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June, 2009 - Microsoft UK Schools blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The UK Schools Blog
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June, 2009

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    What does Windows 7 run on?



    In Thursday’s blog post on Windows 7 release dates, I asked if you’d had a chance to run the Beta or Release Candidate version on one of your older machines yet – and I received a welcome deluge of emails from people who had.

    It would take me ages to give you all of the scientific details of configurations, so instead I’ve gone for a ready reckoner table of the responses.

    Thanks to the EduGeek community too, as they have continued to provide more examples of kit they’ve tried it on. The emerging view is that whilst it will install on 512MB RAM, it is slower than XP on older kit, but when you move to 1GB RAM it���s faster.
    You can read more on the EduGeek Windows 7 forum

    I haven’t yet received a single email from somebody who has failed to get Windows 7 running on one of their computers, which I think is probably even more significant than the detail in the list below! (See the bottom for my own inglorious failure!)

    So, for your delight and delectation…

    Fabulous successes

    Manufacturer Laptop Basic Spec Notes
    Acer Aspire One 16GB SSD disk Alex Billing has been running this since Beta release
    Acer Travelmate C110 1GHz Centrino 1.5GB RAM Everything was fine, but needed new graphics driver
    Apple MacBookPro 2GB RAM, 32GB disk Grumbledook (aka Tony) had this working with the Beta and the RC – see the comments for more
    Apple MacMini 1GB RAM Grumbledook again – this time a little trickier, and reported as quite slow and needing quite a few driver tweaks.
    Asus Eee PC 1000H 1GB RAM, 80GB Disk Ceri had this running Win 7 at BETT
    Dell Mini 9 1GB RAM, 16GB SSD disk Reported as “faster than XP SP3”! And this was on the Beta
    Dell Mini 12 1GB RAM, 1.6Ghz Atom Chris reported “it works great, noticeably faster than the install of Vista that came with it”
    Dell Optiplex 745 Desktop Ceri Morriss has been running it for a while on his desktop, and also runs well on 755
    Dell Studio 15 4GB RAM Chris pointed out that this worked perfectly (I’d hope so too, with a greedy 4GB of RAM!)
    Elonex Webbook 1GB RAM, 80GB Disk Ceri had this running Win 7 at BETT
    Ergo Microlite 512MB RAM & 1.4GHz proc Ben said “It's a bit slow with the 512 especially when swapping to disk but general performance seems better than XP”
    HiGrade Notino L100 1GB RAM, 80GB Disk Ceri had this running Win 7 at BETT
    HP Tablet 2710p 2GB RAM Chris Rothwell reported it as “snappy”!
    HP MiniNote 2GB RAM Alex Pearce says this one is fine too
    HP Compaq 6735s 2GB RAM Rob reported that it needed a driver installing for HP DriveGuard 3D*, but apart from that everything else worked straight away.
    * Thanks Rob, for telling me that I'd read "3D" and assuming it was a graphics card. Double thanks for telling me in an email, rather than shaming me publically
    Lenovo T61p 2GB RAM, 160GB Disk Working well as on laptop used every day
    Lenovo X61 2GB RAM, 100GB Disk My every day laptop - Better performance than Vista
    RM One 512MB RAM Teky says it’s slow with 512MB RAM
    Samsung R40 1GB RAM, 80GB Disk My demo laptop - Simple install and didn’t require any additional drivers later.
    Samsung NC10 1GB is okay,
    2GB is better
    Alex Pearce reports he’s “very happy” on this!
    Matt recommend getting 2GB
    And the Cookie Monster said that the best bit is waking from Sleep in 3 seconds
    Sony Viao 1GB RAM, 1GHz processor Leighton didn’t have the model number for this (his wife’s!) but he reckoned it was at least 5 years old. He did have to download the Vista drivers for wireless and sound, but apart from that, it was easy.
    Toshiba NB100   Ceri had this running Win 7 at BETT
    Toshiba Portege M400 2GB RAM Leighton Searle reported this was a straightforward install
    Toshiba Satellite Pro A10 1GB RAM and 2 GHz Celeron Alex Billing at Wilsthorpe College says “…but the one that impressed me is the 8 year old Toshiba Satellite..which runs very smoothly, I think even better than it runs XP”
    Zeem1 from EduGeek reported it runs well on just 512MB RAM “unless I try and do too many things at once”!
    Toshiba Tecra M700   Accura2000 reported “Everything works and the touch screen has better support than in Vista”
    Viglen Dossier NS   This is a very old computer – DrPerceptron from EduGeek reported “I could NEVER get it to run XP SP2/3 properly – and it works faultlessly…doesn’t run Aero, but then I didn’t expect it to work at all”

    Also, take a look at the Windows Club forum, where somebody has Windows 7 running on an old P2 processor (266MHz) and 96MB RAM - which is definitely NOT in my list of "recommended things to do". And PC World are reporting "Windows 7 hits a new low" - the 'new low' is lower specification hardware.

    Glorious failures…

    Manufacturer Laptop Basic Spec Notes
    Asus Eee PC 900 1GB RAM, 12GB Disk This was one of the very early EeePCs, so not a surprise!
    I tried and failed, because the 12GB storage was on two physical drives– one was 4GB and the other was 8GB. And Windows 7 needed more than 8GB to install.
    However, I read an article over the weekend that gave me some hints, and I’m going to have another bash, just to be able to say “Yes, it works!”
  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Good Blogging Guide - Did I get onto the first page of Google?


    On Wednesday I wrote a blog post on how to improve your blog’s position in search engines, as part of my “Good Blogging Guide” series. It was all about search engine optimisation for blogs, and gave some simple to follow strategies. My goal was to demystify Search Engine Optimisation (SE) by writing an ‘SEO in plain English’ guide.

    As a throwaway idea at the end of the post, I thought I’d better try and demonstrate that it works – although I wasn’t quite sure how it would turn out. This is what I said:

    Can I really prove it works?

    Let’s experiment shall we...

    Currently my blog doesn’t show up at all when you search for ‘seo in plain english’ or ‘search engine optimisation for blogs’  – which isn’t a surprise, because I haven’t pressed publish yet. So let’s see if anything has happened by the end of the week

    Check for yourself here:

    SEO in plain english (currently 163,000 results)

    Search engine optimisation for blogs (currently 26,500,000 results)

    So what happened?

    I can’t actually believe it! Hence my over-the-top, intended-to-be-humorous, created-2-minutes ago, graphic:


    By Wednesday afternoon, about an hour after publishing, the second search was already showing up on the first page of Google.

    By Thursday morning, the second search was on the first page still and the first search was on Page 3

    And now it is the end of the week, I just checked to see what has happened:

    The first search, “SEO in plain English” is now on the Google third page, at position 3 (amended to reflect Thom's comment)

    image (I’m thinking that to get above a website called “”
    would require a miracle – although the site appears to be dead, so there’s a chance)

    And the second search, “Search Engine Optimisation for blogs”, is on the Google first page too, at position 1 and 2:


    And other phrases? Well, the whole series has also turned up on the first page at position 2, 2, 5 and 7 if you search for phrases like Good Blogging Guide (for which there are 2 billion pages!). It also makes it to page on of Google when searching on the tenuous phrase blogging page one of Google

    It has suprised me – I hadn’t really expected to see that kind of result. I’m going back over my blog to “SEO” some other bits! After all, it was only four simple steps. (Or maybe I should go and write the book…)

    * Apologies to my colleagues in the Bing team, who will be smouldering about the fact I’m talking about Google. Take a look at my original post to see why.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Building a school website in SharePoint


    SharePoint has become an established standard across a large number of schools, local authorities and Regional Broadband Consortia. It is the platform underneath Glow in Scotland, and many of the learning platforms in use in schools. I think one of the key reasons it because it can provide a way to integrate all of the different IT systems across the schools – from your MIS to your learning platform, as well as everyday document management.

    Less people are using it to run their external website, ending up with schools with two different web systems, which results in students and staff having two different places to refer for information.

    Esher College have standardised onto one technology, and are using SharePoint for their external site too – with help from Parabola Software. Although they have three portals – one for the public site, one for student and one for staff, it is possible to link information between the portals and provided the user has access rights it’s seamless.

    I’d be interested in hearing about schools using SharePoint for their external website – just add a comment to the blog, and give a link to yours.

    (For more inspiration, take a look at this list of Top 10 SharePoint 2007 sites, with examples from outside of education, worldwide)

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Windows 7 is getting closer



    The Windows 7 team announced it will be available on October 22nd – that’s the date in the stores, so I don’t know if we’ll get the version for education (ie the Volume Licence version) any earlier. Even if it was earlier, I can’t believe it would be in time to roll it out before the end of the summer holidays (shame). Given the positive feedback that seems to be flowing around the current Release Candidate (did you know you can install that and run it free until July next year?), perhaps we could collaboratively build a list of devices people have been running it on – especially some of the entry-level netbooks and laptops.

    As an aside, if you, or a student you know, is going to buy a new laptop this summer – eg all those sixth formers heading to uni – then the Windows 7 team also mentioned that there will be news soon on the Windows 7 Upgrade Option. My understanding is that this is similar to the “Tech Guarantee” we’ve offered in the past, where if you buy a new PC after a certain date, you qualify for a free or low-cost upgrade to Windows 7. More details when I have them…

    What does Windows 7 run on? Share your experiences

    Time for sharing – what devices have you got Windows 7 running on already, and what spec? Add a comment to the blog, or drop me an email via the link above, and I’ll publish a table in a couple of weeks, based on typical experiences of computers that are in schools today. Given the experiences of running Windows Vista on older laptops, the real interest is not going to be “Does it run on what I’m going to buy this summer?”, but “Does it run on what I bought last summer, and the summer before?”

    Here’s my list so far, for my own laptops:

    Manufacturer Laptop Basic Spec Notes
    Lenovo X61 2GB RAM, 100GB Disk My every day laptop - Better performance than Vista
    Samsung R40 1GB RAM, 80GB Disk My demo laptop - Simple install and didn’t require any additional drivers later.


    And finally, my second favourite feature of Windows 7

    After I told you my favourite Windows 7 feature last week, I’ve now decided what my second favourite feature is – you can setup the default printer according to your location.

    imageThis is great for me, as I use my laptop in the office, at home, and out and about. I’d be working at home, hit PRINT, and then realise it was going to a printer somewhere in Reading. And there’s been more than one occasion when I’ve had to ring somebody and ask them to grab something urgently from the printer and put it in the shredder!

    Now, with Windows 7, I have set up my default printers so that at home it prints on my inkjet (connected through my home PC) and in the office, it will print to the nearest printer to my desk.

    Your staff can avoid that awful “OMG, I’ve just printed my CV in the school office” moment!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    SharePoint in Welsh – SharePoint ar gael in Gymraeg


    Welsh SharePoint launch - it looks suspiciously like a karaoke competition!

    During half-term week, we joined the Welsh Assembly Government at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Cardiff Bay, to launch Welsh language support for SharePoint. Steve Beswick, of Microsoft, and Meri Huws, of the Welsh Language Board, officially launched the pack with Jane Hutt, the Welsh Assembly Minister for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills.

    This follows on from the work we did a little while ago to make Windows and Office available in Welsh. We do all of this through making a free Language Interface Pack available for download, which you can then use to convert your system over.

    There are already quite a few schools and local authorities in Wales using SharePoint – for example, Swansea run their learning platform on it, and the addition of the Welsh language option will extend the potential use.

    JulieDaviesYsgolGyfunBrynTaweJulie Davies, a teacher at Ysgol Gyfun Bryn Tawe in Swansea explained why it was so important:

    FirstquotesAs a school and centre of excellence for Welsh medium education, we have always taken advantage of new Welsh language initiatives and resources. We are very excited to see a large IT company recognising and responding to the need for more resources in our first language. I believe Swansea Edunet which is based on SharePoint will improve communication within the school, and create an effective learning community for staff members and pupils.Endquotes

    But why SharePoint in Welsh, and why is it so important to education? Well, the answer on the day was:

    FirstquotesMae Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 yn darparu lleoliad sengl, integredig lle gall defnyddwyr gydweithio’n effeithiol, chwilio am wybodaeth, rheoli cynnwys a llyfnhau prosesau gweinyddol. Mae’n integreiddio’n hawdd â systemau TGCh sydd eisoes yn eu lle, ac mae’n gymorth i wneud penderfyniadau ar sail gwybodaeth drwy cynorthwyo i staff gael hyd i wybodaeth yn haws, i’w rhannu ac i adrodd arni.Endquotes

    You can find the English version of this in the Welsh Language Board press release in English (Welsh version here)

    Download Information

    The downloads are now publicly available using the URLs below.  I got a surprise checking these links – the pages are all in Welsh!

    SharePoint Server 2007 Language Pack  (X86)

    SharePoint Server 2007 Language Pack  (X64)

    Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Language Pack 

    Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Language Pack (X64)

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Are you going to the Learning Gateway conference in July?


    For those who are going: I’m now writing my presentation on Information Security (where, if I mention losing USB memory sticks, I’ll be very clear to make sure I say Leicester City instead of Leicestershire, unlike this week at the SIMS Conference), and so if you’re going to be there, add a comment, drop me an email or a tweet to let me know what questions you would want answers to.


    For everybody else: If you’re into SharePoint and the Learning Gateway, it’s likely to go down as the most relevant CPD event of the year. I’m sure that your head will want to find the money once they’ve realised that it can help you to help your school with hitting DCSF targets for online parental reporting and learning platforms, make staff collaboration easier and even help you plan ahead for remote possibilities like a swine flu outbreak in your area!

    Full details of the Learning Gateway Conference are on my earlier blog post. It’s not a Microsoft event (Alex Pearce from Great Barr School is making this all happen!) but there are a few Microsoft people speaking, and I have been bumping into various people who are all going to be there.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Good Blogging Guide – Part Five – No lawyers please


    This isn’t a reference to litigation, or any of the legalities of blogging (for things of that flavour, read Friday’s post on a blogging code of practice). Nope, this is about writing style. It’s about being clear and simple.


    The title ‘No Lawyers Please’ comes from people I’ve worked with in the past, who seem to be completely normal people until they put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard. Suddenly, their whole character changes. Whereas they speak like anybody else, they write as though they are Charles Dickens or a High Court judge. They have perhaps been taught by somebody who believed that unless a word had 15 syllables, it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.

    I would have been fairer if I’d called this ‘No educational policymakers please’, because I’ve noticed that there’s definitely a pattern to announce new policies in a way that befuddles with language. And looking in the mirror, perhaps ‘No technologists please’, because we’re also guilty of using language which is hard to work out and full of acronyms.

    The key to remember when you blog is that most people look at it on their screen, and will scan it quite quickly before they move on to another thing. So you have to grab them quickly, and not put them off too soon.

    My quick rules for this are:

    • Be as personable as you possibly can (often a challenge for me!)
    • Write the way you speak
    • Don’t use language to make you look smart
    • Drop the superlatives if they’re not deserved
    • If it’s confidential don’t write it down

    Be as personable as you possibly can

    Well, I know that this can be tricky. How much of your life and self do you want to talk about? How many people are interested? I think we all make our own decisions on this, but I’d say that if you think about your reader, you shouldn’t go wrong. For example, if I write about my children, it is within the context of the story that I am telling.

    • When my eldest daughter got told by her teacher that the video she had produced for the World War II timeline homework had to be redone as photos stuck to cardboard so it could be ‘assessed properly’, I thought that was relevant to my blog in context
    • When my youngest came home from school having spent her Science lesson counting Tesco vouchers, I didn’t rush to my blog to wail about it.

    Get the line right and you’ll hopefully write a good read and come across as a person not just a literary genius. Get it wrong, and you could be blogging into a vacuum.

    Honesty here: I have no idea if I get it right or wrong, but sometimes when I’ve wandered too far either way, I’ve had comments, but often I get people talking to me about something I’ve written in a positive or constructive way, which I take as being good feedback.

    Write the way you speak (and don’t use language to make you look smart)

    Just use the same language. The web has a very short time span in which to grab your readers, and hold them. Shorter words and simpler sentences help. This rule doesn’t apply in every situation – but if you think your readers are coming through, on their way somewhere else, then the easier it is to understand what you’re saying, the more likely they’ll stick around or come back.

    There are some tools you can use to help with this. The easiest one is the SMOG (simplified measure of gobbledygook) test, which gives you a rating for your readability. You simply paste in your text, and then it will calculate the SMOG level. And you can use that to work out if what you’ve written will be understood by your reader.

    It isn’t foolproof, but it is a handy and simple test.

    NIACE have a online SMOG calculator, which is straightforward. Basically, the lower your SMOG score, the more readable things are. They also publish a great readability booklet called “How to produce clear written materials for a range of readers” which covers much more than writing style.

    For general guidance, here are some typical SMOG levels (generally, the lower the number, the easier it is to read):

    • The Sun - 14
    • The Daily Express - 16
    • The Telegraph and The Guardian - 17+

    I did a couple of quick tests on some materials. I thought I’d point the finger at myself first, by testing the other posts in this series:

    • Good Blogging Guide Part One – 18
    • Good Blogging Guide Part Two – 15
    • Good Blogging Guide Part Three– 15
    • Good Blogging Guide Part Four– 17
    • Good Blogging Guide Part Five – 16 (that’s this one)

    I’m not unhappy with 15-17, that’s about right for writing to people in education (degree-level) but if I was writing for a very wide audience, I’d like to aim for 14-15. And considering the booklet on Readability scores 17, then I guess it’s okay)

    And to make my point about educational policy language:

    And finally, the way to tell if you’re using language to make yourself look smart? Personally, if I have to ask somebody a spelling then I know I’m using a word I don’t normally use…

    Drop the superlatives if they are not deserved

    I remember when I first joined Microsoft, after 20+ years of working within British companies, I found it a little odd that colleagues would declare things awesome or super-exciting. Especially when coming from a workplace where good was counted as high praise. Over time, I’ve adjusted, and have even gone so far as to describe one thing as cool (but my daughter stopped that straight away).

    Worldwide research has shown that the UK education audience don’t really like unjustified superlatives. So if something is good, then say it’s good, not amazing.

    Of course, if something is brilliant, then say so. But if you call everything brilliant, you’re probably going to lose readers faster than gaining them.

    And don’t get me started on people who use too many exclamation marks in emails! And people who use three!!! At the end of every sentence!!! Doesn’t it make you cry???

    If it’s confidential don’t write it down

    No more to say on this. People who’ve broken this rule and been found out never need reminding twice. If you need it, then see Good Blogging Guide Part Four for more context.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Good Blogging Guide – Part Four – Code of Practice


    We’re moving along now on the ‘Good Blogging Guide’, having looked at audience, objectives, and search engine optimisation for blogs. But these three areas are about things that you do. There’s another aspect that is important too – about the environment that you blog in. For example, do you blog as an individual or as part of your organisation or school? And if you’re blogging as an individual, are you separated from your professional identity?

    So this chapter, the Blogging Code of Practice, is designed to help you to discuss, positively, blogging with other people in your organisation, so that you can create the support network you need, and agree the guidelines that are appropriate. (And if you’re a school leader, and one of your staff is starting to blog, some guidance on how you can work together to protect each other!)


    A code of practice for teachers blogging?

    Don’t worry, I’m not going to provide one! I believe very strongly that online participation – whether it’s blogs, forums or Twitter is a personal thing. You’ll know that if you’re a regular reader of the blog or my Twitter feed. Although I’m blogging in my professional capacity, it is still me that’s blogging, not an automaton. However, I’m also aware that people will look at what I say and sometimes interpret what they are reading as “Microsoft’s opinion”. So I have to be careful how I express opinions sometimes, and need to know what is and isn’t acceptable.

    I think that if you’re blogging in the public sector, the same situation exists. Having a code of practice is about having an agreed set of guidelines to protect you, and your school/local authority/organisation.

    The good news is that it doesn’t need to be onerous, and there are existing examples that apply

    Here are for examples to help you (a) consider your own and (b) to use to guide others (eg your head teacher or local authority) to get an effective code.

    imageThe Civil Service Blogging Code

    Most people are surprised to learn that there’s a code for Civil Servants to follow on blogging (and general social media participation). And the fact that it’s brief is a second surprise.

    There are 9,421 words in the Code for MP’s Allowances (the Parliamentary Green Book), and well over 400 in our employee code for the protection of laptops. So would it surprise you to learn that there are only 78 words in the Civil Service code for online participation?

    The code was announced last year in Parliament by the MP Tom Watson from the Cabinet Office, and the code was published. Unfortunately the link it was published on is now a dead link (doh!), but after quite a bit of searching, I’ve found the place they’ve now published it (and it has a new preamble to it ).

    The Civil Service code for blogging

    And here’s what it says:

    Principles for participation online

    1. Be credible

    Be accurate, fair, thorough and transparent.

    2. Be consistent

    Encourage constructive criticism and deliberation. Be cordial, honest and professional at all times.

    3. Be responsive

    When you gain insight, share it where appropriate.

    4. Be integrated

    Wherever possible, align online participation with other offline communications.

    5. Be a civil servant

    Remember that you are an ambassador for your organisation. Wherever possible, disclose your position as a representative of your department or agency.

    Considering how tortuous some public sector documents can be (If I never have to read another procurement document in my life, I will die happy!) this is a model of clarity, simplicity and brevity. I think it makes it very clear what you have to do to meet the needs of the organisation you work for when blogging.

    Microsoft Blogging Code

    There are only two words in our blogging code:

    Blog Smart

    Basically, it means that the company expects me to exercise good judgement, and ‘be smart’ when I’m blogging. I also interpret it to mean that all the same principles and policies that apply to our normal public interactions generally also apply to blogging. For example, if I know something that is confidential internal information, I wouldn’t blog about it, and equally I wouldn’t tell somebody I met at a conference or my neighbour.

    So if 78 words for the Civil Service blogging code were a surprise, then I guess 2 words in our code are even more surprising.

    Don’t take either of these as being simplistic – they are not. They are simple. Simple to understand, simple to follow and simple to monitor.

    In both cases, a lot of people will have had a lot of input and taken a lot of time to get there. As Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead”, neatly capturing the experience that it’s easier to write more than less.

    As an aside, here's Intel's Social Media Guidance. Anybody know of others?

    The UK Education team’s blogging guidelines

    When I originally started blogging it was just me, doing my stuff. But over time we’ve expanded out the number of blogs written, and also have some written by teams. So although this one is written by me alone, (along with the Further Education blog), then Higher Education blog is one I write jointly with Dominic Watts (our Higher Ed business manager); Kristen & Stuart write a Teachers blog and Mark A’Bear and I write an Education Partners blog.

    Partly because people wanted some guidance, and partly to ensure consistency for the readers when a team blog is written by more than one author, we created our own blogging code. To be fair, they are more like writing-style guidelines, because they are aimed at making sure that the experience for the reader is consistent.

      • Always write as an individual, to an individual
      • Wherever possible, express an opinion
      • Tell them how they could use what we’re providing
      • Don’t just link to another resource without something specific for our audience
      • Always put everything into the audience context

    The aim of the guidelines are to make sure that we don’t drift into writing corporate-speak, which people can sometimes do accidentally (or sometimes because they think it is expected). Or simply turn into a parrot of other information, or weblinks, from other Microsoft sources. My personal bar is “Am I adding anything specifically useful for schools in the UK?” If not, I won’t blog it.

    A Code of Practice for blogging in education

    I was interested to see the East Lothian Council Social Media code, which is provided for staff in their schools to encourage and support them to engage online. Again, the focus is on simple, clear and straightforward advice, and it covers style issues as well as the good practice issues

    Best Practice Guidelines for Staff

    • Keep secrets and be mindful of what you say

    • Be respectful to your colleagues

    • Get your facts straight

    • Be Interesting – writing or talking is hard work - let's not add to this by making the reading difficult too

    • Write what you know – add value

    • Quality matters – respect the ELC EDUCATION identity and values

    • Provide context to your argument

    • Engage in Private Feedback

    I haven’t seen any individual school blogging guidelines or codes, but I’m sure there are some out there too.

    A call to action

    It’s taken me almost 3 hours to write this blog post, and I still feel I’m only scratching the surface. Do you know of other sources for good practice blogging codes for schools? Are there any aspects that should be in the perfect blogging code within education (to encourge as well as protect)?

    Either add comments and links to this post, or ping me on Twitter to help move the discussion forward. It may even be possible to create the definitive ‘Starter for 10’ code for education.

    I know this is a topic that plenty of people are interested in, because I have been asked about it so many times – which is why I’ve written this “Good Blogging Guide”. So help colleagues move the conversation forward

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    What is a learning platform – a video introduction


    I love it when I find a guide to a complex technology, written in plain English. Or even better, a video. For a while, the standard has been set by the Common Craft team, using paper animations, but I think Chris Thomson and Aaron Bowler from the Sheffield East City Learning Centre have set a challenging new standard.

    Their video “What is a learning platform” is a triumph in simplicity and cuteness – and is perfect for a technophobe audience of teachers or parents.

    What is a Learning Platform video

    You can read more about their work on their Electric Chalk blog

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Sir, I’ve lost my memory stick



    You probably have a policy for them – the ubiquitous memory stick. Not that many years ago I was excited when I got my first 16MB one, and now everybody’s got them. They are wonderful. UNLESS they happen to contain the only copy of a file, and they go missing. Or you forget to bring them in on the day you needed the info (“I’ve done my homework, but I’ve left my memory stick at home Sir”). We’ve been suggesting for a while that students use either SkyDrive or Office Live Workspace to store files online instead. No more USB memory sticks plugged into your computers, and a lot lower risk from viruses and inappropriate files (because you can pass everything through your web filters). It also means that they can share work with other students if they choose, and collaborate in groups. And in the case of Office Live Workspace, they can Open & Save into their storage on the web, directly from Office. And they are both free.

    But, it’s a bit of a boring subject isn’t it? Until you’ve lost your memory stick. (A bit like doing PC backups – boring until it’s too late!)

    So the Office Live Workspaces team have created a video that just might appeal..

    Ever wondered where student’s lost memory sticks end up?

    So now you know.  You can encourage students to use their free Office Live Workspace individually, and we are also working with some of the Regional Broadband Consortia to provide it as a free service to all of your students through the Live@Edu service

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