website stats
October, 2011 - Microsoft UK Schools blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The UK Schools Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
Home    index of content      about this blog     rss feed     email us     our website

October, 2011

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Social Education


    As always, Microsoft education team like to share some of the great projects our partners have developed. In a fast growing internet world, what actions can teachers take to ensure their students stay safe whilst learning?

    We asked Ergo Computing to share their thoughts on how to get around how students can still use social media but not expose themselves or put themselves in danger.

    At a time when many teachers are made wary by reports of predators and bullies online, social media in the classroom is not the most popular proposition.

    With the increasing public awareness of social media and students accessing information via Twitter and similar websites like Facebook , how does it impact in the classroom and outside of school? There are a number of dangers and control elements associated with free access to these kinds of sites, especially when they offer similar tools to a school’s chosen VLE which costs thousands of pounds.

    Think U Know is  is packed full of information on e-safety in the classroom environment and has online games which educate students from a very young age about the dangers of the World Wide Web.

    In connection with this,  Think You Know have developed some easy and memorable students tips  that can be shared with your students  as well as downloading Hectors safety button, an animated character that sits on the students’ desktop. If they ever feel threatened or unsafe when using their computer they can click on it to blank their screen.

    Nobody would dispute that the risks of children using social media are real and not to be taken lightly. But there are also dangers offline. The teachers and parents who embrace social media say the best way to keep kids safe, online or offline, is to teach them. We’re eager to hear what you think.

    Ergo Computing’s experienced Education Team are looking forward to meeting both teachers and students at BETT 2012 on Stand H29 to discuss the ever increasing issue of social media, but also the decision on what ICT to implement in schools, as it has a significant bearing on the way teachers teach, and where and how students learn.

    Keep an eye out for latest news on Ergo and follow them on Twitter at

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Gaming in Education with Sesame Street TV


    With strong momentum building behind the gaming in education phenomenon, we are excited to see that ‘Kinect Sesame Street TV’ will be going on sale in the spring.

    As a childhood fan of Sesame Street, it will be fun to see true interactivity come to this classic children's TV show.

    Announced earlier this week at an event in New York, Sesame Street TV will invite viewers to jump into Sesame Street and play. Microsoft’s motion-sensing camera will let children interact through voice and gesture with Sesame Street characters who will respond based on the child’s actions. If Cookie Monster says “stand up and clap your hands with me,” he’ll recognize whether the child is playing along and interact accordingly. Or if Grover asks a child to throw a coconut, he’ll look to where the child “threw” it based on how hard they heave.

    That interactive experience is something the people at Sesame Street have dreamed about for years, said Miles Ludwig, managing director of content innovation and Sesame Workshop.

    “No one had ever delivered on the full promise of interactive TV – to bring an experience that delivers that same level of engagement and the same focus on character and narrative but also provides meaningful opportunities for kids to be a part of the story,” Ludwig said. “Now kids will be able to have adventures with their Sesame Street friends and be a part of the adventure in a way that’s never been possible before. We’re very excited about this partnership with Microsoft that will capitalize on new technologies to bring altogether new kinds of educational and of course entertaining experiences to families.”

    Through “Kinect Sesame Street TV” children will be able to learn right alongside their favorite characters,  like this young girl who is counting coconuts with Grover.

    Through “Kinect Sesame Street TV” children will be able to learn right alongside their favorite characters, like this young girl who is counting coconuts with Grover.

    “Kinect Sesame Street TV” is one of many new interactive experiences Kinect will start delivering for kids in the coming months, said Dave McCarthy, general manager for Kids and Lifestyle Entertainment at Microsoft Studios.

    In New York today Microsoft introduced its Kinect “playful learning” experiences, which aim to use the power of Kinect to make learning with games and TV fun and, for the first time, truly interactive. As the Sesame Street TV example shows, these experiences aim to break down the wall between TV and viewer – and hopefully the wall between entertainment and education, McCarthy said.

    Making TV Interactive

    Several Kinect “playful learning” experiences will revolve around television, which for better or worse is the medium kids spend the most time with, McCarthy said. Microsoft is collaborating with Sesame Street and National Geographic, two partners that have delivered quality children’s TV programing for decades. From counting with Grover to exploring the natural world with National Geographic, the collaboration introduces true interactivity to children’s TV programming for the first time, McCarthy said.

    One of the “Kinect Nat Geo TV” experiences will feature Nat Geo WILD host Casey Anderson and his pal, Brutus.

    One of the “Kinect Nat Geo TV” experiences will feature Nat Geo WILD host Casey Anderson and his pal, Brutus.

    “Kids’ TV has always been a one-way street,” he said. “A character asks you to jump up and clap your hands, but it doesn’t really know if you’re doing it and can’t respond. With Kinect, we saw a way to make TV truly interactive – to make it a two-way conversation.”

    For example, “Kinect Nat Geo TV” will bring NatGeo WILD to life starting this spring. In New York Microsoft previewed an episode of ”Kinect NatGeo TV” where Kinect will scan the viewer’s living room and transforms it into an animal habitat, complete with grass growing on the couch. Children will then be invited to forage for food as a bear, which they just learned about through the show. They’ll see an image of themselves onscreen with claws and a bear head and will roam around the living room – er, the rugged outdoors – trying to eat as many moths as they can.

    The goal behind the “Kinect Nat Geo TV” experience is to transport kids and their families around the world to expand their knowledge of geography and the environment while inspiring a sense of wonder and excitement, said Brad Dancer, senior vice president of digital media and research at the National Geographic Channel.

    “Because our programming is so information-rich we can only show so much, but ‘Kinect Nat Geo TV’ offers the ability to go further than what the television show can do,” he said. “It lets us go further into animal behavior and what it means, and give people the choice to learn more. It uses the best parts of interactivity and television content production to offer something new.”

    Find out more about Kinect for Xbox 360

    And as mentioned with “Kinect Sesame Street TV,” children will see their image appear alongside favorite characters such as Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover, and of course, Elmo.

    I can't wait to give it a whirl. Exciting times ahead for gaming in education, for sure!


  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Free Live@edu webcasts–join up today!





    We’re running a free webcast series between now and Christmas that we’d like you to be a part of! Over three sessions we’ll be talking about what Microsoft Live@edu is, how you can deploy and migrate to it, and how you can promote it at your institution. There will be lots of opportunities to ask questions and get advice from the UK team directly, as well as watching again on-demand, any time.

    Did you know there are over 5 million students and teachers in the UK on Live@edu? Now is the perfect time to join them.

    Session 1 – Introducing Live@Edu

    Microsoft Live@edu gives each user:


         A 10 GB email account powered by Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 SP1


         25 GB of online storage through Windows Live SkyDrive


         Online versions of some of our most popular Microsoft Office software: Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote


         Instant messaging, voice, and video via Windows Live Messenger

    All for free!

    With many deployment options and no minimum or maximum users, Live@edu is the ideal way to give students the software skills that employers demand.
    Join the webcast and learn about the services, case studies, and deployment options all from Microsoft product experts.
    You'll also have the opportunity to ask questions, and we'll provide resources and contact information for you and your colleagues.

    Tuesday 1st November 4pm-5pm Register Now!

    Tuesday 3rd November 12pm-1pm Register Now!

    Session 2 - Session 2: Live@edu Deployment & Migration

    With many deployment options and no minimum or maximum users, Live@edu is the ideal way to give students the software skills that employers demand.
    Join the webcast and learn about the services, case studies, and deployment options all from Microsoft product experts.
    You'll also have the opportunity to ask questions, and we'll provide resources and contact information for you and your colleagues.

    Register to hear aboutimage

      • Various deployment scenarios
      • How to avoid common deployment mistakes
      • Ways you can integrate with your local infrastructure

    Tuesday 22nd November 4pm-5pm Register Now!

    Thursday 24th November 12pm-1pm Register Now!


    Session 3 – Live@edu End User Training and Marketing

    With all your users getting to grips with their new Live@edu service now is an excellent time to promote the service and help make the experience great for everyone at your institution.
    You'll also have the opportunity to ask questions, and we'll provide resources and contact information for you and your colleagues.

    Before the webcast, why not check out the UK Live@edu team blog, where you can find all sorts of great information, videos, and customer stories. You can also follow the team on Twitter, @ukliveatedu.

    Register to hear aboutimage

      • Demoing the service and training users
      • Marketing materials and resources
      • Best practice and customer stories of successful implementations

    Thursday 8th December 12pm-1pm Register Now!

    Tuesday 13th December 4pm-5pm Register Now!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Gaming in Education: Microsoft Kinect Session from FOTE 11


    Gaming in education is a growing trend across the whole sector and is something that we are going to be exploring more closely over the coming weeks and months.

    On the subject of gaming in education, or the gamification of learning as it is sometimes referred, Lee Stott from the DPE team here at Microsoft delivered an interesting session at the Future of Technology in Education Conference last week on some of the latest development with the Kinect SDK.

    The session even included an exclusive!

    Check out the full session in the video below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Learning Possibilities: New Platform Coming Soon


    News comes in of a new Microsoft-based, learner-centred Learning Platform. We here, on the Microsoft Schools Blog , will be keeping a close eye on it.

    A little over two years ago, Ray Fleming quoted some thoughts here from Twynham School’s Mike Herrity on “Common reasons why Learning Platforms fail”.

    It’s still worth reading, and I suspect much of what Mike wrote then is still valid. Earlier this year, in fact, BESA director Ray Barker wrote, in “Education Business” magazine, that, “Learning Platforms have received a mixed reception over recent years.”

    What’s clear, though, is that learning platforms are here to stay, because they really do have the potential to bring learners and teachers together in a new and exciting kind of learning space. Children probably recognise this rather more quickly than their teachers do. A teacher quoted in Ray Barker’s article says, “Our children do love the look and feel of the learning platform…”

    As you’d expect, Microsoft have taken a keen and supportive interest in learning platforms that use Microsoft Technology, of which the LP+ Learning Platform from “Learning Possibilities” is a prime example. In fact, earlier this year we described the impact of LP+ on the improvement journey made with the aid of LP+ by Little Harrowden Primary in Northamptonshire.

    And now, there’s even more to report, because Learning Possibilities are preparing to launch a new version of their product, called LP+4. It’s described as providing,

    “…..a user-centric experience -- a step change from traditional learning platforms which are institutional-centric (welcome to our school, read information about our school etc)”

    LP+4 ticks lots of exciting boxes for Microsoft. It makes use of a range of Microsoft technologies -- SharePoint2010, Exchange2010, Lync2010 and Dynamics CRM 2011. It’s also hosted as a private cloud service, which is very much in line with Microsoft’s vision.

    Educational development of LP+4 is in the hands of Tom Rees, Little Harrowden’s head, who’s seconded to Learning Possibilities, ensuring that the product grows in line with the needs of schools and learners.

    LP+4 is still in development, but rapid progress is planned, and we intend to stay with it. We’ll be asking early adopter schools what they hope for from the product, and whether it’s doing what they and their learners want and need. And, of course, we’ll be reporting back on this blog.

    As they say, watch this space…

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Education Webinar Series: New Dates Announced


    As part of our ongoing commitment to help inform and inspire the education community about how our products and services can help save money and make your institution more effective, we are excited to announce the next in the series of our free webinars.

    Hosted by Richard Lane, we will be sharing the virtual stage with our customers who will be offering an insight into the decision making behind embracing technologies such as Hyper-V and Lync.

    The full range of webinars are as follows and registration is now open. We look forward to you joining us!

    Migrate your virtualisation solution from VMware to Hyper-V and save money

    Tuesday November 8th  11am-12pm

    With Microsoft now being considered a virtualisation leader (Gartner  2011) isn't it time  you considered switching to Hyper-V and saving your organisation money?  Carmel College have done just that, and will discuss the rationale behind their migration from VSphere and the benefits they have realised.  We will explore the Microsoft Hyper-V Private Cloud Solution and you will be able to get answers to all your burning questions.

    Microsoft Lync - Transforming Communications and Collaboration in Education and reducing cost

    Tuesday November 29th 11am-12pm

    Microsoft Lync can transform the communications within your education institution and remove huge cost.  Attend this Microsoft webcast  presented with Stratford College as they discuss their Lync project.    We will hear how Stratford went through from initial business case through planning and implementation to benefits realisation.

    Manage your IT Infrastructure from the Cloud with Windows Intune

    Tuesday December 13th  11am-12pm

    Windows Intune is a comprehensive cloud based PC management and security solution that enables you to manage your schools remotely with no on-premise servers.  In addition to remote control, policy management, malware protection and software updates the latest release now includes application deployment.  Join this webcast to get an overview of the latest release and see a demo of the solution.

    The Microsoft Education Desktop

    Tuesday January 17th  11am-12pm

    Join this webcast to understand what makes a modern education desktop from Microsoft

    We will look at how technologies such as Windows 7, Office 2010  and the Microsoft Learning Suite can really enhance the teaching and learning experience.  We also explain how you can remove cost from the management of your IT infrastructure and improve security through technologies including  MDOP 2011 (Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack) and the CAL Suites.

    Free Software for Schools - Introducing the Microsoft Learning Suite

    Tuesday January 24th 11am-12:30pm

    Did you know that Microsoft have a wide range of software and resources that support teaching and learning?  Join this webcast for some fast paced demos which should be both fun and informative.  The solution, collectively known as the Microsoft Learning Suite is also able to be installed and deployed with ease.  Join this webcast to find out more.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Microsoft UK Partners in Learning Forum 2011 - Workshops



    The 8th Microsoft UK Partners in Learning Forum is a one-day conference, free of charge to all teachers and educators who wish to attend. The workshops and keynotes this year have a STEM ‘flavour’ and address the theme of ‘Teach more, learn more, inspire more.’

    This year the Forum is being held at the Microsoft Headquarters, Thames Valley Park in Reading on the 24th Nov 2011.

    imageWe have a rich agenda that includes as Keynote speakers, the world renowned Ian Livingstone OBE, Life President of Eidos , Alex Bellos, the author of the popular science book Alex's Adventures in Numberland and Ollie Bray, the National Adviser for Emerging Technologies at Education Scotland

    In addition, delegates will be able to choose from a range of workshops. I would suggest that you sign up as soon as possible as places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

    Using the Kinect SDK/Kodu in the classroomimage

    Classroom Teachers Ray Chambers from Lodge Park Technology College & Nicki Maddams from Hartsdown College, give hands-on practical guidance on how to programme and create games in the classroom

    Everyone is a Maths genius, can computer science/technology prove it?

    imageDr Chris Imafidon is one of the “World’s foremost scholars on leveraging informatics for learning and exceptional achievement. This workshop will discuss how computer science/technology exposed the myths of natural Intelligence, genes, gender, IQ, age, background, post-code.

    Computing: The Science of Nearly Everything?image

    Dr Tom Crick, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC), looks at the big question: How are we developing and encouraging the next generation of technology innovators in the UK?

    Be a Maker: learn to build gadgets with .NET Gadgeteer

    imageDr Scarlet Schwiderski-Grosche from Microsoft Research.Do you like computer gadgets? Would you like to learn how to build and program gadgets to your own design? Then this workshop is for you!


    Medicines and innovation – the missing linkimage

    Kandarp Thakkar - STEM Ambassador Programme - This workshop will introduce the STEM programme and give some ‘real-life’ case studies of successful use of this programme in delivering high quality university admissions.

    Guerrilla Teaching & Learning

    imageDaniel Raven-Ellison is a guerrilla educator, co-founder of The Geography Collective and creative director of Mission:Explore. Join this workshop to receive initial training in how to be a guerrilla teacher and learner.


    Who’s afraid of the big bad ‘network’image

    Dan Roberts from community school, presents light-hearted perspective and interactive & engaging discussion which considers the challenges & issues of schools using social networking, how these can be overcome?



    Also, find out who are the recipients of this year’s Microsoft UK Partners in Learning Teacher Awards.The awards will be presented to Teachers who have submitted projects that illustrate the innovative use of technology to enhance teaching and learning. Not only will they receive award recognition, but have the chance to be invited to the next Partners in Learning Forum and win a Xbox 360 and Kinect package for their school. These projects will be on display at the event.

    Don’t miss out, register today – Registration now open

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    8 Top Tips for Free School Proposers by Toby Young


    Yesterday morning I attended the Free School briefing held by one of our partners, European Electronique (EE). With a full turn out, the event was packed full of useful content aimed at Free School proposers. Well done to EE for curating a great event!

    One of the standout sessions for me, though, was Toby Young's talk offering some tips based on his experiences with West London Free School over the last 18 months.

    With some frantic note taking, I tried to capture the core essence of Toby’s session and thought it would useful to share these tips on the blog. Apologises to Toby if I missed anything!

    In brief, Toby's 8 top tips for free school proposers is as follows:

    Tip 1:

    Based on Toby's experiences over the last 18 months, one of the key things that Toby has found out about the Free School process is that its constantly evolving. Even looking at the 2012 and 2013 openings, the process has changed massively and will no doubt continue to evolve for 2013 and beyond. So with the ground constantly shifting, this is obviously making the application process fairly challenging. The regulatory challenges forming a key element of this!

    Referencing the book, The Last Tycoon, which portrays, among other things, how the head of a Hollywood movie studio has a unique ability to keep the 'whole equation' in his head, Toby spoke about how he failed in his attempt to replicate this achievement. He clearly still did an amazing job with West London Free School, but in a nutshell setting up a Free School is a daunting prospect! Stay with it, though, was Toby's main advice!

    Tip 2:

    Continuing with the theme of daunting prospects, the complexity of the Free School framework can also be off putting. Again based on Toby's advice, there is no question that the learning curve is a vertical one but it is possible to very quickly get up to speed with this side of the process.

    Installing confidence in delegates at the event, I am sure, Toby promised the audience that they would quickly know more than their DfE lead and that this aspect of the application will soon be second nature. A collective sigh of relief from delegates soon followed.

    Tip 3:

    Addressing the role of the Local Authorities, Toby explained that without the local authority on your side your application has little chance for success. The belief that local authorities are not able to instruct free schools is not entirely true. Without their blessing, especially if the proposer is intending to use a local authority site, the LA will quickly shutdown your application. It may be necessary to change boroughs if this issue arises. Food for thought, for sure!

    Tip 4:

    A key part of the Free School application process is to demonstrate basic need and demand for school places within the catchment area of the proposed school. With basic need being focused on the number of available school places available within a catchment area and demand extending to the number of students who wish to attend a specific school, it is important to demonstrate a clear understanding of both metrics within the final proposal. If the proposed school can make an impact on both metrics, than the application has a strong chance for approval. Data to assist with this research can be found with Partnership for Schools etc.

    Tip 5:

    Linked to the tip above, not being able to fill your role, or student intake, would concern the DfE and could potentially present a financial shortfall that would result in the school needing to be bailed out. For obvious reasons, the DfE is not keen on this situation!

    With this in mind, Toby Young recommended that even if advised from your DfE lead you shouldn't underestimate the need to fill role from day one. Every effort should therefore be made to ensure that offers go out on National Offer Day. You will find it very difficult to fill role without doing this. Sound advice!

    Tip 6:

    Consultation also presents some other significant challenges. Getting this right is vital! Due to the importance of this stage, is it important to get up to speed in this area very quickly and become familiar with all the legal implications associated with the process. Toby suggested that proposers greatest vulnerability is in this area and, as a result, formal independent legal advice is needed to avoid getting unstuck further down the line. Getting this stage wrong can result in the whole application to come crashing down!

    Tip 7:

    While outsourcing to an experienced education partner is tempting, it can often result in an application to be declined. The reason being that the DfE needs to have confidence that the group behind the school has the ability to manage the institution moving forward. Outsourcing to a 3rd party does not create this confidence. The general advice for 2013 and beyond is don’t contract out!

    Tip 8:

    The final point made from Toby was that marketing is important, even from day one. If your Free School proposal is attacked, don’t try and ignore this until the application is more developed. Start defending your application as robustly and energetically as you can or you will have a difficult time trying to rebuild any negative reputations associated with your school close to opening time. Reputation management is key and the need to engage with detractors and the wider community is vitally important!

    Toby did a great job giving delegates to the event a range of useful takeaway tips to help them on their journey to creating a successful Free School application and look forward to following the success of West London Free School over the coming years.


Page 2 of 2 (18 items) 12