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What can Windows 7 offer to schools?

Windows 7 is rapidly being implemented in schooling systems across the world, but what benefits does it have to offer?

Unlike previous versions of Windows, Windows 7 doesn’t require a step-up in the hardware required to run it. I upgraded a 2 year old Samsung NC10 Netbook sharing the hard-drive (in a separate partition) with another operating system. The NC 10 runs on a 1.6GHz Intel® Atom™ processor, with 1 GB of RAM and a 160 GB hard-drive.For system requirements, visit: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/products/system-requirements

KEY FEATURES

So lets take a look at those features of Windows 7 that are most relevant to schools and schooling.

Overview

Follow the link below to find out how Windows 7 technologies improve performance, reliability, security, and compatibility:

http://www.microsoft.com/learning/_silverlight/learningsnacks/win7/snack01/Default.html

Windows 7 gives users more ways to interact with their PCsTurn fingers into mice – a range of devices – from slates to high end laptops, and touch enabled monitors – take advantage of Windows 7’s Touch capabilities. In short, its about turning a PC into a mini Surface device. HP and Dell have both released a range of touch enabled devices. With touch enabled hardware, and the right software users can use their fingers to resize windows and objects. The free Windows 7 Touch Pack comes with a set of applications that show off these capabilities.

Windows Touch

For a closer look at Touch, check out this video – http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/help/videos/using-windows-touch Ray Fleming’s blog does a great job in explaining what Windows Touch means in Education – http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ukschools/archive/2009/11/25/windows-7-multi-touch-at-bett.aspx Ease of access – speech recognition, screen magnification, on-screen keyboard, narrator and visual notifications are key components in Windows 7. For more details about ease of access features, click here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/products/features/accessibility

Picture of Windows Speech Recognition

Create tutorials really easily

19 Tips Every Windows 7 User Needs To Know
“Problem Steps Recorder” (psr.exe) combines screen captures with mouse tracking to record your actions. This applet tracks your mouse and keyboard input while taking screenshots that correspond with each new action. When you stop recording, your session is saved to an HTML slide show recreating your steps, to which you can add comments and annotations.

Windows 7 makes networks more efficientBranchCache caches data locally so users experience less of a delay when their PC requests data. See how BranchedCache works here:  http://www.microsoft.com/windows/enterprise/videos/windows-7/default.aspx#BranchCache

With DirectAccess, schools can ensure that all Internet access goes through their own filtering and proxy system, whether the laptop is being used at school or at home.http://www.microsoft.com/windows/enterprise/videos/windows-7/#DirectAccess

Deployment – Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM), offers image-management tools to help “deploy Windows images efficiently and quickly”. Check out the following “Learning Snack” to find out more about DISM.http://www.microsoft.com/learning/_silverlight/learningsnacks/win7/snack07/Default.html Cloud integrationA range of cloud enabled services come with Windows 7, two of which deserve a mention –Live Writer Live MovieMaker

More info:http://www.microsoft.com/learning/_silverlight/learningsnacks/win7/snack01/Default.htmlhttp://www.edugeek.net/forums/windows-7

What does Cloud based computing mean for schooling?

Cloud based computing is generating a lot of questions in Schooling Technology circles, but what does it really mean? How can it be exploited? What are the potential benefits?

The first thing we need is a definition of Cloud. Cloud based computing is generally thought centrally hosted services that can scale according to demand, with the advantage of significantly reducing costs. This differs from hosted services in as much as its elastic.. ie service levels can grow or shrink in response to varying demand levels.

But what of significantly reducing costs? In any one country there are usually data centres at Ministry, State and Local Education Authority levels. Each data centre will handle workloads that are common to other data centres – eg Student information (SIS) and management information (MIS). In some cases these data centres are used to distribute content, and manage learning. All this is underpinned by core infrastructure, security, identity, system management etc…

In other words, Ministry, state and local authority education departments solve very similar information management and technology problems in isolation, which is expensive and wasteful. It’s quite possible to aggregate the kinds of functions needed at various organisational levels and sell these on as hosted services, enabling individual organisational units to make savings on energy, hardware and platform maintenance costs.

So, the main opportunity behind cloud based services is to centralise datacentre functions, then let individual organisational units choose the services they want from a menu.

There are some early examples of this principal at work. For example, The Kentucky Department of Education just announced they are moving all their students, teachers and staff…more than 700,000 people…to Live@edu that will help them save more than $6.3 million over the next four years.

Live@Edu is known primarily as an e-mail service, but probably one of the most popular features of Live@edu is SkyDrive, which provides 25 gigabytes of cloud based storage for homework, documents, and projects.

Microsoft have also just made publicly available the final versions of the Office Web Apps on SkyDrive in the US, UK, Canada and Ireland. This opens up the exciting prospect of consuming productivity tools as a web-based service.

So what do you do if you want to start to exploit the Cloud in your schooling system?

First, start by exploring Live@Edu. E-mail is often one of the most expensive workloads to run, and the savings that Live@Edu can bring are enormous.

Secondly, look at what workloads are common between different datacentres and see where there could be significant savingsa and improvements in services.

Thirdly, through Private Public Partnerships, move relevant services into hosting envirnonments.

As Cloud offerings evolve, these steps will put you in a good position to exploit them.

We are in the early days of Cloud computing in schooling but the prospect of making huge savings, improving services and increasing effectiveness justifies the excitement we are seeing.

Office in the Cloud – what it means for schools

Cloud based computing is generating a lot of questions in Schooling Technology circles, but what does it really mean? How can it be exploited? What are the potential benefits?

The first thing we need is a definition of Cloud. Cloud based computing is generally thought centrally hosted services that can scale according to demand, with the advantage of significantly reducing costs. This differs from hosted services in as much as its elastic.. ie service levels can grow or shrink in response to varying demand levels.

But what of significantly reducing costs? In any one country there are usually data centres at Ministry, State and Local Education Authority levels. Each data centre will handle workloads that are common to other data centres – eg Student information (SIS) and management information (MIS). In some cases these data centres are used to distribute content, and manage learning. All this is underpinned by core infrastructure, security, identity, system management etc…

In other words, Ministry, state and local authority education departments solve very similar information management and technology problems in isolation, which is expensive and wasteful. It’s quite possible to aggregate the kinds of functions needed at various organisational levels and sell these on as hosted services, enabling individual organisational units to make savings on energy, hardware and platform maintenance costs.

So, the main opportunity behind cloud based services is to centralise datacentre functions, then let individual organisational units choose the services they want from a menu.

There are some early examples of this principal at work. For example, The Kentucky Department of Education just announced they are moving all their students, teachers and staff…more than 700,000 people…to Live@edu that will help them save more than $6.3 million over the next four years.

Live@Edu is known primarily as an e-mail service, but probably one of the most popular features of Live@edu is SkyDrive, which provides 25 gigabytes of cloud based storage for homework, documents, and projects.

Microsoft have also just made publicly available the final versions of the Office Web Apps on SkyDrive in the US, UK, Canada and Ireland. This opens up the exciting prospect of consuming productivity tools as a web-based service.

So what do you do if you want to start to exploit the Cloud in your schooling system?

First, start by exploring Live@Edu. E-mail is often one of the most expensive workloads to run, and the savings that Live@Edu can bring are enormous.

Secondly, look at what workloads are common between different datacentres and see where there could be significant savingsa and improvements in services.

Thirdly, through Private Public Partnerships, move relevant services into hosting envirnonments.

As Cloud offerings evolve, these steps will put you in a good position to exploit them.

We are in the early days of Cloud computing in schooling but the prospect of making huge savings, improving services and increasing effectiveness justifies the excitement we are seeing.