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February, 2011 - 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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February, 2011

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Free software from DreamSpark and MSDN Academic Alliance (for students it’s free!)


    Phil Cross,Academic Audience Manager and also known as one of our resident DreamSpark and MSDN AA guru’ recently posted this story on the UK Students blog that I wanted to share with you. It makes for some interesting reading – and hey, for students it’s free! So let them know about our cool free products, which takes no time at all to download.

    ‘’Its very easy when you live and work with something every day to assume everyone else knows about it as well. Obviously that’s not always the case so I wanted to take some time to make sure you are aware how you, as a student, can get hold of our software free of charge to help you with your studies. It was the 6 new titles we put on DreamSpark last weekend that got me thinking.

    We have 2 main programmes – DreamSpark and MSDN AA. So what’s the difference and how do students get access?

    imagePrimarily DreamSpark is designed to be simple - it’s about giving students Microsoft professional tools at no charge. You sign up, verify yourself as a student and start downloading – it really is that simple. Simply visit DreamSpark to get started.

    On the other hand MSDN Academic Alliance is the easiest and most inexpensive way for academic departments to make the latest Microsoft software available in labs, classrooms, and on student PCs. With MSDN AA you get all the professional tools BUT in addition you get Windows 7 and other more business products for you to use plus the department gets management tools and access to support incidents. There is a small charge for the department to sign up for the programme.


    To get started with MSDN AA you need to check if your school or department is already registered and you can do that here, you can then get validated by the administrator and away you go. Let us know if you have any challenges or questions as we really want to make it easy for your to get our software for your studies.

    Happy downloading – boy does that sound sad….’’

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Chemistry free add-in for Microsoft Word now available for download


    As some of you may already be aware, the new add in for Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Word 2010 is available now for free download. For those of you that aren’t already aware, the new add in for Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Word 2010 is now available for free download!

    Also known as Chem4Word, our new add-in developed between Microsoft Research and three professors at the University of Cambridge allows you to create and modify chemical information inside your Word documents including formulas, labels and 2D structures, all very user friendly.

    There is also future planning with Outercurve Foundation where the move to develop the add in with the help of scientists globally to support the three professors from Cambridge University, put this add-in into Outcurves Research Acceleration Gallery. Here, open source community members can make changes to it, all of which can be read about  in executive director, Paula Hunter’s blog.

    If you want to get your hands on our free add-in for Microsoft Word, you can do so here.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    How many network managers, technicians and EduGeek members does it take…


    … to have have an informative and interesting day at Microsoft Campus, Thames Valley Park – with cake included? EduGeek logo

    Yesterday Microsoft and EduGeek organised a day at the Microsoft Campus in Thames Valley Park for approximately 50 ICT staff, network managers and EduGeek to look at areas covering:

    Overall the day seemed to be a success and those who attended were certainly not short of a question or three.

    I have attached the presentations for you to take a look if your interested and no doubt I’ll run another EduGeek day in the future to include some fresh and new stuff from Microsoft…

    As for the home made cake bought in by one of the EduGeek members: 10 out of 10!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Microsoft ‘Certification Revolution’ gathers momentum…..


    Hundreds of Schools throughout the UK are successfully integrating Microsoft Certification in to their ICT curriculum. New OCR accreditation, GCSE mapping, online examination, League Table Points and the revolutionary Unlimited Certification License make Microsoft Certification a better option when compared to traditional ICT Curriculum.

    Equip your students with locally and globally recognised Microsoft skills and certification that are a welcome addition to anyone’s CV.

    To find out more book your complimentary place at one of the Cardiff, Bristol, Crawley, Nottingham, Birmingham, Cambridge or Exeter events.

    During this Microsoft Certification Information Session you will meet with experts and hear from schools who have already built Microsoft Certification into their curriculum. These events mark the UK launch of the new Microsoft Office Specialist 2010 certifications.

    Click here for the FULL AGENDA

    Places are limited – So register now to avoid disappointment!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    London Grid for Learning to migrate 2200 to faster broadband connections with Virgin Media



    Last week, Mark Reynolds, Schools Business Manager, Microsoft,  attended the launch of ‘’London Grid for Learning 2.0’’ to gain an understanding of the new contract between them and Virgin Media Business.

    The London Grid for Learning has been serving London schools for over 10 years. Yes, they’re best known for broadband, but have also been responsible for many large IT projects like the London MLE (Managed Learning Environment) and LondonMail – the pupil email service based on Live@Edu. Life for LGfL has changed a lot in the new political climate. The cost saving agenda from central government has resulted in big changes for the 33 London Boroughs that make up LGfL, and in turn the way LGfL do business has had to change too.

    Last week, I went to the launch of “LGfL 2.0” and the announcement of their new contract with Virgin Media Business. Their current contract with Synetrix comes to an end in 2012 and they ran a new procurement at the end of last year. Virgin were the successful bidder and are now embarking on a new partnership with the LGfL, which will see over 2200 schools migrated onto a new broadband infrastructure. Brian Durrant, the grid’s CEO, spoke about their “challenge to the telecoms industry” - to come up with a good deal for schools, and to build a network that could also be used by other public service organisations.Virgin

    “LGfL has an established track record of providing feature rich services for schools, while securing savings by representing London schools’ collective buying power in the ICT market. The LGfL 2.0 service is a strategic response to the end of grant support for ICT. The underlying broadband costs have been driven down through a new partnership with Virgin Media”.

    This new deal will allow London schools to get much faster broadband connections, and to continue benefitting from the huge range of services that are bundled with an LGfL connection.

    A great example of this is their content grid – which gives all schools on the LGfL access to a broad range of teaching and learning resources, at a fraction of the cost you’d pay if you bought them as an individual school. Did you know: any London school with broadband from LGfL gets free access to the The Guardian and Observer digital archive, which has every Guardian newspaper printed from 1821 and every Sunday Observer from 1791 (making it the oldest Sunday newspaper in the world). This would cost an individual school around £1500 to buy on its own!

    One other thing that its important to understand, is how the funding works for LGfL. Previously, the LA’s pooled their Harnessing Technology grants, meaning that most schools have had their service subsidised in the past – often just thinking that broadband was “free” from the LA. Now, with the Harnessing Technology grant having come to an end, the schools are responsible for funding their own broadband. This isn’t specific to London – its happening in all areas of the country. This also doesn’t mean that RBCs (Regional Broadband Consortia) have put their pricing up – in fact, to buy the same services as an individual school it will cost you significantly more than staying with the LGfL – but you should be aware (and warn your SMT) that from now on, there are no central pots of money given to the LA for broadband.

    So, if you’re a London school, here’s what happens next:

    · LGfL (or your LA, in a few cases) will be writing to you in the next 6 weeks, explaining the changes and giving you a sign-up pack

    · You take the online code from the pack, sign into their website, and review the various options available to you

    · Choose which size of broadband pipe you want, and sign up online – most Secondary schools should really be looking at 100MB connections, and for Primary schools it really depends on your usage

    · Schools will be changed over to their new lines between April 2011 and July 2012 (when the Synetrix contract ends)

    · The new billing model will come in from April 2011

    Lastly, this video explains things a lot better than I have, and there is lots more detail at

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Microsoft IT Academy boosts student skill set for both further education and the working environment


     Microsoft IT Academy, our ready-to-deliver programme  enables educational institutions to add Microsoft’s IT training and qualifications to their portfolio of offerings, proving popular with universities and further education colleges. Not only can they use it to develop their work with IT specialists, but also to provide extra skills and qualifications for students in any area of study.

    Students  who attend Sawtry Community College, start in Year Nine to boost their National Curriculum IT work with the aid of the online Microsoft Digital Literacy Curriculum (DLC) . This gives the ones who opt to go further a good start as they enrol into the IT Academy itself in Year 10. (“They hit the ground running,” is how Associate Principal Alan Stevens puts it.) In Key Stage Four, they can qualify as Microsoft Specialists in Word, Excel and PowerPoint, with the option of moving on to expert level in the Sixth Form.

    It’s difficult to overestimate the value to these young people of what is a globally-recognised industry-standard programme of training and certification. Alan, a real evangelist for Microsoft IT Academy (he presented on it at our stand at BETT 2011 and proved very popular with the audience), describes how the payback for students starts to show even while they’re still at school, going out on work experience placements,

    “We’re having feedback from the Chambers of Commerce that employers are very surprised at the level of competence our students have with the software.”

    As a result, says Alan, work experience students are able to use their knowledge of Excel, in finance departments, and some have used their expertise to help companies wanting to set up a database.

    Students aren’t the only people who benefit from Microsoft IT Academy. Specialist teachers of IT at Sawtry can become Microsoft Certified Trainers, and in fact the Microsoft Academy Programme is well embedded into the Continued Professional Development (CPD) programme for staff which serves a community of schools, and has its own “home” at Sawtry.

    Reaching further out, the school’s pool of experience and expertise is being used to deliver IT training to local business and parents who have their own Digital Literacy Club. As Alan says, “Parents need to be able to engage with our learning gateway along with the students.”

    Sawtry takes it’s responsibilities very seriously as a school at the heart of the community with their commitment to an anywhere, anytime learning environment for staff, students and families. It then follows that they accept the responsibility for developing the IT skills of all their people, and Microsoft IT Academy, and the Digital Literacy Curriculum, are at the heart of making that happen.

    Of what IT Academy is doing for Sawtry students, Alan Stevens says,

    “It’s a high quality programme leading to a world class examination. It motivates students to go further. It sits beautifully alongside a student’s GCSEs, on a CV, making them very employable.”

    This is a great example of Microsoft IT Academy preparing students and provide them with that edge to put them on a strong start whether it be in further education or their first role in the working environment.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Continue professional development using innovative and cost effective solutions


    Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in schools for all staff including teachers, teacher assistants, administrators and technical staff is a priority although, how many actually have a dedicated room or area for training with books, hardware and software? 

    Alan Stevens, Associate Principal of Sawtry Community College, in Cambridgeshire found that looking at the space not utilized at it’s full potential during the majority of the day was going to waste and looked at revamping the space to become a CPD area from a space that was originally only used in the evenings for adult education.  Now, equipped with 14 desktop PCs, with another 15 laptops standing by and an interactive whiteboard, plus the devices that staff bring with them, not only is the room used for the Microsoft IT Academy, bringing people up to speed with Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010, but for a wide range of school-based programmes including a school-based master’s degree. As an on-site facility, available to visiting tutors and to staff from partner schools, it’s a very cost-effective way of providing training and development and an idea that can easily be adopted by other schools.

    How can you find space in your school to adopt a similar learning experience? Alan suggests taking a look at the staffroom, an under-used space in manAlan Stevens sawtryy schools.

    My challenge to schools is to reorganise your staffroom to make it more multi-purpose. After all many staffrooms stand empty for large parts of the day.”

    One school, he says, has taken his advice and divided the staffroom in two, with one part set aside for CPD. Another has redesigned the school library to include an area with appropriate resources for staff development.

    This idea looks to send the right messages as well as filling a practical need. It shows all staff, not just teachers, that the leadership values their work and wants them to progress their personal development. A good school is an across-the-board learning community, and a staff learning space brings that idea to life.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Lync Server 2010 Event, Cardinal Place, 4th March 2011


    How Microsoft Lync evolves the education experience, improve staff & student learning/collaboration while driving down costs

    I am delighted to invite you and your colleagues to join us at Microsoft London (Cardinal Place) for a Lync education event on the 4th March 2011.

    Modern education establishments require a modern communications solution. One that enables staff, students, external bodies to connect effortlessly with each other, regardless of location, the device they're using or the type of content they want to share.
    Lync Server 2010 is that solution. Its unified feature set brings colleagues together, promoting collaboration, flexible working and responsiveness. A familiar Microsoft interface and compatibility with popular Microsoft software makes it simple to adopt. All in all, working with Lync Server could enable you to reduce total cost of ownership by 39 per cent, relative to other solutions*.
    To demonstrate how Lync Server can help your organisation improve communications, productivity and profitability, we invite you to share the experiences of those that have already invested in the next generation of Unified Communications technology.

    Event Overview


    09.30 - 10.00 Welcome and Registration

    10.00 - 10.15 Why Microsoft Lync in an Education environment?

    10.15 - 11.00 Introduction to Microsoft Lync – What’s it all about?

    · Microsoft’s Vision and strategy for Lync (previously Office Communications Server)

    · Let's have a quick look at some technical and business benefits of Lync

    · Evolution of Lync from the past to the present to the future...

    11.00 - 12.00 A day in the life of “Lync Learning” – our Lync enabled educational establishment

    · How does Lync work with my existing technology investments? How does it make them better?

    · Presence & IM (Instant Messaging) – How can I use this to improve online collaboration between students as well as students and staff?

    · Audio/video calls – What difference can this make to on-premise, home and distance learning?

    · I’d like to immerse my students in a really collaborative online classroom environment – How can Lync help me with that?

    12:00 - 12:40 Lunch, networking time with Microsoft and partner experts

    12.40 - 13.20 Lync as Enterprise ready PBX / Telephony solution and more

    · Enterprise Voice capabilities – Can I use Lync to provide complete voice solution for my institution?

    · Expected cost savings & benefits – How much can I expect to save by moving to a software based voice solution and replacing my ageing PBX?

    · Do I need to deploy Lync on premise or is there a Cloud solution?

    13.20 - 14.00 Customer case studies across Schools, FE and HE

    14.00 - 14.30 Expert Q&A (Microsoft and partners)

    A limited number of seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Secure your seat today by registering here

    Invite Code: 5C36CE

    Phone Number: 0870 166 6680 ref - 5516

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