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

  • Education

    Delivering Office 365 on your different screens and wrist


    The Office team have also been busy creating plenty of new scenarios for using Office on a range of different devices (it seems as if every month there’s a new format of device appearing that can support a scenario with one of the Office apps). If you still think of Office as being an app that you install on your PC, then you might be surprised by some of the recent announcements:

    OneDrive for Business for Android, which allows you to seamlessly access your 1TB of Office 365 storage from an Android phone or tablet.

    Lync enhancements for iOS released last month included the ability to have the Lync Gallery View and up to four live video streams on your iPhone or iPad screen. Both of which make online meetings more interactive and visual.


    There’s been a recent dash of enhancements to OneNote too:

    OneNote on Android watchOneNote for Android Wear, so that you can now talk to your wrist and start dictating notes that get synced into your OneNote notebook – and onto any other devices you’re also running OneNote one.

    Handwriting support in OneNote for Android tablets now allows you to write or draw with a stylus or your finger, so now you can easily create drawings, annotate on top of documents etc

    OneNote for Windows 8 has received updates that focus on student features such as ink highlighting and better support for printing and inserting files. These features will help the Windows 8 version of OneNote to catch up with the features of the full desktop version of OneNote. I actually use both versions on my Surface 3, depending on what I’m doing, and whether I want a simple ‘notebook’ setup for handwritten notes, or I want the full-blown mode for extensive editing etc

  • Education

    Developing education solutions in Office 365


    With so many education customers using Office 365 globally (now in the tens of millions of education uses), there's continuing interest by developers in creating services for customers, running on top of Office. This could mean developing an app for Word, Excel, PowerPoint; or could be developing a system that uses the Office 365 cloud service to deliver an integrated solution.

    Office Dev Centre logoThe team responsible for this at Microsoft are very busy releasing new information and features for developers. You can read about these in the constant updates from the Developer stream on the Office Blogs. And to help a little more, here’s some of the key bits of news that I’ve noticed recently:

    On Demand Training for Office 365 developers 
    I’m a big fan of the Microsoft Virtual Academy, as it contains some excellent technical training that is free and available at any time to technical users and developers. There’s a new course, Introduction to Office 365 Development available, which contains modules on developing Apps for Office and Apps for SharePoint, and a session on the Office 365 APIs that are available for developers to use to more closely integrate to Office across different devices.

    Office 365 APIs Starter Projects for Windows
    There’s a series of samples that the team have created which allows developers to quickly spin up projects that interact with Office 365 using the standard APIs. It lets you do things like create, read, update and delete events in a user’s calendar (so you could add an assignment reminder function to an LMS, to automatically put the assignment into the student’s calendar, and that will then show up on their PC/phone etc). Similar samples allow you to create, read, update and delete files on their SharePoint site

    Office 365 Developer Podcast
    If you want to keep up to date with less reading, then there’s the Office 365 Developer Podcast, where Jeremy Thake talks with people involved with developing Office 365 apps – both within and outside of Microsoft.

    The Office Dev Centre has also been completely updated, with easier access to resources, recordings of events and code samples.

  • Education

    Digitise everything - Office Lens and teachers.


    The Office team have been doing some great work recently with adding new features to the Office suite of products, that are especially useful for teachers and students.

    OneNote has been getting a lot of attention on mobile devices including for iOS, Android and Windows phones. For example, this week we released OneNote support for Android Wear watches (yep, you can appear to be a spy whilst you whisper into your wrist “Take a note. Buy paint from Bunnings”) and we also announced the Share extension for OneNote on iOS 8 devices (so you can clip a web page or photo straight into your OneNote notebook from your iPad or iPhone).

    But that seems like nothing compared to what the Office Lens team have been up to.

    What's Office Lens?

    imageOffice Lens is a simple app that allows to snap a picture of a document, drawing, whiteboard etc, and it then frames it and pops it into your photos folder, and your OneNote, as a straightened, adjusted image. It’s ideal for students for lectures, or for staff at meetings, because if you take a picture of a whiteboard from an angle, it will straighten the image as though you were right in front of it. And because it pops it into your OneNote it means it's automatically synced across your devices - take a picture with your phone, and see it in the OneNote on your laptop later.

    Scan a scanned document into Word or PowerPoint

    What the team released on Tuesday is an update of Office Lens for Windows Phone that now means that it goes even further. Now you can take an image, and it will turn it into a Word document or a PowerPoint slide. And not just a picture in a Word document, but it will actually do an OCR scan of the page, and drop the text and formatting into a Word document!

    Office Lens word

    It will do the same for PowerPoint - take a picture of a diagram drawn on a whiteboard, and it will turn it into a slide where the individual hand drawn lines that make up the drawing can be edited as drawing objects. So if you want to change the colours, or the size, or remove a few stray lines, and add more details, you can do it. Even months after you’ve wiped it off the whiteboard!

    Office Lens whiteboard

    Like any amazing technology, this is almost indistinguishable from magic!

    To see it in action, take a look at the video below

    If you’re always being given hand-drawn diagrams by teachers who want somebody to turn them into a PowerPoint slide, then it’s now a snap job to make it happen. I was talking to a university team who have a bank of people currently digitising learning resources for staff, to make them available online. This is probably their dream tool. And it’s free - all it needs is a phone and off you go. Hopefully that’s the end of document projectors in classrooms and lecture halls…

    Learn MoreRead more about Office Lens and what we've done here

  • Education

    New status levels for Microsoft Education Partners (AERs)


    imageThe Microsoft Authorised Education Reseller programme is designed to ensure that our partners that work with education customers have been trained and passed tests on our Academic licensing programmes. This is especially important for smaller education customers, where they might choose to buy their licences from a local small business, but will still want to ensure that they are getting the best deal on Microsoft academic licences for software.

    For much of our software and online services, education customers typically get a discount of up to 80% from the normal price that commercial customers pay, and that’s why it’s important for our partners to understand the different academic licensing options!

    But with hundreds of Microsoft Authorised Education Resellers in Australia, how can you differentiate between them? Previously you couldn’t - the AER search portal would simply give you a list of AERs for a state or city. But all that changed this week, when we announced three levels of AER, connected to the Certifications that our partners have on the main Microsoft Partner Network. So from now on, when you look for details on an AER on the AER Search portal, you will see whether the partner is a standard AER, a Silver AER Partner, or a Gold AER Partner. And you’ll also see the logo on their website and marketing materials.

    imageThis is good for our partners, because it means that they get better recognition for making the effort to train and certify their staff through our Microsoft competencies - like Business Intelligence, Data Platform, Office 365 Cloud Deployment, Customer Relationship Management etc (see the full list of competencies here)


    And it’s really good for our customers, because you can now find more experienced partners more easily, and it is now much easier to identify a partner who has invested in understanding our academic licensing, as well as becoming certified in a specific Microsoft technology or competence.

    How do you find Silver and Gold AERs?

    From now, whenever you search for an AER on our global portal ( the search results will be prioritised with Gold Partners at the top, then the Silver Partners, and then those who don’t have a Microsoft Competency.


    NB: If you’re an AER with a competency, and it’s not showing you as Silver/Gold, then check your profile to ensure that the correct MPN number is listed, as that’s how the AER system checks your competency status!

  • Education

    Could Cortana in education help students and teachers?


    Cortana logo

    Cortana is the intelligent voice-activated assistant on a Windows Phone - described as ‘your personal assistant in your phone’ - and it provides a new way of interacting with other people and your phone. I’ve been using Cortana on my phone for a while now, using the Developer Preview of Windows 8.1 and over time I’ve discovered some great things it can do for me (I most often use it to send an SMS as I’m leaving the office, remind me about something when I arrive somewhere, and to check information in my calendar).

    wp_ss_20140908_0001I’ve got used now to pressing my phone’s search button, and hearing a short tone along with the “Listening…” message pop up - and then talking to my phone as though it was a real person.

    wp_ss_20140908_0002Some of the things I’ve found Cortana does are:

    • Activating your phone - like calling somebody in your contacts
    • Sending text/SMS messages
    • Adding meetings to your calendar, or re-arranging what’s in there
    • Setting reminders that occur at a particular time, or place (like “Remind me to buy milk when I get to the supermarket”)
    • Setting alarms
    • Adding notes to your OneNote file
    • Asking travel questions, like What’s traffic like on the way to school today?


    What about using Cortana in education?

    So that got me thinking - how could Cortana in education help improve things for students and teachers? After I discovered that I could ask Cortana “When is my next dentist appointment”, and it would tell me the time and date, it got me thinking about how useful it would be to ask questions like:

    When/what/where is my next lesson?

    When is my next science lesson?

    When is my next essay due?

    And every single one of those questions it worked for! As long as I had things noted in my calendar, which could be either my personal or work calendar, it would find it and let me know, whether it's tomorrow or in six months’ time! What a help for a time-poor or disorganised student. And a teacher could set a reminder like “Remind me to talk about the Ice Age next time I meet Year 7 Geography

    Using Cortana to make it easier to use apps

    wp_ss_20140908_0003But what I’ve discovered more recently is the way that I can use Cortana with apps - like asking Cortana to make a Skype call (“Call Sarah on Skype”), or joining a conference call (“Lync join next meeting”).
    Cortana isn’t just for Microsoft-written applications, as developers can use the Cortana APIs to allow users to interact with their app through Cortana. Some of the examples from third-party developers that I’ve found on my phone are:

    • - Send a tweet through different Twitter clients. I’ve tried it with Twitter’s native app as well as Rowi
    • - Read my LinkedIn groups and inbox
    • - Listen to radio, and even the local Air Traffic Control through LiveATC
    • - Search Wikipedia, and get the first part of a Wikipedia article read to you!

    What about using Cortana with a Learning Management System?
    Or a Student Management System? Or your Lecture Capture System?…

    So if it can do all of those things, I think there are some very cool scenarios that Cortana could enable to make life easier for students and teachers. Here’s some examples that I think would be really cool to build. How about being able to say things like:

    • Download my assignment notes from the LMS
    • Ask for an extension for my essay deadline
    • Send a homework text to the students who aren’t in class today
    • Send a text to the parents of students absent today
    • What lessons do I have today
    • Tell me how long my child used Mathletics this week
    • Show me the students who haven’t used Mathletics this week
    • Record this lecture
    • Send a reminder to all students who haven’t yet handed in their homework assignment

    To do some of the tasks above, there will need to be some work done by software developers, to connect Cortana to their apps. And if that’s done, then there’s some great ways that the apps will be able to simplify life for teachers, students and parents. And it can all be started from pressing the same Search button on their phone.

    What next?

    Developers - there’s some great resources on how to use Cortana with your apps. Start with the Channel 9 video  What developers need to know about the Cortana APIs, and then have a read of the article “Responding to speech interactions” which guides you through the process of setting up your app to accept recognised commands from Cortana.

    Teachers and Students - what are the scenarios that you’d like developers to add to their apps? Let me know via the comments box, and I’ll share them as I meet with developers. There are probably some cool things Cortana can already do, but I bet you can find a dozen other things that you’d like to see done to make your life easier as a student, teacher or parent. What are your thoughts?

  • Education

    Are you attending the Education Strategy Briefing at the Australia Partner Conference next week?


    Next week we’re hosting the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference in the Gold Coast Convention Centre. It’s a week full of strategic information on key topics across the Microsoft business.

    On Tuesday 2 September, before the main conference opens later, we are hosting an Education Strategy Briefing specifically for our partners that focus on the education sector.


    Our goal is to fully detail our strategy in our sales, marketing and partnering resources in the Australian Education marketplace, and ensure that we have a clear shared strategy with our partners in the year ahead. We believe that this year’s peak education IT buying season will be quite different from the past, with clearly new buying processes and investment priorities across the school, TAFE and university sectors.

    The agenda for the day will cover:

    • Insights into the key Australian education market trends we are seeing
    • A segment-by-segment, and state-by-state overview of our education sales organisation, and our investments in education sales, partner and marketing resources.
    • Our joined-up strategy in education for key products including the Windows ecosystem, Office 365 and Microsoft Azure, and specific investments we are making that will allow you to differentiate your approach to market for education
    • Presentations from education customers who will share their priorities and strategies, and provide advice for partners looking for growth in education
    • Small-group discussions which will allow you to participate in a deep-dive into specific market segments, to explore partnering opportunities and provide feedback to Microsoft

    Our aim is to ensure that there is an equal balance of hearing from us, from customers, and being able to feedback to us (rather than making the day a one-way PowerPoint-fest). And we will also ensure that we have a clear focus on strategic input for your business, and listening to your feedback about how we can support you more. In addition to senior members of the education team, we will have leaders from across the business participating in the round table discussions to ensure we hear your views.

    Date: 2 Sept 2014
    Time: 9AM – 3PM
    Venue: Gold Coast

    The Education Strategy Briefing at APC is open to any Microsoft partner attending APC. You can register using the link below, and the PreDay Invitation Code APCPD052014

    Make a dateMake a date: Register for the Education Strategy Briefing on 2 Sept 2014

  • Education

    Integrating Microsoft Office 365 Education with Desire2Learn Learning Environment


    One of the futures of Learning Management Systems is as a key bridge, building integration between different systems within an education institution. In the future, it’s unlikely that we’re going to see a single monolithic system that solves every elearning challenge, but instead a set of best-of-class components effectively interconnected.

    imageOne example is the integration between a Learning Management System (LMS) and the communication and productivity services that an institution uses - in this case, between the Brightspace* D2L Learning Environment and Office 365. It means that students and staff can use their core email, collaboration, communication and productivity suite, whilst within their LMS.

    Through their integration solutions, the Desire2Learn Learning Environment and Microsoft Office 365 services (email, calendar, & more) improve how students and teachers interact online. Institutions can choose any of the integration solutions appropriate to their users.

    The starting point is a single sign on, so that your users don’t have to logon to multiple systems, but then you can go further - opening documents through Office Online, enabling email processes from within your LMS etc

    The Desire2Learning team have published a big set of documentation and resources on the Desire2Learn website.

    Find MoreGet more info in the Desire2Learn "Office 365 integration Technical Guide"


    * Brightspace is the new brand name for the Desire2Learn learning products

  • Education

    Higher Education briefing for Microsoft Partners - 19 August 2014


    Microsoft Australia and CAUDIT - Higher Education Partner Briefing – 19th August


    On behalf of the Microsoft Australia Higher Education team and the Council of Australian Directors of IT (CAUDIT), I’d like to invite you to attend a Microsoft Education Partner Briefing specifically for partners focusing on universities, to discuss challenges and opportunities in the university sector (in light of the federal reforms) in alignment with your key solution capabilities.

    This event is for Microsoft Partner Network members and Microsoft Authorised Education Resellers

    Australia’s “CIO of the Year”, William Confalonieri of Deakin University, will open the event and share a deep insight into the changing role of IT within universities.

    Representatives from CAUDIT will be on hand to provide views on the changes in the higher education marketplace within Australia, and the IT priorities for CIOs across the market.

    The Microsoft Australian Higher Education team will provide more information on the Microsoft strategy, and share successful co-selling strategies and advice for partners.

    The briefing will give Microsoft partners an opportunity to understand Microsoft’s strategy within the higher education marketplace, and how our products, services and solutions address the current and emerging needs of Australian universities.

    Our aim is to ensure that partners leave with the latest information on the higher education sector so that they can plan appropriate strategies to support their customer engagements, and to identify new market opportunities as the marketplace and technology directions change.

    Date: Afternoon of 19th August 2014

    Venue: The University of Melbourne

    Make a dateRegister for now the Higher Education Partner Briefing on 19 Aug 2014

  • Education

    Your opportunity to apply to join an exclusive community of innovative educators

    Richard, who runs our Microsoft Innovative Educator programme in Australia, has asked me to let you know about the opportunity for practising teachers to apply to join the Microsoft Innovative Education Expert program.

    We’re looking for top educators, ready to spread the word about the great things they are doing in the classroom from across Australia. The Microsoft Innovative Educator - Expert Program is an exclusive program created to recognise pioneer educators  who are using technology to transform education.

    Microsoft is seeking top innovative educators who are using Microsoft technologies to engage students and their peers in innovative ways to positively impact learning. We’re particularly interested in educators who are actively mentoring others, active in social media and have a passion for and a desire to share their experiences.

    As a Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Expert, you will be asked to advocate and share your experiences with peers and policy makers on effective use of technology in education. The Australian MIE Expert community will also provide access to fellow innovative educators to share valuable experiences, lessons and best practices and work together as a community to promote ideas to innovate in teaching and learning.

    This is a non-paid, ambassador program, however you will receive some fantastic benefits as an MIE Expert.  Benefits include your own Windows 8 tablet, mentoring from experienced innovative educators in the MIE community and, other rewards such as a chance to attend the Microsoft in Education Global Forum in Microsoft HQ, Seattle, in March 2015.

    Applicants will be evaluated based on their learning activity, application form and interview if called.

    What we need you to be

    • An educator interested in developing strategies to benefit and share with other educators
    • Energised, with a friendly and outgoing personality
    • Able to work autonomously and within a team
    • Display confident and articulate presentation and written communication skills
    • Full-time educator in P-12 or in a higher education faculty of education
    • A fan of Windows devices and services – 3+ years’ experience on a Windows device using Microsoft Office and other key Microsoft applications

    What you’ll be doing

    • Advocating Microsoft technologies in the context of the classroom and in schools from August 2014 until December 1st 2015
    • Representing Microsoft and sharing your experiences through social channels (blogs, communities) online engagements (webinars) and presenting at local events
    • Using a Windows 8 device and other Microsoft products and services
    • Mentoring and training other educators in applying the use of Microsoft technologies to learning
    • Providing input in professional development content for educators
    • Collaborating with other MIE - Experts and Microsoft on your experiences
    • Reporting weekly reporting on your activities

    What you’ll get

    • Training at a workshop in Sydney in September 2014
    • A Windows 8 device with Microsoft Office 365
    • Unique MIE Expert presentation and event collateral
    • Monthly incentives for the top MIE Experts
    • Select MIE Experts will receive the opportunity to attend the Microsoft in Education Global Forum in March 2015
    • Access to an exclusive community of educators with monthly webinars from education specialists, Microsoft technology and education specialists and a private online community
    • Mentoring from Microsoft and experienced education specialists

    What’s the next step?

    As part of the application you will be asked to provide details of a particular learning activity that is a good example of your Microsoft in the Classroom story as well as a simple cover letter and program relevant resume.

    We’re inviting educators from the all over Australia to apply for the MIE Expert program today. Visit the Career One application form here to apply.

    For any program queries, please email the program team

  • Education

    Take part in a Global Enterprise Challenge with other primary schools


    I learnt today that a school I used to work with in the UK, Broadclyst Community Primary School, were given a grant by the Microsoft global Education team to fund their Global Enterprise Challenge, to allow them to join 1,000 students from 20 countries together in a challenge for Year 6 students. And they've just opened nominations for schools to take part, and it's open to Australian schools to enter.

    Here's the details from my UK colleagues:


    Sign up your school today!

    It is with great excitement that we announce the Microsoft Global Enterprise Challenge which has just gone live! Based on the enterprise project created by Broadclyst Community Primary School (BCPS) in South West England, schools throughout the world are currently being sought to participate in a ground-breaking enterprise challenge developed and run by BCPS and funded by Microsoft. During the Challenge, 1000 students across 20 schools in 20 countries will connect to run ten international companies, each with ten regional offices/teams. The teams will be developing, producing and marketing ten products selected in a pitch situation by the project co-ordinator, and will be competing with each other to become the most successful company globally.

    Much like the real business the world, the companies will be judged on how profitably they are running, which will give the students a taste for the commercial world.

    How will the Global Enterprise Challenge benefit your students?

    The GEC incorporates many different elements of the curriculum making the challenge a brilliant opportunity for the students to contextualise core subjects they are being taught such as Maths, Design, English and even Accounting into the enterprise sphere, which will make the learning activity highly engaging and fun.

    The opportunity will also encourage young students to start to align their learning outcomes to the commercial world: From the Broadclyst Community Primary School video below, you can see that the students are given a real taste of entrepreneurship as they have to not only choose what product they think will sell, but additionally create this desirable product. Indeed the teams are solely in charge of making (manufacturing) their products and even promoting (marketing) them which they can do by filming adverts and getting really creative.

    Broadclyst Primary are looking for other schools to sign up and get involved.

    Applications are open until 1st September so make sure to sign up your school and get involved using this link

    Microsoft Global Enterprise Challenge from Broadclyst Primary School on Vimeo.

Page 7 of 82 (820 items) «56789»