London councils save cash with shared grid student comms

London Grid for Learning (LGfL), a consortium of all London's local authorities, has launched Microsoft Live@edu network services for up to one million students...

London Grid for Learning (LGfL), a consortium of all London's local authorities, has launched Microsoft Live@edu network services for up to one million students across London. The shared collaboration network could save each school it covers £18,000 a year.

London Grid says this is the first network of its scale for schools. LGfL is the only network globally providing fast fibre optic connections to every school it covers.

Branded "London Mail" by LGfL, the new service will incorporate 33 local authorities and 2,500 schools, and is the largest potential deployment of Microsoft's Live@edu mail services worldwide.

Schools will be making significant cost savings using the hosted service. Live@edu includes applications such as mobile, desktop and web-based e-mail, encouraging students to collaborate, create online communities, and make learning and the sharing of information easier.

"Part of our responsibility within education is to bridge the gap between school and the world of work. London Mail gives students an e-mail experience in line with what they will use when they graduate," said Brian Durrant, CEO of London Grid for Learning.

"Amongst the 25,000 students we have been piloting the system with, we have enabled an increase in teamwork across schools, which is extremely positive."

Said Durrant, "We estimate the average secondary school could save about £18,000 a year using London Mail, so across the 2,500 schools in London, it is a multi-million-pound reduction in costs."

The e-mail inbox can be used by students as their primary account, but they will also benefit from additional services, including:

· Office Live Workspace, which provides an online place to save, share and access documents without having to download anything

· Windows Live SkyDrive, which allows students to store documents and photos online, accessible from any computer connected to the internet

· Windows Live Spaces, which lets students set up a space for weblogs and links to documents stored in SkyDrive

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