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September, 2010 - 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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September, 2010

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Something for your parent newsletter? Avoiding scams


    While he was working from home, a friend of mine recently got a phone call, from "Microsoft support", claiming to want to help him fix his PC. Fortunately, he's the suspicious type. And he's right to be. It's a scam - and I've now heard that other people are getting the same calls.

    Obviously, we have quite enough to do without randomly phoning people unprompted, and asking if we can remotely access their PC. It's just a straightforward scam, in which they attempt to gain access to your PC and all of your secret stuff.

    If it's something you wanted to warn your parents or students about, there's some more information, and there's official Microsoft advice about phishing, on the Microsoft Protect site - and specifically on this page "Avoid scams that use the Microsoft name fraudulently"

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    The TechNet Springboard Tour - free event in Reading on 1st November


    The Microsoft Springboard team, based at our headquarters in Seattle, create really good content on TechNet to help you to understand and deploy our latest technologies. In a way, they are a network manager's best friend, because they provide useful web guides that provide step-by-step processes for things like Windows 7 deployment.

    At last, they're hitting the road, and coming out to join us in Europe, with a free event in Reading on the 1st November. If you're looking for a single day when you can rapidly get up to speed on deploying our latest products  included in your School Agreement - Office 2010, Windows 7 and the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack - then this is for you.

    imageAt the five-hour workshops you will:

    • Learn about Office 2010 IT investments.
    • Learn about key deployment strategies for Windows 7 and the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack.
    • See the opportunities for training and certification in these key products.
    • Learn why Windows 7 has received rave reviews from IT organizations and is setting records as the fastest selling operating system in history.
    • Gain a clear understanding of the tools, tips and tricks you need now to jumpstart the successful deployment and management of your Windows desktop environment today.
    • Meet and network with members of the Windows and Office US Product Teams, as well as local Microsoft Technology Evangelists for technical training, professional networking, and real world guidance

    You can read the fully detailed agenda on the website, but here's a quick summary:

    Time Session

    9:30 – 10:00

    Registration Opens

    10:00 – 10:10

    Welcome & Introductions

    10:10 – 10:30

    Riding the Windows 7 and Office 2010 Wave

    10:30 – 11:30

    Office 2010 Investments for IT

    11:30 – 12:00

    Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Application Compatibility in 30 Minutes

    12:00 – 12:30

    Application Virtualization and Deployment

    12:30 – 13:15


    13:15 – 14:25

    Moving from XP and Office 2003 to Windows 7 and Office 2010 – A Deep Dive into MDT and P2V

    14:25 – 15:15

    Desktop Management and Support

    15:15 – 15:30

    Closing / Panel Q&A

    Places really will go quickly for this, as it is open to all UK organisations, so I'd recommend booking soon.

    Learn MoreFind out more about the Springboard tour in Europe
    Or Register Now for the 1st November event in Reading

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    The Office 2010 Live Meeting


    Just before the summer holidays, Richard Lane ran a pair of Office 2010 Live Meetings for UK schools, called “Office 2010 What’s new for Students and Teachers.” The session, which consisted predominately of demos of the Office suite, was recorded and Richard's made the recording of it available for all of those who were unable to make it.

    View Office 2010 Live Meeting Recording

    During the Live Meeting, Richard mentioned a number of other resources that will help get teachers more confident with Office 2010, and to get more value from using it in the classroom:

    Free Ebook - First look Microsoft Office 2010 - Katherine Murray

    Office 2010 product guides

    Free game-style e-learning with Office Ribbon Hero

    Mouse Mischief, which allows you to create interactive PowerPoint based lessons – with multiple mice

    Microsoft IT Academy - how to become a Microsoft IT Academy, and get access to free course materials for Office

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Find out more about Microsoft System Center for Education - an upcoming Live Meeting webinar



    Richard Lane, who is the UK education team's resident techie is getting the bit between his teeth and running an increasing number of Live Meetings. As soon as we're sure there's enough demand, then we'll start to schedule a specific day and time each month, so that you can put them in your diary, and schedule yourself to sit down at your screens with a pair of headphones and a cup of tea. And to get us rolling Richard's lined up a webinar, to look at Microsoft System Center in Education, for next month.


    Microsoft System Center has evolved greatly over the last few years to become a suite of technologies which can manage the entire IT infrastructure across organisations of all sizes - whether it's for a secondary school or a university. This session will provide a high level overview of the products that make up the suite and serve as a good introduction for new users and provide an update for existing users.


    • We will discuss how Service Manager integrates with other technologies such as Active Directory and Configuration Manager to provide an integrated Service Desk product.
    • We will see how System Center Essentials can provide IT Managers with a concise management solution for organisations with up to 500 PCs.
    • We also get a view of emerging cloud based management technologies such as Windows InTune that can manage environments without the need for onsite servers.

    Dates and Times

    Option 1: Tuesday October 12th 10:30-11:30

    Option 2: Thursday October 14th 10:30-11:30

    Register for the System Center in Education meeting

    Register now for the webinar, and we'll send you a reminder for your calendar

    What equipment do I need?
    You will need a PC with a web browser and either headphones or a telephone to hear the audio - To save time before the meeting, you can easily check your system to make sure it is ready to use Microsoft Office Live Meeting, using this link

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    The Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit


    I've been away at the corporate mothership this week, over in Seattle (on the left, up near Canada) - the weather has been wetter and colder than at home this week, but when you spend four days in a windowless conference room, the weather's not critical! During these visits, I always learn a big pile of new things which will pop up on the blog over the next few weeks/months.

    I think the logo designer obviously watches CSILike today. I discovered that we have a "Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit" (no, they are not the people who created Clippy). They are a team of lawyers, investigators, technical analysts and other specialists working in cooperation with the Trustworthy Computing and Global Corporate Affairs groups at Microsoft to combat digital crime, including crimes against children. In the UK, we work closely with organisations like CEOP, whilst in the US it's collaborating with Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, the co-founders of the  Demi and Ashton Foundation (DNA) to find new ways to put technology to work protecting children from sexual exploitation and abuse.

    You can read more about the work with DNA Foundation, and the Digital Crimes Unit, on the Microsoft PressPass site.

    * If you think the logo is a bit CSI-like, then take a look at this info about how we use PhotoDNA

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    The best way to save schools money?


    Identifying ways that you can contribute to budget savings in your school is important to me. Which is why I've written 35 separate ICT Money Saving articles on this blog. The definitive article, Top ICT Money Saving Tips, identifies a series of strategies to save a secondary school up to £350,000 over three years. To put that in perspective, that's a saving that's twice the size of an average secondary school's ICT budget over the same period. And these Money Saving Tips aren't just about reducing your ICT spend, but about the considerable savings that a school can make using the ICT you already have in place (such as reducing the 1-2 million sheets of paper a typical secondary school uses every year).

    So I noticed that the North West Learning Grid (NWLG) published a report on saving money in ICT budgets at the end of last week. The basic premise is "switch to Open Source to save" - which means it's a re-heated version of Miles Berry's Open Source manifesto - which Miles said was originally inspired by my Top ICT Money Saving Tips list.

    Whilst there are some obvious inaccuracies in the report (such as Page 6, where it says "most of your students use Open Office at home", which simply isn't the case), my real issue with this kind of report is that it simply says "change product X for product Y which is free" (eg switch Office for Open Office), as though that's an answer. It doesn't get to the fundamental of "how can we use ICT to make this school more effective and efficient" - whether that is about reducing cost, or about improving the processes. (And as a small aside, Becta found that the software cost accounted for around 5% of the total cost of ICT, so simply switching to cheaper software isn't going to make a big impact)

    Any contribution to the ideas of cost savings in schools budgets is a good thing, but I think the work I've done already goes way beyond simplistic savings about product purchase, and instead looks at the money saving value that ICT can deliver right across the school - which is why it has identified much larger savings that are possible.

    A lot of the cost savings that I've identified - from saving IT budgets, energy budgets, staffing costs or paper costs - are supported by case studies from schools that have done exactly that (you can see all of the examples on this page). Over the next few months you will see more case studies from us, as cost savings projects carried out this summer deliver savings this school year.

    Really save money in school budgets

    But let me be absolutely blunt - I do not believe that exclusively using free software is a strategy to deliver long-term cost savings, or effective ICT, for schools. Sure, it might save a bit on the ICT budget, but it's likely to increase costs elsewhere (for example, in staff time and training). I think that the answer is to decide what ICT solution is best for the job, and then using it.

    Because my cost saving work has been supported by case studies, from real schools doing real projects, then let me support my argument with a quote from a school case study published on the same day as the NWLG report,  from Bailey Mitchell, who is the Chief Information Officer for Forsyth County Schools:

    When we returned to Microsoft Office after our experience with OpenOffice, you could practically hear a collective sigh of relief, across the entire district.

    You can read the full case study on our worldwide case studies website. And if your head teacher rushes in waving the NWLG report, and telling you to cut your budget, then you might want to share it with them, along with the Top ICT Money Saving Tips article, and the 35 other ICT Money Saving articles. And then offer to genuinely - and positively - save the school money.

    Learn MoreQuickly find all the other Money Saving Tips on this blog

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Getting started on cost saving–a practical seminar at Microsoft from Dimension Data


    Dimension Data are running an event here at Microsoft HQ on 3rd November, which will provide practical steps to saving money with ICT.

    So the budget cuts have arrived – and it appears that for the moment, the biggest cuts are in schools’ capital budgets. Firstly we saw the Harnessing Technology Grant cut by £50M, then the BSF programme was cancelled, and on the same day another £50M was cut from the Harnessing Technology Grant – the only dedicated ICT grant for schools.

    There have been various doom-laden forecasts of the impact of these cuts, but although the government have cut the specific ring-fenced ICT spend by 50%, schools have always decided how much of their own budget they too will invest in ICT to support teaching and learning. Last year, the Harnessing Technology Grant accounted for around one quarter of all schools ICT spending  - so the overwhelming majority of investment came from each school’s individual budget decisions, taken after they’d decided on the relative priority of investing in ICT compared to other resources, and their staffing budgets.

    Of course, things are not good. It’s going to be tougher to justify investment in ICT – especially after so many years of plenty. And ICT leaders in schools around the country are going to need to hone their skills to justify the investments they are bidding for.

    There are areas where ICT can help you make simple and effective cost savings in your school budget. From the work so far, it’s clear that you could make a big difference in a secondary school by saving up to a staggering £350,000 over 3 years or £90,000 in a Primary School, ensuring that learning in schools is not jeopardised.

    Find out how to get started on cost saving with ICT

    Through technologies like virtualisation, power management, or embracing unified communications, the savings can soon mount up, and the savings are year on year, every year. It’s time to switch, stop and save. You can see more examples of saving through technology here.

    Dimension Data, in partnership with Microsoft want to take you on a journey, to show you the art of the possible, and the real world savings that can be made through technology. You’ll also hear from a real-world educational establishment on their experiences, and the savings they’ve made.

    If you’re interested in understanding how Dimension Data and Microsoft can help you, please register with Dimension Data. The event will be held on the 3rd November at Microsoft Campus, Thames Valley Park, Reading.

    And as a special offer, the first 10 people to register today before 3:00pm (16th September), and attend, will receive a free Infrastructure Optimisation Assessment, courtesy of a Microsoft-trained consultant from Dimension Data, enabling you to understand how your existing investments, combined with new technologies can help you better address your challenges.

    Learn MoreEmail Dimension Data to provisionally reserve a space and find out more

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Start the term with new Office templates for teachers


    Am I the only one who gets bored with a document format after a few months, and then wants a completely different design? That PowerPoint that looked so smart last year looks a bit clichéd this term. A document which looked professional when you first published it, doesn’t look quite so good when it comes up on the screen this year.

    Well, if you, or your staff, have that feeling, then time to explore the Academic Templates Collection on the Office website. The Office team are spending a lot of time getting good templates and training materials ready, and have released a big batch of templates that are specifically designed for teachers and schools, in a massive range of categories:

    • Award certificates
    • Calculators
    • Calendars
    • Design slides
    • Diagrams
    • imageFlash cards
    • Forms
    • Letters
    • Lists
    • Maths tables
    • Notes
    • Notebooks
    • Outlines
    • Papers
    • Planners
    • Plans
    • Presentations
    • Quizzes and tests
    • Reports
    • Schedules
    • SmartArt Graphics
    • Surveys

    How many hours could you save colleagues by pointing them towards just one of these categories (like Award Certificates), or using our templates as a basis for creating your own school template, with your logo etc.

    You can find them all over on the Office Academic Templates Collection

    My daughter arrived home with her first certificate, handed out in assembly last Friday. It’s the first time either of my children have received a certificate for “Good Meringue Making”. But there wasn’t a ready-made template for that.

    Learn MoreQuickly find all the other Free Stuff posts on this blog

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    A free tool for creating SCORM learning materials yourself



    Have you heard of the free Microsoft Learning Content Development System? We’ve just updated it to version 2.5, which now supports more complex content, and is Firefox and Silverlight 4 compatible. It is a free tool that lets you create high-quality, interactive, online courses, and publish them in SCORM 1.2 packages (exactly what your Learning Platforms like to consume!).

    It allows you to publish e-learning courses by completing the easy-to-use forms that seamlessly generate highly customised Silverlight-based content, interactive activities, quizzes, games, assessments, animations, demos, and other multimedia. And you can create a course structure that is easily rearranged at any time.

    It’s the system we use internally to create all of the courseware for our various Microsoft qualifications, including the Microsoft IT Academy courses, and we also make it available free of charge for customers to use.

    If you are looking for ways for your staff to create structured courses for their curriculum materials, and make them available on your learning platform or SharePoint system then it is worth investigating. And you can also use it to create standalone learning packages, that can be distributed on websites, CDs or memory sticks.

    Here’s the link to find out more and download the Learning Content Development System. If you want to talk to others about their experiences, and to connect with other users, there’s a user forum here

    It’s another one of those free bits of software we make available, that very few people know about – and which I think could be incredibly useful to schools.

    imageQuickly find all the other Free Stuff posts on this blog

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Using interactive maps in history–the Battle of Britain


    In August, I wrote about using DeepZoom photograph technology to explore historical maps and Churchill. Well, after the success of those, the developers (Shoothill) have created an interactive guide to The Battle of Britain resource, on MSN – with another TimeMap, allowing you to view today’s satellite images, and overlay it with Luftwaffe maps used to pinpoint targets for the bombers. You can actually see the images of the maps as well as original aerial reconnaissance photos, and see that German pilots had British maps with carefully drawn outlines of strategic targets – water works, power stations, gas works, docks and a spark plug factory (there’s a GCSE question all on its own!).


    It’s also got a fantastic archive photograph, hidden within a DeepZoom image of St Paul’s Cathedral – so as you zoom in on the photo, thousands of further images are revealed. And finally, a set of Photosynths of Battle of Britain planes, which you can explore in 3D, with fantastically zoomable images.

    All of these projects are really powerful ways of using interactive media in the classroom – and make excellent use of historical archives as well as today’s multimedia resources. I wonder if it will be long before this becomes the standard way to release historical resources?

    Learn MoreOpen the Interactive Guide to the Battle of Britain

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