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

    Feeling nostalgic? Your students may not be


    Over in Los Angeles, there are thousands of Microsoft partners gathered together for the Microsoft World Partner Conference (you can follow along on the DigitalWPC website). The big events like this often produce new product announcements, but what has caught me eye is an announcement linked to both old and new products.

    400 million copies of Windows 7, and counting

    Tami Reller, who is the Corporate Vice President of the Windows business, said some interesting things, and made a few announcements on new things during her keynote. The announcement that I noticed was that customers have now bought 400 million copies of Windows 7 - which means it’s being adopted at three times the pace of Windows XP. And that was linked to the stat that 27% of the Internet runs Windows 7. [That’s all in this transcript] And Tami told stories of customers who’d committed to moving their users to the latest version of Windows (including General Motors, Ford, Dow Chemical and San Diego school district). All good so far.

    Two thirds of business PC are still on Windows XP

    Windows XP logoThe shock came when Tami said that today, the problem is that two-thirds of PCs are still on Windows XP (despite the cost savings possible with Windows 7 and the fact that there’s only a thousand days to end of life for Windows XP).

    I know that it’s not quite as bad as that in Australian education customers, but there’s still a sizeable proportion of computers in schools, TAFEs and universities that are running Windows XP. Whilst I know that some staff will like this (after all, they have a reputation for resisting change), it does mean that students are probably getting the worst deal.

    97% of students have their own PC at home - and the overwhelming majority will be running Windows 7 on it.

    And then they come into the classroom. And they are expected to use a computer running Windows XP - an operating system that was launched in 2001. And that doesn’t do any of the cool, media savvy things that they can do on their home computer.

    What’s my point?

    Students are used to living, working, collaborating and communicating in a digital age. And if we want them to be engaged in the classroom, then perhaps asking them to turn their clocks back ten years when they switch on a computer isn’t fair, and isn’t going to engage them.

    So, to put it into perspective, here’s ten things that your students have never lived without - and which didn’t even exist when we launched Windows XP…

    Ten things that didn’t exist when Windows XP was launched in October 2001

    1. The iPod (came along in November 2001)
    2. Xbox (also November 2001)
    3. iTunes for Windows (that didn’t arrive until April 2003, nearly two years after the iPod)
    4. 3G phones (didn’t arrive in Australia until April 2003 either)
    5. LinkedIn (that wasn’t invented until May 2003)
    6. Skype (August 2003)
    7. Facebook (that arrived in February of 2004)
    8. Xbox 360 (ie the connected one. That arrived in May 2005)
    9. Video chat as part of MSN Messenger (came along in August 2005)
    10. Video chat in Skype (even later, January 2006)
  • Education

    Making things easier for your users: Single Sign On with Office 365


    Over the last year, we have been working with software and website developers to make it easier for students and staff to login to their services by allowing them to login with their Office 365 username. This means that students don’t need to remember yet another login identity and password, but simply use the username and password that you’ve already given them. And, in many cases, they are automatically logged in without having to re-enter their details. It also means that your users stay under your control - for example, if you suspend a user account, you’re also suspending it on all of the third-party websites too!

    It’s the simplicity of Single Sign On, but without all of the previous hassle and custom technical work that both sides (developers and end user organisations) previously had when linking their systems together.

    Apps and services like Teacher Dashboard, Literatu, nearpod, GeoGebra, LMS365, Brightspace, Moodle, RedCritter and ParentPaperwork give your users the option to sign in with their Office 365 identity when they go to login (this is the Sign in page for ParentPaperwork)


    You can see a long list of some of the Office 365 education apps and services here.

    And all of the services that connect to Office 365 can now be found in the Office Store’s Education category, and you can quickly add them into your Office 365 service.


    What is great for users is that they can then see the apps that they are connected to, through their App portal (at, where they can see all of their Office 365 apps - the ones that we provide, like Word, PowerPoint, OneDrive and mail, as well as the third-party apps (as you can see below, I’ve got quite a few on my account Smile):


    And anywhere the user is within Office 365, they can get to the apps really easily from the app launcher that sits at the top of their screen


    This means that you’ve got a ready-made portal for users - they don’t need to bookmark all of these services on their different devices - they can just use the app launcher. And when they move between all of the different sites, they easily login with one click - they don’t have to keep signing in again and again each time they go to a different site.

    And the IT team at school/university also get tons of useful data on who’s using what applications, how frequently etc, that is available through their Azure Active Directory service, which is linked to Office 365. They also have the ability to enable and disable apps, or even assign licences for specific apps to specific users or groups.

    Find MoreFind out more about developing Office 365/Azure Active Directory Single Sign On

    Find out more about how IT can manage the Single Sign On services

  • 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 herding: free Windows 8 education apps from nsquared


    Another day, another free Windows 8 education app for primary schools from the nsquared team of developers in Sydney!

    It's designed to be used with touch devices, and can either be used by one child, or up to four sitting at opposite ends of a Windows 8 tablet that's laying flat on a desk.

    nsquared herding tile image

    nsquared herding

    nsquared herding is designed to develop numeracy, pattern matching and object recognition skills.

    Whilst it is designed for up to four players simultaneously it will depend on the device that you use - on a small touch device (like a Microsoft Surface) you may have enough screen space for two players. Each player has to collect the correct numbers of each target object and place them into their own playing area.

    nsquared herding screen shot 

    In the example screen to the right, the students have to collect 2 turtles and 4 starfish each. They do that by herding them - dragging them to their side of the screen using their fingers.  
    The app is free, and there are different activity packs available as an in-app purchase - you don't need them to use the software, but you may find them useful as you integrate this into your curriculum activities. And besides, if it's good classroom software, it's a good idea to encourage the developers in Sydney to build some more by giving them some money for what they've already developed Smile

    Learn MoreLearn more about other Windows 8 apps for education

  • Education

    Snippet - Retiring academics create a problem in Higher Education


    I’ve been collecting interesting snippets (not quite full blog posts) on my Posterous space for a few months. But I thought I’d change the habit and share them on the blog instead. Mainly they comprise an interesting quote and link to an article worth reading, with a short comment to go with it. Some of them are slightly off topic…

    I've recently written a few bits about the crisis around the corner in terms of retiring teachers - with many due to retire in the next decade, and not enough joining the profession to replace them. But I'd completely missed the fact that exactly the same crisis faces higher education - with a wave of retiring academics, and increasing challenges of recruiting replacements. So whatever level of education you look at, the challenge ahead is having enough people in front of students, leading their learning.

    This snippet from: Professor Steven Schwartz Vice-Chancellor's Blog


    Universities, however, live in the land of reality and as such their thinking about the future must take into account what is happening to their most prized assets, their academics. Inexorably, inevitably, they are getting older. And while so is everyone else, ageing academics – already older than the average Australian worker – present higher education with some unique challenges.

    According to Professor Graeme Hugo of the National Centre for Social Application of Geographic Information Systems, the high proportion of academics who will be retiring over the next 15 years “confronts the sector with a recruitment challenge”.


    Learn MoreRead the original full story

  • Education

    BI Executive Forum 2011 - Sydney Melbourne and Canberra


    BI Executive Forum Banner

    Over the next three weeks, we’re co-hosting three ‘BI Executive Forum' events with Oakton in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. It’s not specifically about Business Intelligence (BI) in Education, which means there will be opportunities to learn about the application of BI in various industries - and see how it applies to business intelligence in education. And possibly the best bit is that you don’t just hear about change from a technology perspective, but get to hear users talking about the business issues and the process changes that can be driven through better use of technology solutions. At the Sydney and Canberra event, this includes a speaker from the NSW Department of Education and Communities.

    As John Brand, Vice President of the CIO Group at Forrester Research, puts it:

      Business intelligence is rapidly moving out of the domain of specialist practitioners and into the hands of ordinary users. But simply providing a platform for self-service reporting is unlikely to deliver the desired results. Organisations must recognise and understand the driving forces behind BI becoming a ubiquitous service. Moreover, organisational performance will increasingly be driven by those that successfully institutionalise the process of business intelligence throughout their organisation.  

    The three BI Executive Forums each have a range of external speakers and an expert panel - including analysts and customers - with hosted interviews and Q&A session. John Brand and Mark Jones, Director of Filter Media, will moderate the panel, comprising senior corporate and government leaders. The panels change at each event, and include NSW Department of Education and Communities, Australian Taxation Office, Airservices Australia, Infigen Energy, Australian Leisure and Hospitality (ALH), Salta Properties and Reliance Petroleum.

    The interactive Q&A session will offer the opportunity to be part of a thought leadership conversation around how to:

    • Use Business Intelligence and Business Analytics to drive organisational performance: better align resources, save money and drive corporate growth and innovation.
    • Identify bad data and access, analyse and provide the insight needed to monetise data.
    • Extract data and insights from your ERP systems and pre-existing platform investments.

    The event is going to be of most value to senior leaders in universities, TAFEs and state education systems. It’s the kind of event that you’d expect to pay a steep entry fee for if it was run by a commercial conference company, but because of our sponsorship, this series is actually free to attend for executive leaders.

    BI Executive Forum - Agenda

    7:30am - 8:00am

    Registration followed by hot breakfast

    8:00am - 9:00am

    Why Business Intelligence?
    How Collaborative, Managed and Familiar capabilities enable business users today and will evolve in the future.

    John Brand, Vice President of the CIO Group at Forrester Research

    9:00am - 9:20am

    Providing breakthrough insight across your organisation with Business Intelligence
    Or, in Canberra, “Insight and Accountability —the Path to Government Transparency”

    9:20am - 10:00am

    Panel discussion and Q&A: Managing the data deluge to drive a culture of performance
    Mark Jones will conduct keynote interviews before facilitating an interactive Q&A session:

    • Sydney: Infigen Energy and the NSW Department of Education and Communities.
    • Canberra: Australian Taxation Office, Airservices Australia, Infigen Energy and the NSW Department of Education and Communities
    • Melbourne: Australian Leisure and Hospitality (ALH), Salta Properties and Reliance Petroleum

    BI Executive Forum - venues and dates

    There are three events that you can sign up for:

    Learn MoreMelbourne, 19th October, Microsoft offices in Freshwater Place - Register
    Sydney, 20th October, Hilton Sydney in  George Street - Register
    Canberra, 3rd November, National Portrait Gallery - Register

  • Education

    Microsoft Education roadshow coming to Sydney-Melbourne-Perth and Adelaide in November 2012



    We've got together with a couple of our partners – Generation-e and Paradyne - and are heading out to Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth with an education roadshow for schools. And the timing's perfect, because we've got the opposing effects of rapid technology change and squeezed IT budgets, happening right now.

    So we thought you might want some help to consider how to make effective use of cloud technology, and providing your students with sustainable access to a 'no compromise' learning device. Plus, for the IT enthusiasts, there's a need to fill the insatiable appetite for learning about the new technology and product releases – like Windows 8 and Office 365. And that's what the roadshow is all about.

    Logos - Microsoft Paradyne Generation-e


    The aim of the agenda is to pack in as much as possible, and still leave enough time at the end for you to talk with colleagues from other schools and get the chance to see some of the latest Windows 8 devices, and touch and feel some of the new laptops, slates and all-in-one computers.

    8:45am Registration
    9:00am Welcome
    9:15-10am Learning Re-Imagined with Windows 8
    10am-11am Windows 8 Deep Dive: Management, Security, Usability, Devices and more
    11am-11:15am Morning Tea
    11:15am-12pm How to empower your staff, increase productivity and reduce IT costs with cloud computing
    12pm-12:45pm Enhancing collaboration and communication in schools with Lync
    12:45pm-2pm Lunch & Showcase of some of the latest devices

    Make a date: Find out more, and register for the Microsoft Education Roadshow in one of the following cities:

    Make a dateSydney on 23rd November, at our North Ryde offices
    Adelaide on 26th November, at the Microsoft Adelaide office
    Melbourne on 28th November, at our South Bank office
    Perth on 30th November, at Wesley College, Como

    I'll be speaking at the Sydney one, so I'll look forward to meeting some of you face to face for once!

  • Education

    The world’s first School in the Cloud


    img4The most memorable moment of the Microsoft Innovative Education Forum that I attended in the UK in 2010 was hearing Professor Sugata Mitra talking about his Hole in the Wall, and Granny Cloud projects.  Like many inspiring people, I first heard about his work through TED, in his 2008 Ted Talk “Kids can teach themselves”. Shortly before speaking at our Innovative Education Forum, he inspired again at TED, talking about “child-driven education”, and earlier this year he spoke about his wish to “Build a school in the cloud”.

    As fascinating as the journey, and stories, have been, the thing that really stands out about Sugata’s vision is his passionate pursuit of making things happen. And I’ve just finished reading about the next step in that journey, as he’s just opened the doors of the world’s first School in the Cloud, in England, funded through his TED Prize seed money.

    The classroom above matches many other 21st century learning environments that are being built around the world. But what makes it stand out is the way the space is managed and used. I’ll let the TED Blog pick up the story:

      The Killingworth School in the Cloud is run by a committee of 12-year-old students, who manage a schedule to let different classes and groups use the lab in time slots before, during and after school. The lab is, of course filled with computers and touchscreen devices, as these are the tools students use to do their detective work. This lab is the first live demo of the School in the Cloud web platform, which not only connects labs to the “Granny Cloud” but also serves as a community foundation for SOLE practitioners and contains an evolving library of guides and resources. Microsoft and Skype are the core technology partners for this digital platform; Made By Many is the co designer and development partner; and IDEO assisted with design research. Five more School in the Cloud learning labs of varying resources and bandwidth are scheduled to launch throughout India in 2014, and the second UK lab will go live in the spring. All seven Schools in the Cloud will be directed by the School in the Cloud web platform and its community of Grannies. Beta testing for the School in the Cloud platform will begin publicly in March at the annual TED Conference in Vancouver  

    Learn MoreLearn more about Self-Organised Learning Environments (SOLE)

  • Education

    How would a 'Microsoft Education Partner of the Year 2011' award look in your reception?


    At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, there are lots of awards handed out to our key partners. And the previous winners know how much it helps them to generate new business, get immediate credibility, and open doors.

    So even if you're not going to the Partner Conference itself, then you can (and should!) still nominate yourself for Education Partner of the Year. It's not that difficult - here's the blurb from the website:

    The Public Sector, Education Partner of the Year Award recognizes partners who have exhibited excellence in providing innovative and unique services or solutions based on Microsoft technologies to Education customers. Successful entrants for this Award will demonstrate industry knowledge and expertise, as well as consistent, high-quality, predictable service or solutions to Education customers. Successful entrants will also demonstrate business leadership and success through strong growth in new customer additions and revenue such as integrating with Microsoft Cloud based technology like Live@edu and Azure in addition to the Windows Phone platform. Partners applying for this Award should demonstrate effective engagement with Microsoft by leveraging the Microsoft Partner Network to develop, create demand for, and sell their software solutions or services.

    And the good news is that the deadline is now 29th April - which means that you can even do it last minute, and sneak in your entry whilst the Americans and Brits are all watching the Royal Wedding.

    Learn MoreLearn more, and enter your nomination for, the Education Partner of the Year award


    As my Dad always said, you've got to be in it to win it.

    And once you've done it, enter for Australian Microsoft Partner of the Year Award too - might as well use the answers twice!

    PS If you're not a Microsoft Partner, but you're a customer of a good one - then tell them to enter.

  • 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

Page 58 of 83 (823 items) «5657585960»