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

  • Education

    What factors influence school performance in Australia?


    imageI am halfway through reading “School performance in Australia: results from analyses of school effectiveness”, a research report published in 2004. It looked at the performance of Victorian schools, as part of the Shared Future project. Although the report dates from 2004, almost all of the data and findings are still absolutely relevant today.

    As I’ve been reading it, I’ve been looking for snippets of information that would be relevant and useful for a leader/teacher in an individual school. Here’s some of those:

    • Teachers who are more satisfied with their jobs produce better results (Page x)
    • Where teachers rely more often on traditional teaching methods the results are lower (Page x)
    • High performing schools adopt policies facilitating student engagement…such as extra-curricular programmes and student support (Page xi)
    • There is no relationship between school expenditure and school performance - although there’s a note that later analysis showed there may be ‘some positive effect’ (Page 6)
    • Smaller schools perform worse in international reading tests (Page 12)

    So, if you want to raise standards in your school, the data says that having more satisfied teachers, with innovative teaching practice, and extra-curriculum programmes will make a difference. And that is even more critical to do if you are from a small school.

    The other thing that surprised me is that students’ socio-economic status has a direct link to school absence (Page 20), which is interesting, but perhaps something that individual school leaders can do much about directly?

    The Executive Summary has a list of key findings which are interesting at a system level, but probably less useful to an individual school seeking to improve learning (mainly because they are factors which they have little control over), but here they are, for completeness:

    • Performance in schools is strongly linked to student background
    • Australian students are highly segregated along social and academic lines
    • Segregation of students tends to intensify between-school differences in student outcomes
    • Schools differ in effectiveness
    • Effective schools are found in both the government and non-government sectors
    • Some schools consistently perform well
    • Effectiveness extends beyond cognitive outcomes
    • Some school factors help raise performance

    Learn MoreRead the full 'School Performance in Australia' report

  • Education

    Ten of the best - SharePoint University websites


    After the list of school websites built on SharePoint from earlier in the week, here’s another handy (and subjective!) list of Ten University SharePoint websites. These websites are all public facing, and by building them on SharePoint, it means the universities can manage the content in exactly the same way as they manage their other resources - and use SharePoint’s workflow to manage the publishing process. But enough of the SharePoint Content Management story - let’s get down to the pictures:

    Click on any of the images to link to the live website

    1. Northern State University, USA
      Northern State University website

    2. Saïd Business School – University of Oxford, UK 
      Saïd Business School – University of Oxford

    3. Coventry University, UK 
      Coventry University

    4. University College London Hospitals, UK 
      University College London Hospitals

    5. Harvard Business School Executive Education, USA 
      Harvard Business School Executive Education

    6. Furman University, USA 
      Furman University

    7. University of Wales, Newport, UK
      University of Wales

    8. The University of Colorado Denver Business School, USA 
      University of Colorado

    9. Chalmers University, Sweden
      Chalmers University

    10. Washington University in St. Louis - Olin Business School, USA

    Learn MoreDownload the PowerPoint versions of Top 10 University SharePoint websites

  • Education

    Training resources for moving education to the Cloud - the Microsoft Partner Network



    There’s a new set of Cloud resources on the Microsoft Partner Network to help education partners plan their business strategy as they move to the Cloud. They include an overview of the strategic decisions that partners and customers face, along with customer case studies of early adopters.

    These resources focus on Windows Azure, which means it will be most useful to independent software developers considering strategies for application migrations, and systems integrators who provide infrastructure services for education establishments.

    Note, you’ll need your Live ID login to view these resources

    Migrating Education applications to the Cloud

    The Introduction Guide ‘Connect to the Cloud: Targeting Public Sector Applications for Windows Azure’ is the place to start, as it includes an analysis of the typical costs for migrating applications into the Cloud (whether this is your own, or customers’ applications), and also addresses some of the key data security, privacy and sovereignty issues (and strategies for managing these issues through private and public clouds), and then goes on to describe some of the likely priority scenarios that you might consider for using the Windows Azure cloud:

    • Custom application development
    • Database migration, to increase their availability
    • Extending SharePoint into the public Cloud
    • Building highly-scalable web sites
    • Developing applications for devices and mobile users
    • Scaling social media marketing campaigns

    Interactive Cloud training for Public Sector Partners

    There are four separate training modules available, or you can use the link at the bottom for the home page for all of the courses.

    • Getting Started with the Cloud for Public Sector Partners
      Appropriate for managers and sales roles, this course clarifies cloud computing terminology, provides a graphic structure of Microsoft Cloud Services offerings and key differentiators, and highlights how cloud services address Public Sector industry needs. It looks at Public Sector business opportunities available to partners, and also addresses the approach to data privacy, data security, and data sovereignty of particular interest to Public Sector customers.
    • Microsoft Software as a Service (SaaS) Solutions for Public Sector Partners
      This course introduces the key Microsoft SaaS solutions, including the Office 365, Windows Intune, and the partner-hosted Information Worker solutions. Sample solutions aligned to Microsoft’s industry solution areas are shown, as well as successful case studies along with steps and resources for building specific solution expertise.
    • Microsoft Platform as a Service (PaaS) Solutions for Public Sector Customers
      This course introduces the key Microsoft PaaS solutions, including the Windows Azure platform and CRM. It also looks at Windows Azure middleware solutions and successful deployment examples. The course also includes steps and resources for building specific solution expertise.
    • Microsoft Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Solutions for Public Sector Customers
      This course introduces the Microsoft Hyper-V™ Cloud, including the unique features and competitive advantages; the advantages it provides related to data privacy, data security, and data sovereignty for Public Sector customers; and successful deployment examples for both customers and partners. This course also includes steps and resources for building private cloud expertise

    Learn MoreAccess the home page for Cloud Online Courses for Public Sector Partners

  • Education

    Desire2Learn talk about learning analytics and student mobility


    Microsoft WPC logo

    We’ve just finished the Microsoft World Partner Conference in Los Angeles, which included handing over the Worldwide Education Partner of the Year Award to Desire2Learn for their Learning Management System. The Desire2Learn solution covers a wide range of areas - including learning management, analytics, supporting mobile users and lecture capture.

    Anthony Salcito, the Vice President for Microsoft Education, recorded a short video interview with Jeremy Auger, Desire2Learn’s Chief Operating Officer, to talk a little about the more recent parts of their education learning management system.

    Desire2Learn’s Jeremy Auger talks with Anthony Salcito of Microsoft

    Learn MoreLearn more about Desire2Learn

  • Education

    Microsoft Australia University newsletter



    The Australian Education team at Microsoft includes a Higher Education Account team - a group that looks after all of our university customers across the country.

    Each quarter, they circulate a newsletter, Ozmosis, which contains relevant news on a range of subjects.

    The next edition is due to be coming up soon, so it’s timely to mention that you can email Lucy Segal to be added to the circulation list.

    The February  2011 newsletter contained a range of items, including: Kinect; special student deals of laptops, Microsoft certifications and Office software; information on the BizSpark programme for student entrepreneurs; case studies; and information on using the Microsoft Cloud services for university research.

    If you’re interested in seeing what’s gone out before, here are the links to the back issues:

    Email Lucy to subscribe

  • Education

    Why is the Cloud so important to software developers?


    Imagine you’re a big IT supplier. You build a successful business by being responsive to your customers, and giving them what they need. If the customer is a big one, then normally their budget is too. And so, their list of requirements is big too. Which means that when they want to do IT projects, they are normally big ones. And you have all the expertise needed to give them advice, support, consultancy, implementation and deployment.

    Someone's nibbling my pieThen along comes the Cloud. It means that small companies can offer a very specific service - not a big IT system - to one of your customers. And instead of buying a big computer system to do everything that they can imagine, they buy a service to deliver a small part of their overall IT service. At first, it’s only a small nibble from a big IT pie. But over time, the nibble can become a bite. And eventually some of the pie disappears.

    And it’s a good thing for the customer - they can solve business problems with speedier and more targeted solutions and quicker procurement.

    Of course, it’s already happening today…

    At the Microsoft World Partner Conference, Janison were finalists in the Education Partner of the Year Awards.

    A small Coffs Harbour company was sandwiched between two global giants - Desire2Learn (6 million users) and Cornelsen Publishers (3,000 employees and a turnover of 450 million Euro). They’re a small regional Australian business that’s competing against the world’s biggest and best.

    They can do this because of the Cloud, because they can focus on their core competencies - eg software development - and leave the job of running the big infrastructure that you need to administer an exam for 100,000 students to somebody else (in their case, the Windows Azure service).

    Wayne Houlden, the Janison CEO, puts it succinctly on his blog:

      It highlights for me just how much is changing, how now small and nimble companies anywhere in the world can build applications that significantly change the software application and services landscape  

    The end is not nigh…

    This doesn’t mean that the end of the big IT projects/suppliers is coming, but that instead we’re going to see things changing. Smaller companies will compete with bigger ones, as they always have. And big projects will continue to be developed and procured. But the way that things are done will change. When it’s quicker to build the product than it is to write the specification documents, it means that software development, and IT procurement, is going to be fundamentally different in the future.

    We’re going to see more nimble projects, with a chance of keeping up with the more nimble users (as you’ll be seeing, if ‘corporate IT’ can’t keep up, they’ll just go out and use a public web 2.0 service).

    But change is….

    All of our business models are going to change. And the Education IT business is going to look very different in five years time.

    Learn MorePerhaps these articles might help?

  • Education

    Ten of the best - SharePoint School websites


    A colleague asked me to recommend some school websites built on SharePoint, that they could share with others. After I’d finished it for him, I thought I’d pop it into a PowerPoint for others - and then go further by popping up a quick blog post too. Here’s my take on 10 School SharePoint websites that are worth looking at for design ideas and inspiration - or simply because you want to nudge another colleague towards seeing that SharePoint beauty can start at skin deep.

    Click on any of them to link to the live website

    1. Twynham School Sixth Form, Christchurch, UK

    2. John Paul College, Queensland, Australia

    3. Victoria Department of Education’s FUSE site

    4. West Hatch High School, Essex, UK

    5. Hale School, Western Australia

    6. Wootton Bassett School, Wiltshire, UK

    7. Brigidine College, New South Wales, Australia

    8. Brookfields Specialist SEN School, Berkshire, UK

    9. Florida Virtual School, USA

    10. Twynham School Sixth Form, Christchurch, Dorset

      Note: The reason I listed this twice isn’t me cheating - I simply wanted to make sure that you saw their amazing interactive curriculum pages, and I know you’d kick yourself if you hadn’t seen it at No.1

    Learn MoreDownload the PowerPoint version of Top 10 School SharePoint websites

  • Education

    Get the Education blog on your Windows Phone 7


    imageI have to admit, I thought my days of programming were behind me. But thanks to AppMakr and the Windows Phone 7 App Hub, I’m reliving the heady days of my first job (whilst in Sixth Form) of being a programmer. And I’ve created a free app that gives you this Education blog on your Windows Phone 7, along with the live feed of the worldwide Microsoft Education case studies, and direct access to the official press release news stream we provide for journalists.

    It’s my first app for 20 years, and was published on the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace on Friday night. The experience of creating the app was pretty smooth - mainly because I was aiming to bring together a series of existing RSS feeds. In fact, the most time consuming part was creating all of the graphics needed - the WP7 tiles in 3 sizes, the splash screen, a header graphic, and the screen shots needed for the marketplace. But once they were all in place, it was pretty seamless.

    If you’ve got a Windows Phone, then hopefully this makes keeping in touch with education blog news easier - as well as connecting you to the education case studies that are published on the worldwide Microsoft Case Studies website.


    To get the free app on your phone, you can either use this link [Australian Education Partner Blog] or search for ‘Education Blog’ in the Marketplace on your Windows Phone.

  • Education

    Halo Spartan on a US campus


    The video below is an advert from the US, advertising the student PC offer

    Halo Spartan promotes the US Student offer - buy a PC, get an Xbox free

    It’s a shame we don’t get adverts like this - or offers like this - in Australia…

    I know this is slightly off topic - but then it is Friday afternoon, and it is about students…

  • Education

    How to list your applications on the Windows Azure Marketplace


    Unsurprisingly, since I wrote yesterday about the first Australian education software to be listed on the Windows Azure Marketplace I’ve had a couple of emails from Microsoft partners who also have Azure applications that they’d like to be listed. So, for them - and others who haven’t yet sent the email Smile - here’s the answer:

    Listing software on the Windows Azure Marketplace

    As of today, you can only sell your applications through the Windows Azure Marketplace if you are in the US, but it will be expanded to additional countries in the coming months. However, you can have your application listed (as Avaxa did), and benefit from the exposure. All of the information that you need to do this is on this page: Publishing on Windows Azure Marketplace. The same method also applies to datasets that you might want to publish - either free datasets, or ones that you want to sell with a subscription fee.

    Here’s the short video from the Azure team that shows how to add a software or data listing on the Azure Marketplace:

    Short video walkthrough (saves a lot of reading!)

    Learn MoreLearn More about publishing on the Windows Azure Marketplace

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