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January, 2013

  • FE blog

    Microsoft at Bett 2013: Digital Exercise Book


    Guest post from Gerald Haigh. Gerald writes regularly for the Microsoft series of education blogs. 

    Continuing my hot pursuit of early Windows 8 adopters, I had an interesting conversation the other morning with David Rogers, Geography Curriculum Leader and Professional Tutor at Priory School in West Sussex. David is a Microsoft Innovative Teacher, and it’s easy to see why, because not only is he full of ideas, but he also has the knack of switching on mental lightbulbs in the mind of the person – in this case me – to whom he’s talking.

    Our chat was about the use of Windows 8 tablets in school, because David’s been trialling six of them, from Asus, Acer and Fujitsu, with some of his students.

    The experience has clearly opened up some intriguing possibilities for him. At the heart of his thinking is the key feature, which is that a Windows 8 tablet presents users with their familiar Microsoft software together with the possibility of easy collaboration and communication between and among students and teacher.


    What really lit up my lightbulb, though, was the way David could see this opening up the possibility of a genuine digital exercise book.

    ‘You can see it working, if they all have a W8 tablet – using OneNote and SkyDrive, teacher giving feedback by annotating work, and recording their voice. Comments could go to one student, or all of the tablets if necessary. I think of GCSE projects, for example, and the ability in OneNote to drag in videos or diagrams.’

    Annotation and the addition of comments and short notes on pieces of work by a teacher or a student is particularly easy, says David, when it’s possible to use a stylus.

    ‘I’d underestimated the importance of the stylus, but the students were off and running with it for handwriting recognition.’

    So, ponder on all that, and then imagine an exercise book that --

    • Doesn’t have to be handed in, at a stroke removing all the familiar logistical and transport issues that come with handling sets of books
    • Offers an on-demand, anytime/anywhere open channel between teacher and student without the need to wait until the work is complete
    • Provides access to further advice from the teacher, including voice or video
    • Can be used for work in pairs, groups or the whole class
    • Preserves a complete record of the work even when the device is dropped into the swimming pool, left on the bus, or eaten by the dog (good luck with that one, Rover)

    That’s what’s possible right now with the Office suite, SkyDrive, OneNote, touchscreen and stylus, all together in a neat tablet. It looks like a winner to me.

    If you are keen to hear more about the concept of the digital exercise book, David Rogers will be presenting twice daily on the Microsoft stand at Bett 2013. The full schedule is available via the Microsoft at Bett 2013 website.

  • FE blog

    Windows 8 in Education Microsite


    After some great feedback following the launch of our Windows 8 in education eBook, we are thrilled to announce the launch of our Windows 8 in education UK microsite.


    The microsite is designed to help surface, excuse the pun, some key Windows 8 in education assets that look closely at our new OS specifically through an edu lens.

    In addition to the eBook, a key new asset that has literally just been added to the microsite is our Windows 8 in education video. The video showcases how both UCL and Hartsbrook E-Act Free School are using Windows 8 to build 21st skills and create more emotional connections with learning.

    I was involved in the filming of this video and both institutions are doing some amazing work with Windows 8, and technology in general. I personally loved the impact that Windows 8 had on the primary age students at Hartsbrook, though. Seeing the look on the young students faces when a picture they had just taken on their Windows Phone seamlessly synced to SkyDrive on their Windows 8 classroom PC's was awesome! Charlotte Beckhurst, and the rest of the team at Hartsbrook, are doing some fantastic work and I can't wait to see her share her experiences on our stand at Bett next week.

    If you are coming to Bett and want to check out Charlotte's session, our full Learn Live Theatre schedule is available via our Bett 2013 microsite. We hope to see you there!


    Windows 8 apps also sit front and centre of our new Windows 8 in education microsite. With a rapidly growing selection of education apps from the likes of Pearson, RM and Autology, the education category in the Windows Store has definitely been one of the most dynamic and innovative areas since launch.


    Our app showcases offer a detailed overview of specific apps combined with screencasts, screenshots and information to allow you to learn more about how the app can help directly within your institution.

    The intention is not to list every education app in the store, but offer a curated overview of a selection of UK apps available both today and over the coming months.

    We will be adding fresh content, especially around new apps, to the site on a regular basis so be sure to come back regularly and keep up to date with what is going on. We hope you find the site useful and informative look forward to sharing additional updates over the coming weeks/months.

    If you have a favourite education app, we would love to hear more in the comments below. Also, if you are attending Bett 2013, make sure you pop over and say hi. We are on stands D270 and E270.


  • FE blog

    Askham Bryan College implement Microsoft Remote Desktop 2012


    Askham Bryan College is one of the fastest growing land based colleges in the country. The college needed to provide its staff with a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Solution that met the needs and demands of all remote staff. The college approached various resellers for quotes on VDI solutions and costs were around £100,000. The college’s IT Department implemented a Microsoft Remote Desktop 2012 hybrid solution utilizing resources from both VMware and Hyper-V which saved them over £80,000. This not only provided a remote solution but a VDI Platform that would provide a return on investment and an saving on the total cost of ownership over the next five years estimated at £640,000.


    Askham Bryan College currently has 8 centres across the North of England that provides HE and FE courses to approximate 7500 students. It is essential that college staff can access Askham Bryan IT resources whilst moving from sites and when using other academic institutes’ IT resources.

    Askham Bryan College is like so many other academic establishments in the UK. We are constantly looking to drive down costs in the current climate and still deliver high quality IT Services for staff and students. The college felt that with all the new technologies hitting the current market, we should not only be looking to save money over the next five year’s but look at providing the college with a state of the art VDI infrastructure and remote access solution at a low cost. 

    Askham Bryan’s IT Department spent a considerable amount of time researching market leading vendors for a suitable VDI solution and the additional products that can enhance performance and end user experience. The college decided to invest in a Microsoft Remote Desktop (RDS) 2012 solution; this allowed the college to integrate other Microsoft products into the RDS solution through the use of the Microsoft campus agreement.


    Askham Bryan College runs the majority of projects internally, not only to save on consultancy costs but to develop internal technical skills. Ryan Mangan the Head of IT Services designed the solution and built the server platform with Nathan Berry, one of the colleges IT Technician’s.

    The Setup for the RDS 2012 solution:

    • ·         600 GB of space for the virtual machines on VMware
    • ·         6 VMware virtual machines running Microsoft Windows Server 2012
    • ·         2 HP ProLiant DL380 G6/8 Servers, Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V hosts
    • ·         2 HP Nvidia Quadro 2000 Graphics cards for Remote FX
    • ·         2 QNAP TS-1279U-E10G/2.88TB-SSD
    • ·         Remote Device licenses for 800 devices. 


    The VMware Virtual setup consisted of two active/active connection brokers configured with a SQL Express 2012 Server. We also built a Remote session host and one webserver/ Remote desktop gateway for external access. The final server we built in the VMware environment was the 2012 KMS server allowing Virtual desktop to obtain licenses without the input from administrators.

    The two Hyper-v Hosts were configured to use Cluster shared volumes providing high availability. We installed the Nvidia Quardro 2000 graphics cards into the Hypervisors allowing us to use Remote FX. Both QNAP storage devices were configured to use RAID 6 to provide redundancy and increase performance.


    The end result has provided improved performance, reliability and ease of management with reduced costs. All users receive standard desktops which has benefits for both administrators and end-users.


    We are currently testing various thin client devices and the use of Windows thin PC on existing hardware. We will shortly be in a position to continue the rollout and plan to replace 60% of the college’s desktops with thin client devices over the next two years. We have also set the foundations for future Brings Your Own Device (BYOD) Projects.

    This solution has exceeded all expectations and has been a big success within the college.

    We would like to thank PHOENIX SOFTWARE LTD WWW.PHOENIXS.CO.UK for providing the licensing for this project


  • FE blog

    Microsoft at Bett 2013 - Schedules, Resources and More!


    To assist with your final preparation for Bett 2013, we have compiled a wide range of resources relating to our presence at the show as part of our new Bett 2013 microsite.

    The site, which launched today, offers links to our Learn Live Theatre schedule, eBooks and partner signposting pages.


    Planning your day

    With so much going on across the various Learn Live Theatre's, Bett Arena and exhibitor stands, it's important to plan your visit ahead of time to ensure you gain maximum value from your day(s) at the show.

    With this in mind, we have our full Learn Live agenda available on the site. The agenda features the title and timings for each session and gives you everything you need to ensure you don’t miss any of the great content, delivered by teachers, Network Managers and Microsoft staff, on the stand.


    Furthermore, for those looking for more information or demos on any of our products or services, we have a large number of our partners who will be on hand to offer advice or assistance. To help you find the right partner for your needs, we have categorised specific partners into groups and these can be easily searchable/identified via the partner signposting pages on the site. Partner profiles include a short overview of how they can help at Bett 2013 and their stand number.


    This should hopefully be pretty self-explanatory, but I you need any help, please do not hesitate to drop me a note via Twitter or leave a comment below.


    For additional guidance and support, we have also listed a selection of our latest eBooks and Infographics which can be downloaded directly via our SlideShare profile.

    With content such as our popular Windows 8 in education eBook and Cost Savings in education title, you are guaranteed to find some great material to help you within your institution. Our eBooks also make perfect reading material for your DLR journey over to Excel, London :)

    We look forward to seeing you at Bett 2013!


  • FE blog

    ELearning Force at Bett 2013


    Guest post by ELearningforce, one of our Microsoft Bett 2013 partners

    During Bett 2013 ElearningForce International will be running presentations 4 times a day on SharePointLMS, Parent Access Portal, Office 365 Integration and our mobile solutions for Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad and Android devices. The presentations are held on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

    During the demonstrations ElearningForce will show the benefits running a Virtual Learning Environment based on the Microsoft stack and using SharePoint and SharePointLMS to create a true Learning Environment for their pupils and staff.

    After each of the presentations ElearningForce International will be giving away a perpetual SharePointLMS License for up to 200 pupils including a month free support to get you started. Over the course of Bett 2013 ElearningForce International will be giving away a total of over £75,000 in software licenses!


    SharePointLMS is a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that incorporates all the best features available to e-Learning today with a pedagogic user interface supported by the scalability of the Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server. SharePointLMS is the fundamental building block for your Learning Environment which extends way past the VLE element alone. Using SharePoint as your platform of choice you can create Intranet Portals for your pupils, their parents as well as staff. You can extend this further by adding your Public website creating a single solution, single logon and a fantastic user experience for all. No longer will your pupils, staff and parents need to go and logon to separate solution.

    So what is SharePointLMS? SharePointLMS is a tool that makes learning simple and affordable.

    As a teacher you can easily:

    · organise your materials

    · create tests and assignments

    · create and track lesson progress

    · coordinate, collaborate and much more

    With SharePointLMS you get new possibilities to structure your classes and deliver learning materials to your pupils and at the same time you have access to tracking and reporting tools for effortless evaluation of the individual pupils.

    Our new K12 Template will provide even the youngest of pupils with a simple and easy to use interface with only the necessary items show. As a teacher you can create your own lessons, add videos, quizzes as well as complete lesson packages provided by many of the current publishers using the SCORM standard. All results are recorded in the Gradebook.

    Through our Parent Access Portal parents can see how their children are performing as individuals and compared to the class average, they can see what homework assignments they need to complete and when, what school announcements and events are made and in general anything the school would like to share with the parents.

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  • FE blog

    Microsoft at Bett 2013: Microsoft IT Academy Certification Roadmap


    Microsoft IT Academy (ITA) Program provides students with the technology skills they need to be successful in education and a career. With Microsoft Certification, students can validate those skills and pursue a career path in business or technology. A full overview of the IT Academy Certification can be seen below. The roadmap can also be downloaded via our SlideShare account.

    If you have any questions about IT Academy, pop over to our stand at Bett 2013 (D270 & E270) and say hi.

  • FE blog

    Get On invite you to An Afternoon at Microsoft


    On the 8th of February Get On are running an event where F.E. Students can find out what life is like in Microsoft.

    Ever wondered what life is like at Microsoft?

    Well here is your opportunity to spend an afternoon at our Reading offices, see for yourself what goes on behind closed doors.

    So what can you expect from the day?

    • An afternoon run by Microsoft interns, you will hear about their experiences of job hunting and finding work.
    • An introduction to Microsoft and working in the IT industry.
    • Tips on what employers, such as Microsoft, look for in CV's, interviews, and once you're an employee at the company.

    There will be plenty of opportunities for you to pose your questions to the interns and other Microsoft employee's, be it how they got their job or what life in general is like at Microsoft.

    This event is for 16-24 year olds and you will need to register to attend the event. 

    We look forward to seeing you on the 8th February! 

    To register, go to: http://geton_uk.eventbrite.co.uk/?ebtv=C

  • FE blog

    Civica at Bett 2013


    Guest post by Civica, one of our Microsoft Bett 2013 partners

    Why should visitors attend the Civica Stand at Bett 2013?


    Because we’re experts in using SharePoint for education


    Through its team of E Learning Consultants, Civica has built one of the most experienced SharePoint in Education services and is ideally placed to support schools and academies with their learning platform.

    Civica has a great wealth of experience in supporting schools to use SharePoint technologies to enable effective and engaging learning to take place and also to underpin the administration and management of schools; for example room booking systems, the recording and tracking of lesson observations or the automation of the options process for staff, students and parents.

    Come and talk to us about what you want to do in your school with your SharePoint platform and see some inspiring examples of how we’ve used SharePoint for connecting people, systems and technologies to enhance learning and teaching. And find out about our SharePoint service, packed full of ideas, free web tools, webinars and online resources to ensure that your Learning Platform gets fully embedded into the life of your school.

    Because we can support your school with Microsoft’s Office 365 for education


    Office 365 for education provides

    > secure, anywhere access to email and calendars

    > Office Web Apps

    > instant messaging

    > conferencing

    > collaboration and file sharing

    > a school web site

    All schools that migrate to, or sign up for, the new Office 365 for education service (the replacement for Live@Edu) will get access to many new features, in particular the power of built- in SharePoint, giving fantastic opportunities for collaboration and sharing.

    We’ll have E learning advisers on hand to discuss how you can use these tools – you may want a free public facing website for instance or discuss how you could use conferencing to deliver lessons online.

    All of the features in Office 365 are free with Education licensing and we’ll show you how to make the most of them in your context.

    To see a demo of CloudBase


    Civica has now also fully embedded Office 365 into CloudBase, its own SharePoint Learning Platform, and we can provide you with a site that is fully aligned to your school priorities, facilitates parental engagement and delivers the ideal platform to bring learning to life for your students.

    Our E learning team will show you how we’ve used CloudBase. They all have recent classroom experience covering a variety of subjects and educational areas of interest. All are currently engaged in helping schools and teachers to make the most of whatever technology is available to them, and their work is underpinned by a genuine drive to help transform learning for students.

    You’ll see examples of custom- designed lesson observation tools, of sites designed by students and for students, of virtual staffrooms that give you all you need when you log on at the beginning of the school day to inform and prepare you for the day ahead.

    To stand back and think strategically


    Come and see us first before you sign up to anything or spend any money at Bett 2013.

    Civica’s DigiPlan is a systematic approach to ICT planning and development. It helps you to deliver your whole school vision and achieve your goals, providing an effective approach to ICT project management.

    It will provide you with

    · A full analysis of staff skills and CPD requirements

    · An understanding of stakeholders experiences of using ICT

    · A detailed report and Action Plan providing clear direction for the Academic year ahead

    · A completed NAACE Self Review Framework

    · A clear strategy for on-going developments

  • FE blog

    RM at Bett 2013


    Guest post by RM, one of our Microsoft Bett 2013 partners

    Right next to the Bett 2013 arena is where you’ll find RM Education at Bett 2013 and the leading school technology partner will be showcasing a range of exciting new products – many of which are free of charge.


    The Bett things in life from RM Education are FREE

    • RM Unify – single sign-on launch pad to the cloud – free
    • RM Books – the first ebook system specifically designed for schools – free
    • Bring Your Own Device– advice on how to make BYOD happen - free
    • Classroom 2020 – immersive experience looking at the future teaching and learning – free

    RM Unify

    The internet presents limitless learning opportunities but also significant challenges for schools. How do you find the best applications, how do you set up and manage the user accounts in those applications, and how do your users access them easily without having to remember tens of usernames and passwords?

    RM Unify is the Launch Pad to the Cloud that solves these challenges; it allows any school to access all their internet based services and applications they use through a simple single sign-on process, meaning users only ever have to remember one username and password. RM Unify also enables you to access those applications on any device you choose, as long as you have an Internet connection. This means whether it is the laptop at school, the iPad at home or the PC in the local library, users will get access to the same resources in exactly the same way.

    RM Books

    RM Books is the first ebook solution specifically designed for schools. Free to use, RM Books includes hundreds of curriculum literature books provided free of charge and gives access to high quality curriculum textbook titles from leading education publishers. Using a unique pricing model RM Books is designed to be compatible with school budgets. The online system enables schools to rent, buy and manage ebooks which can be viewed on, or downloaded to, virtually any internet enabled device (iOS, Windows, Mac, Android). The simple and intuitive user interface makes management and allocation of books easy. Teachers can choose and allocate the books they need while finance staff keep control of budgets.

    Now imagine if every teacher and pupil had their own device to use these tools on…

    Bring Your Own Device

    Learn how ‘BYOD’ could support you in delivering 1:1 access to technology and see how can you make a 1:1 pupil to device ration possible in your school. Shape the Future is a global Microsoft initiative, aiming to give learners 1:1 access to their own computer and a host educationally focused software, enabling them to benefit from the many opportunities technology has to offer. All you have to do is choose the devices, and there’s plenty of choice under the scheme including RM and 3rd party notebooks, mini devices and a revolutionary tablet!

    Classroom 2020
    Be inspired by what the future of teaching and learning could look like and find out how to start moving towards that vision today; let’s visualise and create a progressive future together.

    Come and visit us on stands C160 and C170, next to the Bett Arena, to see why RM is the first choice for Education.

  • FE blog

    Bett 2013 - Windows 8 Stand


    To compliment our focus on content across both the Bett Arena and our Learn Live Theatre and helping you to use technology more effectively within your institution, we are super excited about the addition of the Windows 8 stand to our presence at Bett 2013.


    Showcasing the Surface RT and a range of great devices from our OEM partners - Asus, Acer and Toshiba - the Windows 8 stand will demonstrate how a combination of Windows 8, Windows Phone, Windows 8 Apps, WMS and Devices can help raise attainment and create more emotional connections with learning.

    The Windows 8 stand is split into 2 distinct areas - the Windows 8 theatre and 4 device pods.

    The Windows 8 Theatre offers bite size chunks of content throughout the day, across all 4 days of the show, to help inspire and inform teachers and IT professionals, alike. These sessions will be delivered by Microsoft staff, Top App partners and our OEM friends. Sessions are pretty informal, so feel free to drop in when you can, either before or after any of the sessions being delivered in the Learn Live Theatre.

    In addition to the Windows 8 Theatre, the Windows 8 stand will also feature 4 devices pods - one per OEM partner (Acer, Toshiba and Asus) and a 4th where we will be showcasing the Surface RT.

    In addition to giving an in-depth overview of the Surface device through an edu lens, staff on the Surface pod will also be available to answer any of your questions regarding other products in our portfolio, such as Office 365 for education, Shape the Future and Windows in the Classroom. Just pop by and say hi and they will be happy to help.

    More information about both the content and the partners featured on our Windows 8 Stand will be made available in future blog posts. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to drop me a note via Twitter - @tbush.


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