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  • FE blog

    BETT 2012 here we come!


    Happy New Year! Hope you all had a great festive season!

    With the holidays now behind us, its now all go to get ready for BETT 2012. After months of preparation, I can't believe its now only a little over a week to go! More will be revealed over the next week on the blog, but we have some exciting plans for our stand at BETT 2012.


    Once again, Microsoft staff will be joined by a group of inspiring and motivating teachers on the stand who will be helping us demonstrate how  both our technologies and programmes can make a real difference within your school.

    For those readers of the blog who are familiar with our stand from previous BETT shows, we will be keeping the same format. In addition to a demo stand where will be showcasing a wide range of our technologies and answering your questions, we will also have a theatre stand.

    Within the theatre, we have a packed schedule of punchy 25 minute sessions where you can hear a selection of motivating stories about how teachers are using Microsoft technologies in innovative ways to enhance teaching and learning and improve the efficiency of their schools. Microsoft staff will also be sharing the stage and offering a unique insight into some of our new products, services and programmes. More information on the full schedule of talks can be found on our dedicated Microsoft at BETT 2012 microsite.

    As mentioned previously, we will be sharing more information about the specific products and services we will be showing on the stand over the next few days on the blog, but one of the additions for BETT 2012 that we are particularly excited about is our Gaming in Education showcase zone.

    Within the Gaming in Education showcase zone, we will be demonstrating some of the new Playful Learning titles and also, utilising the impressive K-Team, showing how the Kinect SDK is being used to engage learners in exciting new ways. Be sure to visit the stand to see the Kinect Effect in action for yourself!

    We look forward to welcoming you on the stand at BETT 2012!


  • FE blog

    Windows 8 Education apps in the Windows Store



     I originally wrote about Windows 8 apps for education a few weeks ago.

     And since last time, that I've installed some more apps, so here's my additional recommended education apps for Windows 8:



    Windows Store link for Mathrathon
    It's a simple maths game – you're shown two numbers along with a simple addition or subtraction sign, and the answer. All you need to do is to click Correct or Wrong. Mathrathon creates 60 random questions (and the most difficult I got was 143-87=22). Sounds simple? Well, turns out it's a lot trickier than you imagine, and it's actually turned into quite a competitive challenge amongst a group at the office.
    As this is listed in Games, not in Education, it's also a reminder to check that category too for great learning games.


    SAS Flash Cards

    Windows Store link for SAS Flash Cards
    This is a flash card app with a great list of additional things that are good for teachers as well as students. Probably the best one is that you can create your own flash cards by uploading a spreadsheet. I could imagine that would make it much easier for a teacher to create flash cards to match their lesson plans. And the second handy addition is that, in Quiz mode, the results can be emailed – so that students could send their results back to a teacher, which would be great for assessment of/for learning.





    Windows Store link for QuickMath
    QuickMath is a simple app for improving your calculation knowledge. It presents you with a calculation of two numbers from 0 to 99 which you have to multiply. After you submit the result the app shows if your answer was correct or wrong. To be honest, this turned out to be quite tricky for me to do, but made me think quite hard for the mental maths tricks I could use to get the answer more quickly.




    Viewer for Khan Academy

    Windows Store link for Viewer for Khan Academy
    This is an independently developed video player for educational videos from Khan Academy, which was developed by Joel Martinez as a Coding4Fun Community Project.

    Learn MoreRead my previous list for additional recommended education apps for Windows 8


    Original post by Ray Fleming

  • FE blog

    Office 365 Education Top User Tips #6 – Outlook Web App on Mobile Devices


    Originally posted by James B Marshall on the UK Education Cloud Blog.

    We’re over half way through our top user tips series (there are only 10, I promise!) and today we’re looking at the latest Outlook Web App (OWA) and how it works on mobile devices such as tablet PCs and smartphones.

    When you’re on a traditional device OWA can be a really powerful, browser-based, tool for managing your email, contacts and calendar; however, when you switch to more mobile, smaller and touch-enabled devices having an interface that’s been built for those environments makes more sense.

    OWA is sensitive to the browser it’s being viewed on, and the great news is that in the new Office 365 Education there is a version that is specifically optimised for mobile and touch! Here’s how it looks on an iPad:



    As you can see, the icons are bigger, the interface focuses on the content and it’s very easy to get access to your information. You can preview the touch-optimised interface on your PC by appending the following strings to your OWA URL:

    • For the tablet experience append: ?layout=twide
    • For the mobile experience append: ?layout=tnarrow

    So your URL would look like: https://podxxxx.outlook.com/owa/?layout=tnarrow, and would look something like this in Internet Explorer 10:


  • FE blog

    A quick and easy way to link Moodle to SharePoint with Collabco MyDay


    Originally posted on the Microsoft Education in the Cloud blog.

    Collabco is a specialist Microsoft Partner focused on SharePoint, Dynamics CRM, Lync, UAG, Mobility and deliver the following services: Technology Consultancy, IT Strategy Consultancy, Development, Project implementation, Support and Training.  They are also the focus of our next post in our partner blog series.  Over to Brendan Nel and Oli Newsham from Collabco for some more info and a cool demo.

    With over 60 million users, Moodle is a well-known VLE used in schools, FE and HE establishments all over the world.  Whilst offering the ability to customise to meet individual requirements there has been no easy way to present student information in an Office 365 environment until now.

    UK-based Collabco, whose MyDay product enables educational establishments to aggregate the information students need on a daily basis and present it in a highly intuitive Windows 8 style environment, have just announced the launch of their new MyDay Moodle app to overcome this.

    Easy to setup and use

    The MyDay Moodle app links an existing Moodle installation to SharePoint. Once the app is installed it guides an administrator through the process of setting up their Moodle installation to talk to the app. All the administrator needs to do it fill out a couple of fields then copy some files into Moodle that the app generates.

    Once setup, users of the app are presented with a set of tiles in SharePoint showing their current and outstanding assignments categorised into time periods.


    Moving the mouse over a tile shows details of the next assignment in that category and clicking the tile takes you to a detailed view of your assignments.


    Clicking on an assignment in the detail view will automatically sign the user into Moodle and take them directly to the selected assignment.


    Check out our video demo to see this in action.

  • FE blog

    University of West England deploys Microsoft Lync to boost productivity


    Originally posted on computing.co.uk

    The University of West England (UWE) has deployed Microsoft Lync to boost staff and student productivity as part of its £10m plans to overhaul its IT infrastructure.


    The university has partnered with a consortium of partners that includes HP, Microsoft, video conferencing provider Polycom and electrical systems provider Schneider, for its IT transformation project.

    Steve Grive, IT director at UWE told Computing that one of the key introductions to its transformation project was unified communications.

    "One of the key things we wanted to introduce was unified communication and collaboration tools because we found that we needed the infrastructure to be able to collaborate in meetings and in other situations.

    "From our perspective, the Microsoft suite which included SharePoint 2010 and the Lync Server 2010, seemed to offer us a functionality that we wanted and also built on the Microsoft products that the university already had," he said.

    Grive said that UWE completed a BETA trial of Microsoft Lync at the end of 2010 and then started implementation of Lync last summer.

    "We wanted to use the desk video conferencing and the voice telephony side of things because like many other large organisations we have a mixture of telephony platforms.

    "We still have a Siemens PBX which is coming to the end of its life in 2016 so we knew we had to do something with our analogue technology. We already started to replace it with voice over internet protocol (VoIP) from Alcatel Lucent but because UWE uses a lot of Microsoft software, Lync made the most sense," he said.

    Grive said that the university has now implemented several hundred Lync handsets and staff can now choose to use Polycom CX600 IP desktop phones, Polycom CX300 handsets or HP notebooks which are all optimised to work with the Lync Server.

    He said that getting Lync live took three months but that the university hasn't completely changed its telephony systems because it would be too costly and so there is still a reliance on old technology.

    "The long-term solution is to migrate over time to Lync, and there is some potential to simplify telephony infrastructure. This will help us reduce costs by eliminating the use of other products over time," he said.

    According to Grive, Lync will boost the productivity of staff and of students in the university.

    "The rollout of these technologies means that staff can access desk video conferencing and online meetings which can boost the staff productivity. In addition it can allow students to have meetings with their tutor online instead of walking between one of our four campuses," he said.

    He said that the biggest challenge for the university was for staff to change from an analogue phone to some form of unified communications.

    "It's a very cultural change, it is very straight forward but it is different," he said.

  • FE blog

    Webinar on Application Virtualisation - 9th November


    clip_image001[4]On Tuesday 9th November at 2pm, Remote IT Solutions, one of our education partners, are running a one hour webinar for education establishments on application virtualisation. Given the large numbers of applications that you're supporting, across a wide range of curriculum areas, then this is one route to get a more manageable network, and to remove dependencies between software versions.

    Two typical scenarios in education that it's really useful for are:

    • Getting the latest version of Windows out to your users, without being stopped by decades-old curriculum software that needs Windows 3.1
    • Using different versions of software for different users or uses. This is especially handy when you want to upgrade your Office suite, but your MIS team still demand Office 2003. Or you need the latest Office 2010 for some students, whist some courses need to finish off using Office 2003.

    In this Remote IT Solutions Live webinar, Dave Moore, Datacenter & Virtualization Technical Specialist will discuss and demonstrate how you can accelerate your application migration projects by automating application deployments with using Microsoft Application Virtualization.  The demonstrations will show you how to integrate Citrix VDI with Microsoft® App-V, delivering App-V virtualized applications to any user on any device anywhere. You can now extend the benefits of Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack to reach a broader set of devices including lightly managed and non-Windows devices across local or wide area networks. Learn how to create, configure, publish, and maintain virtual applications with Microsoft Application Virtualization.

    Dave's going to be doing live demonstrations, including:

    • Create a Virtual Application Using the App-V Sequencer
    • Launch a Virtual Application and Review Client Configuration
    • Publish a Virtual Application Using Full Infrastructure Mode
    • Update a Virtual Application Using App-V
    • Deprovision a Virtual Application
    • Run Microsoft Office 2010 in an App-V Virtualized Environment
    • Use App-V Metering to Manage Application Licenses
    • Use Dynamic Suiting to Create a Plug-in Dependency for Virtual Applications

    You will have the ability to ask questions and get answers throughout the webinar, and they've promised that it won't end until all your questions are answered!

    Learn MoreSign up here for the webinar (2-3pm on 9th November)

  • FE blog

    Harnessing the power of Microsoft’s Office 365 to provide a better social learning environment - Free event


    In the summer of 2012 The University of West London set out to harness the immense potential of the free Cloud-based suite of collaboration tools, provided by Office 365, to create a personalised, interactive, social platform to support the institution’s mission to raise aspiration through the pursuit of excellence and allow students to combine social learning with academic study.  The University won the UCISA Award for Excellence, 2012 for the service they have created.

    This event will provide detail on what UWL wanted to achieve, how they accomplished it and a demonstration of capability and features. In addition, Microsoft will share the latest features and roadmap for Office 365.


    9:30am - Arrival and Refreshments

    9:50am – Welcome to Microsoft

    10:00am –  Introduction by VC of UWL – Professor Peter John

    10:15am – Office 365 latest information– Microsoft

    10:45am – UWL –Approach to Development of a better Social Learning Environment – Adrian Ellison, Director of Information Technology

    11:30am – Break

    11:45am - UWL – Demonstration of UWL’s Award winning Student Portal – Mauli Arora (UWL)

    12:45pm – Lunch and networking

    1:45pm – Fulcrum – Developing the portal (partner who worked with UWL)

    2:30pm- Open Questions on UWL environment and Office 365

    2:45pm- Break

    3:00pm- Janet Amendments for Office 365 and Janet/Microsoft Alliance Agreement

    3:20pm – Office 365 user group – introduction – Group discussion                          

    3:45pm- Close 


    To register, please visit the registration page, and use invitation code 7EA736

  • 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

    Windows RT or Windows 8 devices for your school?


    Guest post by Sean O’Shea

    With the upcoming Windows 8 launch happening tomorrow (Friday 26th October), I recently did a keynote speech at an event with one of our partners. We had a great turn out including head teachers, deputy head teachers and ICT leads from primary and secondary schools. It was overwhelming how much positive response we got from the audience about Windows 8, and we had some excellent feedback and questions from the education staff who attended.


    I’ll go into these in more detail later on, but in a nutshell the main things people at the event got excited about were:

    · The choice of hardware available with Windows 8 and Windows RT

    · Windows 8 is able to run legacy apps

    · Compatibility in the classroom – USB slots on both Windows RT and Windows 8 (you can find a good compatibility matrix for Windows 8 and Programs/Devices here)

    · Office Home and Student on Windows RT

    · If pupils are embracing BYOD or taking devices home, the availability of Windows 8 and Windows RT family safety settings are really valuable. Parents can even set controls on what rated apps children can download

    So it’s great that teachers and IT staff are already seeing the possibilities of Windows 8 and Windows RT for their schools. Although one thing that struck me after my discussions with the education staff at the event, was the number of people asking about the differences between Windows RT and Windows 8. Deciding which devices and OS to work with in schools is a big decision, so I understand the importance of schools leaders and IT decision makers needing to know what features they will gain from each Windows OS version.

    Before I separate the two, I just want to say that the teachers and ICT leaders at the event seemed to clearly spot the key advantage of both Windows RT and Windows 8 - the choice of devices. There is such a large range of devices available with these two operating systems, which means you are not limited to just one piece of hardware, and you can really tailor a device that’s right for your school. You can find just a few options for hardware here.

    Detailed below are some of the main features of both Windows RT and Windows 8, which seemed to be most important to education staff at the event.

    Windows RT

    Window RT devices use an ARM processor. This includes many features that are important when using a device in the classroom.


    Quick on / fast boot

    With Windows RT devices booting up in seconds, no class time is wasted. The Samsung Ativ Tab, for example, is ‘always ready to go!’ with a quick boot up time.

    Thin and light
    Windows RT devices are portable and easy for pupils and teachers to transport to, from and around school. Devices fit in a school bag easily without weighing it down. Surface with Windows RT, for example, weighs just 676g and is 9.3 mm thin.

    Battery life

    With most Windows RT devices having a battery life of at least 8 hours or more, this is enough for the duration of a full school day. Therefore there’s no need to worry about lesson interruptions from low battery life.

    Multiple user profiles

    As mentioned above, with and increasing amount of pupils using BYOD for school and taking devices home, it’s vital that internet safety is practiced. With the option of multiple user profiles on Windows RT, parents can monitor and set what apps and content children can download.

    Office Home & Student 2013 is included with Windows RT

    Windows RT includes Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote – all essential apps for the classroom.

    USB 2.0 slot

    Connect external peripherals such as external hard drives for extra storage and backup.

    Printing compatibility

    You can print documents in the classroom with Windows RT.  Dell and Hewlett-Packard have published a compatibility list of printers for Windows RT.

    Keyboard option on many devices

    Touch screen is great, and it provides a really immersive and engaging experience, but when it comes to typing you can lose half the screen with a touch keyboard. Lots of Windows RT devices have detachable keyboards or a keyboard dock (some include battery charging) for flexibility of type or touch, and the option of a fully viewable screen whilst typing.

    Windows 8

    Legacy apps

    You can bring all the apps that you use in Windows 7 over to a Windows 8 device. So all your learning tools you currently use in the classroom can still be used exactly as they are in Windows 8 (any Windows 7 application win32 .exe will work).

    Join to your domain

    With Windows 8 devices, schools are able to join to their domain. The main advantage of this is that schools will be able to manage devices in a traditional way such as doing updates, managing security and deploying software.

    Like a PC

    Windows 8 devices are built to work like your desktop PC, including inbuilt drivers. They are designed with the power and capability of an ultrabook, in a tablet form. Think space saving in the classroom and working outside of the classroom. Consider the flexibility of working on Windows 8 devices - they are much more portable so pupils and teachers can work anywhere, anytime, with all the functionality of a desktop PC. Take your class outside, on a trip, or around the school - with devices in tow.

    Stylus Support

    Some Windows 8 devices offer stylus support. Stylus accessories are great for pupils to take written notes with a device pen, which can then be digitized into documents. An example is the Asus Vivo Tab.

    Windows To Go

    Windows To Go enables the creation of a Windows To Go workspace that can be booted from a USB-connected external drive on PCs that meet the Windows 7 or Windows 8 certification requirements, regardless of the operating system running on the PC. This provides efficient use of resources for alternative workplace scenarios. This is all about mobility. Schools are looking at ways to provide mobile solutions for pupils. If a school wants a teacher or a pupil to have access to their school desktop and school network (apps, settings etc) from home, it’s easy with Windows To Go. At the moment schools might look at complicated solutions such as VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure). Windows to go will provide an incredibly simple alternative that will allow pupils and teachers to experience their full windows 8 school desktop at home with just a USB drive.

    Flexible price points

    It looks like there’s going to be some really great deals coming for Windows 8 devices, so again the choice of hardware design relative to your budget is huge. A nice example is the Acer W510 which is reportedly going to be priced at around $500.


    I hope that gives you some valuable information on Windows RT and Windows 8, as well as some help with choosing devices for your school.

  • FE blog

    Windows 8 - the basics using keyboard and mouse (video)


    Another useful video from Schools Business Manager, Mark Reynolds, covering a great introductory overview of Windows 8 using keyboard and mouse, rather than a touch enabled device.

    If you are looking at upgrading to Windows 8 on non-touch hardware, this video is a great resource to allow you to hit the ground running and covers useful tips with regard to both the Windows 8 Start Screen and desktop environment.

    Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.

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