Category Archives: Higher Education

Microsoft empowers educators and students creating tomorrow’s world

Digital technologies, the cloud, intelligence and analytics, mixed reality and truly engaging learning platforms have the capacity to transform the digital experience for every teacher, student, school, college and university.

School students looking at Surface tablets

At Microsoft we understand that one of our most important tasks is to empower students and educators with the tools, experiences and insights to create tomorrow’s world.

Technology helps democratise educational opportunity, and in tandem with dedicated administrators, committed teachers, motivated students and involved parents and communities it can spark creativity and help build a passion for lifelong learning.… Visit the author's original post

How Pilbara Group is helping Australian universities turn knowledge into insight

Guest blog post from Lea Patterson, President & CEO, Pilbara

Students in 2017 - 2 of these are likely to leave by 2018

In any society, the availability of high-quality, affordable education not only determines the prosperity of that country’s knowledge economy, but also its future viability as a key player in our digital world.

This is one of the key reasons why I’ve always been of the belief that everyone, regardless of geography, social or economic status, is entitled to a good education.

Bringing this vision to life is what drives the work we do at Pilbara – an Australian-based global consultancy and software company working with universities and colleges to ensure their courses and programs are sustainable and accessible to all.… Visit the author's original post

Driving decisions through data in Australia’s Higher Education sector

Students in 2017 - 2 of these are likely to leave by 2018

Did you know the current university attrition rate sees one-in-five students leave their course in the first year – resulting in $3.5 billion of lost student lifetime value across the student lifecycle? And that one-in-three university students fail to complete the course they enrolled in within six years of beginning it?

Both trends are impacting Australia’s current higher education sector, and have the potential to adversely impact our country’s future economic prosperity considering fewer skilled graduates are entering the workforce.… Visit the author's original post

Australia Microsoft Ignite 2017–special pricing for education customers

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Over 4 days next February, more than 2,500 Australian Professional Developers and IT Pros converge on the Gold Coast to preview new technology, build industry skills and be inspired by innovation at Australia’s Microsoft Ignite 2017. It’s an event for the techies, and people obsessed with what they can do with technology. And it’s the chance to meet other people with a similar inquisitive nature. And at the bottom of this post, you’ll find a Microsoft Ignite 2017 promo code for education customers.… Visit the author's original post

From motivated to empowered: digital transformation in education

Digital Transformation_Education blog image

You’ve probably heard the terms ‘digital’ and ‘transformation’ bandied about a lot recently. There is good reason for this: digital tools are transforming the world we live in today, and that our students will lead tomorrow. Digital transformation in education is just as critical as in every other industry today, and there’s an urgency driven by the gap between student and staff expectations and their current experiences.

In education, we’re becoming familiar with many forms of digital technology and change. This includes laptops and pervasive Wi-Fi in classrooms, online courses and peer-to-peer collaboration, and real-time support for students’ learning based on accessible data.… Visit the author's original post

Power BI Dashboard in A Day

Power BI headerI love Power BI (really, it’s still my favourite service, 18 months after I first fell in love with it). And I am often caught sharing ways that it can be used in education – whether it’s for simple dashboards, or as a decision support tool for meetings, or for a live stream map of student movement around your university campus. And I like hearing stories about how other people are using it to tell stories – stories uncovered by looking at data in new ways.… Visit the author's original post

Finding the right devices for education

When looking for suitable and affordable devices for education, there are many factors to consider. Whether you are a post-grad researcher looking for a powerful personal laptop, a parent wishing to provide your child with a 2-in-1 device for further education, or indeed a head teacher needing to equip classes or an entire school with portable devices suitable for education, there are plenty of options to navigate.

There are also many different learning scenarios that a device may be required to support, so when choosing a device for personal use or school-wide rollout, it’s good to know what it can and can’t do, and in which scenarios it will be useful.… Visit the author's original post

Windows 10–full day Melbourne workshop to get ready for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update

There are a number of improvements coming to the Anniversary Update for Windows 10 that are specifically focused on supporting education customers. These include:

Faster, easier set-up: Shared devices in the classroom are the norm in some schools. With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update we are introducing a ”Set Up School PCs” app that allows teachers to set up a device themselves in a simple three-step process – in minutes. We’ve also made significant performance improvements for affordable devices. On a shared device, we expect the average first login to take 26 seconds, with subsequent logins of 6 seconds when the student uses that machine again.… Visit the author's original post

Learning Data Science through a free online course

Last year I shared information on the Machine Learning course I took on edX, which taught me how to implement Azure Machine Learning services, and allowed me to build predictive data models. I’ve subsequently spoken with people who took the course on my recommendation, and have built interesting predictive models for student behaviour. One person created a model that used the data in their Student Information System to predict which students would fail a course – and which is 90% accurate!… Visit the author's original post

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Education – a glimpse of what that might mean

Last year, when I wrote “Two ways to use Azure Machine Learning in education” and “Making machine learning in education easier for every day users‎”, I imagined a future where the power of the Project Oxford services could help education institutions with scenarios like face recognition (Who’s in my classroom today? Is anybody smiling in this picture?), speech processing (Who’s speaking in the lecture now?), visual analysis (Does this image contain inappropriate material?Visit the author's original post

Western Sydney University gives 5,000 Surface 3’s to new students

This education news from the Microsoft News Centre was good to see:

Western Sydney University will provide 5,000 Microsoft Surface 3 devices to commencing students this year, as it continues to provide innovative and highly engaging learning opportunities and cements its reputation as one of Australia’s most progressive educational institutions.

imageOn Wednesday, students who received an early offer from the University received a Surface 3 device as part of the University’s ‘Connect and Collect Day’ held at the Parramatta campus. Students receiving the Surface 3 device are studying a range of courses from across the School of Science and Health, Social Sciences and Psychology, and School of Nursing and Midwifery.

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Western Sydney University gives 5,000 Surface 3’s to new students

This education news from the Microsoft News Centre was good to see:

Western Sydney University will provide 5,000 Microsoft Surface 3 devices to commencing students this year, as it continues to provide innovative and highly engaging learning opportunities and cements its reputation as one of Australia’s most progressive educational institutions.

imageOn Wednesday, students who received an early offer from the University received a Surface 3 device as part of the University’s ‘Connect and Collect Day’ held at the Parramatta campus. Students receiving the Surface 3 device are studying a range of courses from across the School of Science and Health, Social Sciences and Psychology, and School of Nursing and Midwifery.

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Free Power BI training sources

I’ve written about the Microsoft Power BI service a few times over the last year, and shared some of the work that I’ve done with it. If you have any interest in data and turning it into information, then I’m an absolute fan of Power BI. And if you want to share in some of the data fun, then you might want to spend a little time learning about what’s possible. So here’s my list of go-to places for free Power BI training!… Visit the author's original post

Free Power BI training sources

I’ve written about the Microsoft Power BI service a few times over the last year, and shared some of the work that I’ve done with it. If you have any interest in data and turning it into information, then I’m an absolute fan of Power BI. And if you want to share in some of the data fun, then you might want to spend a little time learning about what’s possible. So here’s my list of go-to places for free Power BI training!… Visit the author's original post

Deploy a Moodle Cluster on Azure, using Ubuntu

Moodle logoI’ve just finished a conversation with our team in the US who are working on lots of smart Moodle integrations to various Microsoft technologies (like the Office 365 integration with Moodle components and the Moodle virtual images for Azure) and they mentioned that there are now also complete quick start templates for deploying a scalable Moodle cluster, on a LAMP stack, on Microsoft Azure. It’s a quick way to get Moodle in the cloud.

Why is cloud-hosted Moodle important?

Often, many Moodle installations start off at small scale as an open source project, and then grow to become a critical tool in a school or universities’ system.… Visit the author's original post

Deploy a Moodle Cluster on Azure, using Ubuntu

Moodle logoI’ve just finished a conversation with our team in the US who are working on lots of smart Moodle integrations to various Microsoft technologies (like the Office 365 integration with Moodle components and the Moodle virtual images for Azure) and they mentioned that there are now also complete quick start templates for deploying a scalable Moodle cluster, on a LAMP stack, on Microsoft Azure. It’s a quick way to get Moodle in the cloud.

Why is cloud-hosted Moodle important?

Often, many Moodle installations start off at small scale as an open source project, and then grow to become a critical tool in a school or universities’ system.… Visit the author's original post

The first university-wide roll out of Windows 10 in the world has started, and it’s in Australia!

Consumers are often the first to start using new releases of Windows, and large organisations tend to follow more cautiously, taking the time to carefully balance the new features some users want alongside the cry from others to not change anything. But in the case of Windows 10 there are features in it that mean that users on earlier versions of Windows can move to the latest version without major retraining, and can also start to use new developments within the operating system.Visit the author's original post

Australian Education Case Studies Update – November 2015

Education Case Studies iconOne question that I’m asked frequently about new projects is:

Who else is doing this?

In some cases, what people (partners/customers) are looking for is confirmation that they’re going to be at the innovative edge - and that what they are doing hasn’t been done before. But most of the time, they are looking for reassurance that somebody else has taken the journey before them!

So I collate a list of public education case studies and examples from within Australia, which will help answer the question.… Visit the author's original post

Learn Data Science and Machine Learning Essentials on edX

At one stage in my career, working for fifteen years in marketing, I realised that it wasn't just enough to understand what the data told me about my customers, but to also understand how to extract stories from the data. And to do that, I had to understand the techniques for analysing data - not just look at reports that other people gave me. I’m definitely not a data scientist, and my knowledge of statistical techniques is wafer-thin. But I knew enough to be able to understand the meaning of the data.… Visit the author's original post

edX and Microsoft Office integration – Office Mix and Office 365

Last year I wrote about the Microsoft partnership with edX to develop services to help teachers, including integration between edX and Office Mix - to allow teachers to quickly and easily create multimedia content using PowerPoint. Open edX is an open source platform teaching and learning, and is used by many universities to publish MOOCs, as well as being used by education and professional learning organisations (including Microsoft) to deliver courses online to the public. The latest Microsoft-edX integrations have been released into the latest release of Open edX.… Visit the author's original post

Free Azure Machine Learning in education – trials and credits

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a couple of articles about using Azure Machine Learning in education. Two ways to use Azure Machine Learning in education and Making machine learning in education easier for every day users. It covered scenarios like using Azure Machine Learning for education problems like student retention models, as well as things like face recognition to catch exam cheats, or text analysis of documents and research.

But I should also have covered one get thing - that for education customers there are some ways to use Azure Machine Learning that aren’t available to everybody else Smile

Azure Machine Learning Banner

There are three easy ways you can get started with Azure ML for education:

  • There is a free tier that includes 10GB of Azure storage for our datasets, and the ability to build Azure ML experiments for an hour with up to 100 modules.
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Stopping exam cheating – plagiarism checking is not enough

I read in today’s Sydney Morning Herald the continuing story of universities in Australia fighting a constant battle with cheats in exams and assessments. Today’s story reveals that there’s not just a problem with plagiarism in essays, but also students paying impersonators to sit their exams for them:

 

University students are increasingly paying impersonators to sit their exams or smuggling in technology to help them cheat, while other students cannot be trusted to sit in sloping auditoriums because of their willingness to copy answers in multiple choice tests, a new report reveals.

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Making things easier for your users: Single Sign On with Office 365

Over the last year, we have been working with software and website developers to make it easier for students and staff to login to their services by allowing them to login with their Office 365 username. This means that students don’t need to remember yet another login identity and password, but simply use the username and password that you’ve already given them. And, in many cases, they are automatically logged in without having to re-enter their details. It also means that your users stay under your control - for example, if you suspend a user account, you’re also suspending it on all of the third-party websites too!… Visit the author's original post

Case study – Applying Azure Machine Learning in education to student dropout

Having recently written two articles about the theory of applying Machine Learning in Education - “Two ways to use Azure Machine Learning in education” and “Making machine learning in education easier for every day users” - I think it’s time to dive into a specific example of machine learning in education where it is being used to support education outcomes in schools. The story comes from my colleagues on the Machine Learning blog.

Tacoma Public Schools logo

The example is from Washington State, in the US, where Tacoma Public Schools has been using it as part of their ongoing initiative to prevent student dropout for school students.… Visit the author's original post

Making machine learning in education easier for every day users

Last week I wrote “Two ways to use Azure Machine Learning in education”, which started exploring the use of algorithms, alongside cloud-based machine learning in education to solve some of the key challenges facing education institutions. The problem is that it all sounds so very geeky. Hey, I just wrote “algorithms” and “machine learning” in the first sentence, which kind of proves the geekiness. Although this kind of technology is making huge differences to our online lives (like protecting us from spam email and giving us just the 3 out of 100 emails that aren't spam) it’s also something that has been the domain of technical wizards.… Visit the author's original post

Two ways to use Azure Machine Learning in education

You can't read anything about technology trends these days without reading about Big Data and the power of algorithms. It pops up in education with lots of discussions of education analytics/learning analytics and a pile of other acronyms.  I think that the discussion is so intense in education is because it’s one of the key sectors that could tap into the power of data to improve business processes – whether that’s improving administration or improving teaching and learning. And it links directly to work our teams are doing with analytics and cloud services.… Visit the author's original post

Ways for schools and universities to manage inappropriate web content

For six years, the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit has been working on PhotoDNA technology – a way of detecting illegal online child sexual abuse photos. It is used by a wide range of social media and photo sharing companies, like Facebook, Twitter and Flipboard, to scan user-generated images as they are uploaded onto their web services. Any organisation that hosts user-generated content – video, images, text – carries a risk of users uploading offensive or illegal materials. PhotoDNA provides a way to deal with the most extreme examples, and there are associated services that provide ways for schools, TAFEs and universities to manage inappropriate web content being posted on their own services.Visit the author's original post

Event Invitation: Keep Students. Save Millions

One of our specialist partners, S1 Consulting, work with universities and TAFE institutes across the country to help improve the value of student management systems, and the use ability for individual institutions to manage the student lifecycle and student experience.

Recently, they have been working closely with Microsoft, and international specialists in big data to apply the latest cloud analytics to the challenge of student retention and attrition management, and next month they are going to be launching their new Student Retention system at an event at our offices in Brisbane on 10th August.… Visit the author's original post

Wired: Pens are making a high-tech comeback

Last week, Wired ran a story on the research team working on next generation of digital pens and software experiences at Microsoft. It's a great read, because it raises some thoughtful questions about the way that we use computers, and the impact on learning and retention of information in our brains.

We've had a stubborn focus on pen interfaces for computers for decades - my first pen-equipped tablet was a PC running Windows that our family took on a one year backpacking trip around the world with our 3 & 7 year-old daughters.… Visit the author's original post

Uses for Hololens in education

Less than 100 days ago, we revealed Hololens during the Windows 10 announcement, and since then we’ve all been waiting for a second chance to see it…

Hololens in Education

Well, last night, that finally happened at the \Build conference as the team revealed what they have been working on, and especially focused on Hololens in education, with teaching and learning scenarios.

imageThey started with Prof Mark Griswold from Case Western Reserve University, talking about, and demonstrating live, the way that Hololens could be used to study anatomy, something traditionally done with a combination of textbooks, models and cadavers.… Visit the author's original post