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News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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June, 2009

  • FE blog

    How will Windows 7 help FE colleges – Part Three – Staff laptops


    Continuing my thread of half-term learning snacks, this one’s is shorter (only 7 minutes long), but talks about a feature which you may want to think about to help your teaching staff.

    Here’s a scenario that may well have happened in your college:

    • You allocate a member of teaching staff a laptop
    • They use it in college, and take it home
    • Whilst at home, they use it for college work, and also use it for personal use – like downloading their photos and plugging in their iPod.

      As far as I’m concerned, so far so good – a sense of personal ownership helps teaching staff to value their laptops more highly, and also helps them to see more possibilities for using it to enhance their teaching. It’s great to walk into a classroom and to see a teacher using music to set the mood for a lesson, or showing a short video clip as a discussion opener; and I think giving teachers ‘ownership’ for their laptop helps this kind of use.

      But it’s when we move from the above, to one of the below that we get a problem:
    • They want to print something to their printer at home, which is connected to their home PC
    • They want to download some photos/music from their home computer to their laptop

    It doesn’t take much – okay, it probably only takes 10 minutes and them asking their own teenage child “Can you set this up for me” - for it turn from a secure laptop, to an open-for-business home file server – with hard disk shared with every other computer in the household. Next thing you know…

    There are obviously two approaches to this. One is to lock it down, which I personally think removes the ability for staff to feel ownership. The other approach is to allow teaching staff some flexibility and sense of ownership, but making sure that they don’t wander into trouble. (Like accidentally sharing all of their college reports with their own children!)

    HomeGroup, in Windows 7, is a new feature which is designed to make things a little easier to manage. As well as enabling easier home networking (at last!), it also means that “domain joined” computers – ie your college laptops – can be connected to their home resources (like printers, and shared photos etc) without compromising the security of the files on the laptop.

    Take a look at the “Creating a HomeGroup” chapter to see what it can do.

    Learning Snack - Introducing Windows 7 

    Learning Snack: HomeGroup in Windows 7 

    ps I used to work for a company which locked down our laptops – we got absolutely no control over software installation, and very restricted Internet access. As a result, most of us spent the time emailing files between home computers and work computers. If I wanted to write a presentation with images, I typically wrote it at home, and then emailed them to myself on my work laptop (even though it was sitting on the same desk). The same happened in reverse if I wanted to print something out. The IT people probably thought they had good security, but our workarounds probably drove a cart-and-horses through it!

  • FE blog

    Building an external website in SharePoint – Esher College


    The number of colleges using SharePoint to provide a portal within their college is steadily increasing – mainly, I think, because it can provide a way to integrate all of the different sets of data across the college – from student information systems, to virtual learning environments, and every day document management.

    One of the things that has been less prominent is the use of the same SharePoint to drive the external website. Often I see colleges with two different web systems, which results in having to manage two completely different content management systems, and often two different technical skill sets.

    Esher College have standardised onto one technology, and are using SharePoint for their external site too – with help from Parabola Software. Although they have three portals – one for the public site, one for student and one for staff, it is possible to link information between the portals and provided the user has access rights it’s seamless.

    I’d be interested in hearing about others using SharePoint for their external website – just add a comment to the blog, and give a link to yours.

    (For more inspiration, take a look at this list of Top 10 SharePoint 2007 sites, with examples from outside of education, worldwide)

  • FE blog

    When students lose memory sticks



    You must have seen them – plaintive, desperate or just plain panic. It hasn’t taken long for the USB memory stick to turn into something that everybody has (and yet, I can still remember that sense of satisfaction when I was given my first freebie memory stick with 16MB of memory!). Now it’s not uncommon to see students with 2GB memory sticks plugged into whatever computer they are using.

    BUT as well as being a solution to portable data storage, they are also a problem. Because one day it might go missing. And it is not uncommon to find desperate pleas around computer suites asking for help in finding a missing USB memory stick.

    We’ve been suggesting for a while that students use either SkyDrive or Office Live Workspace to store files online. It also means that they can share files if they choose, and collaborate on work. And in the case of Office Live Workspace, they can Open & Save into their storage on the web, directly from Office. And they are both free.

    But, it’s a bit of a boring subject isn’t it? Until you’ve lost your memory stick. (A bit like doing PC backups – boring until it’s too late!)

    So the Office Live Workspaces team have created a video that just might appeal to your students.

    Ever wondered where student’s lost memory sticks end up?

    So now you know.  And you can either encourage students to use their free Office Live Workspace individually, or provide it as a free service to all of your students through the Live@Edu service

  • FE blog

    What happens if your college is listed as a spammer


    Over the last few months, there have been a few occasions where universities have been falsely identified as spammers – either because their mail sending services inadvertently set of spam detectors, or because they were genuinely being used to re-route spam mail. This problem is likely to increase rather than decrease, as so much of our daily email is categorised as spam. Yale University found out that 94% of all email that went through their own servers was spam last autumn, which is only slightly higher than the average.

    Understandably when a spammer is blocked, the ISP or mail provider doesn’t tell them, otherwise it would turn into a cat-and-mouse game between spammers and email services.

    So if you had your college email is blocked by an ISP or email service, the first you may know about it is when one of your students or staff tells you that an important email they sent didn’t arrive.

    JANET have provided some generic advice on avoiding false-positives on spam detection, and my colleague Ben has provided some very specific advice on how to ensure that your email system isn’t blocked by Hotmail or other Microsoft mail services.

    Email_3[1]Ben’s is a step by step guide, with a lot of very specific links and instructions that you can follow, including a good deal of background reading to help you to understand why the situation happens, as well as how to avoid it.

    Sometimes you can have your mail blocked because recipients report it as spam in their mail client (eg if you have a mailing list which includes potential applicants, and they report your newsletter as spam to their mail service provider), so it is definitely worth following Ben’s guidance, especially if somebody in your college is planning any massive e-mailshots going forward. I expect that somebody in your marketin department will right now be working on their big email marketing campaign for next academic year, and won’t realise that it could foul-up your email system. In most cases, you may feel that it is unfair that you’ve been identified – but spam is measured through the eyes of the reader, and not everybody trusts the “unsubscribe” option, and simply ticks the “this mail is spam” button instead.

  • FE blog

    Tech Ed – a week of developers and IT support teams in Berlin


    This year Tech Ed is moving from Barcelona to Berlin. It’s also been squeezed into a single week – 7,000 developers and IT professionals descending on Berlin to enjoy a packed week full of technology. My first Tech Ed was only a few years ago, and I couldn’t believe the size of the event (and that was when it was two separate events in separate weeks) nor the amount of information that I was trying to take in in such a short period.

    We’ve also traditionally been able to offer significantly reduced places to a few education customers, and a general academic discount for many others. This year, we’ll still be offering the Academic discount – details below – but unfortunately no free places. (Sorry). Hopefully, if your job involves making your college’s technology work smoothly and developing it as a strategic asset for the future, then you’ll still find enough in the agenda to justify the cost from the training budget. (Not sure if my wife’s tactic would work for this – don’t tell them the price, simply tell them that you’ve saved €800 on the normal registration price, and it’s less than half price)














    Special Academic Registration Fee €795 + 19% VAT

    Save over 60% off the full conference fee - We think you’ll love Tech·Ed Europe 2009. Not like it - love it! Tech·Ed Europe is the premier Microsoft gathering of IT professionals and developers in Europe. It’s an amazing opportunity for you to learn, share and network.


    Tech·Ed Europe 2009 will again be focused into a single week for both the developer and IT professional communities. As Microsoft’s leading technical education and networking conference, get countless opportunities to explore the latest cutting-edge Microsoft technologies.


    Be seen as an innovator and connected to the latest technologies


    Immerse yourself in new ideas and stay ahead of the game


    Empower yourself to create cool and impactful solutions


    Get the edge in recommending technology investments which will result in real benefits and boost your career

    Alongside nearly 7,000 technology experts and community influencers; customise your own unique learning experience with a choice of over 600 learning opportunities – be a part of the experience.

    We are pleased to be able to offer Academics a special discounted registration fee of €795 + 19%.

    You’ll need to email us (Amanda Bicknell or Ray Fleming) directly as we’re not allowed to put the code online, in case non-Academics get hold of it!

    See the Website for detailed registration information.


    We look forward to welcoming you in Berlin!








    ps Just in case you thought you’d missed another budget announcement, don’t panic. The 19% VAT thing is because the event is held in Berlin, and the EU rules stipulate we have to charge the VAT rate of the country where the event is delivered.

  • FE blog

    How will Windows 7 help FE colleges – Part Four – Getting new computers onto campus quickly


    Oh, joy. A new batch of computers has arrived in the college. There’s anti-theft marking to do, security screws to add, mice to clamp and that’s all before all of the actual deployment has to be done – getting them out to the right classroom, with the right software.

    Well, Windows 7 has invented some new acronyms to help with the software bit. It’s got DISM, which is the natty name for Deployment Image Servicing and Management, which combines the functionality of several image-management tools that were available in Windows Vista. According to the MS Learning team, DISM will help you “deploy Windows images to computer systems efficiently and quickly”. Today’s “Learning Snack” describes the DISM tool and demonstrates some of the commands that administrators can use while preparing and servicing Windows images offline.

    Learning Snack - Introducing Windows 7 

    Learning Snack: Deployment Services in Windows 7 

     Might I offer apologies if you’ve been searching for a “snack” on Google (* other search engines are available :-) and ended up on this blog. Perhaps you were looking for this

  • FE blog

    How will Windows 7 help FE colleges – Part Five – Learning Resources


    windows 7 ultimate v revOver the last few days, I’ve published quite a few separate articles on Windows 7. One of my aims was to try and help identify the wood from the trees – finding the things in Windows 7 which will make a real difference to the way that Windows is used in education, and will make your life easier or your IT systems more secure. But there are plenty of aspects I haven’t covered, so here’s a couple of pointers towards other resources you may want to take a bit of time to review:

  • FE blog

    TechNet June Virtual Conference – useful technical content at your desk


    TechNet Conferences

    This year, all across education, people are finding it more difficult to justify a day off campus to attend events.

    So this year, we’re going to come to you. Right to your desk. Via the wonders of virtual conferencing. On the 19th June.

    Although all of the materials will be available to watch afterwards, via video downloads, the big advantage of ‘attending’ on the day is that there is a chance to ask your own questions, and get answers from some of the most informed people around, then and there.

    There are two different auditoriums* – one which is deeply techie, and one is labelled “IT Management”. The content is pretty varied, including product sessions on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Office Communications Server and SharePoint – as well as longer-term strategy sessions, such as ‘How IT will change over the next 10 years’. And Andrew Fryer is running a session on ‘Data Protection Manager’, which has got to be a hot topic for education!

    You can find out more, get the agenda, and register at the Technet website

    And there’s also a competition to win one of 500 laptop goody bags. Enter the competition here, but obviously, not before reading the small print here.

  • FE blog

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  • FE blog

    Student Relationship Management – Live Meetings coming up


    Because of the competitive nature of student recruitment these days it seems that a lot of colleges are developing vastly improved strategies to recruit the "right" sort of student. SRM (Student Relationship Management) combined with the correct CRM technology package is one of the major strategies that many colleges are using to make the difference.

    image Pythagoras are one of our partners (rather than the Greek philosopher*) are one of our partners who specialise in this area, and are running a series of Live Meetings, or webinars, over the next couple of months specifically for colleges and universities. As the research shows that only a third of Universities or Colleges and Schools have a CRM system it might be worth registering for the upcoming Microsoft CRM webinar for Education on the 5th June or 10th July.

    FirstquotesAs the relationship between student and academic establishment has evolved to resemble a customer/provider dynamic, a true three hundred and sixty degree approach to relationship management will equip Schools, Higher and Further Education establishments with all of the tools they need to provide the highest levels of service to their 'clients' whilst in parallel allowing all relevant data to be interrogated and reported upon in order to drive strategic decision making for the future.

    Pythagoras CRM provides the tools for easily creating and maintaining a clear picture of the information that educators and leaders need. This solution developed with Microsoft Dynamics helps drive consistent, measurable improvements in daily work processes, promotes more effective cross-departmental collaboration, and enables new levels of efficiency.

    Pythagoras has developed Microsoft CRM for Education and is already being successfully used in a number of universities, colleges and schools throughout the UK. City University London and New Line Learning Academies have recently deployed Microsoft CRM for Education and this has resulted in a vastly improved way they manage their relationships and internal processes.

    The free webinar will take you through Pythagoras' offering and introduce a unique approach to the sector. Register below to take part.Endquotes

    More info and register for 10am on June 5th

    More info and register for 10am on 10th July

    You can find out more about the Pythagoras CRM on their website

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