Recently in Las Vegas, Robert Phipps from Royal Grammar School in Guildford was crowned Third Place Winner at the Microsoft Office Specialist Worldwide Competition 2012. Robert's win proves, yet again, that UK students are at the top of the class in IT skills!
The 2012 Certiport Worldwide Competition on Microsoft Office attracted more than 285,000 unique candidates from 53 countries who competed to demonstrate their mastery of Microsoft Office products. 113 student finalists participated in the final round of competition. Two UK Champions (highest scores in Microsoft Office Specialist exams taken during the year in schools) were sponsored by Prodigy Learning to attend the competition. Ben Grist from Poole Grammar School competed in the Excel category and Robert Phipps competed in the Word category and finished as Third Place Winner.
Craig Bewley (CEO,Prodigy Learning) commented: “Congratulations to Robert Phipps for coming Third in the World in Word 2007 at the Worldwide Competition on Microsoft Office' in Las Vegas. It is a fantastic achievement and even more remarkable considering Robert is only 14 years of age! I think this result, coming on the back of Rebecca Rickwood being crowned World Champion last year in Excel 2007, simply proves that Students’ IT Skills in the UK are as good as anywhere in the world. Special praise should also go to Robert’s parents David and Elaine and his School, the Royal Grammar School in Guildford for all their support”.
Robert Phipps described the trip as "incredible" and noted: "The trip was an unforgettable experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Thanks to everyone who made it possible and I shall keep my fingers crossed for next year!"
Next year, Certiport will host the 2013 Microsoft Office World Championship in Washington D.C., USA. For students to participate in the Competition and get the chance to represent the UK as National Champions, they must take an elgible Microsoft Office Specialist exam at their school (subject to official UK Competition Rules).
Originally posted by Prodigy Learning
Register for the virtual course here. For more information on the free training and resources for schools through the IT Academy programme, including free new courseware for HTML 5, Gaming and Mobile, please go to www.microsoftitacademy.com.
Guest post by Gerald Haigh
It was really good to be at Shireland Collegiate Academy for the UK launch of Microsoft’s Shape the Future project earlier in November. Katie Hook has already very efficiently described the event here, but that gives me the opportunity to say a little about what was happening in the classrooms leading off the main hall.
In one, for example, a teacher was demonstrating Microsoft ‘Pivot’, for data analysis, in another, students were showing cross-curricular project work with ‘One Note’ and in yet another, students and family members were using the family portal.
Just now, though, I want to home in particularly on a room which had been taken over by a year six class from a Shireland partner school, Victoria Park Primary Academy, where ‘Shape the Future’ is having a very visible effect. There, with their head teacher Andrew Morrish, the children were using their RM Minibooks, bought under the Shape the Future scheme, which has made one-to-one computing affordable for the 120 children in years five and six at Victoria Park. The children were clearly excited at being at the event and keen to show their minibooks off to visitors.
This was obviously something to follow up, and so I arranged to speak to Andrew in his school a little later, when things had calmed down a bit. Victoria Park, like Shireland, is in a richly multi-ethnic, multi-lingual area, with a very high level of deprivation, and the children need great commitment, skill and devotion from their teachers if they are to reach their considerable potential. As we chatted I learned that Andrew took over Victoria Park seven years ago. Then, it was in Ofsted ‘Special Measures’. Since then it has significantly been turned around and was designated ‘Outstanding’ at the last inspection.
‘It’s been achieved primarily by putting the children at the centre, as independent learners, and the role of ICT in that has been key,’ says Andrew. ‘But we were never able to afford a one-to-one ratio, so when ‘Shape the Future’ came along we jumped at the chance.’ The children use a range of software, including ‘OneNote’, ‘Songsmith’, ‘Kodu’ ‘Publisher’ and the Office suite of which ‘PowerPoint’ is a favourite. ‘They love PowerPoint,’ says Andrew. ‘They’re very confident with it, and use it a lot, and I’m keen to develop Kodu for programming and storyboarding apps.’ ‘OneNote’ , he says, is particularly useful for the cross-curricular projects that make up much of the classroom work in humanities and arts subjects. ‘They used to record everything first in one book, then produce a really lovely best book. OneNote has replaced all that they can put it all together and include multi-media clips.’
One often overlooked advantage of equipping all children with technology is that it irons out some of the inequalities around homework. Children in the same class can have very different experiences of homework. Some will have a quiet room, with a computer and parents ready to support them. Others will be trying to find a space to work in the middle of a busy family life, with parents who feel unable to help. Helping parents to have confidence is part of the answer, and that’s been very successful at Shireland and at Victoria Park.
Where each child has a personal device, though, a lot of the other inequalities fade away. ‘They don’t need a table and a chair, they can sit at the bottom of the stairs, anywhere. It helps the parents, too, because children don’t need to ask for help, they can sort things out for themselves by trial and error in a way you can’t do with a worksheet that’s either right or wrong.’ One of the knock-on effects of providing devices for years five and six is that the netbooks that were previously used in those years have been passed to years three and four. ‘There’s not enough for one-to-one, and they can’t take them home, but it quadruples the provision in those years, and as a result the whole of Key Stage Two is very ICT rich.’ That raises the question for Andrew of how far you go down the age range with one-to-one. ‘Do you reach a point where it’s not the best use of your budget? That’s something for us to think about.’
It’s still early days for the one-to-one project at Victoria Park – year six had their devices in mid September, year five in mid-November – so there won’t be anything to report for some time in terms of measured outcomes. There are visible effects on motivation and engagement, though, and there’s every expectation that attainment will follow.
Meanwhile, the children are taking to their minibooks with zest and enthusiasm. ‘They’re fiercely proud of them,’ says Andrew. ‘And they were quick to personalise them with screensavers and wallpaper.’ The only small worry he has is that they don’t come with a safe carrying case. ‘I don’t like the idea of the children openly carrying them home on dark nights, but perhaps RM will come up with an answer to that.’ How could they not? I ask myself.
Yesterday marked the official launch of Shape the Future in the UK, held at Shirelands Collegiate Academy in Smethwick. Shape the Future is a program aimed at helping governments invest in education technology to create jobs, drive economic growth and increase competitiveness.
The day began with an introduction from Sir Mark Grundy, the Principal at Shireland Academy. He gave us all something to think about with the following statement:
“407 years ago, a revolution happened outside parliament. Today, 407 years later, a new revolution could happen.”
Joice Fernandez, Microsoft’s Worldwide Senior Director for Public Private Alliances, and founder of the Shape the Future programme, kicked off the speeches by introducing the programme and giving us his translation of what Shape the Future means:
“It's a movement, a cause and a belief."
A key phrase which Joice repeated throughout his motivational speech was that Shape the Future is not just about technology in the classroom, but about “Empowering the children” and giving them greater control over their own learning.
Once Joice had introduced us to the basics of the programme, Dr Vanessa Pittard took over to explain the Department for Education’s view on the importance of technological advancements in education.
She expressed her view of technology as an enabler, and outlined that a strong relationship exists between lack of attainment and a student's background. The important issue of social inclusion was a key part of Dr Vanessa’s speech, and she emphasised the implications behind providing students with technology to enhance and develop their learning. The figures here speak for themselves. 109,000 students, around 20%, of those leaving primary school don’t achieve the national average, with this rising to around 1/3 of those leaving school at 16 (after GCSEs). Finally, she stressed the need for more to be done by government to tell teachers and schools what works in order to improve achievement, for example, technology rich environments lie that at Shirelands.
Mike Allen from RM was next up, and provided us with yet another detailed and inspiring speech around the impact of technology in education. He began by voicing his belief that it is getting harder to see cause and effect, especially in education, however, continued to say that “technology and careful use of technology can be successful”.
He detailed how the Shape the Future programme allows more devices to be in the hands of more young people, at lower costs, without jeopardising any of the technology, all through the use of 1:1, which “really fits the way students work and learn”.
Kirsty Tonks, Director of e-learning and transition at Shireland, finished the day, telling the room how the programme has helped the school develop teaching and learning through technology. She communicated the substantial need to create engagement through technology, not just with the students, but with their families too. On 1:1 devices, she expressed her original scepticism, but explained how she feels that ownership of the devices makes a difference to students, as they do not get distracted by the technology, but instead embrace it and integrate it in their learning.
Kirsty explained how the technology had no only aided learning, but had inspired creativity by the students themselves, who have developed their own resources for themselves and their peers, such as Further Your Maths, an online revision tool developed by year 11 pupils.
Finally, she introduced some of the students from Shirelands and other local schools, who gave delightfully refreshing presentations around how they feel software such as Kodu and OneNote have allowed them to work with technology to enhance their education.
Once all the speeches were finished, the audience got the chance to play with the RM devices which are available to schools, all of which are running Windows 8, as well as demos of Pivot, a tool to help teachers track and analyse attainment, attendance and other key student facts, and a Kodu demo by the students.
For more information about Shape the Future, follow them on Facebook.
Many schools are already seeing the beneﬁts of 1:1 learning. Personalising and tailoring education through the use of ICT supports students in working at their own pace, increasing motivation and improving attainment, regardless of challenges such as language or ability.
A PriceWaterhouse Coopers report, ‘The Economic Casefor Digital Inclusion‘ interestingly states that if all 1.6 million children in digitally excluded households had access to a computer and the internet at home, it could enhance their potential lifetime earnings by over £10.8 billion depending on how it affects their academic performance, especially at GCSE level.’
Shape the Future launches today. It’s an innovative, simple and cost effective way to get all your students using 1:1 devices at home and in the classroom. The affordability of this PC and software package is supported by Microsoft’s global digital inclusion programme, in collaboration with RM Education and Intel. Only available from RM Education, this device and software package has been speciﬁcally designed to help you provide a great value device programme for all students and their teachers.
The launch event led by RM Education, Microsoft and Intel is happening today (Monday 5th November 2012). This will launch of the UK’s first Shape the Future project at Shireland Collegiate Academy in Sandwell. This high profile initiative aims to provide 1:1 learning through technology to all students regardless of their background. The speakers include Dr Vanessa Pittard - Department for Education, Kirsty Tonks - Director of E-Learning and Transition, Shireland Collegiate Academy, Joice Fernandes - Worldwide Senior Director of Shape the Future and Mike Allen - Managing Director, RM Education.
The launch event is now full, but watch out for tweets, further posts on this blog and the Shape the Future Facebook page to find out about what’s happening on the day.
Here are just some of the devices included in the package. There are some excellent offers, including Windows 8 tablets which are perfect for students and teachers.
Connectivity, Software & Warranty
Shape the Future can also be combined with school ICT strategies, such as personal device schemes, to ensure learners have 1:1 ICT access at school and at home.
For more information about this excellent project to get students and teachers digitally included, go to www.rm.com/shapethefuture and https://www.facebook.com/shapethefutureproject
Following the recent release of Microsoft Surface, we were really keen to find out how Surface is working out in an education environment. We interviewed Ian Mills from Bolton Metropolitan Council and Mike Richardson from Stockton Borough Council. Both these guys work in local authority roles that support schools with the use of IT. Here’s what they said after some time exploring the new Microsoft Surface device:
Surface is a really easy out of the box tablet, the manual is tiny manual and its simple to set up and start using. I was really impressed with the touch interface, having used an iPad in the past, I felt the Surface touch element was really good.
I have other Windows 8 devices including a home laptop and a work laptop. I love the way that Windows 8 brings all those devices together. I really like the remote desktop app, so I was able to use Surface as a primary device. I am working on Surface now in place of my laptop – I haven’t used my laptop for days! Initially I was concerned about not having Outlook, but the Mail app allows me to do everything I want across all my email accounts.
I’ve had some interesting feedback from schools too. The kickstand has been very popular because it means that the pupils don’t have to hunch over the device like they did for the iPad, which was causing their posture to suffer. The kickstand is also robust so it’s perfect for schools.
Microsoft Office on Surface is a huge advantage for teachers and pupils, as it allows them to easily create all the documents they need to. The battery life was also brilliant, lasting for the whole school day.
I actually gave my Granddad a Surface and a Kindle Fire to play with, to see which would be more suitable for him as a Christmas present. He couldn’t understand how to use the Kindle at first, but he was able to start surfing the web immediately with the Surface device.
One of my favourite features of Surface included the ability to print. I connected to my wireless HP printer at home immediately for really quick and easy printing. I also liked the multi-tasking option to ‘’snap’’ to multiple apps running simultaneously to the screen.
Something else I liked that will be key for schools is the flexibility, particularly with the saving to areas. The ability to save work on a school network or Skydrive will be great for schools.
I was able to run my wireless mouse and keyboard straight away using the USB which was really impressive. This will give different working style options for schools, as well as the touch screen option. The solid design of the tablet and the kickstand is also absolutely ideal for the school environment.
I think that OneNote is excellent for the classroom, and I really liked the Skype app too.
I gave Surface to a 6 year old, and she was able to access all the apps and games easily and said the Surface was her favourite device.
Another big deal for schools is the ability to use Flash sites. This means there are hundreds of playable games that can be accessed from Surface. Some sites do need to be ‘’whitelisted’’ by the IE team for them to work though, but most games are easily accessible.
The start screen is something else I really love, it’s so simple but displays so much information on the front screen. I like the information that is fed to you from the LiveTiles, which has encouraged me to look further into the live information being displayed on the tiles.
I think overall Surface has a fresh design and the wow factor.
Both Mike and Ian interact with schools on a daily basis regarding IT and so they really understand the benefits that Surface RT can bring to Education. They also mentioned that they are really looking forward to Windows 8 Surface.
Microsoft IT Academy is our Membership Program that provides Institutions with discounted curriculum learning resources and exams. IT Academy helps Institutions deliver Microsoft Qualifications to their IT Staff, Teachers and Students respectively. The Microsoft IT Academy Curriculum offers today’s students the hands on skills and experience that they will need to succeed in their education and their careers. With Microsoft Certification, students can validate those skills and pursue a career path in business or technology.
Did you know that you can add IT Academy to your current Volume Licensing Agreement e.g. EES, OVS-ES, and School Agreements, at a special discounted rate?
IT Academy program members receive attractive price reductions on Microsoft certification exams aimed at enabling skills development and certification for their students and staff.
As part of the IT Academy Program subscription, members receive free Digital MOAC Courseware from Wiley on Office and MTA curriculum, Free Teachers Certification Starter Kits (10 MOS, 20 MTA) New Welcome packs with USB keys, posters etc and enhanced ELearning and EReference Libraries, including Office 365 and Windows 8 content and more…
Microsoft Certification Road Map
The Microsoft Certification Roadmap is designed to help members choose their certification and career path. It provides a guide to Microsoft certifications in the following areas:
· MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) an industry recognised qualification that enables students to tap the full functionality of the Microsoft Office programs and ensure students leave with skills that will increase their employment opportunities.
· MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate) for students looking for a career in technology, the MTA certification validates core technology concepts in infrastructure, database and development.
(MTA exams and classroom content are included as benefits within the Microsoft IT Academy program subscription)
· MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) supports the IT Staff professional development and goes toward their CPD points.
· Customisable lesson plans Downloadable and customisable lesson plans help you save time on class preparation and hone in on which topics are most important for a given technology.
· Tool to create online courses The Microsoft Learning Content Development System (LCDS) is a complimentary tool that enables you to create high-quality, interactive, online courses and Microsoft Silverlight Learning Snacks.
· Course completion certificates Access to a customisable course completion certificate. Just download the certificate, add your school logo, insert the course and student information, then print and distribute. Course completion certificates are a great way to recognize the achievement of students that take and pass your course.
· Marketing resources to promote your IT Academy Unlimited access to marketing materials to promote your IT Academy and special offers within the program.
· Digital Literacy course Online courses to help you and students develop a fundamental understanding of computers and the essential skills you need to begin computing with confidence.
· Academic pricing on Microsoft Official Curriculum Advanced-level members receive academic pricing on Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) textbooks, designed for three- to five-day courses, seminars, and workshops.
· Academic pricing on Microsoft Official Academic Courseware All members receive academic pricing on Microsoft Official Academic Course (MOAC) textbooks, designed for semester- and quarter-based courses.
· Academic pricing on Microsoft Technical Certification exams All members receive academic pricing on Microsoft Certification exams for students, educators, and other staff members.
· Discounts on E-Reference Library subscriptions from Microsoft Press All members receive a 60 percent discount on annual subscriptions to the Full E-Reference Library, which is the complete collection of E-Reference Libraries for Microsoft Press.
· Discounts on Microsoft Certified Trainer memberships All members receive a 25 percent discount on enrollments in the Microsoft Certified Trainer program for qualified educators.
IT Academy is a great example for Institutions to showcase their commitment to their Student Learning, by enabling the institution to be a certified Microsoft IT Academy Centre that up skills their IT staff and supports their Teacher learning plans and empowers students to boost their employability potential.
For Further Information on how to sign up for IT Academy please contact the Education Team at email@example.com or alternatively contact your reseller.
Ergo have come up with a great tablet that can be used in education environments, with lots of nice features for teachers. The Ergo Hybrid is the first model in the new range of sleek, slim, Windows® 8 compatible Tablets.
Unless you’ve been hiding in a cupboard somewhere, you might know that Windows 8 was launched on Friday 26th October 2012. Windows 8 is helping bring about a new era of technology both inside and outside of the classroom. Windows 8 has been re-imagined for learning and is optimised to bring learning to life, enabling students to consume, collaborate, and create in new and exciting ways.
Ergo are embracing Windows 8 with this new tablet that seems to meet the needs of teachers in the classroom. With a price of only £599 (+ VAT), it’s cost effective too.
There is a dock available (with keyboard and additional battery for £75), which enables teachers to be mobile and have more functionality if they need it. With a longer battery life as well, it means that teachers can use their tablets for a full working day without having to charge it.
The tablet has a large screen which provides easy access to programs, which is important for teachers to find apps quickly. There is full support for touch, mouse and keyboard, so teachers have a choice of how they want to work.
If you’re worried about your confidential information, the Ergo Hybrid table has enhanced security with Trusted Boot, so you can be sure that your data is secure.
Here is a more detailed spec of the tablet:
The University of Bolton are taking a new approach to managing their relationships and engagement with current and potential business customers, implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Luke Stansfield, Information Systems Developer at the University, explained. “We had no real system to manage relationships and interactions with our customers and business contacts. This was identified as a real risk which could potentially damage the excellent business relationships we had developed. We knew that if we could improve the effectiveness of our Continuing Professional Development marketing campaigns, these could provide a valuable source of additional income.
We also wanted to effectively manage the diversity of relationships between individual companies and different parts of our organisation.”
Microsoft Dynamics CRM:
“It was the logical choice for us”, said Luke. “We are predominantly a Microsoft-based institution and, unlike some of the alternatives, it offered out-of-the-box installation with the capability to customise it to fit our processes. It also enabled us to complete the project within budget.”
Recognised for its category-leading capabilities, Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps to increase productivity and create a connected organisation that is equipped to please customers. It provides a powerful set of CRM capabilities within the familiar Microsoft Outlook application, helping to reduce learning time and leverage existing investment on Microsoft Office.
Maximising cross selling:
A key part of the new solution was to enable academic staff within all schools to add and maintain their contacts and interactions with external businesses in a central CRM database. This would enable monitoring of the response to enquiries and highlight and escalate those that were not being dealt with within an acceptable time frame. It would also facilitate the cross-selling of services to existing and past customers and allow for the effective management of marketing campaigns to ensure response was maximised.
With these requirements established, Collabco were able to work closely with key University staff to produce a detailed functional requirement that covered: BSDU, marketing, data migration, security, integration and reporting. This then facilitated a gap/fit analysis together with a comprehensive gap resolution list as the basis for the design of the new CRM solution.
Managing contacts across the University:
After implementing a pilot, the full solution went live in March 2011 and since then the University has continually increased the use of the new platform. “We have so far run a number of successful marketing campaigns utilising it”, said Luke. “It has proved its worth and more people within the University are now beginning to see the benefits it can bring.”
Importantly, the solution will eventually be used to manage contacts across the entire University, something that was identified as an issue at the outset of the project.
A platform for the future:
“We have developed a strong working relationship with Collabco”, concluded Luke. “They took the time at the outset of the project to understand the way that we worked and how we wanted to implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This gave us the confidence that the final solution would meet our needs, rather than us having to change to meet the software’s functionality.
“I was impressed with their attitude and professionalism during the actual implementation. On a number of occasions they worked out-of-hours to ensure that project deadlines were met and we came in on time and within budget.
In Windows 8, for the first time we have an operating system which is multilayered and capable of running on a range of devices from traditional laptops to tablets. It is culturally relevant to young people, slick to use and integrates with some of the best of breed cloud productivity applications (including Microsoft Office 365 for education). Combined with appropriate pedagogical processes, good leadership and sensible network management, perhaps we have finally reached a time in our short history where technology can have that transformative impact on young people and students that it deserves.
Take a look at this video to see what you can do with Windows 8 in education.