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

  • Education

    IT Security in Education


    A newly published page on the Microsoft Education site in the US might be helpful to you to get an overview of the different aspects of IT security in education that we can provide answers for. Topics covered include:

    • More secure email messaging
    • More secure portal and document collaboration
    • More security for endpoints - laptops, portable storage etc
    • More secure identity and access management

    All of these issues are topical in education, whether it's about securing information that's in digital form as it flies around the internet, or securing physical devices that contain sensitive date, like teachers' laptops.

    Learn MoreRead the full story on IT Security in Education on the US Microsoft Education site

  • Education

    The Consumerisation of IT, and education - presentation slides


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

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

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

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

      • Education

        Is CRM in education any different to CRM in the voluntary sector?


        Magnifying glass iconOne of the things I’ve noticed is that although there are very specific requirements for CRM in education - student recruitment, grants management, parental communication etc - there are also many parallels to tasks done in other industries - room and facilities bookings, sales pipeline management, HR processes. So I’m always interested in what’s happening outside of education, and comparing it to the business of education.

        Yesterday, I read an article on about Lifeline, and their project to increase their call handling capacity. And the article wasn’t about physically handling the calls, but having the systems for the staff members to access and share information in their virtual contact centre. The key business driver for Lifeline was about increasing their capacity to take calls - jumping 50% to 700,000 calls per year.

        Although the article doesn’t go into much detail, it does mention the role of Dynamics CRM to support this, and the work to have a clear disaster recovery backup system.

        Although it’s not an education example, the challenges will be the same for universities with student recruitment changing - how do you cope with constantly growing customer contact, how do you manage their contact lifecycle and how do you ensure that a growing base of employees have access to the systems and information they need, wherever they are.

        Read the full story: Lifeline upgrades call centre, aims to increase capacity by 250,000 calls per year

        imageIf you're interested in finding out more, or are interested in using Dynamics CRM for a project in your institution, then you'd want to know that this project was done by Attain IT, who are a Dynamics partner in Sydney.

      • Education

        One in six schools block Wikipedia - the real reason


        Two weeks ago, when I wrote the "One in six schools block Wikipedia" blog post, I was obviously not thinking outside the box. I was thinking that it was a bad thing, and that it denied students access to valid and valuable information. But then somebody added a comment on the post that turned my thoughts upside down:

          On the flip side you could say that banning Wikipedia in schools is the best publicity that it could get... What better way to get kids to want to go home and illicitly read an encyclopedia, learning secretly hoping they don't get caught! I think you can put blocking Wikipedia up there with banning rock & roll and abstinence-only sex education as effective strategies, they only cause the opposite to occur.  

        So perhaps that's what's really going on - that by making learning seem somehow illicit, it makes it more attractive?

      • Education

        This week’s webcasts for education customers and partners 31 Oct - 4 November 2011


        There are two webcasts to know about this week - one education-specific one (the Tech Tuesday) and one general one for technical teams.

        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 1st November 11AM-12PM AEST - Register here for the webinar

        Microsoft Office 365: Deployment Overview

        This session provides guidance for individuals responsible for coordinating and performing customer deployment and migration activities related to migrating customers from their current environment to Office 365 for enterprises. This session guides attendees through three key deployment project phases: Plan, Prepare, and Migrate, focusing on the tasks handled by partners and customers, and providing a high-level review of tasks handled internally by Microsoft services teams. This session does not cover processes that occur prior to deployment (Sales and Initial Assessment) and post-deployment (Operations).
        Note: This session is relevant for education customers, although the session covers generic Office 365, not specifically Office 365 for Education

        Tuesday 1st November 2-4PM AEST - Register here for the webinar

        Future webcasts

        Register Here

        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 Kinect Effect - it’s only just starting in education


        It’s amazing to think that Kinect is only a year old. It’s set the Guinness World Record for the fastest selling consumer device. And while it started its life as a device for games, it’s now being used by surgeons, teachers, musicians, data analysts for ideas the Kinect’s inventors hadn’t imagined.

        And here’s a one minute video summary of some of the things that it’s being used for. It’s the kind of advert you don’t see on TV. Perhaps it might inspire the next wave of innovation?

        (Can’t see the video - it’s on YouTube here)

        There’s a gallery of Kinect projects over on the Microsoft PressPass site, with a dozen other examples.

        Learn More

        If you want some more inspiring ideas of how Kinect can be used in education, then take a look at the (very) unofficial Kinect in Education site:

      • Education

        Update 9–Windows 8 education apps from Australia


        I've written before about Lucas Moffitt, an independent developer who's writing Windows 8 apps to help teachers.  He's turning them out pretty quickly – Australian Teacher Professional Standards Evaluator, Class Seater and Lesson Coder – and he's just had his most ambitious project published in the Windows Store.


        Essay Marker

        Essay Marker is a new way for teachers to create, collect and mark student essays, with Windows 8. Essay marker is built with the quality teaching framework in mind, by enabling the teacher to provide quality customised feedback for each student.

        The software allows teachers to create and share Assessment tasks, and collect & evaluate/mark student assessments. Once you've finished marking, you can see visual representations of your evaluation averages, and then export assessment results in MS Office formats.

        Essay Marker on Windows 8 - screenshot

        Essay Marker radial menuThe screenshot above gives you a good idea of how it works – basically, with a touch device, or a normal mouse and keyboard, you can highlight a bit of text, and the radial menu (right) pops up offering you the ability to comment on grammar or spelling, or make a comment under four categories – negative, positive, general or 'irrelevant'. You select the type of comment, and can then add it.
        Rather than me trying to describe how it works, the best bet would be to watch the Essay Marker overview video that Lucas has created:

        Unlike many of the Windows 8 apps, which assume that you can use it without support, Lucas has made the wise decision to include a Getting Started page on the home screen, which gives you a guide to get going. And the video above is definitely something to watch to understand what the capabilities are.

        As this software is significantly more capable than the smaller apps that Lucas has released so far for Windows 8, there's a new model for paying for it. The basic version is free – and includes advertising within it – and then if you want the advanced features (such as export) then you'll need to pay a small fee (about $5) to buy the upgrade to the full version. I think this is a good way to do it, because it means teachers can get a very clear idea of the software before having to commit money to it! Although other software uses the 'trial' version option from Windows Store, this way is better, as it means you don't just have a couple of weeks to give it a go.

        Learn MoreLearn more about other Windows 8 Education apps here

      • Education

        nsquared letters: free Windows 8 education apps from nsquared


        Here's yet another free Windows 8 education app from nsquared. Like their other apps (missing card, numbers, and snap), it's ideal for pre-school and primary school children, and is designed to support collaborative learning – allowing groups of students to work together on a single Windows 8 touch-enabled PC or tablet.


        nsquared letters

        imagensquared letters is a free form application designed for children to use with or without guidance. It allows students to explore words in virtually any language that uses the Latin alphabet. And because it uses the multi-touch features of Windows 8 devices, it allows for many children to use it at the same time. So you could put a tablet flat on a desk, and have a group of four children around it all using it at the same time. The app is free, and there are different activity packs available as an in-app purchase.

        Learn MoreLearn more about other Windows 8 Education apps here

      • Education

        Research in Practice seminars: Learning and Thriving in a hyper-connected world


        Microsoft/PAI - Research in Practice Seminars

        The Principals Australia Institute and the Microsoft Australia Education team are collaborating on a series of breakfast briefings around Australia from mid-March to early April, as part of PAI’s established Research in Practice series. The series puts principals and educators in touch with the latest educational research findings, and the next breakfast briefings focus on 21st Century learning.


        In this time of exponential change and opportunity - what does it take to lead and inspire quality learning?

        Mark Sparvell from Principals Australia Institute, and Sean Tierney from Microsoft, will explore:

        • Latest trends in technology in 21st century learning
        • Research findings on how educators can thrive in the midst of rapid technological change
        • How to avoid common pitfalls associated with integrating technology in schools
        • The transformations required in learning design to deliver the best outcomes for our students
        • What leaders and learners need to embrace to become active and resilient contributors to our knowledge-based society.

        All participants will gain insights, practical strategies, networking opportunities and an invitation to explore ideas beyond this session.

        This series is for School Leaders, which includes Principals and others within the school community who have a whole-school leadership role.

        By running the event as a breakfast briefing from 7:30-10AM, it means that you get an opportunity to update yourself without having to leave school for a whole day. And it’s perfectly timed to help with your strategic planning from a teaching, learning and technology perspective.

        Venues and dates for the third PAI Research in Practice series

        These professional development seminars cost $65 including breakfast. You can book now for the briefings in:

        Make a dateMake a date: Find out more on the Principals Australia website

      • Education

        How to build a buzz about Office 365 for your users


        You know what it’s like – you spend a long time managing a technology implementation project, and then at the last minute you get feedback that users aren’t ready for it. You hear things like “We didn’t know it was coming”, or “We don’t want to change anything because what we’ve got works for us now”. This can happen in any kind of organisation, not just education institutions, but sometimes it’s worse in education because there are some groups of users at the leading edge of change whilst you have others who absolutely refuse to adopt any change*.

        Although I can’t solve the whole problem for you, I can offer you a resource pack which will help you to manage the introduction of Office 365, and new Office applications.

        Office 365 Change Management Guide

        Office 365 Change Management Guide and resource pack

        Users are the key to realising the full potential of your investment in most IT projects, including in Office 365. To drive user adoption to its highest potential, you can use our proven change management strategy to clearly articulate the benefits of Office 365, build a community among your users, and provide the right help and support at the right times.

        In this download package, you'll find the Change Management Guide, which describes a proven, four-phase process that organisations have used to drive up new technology adoption and maximise their return on investment. A comprehensive set of samples and templates let you build a customised set of project planning documents and user awareness materials based on your specific needs.

        The download package includes:

        • Change Management guidance
        • Project planning workbook
        • Email samples
        • Policies and best practices templates
        • Presentations for introducing Office 365
        • Posters and other print communications
        • Help desk and support resources
        • End-user surveys
        • Videos

        Learn MoreGet the Office 365 Change Management Guide and resources pack

          I’ll leave you to decide which groups of users I’m thinking of!

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