NZ Education Blog

Regular updates from Microsoft in the NZ education sector. Events and advice for education staff.

October, 2012

  • Update for Education Apps for Windows 8

    With the launch of Windows 8 last week its about time we told you some of the great education apps available.

    There are currently plenty of Education Apps in the Windows Store so I wont list them all but here are the some of the key apps for teachers and students:

      SAS Flash Cards gives you the ability to increase your knowledge by practicing with flash cards using Windows 8.

    The Periodic Table app contains chemical and physical information of all chemical elements

     Attendance allows instructors to take attendance with an easy to use interface that brings their students to life with photos

     My Study Life is a planner for student, teachers and lecturers. My Study Life is designed to make your study life easier by storing your classes, tasks (assignments, homework, revision) and exams in the cloud making your study life available wherever you are

     Mind8 is an easy to use Mind Map Application for Windows 8. You can use Mind8 for your thoughts, ideas, for taking notes, for your studies or as an organiser for your business tasks. It's an all-inclusive companion that helps you manage your daily life in every situation.

    I will keep you updated on anymore relevant Windows 8 Education apps that come up also.



  • University of Auckland wins at the Microsoft Tertiary ICT Innovation Awards

    Last week Microsoft hosted the 2012 Tertiary ICT Innovation Awards Dinner in Christchurch.

    These awards celebrate ICT excellence within the tertiary education sector. The two categories were Innovation in Integrating Everything for the Organisation and Innovation in Integrating Everything for Students – with the submissions focused on a range of innovations, from processes designed to improve efficiency or effectiveness of services, through to new products aimed at enabling educators and students to reach their full potential.

    The University of Auckland was awarded for its leadership of the Tuakiri New Zealand Access Federation, a service that supports research collaboration across the country’s universities, polytechnics and Crown Research Institutes. They received the Microsoft Innovation Award trophy and $10,000 of Microsoft Consulting Services in recognition of its cutting edge work.

    Evan Blackman, Education Manager at Microsoft New Zealand says it is hugely satisfying to see these education institutes leading the way in the implementation of innovative ICT services which directly enable better outcomes for the institution, its staff and its students.

    View the full media release here.



  • Last chance to submit your entry for the Innovative Educator Awards!

    Today is your last chance to submit your entry for the Innovative Educator Awards!

    Every year, Microsoft recognises New Zealand's most innovative educators to highlight and celebrate the great work achieved through utilising ICT in the classroom. Nominate yourself or one of your peers for a Microsoft Innovative Teacher Award.  All current full-time and part-time primary and secondary schools from both private and public schools throughout New Zealand can enter.

    Last year’s winner, physical education teacher Julia Breen from Howick College, has said that “Winning the award has been a real honour. The professional development opportunities have been outstanding” 

    Prizewinners will receive:
         Attendance at the Microsoft Partners in Learning Forum
         One Samsung Slate PC (RRP NZ $2,399) 
         One Xbox 360 Kinect Package for the winners school: (RRP NZ$599)
         And lots more

    Fill in an entry at

  • Botany Downs Secondary College first school to kick off the Windows 8 launch in 24 hour Skype-a-thon

    Anthony Salcito, Vice President - Worldwide Education at Microsoft, launched Windows 8 in education through a 24 hour Skype-a-thon. The first of the 24 Skype Calls in 24 time-zones around the world was held at Botany Downs Secondary College here in Auckland.

    Evan Blackman, Microsoft New Zealand’s Education Sector Manager took the 300 students and teachers through a Windows 8 introduction and demonstration, followed by a Windows 8 Skype call with Anthony Salcito himself.  The students then had the opportunity to ask any questions they had around the state-of-the-art, touch-enabled software which Anthony took the time to answer.

    New Zealand was the first country in the world to launch the latest Windows 8 operating system. The reimagined software is now available for  consumers, schools and businesses worldwide to experience all that Windows 8 has to offer – a beautiful new user interface, a wide range of apps (both local and international) with the opening of the Windows Store, all available on more than 1,000 Windows 8 certified PCs and tablets.

    Check out the fullmedia release for details on the latest Windows 8 Operating System.

    Follow Anthony and his team along their 24 hours Skype-a-thon journey #Microsofteducation


  • Live@edu to Office 365 for education - it's that easy




    Many NZ schools have been early cloud technology adopters. They are leveraging the free hosted email, calendar and Skydrive storage for students, staff and alumni provided by Microsoft Live@edu. With the advancements in cloud based productivity services and the appropriateness for schools and institutions to evaluate online hosted services, Microsoft Office 365 is a compelling set of technologies adding to the capabilities of Live@edu for the education sector.

    Those schools and institutions currently on the Live@edu platform are being presented with the opportunity to upgrade onto the Microsoft Office 365 for education plans. There is a highly useful set of resources available for IT administrators at the Live@edu transition center allowing a checklist to be worked through in preparation for beginning the upgrade. One of the latest additions to these resources is the ability for administrators to undergo a simulated Live@edu upgrade to Office 365 for education using an interactive virtual lab.

    No dates for schools and institutions have yet been assigned for automatic organisation upgrades however IT administrators have the option to manually kick off the upgrade process after completing the preparation checklist. The priority for schools on Live@edu would be to ensure the institution profile is up to date in the service management portal and to update the domain records so users are directed to the correct sign-in URL before and after the upgrade.


    It is recommended that you become familiar with the upgrade FAQ especially for those institutions that have custom integration and/or have extended their identity infrastructure to be aware of the technical considerations. It will be beneficial to engage your preferred IT partner to assist in removing or remediating any upgrade constraints.

    Microsoft has provided a well documented upgrade roadmap and collated supporting resources to assist in providing an smooth upgrade to Office 365 for education. Once upgraded to the Office 365 A1 plan, it would be advantageous to add on the A2 plan at no charge, providing the benefits of Lync Online, SharePoint Online and Office Web Apps. You can compare the core feature differences between Live@edu and Office 365 for education by viewing the document below.

    To support students and educators moving onto the service we also have useful educator resources available on the Microsoft Partners in Learning network, a number of Office 365 for education tips posted by Kelsi Benge and some great school and campus communications available for distribution.






  • "Valuable" Sessions for Educators at the Ulearn12 Education Conference

    Microsoft had a strong presence at last weeks Ulearn12 education conference, not only as a silver sponsor for the event but by showcasing three of Microsoft’s powerful educational offering; Office 365 for education, the global Partners in Learning Network and Microsoft OneNote. Each workshop was fully subscribed likely due to attendees seeing the value in discovering proven ways of extending innovation, collaboration and learning opportunities through Microsoft technologies and programmes. There was also an increased level of excitement as educators and IT professionals were provided insight into the imminent official global release of Windows 8, combining with new exciting hardware form factors, supporting school BYOD strategies and offering wealth of potential to meet student and educator needs within a classroom environment.

    A particularly valued session at the conference was the teacher run workshops. Theresa Bosch from Baradene College acknowledged her personal discovery and interest in OneNote through the title of her workshop: "Why was I not told this sooner? Microsoft OneNote simplifying and supporting Staff PLD". Richard Knuckey at Queen Margaret College also ran a deep dive session into their OneNote programme “Multi-purposed e portfolios in use for students and staff”, which was supported by their recent Interface magazine article.

    Also at the conference was Activboard NZ who were running the new Windows 8 software on their Clevertouch!

    For more information about Ulearn see their website.

  • Weekly Office 365 for Education Tip #7

    My last blog post I talked about the Interface article where it was announced that NZ high school Napier Girls High School was amongst one of the first to adopt Office365 for Education.

    Within this same article, Microsoft NZ Education Lead Evan Blackman also provides six reasons for schools to choose O365.
    I thought this would be a great tip for those of you thinking to adopt Office365 also:

    1. It Prepares Students for the Future: The suite gives them the tools to be more effective studying and entering the workforce. Why focus on tools they are not going to use again?
    2. Security and Protection of Student Online Identity – Do schools know what will happen when someone indexes online content with sender identity?
    3. Tools that Students and Teachers can use are Proper Tools – Theres no risk that documents will be degraded or lose formats.
    4. It's not just about Document Collaboration – This selection of tools offers a wide range of solutions, including Instant Messenger, chat and video conferencing with Lync Online.
    5. Schools don’t want an Ultimatum – It shouldn’t be only about being in the cloud. Users can sync documents on and offline with Sharepoint
    6. Whats the Support Structure? Micorosft provides a 24/7 service, with someone local to talk to and a local 0800 number. Plus there are people on the ground to chat to also.


    Do you have an Office365 for Education tip you would like to share? Comment on the blog or send me an email at

  • New Zealand High School adopts Office365 for Education

    Interface Magazine recently published an article on Napier Girls High School adopting Office365 for Education.

    The reason behind the school taking up the offer was to take advantage of the collaboration and communication services between students and staff.
    Principal Mary Nixon talked in the article about how her current staff are so familiar with their current Exchange environment that they prefered to work with this.

    "The school could do this through migrating our mailboxes onto Exchange Online. The Microsoft Office 2010 suite allows students and staff to produce quality work. Office Web Apps is a key enabler for managed, anywhere, anytime access to content. We are keen to explore the use of Microsoft Lync and its ability to provide true unified communications including phones. This could streamline our office processes and procedures".

    For more on this see the September issue of Interface magazine or learn more about Office365 on the webpage here.