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News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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March, 2008

  • FE blog

    Brockenhurst College: Reducing a carbon footprint

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    Brockenhurst College, in the New Forest, has a well-earned reputation for technological innovation. Their Beacon Technology Centre, opened in 2006, is a visual treat.

    They have been updating their IT infrastructure across the college, as part of a drive to reduce their carbon footprint. That's included being one of the first colleges in the UK to deploy Windows Vista last year. With 1,200 desktop computers, and a campus open 13 hours a day, they realised the potential to save significant energy, time and money from using better power management techniques. (According to a study by PC Labs, they could be saving between £23 and £46 per computer per year).

    It's probably fair to say that power management has come a long way since IT started appearing in colleges. As Dr. Robin Gadd, Head of Information Services at Brockenhurst College puts it:


    FirstquotesFive years ago, we used to have a big switch in the corner of the room. Teachers would get all the students to turn off their computers, and then they would turn the system off with the big switch.

    Windows Vista fits perfectly with our strategy for environmental sustainability, while helping us better meet the needs of our students.Endquotes

     

    The college is able to take much, much more control:

    • Adjustable power management settings and centrally configured policies that give administrators the ability to switch computers on and off remotely and make better use of power-saving features in Windows Vista.
    • Windows Vista “sleep” mode, an ultra-low power state, where only the RAM is powered and everything else is closed down. But when a user switches the computer  back on, it only takes a few seconds to get started again

    You can read Brockenhurst's case study on our global website

    Read more about energy & money saving in "Save £23,000 or Save the Earth...take your pick"

  • FE blog

    The Ultimate Steal - 36 days until the end

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    The countdown to the end of the Ultimate Steal student offer has started. The deal (Office 2007 Ultimate edition for £38.95) ends at the end of April. Lots of students have used the deal to get their own (legal) copy of Office (our earlier research says most students use MS Office, but few paid for their licence) - but there are still students who don't know of it. How do we know? Well, answers like these in the post-purchase survey:

    FirstquotesMore coverage. Here (******* University) the Ultimate Steal is the best-kept secret on campus, very few people know of it.Endquotes

    FirstquotesMy only suggestion is to advertise more, as I am shocked that I have only just discovered this incredible offer. If you keep this up, I will keep participating and telling my friends! - although tragically I graduate next year :( Endquotes

    FirstquotesMake it more widely known. The site of my university does not give a clue about this offer. Only the portal writes about the offer and this can lead to wrong purchases. Look at my case: I made a wrong purchase before I realised the Ultimate Steal offer!Endquotes

    FirstquotesI found out about the ultimate steal from a bulletin board that pops up when we login to the university system. The bulletins are rarely read. You might like to put up a few posters at universities and colleges. I do not know how many purchases you have already had from *@londonmet.ac.uk, but you will now have a few more.Endquotes

    If you want your students on campus to hear about the offer before it closes, you can let them know about it by some of the techniques we've seen others using - put it on your portal, email students and pop up some posters etc. There's a mini-html flyer (for email) here, and some email/portal text here.

    UltimateStealHeader 

    I always like reading verbatim responses from surveys - there's always one or two that make you laugh. Here's one that made me laugh (and, it seems, casts doubt on my parentage and the spelling & grammar capabilities of today's undergraduates)...

    FirstquotesAt the university of ********* it is not widely known that we can get a cheap version of microsoft office although to be honest when it comes to writing essays i think microsoft should offer a much more standerd package for less money because lets face ti word should be part of any windows operating system as standard jesus christ the b*****ds earn enough as it is and i dont care if acording to the economy if a company doesnt increase its profits every year its seen as a failureEndquotes

  • FE blog

    Unlocking the Secrets of Darwinian Research at Cambridge University

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    It's always pleasing when the work of education establishments is held up as a shining example of best practice use of technology.

    And it was pleasing last month, at the Windows Server 2008 launch event, that there was a fascinating insight into the way that one of the research teams at Cambridge University is using technology to unlock information from data originally collected 150 years ago. Researchers knew that Darwin’s mentor at Cambridge, Professor J.S. Henslow, had been studying variation since 1821 and he'd actively trained Darwin from 1829 to 1831 to study variation—before Darwin ever set foot on the Beagle. Using Microsoft database software, the research team analysed the Cambridge Herbarium.

    The University team were involved in using the software when it was still in beta, via the Microsoft Community Technology Preview (CTP) programme. The researchers at Cambridge successfully developed a database that used the new spatial data types, and it wasn’t just the database that was important - the team wanted to visualise this data on a map, which they did by creating a 'mash up' - linking data from the database with Microsoft Virtual Earth.

    Mark Whitehorn, Research Associate, University of Cambridge, is the group’s database specialist, and his view was

    FirstquotesIn theory, we could have plotted the points by hand on a map, but to answer just one of our complex questions would have taken days of work. We wanted to ask questions and get the answers back in real time. The analysis we’ve already done with this software would have been impossible without the spatial data types and has already produced some very interesting Endquotesfindings.

    Professor John Parker, Director of the Cambridge University Botanic Garden and Leader of the Research Group, says:

    FirstquotesWe’ve always known that the collection was centred on Cambridge. But, we were very keen to understand the dynamics of the collection in more detail.

    Once we had the data in spatial data types, it was easy to plot the cumulative number of plants against distance from the site of the original Botanic Garden in Cambridge. When we did so, we were surprised to see that the result was clearly biphasic. In other words, there were two phases in the collection with an intersection at around 23 kilometres. We rapidly realised—and equestrian experts were able to confirm—that this represents a reasonable distance for a rider of a horse to travel out and back in a day, with some time set aside for collecting. In other words, the pattern of collection was heavily dependent on horsepower as the prevailing traEndquotesnsport system of the day.

    There is much more about this case study on the worldwide Microsoft case studies website.

    (The written case study is a little less easy to understand than the video I saw - mainly because the words 'biphasic', 'herbarium' & 'spatial' benefit from more context! The video's not yet been released, but I'm hoping to get a link to it soon)

  • FE blog

    SharePoint Showcase - May 21

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    The popularity of Learning Gateway and SharePoint in Education continues, and a growing number of Microsoft Partners now have applications that integrate with SharePoint. In the past year, we've run a series of events to provide a chance for schools and colleges to get up to date with new technology changes,

    On May 21 at Microsoft, Thames Valley Park we will be hosting another SharePoint Showcase. We expect that at least 19 partners will demonstrate their SharePoint applications. The provisional agenda for the event is:

    Time

    Session

    8:30 - 9:30

    Registration & Coffee

    9:30 – 9:40

    Introduction

    9:40 – 10:00

    SharePoint in Education
    Learning Platforms, VLEs, Government targets – why now?

    10:00 – 11:00

    Partner Presentations

    11:00 – 11:15

    Break

    11:15 – 12:30

    Partner Presentations

    12:30 – 13:15

    Lunch and networking

    13:15 – 14:45

    Partner Presentations

    14:45 – 15:00

    Break

    15:00 – 16:00

    Partner Presentations

    16:00 – 16:15

    Data, Data everywhere, but how to stop and think?
    PerformancePoint at New Line Learning

    16:15 – 16:30

    Roadmap Update
    Microsoft’s future plans


    Book your place on our Events website

    All the previous events have been full, so register soon.

  • FE blog

    A framework for strategic planning of

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    Before making any journey, it’s important to know where you are before you set off in any particular direction, and your IT infrastructure is no different.

    You have an IT budget. You have a need to deliver strategic value. You must show a business benefit.

    But how do you ensure this is all delivered in the most effective manner?

    Well, we have a model called Infrastructure Optimisation which helps enormously. We work with SCC in all kinds of ways, and one of them is our work on Infrastructure Optimisation (IO). IO starts with a model, created by Gartner, which allows an organisation to look at their IT resources in a more strategic way, and where necessary move it away from being a "cost", to becoming a strategic business asset. I don't know what it's like in your college, but for many IT Directors, having an ability to control the strategic direction of their IT systems, to support the strategic goals, helps to support the long-term success of the team. We talked about IO with the 50 universities who attended the IT Forum event in November, and there was a widespread feeling that this could help their planning, so worth a look?

    SCC-IO SCC & Microsoft have put our heads together to bring you a day full of content to help you understand how the IO model can help you.

    The events are called "The Best Route To Ensure The Success Of Your IT Infrastructure", and they're being held over the next 6 weeks in Halifax, Birmingham and London.  I'll let the SCC team tell you a bit more:

    FirstquotesBefore making a journey, it's important to know where you are before you set off in any particular direction and your IT infrastructure is no different. You have an IT budget, you need to deliver strategic value and you must show a business benefit. This can all be done through Infrastructure Optimisation.
    Infrastructure Optimisation helps to drive a more secure, well managed and dynamic core IT infrastructure to enable organisations to help reduce their overall IT costs, make better IT resources and make IT a strategic asset for the organisation.

    By working with SCC and Microsoft and using this model as a framework an organisation can quickly understand the strategic value and business benefits to the organisation in moving from a basic level of optimisation, where the infrastructure is generally considered a "cost centre", towards a more "dynamic use". This is where the organisation's value of IT infrastructure is understood and viewed as a business enabler and asset.


    SCC in partnership with Microsoft are inviting you to attend one of our Infrastructure Optimisation FREE events to be held at various locations throughout the UK. The events are aimed at Chief Information officers, Chief Technology officers, IT Managers, Infrastructure Managers and other IT Industry Professionals in Education who are responsible for delivering budgets, in particular cost savings or green credentials and working practices.
    If you work in the education sector you can't afford to miss out on this opportunity to meet and discuss with SCC and Microsoft industry experts in your area.Endquotes

    The events are in HALIFAX on Wednesday 16th April, BIRMINGHAM on Wednesday 23rd April, and our offices in LONDON on Friday 9th May.

    To register, either visit the website www.scc-microsoft.co.uk/ioevent/public or call SCC on 0845 351 1157

    There's a PDF flyer available here

  • FE blog

    Tell us what you think for a chance of winning Office 2007

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    We're working on updating our UK Education website and we'd like to know what you think of it as it is now - what works and what doesn't? Apart from accessing the blogs, do you even visit it and is the information relevant to you?

    If you don't visit the site, we'd love to know why; and if you do, whether it's what you'd expect from Microsoft in Education. Your opinions and suggestions are very important to us in developing the site - after all, it's there for you to get the information you need from us, so we want to know what you'd like and expect to see there.

    Now, I know that you're all very busy people, so to try and tempt you into spending at the most 10 minutes of your time completing our survey, every survey entrant will be entered into a prize draw to win a free copy of Office 2007 for personal use

    You can complete the survey here and it will be open until the end of the day on Friday 28th March.

    The prize draw will take place on Friday 4th April and the winner notified by email, so make sure you leave your email details along with your name and job title at the end of the survey. Good luck!

  • FE blog

    Still time to tell us what you think in our web satisfaction survey

    • 0 Comments

    We're working on updating our UK Education website and we'd like to know what you think of it as it is now - what works and what doesn't? Apart from accessing the blogs, do you even visit it and is the information relevant to you?

    If you don't visit the site, we'd love to know why; and if you do, whether it's what you'd expect from Microsoft in Education. Your opinions and suggestions are very important to us in developing the site - after all, it's there for you to get the information you need from us, so we want to know what you'd like and expect to see there.

    Now, I know that you're all very busy people, so to try and tempt you into spending at the most 10 minutes of your time completing our survey, every survey entrant will be entered into a prize draw to win a free copy of Office 2007 for personal use.

    So if you haven't already done so, you can complete the survey here and it will be open until the end of the day on Friday 28th March.

    The prize draw will take place on Friday 4th April and the winner notified by email, so make sure you leave your email details along with your name and job title at the end of the survey. Good luck!

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