We’ve moved!

We've moved

We have moved the SBS ICT Updates blog into our website to make life easier for our readers (and authors!). We hope this doesn’t affect your enjoyment of our posts.

If you subscribe via email we anticipate a smooth transition with no changes to how you receive updates.

If you are a returning reader from a bookmark, please update the URL to: http://www.schoolbusinessservices.co.uk/category/ict/

We have also introduced dedicated blogs for getting the most from your pupil data in SIMS, and effective school budget management (SBS Online). Visit the blogs to find out more.

If you have any queries at all, please feel free to email the team via sales@schoolbusinessservices.co.uk.
We look forward to seeing you in our new home!

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Skype for Business for schools communications!

Skype for Business for schools and organisations alike

skype_for_business

Microsoft announced towards the back end of 2014 that in the first half of 2015, the next version of Lync will become Skype for Business with a new client experience, new server release, and updates to the service in Office 365. Skype for Business will take advantage of the strengths of Skype and Lync, combining the superb end user experience with security you trust.

I wanted to add some further detail around how Skype for Business is built firmly with the end user at its core and furthermore, how it gives organisations and schools the ability to reach hundreds of millions of Skype users around the world.

1. It’s Familiar and easy to use
Because you know Skype, using Skype for Business with your colleagues, staff and pupils (if this is applicable!) is effortless — requiring less training and support.

2. Available Anywhere, on any device!
Conversations travel seamlessly with you from the meeting room to any mobile device, including OS X, Windows and Android.

3. Maximise Office use
Turn an email into a meeting and escalate into a group call, thanks to improved integration with Office.

Skype meeting req

4. Have face-to-face conversations from anywhere
Video and voice calling are more natural than ever — like you’re in the same room. Skype for Business is designed to deliver a high-quality experience for every conversation.

5. Even more control at your fingertips
You can now confidently manage policies, grant feature rights and govern external communications, even from the cloud.

6. Deliver exciting teaching and learning 

Skype in the classroom can help enhance your delivery of teaching and learning across various subjects within schools and colleges around the world

For Office 365 customers, its easy, Microsoft will do the required updates needed.

If you or your school are interested in discussing Skype for business, or how Office 365 could be used within your school, please contact us for a chat on 0845 300 8179, email info@schoolbusinessservices.co.uk or visit our shiny new website www.schoolbusinessservices.co.uk or tweet us @SBS_ICT!

Clock ticking for any Server 2003 still out there…

MICROSOFT HAS WARNED that another of its products is reaching the end of the trail after the countdown to end of life for Windows Server 2003 hit the three-month mark but hopefully most IT administrators should be aware that Windows Server 2003 will reach its end-of-life by July 2015.

After this date, this product will no longer receive:

  • Security patches that help protect PCs from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software
  • Assisted technical support from Microsoft
  • Software and content updates

All software products have a lifecycle. End of support refers to the date when Microsoft will no longer provide automatic fixes, updates, or online technical assistance. As of July 2014, there were 12 million physical servers worldwide still running Windows Server 2003, none of which i may add are SBS supported schools!

Computer systems running unsupported software are exposed to an elevated risk to cybersecurity dangers, such as malicious attacks or electronic data loss.
Users may also encounter problems with software and hardware compatibility since new software applications and hardware devices may not be built for Windows Server 2003.  Below is the lifecycle table for Windows server 2003.

Products Released Lifecycle Start Date Mainstream Support End Date Extended Support End Date Service Pack Support End Date Notes
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition (32-Bit x86) 05/03/2006 13/07/2010 14/07/2015 14/04/2009
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition with Service Pack 2 13/03/2007 Review Note Review Note Support ends 24 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first. For more information, please see the service pack policy here .
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter x64 Edition 05/03/2006 13/07/2010 14/07/2015 14/04/2009
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter x64 Edition with Service Pack 2 13/03/2007 Review Note Review Note Support ends 24 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first. For more information, please see the service pack policy here .
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition (32-Bit x86) 05/03/2006 13/07/2010 14/07/2015 14/04/2009
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise x64 Edition 05/03/2006 13/07/2010 14/07/2015 14/04/2009
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard Edition (32-bit x86) 05/03/2006 13/07/2010 14/07/2015 14/04/2009
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard x64 Edition 05/03/2006 13/07/2010 14/07/2015 14/04/2009

Interactive touch screens vs Interactive white boards

Here at SBS we want to ensure our customers get the best quality devices at best value but also what fits the need of the school.  One area I like to discuss with SLT, ICT Coordinators and Governing body is the growing need to replace older interactive white boards throughout the school, which usually are nearing end of lifecycle and costing the school large amounts to maintain these older units in terms of replacement parts (we all gasp at the cost of replacement bulbs don’t we?), costs of technician time to maintain, fix existing projectors but also the loss of teaching time (re-calibration – teachers love this, shutting all the blinds within the classroom so pupils can actually see the screen! etc.).

On this note we always advise schools to look at replacing these with interactive boards, slightly different to white boards in the fact there is no projector (so no bulb replacement or cleaning filters!), no calibration and anti-glare glass so no need to shut the window blinds which proves better environment to deliver your teaching and learning!  Added benefits include cheaper to run in terms of electricity costs, use existing software and hardware on teachers laptops to run via the screen and Interactive Touch Displays make it easy to create effective, eye-catching teaching materials and promote a style of active, visual-based teaching and learning that makes the classroom fun for both the teacher and students.

Whole class learning

Interactivity creates a more meaningful, socially rich experience than spoken word tutorials alone.

Collaborative learning

Interactive displays provide the opportunity for students to engage directly during lessons.

Interactive learning experience

Touch technology allows ‘hands-on’ manipulation of content, encouraging students to work collaboratively with their peers.

Learning together

It also provides new opportunities to share accumulated knowledge through project based learning experiences.

interactive screen

So I wanted to try and explain the benefits of using these devices, plus explain the cost savings over a period of say 3 years for schools to use and discuss with their School Business Managers, SLT and Governors, I started by surveying all of our engineers who work within all phases of schools and the results are quite surprising

SBS survey to technicians on TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) for IWB (Interactive White Boards) for schools over 3-10 years:

On average how many bulbs does the average projector use per year?

1 per year with 8 hours per day use, 2-4 with projector switched on continuously and / or dusty environment with building works.

On average of your 7 hour visit – how much time is spent on maintenance for the IWB\Projector\cabling\bulb replacement?

Typically, bulb replacement and filter cleaning – re-calibrating IWB will take up to 45min. This is not per visit, but per bulb replacement!

IWB faults such as re-calibration take approx. 30 min per visit, each visit, but will depend on number of IWB’s at the school and their age / make.

How long does a projector last?

2 years on all the time, 3 years at 8 hours per day.  After 3 years old, bulb cost usually outweighs cost of new projector, so not cost effective.

How effectively are the IWB’s understood by teachers?

Generally the teachers have an understanding of how to use Smart Note and Active Inspire to the full potential, but most of the time the IWB’s and projectors are used as projection screens (not the most effective use of the equipment)

How often do the IWBs need the blinds drawn and lights out to view the projected image?

Light reflection from windows and ceiling apertures often makes the projected image unreadable.   If watching video footage, the lights are often turned off and the curtains or blinds drawn (if they have any!).  In Secondary schools, classrooms are often plunged into darkness, especially in summer which is not conducive to teaching or learning in the dark.

Calibration – is this done daily or weekly – by teachers or by SBS technicians?

Most teachers know how to calibrate IWB’s but this is not effective use of teaching time!   Majority of calibration done by ICT technicians, again not best use of technician’s time either.

Frequency depends on make and age of IWB and how stable the projector mounting is. The slightest movement of anything throws the alignment out and re-calibration is required. This is an inherent design flaw of the system. Every day in a secondary school at least 1 or 2 boards typically require re-calibration.

Ladders – do all schools have ladders and help you safely replace bulbs?

No not all. Secondary schools do tend to have ladders, but would need the caretaker or site staff to arrange a second person to help if they are alone.  Most will be happy to help, but you may have to wait until they are free, which does not always coincide with an empty classroom.  This can waste quite some time again for both ICT staff and school staff.

Filters – How often does this affect IWB operation and teaching and learning time?

Filters clog up with dust quite quickly in schools generally. They are usually easily removable when you remove the bulb, but some projectors have mountings which require you to remove the whole projector before the filter is accessible, which can add 30 – 40 mins. to a bulb change.  Some filters require washing in water and some just to be shaken and blown clean with air.

Lastly – the Interactive boards are built for at least 10 years use, how long would you say an IWB would last from start to finish?

  • 3 Years with a high probability of the projector and board still operational to within the user’s requirements. (3x bulbs in total, additional replacement cost)
  • 4 Years and the projector is likely to fail. (3x bulbs in total + new projector replacement costs)
  • 5 Years and the IWB grid or Motherboard is likely to start degrading requiring frequent re-calibration. (4x bulbs in total + new projector replacement costs)
  • 6 Years and the IWB now requires daily re-calibration. (5x bulbs in total + new projector replacement costs)
  • 7 Years and the IWB Motherboard or grid is likely to fail. (6x bulbs + new projector replacement costs)
  • 8 Years and the projector fails again as does the IWB Motherboard or grid or both. (7x bulbs + 2x new projector + new IWB replacement costs)
  • 9 Years – Usually this does not occur.

So my next step was to run some calculations of average costs, time, consumables and replacement parts, maintenance and energy costs.  Below are two tables, one for Interactive White Boards (IWB) and a table for same period for an Interactive Board.  The long term cost savings are quite substantial as you will see…

Estimated Costs for upfront and on-going IWB operation

(Please note these are approx. average cost calculations per IWB per year with on-going costs)

Type Interactive whiteboard, projector and misc. Unit

(VAT not included)

Qty Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total
Capital IWB £1,600 1 £1,600 £0 £0 £1,600
Capital Warranty £150 1 £200 £0 £200 (renew) £400
Capital Projector £1,500 (avg) 1 £1,500 £0 £0 £1,500
Capital Installation and cabling x 1 IWB £340 (avg) 1 £340 £0 £0 £340
Capital Audio System £250 (avg) 1 £250 £0 £0 £250
Revenue Bulb replacement £217 (avg) £217 £217 £217 £651
Revenue Pen replacement (loss, fault) £20 (avg) 1 £20 £20 £20 £60
Hidden costs Maintenance of projector

(Scales up as projector age increases)

£30 (per hour) £900

3 times a week over sch year

£1,200

4 times a week over sch year

£1,500

5 times a week over sch year

£3,600
Hidden costs Loss of teaching time (based on 1 x IWB) inc dimming of lights/blocking windows to view projection £30 (per hour) £900

3 times a week over sch year

£900

3 times a week over sch year

£900

3 times a week over sch year

£2,700
Hidden costs Fetching of ladders and organising 2 people (based on 3 times per year) £30 (per hour x 2) £45 £45 £45 £135
Hidden costs Energy 240 watts £49.06 £49.06 £49.06 £147.18
Total £6021.06 £2,431.06 £2,931.06 £11,383.18

Estimated Costs for upfront and on-going Interactive Board operation

(Please note these are approx. average cost calculations per IB per year with on-going costs)

Type Interactive board & misc. Unit

(VAT not included)

Qty Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total
Capital Interactive board 70” (avg cost with bracket) £3298 1 £3298 £0 £0 £3298
Capital Warranty (usually 3 year) £0 1 £0 £0 £0 £0
Capital Projector £0 1 £0 £0 £0 £0
Capital Installation and cabling x 1 £340 (avg) 1 £340 £0 £0 £340
Capital Audio System £0 (Recommended to use existing) 1 £0 £0 £0 £0
Revenue Bulb replacement £0 £0 £0 £0 £0
Revenue Pen replacement (loss, fault) £20 (avg) 1 £20 £20 £20 £60
Hidden costs Maintenance of projector

(Scales up as projector age increases)

£30 (per hour) £0 £0 £0 £0
Hidden costs Loss of teaching time (based on 1 x Interactive Board) inc dimming of lights/blocking windows to view projection £30 (per hour) £0 £0 £0 £0
Hidden costs Fetching of ladders and organising 2 people (based on 3 times per year) £30 (per hour x 2) £0 £0 £0 £0
Hidden costs Energy 120 watts £25.53 £24.53 £24.53 £73.59
Total £3,683.53 £44.53 £44.53 £3,772.59

 

So overall there are potential cost savings for schools of over £7,500 per unit/board over 3 years.

This TCO cost comparison for interactive white boards and interactive boards are based on average and approx. time/costs/energy as costs and usage differs from school to school.  This was based on 1 board over 3 years, so to work out cost savings for replacement IWB, use the final figures across all the number of boards you wish to replace.  We have not included wall brackets or wall riser as this is dependent upon the schools needs or requirements due to building/walls.

Conclusion and comparison of technology and costs:

Projector lamp replacement and maintenance is the most expensive and labour intensive part of the ongoing ownership costs of a projector. To have the same 50,000 hour lifespan as a Touch screen most projectors will need more than 25/30 replacement lamps!

A typical mercury vapour projector lamp has a lifespan of about 2,000 hours (High Brightness mode) or 3,000 hours (Standard mode) which equates to about 2 years of use in a typical classroom, using it 6 hours every day with care. In practice we hear that teachers find the dimming of the lamp during this period would lead to earlier replacement in many cases if the replacement costs were not an issue.

Performing regular maintenance on the various parts of a projector, such as the filters, lens, lamp and casing will ensure that the best quality image possible is displayed for your audience and to meet the stated lamp lifespan, but this is a time consuming, laborious and expensive process.

Digital projectors consume electricity and produce hundreds of watts of heat when in use. This heat must be blown from the projector to prevent overheating and projector malfunction. It is especially important for the life of the projector lamp that this heat is removed effectively since projector overheating is the primary cause of projector lamp failure. Most projector manuals recommend cleaning projector filters once every 100 to 300 hours – a tedious and specialist process.

LED displays have no moving parts like the fans, a crucial part of a projector, that fail after an extended life, especially in dusty classrooms

If we use 6 hours per day and 220 school days per year, 60,000 hours equates to about 50 years lifespan, in reality the technology will move on apace and no doubt we will have some very different options available during the next 10 years or so (the same sort of time frame that projector and interactive whiteboard technology was first made available in schools, peaked and is now in terminal decline)

Power consumption of energy hungry projectors increases schools electricity bills – a typical Touch screen uses less than half the electricity consumed by a projector during its life, and has ECO power saving features.

Touch screens require no cleaning or maintenance (just remove finger marks with a damp cloth)

The tough and resilient Touchscreen using IR technology typically has a 5mm toughened anti-glare glass screen and is almost indestructible – more akin to the windscreen of a car – and effectively has an indefinite lifespan in the classroom. (Some manufacturers do not use IR technology and use PET surfaces or similar which will suffer the same issues as the whiteboards mentioned above. SBS do not use screens with this obsolete technology)

Another benefit of touch screens is the portability of the software used which is a hidden cost saving. The main suppliers of interactive whiteboards have been very reluctant, in my view, to make their software independent of their hardware. So the enormous effort of creating content for the classroom may be lost when changing schools, or even classrooms, that use a different whiteboard supplier. The beauty of Touchscreens is that independent software is available (usually supplied free with the Touch screen) that can be used on any touch screen or interactive whiteboard. I can see the opportunity for even newly qualified teachers to carry their content and lesson plans etc. with them from school to school with a copy of the software. No need to waste time re-creating lessons for different technology or equipment suppliers.

At SBS we offer all of our schools a ‘try before you buy’ scheme where you staff can use one of these boards within their school for a week to test out the screens themselves before your school invests in replacing their interactive white boards.  If you would like to arrange a demo or loan unit, or just to discuss with us your requirements, give us a call on 0845 300 8179, email info@schoolbusinessservices.co.uk or visit our shiny new website www.schoolbusinessservices.co.uk or tweet us @SBS_ICT!

OneNote Class Notebook creator

Staff-notebooks-ingraphic

Teachers work really hard to keep up with all of the demands of their classroom and the school. Some are using OneNote notebooks on your Office 365 sites to stay more organised, to collaborate with students and fellow teachers and to make better use of the technology provided. Recently, Microsoft announced the release of a free app for Office 365 that I believe will save time and boost classroom efficiency by:

  • Making it easier to post homework, quizzes, exams and handouts for students.
  • Enabling individualized student feedback on work in one place virtually anytime and anywhere.
  • Allowing a safe and monitored collaborative digital space where students can work together while also giving teachers the ability to coach and monitor information in real-time.

All of this and more without requiring any additional infrastructure or software. The only thing required of you or your Office 365 administrator is to install the app once for all teachers. Teachers can do all the setup needed through their OneDrive for Business account so it doesn’t require SharePoint sites to be enabled.

All of the instructions for installing it can be found here: http://aka.ms/OneNoteEduInstall (interactive guide here) and it only takes a few short minutes to add this to your Office365. There is a great interactive tutorial on OneNoteForTeachers.com that takes teachers through the steps on setting it up here: http://aka.ms/OneNoteEDUGuide (interactive guide here).

OneNote Class Notebook Creator allows teachers and students to make additional use of technology resources you already have within your school. Plus i think OneNote is such an underrated tool which has been around and included in your office licencing for years, i use it to take all my notes down but then get access to these notes on all my devices (yes that includes my iPad/iPhone and android devices!) so i can always access my notes when i really need them!

Technology Access Programme (TAP)

With immediate affect Microsoft have withdrawn the Technology Access Programme (TAP) for Education Pricing

As a result the cost on all applicable Desktop and Notebook products will rise from 20 to 30% instantly – This will especially effect customers not on a current MS License programme.

If you have any desktop or notebook requirements please contact our Procurement team today whilst TAP stock is still available – once this stock is gone , its gone.

Preview of Office 2016 for Mac

Last week, Microsoft launched a preview of Office 2016 for Mac. The entire preview version is free and you can download it right now.

Integrating fluidly with Office 365, OneDrive, and SharePoint, this marks the biggest update to the Apple-centric version of the famed productivity suite in years. With an Office 365 account, users can share documents across various networks and devices with ease.

Mac owners with Retina screens should look hard at this. While Office 2011 had a few Retina-compatible elements, this will mark the first fully optimized version of Office for Retina displays. A redesigned ribbon interface puts the most relevant information first and organizes it in a more logical manner. There’s even a charming little scroll bounce when you hit the bottom of a document.

This update also takes some shots at Google Docs with cloud capabilities and vastly improved shared document editing in Word. Comments are now threaded so that rounds of editing feel and look more like an ongoing conversation, which should help clear up some confusion in the communication process.

We’re still playing around with the new version of Office for the Mac, but you can do the same by downloading the preview version and trying it for yourself. The preview build with be regularly updated until Office 2016′s official release later this year, so give it a shot and let us know what you think.

New SBS Website

websiteSBS is pleased to announce the launch of our new responsive website, designed with a new look and user-friendly navigation. We’ve refreshed the website content and structure so you can get a real feel for the different range of support services we offer to schools and academies.

We will soon have dedicated blog for each of our expert teams so we can keep you informed on what we’re up to and any important news we think is worth sharing. The current SBS ICT Updates blog will soon be moved to within the site and we anticipate a smooth transition with no changes to how you receive updates. We will also be introducing dedicated blogs for getting the most from your pupil data in SIMS, and effective school budget management.

Our new site gives us a fantastic platform to build on as we aim, as always, to continue to develop our services and engagement with our schools. With the increased use of mobile devices our site has been optimised for smart phones and tablets, which means that all of our visitors should be able to access our content on the go.

If you have any questions or comments on the new site, please get in touch!

http://www.schoolbusinessservices.co.uk

Vision for Technology in Education – SBS & Microsoft free ICT Conference!

Vision for Technology in Education Conference – Monday 9th February 2015

Microsoft are running a joint ICT conference with School Business Services specifically designed to help school leadership teams understand how to embed new and upcoming technologies within your schools. The event is free to attend.

Book Now: Vision for Technology in Education Conference – Monday 9th February 2015

vision conf

Whether you are looking to improve your current ICT infrastructure, planning new technology procurement, or simply want the latest news on Microsoft educational products, this conference is for you.

SBS is delighted to announce the confirmed guest speaker as Jenny Smith, Frederick Bremer School’s Headteacher from the popular Channel 4 programme ‘Educating the East End‘.

Who should attend?

Headteachers • Principals • Deputy & Assistant Headteachers • Business Managers and technology leaders such as ICT Co-Ordinators

The event will include presentations from experts on:

  • Frederick Bremer’s ICT and SIMS journey – Jenny Smith
    • Developing your ICT strategy
    • “Anytime Anywhere” Learning
    • Planning your ICT budget effectively
    • Windows 8 in education
    • Data management and assessment ‘life without levels’ in SIMS
    • Office365 for education

The content has been devised to be most relevant to staff in schools who want to make a difference and embed ICT to deliver the best teaching and learning experience possible. Vision for Technology in Education is a FREE conference which will include refreshments and lunch at our Microsoft offices in Victoria, London. We anticipate that this event will be oversubscribed so book now!

Book your place here  – http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/vision-for-technology-in-education-tickets-13256280893