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March, 2012

  • FE blog

    DreamSpark for Institutions: FAQ’s for Customers

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    Microsoft DreamSpark provides no-cost access to Microsoft designer and development tools for verified students and educators around the world, to support and advance their learning and skills through technical design, technology, math, science and engineering activities. Academic subscription volume licensing customers receive an online subscription to DreamSpark at no additional cost for instructional use by their teachers and students organization-wide in their classrooms and labs. In addition, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) departments in higher education institutions may qualify for an online DreamSpark Premium subscription at no additional cost as a benefit of their Enrollment for Education Solutions (EES) or Open Value Subscription – Education Solutions (OVS-ES).

    To learn more about DreamSpark, view/download our FAQ document below.

    DreamSpark FAQ's
    View more documents from Microsoft Education UK

    Still unsure about something? Pop your question in the comments below and we will get straight back to you.

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  • FE blog

    School in a Box Reception – House of Commons, 29th February 2012

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    On 29th February, Microsoft were at the House of Commons, Westminster for the School in a Box Reception hosted by Reading MP Rob Wilson. The event provided a high profile opportunity for schools and Microsoft Partners to show how they are working together to provide high quality, flexible and scalable low cost technologies to support leadership, administration and even more importantly, classroom learning.

    Gerald Haigh, independent writer for Microsoft, went along on Wednesday to find out how School in a Box is moving along in education and how cloud computing is transforming already the way ICT works for education.

    houses-of-parliament

    The tone of the gathering was firmly set, after an upbeat introduction from Rob Wilson, speaker Dan Moynihan, CEO of the Harris Federation, of 13 schools, eventually growing to 25 began by describing the remarkable record achieved in short order by schools within the Federation. You can read it on the school site here.

    In his talk, Dan outlined a philosophy of ‘High expectations, matched with decisive action,’ and a belief that every child can achieve.

    ‘The ICT has to facilitate that, no excuses. It has to work every time, and it’s part of our uncompromising approach to quality.’

    The Federation’s mission is to take on underperforming schools and turn them round. This involves dealing with some schools where ICT provision is poor, and not well managed.

    The solution in a nutshell, is to provide a central, cloud-based solution ‘HarrisNET’ for the whole Federation.

    ‘It’s our own Cloud. We developed it ourselves, we host it and run it. We store data and learning content, accessible from anywhere.’

    There’s extensive use of Microsoft technologies including Windows 7 at the desktops, Server 2008 providing a single Active Directory for all the Academies, Exchange 2010 also serving all the Academies and Sharepoint 2010 which is branded as HarrisNET. Together they form the Cloud and provide the ability to run Office 365 which uses SharePoint to provide Cloud storage.

    As new academies join the Federation, ICT provision is set up for them remotely in the cloud to be rolled out on site. Dan contrasts that with an older style of ICT provision which may have involved designing a new network for each academy, with separate attention to software and hardware, at at typical cost of £1450 per pupil – say £1.7million per school.

    ‘We wondered why we needed to spend all that money, when we could provide a better solution with a cloud system. How we did it now is something we call Academy in a Box.’

    It’s not, though, he emphasises, ‘one size fits all’.

    ‘We tailor it to the site, but avoid having different solutions for the same problem. We manage it centrally and there’s less support needed locally,’

    This then is a centrally designed and hosted solution which is also flexible enough for each Academy to have its individual approach, response to community needs and appropriate teaching and learning style. Efficient, lean, ready-to-go and reliable, it’s a very cost effective way of provisioning any school  be it new, refurbished, updated or whatever with the ICT that it needs to achieve its own particular vision. That cost saving element is highly significant.

    ‘We’ve gone from £1.7 million per school to £500,000 per school. Across the group our savings are £2m per annum on ICT alone.’

    (The change in licensing costs with the advent of EES last March was of great benefit here. It actually made the Cloud investment financially possible )

    ‘Most importantly’, says Dan, ‘everything works.’

    ‘We hit the ground running when a school opens. Our Principals are guaranteed a working solution… safe and secure, enabling all users to access files and software and applications in the cloud when and where they need them. ’

    Above all, Dan feels there is the assurance of change and improvement for the young people…..learning and teaching is the guiding force.

    Also at show at the House of Commons was some of the work Microsoft and their Partners have been doing with newly opening Free Schools. European Electronique  were on hand, with some of the students from West London Free School.  They were quick to tell me how pleased they were with their Office 365  and its ‘anytime, anywhere’ accessibility. European Electronique claims this as “One of the first Microsoft Office 365 deployments in Britain’s schools.”

    (EE’s own case study of the West London Free School deployment is at http://www.euroele.co.uk/freeschools.aspx )

    One universal cost benefit of Cloud is the much reduced need for on-site support. I saw the ultimate example of this when I met Tania Sidney-Roberts, Principal of The Free School Norwich , a new primary for 168 children, opened in September 2011.

    Tania, her staff and children enjoy a full and efficient service of ICT for learning, management and administration  but with no servers around, and so nobody has to be around to look after them. Everything comes as a cloud service from Microsoft Partner Civica.

    Tania Sidney-Roberts claims not to be technically minded, but what’s more important is her depth of vision and experience when it comes to children’s learning. She is deeply committed to personalised learning of a style which will often take children beyond the walls of the school, and what she wanted at the new school was something easy to manage, easy to learn, and intelligible on the screen to a four year old child. When it came to the tender process, she sketched out her ideas on a few sheets of A4 and, she says, ‘Civica were the ones who immediately grasped what I was trying to do.’

    The result is an attractive, child-friendly, easily navigable look, with colour, graphics with squirrels and a generally very comfortable primary school feel. And, as with the Harris schools, there’s anytime, anywhere access for parents, and, importantly, for the children on a range of mobile devices. (We’re told they routinely make use of the Wi-Fi at a Café on Cromer beach during their seashore studies.)

    So driving everything is a suite of powerful Microsoft software  such as SharePoint 2010, Live @Edu, Office 365, delivered by Civica as a contracted cloud service.

    (Civica also have their own case study of how they brought the Norwich Free School system into being within a two-month window)

    Is it cost efficient for small schools to provision their ICT this way?

    For me, to attempt that sort of comparison misses the point. I’d say that to produce an on-site server-based system from scratch at a new school, up and running on day one, would be prohibitive to the point where you simply wouldn’t attempt it.

    I was going to say that I came away from the House of Commons with a sense that something really big is stirring again in our nation’s relatively short, but dizzyingly fast moving story of educational IT. The truth is, though, that it’s now beyond the stirring stage. Projects like HarrisNET and the work at Norwich Free School are already being found in other places  for example West London Free School. So what we have here is a pot that’s well and truly boiling. They’re great stories on School in a Box and Cloud Services, with lessons for all schools, of all types, in all places, and we’ll try to keep you up to speed with them.

     

    More information can be found on the Microsoft Education SlideShare 

     School in a Box

    Baby Steps to the Cloud

  • FE blog

    Help your organization using Microsoft Hyper-V

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    Dave Coleman from SharePointEduTech Ltd ,user and ‘guru’ of Microsoft Hyper-V Microsoft Hyper-V and virtulization, has written a guest blog post on the benefits and commonly asked questions in regards to moving your old servers to virtual servers.

     

    I always think that it is a good idea to look back so you can see the way things are heading so I will begin with a bit of history.

    History of Hyper- V

    Microsoft first released Hyper-V on 26th June 2008. Hyper-V started to knock on the door of other enterprise virtualization technologies with the release of Server 2008 R2 in September 2009 this version included the ability to configure Hyper-V in a clustered configuration with failover capabilities and shared storage so that if one of your Hyper-V servers rebooted during patching etc. your virtual servers would live migrate to another node in your Hyper-V farm.

    The capabilities of Hyper-V were further enhanced with the release of Service Pack 1 for server 2008 R2. This added the dynamic RAM capability to Hyper-V, meaning that you could allocate a minimum and maximum amount of RAM to your virtual machines so that when your virtual machines need to use more RAM for an operation they will expand the amount of memory allocated and then return it when not needed. And with the upcoming release of Windows Server “8” Hyper-V will be extended even more.

    Benefits of using Hyper-V

    Licensing

    As you can see, Microsoft are investing a lot in their virtualization technology and adding more enterprise features. But the real benefit is on the cost saving front. If you check out the table below, you can see the licensing benefits and with the new improved EES licensing, it makes much more sense to run the Datacentre edition of Windows server 2008. This will mean that you can run an unlimited amount of virtual servers but only pay for one server license for each of your hosts.

    Windows Server Version

    Number Of Free Licences

    Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition

    1

    Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition

    4

    Windows Server 2008 Datacentre Edition

    Unlimited

    Power Saving

    The undoubted power saving features is very attractive as you are running fewer physical servers, so electrical costs will drop. You will also save money on cooling your server room so depending on the amount of physical servers that you virtualize you may find it possible to turn off that expensive air conditioning system.

    Make the most of your hardware

    Rather than having a set of physical servers running at a small percentage of their total capacity, Hyper-V allows you to make use of all the processing power and RAM of a physical box and therefore get the most out of your physical hardware.

    What operating systems are supported for virtualization?

    As you can see from the table below the support for operating systems is extremely wide and covers all Microsoft server versions from Windows 2000 server right up to Server 2008 and also includes some versions of Linux.

    Guest OS

    Virtual processors

    Edition(s)

    Windows 7

    1,2,3 or 4

    Both x86-32 and x86-64, all editions except home editions (the home editions are Home Premium, Home Basic, and Starter)

    Windows Server 2008 R2

    1,2,3 or 4

    x64, Web, Standard, Enterprise, Datacentre

    Windows Server 2008

    1,2,3 or 4

    Both x86 and x64, Web, HPC, Standard, Enterprise, Datacentre, with or without Hyper-V

    Linux (SUSE, Red Hat Enterprise or CentOS fully supported, other distros may work)

    1,2 or 4

    Both x86 and x64

    Windows Server 2003

    1 or 2

    Both x86 and x64, Standard, Enterprise, Datacentre, SP2 required

    Windows Server 2003 R2

    1 or 2

    Web, Standard, Enterprise, Datacentre, both x86 and x64 except for Web whose 64-bit version is not supported

    Windows 2000 Server

    1

    Server, Advanced Server, SP4 required

    Windows Vista

    1 or 2

    Both x86 and x64, all editions except home editions

    Windows XP

    1 or 2

    x86, Professional edition only, SP3 required (SP2 only supports 1 virtual CPU)

    Windows XP x64 Edition

    1 or 2

    x64, Professional edition only, SP2 required

    Windows Small Business Server 2011

    1, 2 or 4

    Essentials, Standard (Essentials supports only 2 virtual CPUs)

    Windows Home Server 2011

    1, 2 or 4

    Standard

    Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials

    1, 2 or 4

    Essentials

    What server services can I virtualize?

    We have completed many roll outs of Hyper-V and we have yet to find a server technology role that is not supported be that SharePoint, SQL, Exchange and Active Directory my only advice is do not virtualize all your active directory servers always keep at least one physical for disaster recovery.

    How do I virtualize my old physical servers and manage my new Hyper-V farm?

    Microsoft provides a tool for this as well in the shape of System Centre Virtual Machine Manager. This management tool installs an agent on old physical servers then does a P2V (Physical to Virtual) on these servers virtualizing them and bringing them into your Hyper-V environment. You can as well manage your virtual servers using this product.

    Where next?

    OK I want to virtualize but who do I ask?

    For more information on running Hyper-V in your organisation including what hardware to buy, please contact SharePointEduTech at info@sharepointedutech.com

  • FE blog

    New IE9 CEOP browser increasing internet safety for families

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    With the numbers of young adults and children using the internet expanding, and with more families with access to the internet in their homes, keeping children and young adults safer online is more than ever important.

    Did you know that 26% of children use social network sites such as FaceBook or Moshi Monsters? Or that 87% of children use the internet at home but only 1 in 8 parents mediate their children’s online life?IE9 logo

    To help keep children safer online whilst they use the internet for homework, social activities and gaming, CEOP and Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer have recently collaborated together to release the new customized Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) browser following on from the original IE8 CEOP browser in 2010.

    At Microsoft, we always want to provide our customers with the tools to enjoy the web safely and securely. The internet has become a central part of everyday life for adults and children, from learning and communicating to working and playing online. As the leading browser provider, it is important we make the appropriate safety information available and build in features to our software which provide families with peace of mind online.” - Gabby Hegerty, Internet Explorer Lead in the UK

    The ClickCEOP browser became available on 7th February 2012, giving instant access for parents and children to CEOP’s ‘one stop shop’ for internet safety as well as providing a place where the user can report any concerns they may have.

    ‘’Microsoft has been a strategic partner of the CEOP Centre since we launched in 2006. Throughout that time they have demonstrated their drive and commitment towards child online safety in a number of innovative and contemporary ways. The ClickCEOP browser for IE9 is the latest example of this and we have been happy to work with Microsoft to ensure that IE9 users can access advice and guidance in a way that is quick and easy. We welcome this approach and continue to work with service providers so that help and advice is available whenever it is needed”. - Peter Davies, CEOP Chief Executive

    Following on from the Internet Safety Day 2012 and the information and resources available for parents, teachers and children through the Think U Know website, I wanted to also update you with information around IE9, its features and how you can download it easily and quickly.

    tuklogo

    • IE9 features include -  

      One-click access for Windows 7 users to the CEOP and Thinkuknow websites and resources via two new Jump Lists: 
       
      • The Thinkuknow Jump List breaks down the relevant advice for children by age group so children can learn how to protect themselves online
      • The CEOP Jump List provides parents with one-click access to valuable information such as how they can use existing computer software settings to control their children’s internet usage

     

    • CEOP’s Safety Centre – to make a CEOP report, or find out information on bullying, viruses, hacking, online security, or inappropriate online content such as sexual images
    • Latest news from CEOP Updates to CEOP on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

     

    The customized version of IE9 for CEOP includes enhanced features which can help keep children stay safe whilst online.

      • Thinkuknow & Bing homepage - children can learn how to protect themselves online and find the information they need
      • Bookmarks / Favourites to relevant safety information from CEOP
      • The ability to instantly search CEOP and its internet safety partners’ sites from the browser’s search bar, providing a comprehensive suite of valuable information for all families

    Ian Moulster, Product Marketing Manager for Microsoft Windows recently gave an interview with Sky News explaining how CEOP and Microsoft have worked together on the IE9 browser and the messaging that goes around this piece of work on internet safety.

     

    Further sources of information covering screen grabs of the CEOP browser, pinning and jump lists are included in the following articles for your reference.

    Web 'water wings': Microsoft creates custom Internet Explorer for children as young as five
    Mail Online

    Microsoft launches child friendly version of Internet Explorer 9
    It Pro Portal

    Internet Safety for Children From CEOP & IE9
    Sarah Superfluous

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