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December, 2007 - Microsoft UK Schools blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The UK Schools Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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December, 2007

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Ergo's BETT Competitions


    Ergo One of our education partners, Ergo, have just told me about the competition they are going to run at the BETT Show in January. If you visit their stand (B100) in the main hall, you can enter their prize draw to win either a fully implemented secondary school VLE based on the Microsoft Learning Gateway (including the server, implementation, training and support), or a primary school Free2Teach network management system (also including server, implementation, training and support). I haven't heard about other competitions (yet) at BETT, but I think this has got to be worth including on your "must visit" BETT list.

    More details on the Ergo website for secondary schools and primary schools

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Wembley Study Centre - First day of Christmas


    It's approaching Christmas, so here's the first in a list of 12 "Christmas presents" - some free software, some free resources, and details of some of the projects we sponsor in education.

    Earlier this month we took part in the launch of the Wembley Study Centre - A new, state-of-the-art Playing for Success study support centre which provides exciting new learning opportunities for the young people of Brent. The flagship centre, named 'The Learning Zone', is physically based inside the new national stadium and will provide a unique, innovative and inspirational learning environment for young people in the local area during out of school hours. The Learning Zone @ Wembley Stadium is a joint endeavour between Brent Council, The Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and Wembley Stadium. Microsoft – the Stadium's Founding Partner – contributed the software and some hardware for the room which will provide an open and flexible learning environment, using state-of-the-art technology and fun and creative interactive exercises.

    More details at the Wembley website

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Windows Vista SP1 is coming...


    One for Network Managers: We've announced that Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista will be released in the Spring Term 2008, which is good news for those who are waiting for this before doing widescale deployments of the new operating system across your school. In advance of that the Beta is available now on MSDN and Technet (if you have a School Agreement, you've got a free subscription to MSDN AA). Now the full details of what's in the release are on TechNet, but here's a shorter highlight list, taken from the InsideMicrosoft blog:

    • Improves power consumption when the display is not changing by allowing the processor to remain in its sleep state which consumes less energy.
    • Improves power consumption and battery life by addressing an issue that causes a hard disk to continue spinning when it should spin down, in certain circumstances.
    • SP1 addresses issues many of the most common causes of crashes and hangs in Windows Vista, as reported by Windows Error Reporting. These include issues relating to Windows Calendar, Windows Media Player, and a number of drivers included with Windows Vista.
    • Removes the delay that sometimes occurs when a user unlocks their PC.
    • Improves wireless ad-hoc connection (computer-to-computer wireless connections) success rate
    • Improves Windows Vista’s built-in file backup solution to include EFS encrypted files in the backup.
    • Adds full support for the latest IEEE draft of 802.11n wireless networking.
    • Improves the performance of browsing network file shares by consuming less bandwidth.
    • Improves the speed of adding and extracting files to and from a compressed (zipped) folder.
    • Improves performance over Windows Vista’s current performance across the following scenarios:
      • 25% faster when copying files locally on the same disk on the same machine
      • 45% faster when copying files from a remote non-Windows Vista system to a SP1 system
      • 50% faster when copying files from a remote SP1 system to a local SP1 system
    • Improves the time to read large images by approximately 50%.
    • In specific scenarios, SP1 reduces the shutdown time by a few seconds by improving the Windows Vista utility designed to sync a mobile device.
    • Reduces the time it takes to return to the user’s session when using the Photo screensaver, making it comparable to other screensavers.

    And finally...

    • Users are now required to enter a password hint during the initial setup of Windows Vista SP1. This change was made based on feedback from top PC manufactures that many customers frequently do not remember their password and because the administrator account is turned off by default on Windows Vista, these users do not have a way to access to their PCs. A password hint helps avoid this frustrating scenario.
      This has got to make life a little easier for all of those people, like me, who get asked by neighbours/friends/students - How do I find out my password? - hopefully there will be less forgotten ones!

    I have to say that I've been using Windows Vista since October 2006, as a typical user, and have seen very few of these problems being fixed - I especially like the further improvements in power consumption, reducing further the carbon footprint of a Windows Vista computer over a Windows XP system.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Low Cost laptops for students


    The announcement of the One Laptop per Child scheme a few years ago - the $100 laptop - stimulated a lot of discussion and debate. Now, a few years down the road, it has also led to an enlarged debate about the right level of provision for students. Do they all need a device, in their hand, all of the time? What is the perfect device? What resources & software do they need access to? What connectivity will they need? (I wonder, if we have reached a ratio of one computer for every four students, are we now almost at the "tipping point" - where we no longer have computers sitting in a room waiting for students to arrive, but instead students each carrying their own device, and linking to learning wherever they are).

    I was prompted to think about this again by this story on the BBC News site, reporting on our plans to trial Windows on the XO laptop (as the $100 laptop is now known). The availability of loss cost, hard-disk-less laptops, makes it more feasible that we'll get to 1:1 access, and it is definitely worth considering what your long-term strategy will be when (not if) you can put a laptop into the hands of all of your students. We're waiting for more announcements of low-cost laptops running Windows software - hopefully just around the corner. The magic moment is when we match the computing power students need, with the a size and weight that makes them easily portable.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Know IT all - E-safety


    Today sees the launch of Know IT All for Teachers, in conjunction with Becta, the TDA and ChildNet.

    KnowITAllWe've been working with these partners to create a set of valuable resources for e-safety in schools. Called "Know IT All for Teachers", it's a resource pack that provides practical help for trainee teachers, existing teachers and support staff, and offers suggestions and materials on how the subject of e-safety can be embedded in the curriculum both within schools and initial teacher training.

    The resources have been developed by Childnet with the support of the TDA, Becta and Microsoft. The key “Know IT All” training resources used for the materials are Childnet’s “Jenny’s Story” and Microsoft’s “Rome Group” which was created by Microsoft as part of their “Getting to Know IT All” child safety campaign.

    E-safety relates to many parts of the curriculum and the Know It All websites contain links to a range of comprehensive learning resources, information and advice to keep trainee teachers and teachers up to date with child e-safety issues and to provide guidance on managing issues which may arise in the school environment. 

    The materials cover issues such as online grooming, cyber-bullying to the viewing of inappropriate content and plagiarism.

    Know IT All for Teachers includes a free DVD designed for self study in e-safety, including a short film followed by e-safety questions for teachers to consider, and a website which clearly explains the technology, and provides links to further resources on a range of issues. The “Know IT All” for Trainees and Teachers initiative reflects the growing supporting role teachers play, alongside parents, in teaching children about e-safety.   An in-depth research report of 400 trainee teachers also revealed a need for child e-safety training.

    The free teacher’s DVD is available to order from the DCSF Publications Line (details here).

    More details on the Know IT All for Teachers website

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Office Offline


    It's coming up to Christmas, and then it will be New Year - and I'll have to write a New Year resolution. So time to start building a habit that I want to break (isn't that how everybody does it?). I've been reading a colleague's Office Offline blog for a while now (David Salaguinto) and he blogs with a 4-cell comic format. Nothing fancy, just a simple four-cell block.

    So, I'm going to shamelessly steal it, and then I promise I'll break the habit at New Year! (Well, after all, it is nearly Christmas)


  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Live Meeting 2007 in Education – Virtual Classrooms, Remote Learning and more

    This Thursday (6th December), why not join us for a Live Meeting about Live Meeting!

    With the advent of the new version of Live Meeting (2007), functionality has now been implemented that’s been specifically designed for education and training organisations. Live Meeting can extend the reach of education in enhancing the learning experience. Simon Palmer, former Learning and Development Manager for Dell, will demonstrate some of this functionality illustrating how learning styles can be enhanced to improve learning either in the workplace or through educational establishments. Compelling new enhancements such as video, voice, rich media and break out rooms combined with an easy to use interface generates the right virtual environment to capture the pupils attention and will allow them to engage in interactive learning!

    The meeting takes place from 3.30 to 4.30pm, and is presented by Simon Palmer, Technology Specialist for Unified Communications and former Learning and Development Manager for Dell.

    Click: here to put this into your Outlook Calendar, with the joining instructions


    Call: 0118 909 2000 and use participant code: 9395559

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