite is a training workshop for partners and customers who are proactively looking to stay ahead of the market by delivering and using a highly reliable unified communications solution. The four day Ignite workshop includes presentations that cover a wide variety of Lync topics, both on-premise and online, and hands-on labs that create an interactive Lync experience (so you'll be bringing your laptop…)

    • Sydney 19 – 22 Feb
    • Perth 25 – 28 Feb
    • This course lasts four days, and costs $480 plus GST

    To find out more, see the full agenda, and register for Lync Ignite training

    Exchange, Office and Office 365 Ignite – three day training workshop

    The Exchange, Office and Office 365 Ignite workshop has been designed as deep technical training for IT implementers and Exchange administrators, who either develop, design or deploy for their organisations or customers. The training content is a mix of presentations and hands-on labs that parallel real world experience delivered by Microsoft certified experts. The content provided throughout the course requires both a technical background and experience with prior versions of the product and/or service in order for the content to be valuable

    • Brisbane 30 Jan – 1 Feb
    • Perth 30 Jan – 1 Feb
    • Melbourne 9 – 11 April
    • Sydney 16 – 18 April
    • This course is free BUT we do charge $500 for no-shows (because you'll have taken a place somebody would have used!)

    To find out more, see the full agenda, and register for Exchange, Office and Office 365 Ignite training


    SharePoint 2013 Ignite workshop for developers – three day training workshop

    The Microsoft SharePoint Ignite bootcamp was created to enable our partners and customers to effectively design, deploy, and administer solutions specific to SharePoint products. The course comprises deep technical training across all product associated workloads. The training content is a mix of different level presentations as well as hands-on labs that parallel real world experience.

    • Melbourne 4 – 6 Feb
    • Sydney 11 – 13 Feb
    • Brisbane 18 – 20 Feb
    • This course lasts four days, and costs $450 plus GST

    To find out more, see the full agenda, and register for the SharePoint 2013 Ignite training for developers

    SharePoint 2013 Ignite training for IT professionals – two day training workshop

    The Microsoft SharePoint Ignite bootcamp was created to enable our partners and customers to effectively design, deploy, and administer solutions specific to SharePoint products. The course comprises deep technical training across all product associated workloads. The training content is a mix of different level presentations as well as hands-on labs that parallel real world experience.

    • Melbourne 7 – 8 Feb
    • Sydney 14 – 15 Feb
    • Brisbane 21 – 22 Feb
    • This course lasts four days, and costs $300 plus GST

    To find out more, see the full agenda, and register for the SharePoint 2013 Ignite training for IT professionals

    City by city summary of Office training in Australia

    • SharePoint for developers: 4-6 Feb
    • SharePoint for IT professionals: 7-8 Feb
    • Exchange, Office and Office 365: 9-11 Aprilthe free Melbourne one!
    • Exchange, Office and Office 365: 30 Jan-1 Febthe free Brisbane one!
    • SharePoint for developers: 18-20 Feb
    • SharePoint for IT professionals: 21-22 Feb
    • Exchange, Office and Office 365: 30 Jan-1 Febthe free Perth one!
    • Lync for customers and partners: 25-28 Feb
  • Education

    Popular topics on this blog


    Yesterday's list of the most read Education Blog posts that I've published this year prompted me to look a little further at the content. Having written 600 blog posts in the last two years, I thought it would be interesting to see the key topics. It was easy to do, because I use a series of 'tags' on each blog post (almost every single one is tagged with 'education', and then I add further tags like 'cloud', 'students', 'classroom resources' or 'free download').

    You can see the tags when you click on an individual article, and then use the tags to find related blog posts quickly.

    So here's the top 10 most popular subjects for articles over the last two years, based on the number of articles published:

    1. Events (108)
      Either Microsoft-run education events, or run by our partners
    2. Case Study (91)
      Always popular – a look into what other people are doing with their projects
    3. Free Download (90)
      Yep, that magic word 'free' leads to 90 different articles
    4. Announcements (83)
      Well, that says I'm not breaking news every day
    5. Students (62)
      Surprisingly, many education technology blogs don't write much about students
    6. Partner Training (59)
      As my job is fundamentally about helping our key education partners, this subject isn't a big surprise
    7. Higher Education (58)
      To be honest, this has been a big focus area for me as I grow my knowledge too – and the act of blogging is also an act of learning
    8. Cost Saving (47)
      A couple of years ago, in the UK I was writing at least once a week about cost saving, but here in Australia, there's not been the same agenda on the minds of education IT customers
    9. Business Intelligence (38)
      Both the topics (above and below) point towards the same agenda – using data to help improve education – being important and fast-moving.
    10. BI in Education (35)

    Learn MoreSee the index all topic subjects/tags used on the blog

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