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The Australian Education Blog
Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

  • Education

    What are the PISA tests?

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    Every now and then you’ll read that Australia has done well/badly/averagely in the “PISA tests” - and there’s often an assumption about what that means (Variously: schools are doing well/badly/averagely; teachers need more help/money/inspiration; learners can/can’t read/write enough etc etc).

    So I like this YouTube video produced by the team who created the PISA tests - and in very simple language sets out the answer to your question of “What are the PISA tests?”. So I’m not going to tell you anything more about them - just hit play:

  • Education

    Business Intelligence in Education - visualising learning data - part 2

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    Yesterday, I ran a '”Business Intelligence (BI) in Education” webinar - which included a number of examples of system-wide dashboards around the world. But the highlight (once we’d managed to sort out his microphone) was hearing from Rod Colledge of StrataDB - and ideas of how data could be made more useful by clever visualisations for teachers and school leaders. He was able to share some of the story of what he’s been developing, and how the different Microsoft technologies are going to help them to make a more powerful system for BI in education.

    Yesterday afternoon Rod sat down with his software one more time, and recorded a demonstration of it in real-time, which he’s put onto YouTube. It’s a ten minute video, and worth watching right to the end.

    • About a minute in there’s a great example of a school dashboard in SharePoint (good for a snapshot in time)
    • At 4 1/2 minutes you get a demo of the ability to animate charts over time in the next version of our SQL server (really useful for longitudinal data)
    • And around 7 minutes in, you’ll see how StrataDB have used PivotViewer to present data visually that will immediately make sense to every classroom teacher and school leader

    StrataDB logoFor more about the work that StrataDB have been doing in Brisbane Catholic Education, take a look at my previous “BI in Education” blog post, or email Rod directly (I know he’d be really happy to answer questions, or arrange to show you more of StrataDB’s work)

    Learn MoreThere's plenty more on this blog about "BI in Education" - click here to find all related info

  • Education

    The Education Sessions at Australia Partner Conference - Part nine of nine!

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    This is the final part of a series, covering the Education sessions at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference.
    Start at part one (The Microsoft Australia Education Team) here...

    We’re at the end of the write-up of the Education session from the Australia Partner Conference. At the conference, we packed all of these last nine blog posts into a 45 minute session, and yet this series has already run to 7,000 words - boy, we must have spoken quickly at APC Smile

    Anyway, on with the final section, expanding on the story we shared at APC. Now it’s looking back and forward at the Microsoft product and service opportunities that exist in the education marketplace in Australia.

    Key successes of the last year

    Over the last twelve months, we’ve seen a number of key opportunities for our partners. The slide summarises them, but here’s some more commentary for each of the bullets:

    • imageThe Cloud: Education customers continue to adopt the Microsoft Cloud services with enthusiasm, including the shift to the Live@edu email service and new adoptions of the Windows Azure cloud service for building more flexible ICT services within schools and universities.
    • Windows 7 & Office 2010 deployments: These also continue across all sectors. Customers who have made the switch are discovering the increased manageability of their systems, and the cost-savings possible through reduced helpdesk support and reduced power usage. As part of the switch, many customers are exploring how to use better virtualisation - either of applications, or of the complete desktop - in order to reduce ICT management costs, and increase flexibility and mobility for users.
    • SQL Server: Another of the things we’ve seen in the last year is customers running projects to move key databases onto their Windows SQL Servers, from other platforms. In the case of Oracle databases, this has often been driven by the aim of reducing cost, whilst maintaining their service levels. And for critical workloads, there are examples of institutions moving their student management systems and learning management systems across to their SQL servers.

    Looking ahead to next year

    If those are the things we look back on, we also talked about the things we’ll expect to look back on in a year’s time with you - a forecast of the successes of 2012. Obviously, a bit trickier to do, but we thought it would be valuable to try and put some ideas down on a slide… Many of them are linked to cost saving opportunities for customers, as well as continuing to move their ICT infrastructure forward.

    • imageOffice 365: Continuing the move to the cloud, the next wave will be implementation and advice about Office 365 for education - helping customers to understand where it fits within their infrastructure and how to use it to reduce their on-premise ICT costs.
    • Voice: As ageing PBXs come up for replacement, there are more and more customers who have realised that using Lync for their voice system, instead of a conventional PBX, helps save money as well as improving collaboration between staff across campus - as well allowing new models of teaching and learning.
    • Windows 7 and Office 2010 deployments: This will continue to be something that customers will value the support of partners for, as they continue to migrate their installed base of computers, as well as extend out their use of System Center and Forefront to replace other software. And as customers realise that one of the best ways to prepare for the next version of Windows is to complete the deployment of Windows 7, this will continue to accelerate.
    • Private Cloud: If ‘Cloud’ was the buzzword of last year, then ‘Private Cloud’ and ‘Public Cloud’ will be the next year’s two buzzwords. We expect to see plenty of partners asked to support migration to Hyper-V, either to virtualise existing physical servers, or to reduce the cost of virtualisation compared to other virtualisation solutions.
    • CRM: Despite the fact that education has one of the most complex customer-relationship maps of any industry sector, it has been one of the slower sectors to adopting the use of CRM systems. However, what we’re now seeing is that that’s turning around fast (accelerated by changes in the marketplace, like the Bradley Report). The ideas that are popping up aren’t just confined to conventional CRM (like student recruitment) but also for managing some of the internal processes and events that institutions run.

    Will this really be the list that we look back on next year, and say “Yes, these are the successes of 2011/12”? Well, although we don’t know, you can at least hold us to account by asking us to put the slide back and up and reviewing it!

  • Education

    This week’s webcasts - 19-23 September 2011

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    Webinar iconFour webcasts to know about this week - one education-specific one (the Tech Tuesday) and three general technical ones.

    All of the timings for the webcasts are AEST (Australia East Coast time).
    See ** below for more details on how the webcasts work

    This week’s webcasts

    Microsoft SQL Server Code-Named "Denali" AlwaysOn Series, Part 2: Building a Mission-Critical High Availability Solution Using AlwaysOn

    In this session we walk you through the steps to deploy a high availability solution using AlwaysOn. This is a demo-heavy presentation and the experts from the product development team walk you through a high availability solution architecture and deployment, explain key architectural concepts and recommend best practices that will help you achieve the required level of availability for your mission critical applications. It is highly recommended that you attend the first part of this series since the new concepts are introduced in that session.

    Tuesday 20th September 2-4PM AEST - Register here

    Microsoft Lync 2010: In the Cloud

    Lync Online is Microsoft’s cloud communications service and a key component of Microsoft Office 365. Come to this session to understand which Lync capabilities will be available in the cloud. The session covers IM, conferencing and voice in the cloud, as well as a comprehensive overview of hybrid cloud and on-premises deployment options for Lync and Office 365.

    Tuesday 20th September 2-4PM AEST - Register here

    Understanding How Microsoft Virtualization Compares to VMware

    This is a must-see session for anyone who is comparing VMware with Microsoft's virtualization offerings. We will review Microsoft's technology compared to VMware, focusing on what differentiates the two technologies. The session will also cover effective strategies for integrating Microsoft virtualization into datacenter environments, and review one company's experience with implementing Microsoft virtualization. If you need to know how the Microsoft virtualization stack compares to VMware's, this is the session for you!

    Friday 23rd September 2-4PM AEST - Register here

    Tech Tuesday - Business Intelligence in Education

    A look at how to get the most from your school data. We’ll start this session by taking a look at how data is being used in a number of international examples, and then focus down on some ideas of work that’s being done today in Australia. This session isn’t designed to provide all of the answers, but to provide a starting point for your own exploration!

    Tuesday 20th September 11-12AM AEST - Register here


    Future webcasts

    Date
    Title
    Register Here

    27 September

    Microsoft Visual Studio Tips and Tricks

    Find out more, and register

    27 September

    Ten Must-Have Tools for Windows Azure

    Find out more, and register

    30 September

    Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2012: Deployment and Infrastructure Technical Overview

    Find out more, and register

    4 October

    Microsoft Lync 2010: Setup, Deployment, Upgrade and Coexistence Scenarios

    Find out more, and register

    14 October

    Virtualization: State of the Union

    Find out more, and register

    18 October

    What's New in Manageability for Microsoft SQL Server Code-Named "Denali"

    Find out more, and register

    18 October

    Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Office 365: How to Set Up a Hybrid Deployment

    Find out more, and register

    21 October

    Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2012: Overview

    Find out more, and register

    25 October

    An IT Pro View of Windows Azure

    Find out more, and register

    28 October

    What Are the Bridges between Private and Public Cloud?

    Find out more, and register

    1 November

    Microsoft Office 365: Deployment Overview

    Find out more, and register

    8 November

    Upgrading to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server Code-Named "Denali": A Comprehensive Look

    Find out more, and register

    11 November

    Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012: What’s in It, and How It Enables the Building of Private Clouds and Federation to the Public Cloud

    Find out more, and register

    15 November

    Taking Office to the Cloud: Integrating Microsoft Office 2010 and Windows Azure

    Find out more, and register

    22 November

    Managing Windows Azure Applications

    Find out more, and register

    22 November

    Integrating Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

    Find out more, and register

    25 November

    Integrating the Microsoft System Center Stack for Process Compliance and Automation

    Find out more, and register

    29 November

    What’s New in Microsoft SQL Server Code-Named “Denali” for SQL Server Integration Services

    Find out more, and register

    6 December

    Microsoft Lync 2010: Audio, Video and Web Conferencing Architecture and Experience

    Find out more, and register

    ** By running them as webcasts, our aim is to allow you to get the latest news, without travel costs, or event fees. And with all of the advantages of being able to watch an online webcast whilst also being able to do other things if necessary.

    All of the free webcasts this week are one hour sessions, and combine presentations and live demonstrations.

    You’ll need to register in advance, and you’ll then receive a Calendar note as well as info on how to join the Live Meeting online. All of the timings given are for Australia East Coast time.

  • Education

    Australia School holiday dates - 2011-2012

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    Icons_teacher_blueA quick guide, if you are planning events or marketing activities with schools, on the remaining school holidays in Australia 2011 - state by state.

    State Spring Holiday Summer Holiday  
    NSW 26 Sep - 7 Oct 19 Dec - 26 Jan Link
    VIC 26 Sep - 7 Oct 23 Dec - 31 Jan Link
    QLD 19 Sep - 30 Sep 12 Dec - 20 Jan Link
    WA 3 Oct - 14 Oct 19 Dec - 31 Jan Link
    NT 3 Oct - 7 Oct 19 Dec - 27 Jan Link
    SA 3 Oct - 7 Oct 19 Dec - 27 Jan Link
    ACT 3 Oct - 14 Oct 22 Dec - 2 Feb Link
    TAS 5 Sep - 16 Sep 22 Dec - 14 Feb Link

    So, if you're planning any activities with schools, then the blackout period this month is effectively from 16 September to 14 October, and then for the summer holidays, you’ll need to get any activities completed before Friday 16 December.

    The list is in completely random order, mainly because of my poor searching skills!

  • Education

    This week’s webcasts - 12-13 September 2011

    • 1 Comments

    Webinar iconOnly two webcasts to know about this week - and they are both education-specific ones. There’s the Microsoft Mondays webinar on Lync, and the Tech Tuesday one for school IT managers and elearning leaders, about the work that Janison have been doing in online assessment.

    All of the timings for the webcasts are AEST (Australia East Coast time).
    See ** below for more details on how the webcasts work

    This week’s webcasts

    Microsoft Monday - How to 'Lync-up' with Colleagues and Students

    Using Lync as the enterprise equivalent of Skype, Kirsten Gilbertson will walk through the benefits of instant messenger as a productivity tool.
    Monday 12 Sep 2-3PM AEST
    For: University and TAFE lecturers and support staff

    Monday 12th September 2-3PM AEST - Register here

    Tech Tuesday - Microsoft Partner story - Janison

    Janison won the Microsoft Australia Education Partner of the Year Award 2011, for their online examination project for the NSW Online Science Assessment.
    For: School IT teams and eLearning leaders

    Tuesday 13th September 11AM AEST - Register here


    Future webcasts

    Date
    Title
    Register Here

    20 September

    Microsoft SQL Server Code-Named "Denali" AlwaysOn Series, Part 2: Building a Mission-Critical High Availability Solution Using AlwaysOn

    Find out more, and register

    20 September

    Microsoft Lync 2010: In the Cloud

    Find out more, and register

    23 September

    Understanding How Microsoft Virtualization Compares to VMware

    Find out more, and register

    27 September

    Microsoft Visual Studio Tips and Tricks

    Find out more, and register

    27 September

    Ten Must-Have Tools for Windows Azure

    Find out more, and register

    30 September

    Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2012: Deployment and Infrastructure Technical Overview

    Find out more, and register

    4 October

    Microsoft Lync 2010: Setup, Deployment, Upgrade and Coexistence Scenarios

    Find out more, and register

    14 October

    Virtualization: State of the Union

    Find out more, and register

    18 October

    What's New in Manageability for Microsoft SQL Server Code-Named "Denali"

    Find out more, and register

    18 October

    Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Office 365: How to Set Up a Hybrid Deployment

    Find out more, and register

    21 October

    Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2012: Overview

    Find out more, and register

    25 October

    An IT Pro View of Windows Azure

    Find out more, and register

    28 October

    What Are the Bridges between Private and Public Cloud?

    Find out more, and register

    1 November

    Microsoft Office 365: Deployment Overview

    Find out more, and register

    8 November

    Upgrading to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server Code-Named "Denali": A Comprehensive Look

    Find out more, and register

    11 November

    Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012: What’s in It, and How It Enables the Building of Private Clouds and Federation to the Public Cloud

    Find out more, and register

    15 November

    Taking Office to the Cloud: Integrating Microsoft Office 2010 and Windows Azure

    Find out more, and register

    22 November

    Managing Windows Azure Applications

    Find out more, and register

    22 November

    Integrating Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

    Find out more, and register

    25 November

    Integrating the Microsoft System Center Stack for Process Compliance and Automation

    Find out more, and register

    29 November

    What’s New in Microsoft SQL Server Code-Named “Denali” for SQL Server Integration Services

    Find out more, and register

    6 December

    Microsoft Lync 2010: Audio, Video and Web Conferencing Architecture and Experience

    Find out more, and register

    ** By running them as webcasts, our aim is to allow you to get the latest news, without travel costs, or event fees. And with all of the advantages of being able to watch an online webcast whilst also being able to do other things if necessary.

    All of the free webcasts this week are one hour sessions, and combine presentations and live demonstrations.

    You’ll need to register in advance, and you’ll then receive a Calendar note as well as info on how to join the Live Meeting online. All of the timings given are for Australia East Coast time.

  • Education

    The Education Sessions at Australia Partner Conference - Part Eight

    • 0 Comments

    This is part eight of a series, covering the Education sessions at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference.
    Start at part one (The Microsoft Australia Education Team) here...

    How Microsoft Academic licensing helps Microsoft partners

    How Microsoft Academic licensing helps you sell

    One of the questions that new partners often ask is “How does your licensing work in education?”. When they sell software solutions to education customers, they often rely on (or include) some Microsoft software components. For example, if a partner is selling a business intelligence solution for education that uses the capability of Windows SQL Server 2008, they will need to work out whether an education customer already has the server licence, or needs to buy a new one.

    So to help, during our Australia Partner Conference session, we gave a quick overview of how education customers in Australia license their software - and which software. It’s general guidance only, rather than specific for an individual customer - so treat it as an introduction!

    What Microsoft licensing is common for public education institutions?

    For public schools, TAFEs and state-funded universities in Australia, it is common for most customers to have a subscription agreement for their Microsoft software. Normally this is negotiated at state or national level (to get the best pricing) and covers all of the organisations below the main body. The common licensing agreements are:

    • Public Schools: Normally covered by a School Agreement or an Enrolment for Education Solutions (EES) agreement, that covers all of their computers.
    • TAFEs: Are normally covered on the same basis as schools
    • Universities: They’ll normally have an individual agreement, called a Campus Agreement or an Enrolment for Education Solutions (EES) agreement, that covers all of their computers.

    With these agreements, it normally means that the customers has licences for the Microsoft Education Desktop - which includes the latest Enterprise versions of Windows, Office and one of two Client Access Licences (CAL) suites:

    • Microsoft Core CAL - The Core CAL pack includes Windows Server Standard CAL, Exchange Server Standard CAL, SharePoint Server Standard CAL, Lync Standard CAL, Forefront EndPoint Protection Suite CAL and System Center Configuration Manager CAL.
    • Microsoft Enterprise CAL - Includes all Core CAL Suite components plus Active Directory Rights Management Services CAL, Exchange Server Enterprise CAL, SharePoint Server Enterprise CAL, Lync Enterprise CAL, System Center Client Management Suite CAL, and Forefront Unified Access Gateway CAL

    In addition, most customers also license their servers through their annual subscription agreement, using an option called ‘Enrollment for Application Platform’ (or EAP). This gives them server licensing for the products they choose.

    Which means that…

    So all of this means that you can assume your customer has licences for Windows 7, Office 2010 and also access to SharePoint, SQL server and Lync for IM and collaboration etc. And if they use the EAP option, they’ll also have the licences they need for Windows/SQL servers - although you will still need to check they have the right version licensed (for example, if they are using their SQL Server for Business Intelligence they will need the Enterprise version of the licence - see my overview about other reasons you need SQL Enterprise versions).

    What Microsoft licensing is common for private schools?

    For private schools in Australia, it’s also common for schools to have a subscription agreement:

    • Many Catholic schools will switch this year into a new national Enrolment for Education Solutions (EES) framework agreement. It simplifies licensing for the schools, because all they have to do is count their FTE staff, and they are then licensed for all of the computers they own (except for those that are given to a single student under a 1:1 scheme, which are licensed separately). And being a subscription, they always have the licences to the latest versions. There are still some buying their software under a Select licence, but this will reduce over time as they realise the immediate and long-term cost advantages of the EES scheme.
    • Independent schools may be on any kind of licence agreement - Select, Open, School Agreement and EES. Often it may be because they’ve not heard about how EES works, so it will be worth discussing it with them (as they would be likely to save money by using it).

    Which means that…

    Where a customer has an EES or School Agreement, you’ll find the customer will be licensed for the Microsoft Education Desktop - which includes Windows 7 Enterprise, Office 2010 Professional Plus, and one of two Client Access Licence (CAL) suites (see above). 

    If the customer buys their software through a Select or Open agreement, then they are less likely to have the licences for the latest versions across their whole school, and you’ll need to check more closely what they already have.

    How does this help partners?

    With many Microsoft customers in the commercial market, our partners will have to get involved in a deep discussion about the licences needed for a particular business solution to be implemented. But the situation tends to be much easier in education. Subscription customers are automatically licensed through their subscription for the latest version of key software, and many will have licensing for servers already sorted. As a partner, it means your discussion can focus on your own software and services, rather than their Microsoft licences. And where they do need additional licences, they will often procure those separately through their existing Microsoft Academic licensing agreement.

    You can find out more about our licensing for schools, TAFEs and universities on the Australian Microsoft Education website

    Learn MorePart Nine - Key successes of the last year, and next year

  • Education

    Alan’s Paperless School project

    • 2 Comments

    Icons_light_blueAlan Richards, the Information Systems Manager at West Hatch High School near London, has been running a ‘Paperless School’ project for the last 18 months. He’s been using the school’s SharePoint in order to reduce the amount of paper being used in the school or being sent home to parents. I wrote about his project last October (see ‘Schools spend more money on printer paper than on ICT’) and the initial results - cutting out 10,000 sheets of paper from their academic review process.

    Alan ran a webinar in the UK, where he talked about the project and gave a live demonstration of what they were doing now - with SharePoint and InfoPath - to reduce the amount of internal paperwork (as well as improving the communication process within the school). For example, by moving the Absence Request form online they’ve streamlined the process, made it easier for staff and administrators, and reduced the potential for lost forms to cause chaos.

    The recording of the webinar is now available on YouTube (or below):

    If you’ve got a truck arriving at school every month with your new supply of paper, then it’s worth investing half an hour watching Alan’s webinar recording, and then downloading the slides from Alan’s Edutech Now blog.

  • Education

    The Consumerisation of IT, and education - presentation slides

    • 2 Comments

    Icons_light_blueI’ve been speaking at some events run by Acer and Fujitsu recently, and had the opportunity to look at the issues surrounding the consumerisation of IT - and what it means for schools when you’ve got a broad range of devices arriving on your campus - and they may not all be owned and managed by your IT team. Although the event was focused on schools, in reality this is impacting every sector of education today.

    Although I haven’t got a recording of the session, you can download the slides here, which will hopefully be useful to people that were there, as well as some of those who weren’t (although, without the words, some slides will make absolutely no sense!)

    What I’ll do going forward is let you know which events I’ll be speaking at, and give you details of how you can register if applicable. And if it’s local to you, it would also be a great opportunity to catch up before or after for a coffee and a chat!


        Learn MoreDownload the 'Consumerisation of IT - and it's impact on Education' slides

      • Education

        Are education leaders more optimistic about online education than the public?

        • 1 Comments

        Pew Social and Demographic Trends

        The Pew Research Centre are a respected American organisation that shares research on issues, attitudes and trends shaping modern life. Although they tend to be US-centric, much of their research is unique and provides a helpful indicator to issues elsewhere in the world. (I like their description of themselves as a “fact tank” as opposed to the normal politicised “think tanks”)

        They have just published their report ‘The Digital Revolution and Higher Education’, which contains some great insights highlighted by some great questions. The report is based on a large USA sample of over 2,000 members of the general public, and 1,000 college and university presidents. So although we can’t assume the data stands true for Australia, it’s still though provoking.

        Is online learning as effective as classroom teaching?

        According to the report, the majority of college/university presidents think online learning has the same value as classroom learning. But the majority of the ‘public’ disagreed.

          • 51% of presidents agreed that online courses offer an equal educational value compared with courses taken in the classroom.
          • 29% of the public agreed.

        Although it’s 5 out of 10, versus 3 out of 10, there’s still a perception gap between people running the education system, and people using it. One in four graduates have taken a course online.

        Interesting to note that of the public who’d done an online course, 6 out of 10 who’d experienced it thought it wasn’t as effective as classroom teaching

        Half of college/university presidents believe that in 10 years’ time, most of their students will take classes online (up from 15% today), and 62% expect half of all textbooks to go digital in the same decade.

        What types of colleges and universities offer online courses?

        77% of college/university presidents reported that their institution offered online courses. There’s some interesting self-selection in here too. Nearly 90% of public institutions offer online courses, whilst it’s only 60% for private ones. And the more selective the institution is in their student intake, the less they are likely to offer online courses (51% for the most selective, versus 86% for the least selective)

        Students want more ‘blended learning’

        One small critique of the Pew Research is that it promoted the idea that there are only two options - online or classroom - for learning. Whereas I think that blended learning is likely to lead the way going forward. You may recall research from earlier this year that 8 out of 10 students wanted to see more blended learning in the future.

        My reaction to the report is that there’s some interesting points raised that highlight a gap between what institutions want, and what their customers want. As we move into a more consumer- and market-led higher education marketplace, it’s going to create some tension whilst the two move together! Australia may be in a different place to the US, so we may have more time to be prepared for it.

        Learn MoreRead 'The Digital Revolution and Higher Education' from the Pew Research Centre

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