NZ Education Blog

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

October, 2013

  • Student Advantage delivers Office Pro Plus to over 1million New Zealand students, at no additional cost

    Today Microsoft announced the Student Advantage programme, which will help ensure all students at New Zealand schools and higher education institutions have access to the productivity tools used in most New Zealand workplaces, before they enter the workforce. 

    Beginning 1 December 2013, every school and tertiary provider in New Zealand that licenses Office for staff and faculty will be eligible to get Office 365 Pro Plus for its students at no additional cost.

    This comes off the back of The IDC Workforce Readiness Study, released today by Microsoft, which reveals the key skills that people looking for work in high-growth, high-salary jobs need. Behind core communication skills and attention to detail, the third most important skill for prospective employees is knowing how to use Microsoft Office.

    Paul Muckleston Managing Director of Microsoft New Zealand, says Student Advantage gives schools and academic institutions the tools they need to better prepare students for entering the workforce, without spending additional money. 

    “The impact of Student Advantage for New Zealand students is going to be far reaching. We believe it will help address the country’s challenge of ensuring equity of access for all students to eLearning, as more than one million students will be eligible for Office 365 ProPlus under this new benefit.”

    More information can be found here: 

    http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_on_the_issues/archive/2013/10/15/microsoft-announces-new-student-advantage-program-to-prepare-students-for-tomorrow-s-jobs.aspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2013/oct13/10-15skillspr.aspx

    For New Zealand schools to take up this added benefit, the steps are:

    - Add the zero-cost Student Advantage sku to your Microsoft agreement; and

    - Deploy the no-cost Office 365 A2 Plan service for staff and students; then

    - Students are able to download the Office Pro Plus client software to their devices (up to 5 devices per student)

    Please contact your Microsoft Reseller for more details:

    - For schools enrolled in the Microsoft Schools Agreement with the Ministry of Education, please contact Datacom on 0800 22 55 428

    - For all other schools, please contact your Academic Reseller or partner

     

  • Windows 8.1 is here!

    You may have heard, Windows 8.1 has been released today! We are very pleased to announce that it is available for free download right here. If you have a PC running Windows 8, there are a huge variety of reasons to upgrade to the new version. This update will introduce you to many useful tools and we can't wait to see what you think of them!

    So, what's new in Windows 8.1?

    • Start faster. The Start button has returned to the desktop—tap or click to get to Start. If you prefer, you can now go straight to the desktop when you sign in, or use the same background for both your desktop and Start. And see all your apps at once in the new all-apps view.
    • Search everywhere. With Bing smart search you can search once and see everything—from the web, or the settings, files and apps on your PC—and act on search results right away. Play a song, call a friend, open an app, or get to your favorite site. Just search and do. (Certain features unavailable in some regions.)
    • Do more at once. Chat while gaming, shop while watching, or work while listening. Depending on your screen size, you can now see up to four apps on your screen at once and move through all the ways you use your PC with ease.
    • Get more apps. In the redesigned Windows Store, you'll discover apps built only for Windows 8.1, new community favorites, and personalized recommendations. This update also gives you some great new built-in apps like Reading List and Food + Drink. And now you'll be able to install your apps on all your tablets and PCs running Windows 8.1.
    • Use it your way. On your Start screen, there are more tile sizes, more color options, and animated backgrounds. On your lock screen, you can see a slide show of your favorite photos and take photos—all without unlocking your PC.
    • Type smoothly. The updated touchscreen keyboard learns as you type, making suggestions based on what you've written. If you use multiple languages, you can type text more easily with new keyboard layouts. Emoji are now in color.
    • Always have your files. Save documents, photos, and other files to SkyDrive automatically so you'll have them anywhere—even on another device. And they'll be safe if something happens to your PC.
    • Browse better. Internet Explorer 11 has faster load times, a full-screen experience that includes side-by-side browsing of sites, and real-time info from favorite sites delivered to your Start screen.

    You can learn even more about the Windows 8.1 features here and take a look at Mashable's recent post, 10 Reasons You Should Upgrade to Windows 8.1 Now.

  • Learning set to accelerate in two Auckland schools as Microsoft NZ awards classroom sets of Surface RTs

    Two of New Zealand’s most tech-savvy schools, both in Auckland, have been awarded classroom sets of Microsoft Surface RTs in recognition of their leadership in digital learning.

    Microsoft New Zealand is giving Botany Downs Secondary College and Ferguson Intermediate School in Otara 25 Surface RTs that will become a shared resource and accelerate the schools’ innovative teaching practices. Both schools are Microsoft Partner in Learning schools, meaning Microsoft has partnered with them to up skill teachers and increase the use of technology as a learning tool.

    These schools have become so skilled at using technology in the classroom that international delegations of teachers have visited to learn from them. Last month, both Botany Downs Secondary College and Ferguson Intermediate School were further recognised when they became two of only 34 schools in the world to be a World Tour School, an honour that recognises the colleges as global leaders in education innovation.   

    Mike Leach, Principal of Botany Downs Secondary School, says most tablets are designed for people to passively consume information, like watching videos and reading current events. In contrast schools need devices that allow students to learn by creating things independently, as well as working together.

    “We’ve got lots planned for our Surface RTs. Every one of our students will benefit from using programmes like PowerPoint and Word on a portable tablet and it allows us to actively engage them in an enjoyable way,” says Mike.

    Jenny Leach, Principal of Ferguson Intermediate School, agrees that these tablets will help excite her students about learning. She sees implementing up to date technology as a way of addressing digital inclusion and supporting the school’s broader community.

    “The best way we can prepare our students for success in our digital world is by giving them hands on experience with up to date technology. For most of them, their jobs will incorporate technology and it’s important that they know how to use it and how to collaborate with other people via technology,” says Jenny.

    Evan Blackman, Microsoft Education Sector Manager, says bringing technology into the classroom isn’t a nice to have anymore, it’s fundamental to learning.

    “This gift is tied into a much broader commitment Microsoft New Zealand has made to the education sector and these two specific schools. We’re working with teachers around the country to show them how to use technology in the classroom to make learning better. This means actively engaging students, giving them access to experts and getting them to collaborate with each other,” says Evan.

    Surface RTs are used throughout the education sector, including by tertiary students, because they have all the features people expect in a laptop, like Microsoft Office and a USB port, but remain small enough to easily carry around.

    We are looking forward to keeping you updated on each school's exciting digital learning journeys!

  • Register now for Cyclone's Microsoft Surface for Education Event!

    Cyclone is presenting the Surface Education Usage Seminar to give you the opportunity to meet the new Surface range! You'll get the opportunity to say hello to Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 and hear directly from Microsoft on what’s new. You'll also get to hear from local education sites that are currently deploying and using them.

    Learn how Windows 8.1 makes a strong case for doing everything within the modern-style interface.

    Cyclone has been appointed one of the official resellers of the Surface range and they have the resources available that can assist on all procurement, pedagogical and deployment services for everything Surface related.

    You can attend the seminar on any of the following dates:

    Christchurch: 30th October, 2:30 - 4:00
    Auckland: 7th November, 2:30 - 4:00
    Wellington: 21st November, 2.30 - 4:00

    You can find out more and register here! We look forward to seeing you!

  • 21 Steps to 21st Century Learning Workshop registrations now open!

    Please join us at the complimentary 21 Steps to 21st century learning workshop in November, 2013. This two-day seminar is designed to help school leaders clarify their vision for 1:1 learning and building an executable framework to bring this to life. Facilitated by world education leader, Bruce Dixon, the workshop is designed to support school Principals and eLearning leaders to work together. We recommend two leaders attend from each school.

    In the workshop you will work through the 5 Phases that outline the Design and Deployment Guide to 1:1 learning:

    • Phase 1 – The Compelling Case for Change: Create a solid foundation for a 1:1 initiative, with a clear vision and actionable, measurable goals.

    • Phase 2 – Redesign Learning and teaching: Focusing on rethinking and redesigning all aspects of teaching practice and the learning experience, based on the information garnered and ideas developed in Phase One.

    • Phase 3 – Lead the Shift: The vision and goals have been set. It’s time to turn the vision into reality, and theory to practice. This phase develops strategies in the key areas of stakeholder engagement, financial models, equity of access, community buy-in and teacher professional growth to support your initiative.

    • Phase 4 – Manage Implementation: Once all the strategies for change are in place and being put into action, schools are ready to plan the actual 1:1 implementation. This implementation covers a range of tasks, including managing the budget, creating a 21st century learning environment, conducting a readiness assessment and establishing critical partnerships, culminating in the actual start

    • Phase 5 – Evaluate Continuously: Effective evaluation of your initiative is the backbone of its success. Without any genuine commitment to such a process, the impact of the previous 20 Steps can be marginal. It underpins the ongoing development of a program and ensures the best possible outcomes for students, staff and the school.

    Places are limited, register your interest now by emailing nzeducation@microsoft.com! To find out more, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/nz/21steps/.  


  • Apples and Oranges

    The following post was originally blogged on The Official Microsoft Blog and is written by Frank Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Communications at Microsoft. We thought it was a fantastic read and are so excited to share it with you.

    "I’m still over in Abu Dhabi, where the only thing hotter than the weather are the new Windows devices unveiled by Nokia this week.

    I have to say, I’m really excited for a 1080p Lumia with a third column on my start screen so I can keep a close eye on more people, more news, more stuff.

    Of course, even with the 720p display I’m using right now, I could easily spot some coverage today that needs to be corrected.

    Seems like the RDF (Reality Distortion Field) typically generated by an Apple event has extended beyond Cupertino.

    So let me try to clear some things up.

    Note: If you are the TL;DR type, let me cut to the chase. Surface and Surface 2 both include Office, the world’s most popular, most powerful productivity software for free and are priced below both the iPad 2 and iPad Air respectively. Making Apple’s decision to build the price of their less popular and less powerful iWork into their tablets not a very big (or very good) deal.

    Since we launched the Surface line of tablets last year, one of the themes we’ve consistently used to talk about them is that they are a terrific blend of productivity and entertainment in one lightweight, affordable package. In fact, we’re confident that they offer the best combination of those capabilities available on the market today.

    That’s not an accident, it’s exactly what we set out to design. We saw too many people carrying two devices around (one for work and one for play) and dealing with the excess cost, weight and complexity that “dual carrying” entails. We believed that there was another, better way: A tablet built to offer great touch-based entertainment activities combined with a productivity powerhouse that helps people crank through the stuff they have to get done before they watch zombies or flick birds.

    That’s what Surface is. A single, simple, affordable device that helps you both lean in and kick back. Let’s be clear – helping folks kill time on a tablet is relatively easy. Give them books, music, videos and games, and they’ll figure out the rest. Pretty much all tablets do that.

    But helping people be productive on a tablet is a little trickier. It takes an understanding of how people actually work, how they get things done, and how to best support the way they do things already.

    The good news is that Microsoft understands how people work better than anyone else on the planet. We created the personal computing revolution by giving people around the world a low-cost, powerful, easy-to-use device that helped them accomplish an unbelievable array of tasks. And together, Windows and Office ended up reaching every corner of the globe and powering every academic institution, industry and profession. Of course both Windows and Office are evolving all the time – to reflect the way people work today – more social, more mobile and connected through the cloud.

    We literally wrote the book on getting things done. And that’s how we knew that Surface needed to include three things to help people do their best work:

    1. The gold standard in productivity software – Office.
    2. Faster and more precise input methods like keyboard/trackpad.
    3. The ability to use apps and documents side by side, allowing the comparisons, analysis and synthesis that happens frequently during content creation.

    That’s what we delivered. And it’s why the Surface is the most productive tablet you can buy today. We also knew that it would make our competitors take notice. That as consumers got a taste of devices that could really help them get things done, they would see alternatives as being more limited.

    And so it’s not surprising that we see other folks now talking about how much “work” you can get done on their devices. Adding watered down productivity apps. Bolting on aftermarket input devices. All in an effort to convince people that their entertainment devices are really work machines.

    In that spirit, Apple announced yesterday that they were dropping their fees on their “iWork” suite of apps. Now, since iWork has never gotten much traction, and was already priced like an afterthought, it’s hardly that surprising or significant a move. And it doesn’t change the fact that it’s much harder to get work done on a device that lacks precision input and a desktop for true side-by-side multitasking.

    But you wouldn’t know that from reading some of the coverage I’ve read today. Perhaps attendees at Apple’s event were required to work on iOS devices that don’t allow them to have two windows open for side-by-side comparisons, so let me help them out by highlighting the following facts:

    • The Surface and Surface 2 are less expensive than the iPad 2 and iPad Air respectively, and yet offer more storage, both onboard and in the cloud.
    • … come with full versions of Office 2013, including Outlook, not non-standard, non-cross-platform, imitation apps that can’t share docs with the rest of the world.
    • … offer additional native productivity enhancing capabilities like kickstands, USB ports, SD card slots and multiple keyboard options.
    • … include interfaces for opening multiple windows, either side by side or layered to fit the way most people actually work.

    So, when I see Apple drop the price of their struggling, lightweight productivity apps, I don’t see a shot across our bow, I see an attempt to play catch up.

    I think they, like others, are waking up to the fact that we’ve built a better solution for people everywhere, who are getting things done from anywhere, and who don’t have hard lines between their personal and professional lives. People who want a single, simple, affordable device with the power and flexibility to enhance and support their whole day."

  • Wintec wins at the Microsoft Tertiary ICT Innovation Awards

    Wintec (Waikato Institute of Technology) took out the supreme award at the 2013 Microsoft Tertiary ICT Innovation Awards held in Tauranga last week.

    Held at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic as part of the 31st Annual Tertiary ICT Conference, Wintec won the award for its innovative use of cloud-based technologies to improve the overall experience for students, staff and stakeholders.

    http://techday.com/educate/news/win-win-for-wintec-at-microsoft-tertiary-ict-innovation-awards/171156/

    Matt Bostwick, Tertiary Education Sector Manager at Microsoft New Zealand, says it is inspiring to see New Zealand’s tertiary education institutions leading the way in the use of innovative technology.

    “The conference theme for this year, ‘Get Connected’, highlights a key trend in the education sector where the application of smart technologies is helping universities and polytechnics to better connect staff and students to each other and collaborative learning environments, as well as improve outcomes for learners, educators and the broader community.”

    Wintec received the Microsoft Innovation Award trophy and prizes, including Microsoft Surface Pro tablets in recognition of its cutting-edge work.  Pictured below is Gary Johnston, Wintec CIO, with the Microsoft Innovation Award trophy.

    The two category winners were:

    · Innovation in Connecting Students to New Technologies and Services: Bay of Plenty Polytechnic for its student portal and mobile app project.

    · Innovation in Connecting Staff and Students to Collaborative Teaching and Learning Environments: Te Wananga o Aotearoa for its iMarae mobile app.

     

  • Microsoft ULearn Surface Pro Winner Announced!

    We are very pleased to announce that the winner of the Surface Pro Competition at the ULearn Conference last week is Clint Hawke, Deputy Principal of Taita College. Congratulations Clint! Your new Surface Pro is coming your way very soon.

    We had a fantastic time at ULearn, and would love hear your feedback on the conference. Tweet us your thoughts @MSNZEducation! 

  • Partners in Learning School Research Live on PILN!

    We are very pleased to announce that Partners in Learning School Research (PILSR) is now available on the Partners in Learning Network.

    PILSR provides individual schools with an online research tool to measure their own innovative teaching practices that develop the skills students need for life and work today. Based on globally-recognized research, the PILSR research tool is international in scope, enables school-specific measurement of innovative teaching, and provides a common language to drive community dialogue and systemic change – all at no cost to schools.

    So what is it? It's a free, online survey sent out by a school administrator to school leaders and teachers to gain their individual self-assessment on the current state of innovative teaching practices in their school and their own class. Everyone is encouraged to participate (it only takes ten minutes), and all responses are anonymous and confidential.

     Once your surveys have been taken, your school receives a data-driven, action-oriented report with concrete recommendations for how your school can develop and expand its innovative teaching and learning. The surveys can be used to measure progress by establishing a baseline of your school's current teaching practices using the initial survey results, and then conducting subsequent research every year thereafter to assess how those practices have evolved.

    Find out more and get started here!

  • Win a Surface Pro at ULearn with Microsoft

     

    We'd love to see you at ULearn this week in Hamilton.   Attend a Microsoft seminar and visit us on our stand to go into the draw to win a Surface Pro!

     

  • Microsoft names three local Surface resellers

    We are very pleased to announce that Microsoft New Zealand has this week introduced its Surface portfolio to our local business channel via three partners. Effective from the 1st October 2013, the resellers which will stock the Surface portfolio are New Era, Cyclone Computers and Telco Technology Services (TTS).

    In addition to offering Microsoft's extended warranty and accidental damage, resellers bring a variety of value-added services to the Surface family such as asset tagging, custom imaging, kitting, onsite service and support, device recycling, and data protection.

    "The addition of these authorised resellers is a continuation of Microsoft's devices-and-services strategy, and extends our Surface family of devices, enabled by cloud services, to more organisations," says Brent Kendrick, Director of Small and Mid-size Business and Partner Group, Microsoft New Zealand. "We look forward to working closely with these partners to better serve their commercial customers. As we move quickly into future phases of this program, we will activate more partners to sell Surface devices."

    To find out more, read the full press release here.

  • Join Microsoft at ULearn

    We're very pleased to be part of ULearn in Hamilton this week.    Please come and see us at our stand (#34-35), and join us at the Microsoft seminars below.  You may get lucky and win a Surface Pro!

     

     

  • Virtual University Webcast - Understanding the Learning Strategies of the 21st Century Learner October 23 2013

    On October 23rd, 2013, Microsoft Partners in Learning is presenting a virtual University webcast on understanding the learning strategies of the 21st century learner. You can register here, right now!

    Join this great dialogue on the 5 best strategies every 21st century learner needs to succeed in school and in the workplace. Why a capacity to learn is more important than knowing. Topics covered will be:

    • How to remove the roadblocks to learning
    • 3 Steps to understanding everything you read
    • Best Study Skills for 21st century learners
    • Technology strategies that enhance learning

    During the webinar, three Amazing Grades books will be given away to the first three attendees asking questions. Amazing Grades is a worldwide goodwill book with 101 authors from 13 countries around the world and includes a special bonus chapter by Nasha Fitter, Worldwide Lead of Education for Microsoft.

    Learn about the presenters:

    Pat Wyman is a College Professor, founder and CEO of HowToLearn.com and best-selling author of Amazing Grades: 101 Best Ways to Improve Your Grades Faster and Spelling Made Easy: Learn Your Words in Half the Time.

    Bonnie Terry, best-selling author of School Strategies for ADHD Kids, Five Minutes To Better Reading Skills, and Ten Minutes To Better Study Skills and one of the co-authors of Amazing Grades is with us today. She is a Board Certified Educational Therapist and internationally recognized as America’s Leading Learning Specialist and the founder of BonnieTerryLearning.com.

    Susan Kruger, M.Ed. is the founder of StudySkills.com and best-selling author of SOAR® Study Skills: A Simple & Efficient System for Getting Better Grades in Less Time. She will be speaking on the best study skills for 21st century learners.

    Don't forget to register here!