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

  • Education

    Why social media matters in student recruitment - CRM in education


    We’ve just updated our Microsoft Dynamics CRM system to include a range of new capabilities focusing on social features - engaging with social communities, which can be both internal and external - as part of sales, marketing and customer service delivery. For CRM in education, this brings a much-needed set of capabilities for universities and TAFEs in Australia, where the role of social media, and engagement with the social communities, is becoming increasingly critical to key business drivers - whether that’s managing your institution’s overall brand, or engaging with prospective local and international students for recruitment purposes.

    Although some (marketing) people initially wrote off social media as a ‘fad’, there is now no doubt that it is driving student behaviours, and having a significant impact upon choices that they make. In the ‘Building Your Business’ video below, there’s one slide that explains why. It’s about trust. 90% of people trust their peers to make recommendations on things they are going to buy (and in today’s tertiary education marketplace, education is something students ‘buy’).

    Text: 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations for purchasing decisions; only 14% trust adverts; 70% trust other consumer opinions

    So here’s a question for the marketing people in tertiary education: If 9 out of 10 trust their peers, and only 1 out of 6 trust your adverts, do you monitor, manage and support the social communities that result in those recommendations? And do you do it with 6x as much focus and time as you do with your adverts?

    Hopefully, the background explains why we’ve put so much new focus into the social aspects of our Dynamics CRM system - because you need a tool for CRM in education that covers your conventional marketing (adverts, events, student enquiries) as well as the amorphous mass of social communities (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). It’s because there’s a bunch of opportunities (or potential lost opportunities) that come from effective student recruitment through social communities (after all, your existing ‘customers’ are the generation that uses social media more than anybody, and will have a massive amplification impact on your prospective students).

    Slide text: Business Opportunities with Social Technologies - Listen, engage, amplify, solve, innovate, analyse

    The trick with what we’ve done with Dynamics CRM is to integrate social tools into the existing tools your staff are using - whether that means surfacing LinkedIn profiles of your contacts into your email inbox, or your social communities through your CRM system. The key has been to integrate into the systems your users may already be using - Office, Outlook, Lync and SharePoint. In the first wave of updates to CRM, just released, our focus is on your internal communities - activity feeds to help people to collaborate internally, internal status and micro-blog updates, connections between people and activities.

    There’s a detailed presentation below, from the Microsoft Dynamics CRM YouTube channel, which explains the background to the changes (and includes the two slides I’ve used above), as well as demonstrating what’s now possible - including a demonstration of the app for the Windows Phone. Although it’s longer than the average YouTube video, it’s has a mass of useful context and detailed demonstrations. 33 minutes into the video, the Dynamics team share their future plans - on wider device support, ability to convert social status updates into user actions in your system and other areas.

    Learn More iconThere’s a broad range of Microsoft Dynamics partners in Australia - and three I’d explicitly mention because of their previous projects with tertiary CRM education customers in Australia:

    Need contact details for any of them? Drop me an email, using the ‘email me’ link at the top of the page

  • Education

    How do I set up Windows on a touch PC?


    The Microsoft IT team are the people responsible for keeping the Microsoft internal IT systems running and providing the users with support - in the same way that IT teams in schools/TAFEs/universities do. (And in the case of some universities, on a similar scale!)

    Work Smart GuidesPart of their role is providing training and user documentation for us - in the form of Work Smart Guides - which we use to get to grips quickly with new technologies available internally. They are simple user guides, on subjects as diverse as our unified communications systems, how to use our internal SharePoint etc. In your first month at Microsoft they are absolutely essential reading, as our working environment is so different from many organisations that new employees come from (for example, the Sydney office has no conventional telephones and nobody has their own fixed desk or office).

    The latest of the Work Smart Guides is “Using Windows 7 Professional on a Slate PC”, and just like many of the others, they have published it for our customers to use as well as part of the Microsoft IT Showcase programme. You can either use it ‘as is’, or for a starting point for your own user documentation. It includes tips on setup, the use and customisation of flicks and gestures in Windows, Internet Explorer and other applications, screen touch optimisation for things like menus and scroll bars, and calibration.

    The “Using Windows 7 Professional on a Touch PC” Work Smart Guide is a free download (PDF)

    Learn MoreYou can download all of the other 23 Work Smart Guides from this link.

    Find other blog posts related to the Microsoft IT Showcase programme

  • Education

    Do you need a new job title in ‘the Cloud’?


    Amidst all the noise and fervour associated with the Cloud in education one question I have not, till now, seen properly addressed is what does the Cloud mean for the skills and responsibilities of IT professionals?  The team over at Microsoft Learning have just addressed this with a white paper Cloud Computing: What IT Professionals Need to Know. It provides useful insight into the whole issue of cloud-skilling an IT department and guess what – it is more complex and rewarding than simply changing job titles from systems administrator to cloud administrator (but the job title change is a good start).

    Slide: Cloud Role Evolution

    If you’re responsible for an IT team in a school, TAFE or university, one of the issues that you’ll need to consider going forward is how moving to cloud computing will impact on your team’s roles and responsibilities - and what new skills they may need to develop to succeed. IT managers and CIOs who want to deliver more value from their IT investments are going to have to be in the front line of cloud skills education — both for themselves and to build training capacity for their IT staff.

    This paper explores the advantages of moving to the cloud and outlines the skill sets IT professionals are likely to need to acquire. It identifies the roles - eg Cloud Service Manager or Cloud Developer - and also the skills development needs across critical IT job roles, including business liaison, datacentre managers, security specialists and software architects.

    Learn More

    Download your own copy of the white paper - Cloud Computing: What IT Professionals Need to Know


    There’s more information on the Microsoft Learning Cloud Services curriculum and certification here

  • Education

    SharePoint Composites - the future of the Learning Management System?


    I’ve been reading quite a few articles recently about the future of Learning Management Systems (LMS). These have attempted to look over the horizon - beyond today’s monolithic LMS - for a future where it’s likely that these systems will be comprised of a mash-up of different ‘best in class’ components, highly integrated. Although the majority of institutions aren’t near the point where this model be mainstream, it’s something that bears thinking about in your long-range strategy. Personally, I believe that the key platform to connect all of these different components together will be SharePoint, which I think of as a platform for education web applications, in the same way as Windows is the platform for local applications.

    The descriptive term for what I’m discussing is ‘composite applications’. A composite application combines data, documents and business processes through a series of building blocks to create a business solution. But how will these applications be built? And is this already happening?

    SharePoint Composites

    There’s a ‘SharePoint Composites Handbook’ which describes some of the common scenarios for these composites, and talks about how they would be produced in SharePoint (both process and tools). I think it’s useful for people with two interests:

    • Understanding how to take the next step in using SharePoint as a strategic tool across your institution by building quick composite applications, like expenses, leave and training solutions;
    • Considering how you can connect together your existing systems (learning management systems, student management systems, finance systems) in a way that gives you more flexibility in the future.

    Although the handbook does dive down into IT detail, there are sections of it that are useful for senior managers outside of IT who want to know what their current systems are capable of. Here’s the introduction to Composites at the beginning of the handbook:


    In short, a SharePoint Composite is a “do-it-yourself” business solution. A SharePoint Composite bears close resemblance to the often-used term, “mashup”. A mashup (in contrast to a classic shrink-wrapped software product) is a quick Web application that incorporates data into a simple, visual, and interactive solution. However, the term “composite” emphasises the breadth and depth of solutions you can build on the SharePoint 2010 platform.


    In Part II, the handbook also identifies 20 common design patterns for composite applications, including social computing, dynamic diagrams, business process and workflows, content management, records and media management, web databases and business intelligence. And from page 65 it lists 40 pre-made application templates, with sources, including budgeting and tracking, contact management, absence and leave requests

    Learn MoreYou can download the SharePoint Composites Handbook from this page

  • Education

    The Microsoft Australian Partner Roadshow is coming to Melbourne and Sydney next month



    We’ve just announced the dates for our ‘Big Picture Experience’ for Microsoft Partners, in Melbourne on 22nd November, and Sydney on the 30th November. These are free events, only available to registered Microsoft Partners, where there will be a chance to catch up on the latest Microsoft news and developments, and see how our products and services can complement each other to help you to deliver solutions for your customers.

    Compared to the Australian Partner Conference, which is a more conventional ‘conference’, we’ll be providing a much more flexible and interactive day, and by getting on the road, hopefully more of your team will get a chance to come along. The other thing to know about the event is that you don’t need to commit the whole day - you can drop in for a few hours at some point in the day, and stay as long as we can keep you entertained and informed!

    As the invite says:

      This event is not a talkfest. You won’t be sitting in a conference hall, trying to stay awake. Instead, you’ll explore real life scenarios that will show you the tangible impact of Microsoft technology advances.  

    The scenarios are:

    • Insights 24/7 - how to make decisions smarter and in real-time
    • The Future of Productivity - using a ‘day in the life’ scenario
    • Ultimate customer experiences - looking at the tools that will help marketers, sales and other customer-facing staff
    • Mission control - integrating private and public cloud, and learning how to adapt, adopt and deploy new cross platform services as never before.
    • The Modern Home - Explore the unlimited worlds of entertainment, gaming, connection, and learning that are possible when technology brings it home.
    • A World of Devices - @home, @work or @play, cool devices make our time so much richer - see, touch and play with the latest phones, PC’s and slates to your heart’s content


    If you’re not an education partner, then wait a day - I’ve got details on the customer roadshow coming tomorrow too….

  • Education

    Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance - taking CRM in education into the classroom


    TeacherHow do you reconcile the gap between the skills that you can teach today, and the skills your students will need when they leave education institutions and enter the world of employment? Earlier in the year I wrote about one initiative at Keele University of Applied Sciences, where the students are using Microsoft Dynamics CRM in education as part of their course - familiarising them with the tools they are going to encounter in employment, as well as giving them a head start for jobs.

    If you’re in a TAFE or university, you may want to know about (or let a colleague know about) the Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance, which is a community of over 1,500 education institutions around the world that are teaching students using the Microsoft CRM and ERP systems. The scheme works by giving your institution access to:

    • Donated Microsoft Dynamics software for your classroom/labs
    • Free technical support from Microsoft Dynamics product experts
    • Free online training and course materials
    • Access to Faculty Connection, a Microsoft-sponsored CRM in education community designed to connect you with other professors who are leaders in their field
    • Information about industry association meetings and conferences
    • Connections with Microsoft Dynamics partners and customers

    The programme is open to educational customers that want to use the Microsoft Dynamics products in their curriculum or academic research in curriculum areas such as accounting, business, marketing and operations management. (Of course, it would be obvious to include it within a degree course in sales, but unlike other similar professions such as marketing, it seems that ‘sales’ doesn’t get its own degree course!).

    A big benefit is that your students are able to get hands-on, practical learning experiences that replicate the processes and systems they will encounter when they leave you, and your teaching staff get a simplified route to creating the courses needed by students.

    Learn MoreFind out more about the Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance

    Important NB: The no-cost software licences issued through the Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance are not for evaluation purposes or for personal, family, or business use. They are not available for Microsoft Dynamic–specific training on a for-profit basis, and they are not available for educational institutions that want to use them to manage their own operations.

  • Education

    What's Next at Microsoft


    Microsoft is a big place - with tens of thousands of people designing, creating, coding and building things around the world. There’s simply too much going on to keep up with it all. With just under 100,000 staff, it’s the equivalent of trying to keep up with what’s happening in every government school in NSW and Victoria put together.

    And as a result, I’m often catching up on new developments at the same time as you may be (if you’re an avid reader of other Microsoft blogs!). One of my favourite blogs to keep ahead of the curve is the Next at Microsoft blog, written by Steve Clayton, an old colleague from the UK. Steve’s a natural story-teller, and he has managed to get access to some of the amazing work going on behind the scenes in our research labs.

    Four days ago, Steve linked to a Microsoft Research video on the ‘HoloDesk’, which takes some of our latest inventions to a whole new level. If you’ve seen Kinect in action, you’ll be familiar with the concepts, but when you see where they’ve taken this, I’m sure you’ll be amazed.

    Watch the Microsoft Research team share their work on the HoloDesk

    What learning experiences could this allow you to create for your students? What’s not possible today that would be with this? And which sci-fi films now look slightly old fashioned?

    Learn MoreRead more about this project on the Next at Microsoft blog

  • Education

    This week’s webcasts for education customers and partners 24-28 October 2011


    There are four webcasts to know about this week - one education-specific one (the Tech Tuesday) and three more general technical ones. I’ve listed them in priority order, which I think will match the needs of Australian education customers.

    The two that I think are particularly valuable are the Tech Tuesday webinar on the IT Academy, which will be of interest to all education customers (and to people with either a curriculum or IT interest).

    The second key one, on Friday, is the session which will help you to understand how you can create IT projects which bridge on-site infrastructure and Cloud services. The reason I see it as key is because in education we’re going to see an increasing focus on hybrid solutions, because there’s some data you’ll be hesitant to put into the cloud (eg sensitive student medical data), whereas other data you may find useful to put into the cloud in an anonymised way (eg student achievement data) in order to enhance teaching and learning). There are a number of projects where the hybrid model is being used by education users in Australia, so this session will give you some of the technical background to what’s possible.

    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

    Tech Tuesday - IT Academy in Education

    The Microsoft IT Academy is a programme that provides students with future-ready technology skills they need to be successful in careers. Read more about the IT Academy programme

    Tuesday 25th October 11AM-12PM AEST - Register here for the webinar

    What Are the Bridges between Private and Public Cloud?

    In this session we look at the core Hybrid Cloud topologies possible with Windows Azure and Windows Server Private Cloud Architecture. We showcase bridging the two environments together and how you can leverage private and public cloud to scale your enterprise needs.

    Friday 28th October 2-4PM AEST - Register here for the webinar

    An IT Professional View of Windows Azure

    This session takes a look at the Windows Azure Platform from an IT professional’s perspective. We provide a brief overview of the Windows Azure Platform featuring the recently announced changes to the platform as well as demonstrate the practical measures IT professionals need to take in order to deploy, manage and monitor applications running in Windows Azure.

    Tuesday 25th October 2-4PM AEST - Register here for the webinar

    Would You, Could You with Team Foundation Server?

    You’re considering Team Foundation Server, or perhaps you have already deployed it? You think you know what it is capable of, but do you? Microsoft built in many extensibility points which developers have used to build interesting and useful add-ons. These solutions include tools for managing requirements, product and sprint backlogs, work items, and software deployments. In this session, we discuss the partner ecosystem and demonstrate some of these products. See how to go beyond the out-of-the-box capabilities of Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server without custom development or going to other Application Lifecycle Management platforms.

    Tuesday 25th October 2-4PM AEST - Register here for the webinar

    Future webcasts

    Register Here

    1 November

    Microsoft Office 365: Deployment Overview

    Find out more, and register

    8 November

    Tech Tuesday -The Microsoft Office Suite in Education
    Tech Tuesday’s are education-specific webinars, hosted by the Australian education team at Microsoft.

    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

    Tech Tuesday - Learning Management Systems in Education
    Tech Tuesday’s are education-specific webinars, hosted by the Australian education team at Microsoft.

    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

    Tech Tuesday - Microsoft Partner story - nSynergy
    Tech Tuesday’s are education-specific webinars, hosted by the Australian education team at Microsoft.

    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/two 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 Consumerisation of IT, and education - presentation slides from Melbourne


    When I was down in Melbourne speaking at a Fujitsu briefing for schools I said that I’d put the slides up onto this blog - and then I forgot. Fortunately, I’d also given out my email address, so I got an email reminding me about my promise….

    I had the opportunity to talk 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. They they may not all be owned and managed by your IT team, so it potentially turns an already-difficult job into a nearly-impossible one! 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!)

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

    • Education

      Education ministers back new national standards in four subjects


      Icons_books_blueThe Education Review website carried the story this week that the state and federal education ministers have agreed a common set of future assessments standards to go with the new Australian curriculum:


      State and federal education ministers have endorsed assessment standards for the new Australian curriculum and a framework for national teacher registration.

      They have also got behind a proposal to fund professional development for principals and a national model to identify students with a disability.

      The standards by which students will be assessed are to be streamlined nationally in the new curriculum subjects of maths, science, English and history, school education Minister Peter Garrett says.

      "We already had the content, now we have the validated standards against which students will be assessed," Garrett said after the ministers met in Melbourne last week.


      As you think about the future in schools in Australia (either because you’re in one, or because you are a supplier to them), then there’s a clear trend that’s likely to follow this, based on what’s happened in other countries around the world - expect to see increased focus on those subjects where there’s both a national curriculum and agreed national assessment standards.

      In Australia, that means that maths, science, English and history will get an increasing focus as the national curriculum is rolled out, until both the curriculum and assessment standards for other subjects are agreed.

      Learn MoreRead the story "Education ministers back new national standards" in Education Review

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