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The FE Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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September, 2012

  • FE blog

    Educating the next generation of innovators

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    Faculty Connection is your online resource for teaching technology concepts using Microsoft technologies. We provide relevant and applicable tools—from syllabi to lecture materials and from videos to labs and assignments aligned to ACM Knowledge Areas.
    It’s all here to help make your classroom more engaging and your students more successful.

    To learn more, the full brochure can be viewed/downloaded below:

  • FE blog

    Second shot for ITA

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    For a limited time, Microsoft is bringing back its popular Second Shot offer that gives your students a free second chance to pass their certification exams.

    Microsoft has reinvented the IT industry’s most respected professional certification program to validate a deeper set of skills on the newest technologies. The new MCSE and MCSD certifications validate the ability to deploy, design, and optimize technologies for critical IT roles, and help students to adopt new technologies, maximizing their ITA academic opportunities, and preparing them for their future.

    For a limited time, Microsoft is bringing back its popular Second Shot offer that gives your students a free second chance to pass their certification exams.

    Microsoft has reinvented the IT industry’s most respected professional certification program to validate a deeper set of skills on the newest technologies. The new MCSE and MCSD certifications validate the ability to deploy, design, and optimize technologies for critical IT roles, and help students to adopt new technologies, maximizing their ITA academic opportunities, and preparing them for their future.


    Now ITA students can sign up for certification exams with confidence of knowing that if they don’t pass it the first time, they get a second chance at success. The mitigated risk of failure motivates students to attempt the exams, and is therefore a proven way to drive exam volume.

    The campaign will run from 28th August 2012 until 30th June 2013, and allows students a free retake on any exam purchased and failed on first attempt when using a Second Shot voucher. The vouchers are available worldwide for any 073 IT pro or developer certification exam, and include the latest MCP certifications for Windows 8 Apps & Windows Server 2012.

    How to Get and Use the ITA Second Shot Vouchers

    Step one:  Click on link to Prometric:  https://vouchers.prometric.com/

    Step two: Sign into VPSO tool, or create an account by following the directions. You will need your IT Academy member number.

    Step three: Select the following:

    Voucher Type: Prepaid

    Client Name: Microsoft

    Program Name:  Microsoft IT Academy Exam (073)

    Click “Search”

    Step four:  When you order certification vouchers, be sure to select vouchers with Second Shot. Please note the naming under “Attribute Summary”.

    Step five:  Follow instructions for ITA member validation and order payment

    Step six:  Distribute voucher codes to your students

    Step seven:  Students must register their first exam with the voucher code. Student takes exam

    Step eight: If student fails, they should use the same voucher number to register the retake at no cost.


    Now ITA students can sign up for certification exams with confidence of knowing that if they don’t pass it the first time, they get a second chance at success. The mitigated risk of failure motivates students to attempt the exams, and is therefore a proven way to drive exam volume.

    The campaign will run from 28th August 2012 until 30th June 2013, and allows students a free retake on any exam purchased and failed on first attempt when using a Second Shot voucher. The vouchers are available worldwide for any 073 IT pro or developer certification exam, and include the latest MCP certifications for Windows 8 Apps & Windows Server 2012.

  • FE blog

    “I like to think that teachers are taking a few more pedagogic risks, including trusting their students and (un)planning.” – David Rogers, UK

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    Originally posted on the Daily Edventures blog. 

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    David Rogers isn’t afraid to make waves; in fact, he claims he’s sometimes known as “troublemaker-at-large.” For him, meaningful change won’t happen any other way.
    Rogers, who has attended both the UK and European Microsoft Partners in Learning Forums, has done things many teachers would consider unthinkable – like encouraging graffiti in the school and having his students determine their own social media policy. His creative approach, while it sometimes ruffles feathers, seems to be working.

    Rogers is not only a Microsoft Innovative Teacher, he’s also a Jamie Oliver Dream Teacher and won Best Teacher Blog of 2011 in the Education Blog Awards. He attributes much of his success to a willingness to learn from others, something he does a great deal of through social media. Rogers’ blog, Twitter (both personal and school department) and Facebook presence keep him connected to what’s going in the world of education beyond his school.

    Recently appointed to the role of Professional Tutor at Priory School, Rogers now has
    the opportunity to apply his enthusiasm for teaching to developing other educators in the school. Here, Rogers shares with us his unconventional approach to teaching and innovation.

    Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?

    I am most proud of helping our young people create their own mobile device policy. The policy has unlocked their use in the classroom. This has involved working right across the school and with creative artists, and has been shared with a wide audience from trainee teachers at the University of Portsmouth to national conferences. I have always taken a different approach, using creative and innovative ideas and teaching methods that often generate great reactions. For example, I caused a storm by allowing young people to use chalk to graffiti what they did in their social time around the whole school. I am also proud of getting on to the Senior Leadership Team with a secondment (temporary job role change) for two years, which will allow me to work with new teachers in order to enhance their innovative spirits. I love the fact that my small department has two Microsoft Innovative Teachers who have attended the European Forums, and I’m hoping to encourage further success this year.

    What has changed as a result of your efforts?

    Other teachers and students have been challenged to think differently and they now see that small, highly effective ideas can have a huge impact. Also, I like to think that teachers are taking a few more pedagogic risks, including trusting their students and (un)planning.

    How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

    Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission – challenge people’s thoughts and preconceptions by proving them wrong. Never forget what brought you into teaching, and stick to your principles.

    How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

    I’ve used social networking extensively, starting off by exploring how people liked cheese on toast. :-)

    What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?

    Constant change in the education system, especially in the curriculum. This causes negativity from other educators which can be difficult to work with.

    What is your country doing right to support education?

    At the moment, teachers are starting to support themselves through grassroots events such as TeachMeets.

    What conditions must change in your country to better support education?

    A moratorium on curriculum changes to allow teachers and learning to develop.

    What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?

    Simple ideas used effectively and talking to young people.

    What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?

    Always remember why you came into the profession and remember that most of the time, Gove (UK Education Secretary), Oftsed and the headteacher aren’t in your classroom, so don’t be afraid to take calculated pedagogical risks. Create networks using Twitter, Facebook and Partners in Learning; the more you talk to other teachers the more confident you’ll become. Never think that you’ve got nothing to contribute – I’m always learning things from trainee teachers and those new to the profession and I plan on always doing that.

    What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?

    The trend toward exploring technology is helping. I think Geography (my subject) is a leading subject here – we bring the world to life.
    I think that closed mindsets are getting in the way of learning as is poor accountability that isn’t focused on the learning process over long timescales. Focusing on lessons is not good learning.

    If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

    A time machine and a copy of Mission:Explore. I’d love to go back to explore the geography of the past and future first-hand, and Mission:Explore encourages those people to get out there. By the way, the time machine can be imaginary – my tent works for me Smile 

    —————————————————————————————————————————————————

    Join the Partners in Learning Network and experience global collaboration!

    Innovate in the classroom, help your students build the skills they need for the future—such as problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity—with Partners in Learning.

    You’ll meet other innovative teachers for collaboration opportunities, get access to free teacher resources, and learn about great ways to improve your personal teaching practice using technology.

    Embraced by the theme ‘Your Ideas Matter’ the Partners in Learning Network is a community for you, by you, and further amplifies the great work that is being done every day by teachers and schools around the world. With this idea in mind, we invite you to try out this global online resource and community designed to encourage collaboration and the spread of ideas for the betterment of education worldwide.

    The new Partners in Learning Network is the next generation of the global network serving educators and school leaders in over 115 countries. To facilitate a truly global community of innovative educators, the site is now available in 36 different languages, thanks to the use of Microsoft Translator Services.

    Sign in, create an account and start connecting with thousands of educators worldwide here.

  • FE blog

    Windows Intune June 2012 Release Getting Started Guide

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    Windows Intune is an integrated, cloud-based client management solution that provides tools, reports, and upgrade licenses to the latest version of Windows. Windows Intune helps keep your computers up-to-date and secure, and lets your users more securely access and install targeted licensed software applications and perform other common tasks, from virtually anywhere.

    This guide describes key concepts that can help you start learning how to get the most out of Windows Intune. It includes step-by-step instructions to help you set up a new Windows Intune environment and selected tasks to complete so that you can explore the range of features in Windows Intune.

    The full guide can be viewed below. Alternatively, you can download the guide via our SlideShare account.

  • FE blog

    Microsoft at ALT-C 2012

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    On the 11th – 13th September we are excited to be exhibiting at ALT-C 2012, which is taking place at the University of Manchester.

    ALT is a registered educational charity in the learning technology field who aim to ensure that the use of learning technology is effective and efficient, by bringing together practitioners, researchers and policy makers in education. Every year ALT run an international conference - a forum for people from the education sector to explore and discover with other learning technologists.

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    There will be many inspiring sessions throughout the three day conference, for delegates to gain valuable insight into learning technology.

    This is our first year at ALT-C and we’re really pleased to be involved. We’re teaming up with one of our partners, Collabco, and together on our stand we’ll be demonstrating our learning solutions and experiences including; Office 365 for education, SharePoint and blended learning. Microsoft and Collabco have recently worked with Blackpool and Fylde College on a great solution which blends Office 365 for education, SharePoint and Moodle to provide a learning platform.

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    We’re also really thrilled about our guest speaker session at ALT-C, where you can hear about how the University of West London are using Office 365 for education. When UWL were considering student and staff based systems which could significantly enhance the teaching and learning experience, they began to evaluate Office 365 for education.  They were most impressed with the way in which this cloud based offering, based on some of Microsoft’s core products, adapts itself in this way. 

    In well under a year, UWL have now rolled out Office 365 for education to all of their students and this will shortly be followed by staff.  What differentiates this implementation of Office 365 for education from most others in the Sector, is that UWL have implemented the suite of applications to enhance their teaching and learning experience (rather than purely e-mail which has been the norm to date).  The solution also includes tight integration with the Student Records System and Library System plus Blackboard. 

    In our breakout speaker session on Wednesday afternoon at ALT-C 2012, Mauli Arora from the University of West London will give you a flavour of what UWL have achieved to date.

    Collabco, who are joining us at ALT-C, are also kindly hosting a pub night in association with Microsoft on the evening of Tuesday 11th September for ALT conference delegates. The drinks will be on them! So please pop down to say hi and join us all for a free beer or two from 7pm onwards. It’s at a local pub called The Old Wellington at 4 Cathedral Gates, Manchester, M3 1SW. We will be in the upstairs area. See you there!

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  • FE blog

    Microsoft and Collabco at ALT-C 2012

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    Guest post by Max Holden from Collabco.

    ALT-C is an annual conference for learning technologists. This year it will be held at the University of Manchester on 11th – 13th September and Microsoft and Collabco will be exhibiting here for the first time!

    Collabco will be supporting the Microsoft exhibition at the ALT Conference, showcasing the work that we have carried out at Blackpool & the Fylde College.  The project involved us supporting Microsoft and adding value to an Office 365 for education solution for the college. 

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    Collabco’s Hub Metro solution, which the college have branded MyHub, is a SharePoint 2010 based solution. It pulls together the essential elements of Office 365 for education, such as e-mail, MySites and calendars, together with the systems students need access to on a daily basis such as timetable, Moodle, e-payments and library systems. 

    Giving students (and ultimately staff) this “single pane” view of all the systems they need, with seamless access to the collaboration tools in SharePoint and Office 365 for education, delivers a compelling solution.  This addresses many of the college’s requirements of an integrated learning platform and helps to further integrate Moodle into the delivery of learning to students.  The college is able to customise the look and feel of the platform and add further connectors to new systems as they are brought on stream. 

    A further phase of the project will allow the college to deliver all of this information easily to the students smartphone devices, allowing them to be kept fully up to date and informed of assignment deadlines, overdue library books, room changes and other useful information.

    As well as this showcase on the Microsoft stand, we are delighted to invite ALT-C delegates for some drinks on us next Tuesday at a pub near the event. We will be in the upstairs area in association with Microsoft at The Old Wellington pub (4 Cathedral Gates, Manchester, M3 1SW), on the evening of Tuesday 11th September from 7pm onwards. We would love meet everyone and buy some drinks for the ALT-C attendees, so come and join us for a free beer or two. Bring your ALT-C pass.

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    Hope to see you there!

  • FE blog

    Windows 8 at ALT-C 2012

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    Guest post by Lee Stott

    Are you ready for Windows 8 and the Cloud?

    Millions of people around the world use Windows every day.  With Windows 8 Live tiles on the Windows Start screen, display information from your website and service and turn your app into a real time awareness engine - even when it’s not running. Your services and your app will grab your users’ attention and keep them informed of the latest announcements and updates.

    As an educational institution, Windows 8 gives you the opportunity for huge potential by personalising the learning and interactions with your students and give you the ability to list your apps in the Windows Store. This means the current and potential students of your institution allow you to reach millions of potential applicants, learners or associated partners.

    I will be attending ALT-C, so if you are interested in leveraging your existing technical staffs skills to code fast, fluid, immersive and beautiful Windows 8 applications in HTML5/JavaScript, XAML/C# and C/C++, then come by the Microsoft stand (number 12) for a discussion.  Come and see us if you’re simply interested in existing and new Microsoft  Platform and Developer technologies and want to be informed of where our languages, platforms and tools are heading - or simply to try out Windows 8.

    So if you’re interested in exploring the use of any of these, drop by the Microsoft stand for chat.

    Further details of Microsoft Developer and Platform tools for curricula and teaching activities can be found at http://blogs.msdn.com/uk_faculty_connection

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  • FE blog

    Innovating to improve outcomes and value in schools

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    Technology is having a significant impact on teaching and learning. The power of the cloud and more consumer orientated devices are making anytime, anywhere learning more commonplace and accessible to all. Furthermore, with access to free, or very cost effective, learning content, such as the Khan Academy, now becoming ubiquitous, the role of the teacher is going to evolve and become more important than ever.

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    So with these observations in mind, how can we best capitalise on the innovation we are witnessing to improve both attainment and outcomes in schools?

    Creating more emotional and personalized experiences using technology rather than simply digitising traditional methods of content delivery, such as text books, is vital as the use of technology in the classroom matures. These emotional experiences, using techniques such gaming in education, can have a direct and positive impact on attainment in schools.

    Gaming focuses on emotion. You can have funny games, scary games, adrenalin inducing games, and it could be argued that we need to get to this same place with the innovations we are seeing with the use of technology in education. Games offer a wide range of benefits that are well suited to education, such as challenge, progression, reward and access to personalised real-time experiences. These benefits, combined with making education more relevant to the workplace, built around STEM based skills, offers the potential for revolutionary pedagogical changes to be introduced that can both inspire learners and improve outcomes and value in schools.

    We are just starting out on this journey, but look forward to following its progression carefully as its adoption builds momentum.

  • FE blog

    Are you using your Academic Agreement to its full potential?

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    Originally posted on the UK Education Cloud Blog.

    Did you know that if your organisation has an Academic Agreement in place with Microsoft, you can have a subscription to the Microsoft IT Academy?

    This is a global program what provides resources and curriculum for your institution to deliver inspiring and cutting edge technical courses and skills; and not just to students, but faculty and technical staff too.

    For instance, in terms of Office 365 you have all of these resources available with the IT Academy programme:

    Office 365 Certification

    A table showing the education materials and courses available to the organisation via IT Academy.

    The Microsoft IT Academy provides one low cost curriculum for all students and staff; it’s comprised of 250 e-learning courses, practice tests, a library of over 500 e-reference books, lesson plans as well as a digital literacy curriculum. As part of the package, IT Academy also provides access to DreamSpark; which has free software for staff and students and includes programs like Visual Studio and Server 2012.

    There are also academic discounts available on official courseware and certification licences. Recently, IT Academy has introduced an offer called Second Shot; this allows a student or staff member to retake an exam should fail the first time round.

    As an organisation you would receive a Teacher Certification Start kits, which includes 10 Microsoft Office Specialist exam vouchers and 20 Microsoft Technical Associate exam vouchers; meaning a reduction in training costs, professional development opportunities and a chance to learn about different products entirely, permitting you to utilise them completely within your learning environment.

    Microsoft is committed to delivering valuable resources that equip students with the best skill set, showing employers that they can stand out from the crowd. In this respect, Microsoft has been working in conjunction with the awarding body AQA, to ensure that its resources available in the IT Academy programme such as MTA, support CS and ICT GCSE courses; and if students follow up the learning with the certification it demonstrates to future employers that they have business ICT skills. The academic impact of a MOS certification can be extremely positive. From a recent Certiport study, 87% of student’s worldwide say they were able to complete assignments in less time and 60% of student’s worldwide are taking on more complex projects.

    For information on pricing and to see how you can add ITA to your Academic Agreement, please view the presentation below.

  • FE blog

    Day one at ALT-C 2012

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    Well, as first time visitors to ALT-C, we are loving it so far!

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    University Place in which the conference is held

    In terms of sessions, the day kicked off with an intro, then a popular keynote speech from Eric Mazur (Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University), who discussed some research his group has done on gender issues in science courses and on the effectiveness of classroom demonstrations.

    Next up was James Clay who talked about the history of tablets and how they have now gone mainstream – almost every family member is using one.  Tablets are now in the classrooms and in the hands of learners.

    James joked about how, regarding hardware, we should have now moved on from the USB stick! He also noted consumption and that tablets reduce the journey time to information, and anyone can now access hundreds of years of news.

    Pilots for tablets in the classroom were discussed and James asked the audience to reflect on why people are still piloting tablets, when so many pilots have already been done? He suggested that we should use the masses of existing research, and look at future technology of 10 or even 20 years ahead, and start researching and piloting that now. Interesting point.

    Following James’s session was Aaron Sloman, who unfortunately had some technical problems and was unable to show his slides or use notes! This considered, he still delivered a brilliant session on computational thinking.  This is a phrase that comes from computer science professor, Jeannette Wing. Aaron works to add motivation to computational thinking, which he describes as information processing. He referred to some interesting squirrel proof bird tables and windmill examples and explained that these were human designed.

    Aaron went on to say that in education, when you experiment and make observations, there are thousands of factors to consider that can be uncontrolled in the classrooms, for example what toys were they using, what equipment, where etc.

    He also asked, can we build machines that learn? We have databases and programs for example search engines – can learner’s minds work in this way? All good questions to consider.

    Aaron suggested that we need to have a deep theory about what goes on in learners minds – which we don’t at the moment.

    He ended with the question – what happened before there were teachers? We need to think about biological evolution and understand why things must be the way they are. He used various examples for this throughout the session such as gravity, the space within a triangle if you move the points, shapes and motion.

    In the afternoon at ALT-C in the main theatre, Leena Vainio, who had travelled all the way from Finland, delivered a session on adult students as peer learners. Leena is the research director at HAMK University of Applied Sciences and chair of the Finnish E-learning Association.

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    Leena Vainio session

    Leena began by explaining how she uses remote working a lot as she lives in Helsinki and the university is some 100kms away in Hameenlinna.  The university is also in seven different locations, so E-learning works very well for this institution.

    She made some points stating that formal learning is not enough anymore, and digital literacy skills demand new ways of teaching and learning. Peer learning is collaboration and communication that has advantages such as sharing, trust and respect and peers can motivate and give meaning.

    There was an example given about a project where adult students would gain digital literacy skills by using networks. They used elements or self organised learning using methods and tools such as recorded online sessions, team projects and online meetings. Creative tools that were successfully used included TeamSpeak3, Facebook. Twitter, LinkedIn, Moodle and Delicious.

    Elizabeth Hartnell-Young followed Leena’s session. Elizabeth had also travelled a long way to be at ALT-C 2012, all the way from Australia. Her session was reflecting on system-wide digital learning environments for schools, taking about a Ultranet – a learning environment that Victoria, Australia has developed.

    Two years on, Elizabeth demonstrated the proven successes of these technology environments used in schools.

    The day was really insightful, covering on many different areas and learning technology topics. This is not even covering half the excellent stuff that was on throughout the day!

    We also met lots of nice new folks on our stand and had some interesting conversations. Looking forward for what’s in store on day two at ALT-C 2012!

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