NZ Education Blog

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

April, 2013

  • Which Windows 8 PC is right for your school? Looking at the Surface Pro

    The future of educational technology is “Bring Your Own Device”, (BYOD), and we are seeing more and more schools moving away from providing devices for students every day.   

    BYOD has allowed for there to be a one-to-one ratio of students with a diverse range of technological devices. Here are just a few of the benefits students gain from bringing their own devices to class:

    • Student engagement and motivation is increased
    • Cost savings for schools
    • Students are able to access their studies, assignment and test material anytime, anywhere
    • Problem solving, creativity and many more 21st Century skills are fostered and developed
    • The ability to collaborate, communicate work, information and ideas between students and teachers
    • Allowing a diverse range of mediums for students to produce and present information

    Check out this video. The UK Microsoft education team demonstrate one possible device students and teachers can consider: the Surface Pro. Soon to be available in New Zealand (before the end of May!), we give you a sneak peek into the clever technological benefits the Surface Pro brings to the classroom.

    If you enjoy the regular updates from Microsoft on the NZ education sector you receive from us, like our Facebook page. We've just started it up, and look forward to providing you with more great educational insights every week.

  • Microsoft releases NZ privacy guide for Office 365

    New Zealand organisations and educational institutions are quickly deploying cloud computing. The following article, this week published on the Microsoft GovTech blog, explains that while the low prices and convenience of cloud computing are appealing, there are also important questions to ask around privacy, security and data integrity. As a member of the education industry, the answers to these questions have great value as a current or future user of cloud computing in your organisation.

    Waldo Kuipers, Corporate Affairs Manager at Microsoft NZ, says “Organisations know that trust matters. They need to keep business information secure, and do the right thing on privacy. But people often tell us they’re unsure what to ask.”

    In February, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner published a plain English cloud computing guide. That guidance is available at http://privacy.org.nz/using-the-cloud/.

    “Headlines about information leaks have raised awareness, and Kiwi organisations are taking privacy seriously. They want their move to the cloud to improve privacy and security, so they’re asking us to take them through this cloud guidance,” says Waldo.

    Today, Microsoft NZ has released a standard response to help organisations assess the Office 365 cloud service, based on the cloud guidance from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. “It’s a very straightforward way for people to work through this official cloud privacy guidance if they’re considering Office 365,” explains Waldo.

    Andrew Hunt, CEO of technology support company Kinetics Group, says, “Electronic records are critical. I ask people, ‘How well are you taking care of your data?’ Too often we’re asked to come in after data has been lost. It’s so much better to prevent issues in the first place.”

    Privacy Awareness Week 2013 is next week, from 28 April to 4 May. “It’s like checking the batteries on your smoke alarm or your car’s warrant of fitness, you need to check periodically that everything is in order,” says Andrew.

    The Office of the Privacy Commissioner's guidance says, “Think of what risks you currently have with handling personal information. Will using the cloud increase or decrease those risks?” Andrew agrees, “The guidance from the Privacy Commissioner is a valuable checklist to use with current and future providers. If you choose carefully, cloud services can definitely be a step up.” 

    With Office 365, Microsoft makes a contractual commitment to use customer data only to provide the Office 365 service to customers of the service. “We think this use limitation is important because customer data could include sensitive or personal information about your staff, clients, patients, customers, or students,” says Waldo. “Microsoft’s policy is not to use Office 365 customer data for other purposes, such as profiling people for advertising or improving advertising services.”

    A recent upgrade to Office 365 added new security features, including the option to deploy data loss prevention rules that can help prevent sensitive information from being leaked by email. Upgrades to Office 365 are automatically available to customers, so they can have the latest technology at their fingertips.

    “Privacy and security have been a big focus for Office 365 from the outset. We hope Office 365 will play a part in helping many New Zealand organisations improve privacy, security, and service continuity disciplines in a cost effective way,” says Waldo.

    The standard response for Office 365 is available at http://aka.ms/NZprivacyOffice365.

    Want to learn more about deploying Office 365 in your educational institution? Visit our website to learn about Windows in the Classroom seminars and book one today!

  • Windows in the Classroom Tip #5 – The power of Windows To Go for schools

    Windows To Go is one of the excellent new features of Windows 8 in education. As a teacher, regularly preparing class material both at school and at home can be hard to manage. File transferring and saving various versions of the same document isn’t always easy and we end up with the wrong and unsaved versions. Windows To Go provides educators with an easy solution - an imaged version of Windows 8 that reflects your school desktop. It is a self-contained, portable operating system that runs solely on a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0.

    When started, the PC will boot from the USB device to a managed school desktop, which can even be password protected. Added to this, at their own discretion, teachers are given the freedom to choose which applications and security settings are set to that particular desktop.

    Windows To Go allows teachers to fully benefit from bringing their own PC to school if a balance of their personal and professional lives is desired. It also enables the flexibility of file sharing with colleagues and students if a teacher is unable to attend a presentation or meeting. 

    Check out this great 2 minute overview of Windows to Go and how it can be used in schools.

    Like what you see and want to learn more? Our Windows in the Classroom sessions are almost full. If you are interested in securing a spot, all you need to do is register your interest by emailing nzeducation@microsoft.com.

  • The IT Cloud Skills Gap

    It is no secret that many countries are facing an increasing talent deficit in light of the economic crisis and the current shortage of skills necessary to fill new jobs in the private sector. New Zealand is no exception. Brad Smith, Microsoft Executive Vice President and General Counsel, states “The economy faces a paradox: Too many Americans can’t find jobs, yet too many companies can’t fill open positions. There are too few Americans with the necessary science, technology, engineering and math skills to meet companies’ demand.”

    Take a look at this insightful infographic from Born to Learn, which covers the current state of IT jobs in cloud computing. IDC stated that there were over one and a half million cloud-related jobs that went unfilled in 2012. It is predicted that within in the next three years, that number will grow to 7 million open cloud positions. How can we tighten this gap moving forward? Our students will create and fill the jobs of the future. We need to educate them to become trained, certified and hired in STEM careers.

    So where can we start?  Microsoft's IT Academy programmes (www.microsoft.com/Itacademy) help schools and students bridge the technology skills gap with industry-recognised training and certification.   Students also need the best tools, so take a look at Microsoft's Dreamspark programme (www.dreamspark.com) which enables students to access Microsoft's professional design and development tools at no cost.   They can download these tools to their own devices and continue their learning at home.   

  • Windows in the Classroom Tip #4: Office 365 – Creating consistency in your students’ daily lives

    Teaching our students to develop time management skills and learn how to prioritise their school, work and personal lives is never an easy task. During Windows in the Classroom seminars, our education specialists teach senior leadership teams and teachers from all over New Zealand how our expectations of students can be better met with 21st Century technology. One of the fantastic benefits of Office 365, is the way in which Microsoft Lync and Outlook work together to create a seamless and consistent system of communication between students and teachers.

    Check out the video above to get an idea of how students and teachers can benefit from Office 365. Want to find out more?

    Windows in the Classroom seminars finish at the end of June – and our schedule is filling up fast! You can host a session at your school or attend one in your area. All you need to do is register your interest by emailing nzeducation@microsoft.com.

  • Partners in Learning offers free tools for educators – sign up now!

    Microsoft is committed to improving educational outcomes – and that is why we want to welcome you to Partners in Learning. It’s free to educators and schools all over the world - and you can get started today.

    Partners in Learning is a global support network with professional development training, community discussion, free software, step by step tutorials and tested lesson plans. A fantastic feature of Partners in Learning is The Learning Suite – a special selection of software, just for education. It gives you many of Microsoft’s most innovative applications and teacher resources in one simple download. It’s so easy!

    Partners in Learning also offers many other free tools for educators that you can check out here. But we’ll give you a quick insight to the innovative, 21st Century learning tools you can use right now, for free.

    Microsoft Photosynth is just one tool you can use for free, as a member of the Partners in Learning network. It uses interactive 3D technology to help students tell personal stories and explore places, events and activities. Students and teachers are now able to reconstruct a 3D experience from a flat photograph and gives both detailed synths and panorama experiences. It’s easy to use, lets you upgrade your teaching materials to include more visually stimulating content and helps students produce impressive results. Check out this video to get a better idea of the benefits that you could bring your students with Partners in Learning.

    So, what are you waiting for? Start inspiring your students today with new ideas and tools. Enroll here.

  • Windows in the Classroom Tip #3 – Co-authoring in Office Web Apps

    Last week, we looked at the benefits that Lync can bring students and teachers in creating an online classroom, accessible anywhere and at any time. Today, we are going to give you an insight into the co-authoring features of Office 365 that allow students to analyse data, brainstorm ideas and work collaboratively with their peers, in real time, on the browser.

    It is no secret that collaboration is critical when it comes to effective learning inside and outside the classroom. Now, the clever combination of SharePoint Online and Office 365 offers an innovation in document collaboration, whether that be through co-authoring a graph or designing a field trip plan.

    Check out these examples of the Excel and Word Apps that are being used by two people at the same time to edit their work.

    Students and teachers don’t even have to download and open the document, they can work together in real-time, editing the document in the browser. Web Apps will also work across a large variety of devices.

    Like what you see? Take a look at this video here and see how easy co-authoring with Office is for yourself!

    We’re still taking bookings for our Windows in the Classroom education specialists. If you like what you see and want to learn more, you can host a session at your school or attend one in your area. All you need to do is register your interest by emailing nzeducation@microsoft.com.

    The seminars will center around exploring the tools and technologies available to help educators teach 21st Century skills. For any school considering enhancing their one-to-one student learning programme, Windows in the Classroom will demonstrate the diversity of Microsoft software and relative devices available to aid student learning.

    You can also find out more at our website. Don’t miss out!

  • Anthony Salcito’s take on the role of Windows 8 in transforming education

    Anthony Salcito, Vice President for Microsoft Education, was this week thrilled to give a very informative demo of the innovations that Windows 8 is offering educators worldwide. And we are thrilled to share it. Salcito explains in detail how many of the new features and apps in Windows 8 are part of the solution that is helping to transform education today. Check out his demo below, we promise you’ll come away inspired to try out a new app or put a cool new trick into use – we certainly did!

    Are you interested to learn more about Windows 8, Office 365, or BYOD programmes? Give your staff and students the opportunity to benefit from the most innovative tools and technology of today and book your complimentary 2-hour Windows in the Classroom Seminar

    The seminars centre around exploring the tools and technologies available to help educators teach 21st Century skills. For any school considering enhancing their one-to-one student learning programme, it allows you to see the diversity of Microsoft software and HP devices applied to learning. Windows 8 will also be demonstrated through learning how it can be used to inspire students and improve educational outcomes.  

    We are still taking bookings for our Windows in the Classroom seminars. You can host a session at your school or attend one in your area. All you need to do is register your interest by emailing nzeducation@microsoft.com. You can also find out more at our website!

  • Exam preparation is made easy with OneNote

    It is no secret to any student that the trick to excelling during exam time lies within the quality of their note keeping throughout the year. The better their notes, the better prepared students are to be tested on the content. The better the test, the higher the grade. It’s a vicious cycle! But OneNote allows students to get organized well in advance of their test, assignment or exam. This is achieved by the functionality to identify examinable or important material during class in order to assist the student in focusing when it comes to that important time of year.

    As students take notes during a class, tutorial or lecture, they can now use a special tag to identify the material they know is important or may be tested. They can then focus their test prep on these notes. How do they do it? It’s called a tag.

    Creating a custom tag

    Students can easily create a custom tag within OneNote. For example, they could create "exam material" or "important content".

    Firstly, click the More button in the tags section.

    Then, click on Customize Tags.

    Click New Tag.

    Under the Display Name, type the tag you wish to use. For example, "Exam Material". You can then choose a symbol, font and highlighter colour for the tag you want to create.

    You can then use tags to categorise and prioritise your notes. Find out more here.

    Finding your tags, grouping them together and creating a summary page

    To search your tagged note, simply click the Find Tag button in the ribbon.

    You can then create a summary page of all of your tagged notes.

    Finally, a new page will appear in the current notebook section with a full list of all notes with your tag. Studying suddenly got so easy!

    You can find out about many more tips and tricks with OneNote at a Windows in the Classroom Seminar, where our education specialists demonstrate how Windows 8 and Office 365 can be utilized in the 21st Century Classroom.