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

  • Education

    Edmodo app for Windows 8 available now


    Edmodo for Windows 8 logoAt the ISTE Conference in the US, the team from Edmodo (“the world’s largest, free K-12 social learning network”) released the Windows 8 Edmodo app for teachers and students. With thousands of teachers in Australian schools using Edmodo, it means that learners in Australia can easily access the Edmodo suite from their Windows 8 start screen, and receive live tile notifications (eg showing when there’s new messages or reminders for the user on their Windows Start Screen via the app’s live tile).

    One of the benefits of the Windows 8 Edmodo app is that when you click to view a file or internet link, it will open it in split screen view – leaving both Edmodo and the new file on the screen, rather than switching between apps.


    Learn MoreGet the Edmodo app from the Windows 8 Store

  • Education

    Explain Everything for Windows 8 - now available


    I’ve been away for a nice holiday, and now that I’m back I’m staring at a huge backlog of blog posts to write up, as there’s been so much happening and announced whilst I’ve been away. And because many schools, TAFEs and universities are heading back next week, I thought I’d better get started…

    There have been some great new apps added to the Education section of the Windows 8 store recently, and one of the highest profile ones is Explain Everything for Windows 8.

    imageExplain Everything for Windows 8 is an easy-to-use design, screencasting, and interactive whiteboard tool that lets you annotate, animate, narrate, import, and export almost anything to and from almost anywhere. You can use it to create slides, draw in any colour, add shapes, add text, and use a laser pointer. It allows you to rotate, move and arrange any object added to the stage, and then to record and playback your screencast.image

    You start by using an existing images or PDFs (you can save Office files directly as PDFs within Word and PowerPoint) and then use a variety of tools to edit and annotate as you go along – with Explain Everything recording all the actions for playback later as a video file or still images.

    Find More

    Download Explain Everything from the Windows Store

  • Education

    Here’s one TAFE institute that’s already changed the face of learning with Yammer


    Shortly all education customers will be able to add the enterprise version of Yammer free to their existing Office 365 Education [Want to know more about this, and what's in Yammer enterprise]. But some education customers in Australia have already been using Yammer to support teaching and learning in their institution.

    imageAt Wodonga TAFE, they started using Yammer last year to provide an enhanced online learning environment, with better cross-institute sharing between staff, and with and between students. In addition to supporting remote students, and bringing them closer to the institute, even if they are studying online, Wodonga TAFE have also been able to win new business from government and private sector organisations. This is an important factor for TAFEs in almost every state across Australia, where Institutes are competing with private training providers who are getting into areas that have been previously reserved for TAFE Institutes.

    As Michael Kershler, the ICT Director at Wodonga TAFE, put it:

      We have targeted and won contracts from government and the private sector based on our ability to embed technology in online learning. With Lync and Yammer, we are winning contracts from customers who would not traditionally have turned to a TAFE institution.  

    Wodonga TAFE has 250 staff, 14 campuses, and delivers training to 18,000 students through 2,500,000 contact hours of training each year.

    Connecting staff with each other, and with students

    As well as wanting to attract new customers among regional businesses, government agencies and remote communities, the TAFE wanted to make training more compelling. According to Michael:

      To stimulate new learning techniques, we wanted everyone to share ideas informally, without cluttering each other’s email with irrelevant material. We had fantastic education capital, but it was stuck in silos of information in 14 different campuses. To create the best courses we needed to reduce internal barriers.  

    Wodonga TAFE already delivered more than half of courses online, but to deliver a more interactive learning experience, trainers also wanted to bring remote students into the same teaching environments. “We wanted to make online learning more engaging, increase real-time participation, and equip everyone to respond quickly to student requests.”

    Late last year, Wodonga TAFE became the first vocational TAFE in Victoria to roll out the enterprise social tool, Yammer. (Yammer recreates a social media platform within an organisation, so employees and students can create profiles and interest groups, start conversation threads, post news, pose questions and provide informal commentary.

    They also wanted to give all staff instant messaging, voice calls, and desktop videoconferencing, so they used Lync 2013, and made Office 365Education available to all 18,000 students. And by connecting Lync and Skype, students and trainers can see each other’s availability, start IM conversations and click-to-call from either application.

    TAFE staff working ‘out loud’

    After combining Yammer, Lync and Office 365, Wodonga TAFE staff members started collaborating more effectively, creating more powerful courses and winning new customers. Yammer has helped create a new, highly co-operative networking culture across all TAFE Wodonga campuses.


    We’ve had great success in breaking down organisational barriers. With Yammer, we’ve developed a ‘working out loud’ philosophy, which means trainers build new courses collaboratively, everyone knows what’s happening, and we all react fast.

    Before, people were pushing information—often blindly—across organisation. Now, we are all pulling information towards us, which is more efficient and effective. Yammer brings the organisation together, both culturally and at a business level. Email is no longer our primary communication tool.


    Improving distance learning

    The Yammer-Lync combination also enables trainers to reach a wider student base, through simpler instant collaboration and communication:


    Our remote learning is now so much more than just ‘online’. When they sign up, remote students are instantly engaged in our campus environment, and tutors bring students into classes, or coach them via live chats. Meanwhile, trainers have started learning innovation groups, where they create and share digital learning techniques.

    Now we can extend the best quality education to students to isolated communities at no additional cost: this gives us a great competitive advantage.


    Learn MoreRead more in the full Microsoft case study on our global website

  • Education

    Solving the biggest problem with Office 365’s SharePoint in schools


    I’ve come across implementations of SharePoint in schools where it has been rolled out as another vanilla IT service – a bit like a shared network drive, or a plain portal. And the IT team are so overloaded with projects that they haven’t had the time to personalise the look and feel to make it suitable for each class, subject or interest group. Of course, they’re not all like that – as my 10 of the best SharePoint school websites and 10 of the best Australian education websites built on SharePoint lists show.

    So wouldn’t it be good if we could solve the design problem, so that you can roll out a unique and compelling design for your Office 365 website, and give control to every teacher and specialist so that they can customise their design so that the History page is exactly what the History teachers want, and the Art page reflects what the Art Department want? And that design worked on your laptops, tablets and even your students’ phones?

    That’s exactly the problem we solved last week, when nSynergy launched Mosaic with us at the EduTech conference in Brisbane.

    Mosaic is a free, Office 365 SharePoint template built specifically for schools, to help you create and customise collaborative and engaging, interactive online learning spaces which support and accelerate learning outcomes. Mosaic lets you create your classroom in the cloud.


    Built in partnership with Australian company nSynergy, and in consultation with educators from around the country, Mosaic helps schools harness the power of Office 365 Education by providing a modern user experience with intuitive and personalised interactions that inspire discovery.  It creates beautiful learning spaces with simple drag and drop tools for teachers, to connect the classroom to any student, anywhere and on any device, at any time. Mosaic extends the power of Office 365 to accelerate learning outcomes.

    Free to download from the Office Store from the end of June, Mosaic is powered by the LiveTiles design tool, and is available on any device, helping schools use Office 365 more effectively for collaboration and communication. Through Mosaic we’re enabling schools to respond and adapt to changes in the education sector, ensuring that both students and teachers have the best and simplest tools at their disposal to improve their learning experience. It brings the ease of use and flexibility to design your own virtual classroom, and hands the power back to the teacher to focus on teaching and not trying to manage the tools to teach.

    It makes anytime, anywhere learning a reality by allowing learners and educators to work and collaborate both in and away from the classroom.

    To find out more about Mosaic, head to the website where you can view a short video demonstration and register your interest to be contacted upon launch day.

  • Education

    21st Century Learning Design in Action–two day workshop from ELH



    Are you going to EduTech next week? Would you like to be able to develop practical strategies that help you turn some of the great ideas into concrete plans? The team at Expanding Learning Horizons have created a training  event, running in Brisbane in the two days before EduTech, that’s setup perfectly to help.

    Now that 21st Century learning has been reflected within the Australian National Curriculum, with the introduction of the General Capabilities, teachers must know how to design their lessons to develop key skills for work and life in the 21st Century. The two-day course (1/2 June) enables both teachers and educational leaders to gain a clear understanding of 21st Century skills, providing an explicit framework for improving both classroom and school outcomes. And with Bruce Dixon and Travis Smith talking (two of the Australian speakers I love to be challenged by), there will be plenty of content to help you create your action plans.

    It will provide an excellent framework for evaluating everything you’ll see over the following two days at the EduTech conference.

    The training course costs $495 for two days, and you can find the detailed agenda and venue details below:

    Make a dateFind out more: ELH 21st Century Learning Design in Action - 1/2 June 2014

  • Education

    Webinar: How Office 365 Education helps students learn


    We’ve got a webinar coming up in two weeks for Australian schools:


    The subject of our next school-focused webinar is “How do you give your students better learning experiences with a rich, interactive collaborative environment that will prepare them for the demands of a 21st century workforce?

    We’ll show you how Microsoft Office 365 Education could enhance communication and collaboration in your classroom and inspire new ways of teaching and learning. We’ll take a look at how St Andrews Anglican College are using Office 365 Education to enhance communication across the school and improve student outcomes. And you’ll hear how your school can take advantage of these very same opportunities at no cost, with the Student Advantage program.

    • Inspire new ways of teaching
    • Empower your students to work on group projects simultaneously – in and out of the classroom
    • Mark projects and essays wherever you need to be, without cumbersome paperwork
    • Foster open communication via a school-based social network
    • Inspire innovation and creativity among your students
    • Hear how St Andrews College deployed Office 365 Education to encourage student confidence with technology and improve school communications

    The speakers are two of my favourite experts – Mark Tigwell, who works with NSW schools, and Fiona Sims, who’s the manager for Office 365 Education in Australia. And the session includes a live chat feature so you can get instant answers to your own questions. You can find out more, and register below.

    The webinar is at 4pm AEST (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane) on Wednesday 14 May.


  • Education

    Building a MOOC in the cloud, using Microsoft Azure


    It would be fair to call MOOCs a phenomenon (Phenomenon: Something notable: something that is out of the ordinary and excites people's interest and curiosity). They have created an enormous amount of interest and curiosity – and jumped up to the top of the agenda for ‘EdTech futurists’ and any reports that look at what’s the next big thing. A lot of the attention has focused on the MOOCs coming out of the US – like edX and Coursera – which some of the big Australian universities have signed up for (The University of Melbourne aligned with Coursera, whilst The University of Sydney aligned with edX). But it’s not a one-way street across the Pacific - there have been plenty of local MOOCs developed within Australia.

    DeakinConnect headerDeakin University’s open learning space, Deakin Connect, is a purpose-built platform developed in conjunction with a Microsoft partner, Janison, which enables  Deakin University to innovate in assessment, as well as online learning. Rather than try to test and measure student success, the course prompts learners to create and share rich evidence of their attainment of learning outcomes. Peers can award credit badges, signifying that they believe the participant’s exhibit shows mastery of learning outcomes. These can be shared on social media platforms including LinkedIn and Facebook.

    I’ve attached a case study (see below) which explores why the Deakin University approach has been different to other universities, and how they have been able to focus on the educational outcomes they have been aiming to achieve, rather than compromising their educational journey to match somebody else’s technology. And their results so far – with registered participants from 80 countries, and having learners pay a fee for their work to be accredited by Deakin University (one of the first in the world to make a successful step towards a new accreditation business model through the MOOC). 

    As Wendy Palmer, Head of Learning Design from DeakinPrime, says in the case study:

      It’s not as if there are a lot of universities out there doing this. It’s not an established business model by any means. This really is cutting-edge stuff.  

    In the case study, Wendy also talks about the learning journey, for both DeakinPrime and the MOOC students:


    Content curation was the other major focus of the project. Rather than write lots of online learning, we’re actually using the system as a means of elegantly ordering information that’s already out there, pulling it together into a structured learning journey. Janison’s Course Builder really helped us to do that very quickly and simply. I’ve worked on many other Learning Management Systems and what I can do in an hour on the Janison CLS, I know would have taken me days in other systems. So, not only do we have an excellent system for elearning we also benefit from rapid deployment…

    A lot of the MOOC learning systems are in the format of just a video with associated multiple-choice questions. One week we decided to try this format for one of the modules. We got a real backlash on the discussion boards with comments like: ‘We’re so disappointed, we didn’t think this was that sort of course’. We had actually planned to use this format more. We ended up changing from multiple choices to an FAQ format, and then directing users to resources so they could research them further if they wanted to find out more. We didn’t receive any negative backlash from that. The system enabled us to adapt really quickly to learners’ expectations and requirements. We have the flexibility to change the courses as we progress and to give our users the learning experience they need.


    The DeakinConnect MOOC is built upon the Janison Cloud Learning System (CLS) which provides a platform being used within Australia for learning management, distance learning and online assessment, in educational, government and commercial organisations.

    Learn MoreRead the full DeakinConnect MOOC case study

  • Education

    Education DevCamp in Sydney – Building apps for Office 365 and SharePoint


    On 14/15 May 2014 we’re running a training event for developers of education applications and services in Sydney. It is a two-day detailed training workshop that will help partners to develop for the Office 365, Office and SharePoint platform. The workshop is for developers and architects, and will mix integration theory with hands-on development practice. Although this workshop is primarily for commercial developers, it may also be of interest to developers within education institutions who develop apps and services for a wide base of users.

    The timing of this training is important, as the existing large number of Office and Office 365 users in Australian education institutions (both students and staff) is expected to increase rapidly as a result of our announcement that the Office Professional Plus suite is available for students free of charge through qualifying institutions (details here) for their school and home computers (as well as their iPad, Android and iPhone devices). In Australia, that could mean a leap in education users of Office, and offer new opportunities to create apps that support students, teachers, schools, TAFEs and universities.

    DevCamps header

    App DevCamp for Education-Focused ISVs and Publishers

    Apply for participation in an App DevCamp for Education Partners and work alongside Microsoft experts to learn how to build apps for Office 365 and SharePoint.

    The new Office has a focus on cloud, making it easier for partners to build applications that integrate with Office and Office 365, and bring these to market and to users through an online store. For education customers and partners, this is good news. Customers will be able to add custom apps within their personalised Office environment and partners will benefit from a new opportunity to build and sell education apps for the many millions of Microsoft education customers around the world.

    For Education publishers and content partners, this offers the potential to build apps which can co-exist with the rich tools of Office applications. Education ISVs have the opportunity to extend their solutions by building apps that support specific processes in education – whether it's to handle approval of staff cover; to manage assignment submission; to extend the functionality of a LMS by building apps for SharePoint; to build and publish lesson plans; to manage the booking of resources; to build a ‘parent permission’ app which allows a parent to say ‘Yes’ with one click when reading a form….a million and one relevant, simple, single-button type controls. Building apps for Office and SharePoint is a good opportunity.

    If you are building education apps, we would like to offer you the opportunity to apply for a place at this DevCamp provided specifically for our education-focused ISVs and Publishers.

    The training is designed for developers/architects building apps for Office & SharePoint (for both on-premise and Office 365 customers) and will offer the opportunity for delegates to meet with subject matter experts from Microsoft.

    Topics for Presentations and Hands-On Labs include

    • Building apps for Office and Office 365
    • Building apps for SharePoint and SharePoint Online
    • Using web technologies to build apps with the cloud app model
    • Deployment options for apps, including getting your apps into the Office Store


    There is no fee for the event itself. Microsoft will provide lunch and refreshments during the 2 day event. You are responsible for any other expenses including accommodation and travel to/from the event.

    Make a date

    To register for the Sydney Edu DevCamp, please click here. Once completed, you will be contacted with confirmation of your place. Space is limited, so register early.


    Date: May 14-15, 2014
    Location: Sydney, Australia
    Level: 300
    Audience: Architects / Web Developers in the Education sector

  • Education

    Technology Enriched Instruction - A Partners in Learning workshop for Higher Education Faculty


    TEI HeaderMicrosoft and University of New England would like to invite colleagues from other universities and TAFE Institutes to the first Australian hosting of the Technology Enriched Instruction workshop on April 3 and 4 2014 at the UNE Futures Campus in Parramatta. Attendees with a range of teaching experience and roles are welcome to this free workshop-based event, which is designed to be of interest to anyone who would like to be well informed about key developments in learning, teaching and technology.

    imageAs co-hosts, Microsoft and the University of New England have designed the event to help showcase both global developments and local enthusiasms, providing opportunities to explore developments from a range of perspectives and contexts.  This workshop, based on the TPACK framework, is designed to help TAFE and university faculty improve their use of technology in their teaching and instruction. It assists educators to develop competencies that will enable them to plan systemically for the selection, utilisation and evaluation of technology tools and resources in a pedagogically appropriate manner.

    Day Two of the event will provide insights into trends and technology use in higher education lead by the co-hosts, Microsoft and UNE, which will also include a Futures Campus tour and a closing panel debate titled “Content knowledge isn’t important anymore.”

    Workshop Topic Areas

    • The changing nature of education, students and the modern workplace
    • The TPACK Framework – Understanding the relationship between technology, pedagogy & content
    • 21st Century Learning Design
    • Evaluation tools to assess TPACK and 21st Century Learning Design
    • Technology utilised will include, but will not be limited to, OneNote, OneDrive, web applications, Skype, Lync, Yammer and Office 365, as well as technology embedded in other tools (e.g. translation, video editing and broadcast applications)


    Day 1

    8:30AM Welcome & overview of the day
    8:45AM Morning workshop session
    12:45PM Afternoon workshop session
    5:00PM Wrap-up and evaluations
    5:30PM Evening networking and refreshments

    Day 2

    9:00AM 21st Century Skills. 21st Century Careers. 21st Century Learning
    9:45AM UNE Office 365/Lync Project Overview
    10:15AM Futures and the role of technology
    11:00AM Video futures and higher education
    1:00PM Spotlight on online assessment
    2:15PM Panel debate
    3:30PM Event close

    More information about TEI, and the supporting programmes at

    Make a dateMake a date: Register for the Australia TEI Forum

  • Education

    Webinar on cloud privacy and data sovereignty



    The benefits of cloud computing for public sector organisations run right across the public sector, including education. 
    But as executives explore the opportunities, they often become concerned about data security and the privacy risks associated with online services – and justifiably so.

    We’re running a webinar tomorrow (12 March) at 2PM AEDT, where we’ll tackle the sensitive issue of data privacy head-on to reveal both the potential pain points and how your organisation can mitigate the risks.

    The ability to offer new services. The potential to improve operating efficiencies. Deepening customer engagement. There’s no disputing the upside of the cloud. But balancing individual privacy, corporate security and state sovereignty in this brave new world can prove challenging. In the webinar, our cloud experts will:

    • Explore the potential risks cloud computing presents
    • Share our experience in how real the risks are
    • Offer insights on how to overcome them
    • Reveal what’s needed to undertake a cloud-risk assessment – and how to share your findings with managers

    Two senior Microsoft Australia employees will share their experiences of compliance and security, explain the impact of cloud computing and shed light on data privacy, security and sovereignty.

    imageJames Kavanagh

    Chief Security Officer, Microsoft Australia
    imageShaun Tipson

    Senior Attorney, Microsoft Australia

    The webinar runs tomorrow, Weds 12 March, at 2PM AEDT.

    Register now for the Cloud webinar on 12 March 2014

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