Starting today, Microsoft Office 365 for education is available, providing the world’s best productivity, communications and collaboration experiences to schools at no cost.
“The cloud and online learning are key trends transforming education today. Office 365 for education delivers a holistic collaboration platform that will change the game,” said Anthony Salcito, vice president of worldwide education, Microsoft. “As schools face ever-tightening budgets and the pressure to innovate, we are offering enterprise quality technology for free that will modernize teaching practices and help prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.”
At BETT 2011 we announced that Office 365 would be coming to our education customers – an upgrade for the current Live@edu service used by over 22M users worldwide. Over the last few months some of our early adopter customers, including University of Dundee, Westminster University and The Schools Network (formerly SSAT) have been deploying this upgraded service and they’re really happy with the results.
“The university selected Office 365 over Google Apps because it gives us a robust enterprise-class platform for developing a radical new approach to collaboration and communication that goes far beyond email” Tom Mortimer, Director, Information and Communication Services, University of Dundee
“The university selected Office 365 over Google Apps because it gives us a robust enterprise-class platform for developing a radical new approach to collaboration and communication that goes far beyond email”
Tom Mortimer, Director, Information and Communication Services, University of Dundee
As of right now education institutions can sign up for the Office 365 for education 30-day trial for free via the Office 365 website.
Office 365 allows schools to teach from virtually anywhere*, reach more students, teach software skills employers are looking for and provide enterprise-class tools that reduce IT costs.
Students can engage in ad-hoc instant messaging or video chats to collaborate on class projects in real time, regardless of where they are working or on what device. They can create documents with Office Web Apps that provide the same features as the desktop version of Microsoft Office, share class notes by synchronizing OneNote notebooks, and create digital portfolios.
Teachers can create curriculum, record lectures and publish them on online class sites in the cloud where students are able to view, open, produce, edit and share their homework. Office 365 provides new ways to extend classroom teaching time and distance learning, tutor students online, and whiteboard ideas.
Educational institutions and parents will get peace of mind knowing students’ content and personal data are protected and won’t be scanned for advertising purposes, thanks to a rich set of privacy, security and protection capabilities that adhere to federal laws.
School IT departments can save money and free up more critical time by counting on Microsoft to manage routine tasks such as applying server updates and software upgrades. With the influx of digital content, datacentre demands and lessened and with 25GB mailboxes, people won’t be forced to purge files.
*An appropriate device, Internet connection, supported browser and/or carrier network connectivity are required. Data charges may apply.
Education institutions currently using the Microsoft Live@edu platform will be upgraded to Office 365 beginning this summer.
Originally posted on UK Education Cloud Blog
Kids today grow up online. They use computers to do their homework, play games, communicate with friends, and access the wealth of information on the web. Computers give children access to many positive experiences; however, parents face challenges in monitoring what their children see online, the people they meet, and the information they share.
At Microsoft, we want to help parents create a healthy computing environment for their kids. We encourage parents to talk to their children about online safety and to set guidelines for their computer use. Microsoft and many safety advocates also recommend moving the family computer to a common room in the house so parents can glance over their kids’ shoulders to gain a better understanding of their online activities. Parenting techniques like this are important, but they may be difficult to employ if your household has multiple PCs or if your kids use laptops and tablets. And glancing over a teenager’s shoulder can be awkward for both parents and kids.
With Windows 8, you can monitor what your kids are doing, no matter where they use their PC. All you have to do is create a Windows user account for each child, check the box to turn on Family Safety, and then review weekly reports that describe your children’s PC use. No additional downloads, installation wizards, or configuration steps are required. Just check the box!
In the past, many of the industry software solutions for family safety (including Microsoft’s) focused on web filtering and other software-based restrictions. This resulted in a more complex setup experience and a constant stream of parental approval requests that could be difficult to manage. The end result was that many parents abandoned family safety products and returned to in-person supervision only—a tactic that has become less effective as computers have gotten more mobile.
Windows 8 gives you a “monitor first” approach, which provides informative activity reports for each child. As previously discussed on this blog, signing in to Windows 8 with a Microsoft account makes setup much simpler: just create a separate user account for each child and then check the box to turn on Family Safety. As soon as you do, you’ll receive a welcome email followed by weekly email reports summarizing your child’s computer activities. We expect you’ll find activity reports a great tool for teaching your kids about responsible computer use. Of course, you can also easily add restrictions by just clicking a link in the activity report. With the simplicity of activity reports, we believe more parents will adopt Family Safety, resulting in a safer computing environment for children.
Here’s what a Family Safety activity report looks like:
With a Microsoft account, you can take action from anywhere, on any device, because the reports are delivered directly to your email inbox. Any changes you make to Family Safety settings are stored in the cloud at familysafety.microsoft.com. These changes are then automatically applied to all Windows PCs where Family Safety is active.
We’ve long recommended that parents log in as the computer administrator and make sure children have separate standard accounts. In Windows 8, accounts that the administrator –or “parent”—creates are automatically created as standard accounts. This approach has several benefits. Children:
Activity reporting, which is on automatically in the new Family Safety, is the perfect solution for many parents. However, if you like more control, you can set up more powerful and customizable restrictions directly from links in the activity reporting email, or on familysafety.microsoft.com, if needed. In addition to the restrictions currently available in Windows 7, we’ve added some new ones in Windows 8, including:
Here is a short video showing how Family Safety works in Windows 8:
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We are continually striving to help you create a safe, family-friendly computing environment for your kids, but of course, we know that this means different things to different parents. Some parents prefer to simply keep an eye on their children. Others prefer to set up software restrictions on their child’s computing activities. We think the simplicity and power of the “monitor first” approach in Microsoft Family Safety addresses either style effectively and will lead to more family conversations about online safety, a safer computing experience for kids, and increased peace of mind for parents. Watch for these Family Safety features in the Release Preview.
Originally posted on the Building Windows 8 Blog By Steven Sinofsky.
*Updated post from last week - content added
This is the fourth instalment from the Building Networks for the Future series, written with Stuart Wilkie from Marine Academy Plymouth. Stuart takes us through use of a technology which has been used in industry for years, and is now making an impact in the Education Sector.
In the earlier parts of this blog series we covered how the upgrade of "traditional” ICT suite machines, and how virtualisation has the power to improve your server system. We also touched on how you can also virtualise applications using the App-V framework, to add further flexibility to your desktop deployment.
Thinking right back to the first article, where we were planning what to do - the decision was made to deploy new laptops (kindly provided by Stone), to negate the need for classroom “teacher computers”. This gave us a good quantity of legacy equipment. The problem was that now, although we had some “good specification” legacy, it was still legacy - and the last thing we wanted was to have a split Windows XP/Windows 7 estate. After all, XP is coming to the end of its supported life.
“Consistency was one of the big changes I wanted to make – to unify the experience users had, no matter where on the system they were. We wanted the same look and feel, with the same program set, and settings that followed you”.
The answer came from discussions though the TechNet Membership held by the Academy, and earlier “Beta” work that had been done. Because of these links with Microsoft, a test program for a new product called Windows Thin PC was suggested. This was previously known as Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs, when it was essentially a cut down version of Windows XP. The new version was based on Windows 7, ideal as it maintained the same look and feel and also contained all the same core features. These included, crucially; support for domain joining and group policy. However, "Thin PC" is a cut down system, and limited in its capabilities - so you can’t use it as a true standalone operating system. Instead, it is designed to “connect” to something else, such as Citrix or Terminal Services.
Terminal Services, now called “Remote Desktop Services” (RDS) is not new technology. In fact, neither is Thin Client! Use of both of these in schools for anything other than Server Administration by techies is, however. RDS has been a part of the Windows Server system since the NT days, when it was an extra install. Now, it is just a “role” that you can choose which has been the case since 2003. The Server 2008 R2 version though, adds a whole raft of extra functionality, and changes the playing field in terms of deployment and scalability.
RDS is designed to be split into its component parts, and spread across a number of servers. Teamed with the virtualisation power of Hyper-V (see earlier article) you have something truly scalable. You split the hosting (where all the programs run), from the web accessibility (yes, you can do that too, but more on that later) and the “brokering” (who connects where). Licensing is also handled as a separate role. A typical implementation often looks as shown. Leveraging Hyper-V for hosting the Remote Desktop Session Hosts (well in fact, pretty much all of the system) has two significant benefits. One of these is the snapshotting - a feature built into Hyper-V. This can be used as an obvious backup route. The second is the way you can let Hyper-V manage the memory usage. Dynamic Memory Allocation is a killer feature, allowing the hosted OS to “claim” more RAM as it needs it, and release it when it doesn’t. This is ideal for a varying workload such as RDS.
Now we’ve done a quick overview, lets deep dive into some of the setup. The basic Windows Thin PC and Session Host bit is obvious from earlier posts. You can just let SCCM (System Centre Configuration Manager) deal with that. It will do the OS install, and drop our basic application set on as well. Even the App-V “bubble” installations work on Remote Desktop Servers. There is a special App-V installation pack on the Microsoft Download Centre. When it comes to the power of App-V, this is even more attractive when combined with RDS. You are separating the application from the OS (which is 64 bit don't forget), so compatibility and stability is much improved - handy with frequently troublesome education applications!
What next? Well, it is time to sort out your “Broker” service. The broker deals with the “which user session connects to which server” issue – when you have more than one Session Host. You are using more than one Session Host server aren’t you? If not – it is well worth running at least two Session Host servers, even on the smallest of deployments. This means you can perform maintenance on one – while your users carry on using the other. Rather than repeat a how to guide on setting this up – here are a few great resources for this process…
You may be thinking why do I need to worry about setting up a Web Access server? Well, the joy of Web Access is in its title! Just think of what a VLE is supposed to be – the ability for students (and staff) to collaborate and work from anywhere, at any time. Nothing speaks true anywhere, anytime like being able to logon and get the same desktop and application set – from any internet connected computer.
Assuming you have followed the above guides, you will now have a fully functional RDS Farm. There are some “gotchas” here though. Make sure that you have chosen a Farm Name – something like RDS-FARM – which is used for all client access, and that you have set up DNS round-robining and the broker to use this name. The second is certificates. Certificates can be a bit of a pain if you are not careful. By default, when you set up a Session Host server, the connection certificate uses the Server name. Now, because you are using a broker and a single farm name – your actual connection could go to any of the other servers from the farm name (which isn’t an actual server). This will cause a certificate warning to show on the client, which is a bit ugly. To fix this, you will need to set up a local certificate authority (CA) on your domain. This is really easy to do though – and here are two great guides to get you going…
Then, once you have done this, a little bit of tweaking is needed to get your new CA to dish out a certificate for each of your Session Host servers. The process is nicely covered in these articles, although you will find plenty more around the internet too.
Following these will save you a whole world of pain with user adoption. This is particularly relevant when dealing with RDS from Windows Thin PC or Windows 7. Of course – one of the key benefits of Windows Thin PC was the domain joining ability. With this – we could then configure Single Sign On for the machines and Remote Desktop. What does this mean in plain English? When the user goes to the Thin Client, it looks exactly like a normal logon screen, and it is! They enter their username and password, and then the system will automatically login to the Remote Desktop using the same details – without needing to prompt them to enter them again.
To complete this even further, how about after logging in – the machine automatically runs the Remote Desktop without even showing the other desktop. Well, yes – this is exactly what Stuart has done. Back to the power of System Centre for this one; where part of the build of the machine runs a bit of script. This changes the way the system starts – “replacing the Windows Explorer”. How do you do this? Well, the details can be found here...
That’s not the end of the story though. What do you do about giving access to printers - for example? Normally, you would assign printers by Room – but of course, the Remote Desktop farm has no way of knowing which room the users are in (well – not unless you do something fancy with the connecting machine name). Well – this is where the changes to Group Policy in R2 can help you out. Here is the link you need - http://www.edugeek.net/blogs/thescarfedone/1012-managing-printers-remote-desktop-environment.html
This will work nicely for your Windows or Non-Windows machines, as all the processing happens on the Server system. For the desktop machines, since they are Windows based – we can do something even simpler. Like you would normally script the connection of printers at start-up or logon, the same rule would still apply to these machines. Remote Desktop options in Group Policy will allow you to control whether locally connected devices and printers will be transferred and made available in the Session. Perfect! This is also explained in the same article.
Of course – these same settings will allow your users connecting from anywhere to access their USB sticks and home printers through your Remote Desktop session too. Before the security conscious jump in – you do of course have control over this (for example what can be run) because all your usual Group Policies also apply in the connected session.
So – let’s get back to the new feature – Remote App. What is it? Well… think about wanting to just be able to quickly run one single application from a Remote Desktop Session. You want to do this, without getting the full desktop of the Remote Session – ie, for it to look as if the program is running directly on your computer. Welcome to Remote App!
And how do you set it up? Well, that is remarkably simple. You need to have already completed all the previous Remote Desktop steps, including Session Host and Broker – and for off-site working, you also need Web Access to be fully functional.
Then, all the rest of the real work happens on your Session Hosts – and this Microsoft Technet guide tells you all.
So there you have it – a complete overview, and pointers for how to’s on Remote Desktop in both the traditional desktop user experience sense, and the new-fangled single application sense.
If you have not yet read any of the previous posts from Stuart or would just like a recap, here they are -
Building School Networks for the Future - System Centre and Hyper-V
Building School Networks for the Future – Server Infrastructure ‘’System for the Future’’
Building School Networks for the Future – Deployment of Microsoft Windows 7
Did you know there are a few basic parental controls that give you some say over things like what apps and games your child can download on their Windows Phone?
In this brief post, I’ll introduce you to the Windows Phone-related control settings and show you how to set them up. (If you’re feeling really organised, you can even do this before buying your child’s phone.)
Assuming your child doesn’t already use Hotmail, Zune, or Xbox, the first thing you’ll need to do is create a Windows Live ID account for your son or daughter. Click here to start.
You’ll be asked for info such as your child’s name and birthday. Microsoft uses the date you enter to determine what kind of account to create—child (12 or younger) or teen (13 to 17 years old). Then you’re asked ask to sign in and give your child permission to use the new account (you’ll also need a valid credit card to prove you’re an adult).
Once you’ve created a child account, enter it during Windows Phone set up or the first time your son or daughter uses Marketplace.
Once you’ve created your child’s Windows Live ID account, you now have some control over what apps your child can buy or download. (Parents are always asked to sign in to approve changes to these settings.)
Here’s how to do it:
You’ll then see an option to block or allow purchases including apps, music and videos. If you choose Blocked, your child can’t buy any paid apps from Marketplace. But he or she can still download free apps—something worth remembering. (If you want to allow them to buy a specific paid app later, you can always go in and turn this off temporarily.)
The second option applies to explicit music and games with an ESRB rating of Mature or higher. Choose Blocked to prevent your child from downloading or streaming this type of content. A couple caveats: This setting doesn't affect music acquired outside Zune, or prevent your child from seeing explicit titles while browsing Marketplace. It also won’t prevent your son or daughter from downloading apps and games that haven’t been rated.
If you have an Xbox 360 at home, you might already know about some of the parental controls and privacy settings for the console.
Many of the settings apply only to the Xbox 360. But a few—such as the ability to approve Xbox LIVE friend and game requests—can apply to the Games Hub. You can also decide whether your child can see other people’s Xbox LIVE profiles and friends. Most of these settings are blocked by default for anybody 12 or younger.
To change these settings:
Originally posted on the Windows Blog
Midnight last night, the announcement made by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in LA that Microsoft are releasing our very own devises for Windows 8, the amazing looking Surface – a new family of computing devices.
Surface with Windows 8 will offer some exciting opportunities for education, and already there is a real buzz around the office, as everyone wants to get there hands on one!
At the moment, we don’t have a release date for the two models in the Surface family, Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro however, you can keep up to date with the information here or download the Windows Release Preview.
And along with Windows 8, comes the following:-
And if you are anything like me, you too will love the launch video!
This week’s roundup of posts -
Get started using OneNote
How to add a video to a PowerPoint presentation
Microsoft UK Education upcoming live webcasts
Kodu student activity: editing your world
Controlling access on your child’s Windows Phone
Supporting numeracy with Kinect Sports
Evidence that students do better with a PC at home
Virtualisation in your school: Installation
It’s important that a school sees its ICT not as a drain on the budget but as a contributor to efficient and cost-effective learning.
In our first Cost Saving eBook, we started out by urging network managers not to allow their department to be seen as a drain on precious resources. They have to present it instead as a value-for-money driver of efficiency for the whole institution.
It’s a case of moving the school leadership from this –
‘Information Technology costs us money, and we’re living in hard times.’
To this, ‘We’re living in hard times and information technology can save us money.’
It’s a change of mindset, from technology as a cost to technology as an investment. The aim is for the school’s leadership to make that change, but before that can happen, the people immediately engaged with ICT, such as network managers and ICT leaders, have to believe in it themselves.
That means doing the research, learning and knowing exactly how, when and at what cost (if any) your school’s ICT resources, plans and policies can be deployed, or changed for the maximum impact on your school’s budget. We, with our Microsoft Partners, can help you with that, and if you read this eBook first, you’ll have a good idea of the right questions to ask.
We have partnered with the Guardian to make our new 'Cost Saving in Education' eBook exclusively available within their Teacher Network until the end of September 2012. The eBook can be viewed/downloaded directly via the Guardian's Teacher Network download centre.
We would love to hear what you think!
Kodu is a new visual programming language made specifically for creating games. It is designed to be accessible for children and enjoyable for anyone. The programming environment runs on the Xbox, allowing rapid design iteration using only a game controller for input.
You can view and download our eBook below to learn more about Kodu and how to get started. Here is an activity idea of how you can use Kodu in the classroom.
Activity – editing your world
Objectives: 1. Change and create a Kodu environment 2. Use tiles for setting and the development of tone and mood for the game world Students will already know how to create and programme objects. Here, they will learn to modify the landscapes in their games. Creating and changing the Kodu landscape is one of the most interesting initial activities for early users ofKodu. Young people often spend hours changing and designing intricate landscapes in which their games and animations operate. Landscapes often also set the tone for the game play actions which follow. Using the same demo world that you created during the first part of this session (Demo 1) ask volunteers to: - Add/delete land to the existing landmass. Choose the green paint brush in the Toolbar. - With a controller: Select the appropriate landscape material by pressing (Y) and selecting one from the Toolbar. Next, select the brush shape (X) and brush size (D-pad). By using the left stick and holding down either the right trigger to add land or the left trigger to delete land, students can draw the landscape. - With a mouse: Click on the four small terrain icons to the left of the paint brush to pick a material (Arrow keys to select material), and click on the four brush shapes to pick a brush shape (Arrow keys to select). You can then use the Arrow keys to increase or decrease the size of the brush. Click to paint the terrain.
- Add land of a different colour/texture around the perimeter of the landmass. (NB. Use the same steps as before, only change the landscape material and perhaps the brush size. The speed of land addition or subtraction can be controlled by the degree to which the controller is shifted.)
- Create hills and valleys; use the smoothing feature. (Select the Raise Terrain/Lower Terrain icons from the Toolbar. Again, use the Brush Picker and Brush Size. The speed of land raising and lowering can be controlled by the degree to which the triggers are pressed on the controller. NB. The speed cannot be controlled with mouse and keyboard. Also note to students that the smoothing out feature allows a less jagged landscape which also allows maneuverability.) This is a good opportunity to talk about the remaining items in the Toolbar. As students work throughhow they create a feature, ask them to verbalise what they are doing and tell them that it is like thinking out loud and that mistakes might happen. Reinforce the idea that if a problem occurs that we should all think about how to solve it. If they don’t change the brush or select a type of land or water, prompt themto do so.
You can view and download the Getting Started with Kodu eBook below.
Today’s students are raised on multimedia. They absorb information fast when it is visually presented. Bing helps teachers search for engaging content that can improve student learning.
The best comes first Bing presents the richest, most useful result to your search query, front and centre. Bing summarises the site and offers time-saving links that let you jump directly to relevant content such as a colourful slideshow of the country.
Look before you click Let Bing lead you to compelling content and keep clicks to a minimum. Simply hover your cursor on an interesting search result, and Bing gives you a Quick View and helpful summary of the site. So you can judge its quality before you click.
Improve your lessons Can your lesson use a lift? Bing can help infuse any subject with new energy. Use Bing to help find compelling content that can improve student learning - and make it fun.
Welcome to Office Tip Classics - a series of one-minute videos where you'll get to see clips of film classics and learn a tip about Office 2010. In this episode, school tough-guy Marty has a hard time keeping his cool after losing the class presentation contest.
His teacher tries to cheer him up, explaining how to add a video to his PowerPoint presentation. Maybe he won't be such a sore loser next time.
Originally posted on the Microsoft PowerPoint blog