web site analytic
April, 2013 - FE blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The FE Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
Home     rss feed     email us     our website

April, 2013

  • FE blog

    Using tablets in education: learn about the key features of Windows 8

    Originally posted by Carlos I. James Gutierrez


    With the upcoming launch of Microsoft’s Surface Pro across 21 markets, customers can more easily edit, collaborate, and get things done from one device that they use from home, the office, and while on the road. As these new computing scenarios bring potential changes to the workplace through BYOD and user mobility, now is a great time to learn about the key Windows 8 features for IT professionals.

    Get started with 4 MVA courses that provide you with a comprehensive and deep understanding of the Windows 8 OS:

    Exploring Windows 8: Covers key topics for IT Pro’s such as Bit-Locker, client Hyper-V, and Managing Client Access for the Windows Store.

    Planning and Preparing for Windows 8: Learn how to inventory apps and hardware, assess compatibility, and conduct a successful pilot deployment of Windows 8.

    Deploying Windows 8: Use proven best practices and the free tools in the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit to streamline your deployment in any size organization.

    Operating & Managing a Secure Windows 8 Environment: Explore security and privacy options using technologies like AppLocker, BitLocker, and Windows Firewall.

    Windows 8 delivers experiences users want, offers new possibilities for mobile productivity, and provides IT with a more secure, easy-to-manage infrastructure.

  • FE blog

    SimCity in education


    Originally posted on the Higher Innovation blog

    On March 5th 2013, Electronic Arts released the highly-anticipated SimCity for Windows PCs everywhere.  SimCity is an interactive and immersive simulation where you are the mayor of a virtual city with people known as Sims that just want to be happy. As mayor you take the heat or the credit for how your city fares under your leadership and decision-making. It is just a game…or is it?

    Magee City - Mayor Cameron Evans (SimCity)

    Stimulating Learning Through Simulation
    As a learning simulation, SimCity is a rich and immersive experience for students learning the complexities and subtleties of the world we live in.  From the decisions of where to place a road to what your city should have as a specialisation, SimCity makes the complex decisions of our national, state, and local leaders approachable through play.

    Play is an important dynamic. I watched my daughter just “jump in” the SimCity world. She resisted reading the manual, the companion guide, or any text before entering the Sim experience.  Games are like that. You learn through play, as you play, and from your mistakes while you play. Early simple decisions become more complex over time when the conditions of your world change.

    In our schools, we do the reverse of play.  We provide all of the facts, details, knowledge, and concepts so that you will not make a mistake when it comes times to assess your ability. The only learning that comes from mistakes in our traditional approach is—well you do not want to make too many mistakes.

    Relevancy for Next Generation Learning Standards
    What I like most is the contextual introduction of new vocabulary that would otherwise be irrelevant for young learners. Even though you can drop into SimCity without using a manual, there is a substantial amount of reading at varying levels of text complexity. You will not grow your Sim’s happiness or your city without strong reading fluency.

    Surprisingly, the challenges of SimCity can be found in the real world. For example, after dealing with finding a safe place to dispose of sewage in SimCity, our real local news reported on a story about citizens complaining about a sewage being run through their community and waterways. The simulation prompts learners to pay attention to and inspect local real world events. Very few learning simulations provide that scope, context, and relevance for learning.

    There is a substantial amount of mathematics and science in SimCity.  The maths is introduced through the city’s budget mechanism for taxes, expenses, revenues, gifts, and bond projects.  It does not take long to bankrupt your growing city if you are not paying attention to your budget, residents, and businesses.  There is additional mathematics for measurement and data by using the cities various data layers to track everything from pollution and crime to sick residents and unschooled children. Geometry is incorporated in the very design of your city and its various zones. If you build roads too close together, you will lose your ability to establish residents or commercial businesses (read tax revenue). Students also deal with fractions on a human scale. As mayor, you have to decide how much of your population will be “blue collar,” middle income, and affluent class. Those decisions are highly dependent on the industries, education, and specialisations you choose for the city.

    The science of SimCity is equally clever. Decisions on how to provide basic services of power, water, sewage, and garbage all have a consequence on the environment. You can place wind turbines to power a small city and reduce air pollution. However, that decision will not hold as the limited amount of real estate for your city and the increasing density of residents, businesses, and industries demand more power. Fossil fuels provide more energy for large cities, but with a cost on the environment and health of your residents.

    Health issues have multiple layers from sick Sims to injured Sims. Sickness brought about through low education, poor sanitation, and improper waste disposal can cause a riot at City Hall. There are so many cross-cutting concepts taught through the simulation that it really pushes the boundaries of learning.

    The final education perspective of SimCity is the collaborative nature of the game. Mayors do not work in isolation. They can invite and partner with other city mayors from the SimCity universe to collaborate on services, specialisations, and even do great works together. Reimagine what project-based learning could be for your students. This is truly a novel way to approach collaborative learning and work in our schools.

    College, Career, and Citizen Ready
    As we prepare our young citizens for the modern world, SimCity provides a great canvas for provocative discussions, reflections on decisions-making, and learning the differences between how our real world works versus the simulations. The approach to the content provides multiple levels of college and career readiness. Moreover, the context provides a deep awareness for citizenship development. Kudos to the team at Maxis from bringing an award-winning franchise to such a modern scale and deep engagement.

    I am not the only one excited about learning through simulation with SimCity. EA and Glasslabs have announced a project to bring SimCityEDU to schools aligned with curriculum, tools, and the Common Core State Standards. With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MacArthur Foundation, SimCityEDU may be heading to your schools very soon. You can learn more at http://www.simcityedu.org/.

    In the meantime, you can download a copy of the game from SimCity.com. Or you can go old school like I did and buy a copy from your local retailer (at least some of that money will support your local schools.)  But all of this brings me to my last and very important point.

    An Uncompromising Choice for Learning
    SimCity requires a real PC. It does not run on an iPad. It does not run on an Android tablet. It will not run on a Chromebook or in a web browser. Educators and parents should be mindful that the most immersive experiences continue to be delivered on the most flexible platform there is—the PC.

    The EA recommended experience is a Windows PC with an Intel Core i5 or faster processor and preferably a dedicated graphics card. Why is this important? Schools are making tradeoffs between modern technology, support resources, raises, benefits, and people every day. This is one of those times where you realise that you do not have to compromise or splurge to provide the best for your student’s learning.

    Modern Windows 8 devices provide all the power and performance of a PC in whatever form you want to experience it: tablet, slate, notebook, all-in-one desktop, virtualized desktop, 80” interactive touchscreen, or workstation class device. You choose.

    Choose wisely your honor.

  • FE blog

    Open University new IT facilities and Anywhere app


    Nearly three years since joining the Open University, CIO David Matthewman continues to push a strategic programme to deliver value and innovation.

    After conducting a thorough review of how the university buys IT over the last few years, the highlights of David Matthewman’s tenure have so far included a move towards cloud tools and a shift towards a leaner set-up for applications and infrastructure.

    Now the focus for the next 18 months is supporting study processes and giving a new lease of life to the Open University's (OU’s) core applications, used daily by more than 6,000 associate lecturers and over 250,000 students worldwide.

    “Our business has evolved very rapidly in recent years as a result of new government and funding arrangements. So we have evolved our systems at the same time in ever more innovative ways to ensure we are dealing with the strategic needs of the university for the future,” says Matthewman.

    Meeting student requirements

    The IT team plays an important role in offering new facilities and tools to students as needs and behaviour around study patterns and technology change.

    This month, it launched OU Anywhere, an application to give students the option to download and access their core module textbooks, videos and other materials through mobile devices.

    This option is being provided in response to the growing number of students using tablets and smartphones as part of their studies. Students will have the option of accessing their course text and media through the app, in addition to the books and DVDs traditionally posted to them at the start of their modules.

    Apprentices bring a wealth of knowledge of how the organisation operates and we are part way through training them up. We’ve put them all through a fairly intense bootcamp to turn them into developers and they are providing great value already

    The IT team also had to intervene when new fee arrangements were enforced late last year. According to Matthewman, changes were needed to process government loans to students. Areas affected included the OU’s web front end, the finance system and links with the Student Loan Company (SLC).

    “The web front end and the underlying database were significantly enhanced to allow students to automatically register with an SLC payment, and a new matching and reconciliation process was created using data from the SLC to identify students and complete the funds transfer,” he says.

    “The university also created its own online eligibility checker to allow the student to self-assess their loan eligibility prior to the SLC opening applications for part-time students."

    He says the links with the SLC are very basic at present, but there are plans to enhance those connections in the near future.

    Read more from David Mathewman here.

  • FE blog

    Deploying a Windows Store App with Configuration Manager 2012 SP1


    By Simon May

    One of a series of videos I’m working on that show how deployment works for modern apps, Windows Store apps, Windows 8 apps, Windows RT apps or Appx packages – whatever you like to call them.

    There are a few ways that you can deploy these types of apps to Windows 8 and Windows RT devices using System Center Configuration Manager 2012 SP1, Windows Intune and Microsoft Deployment Services Toolkit 2012 SP1 (MDT 2012 SP1).

    In this first video I’m take a look at deeplinking an app from the Windows Store and deploying it to a Windows 8 Enterprise device. If you just want to see the client experience jump to 5 minutes.


    A few notes on the technical requirements to make this work, so you can try it out in your lab:

  • FE blog

    Windows 8 in education: Student Demos - Elizabeth


    In the 3rd in our series of Windows 8 student demo videos, Elizabeth shares some insight into how she carries out research using the unique characteristics of Windows 8.

  • FE blog

    Tablets in education: Which one should you choose?


    Since the launch of Windows 8, a wide range of tablet and hybrid devices are now available, but which one is right for you? Whether you are a student, educator or a member of the senior management team, there is now a touch enabled device to suit almost every need.

    For example, Seton Hall University decided to provide new students with Windows 8 tablets with Intel Core processors and notebooks using Windows 8 Enterprise. These students need devices that have great mobility, while still running a variety of desktop apps and workloads that vary greatly across the student body. To ensure the safety and security of their network, they also needed full manageability and an overview of the their project is presented in the video below.

    There are, however, a number of different options to choose from, such as Windows RT devices, but before you choose you really need to think about what you want from the device and how/where you are going to use it.

    With this in mind, to help guide you through the process of finding the best device type for your needs, the following table presents the core characteristics of the three categories (based on its processor) currently available. All 3 have different capabilities.


    So with varying criteria that can influence your decision, the following list, in addition to the table above, will hopefully help you make the most informed decision.

    • Mobility - Atom/RT
    • Workloads - Intel Core
    • Apps - Intel Core/Atom
    • Always on - Atom/RT
    • Access Corp Network - Intel Core/Atom
    • Manageability - Intel Core/Atom

    If you need any additional guidance, just post a question in the comments below and we will be happy to help.

  • FE blog

    BYOD in education: What’s it all about?


    Excerpt from our BYOD in education eBook written by Ollie Bray. 

    Have you ever thought about what happens to the computers in a school between 4pm and 8am Monday to Friday? Or at the weekends? Or over the twelve weeks of the year when the school is shut for the holidays? Have you ever thought about what happens to computers in your house when you are at work or when your children are at school?
    The answer is simple – nothing happens. The equipment just sits there, and, apart from the occasional automated update it is stagnant, unused and redundant.

    The situation is ironic, as schools these days constantly need more ICT equipment (in particular hardware) to improve productivity, help teachers teach and help learners learn. Many students also sit in classes with powerful little computers in their pockets (their phones) or in their bag (their tablet devices and / or laptops) all of which must often remain switched off during the school day. It is strange that, at such times of austerity, the school is willing to spend valuable resource on calculators and digital cameras.

    BYOD in education

    BYOD or Bring Your Own Device is the simple idea that young people and school staff are allowed to bring their own Internet enabled device into school and use it to help them work, learn and (if appropriate) socialise.


    BYOD is an emerging education technology trend that is gaining in popularity in many parts of the world, and one that needs to be treated more seriously by schools and school systems.

    This practical guide to BYOD (embedded below) has been written and designed to get you thinking!

    Excepts from the eBook will be shared on the blog throughout the rest of the week and the full eBook can be viewed/downloaded below.

  • FE blog

    BYOD in Education: Why go BYOD?


    Excerpt from our BYOD in education eBook written by Ollie Bray.

    imageGenerally speaking there are three main reasons why you may decide to develop BYOD within your school or education institution. These reasons are described below:

    Student familiarity

    If you own your device it is very likely that you will know how it works and what it can do. In short, this means that, from a learning perspective, you lose less time getting students to understand and wrestle with the hardware and gain more time on focused learning

    Bridge between formal and informal learning

    Most people agree that one way of improving education is to progress towards a model where students can access learning anytime and anywhere. This is one of the components of holistic education transformation mentioned previously.One of the barriers to this adoption is that many students perceive there to be a difference between learning in school and learning at home.

    This is not always helped by the fact that on-line learning content within formal education is often confined to the domain of the school network and therefore often the school computer lab.

    Cloud computing and cloud storage (including services like Office 365 Education) has started to change this. Learners can access their content and a range of online tools from any Internet enabled device.

    Cost and sustainability

    The adoption of BYOD obviously also includes the possibility for cost savings and we should not be ashamed to admit this. In the modern world we simply have to do ‘more’ for ‘less’. In most cases BYOD has the potential to quickly convert your school into a 1:1 Learning environment, where there is an average ratio of one Internet enabled device for each learner.

    However, it is also worth noting that most schools that have been successful in BYOD have often found that their actual costs have not really been reduced. They do, however, have extra resources available to redirect towards network
    configurations, staff professional development and other technology projects. These efficiency savings can also be used to fund devices for learners who are not fortunate enough to have their own device or who are not allowed to bring it into school.

    The important thing to remember here is that BYOD can improve learning and may reduce costs. For other cost saving ideas for education see our popular eBook on ‘Cost Savings in Education’.

    To learn more about BYOD in education, download or view our full eBook below:

  • FE blog

    BYOD in Education: Policy Considerations


    Excerpt from our BYOD in education eBook written by Ollie Bray. 

    However you decide to implement BYOD in your school you will have a number of policy considerations to take into account. Some of these considerations are detailed below:

    Ownership and Insurance

    You will need to make some decisions on the ownership of your student devices. In pure BYOD deployments, the devices are student/family owned, but in reality things are not always this simple. It is important that if you purchase the devices as a school you have procedures in place to transfer the ownership to the student/family. You should also consider insurance for the device, both in school and out of school.

    Before introducing BYOD into education, many institutes run parent briefing evenings to make sure that everyone understands their role within any deployment. These evenings can also be useful to facilitate the signing of devices over to students/families.

    Responsible Use

    Your school should already have a policy on ICT acceptable and responsible use. However, with the introduction of BYOD it is very likely that you will need to update or adapt your policy. You need to be clear about what is, and what is not, acceptable on a school’s network, and behaviour that is expected of young people, along with any sanctions that your institute will use if the rules are broken.

    As well as formal procedures, it is also useful to work directly with young people so that they can create their own rules around device use (and this should also include the use of social media). Schools that have worked with students to co create acceptable use policies have found that they are more likely to be adhered to in the long run.

    The important thing to remember about any acceptable use policy is that there is absolutely no right or wrong way to write one. Your policy needs to reflect your organisation, who you wish to communicate with and what you feel comfortable doing.

    Also, as well as including BYOD in your institute’s ICT policy, you should make sure that it is included in your Learning and Teaching Policy – after all, why are we doing this in the first place if it is not to improve learning and teaching?

    As mentioned above, BYOD is also likely to lead to increased use of Social Media in your school or institution, so it is also worth including this in your emerging policy. For reference, one country that is very progressive in the development of Social Media Policies in schools is Australia, in particular Victoria. They have provided some good social media guidance on their website (justice.vic.gov.au/socialmedia).

    Equality of Access

    If you go for a pure BYOD roll out, there will be some students who do not have a device or whose device does not meet the minimum specification of your institute.

    For 1:1 learning to be successful, you must ensure that there is equality of access. This means that you are likely to have to put systems in place to ensure that students/families who do not have their own device can be provided with one, or are provided with some capital funding to purchase their own device. It is important that you have clear guidance on this to ensure that children are not deprived of their digital entitlement, but also to make sure that the model you are proposing  for your school is financially sustainable in the long term.

    Some schools, for example, allow students to sign a range of devices out of the school library in the same way that they might sign out a book or game.The library (or learning centre) can also double up as a location where you can get your devices serviced or get training on a specific piece of software or an App. In the most successful examples these ‘service desks’ are run by senior students.

    Shape the Future, an initiative led by Microsoft (in partnership with Intel and RM Education in the UK), is one
    possible way to help supply 1:1 tablets and laptops to UK state schools with possible savings on individual devices.

    What is great about this particular programme is that the hardware comes bundled with some great education software such as Microsoft Office and Kodu game maker.


    The full BYOD eBook can be viewed/downloaded via our SlideShare profile below:

  • FE blog

    BYOD in Education: Access and infrastructure


    Excerpt from our BYOD in education eBook written by Ollie Bray. 

    Infrastructure and Bandwidth

    Allowing students to bring in and use their own devices in schools will not be enough on its own to transform learning. Indeed, many BYOD and other 1:1 learning projects have failed across the world because, although the devices have been put in place, the bandwidth and infrastructure have not been adequate to support them.

    Infrastructure and bandwidth are particularly important in BYOD deployments because most of the content that students will be required to access, and the content that they will be required to create, will be web based. Having wireless
    infrastructure in your school is not enough on its own – many schools around the world already have this. But, by moving to BYOD you are also moving to a computing ratio of at least 1:1 (some students and teachers will want to be logged onto
    your network with more than one device). This is likely to put significantly more pressure on your institute’s network than the current amount of devices that you have connected.


    Minimum Bandwidth

    Answering the question of minimum bandwidth is a tricky one as there cannot be a one-size-fits all model. For example some schools will be bigger than others, and at certain ages and stages within a school it is likely that students will use different types of digital technology than may or may not be more bandwidth heavy that other tools and services (eg: online video editing vs reading a text heavy web page).

    Safety and Security

    Safety and Security around BYOD can really be split into two categories.

    Firstly, there is physical safety and security. Schools need to carefully consider what procedure they will put in place if a student-owned device is stolen or damaged. This should include at school and at home as well as the journey between the two.

    Secondly, there is network safety and security. Schools need to consider how this may be managed.

    A global study of IT & IT security practitioners by the Ponemon Institute (2012) on mobility risks offers some advice into the most preferred technologies for mitigating BYOD security risks, which included:

    • Device-level encryption
    • Endpoint security solution
    • Identity and access management
    • Anti-virus/anti-malware
    • Mobile device management

    The table below (from The Consortium of Schools Networking ) outlines a number of the ways that schools may tackle some of the challenges of managing some of these BYOD perceived security risks and their possible advantages.


    Source: The Consortium of Schools Networking

    Whatever solution (if any) you choose to adopt, it is important that network managers have a healthy balance between protecting the user and making sure that safety and security measure that are put in place do not impact in the quality of the learning experience.

    To learn more about BYOD, view or download our eBook below:

Page 1 of 2 (19 items) 12