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The FE Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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March, 2010

  • FE blog

    Online Services event with Perspicuity


    Gemma Yussuf has asked me to let you know about an event from one of our education partners, Perspicuity. We’re hosting it here in Reading on 23rd April.

    If you’re wondering how cloud-based services will influence your IT strategy going forward, then it’s a good opportunity to spend half a day getting a perspective on the scope and scale of the online services we’re offering.

    Here’s the detail from Gemma:

    Please join us, on Friday 23rd April, to find out how the Online Services model could transform the way you deliver IT to your campus

    Learn how you can streamline communication and simplify IT management, without compromising data security, compliance or process control.

    • Understand the cost and productivity benefits of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and other online collaboration tools
    • Learn how you can combine hosted services with on-premise applications: we will look at integration; data security and integrity; identity management; compliance; information governance and process management
    • Find out why a subscription approach to system development costs less and delivers better results
    • Hear about Middlesex University’s experiences: the operational and cost benefits of an on-demand approach to infrastructure and development

    The event runs on Friday 23rd April 2010, at the Microsoft Campus in Reading (directions here), either in the morning (10:30-12:30) or afternoon (14:30-16:30)


    If you’d like to come along, then drop an email to Gemma with your full name, organisation and contact details. Or give her a call on 0118 909 7805.

  • FE blog

    The Ultimate Steal – Office 2007 which magically turns into Office 2010


    Hopefully, you already know about The Ultimate Steal, which is our special student offer on Office 2007. It allows your students to buy Office 2007 Ultimate for just £38.95 – as long as you’ve issued them with a .ac.uk email address. And because it is the Ultimate edition, they will get absolutely the whole Office suite in one neat package*.

    So students can complete their work quicker, make it look nicer and organise it more easily.


    Since 5th March, any student or member of staff (we tell by asking them to register on the site with their ‘ac.uk’ email address) has had an added bonus because they are entitled to get a upgrade to Office 2010 when it is released (it comes as a digital download).

    If you’ve got students who want to buy Office, but are waiting for the next version, then all of their worries are over!

    We’ve been running this special offer each year for the last 3 years now, and although students have become increasingly aware of it, it may be worth reminding them – either from placing a link on your intranet, or letting them know by email or in your newsletters.

    ps You can also pick up Windows 7 with a student discount from The Ultimate Steal site too.

    * They get the latest versions of Excel, Word, PowerPoint and OneNote, as well as Outlook, Publisher, Access, Groove  and InfoPath. At £38.95, it’s about 90% off estimated retail price. But you’ve got to have a student or faculty email address with a .ac.uk domain from a UK higher or further education institution.

  • FE blog

    All the slides from the Microsoft Further Education Briefing 2010


    Today was the date for our Further Education Briefing 2010, and around 90 colleges came to our London headquarters to get an update on latest news from us, as well as hearing from other UK colleges on their projects and plans.

    I’ve put a brief note on each of the individual presentations below, so that you can see what was covered, and download the associated slides. There’s also a link at the bottom of the post to download all of the slides from my SkyDrive.


    Amanda Bicknell kicked off the day with an overview of the pressures on Further Education colleges today. There’s plenty of doom and gloom on budgets generally, and IT budgets in particular (5% of people in the room expected a standstill IT budget next year, whilst the rest expected a decline). And one of the results of that is that many colleges are keen to understand what their ICT resources can do to help with organisational efficiency – and helping to transform the learning process.
    Download Amanda’s introduction slides here.

    Looking ahead a decade: The future vision of work

    The next session was a look over the horizon at the future, with me telling a story of how people may work in the future, and the technology and learning implications. I  used our ‘Productivity Vision’ video, which looks at the workplace of 2019, and then continued by deconstructing the technology behind the video – to look at what exists now – either in research labs or in real life - and how the components might build to get to the vision described for the future.U nfortunately, I can’t share the whole presentation (I used a multimedia, interactive piece of software to present it), but I can share the short video that I used as the introduction, which is the starting point for the story I told.

    Productivity Future Vision

    You can view the video on our Officlabs Envisioning website, and you can also watch a video as Ian Sands, Director of Envisioning, steps through the video scene by scene and describes in greater depth the story behind the people and technology on display.

    A number of people asked me after my presentation about the interactive tool I’d used for it. And the secret is pptPlex, which is an add-in for PowerPoint 2007. It allows you to build amazingly interactive presentations, and also allows you to move around a storyboard in a completely non-linear way

    Office 2010

    Chris Rothwell gave a brief overview, and then a fast-paced demonstration of Office 2010 – including the Office Web Applications. One of his early statements was that there’s a growing tension between end-users and IT departments, where users want more freedom, and IT teams are managing risks and controls. He demonstrated how users can collaborate more effectively (As he put it, “In the workplace today, it's not about what 'I' produce, but about what 'we' produce together”). He also announced that OneNote will be included in every Office 2010 suite - which is good news for education and students. In the past it has not been standard in the lower-end education versions, which has created a barrier to its widespread use.
    Download Chris’s slides here

    SharePoint 2010

    James Nicholls then covered SharePoint 2010. Most of his session demonstrated our internal use of SharePoint 2010, but there are some introductory slides.
    You can download James’s slides here.


    About half of the room had already heard of Live@edu already, and about 10% had already implemented in in their college. It allows colleges to outsource their email and collaboration support for students (and staff, if you wish), and we then run the service (at no-cost) in our data centre in Dublin. You can find out more (and register for a test domain) on Live@edu, then go to www.microsoft.com/liveatedu)
    You can download Chris’s Live@edu slides here

    Alan Brown – Canterbury College

    Alan Brown told an engaging story about the Canterbury College IT strategy, talking about how they outsourced their college email service to our Live@edu service. Interestingly one of the key money savings that Alan described was the use of SkyDrive to reduce their in-house storage needs – and also helping them with their virus protection (because the data has to pass through all of the firewalls and end-point protection systems, rather than simply plugging in USB sticks)
    You can download Alan’s slides here.

    Alan also mentioned the marketing materials available to help his college promote the service to students. Here’s the link to the resources.

    Working with Open Source

    Chris Rothwell (presenting for the third time of the day) gave a brief overview of the different ways that our projects with the Open Source community can benefit colleges, including details on our Moodle webparts for Live@edu
    Download Chris’s Open Source slides

    Cost Saving

    I gave a brief introduction to some of the work we have been doing with schools on cost savings, where had identified a potential to directly save almost £400,000 over 3 years by effective IT provision. The details are in the slides, and the request was for colleges who want to model something similar to contact me by email to take part.
    Download the Cost Saving slides

    Virtualisation to reduce costs

    Graham Bell, one of Microsoft’s desktop virtualisation specialists, gave an excellent summary of our desktop virtualisation tools. There’s a range of tools, collectively called the Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack, which provides a set of management tools which can save £50-£60 per desktop device per year in running costs. It also massively simplifies the management of applications – reducing the roll out time and cost for upgrades or new applications. Graham mentioned the Warwickshire County Council education case study, which you can read here.
    Graham’s slides are here.

    Office Communications Server

    James Mortlock, Director of IT at Salford City College talked about their use of Office Communications Server. It was originally started as a project just within the IT teams across the college, but then realised that the benefits of being able to use an integrated voice/instant messenger/video/desktop sharing system were so significant it could have a big impact on college. They are implementing across 800 staff and 5 separate telephony systems, so it is a big project due for completion in July 2010. The total cost of implementation is £35,000, and will save a minimum of £23,000 a year.
    Download James’s slides here

    IT Academy

    The last session of the day was on the Microsoft IT Academy programme, by Gareth Scahill, from Prodigy Learning. They are our UK delivery partners for the IT Academy programme.
    Download the IT Academy slides here.

    Download all of the presentations together

    All of the slides from today are available in the folder below (or use this link)

  • FE blog

    Saving power on the go – getting your laptop battery to last all day


    The beauty of saving power, is that you’re also saving money. And in the case of laptops, that applies to home use as well as use on campus. So there’s an incentive for staff to want to manage their power use more effectively. So maybe this article will be of use for your internal IT newsletters too?

    The Windows team, over at windows.microsoft.com, have released a new video on “saving power on the go”, which is all about using the power settings on your laptop to stretch out your battery life, and reduce the power use. The video is a very simple walkthrough of what you can do (designed for normal people, not geeks!) and then there are also a series of short articles on:

    A short list of hints on conserving battery power are:

    • Reduce display brightness

        • Laptop power consumption.Shorten the length of time before Windows dims and turns off the display
        • Turn off or remove devices that you aren't using
          • Many USB devices use power just by being connected.
          • If you use a USB mouse, you can save power by disconnecting the mouse and by using a touch pad or tablet pen.
          • If you use a USB flash drive, unplug it when you're not using it.

            • Turn off PC cards and integrated wireless devices
              • These devices also use power. If you don't need them, turn them off.


            imageQuickly find all the other Money Saving Tips on this blog

          • FE blog

            Collaboration in the cloud – connecting Huddle and SharePoint


            Huddle.net is a web-based collaboration system, which is designed to complement existing learning management systems or virtual learning environments by providing additional tools such as file sharing, task management, discussion forums and live collaboration. It recently won the Microsoft SharePoint SocialFest competition, because of the way that it sits alongside SharePoint – for example, to allow you to widen collaboration to people outside of your own college. With Huddle for SharePoint 2010, you can invite external teams to collaborate with you inside your SharePoint environment.

            You can use it to connect with students, tutors, partners and suppliers outside of your own network – or with other colleges. Huddle for SharePoint 2010 allows you to enable your users to invite external teams to collaborate with them inside your SharePoint environment.  They can publish documents to or from Huddle workspaces, manage authentication and synchronise their data with other, unconnected SharePoint sites. And your SharePoint users can access their files through Huddle's online, mobile and social networks. It’s clever because it takes your existing college SharePoint, and adds more powerful collaboration to it.

            The team at Huddle are holding an event here at our offices in Reading next month, where you can learn more about our Cloud strategy, the SharePoint 2010 introduction, and the Huddle integration. Here’s the details from the Huddle team:

            We would like to cordially invite you to the preview of the Huddle SharePoint Connector, which aims to revolutionise the way education organisations use Microsoft SharePoint externally.
            Huddle for SharePoint means companies can now work securely and easily with people outside of their institution through their existing SharePoint installation. Our connector also joins up separate instances of SharePoint allowing external users to use either their own SharePoint site or Huddle to work together. This concept has recently won a global Microsoft design competition.

            Jointly with Microsoft we will be hosting a free event on Wednesday 14th April 2010.  The agenda will be:

            9.30am - Coffee and registration

            10.00am – Welcome

            10.15am – Microsoft: Cloud Computing Strategy

            10:45 - SharePoint 2010: A Platform for Learning

            11.15am – Coffee

            11.45am - Introduction to Huddle & SharePoint integration

            12.45pm - Customer case studies

            1pm - Lunch and depart 

            The event will take place at Microsoft's offices at Microsoft Campus, Thames Valley Park, Reading RG6 1WG. The spaces are limited, so please let us know as soon as possible if you are able to attend by e-mailing . 

            If you’d like to attend, then email Pauline at Huddle directly, and she’ll add you to the attendee list.

          • FE blog

            First Look at Office 2010 – free e-book


            Every day is a day closer to the Office 2010 release (due on 12th May for volume licence customers, and June for consumers). And I know of quite a few UK education institutions that are widely using the free Office 2010 beta in teaching already.

            If you’re preparing for a rapid roll out of Office 2010, or even if you’re just looking for more information to help you consider your plans, then you’ll be interested in the free ebook from the Microsoft Learning team. It’s called “First Look- Microsoft Office 2010”, and over it’s 186 pages it talks you through some of the most significant enhancements in the Office suite. I’m impressed with the collaboration that Office 2010 encourages, and have got very used to doing things like broadcasting PowerPoint over the internet, and the options to save my files to my SkyDrive on the web, rather than on my local hard disk.

            I’ve been using Office 2010 for over six months now, and there are key bits of it that I would definitely not be able to do without now. This ebook does a very good job of explaining all of that, and helping you and your academic staff to get ahead.

            My advice? Download it now and pass it around.

            imageQuickly find all the other Office 2010 posts on this blog

          • FE blog

            tech days in London – Virtualisation, Office, Windows and Server


            Our technical team have put together a fantastic week of technical events from 12-16 April in London. Despite hosting them in a cinema, most of them were full within hours of announcing them, but if you’ve got the chance to get to one, I’d recommend adding your name to the Wait List for the events – because you may get a chance to attend if there are dropouts, and the team will also let you know about the recordings available afterwards.

            The subjects to be covered are:

            • Virtualisation – covering server and desktop virtualisation – Monday 12th
            • Office 2010 – including the core Office applications as well as SharePoint 2010 – Tuesday 13th
            • Windows 7 deployment – planning for deployment, application compatibility and deployment tool options – Wednesday 14th
            • SQL Server 2008 R2 – data management, reporting and using your data to produce business intelligence – Thursday 15th
            • Raising the profile of IT - about the fundamental role of IT to support the business goals of an organisation – and the changes likely in the future – Friday 16th

            You can find out more, and register yourself onto the Wait List on the techdays website. At the moment, there are still places available for the Friday, and the rest are Wait List only (check current availability here)

            If you’re developing software, then there are still places available for some of the developer events – run in parallel, in another London cinema.

          • FE blog

            FE Principal’s discussion group


            We held a meeting today, with 18 college Principal’s and IT Directors, which was both a briefing session, and an opportunity for discussion about the changes going on in the FE sector currently. It was a much more informal, and interactive, meeting than last week’s full FE Briefing, and had a mix of Microsoft speakers, as well as Cathy Ellis from Becta, Paul Wakeling from Havering Sixth Form College, and Tim Jackson & Anne Haynes from Sparsholt College.

            The slides (but obviously not all the discussion that accompanied them!) are all available to download from here.

            If you’re a college principal (or you’re running IT in a college, and want to persuade your Principal to join you next time we have one of these discussion days, then drop an email to Amanda Bicknell. (Amanda is our Business Manager for Further Education in the UK).

          • FE blog

            Accessibility guide for education


            clip_image001We’ve just issued the third edition of our accessibility guide for education, and it’s available as a download from our accessibility site. The site also includes a number of accessibility video case studies.

            The Accessibility: A Guide for Educators has been updated to include information on Windows 7 accessibility features, and current assistive technology product recommendations.

            This guide provides information about accessibility and accessible technology to help teachers ensure that all students have equal access to learning with technology, specifically:

            • An understanding of accessibility and how it impacts learners
            • Definitions of impairment types and technology solutions for each type of impairment
            • Guidance on choosing accessible technology solutions
            • Resources for more information

            imageDownload the Accessibility Guide for Educators

          • FE blog

            Microsoft Further Education Briefing 2010 – London 19th March


            The booking deadline is approaching for our Further Education Briefing day, which this year falls on 19th March in London. If you haven’t registered yet, then it’s worth taking a look at the agenda, as we’ve built it to make sure that you can get lots of value from the day – whether it is learning about new products that will be covered by an existing Campus Agreement, or it is thinking about the ways that you can use  your ICT strategy to save money across your college.


            Microsoft will be holding our annual Further Education Briefing on 19th March 2010 at our London offices in Victoria. The agenda for the event runs from 9:45 to 3:00 with breaks to catch up with colleagues from other colleges.

            As well as getting the latest news on Microsoft’s product roadmap, there will be the opportunity to hear from other colleges and to hear how they are responding to the economic pressures that all colleges are feeling. Of course, this current academic year is full of launches of new Microsoft products, and we’ll be able to use the day to bring all of this into context – explaining the value and relative importance of some of the key new product launches still to come.

            The event will be suitable for senior managers, whether or not they are involved in IT strategy on a day-to-day basis.

            Further Education Briefing Agenda

            09:15    Registration and coffee

            09:45    Welcome and Introduction

            10:00    Looking ahead a decade: The future vision of work

            10:40    Office 2010

            11:05    Break

            11:20    Microsoft SharePoint 2010

            11:45    Live@edu

            12:10    Lunch

            13:00    When budgets don’t meet aspirations - Customer case study

            13:25    Linking Moodle to your Microsoft infrastructure

            13:35    Introduction to “Cost saving and Revenue Raising”

            13:40    Virtualisation to reduce costs

            14:10    Office Communications Server    

            14:40    The Microsoft IT Academy

            15:00    Summary and close

            Amanda Bicknell, the Microsoft UK Further Education Business Manager will lead the day, introducing experts from Microsoft and case studies from our customers.

            We’ll be holding the briefing at our offices in Victoria, and there will be plenty of Microsoft colleagues available for discussions.

            You can book your place online now

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