Introducing Trilby TV Digital Signage

We had some interesting partners attend our 10 Year Anniversary Event on May 6th. We thought we would share one of them with you in a little more detail.

Trilby TV is our new digital signage partner who specialises in schools. They were formed by some passionate educators that wanted to bring schools signage back to life in an “easy to use” and controlled environment.

The concept is pretty simple….

 

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Use the iPad app, Chrome app or website to upload your video and select a category.

 

ttvappcrpApprove

Get the video approved for playback, all it takes is one tap from a moderator who could be a teacher or student.

 

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Your video will playback on your digital signage. Simply install the player app on your PC, Chromebit, iPad, or AppleTV. And that’s it! – your students work can bring the school signage back to life and even be accessed by parents from home.

 

If you would like to arrange a demonstration or free trial to show you how good it really is, please contact us today on 01695731233 or email toby.wilkinson@virtuetechnologies.co.uk

New school year brings new security features to Office 365 Education

As schools prepare for the start of another school year and teachers get their classrooms ready to welcome students, Microsoft are introducing additional features to meet the needs of schools, teachers and students.

Today Microsoft are announcing changes to Office 365 Education that will make it easier for schools to meet their security and compliance needs at a time when teaching and learning are becoming increasingly collaborative and cloud-connected.

With today’s update Microsoft simplified their education lineup, moving to a single, free plan for all academic institutions and added several new features to help schools meet their security and compliance requirements.

In addition to the basic services—Office Online, 1TB of OneDrive storage, Exchange email and Skype—free Office 365 Education now includes advanced features such as:

  • Legal hold and eDiscovery to help you find, preserve, analyze and package electronic content for a legal request or investigation. This capability spans across email, documents and instant messaging.
  • Rights Management Services, which prevents file-level access without the right user credentials.
  • Data Loss Prevention to help you identify, monitor and protect sensitive information in your organization.

With these additional features, now included at no cost for Office 365 Education, schools can more easily maintain a safe, effective and compliant learning environment while providing world-class productivity tools for their teachers and students.

If you already have Office 365 Education, there’s nothing for you to do. These new features will simply show up as they become available.

School admins, if you’re not yet providing Office 365 Education to your entire school, contact Virtue Technologies today. We have deployed nearly 60,000 Office 365 seats across 86 customer sites.

For more information about Microsoft Office 365 visit our website or call us on 01695 731 233

OneNote for Students – Collaborating in the classroon with OneNote Class Notebook [Interactive Tutorial]

The need for collaboration and communication between and among students and teachers is a high priority within education, and having the appropriate technology to seamlessly blend this in to day-to-day teaching and learning is key.

The tutorial below provides an insight into how the OneNote Class Notebook Creator can be used to access a personal workspace, assignments and teacher feedback, as well as providing a safe and secure environment for collaboration and group work:

Collaborating in the classroom with a OneNote Class Notebook

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As you’ll discover in the tutorial, the OneNote Class Notebook is divided into 3 main sections:

  • Collaboration Space for sharing and editing content across students in real time
  • Content Library for various course materials
  • Student Notebook which provides private space for individual students and their teachers to communicate and see how their learning is progressing.

The teacher can control access and editing permissions across the different sections of the Class Notebook. This allows them to provide each student with a private place to work without their classmates being able to see their notes, and also keep the course materials protected from any editing by anyone other than the teacher.

This doesn’t come at the cost of creativity or group work, as the Collaboration Space gives the entire class a place where each student can share their ideas with their classmates, see who has contributed what, and receive real-time feedback from their teacher.

Students can also copy course materials from the Content Library into their own Notebook to work on them in private, while still sharing this area with the teacher in order to receive feedback and grading on their work.

The OneNote Class Notebook Creator is just one aspect of OneNote that will make learning easy, faster and more progressive, giving students and teachers an opportunity to work together and improve the way we learn.

For more information please contact us on 01695 731233 or email Kate.Frackelton@VirtueTechnologies.co.uk

Microsoft Patch Tuesday release Update (MS14-066) – Rated as Critical

There have been many security flaws identified in SSL in recent o365tile2_122336
months and microsoft have just released a patch for another one.

The Facts

It’s for a vulnerability in the schannel component which is present in all Windows systems. Schannel implements the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) Internet standard authentication protocols.

Traffic is sanity-checked by schannel but there is a flaw in this process which can allow specially-crafted packets through. This can allow an attacker to run arbitrary code on any system offering TLS/SSL, potentially taking control of the system.

IIS servers are clearly at risk but your machine can also be vulnerable if you accept encrypted traffic. Microsoft were not aware of any successful attacks using this vulnerability at the time their advisory was drafted, but as it has now been made public there will obviously be vigorous attempts in certain quarters to take advantage of it.

What We Recommend

This vulnerability is limited to Windows devices only and there is no risk to any of our Sophos Security Gateways. The vulnerability should be taken seriously but we perceive the risk to you to be minimal, however we recommend you, just to be on the safe side, to install the latest updates available from Microsoft as soon as possible on all windows systems, particularly web and e-mail servers.

Education and Innovation Conference and Exhibition

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Last week Virtue Technologies attended the Education and Innovation Conference and Exhibition.

EICE

The event was held in the beautiful Manchester central building and enjoyed by more than 2,500 visitors. It went on for two days and consisted of 130 exhibitors and over 60 inspirational speakers.

During our time at the exhibition, we engaged with various representatives from different schools, providing demonstrations and advice surrounding technology in education. Speakers were joined by visitors for talks about issues facing schools in regards to technology and education. There was focus on educational resources quickly becoming more internet-based as the digital revolution gathers pace. Classrooms of the future were fully demonstrated and provided a lot of food for thought.

Phil Lawson, Managing Director of Virtue Technologies, commented;

“As a North West based educational ICT provider, we feel there is a lot of importance in the success of a North West based event. The industry is very London centric with a huge focus on BETT as the “go to” education event.”

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“I felt the speakers were exceptional and there was a varied range of discussions across many technological areas which added real value to any attendee. The exhibition, whilst smaller than BETT, was very focused and specific to the needs of the attendees.”

The EICE was a great opportunity for attendees and businesses to come together and discuss the importance of IT in education.

Upcoming features in Sophos UTM enhances and further simplifies security in schools

One of the most important aspects of a schools internet service is it’s security. Advanced threat protection and customisable web filtering should be a given with any security solution,  but unless your able to deploy that security in the school across any device, and with a minimal amount of effort, it quickly becomes ineffective, leading to breaches in security.

At Virtue, simplicity is our mantra – you have complete control over all the security features you need in one place, with none of the complexity. To strengthen and simplify the security of our internet solutions we’ll be delivering the following enhancements to the Unified Threat Management (UTM) Appliances installed as part of our internet solution.

Transparent Single Sign-on

All the possibilities the internet provides makes it difficult to ensure end users exercise great judgement about where they are browsing, hence we deploy filtering in our schools –  this can be as simple as blocking the seedier side of the internet, or limiting browsing to education-related content. However, the Sophos UTM makes it simple to enforce a range of different policies for different users. For example, you can manage what students can access whilst still enabling teachers and staff some leeway to make use of important sites.

These user-based web policies aren’t new, however, they have been known to come with headaches. During the planning stages, we discussed with customers their experiences and how they can be improved. The main issue that rang out was having to install a User Agent on all endpoints to enable enforced user-based policies. Therefore, Sophos engineers have come up with a truly simple solution: transparent single sign-on.

The transparent single sign-on works by transparently communicating with the browser to authenticate with the UTM in the background, without impacting the user. The browser sends the user’s AD credentials with the UTM recording the traffic and applying the right policy on a per user basis , with no extra software agents.

Device-Specific Authentication

Another challenge we’re seeing in our schools is enabling the safe use of mobile devices. Staff and students want to bring and use their own smartphones and tablets at school.

Whilst the Sophos UTM recognizes iOS, Mac, Blackberry, Android and a range of other device types unfortunately these devices can’t always make use of the same authentication protocols as PCs. Within a school, you may wish to ensure users go through a log in page before browsing to ensure security is maintained. Previously, the only option for this would be segregating various devices into different subnets, or even different Wi-Fi networks. However with BYOD rapidly becoming the norm, this approach was becoming outdated.

Upcoming changes to the UTM will analyse network streams and quickly tell what device it’s originating from. By recognising different fingerprints in the network stream, it can differentiate a Windows PC from an iPad or an Android device from a Mac. This can then be used to specify different authentication options for each device, without having to re-structure the network.

Transparent single sign-on and device-specific authentication are just two of the many features that help ensure the protection of your staff and students with our internet service. We’re currently testing the new functionality in our lab and as soon as that’s complete the service department will be in contact with all our customers to schedule the upgrades.