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February, 2012 - 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, 2012

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Young apprentice is top of class with Microsoft Outstanding Apprenticeship Award 2011 - Zenos Apprenticeships


    With the current employment climate still proving to be difficult for many young adults to find jobs, having a skill set other than qualifications gained from school and college is becoming more important in order to have a C.V that stands out above the rest.

    I have recently written a blog on student Rebecca Rickwood from Sawtry Community College who became World Champion for Excel 2007 in the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) exams which she did whist doing her GCSE’s.
    But what about gaining skill sets in IT after school and college has finished?

    This is where Zenos come in.

    Leading provider of IT Apprenticeships in the UK, young people aged between 16-24 looking to gain IT qualifications and skills that can help move them forward in IT can do this through a Zenos IT Apprenticeship.

    I spoke to Kevin Alty, senior trainer with Zenos (31 IT Academies in the UK and a strong supporter of Microsoft Certified Professional and Microsoft Technology Associate certifications) Luke

    Kevin runs the apprenticeships at Preston Academy. Very recently one of his students, Luke Harris, has gone beyond exceptional levels in the Zenos Apprentice Awards. Not only did Luke win the Zenos Apprentice Award at regional level (North) but then went on to win the Microsoft Award at the National Zenos Apprentice Awards, where our very own Greg Pearson had the pleasure to meet Luke and present his prize – an Xbox 360 Kinect!

    Luke has gone through quite a few MS certifications and has a real passion and talent for IT. I wanted to find out from Kevin and Luke what it was that made these apprenticeships worth while and how doing this, has given Luke something he can be very proud of.

    One of the first things that Kevin mentioned is that all his students attend the course from 9.00-5.00 and are required to be smartly dressed to give them a true working environment feeling. Up until then, his students have been used to working school and college hours. By doing this, they already know what to expect when they get that first job.

    The courses themselves are made up of two Advanced Diplomas but also place great importance on Microsoft’s MTA and MCTS modules and exams at a professional level, giving the apprentices operational and fundamental skills that would be used in an IT working environment. By having these skills and being able to deploy, troubleshoot and find their way around an operating system such as Windows 7, they are more employable to an IT company than someone who had only academic exam qualifications for example.

    To drive further motivation and ambition, Zenos have the Microsoft Outstanding Apprentice Award Each trainer can nominate someone for each from their Academy and so Kevin decided to nominate Luke for the Outstanding Award.

    Luke then went onto win the Regional Award for the North and along with the winners for the South and the Midlands, 2 intakes from each, competed for the National Microsoft Outstanding Apprentice Award. When you think over 4,500 are doing these apprenticeships with Zenos each year, this is a huge achievement in itself!

    Luke excelled further and then went onto win the National Awards.

    When I interviewed to Luke over the phone about his achievement s and experiences, it came clear very quickly that this young man really does have a passion for IT and gaining skills to get him a role in an IT company – preferably Microsoft!

    EJ - Before completing any of the MS Certs, what were your perceptions of IT?

    LH – Although I knew my way around a computer, I had overlooked many of the tools and techniques used within a working IT Technician environment, and concentrated on the end user applications such as Word, Excel etc. A lot of my spare time was spent writing code and practicing my development skills, which reduced my involvement in the technical detail of the Windows OS.

    EJ - What were your main reasons for wanting to do MS Certification and a Zenos Apprenticeship?

    LH – I have always loved IT and wanted to enhance my skills and go into an IT career. I thought that Microsoft was the best company out there and to start a career with Microsoft skills would give me strong employability. I found out about Zenos at the local Young People Service office when I was looking for a job after I finished college. They gave me the information about these exams and so I applied to Zenos.

    EJ - How did you become involved in the Zenos Awards and why?

    LH – Kevin nominated me for the awards as he felt I had done really well throughout the apprenticeship. I was presented the Zenos Award at the Academy level and then I went onto the Regional Awards for the North before winning this and going onto the National Awards.

    EJ - How do you feel these additional skill sets will set him above those who perhaps only have A’Levels for example?

    LH – I feel I have gained practical experience with Windows 7 and I now have a deeper understanding of migration and deployment and how this is important in the IT industry. The exam questions are based on real scenarios and really made me think about how I would tackle tasks and challenges in the real working world.

    EJ – Have you faced any challenges whilst going through the Apprenticeship with Zenos?

    LH – I didn’t really like college and actually dropped out. When I started on the apprenticeship, getting used to working 9.00-5.00 which were longer hours than college was hard. I knew I had to focus if I was going to do well however I soon got used to it. The main challenge for me was to learn how to analyze and troubleshoot issues using the knowledge we learnt throughout the apprenticeship, and understanding which tools and techniques would be most suitable in various environments.

    EJ - What would you like to do next?

    LH – Currently I work in a telecoms company and use some of the skills I gained form the course. I would ideally like to work for a large IT company like Microsoft as I have a real passion for IT. I would also like to go on and do other Microsoft certifications at an Enterprise Administration level and progress onto become a Microsoft Certified Master.

    From listening to Luke, it was evident that he loved his time with Zenos , so much so he would do it again!

    With how the UK climate is currently at, I really believe that where possible, learning new skills other than the usual route of school and college exams, is really important.

    Zenos provides this opportunity for anyone aged between the ages of 16 to 24 and not only goes with teaching those about IT and how to use it, but also prepares them for the office environment to give them that much needed head start.

    National Awards

    Luke (second from right) accepting his award and prize for Microsoft Outstanding Apprenticeship 2011 at the National Awards

    Well done Luke!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Some thoughts on BYOD in Education


    Guest post from Gerald Haigh. Gerald is a freelance writer who regularly writes for the Microsoft UK Education Blogs.

    Over the days since BETT 2012, I’ve spent some time looking at ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD), whereby a school will accept and work with students’ personal devices. I was attracted to it partly, if you’ll forgive me, because the phrase irresistibly reminds me of ‘Run What Yer Brung’, which, in drag racing, is a session when you can turn up at the track with any vehicle at all and have a go.

    The problems are intriguingly similar you see – the appearance of unexpected and alarming machines, strain on the infrastructure, occasional breaches of discipline and so on.

    Aside from that, though, conversations at BETT2012 with teachers, queries on the Microsoft stand, and discussion with partners such as Civica and European Electronique, showed just how much interest there is in the idea of BYOD. I was further inspired, too, by Mark Reynolds’ recent Microsoft Schools Blog post on the achievements in this area at school in Cornwall.

    Eventually, I hope to produce a document summarising thinking and practice in BYOD, with more in-school examples and, of course, reference to the important part played by Microsoft technologies in oiling the wheels.


    Meanwhile, based on several conversations with schools, Microsoft partners and local authority folks, here’s a brief rundown of what seem to me to be some of the issues and questions around BYOD. Please take the time to get back to us with any reactions in the comments below. This is a fast moving area, still controversial in some ways, and there’s room for many views and experiences.

    The fundamental driver is the prospect of being able to provide the school with a much richer IT environment at little extra cost. Mark Reynolds, when I discussed this with him, put the case in personal terms, describing how his son would like to take his new laptop to school.

    “Instead, it sits at home switched off from eight till four. From a parent’s point of view I would like him to be able to use it and get more benefit from it.”

    That’s the nub of it, that in every school many, perhaps most, students have better devices in their bags or at home than the ones they use at school.

    Essentially, of course this is about cost. One Microsoft partner I talked to said,

    ‘The ideal of a school being able to provide one device per student is not now financially achievable. That, though, is what students expect.’

    The figures here are compelling. Mark’s blog post tells us that has 1700 devices on the network, only 700 of which are owned by the school. The math’s isn’t difficult is it? That’s 1000 devices the school hasn’t had to buy, and whatever caveats, costs, deals and limitations you throw into the mix, there’s clearly a worthwhile saving there.

    So why isn’t everyone doing it? Lots are certainly looking at the concept more closely. I spoke to a local authority adviser who is now fielding so many questions that he’s about to produce a paper for schools on BYOD.

    Up to now, though, schools don’t seem to be taking the plunge in significant numbers. Ask several people for good BYOD examples and they tend to come up with the same few. Why is that? That’s a genuine question by the way, to which you might like to contribute your own answers, any of which will be as valid as what I can suggest.

    Plainly, it’s not a matter of the technical process. How to connect ‘guest’ devices is not the biggest issue. Providing the wireless infrastructure is up to the increased and inevitably growing demand (and that can be a big ‘if’) then it can be done, and Mark describes how does it.

    No, the barriers lie elsewhere. To start with, the demand has to be there. Teachers, or enough of them at least, have to be feeling limited by the inability to ask students to turn easily and to their personal devices without the hassle of going to a specialist room, or wheeling in a trolley of laptops. And, presumably, there has to be a strong belief that CPD and the availability of the devices themselves will strengthen and broaden this demand across the school.

    Then, the demand has to be met by will and determination to make it happen. Everyone has to be on board, with full understanding and a ‘can do’ approach. Senior leadership, technical team, subject teachers and support staff all need to be clear about the vision and supportive of it.

    There are strategic questions about, for example, whether and how to support students who don’t have the right sort of device. It will add up to extra work for some people, different ways of teaching and learning for others, all providing endless opportunities for dissent, misunderstanding, errors and ruffled feathers. This, of course calls for high quality leadership and good communication so that nobody feels excluded or wrong-footed.

    We have to recognise, too that while there aren’t many schools as yet bringing student devices on to the network, there’s certainly a larger number which permit students to use their smartphones via 3G, sometimes in limited ways, sometimes more generally. The thinking here has usually been that if students are going to bring their phones in anyway, which they undoubtedly are, then they should be used for classroom work within an acceptable use policy agreed and recognised by the students themselves.

    Is that a sensible step towards hosting student devices on the network, a preparatory move that schools might consider? Or is it a separate style of working, with its own rules and practice, something of a diversion from the true BYOD vision? Again, they’re genuine questions, and would love to hear your thoughts.

    So there it is for the moment. More questions than answers. Please let us know what we’ve missed, what’s going on out there, what your experiences, doubts, disappointments and successes are, and we’ll try to share them and to see how we can help the process along.

    The time’s right for BYOD. It ticks so many boxes, cloud technology, the consumerisation of IT, the vision of ICT embedded across the curriculum and anytime/anywhere access, and look forward to seeing this develop. Watch this space…

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Banish Attachments Forever!


    Please see attached…

    Ok, put your hands up. Who still sends files as attachments in their email?

    Come on, be honest! Embarrassed smile

    I’m guilty of it myself – just ask my boss, after I dropped a 7MB “email bomb” on him recently. Despite having both SharePoint Online and SkyDrive at my fingertips there are times I find myself slipping back into the “old” way of sharing files.

    The life of an attachment (skip ahead)


    SkyDrive is free!

    And with Live@edu every single user gets one because they already have a Windows Live ID. So why not start sharing files that way – you can share with anyone, not just people inside your institution. Download the SkyDrive Gadget for Xobni and send links to your documents on SkyDrive right from Outlook.

    You can find out more about how much attachments suck over at the SkyDrive site, including how you can be a great friend in letting others know how they can avoid clogging up your inbox with their attachments, too!

    How do you share files?

    Have you been using SkyDrive for a while? Do you have some other clever trick for avoiding those large attachments? Let us know in the comments!

    Originally posted on the Live@edu blog

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Safer Internet Day with CEOP - Free online safety resources and training programmes


    Yesterday saw Safer Internet Day 2012 (SID) with CEOP. This has taken months of planning from the CEOP team who have worked continuously to ensure that, whilst your children are using the internet to complete homework, play games to relax or chat to friends through social networks, parents and teachers alike know and understand what actions to take to ensure they stay safe online.

    From 6pm-9pm on 7th February, the CEOP team were on line via their facebook page answering any questions that came through from teachers and parents alike to give advice on best practices around internet safety and the challenges they face as their children grow up online.

    Over the 3 hours, over 80 people contacted CEOP, with both queries and thanks for the work that has been put in to provide free resources and training programmes for teachers to deliver directly to young people in schools through the Think U Know website, including the the Keeping up with the Joneses short 50’s style trailer to get parents to think about their children’s online lives.

    ‘’Well done CEOP on your excellent work on internet safety very informative and easy to understand please keep up the good work.’’

    Along with this, CEOP’s very own Jonathan Baggaley and with the help of others, produced ‘’The Parents and Carers Guide to the Internet’’, using a fun and interactive way to equip you with the tools to have those tricky conversations with children and young adults.


    A big congratulations to the CEOP team. Overall SID was very successful, communicating key messages across with useful resources available to use for both parents evenings and in the classroom as part of a learning tool for everyone.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    3 core elements to a successful BYOD strategy


    With the plethora of device types now available, the power to work and study where you choose is now a reality. Want to revise in the park sipping a latte, or update a presentation on the bus, there is now an app and device perfectly suited to your needs.

    This trend, commonly known as the Consumerisation of IT in Education or BYOD, is driving the demand for flexible working and studying often using more consumer orientated devices. Within an academic institution, this is not without its challenges, though, and IT professionals within schools, colleges and universities need to consider the impact and management of BYOD from a more holistic perspective to ensure the needs of both the user and enterprise are met.

    Lets consider the needs of the students for a second. Gen-Y, who are predominately active users of social media and mobile technology, expect to also use these technologies as a core element of their learning experiences. Is this is often a reality within institutions, though?

    Furthermore, with Forrester research reporting that 35% of workers in the US already use a personal device at work, and I am sure the UK numbers are not far off this, the BYOD trend in the enterprise is rapidly gaining momentum. With people becoming more tech savvy, how are institutions also embracing the opportunities of consumerisation of IT in education/BYOD with faculty and admin staff within institutions? Are institutions working to meet the needs of their users?

    Via my conversations with network managers and teachers at institutions across the UK, I get a mixed set of responses to these questions. Some institutions are openly embracing BYOD, while others are passionately against these trends.

    Ultimately, I don’t see these trends as a threat to an institutions IT strategy, but does require IT managers within institutions to work in a new way and to think differently.

    People power, or BYOD, is not without its challenges but requires a balance between freedom, risk and cost to ensure a practical and workable solution for IT users within an institution. IT Managers want to enable anytime, anywhere learning/working for all, I am sure, but also have a responsibility to keep systems and data safe.

    To make this a reality, a solution needs to provide anytime, anywhere access to data and apps, consider the most suitable device type to meet the needs of users and, as mentioned previously, mitigate cost and risks.

    The consumerisation of IT video below discusses this in more detail.

    So, how do IT managers within academic institutions make this a reality?

    From a device perspective, multi purpose devices should be front and centre of BYOD strategies. With the pace of change in devices types, it is now possible to get devices that are light weight, have a great battery life and are well suited for both content creation and consumption. These multi-purpose devices can also be managed within a standard IT management environment with increases the security of the device and reduces the overall cost of ownership.

    UltraBooks, for example, offer much of the flexibility of slate devices but, in the case of Windows 7 devices, can be managed and secured electronically.

    iPads, for example, are fantastic content consumption devices, but offer challenges when it comes to content creation and security/central management. This often leads to the need to have multiple device types to cater for both sets of needs. This adds to the overall cost of the device estate and, particularly in the case of education, adds significant cost to an overall IT budget.

    The video below showcasing some of the latest PC's, for example, gives a good feel for how powerful multi-purpose devices are becoming.

    With the advances in the cloud, access to data and apps via the browser irrespective of platform is also becoming commonplace. App virtualisation, via VDI and remote desktop, can also help provide flexible and secure access to core apps and act as a fundamental element of an institutions BYOD strategy.

    When these 3 elements, device type, the cloud and unified management comes together, institutions have the perfect recipe for BYOD success.

    Food for thought, for sure. What do you think about this topic? How are you meeting the needs of your users in the age of BYOD? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    How can we make our blog more relevant to your needs?


    I have a bit of a favour to ask. I want to ensure that the information we share via our blogs is relevant to your needs and continues to add value.

    With this in mind, would you mind taking a minute out to give me an indication of what kind of content you would like to see more of over the coming months by completing the short poll below? We will always look to mix up the content types that we share on the blogs, but if there is a particular type or style of post that you enjoy most, let me know and I can work on ensuring that I post more of this kind of material.

    Thanks in advance, and if there are any specific topics you would like us to address via the blog, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.


  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    End of Support for Microsoft Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003


    Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) and Office 2003 will be reaching end of support in April 2014. We want to help you avoid the risk of running an unsupported version of Windows & Office, and to assist with your IT planning for 2012.

    With this in mind, the objective of this Blog Post is to highlight the potential risks involved with the upcoming end of support of these products and to outline the options available to mitigate these risks.

    What is the situation and potential risk?

    Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 will no longer be supported from April 8, 2014 onwards. After this date, Microsoft will not provide any public support for these products, including security patches, non-security hotfixes or incident support.

    Running Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 in your environment after their end of support date may expose your company to potential risks, such as:

    • Security & Compliance Risks - Unsupported and unpatched environments are vulnerable to security risks. This may result in an officially recognized control failure by an internal or external audit body, leading to suspension of certifications, and/or public notification of the organization’s inability to maintain its systems and customer information
    • Lack of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) & Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Support – A recent industry report from Gartner Research suggests "many independent software vendors (ISVs) are unlikely to support new versions of applications on Windows XP in 2011; in 2012, it will become common". And it may stifle access to hardware innovation: Gartner Research further notes that in 2012, most PC hardware OEMs will stop supporting Windows XP on the majority of their new PC models. See Creating a Timeline for Deploying Windows 7 and Eliminating Windows XP SP3, June 2011.

    What are the available options?

    1. Upgrade - This option affords customers the best return on investment by deploying a modern PC with Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010. Whether you’re a small business or the largest corporation with offices worldwide, moving to a modern PC with Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010 offers your business the ability to improve productivity for your employees and increase operational efficiency through improved PC security and management.

    To help customers with the migration/deployment process, Microsoft and our consulting partners offer several options including proof of concept (POC) and production pilot programs, available through Microsoft Consulting Services or one of our Certified Service Partners, to help you achieve a successful upgrade to Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010.

    2. Purchase a Custom Support contract through Premier Support to stay on unsupported products – If, for any reason, you decide to remain on Windows XP SP3 or Office 2003 after support ends, you have the option to purchase Custom Support. As a condition of buying a Custom Support contract, you must have a Premier Support agreement and we ask our customers to have a migration plan in place. The cost of Custom Support is significantly higher than regular support, and rises annually due to the rising costs of supporting a legacy product.

    3. Do nothing – Microsoft recommends customers avoid this option for it can put you at risk of potential security and compliance issues.

    Where can you find more information?

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Microsoft UK Education Webcasts: New Dates Added!



    Further to our recent Education Desktop webcast, the next on our series of Live Webcasts have now been scheduled. Details are shown below. We hope you can join us!

    System Center 2012 – An Overview

    March 6th, 11am-12pm

    System Center 2012 can transform your IT Infrastructure, from your Desktops, to your Data Centre and out to the Cloud. Join this session, presented jointly by Microsoft and a Microsoft System Center Partner to understand what System Center 2012 can do for you. This session will provide a good overview of the capabilities of the suite and also provide a “what’s new” update if you are aware of previous versions. You will also have chance to get your System Center questions answered by a Specialist.

    SharePoint 2010 – An Overview for Education

    March 27th, 11am-12pm

    This session, presented by Dave Coleman, SharePoint MVP – will cover the key features of SharePoint 2010 –highlighting key education scenarios. Whether you are completely new to SharePoint or have experience with previous versions, this session will give a great recap, and provide a “what’s new” in this current release. You will also have the chance to get answers to any of your burning SharePoint questions.

    Deploying Windows 7 – from Planning to Deployed
    April 17th, 11am-12pm

    This session will give you an overview of the key steps needed to plan for and deploy Windows 7 effectively.

    There are a whole range of free tools and utilities from Microsoft that enable you to remove huge cost out of the deployment process. Including:

    · How to simplify assessing your current PC estate for suitability

    · Checking your application compatibility – and reducing the impact of any that aren’t compatible

    · Application deployment methods to reduce your workload

    · Capturing and migrating existing user data

    · Automating deployments – from light touch to zero touch installations

    The session will be relevant for IT managers in schools, colleges and universities

    You will also have chance to get any of your deployment questions answered by a Microsoft Specialist.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Safety Internet Day - raising awareness with the BBC and CEOP


    The BBC’s Share Take Care campaign is part of its commitment to media literacy and online safety for young people. Working in partnership with The UK Safer Internet Centre to support Safer Internet Day (SID), (tweet #SID2012) the BBC’s campaign aims to raise awareness of the issues around safeguarding reputation online.

    Helping to raise awareness, the BBC have bought together using Horrible Histories, a number of short light hearted video clips.image


    Horrible Histories - Lady Jane Grey
    Be aware of what you download!

    Horrible Histories - Guy Fawkes
    Privacy Settings

    Horrible Histories  - Saxon Monk
    Internet Video’s are Forever



    As part of Safer Internet Day, this year, CEOP are launching the ‘Parents and Carers’ Guide to the Internet’. This informative 20 minute film is being shared widely by both CEOP and their many partners. You can view this and get up to date advice here

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Microsoft Student Tech Clubs



    There are many ways to learn technology around the world. We realise that sometimes the way students can master professional tools is on their own time with their friends.

    Microsoft goal is to support them with the accessss to tools, training and a platform to connect.

    Student Tech Clubs are communities of students, problem solvers, challenge seekers, people who love to discover everything they can do with the latest technology.

    The program is there to help students to start and run a Student Tech Club at their institution or to help support existing student computer societies.

    Tools like surveys, member administration, newsletters, invitations to events, event calendar, support materials created by Microsoft Product Groups, access to speakers and resources are some of the features they can take advantage today using this initiative.

    If you are interested in learning more about Microsoft Student Tech Clubs at your school or campus, please see the following presentation which contains all the information and advice.

    Originally posted on the UK Microsoft Faculty Connection Blog.

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