For me, this is a key solution for schools to consider to simplify the management of Windows 10 devices, particularly for those schools that may not have dedicated ICT staff. The things that impressed me were:
It’s cloud based, there is no need to install locally as it is hosted in Azure and is scalable, making it suitable for schools of any size whilst remaining simple enough for part-time ICT admin staff to use.
There are a number of school-specific policies pre-configured to promote security for school devices (there are over 150 settings you can configure if you choose)
There is an express setup for schools that allow for quick deployment of new devices for different groups of users.
Your list of purchased applications in the Microsoft Windows Store For Business are automatically synchronised to Intune For Education allowing to easily choose which apps you wish to deploy e.g. Minecraft licensing in the Business Store.
There is an auto-enrollment feature meaning students or staff automatically receive the apps specified by the school when they first log in.
For super quick deployment there is free access to the “Schools Setup PC App” that creates a USB key to quickly configure common settings on a new device with a single key press – no need to get it on the wireless network first!
Intune for Education supports Student Data Sync to automatically create groups of students/teachers for customised group permissions allowing more granular control over policy.
Policy will “follow the user” so if you have different policies for different year levels, these will automatically apply as a student moves from year to year.
There is a test/assessment mode. Students can log in with a special account to be used when taking assessment which will lock the device down to pre-defined access levels.
These features represent a significant leap forward with technology offerings for managing Windows 10 devices in education. To learn more, check out Microsoft Education.
Update: A couple more videos showing how Intune for Education can be used, along with the benefits of Digital Inking:
Make sure you sign in with your school O365 account – this will need to be an administrator account:
Once you’re signed in, search for “Minecraft” in the search box at the top right hand corner and then select “Minecraft Education Edition”:
You will then have an option to “Buy” or “Manage” your licenses:
UPDATE: Schools in NZ can purchase licences from Datacom via the MoE School agreement (this is recommended). If you’ve not purchased any licenses already (&you want to get them directly from the MBSW) then select “Buy” and you will be presented with pricing and quantities. You will need to pay via credit card to purchase these. Step through the purchase process to complete your licensing procurement. REMEMBER: you can assign/reclaim these licenses between students so you may not need to buy one license for every student in your school (see below for how to manage this process).
When you are ready to assign licenses to students click on the “Manage” button to the right of the “Buy” button and you can start to assign licenses. The easiest way to do this is click the “Invite People” to the bottom right of the screen and then this allows you to easily search for the names of students in your class / school and assign them (You don’t need to type the full email address, only the name of the student). See below:
When mentioning Office365, people still confuse what it means and ask “oh you mean Microsoft Word?”
The Office365 solution is made up of a number of different products and solutions and the above six minute introduction video does a great high level overview of these. This would be a useful video to share with staff or show at a professional learning session to help reinforce that Office365 means more than the traditional Word/PowerPoint/Excel combo!
A great blog post on LinkedIn that highlights why Office365 is more than just “Office online” was authored by Kirsty McGrath and can be read here. She created a great infographic to highlight the features here:
Kirsty McGrath’s Office365 Infographic – see the full blog post at the link above.
Another major release from the Microsoft Education team this morning, focusing on more updates for OneNote Class Notebooks, the popular Learning Tools as well as adding some fun with stickers for teachers to motivate students with.
The summary updates include (my observations in italics):
The availability of Class Notebook Tools on more platforms.
Having these available in OneNote Online means virtually any device can now benefit from these, even if they don’t have the OneNote desktop client installed
Updates for Learning Tools for OneNote—new languages and more.
Seeing these reading comprehension tools extendede to Word (both Desktop in Word 2016 and Word Online means even more students will be able to benefit)
The ability for teachers to give stickers to students in their Class Notebooks.
We have all seen how popular emoji have become in virtually every form of digital communication, from emails to text messages through to social media posts. Now teachers can add stickers to student NoteBooks.
One of the biggest challenges to using any data analytics tool is keeping the data fresh and up to date with the minimum of effort. When you’re getting serious, you usually opt for the ETL process and data warehousing of some sort, but for the smaller users who do not have access to high level technical skills, what are the best options to use?
This product has undergone a few name changes over the last year or so (Personal Gateway, Enterprise Gateway etc) but now it is nice and simple and consolidated into one tool which you can use on your own laptop/desktop or install on your server to keep your data synchronised with PowerBi:
With the on-premises gateways, you can keep your data fresh by connecting to your on-premises data sources without the need to move the data. Query large datasets and benefit from your existing investments. The gateways provide the flexibility you need to meet individual needs, and the needs of your organization.
Why is this a game changer for schools? Well many schools will be storing their data in simple Excel or CSV documents, perhaps even an Access database and will be making regular changes and updates to these files. In other products, users would need to re-import the modified file back into the data tool analysis tool to refresh the data set and visualise the changes.
Here is a tutorial showing you how you can set this up in 5 minutes:
A couple of things to note:
You need to have installed the PowerBI Data Gateway first and that it has permissions to go through any firewall restrictions you may have in place.
Take care where you store your original data source file (the Excel spreadsheet in this case). Once you have published the report to PowerBI.com from PowerBI Desktop, I’ve not found a way of changing the path to the source file for the scheduled refresh through the Data Gateway.
The default time for the data refresh is midnight so you may want to add another time/times for this refresh to take place (PowerBI free can only be refreshed daily, PowerBI Pro is hourly – see here for more info). This can be easily done as below for 9am:
Scheduling a different time for a refresh
Email saying a data refresh failed
This is an awesome way to keep things simple for schools and assists them in avoiding the dreaded manual reloading of data.