The following post is written by Alex Pearce, of BFC Networks.
The Wellington Academy -a medium sized Secondary and Sixth Form in semi-rural Wiltshire - is the sponsored Academy of Wellington College, Berkshire (a Microsoft Showcase School). A school with a real drive for developing student character, we been using the Office 365 platform to build a platform to enable students to claim the values and virtues they are developing in their lives behind the academic curriculum.
A small team of staff, including Kristian Still, VP, Ross Birtwhistle and Ryan Hopton have been working with staff, students and BFC Networks to turns their Wellington Academy Diploma from concept to reality.
How it works?
All our students are auto-enrolled and assigned to their tutor groups. All tutors have access to all students Diploma sites. Students currently see their own site area as they log in. Their home page on this area consists of 8 badges. Each badge represents a letter of the RESPECT ethos, plus an additional Respect badge. Initially all badges appear in greyscale.
This page also contains a link to the student’s individual blog, where students can evidence how they have achieved a certain badge. They can do this by simply writing a blog entry or by attaching a media file or web link.
It is then in the hands of the tutor to assess the blog entry and determine whether it fulfils the pre-set criteria for awarding the badge. If the tutor feels the work the student has done warrants the badge, they can go into the individual student’s account settings and award this. The badge will appear coloured in.
Why have this system?
It is universally accepted that student development should not solely focus on academic achievement and grades. Key life skills are fundamental in developing young people. It is also felt that it is essential that schools have a clearly communicated ethos. Our RESPECT pledge (encompassing Resilience, Equality, Success. Perseverance, Enterprise, Creativity, Teamwork and Respect) and students understanding of what these mean, helps embody these principles.
Blogging in itself is a skill that young people internationally are using. Moreover, it gives students the opportunity to share short pieces of writing in a non-threatening manner, with both teachers and peers.
Blog entries allow students to input content in a range of different formats. They can attach work files. Import images, videos and sound clips. Link to other web based sources. Sometimes the written word is not the most effective way of evidencing your skill set – especially for those put off by large amounts of writing.
Why Office 365?
Office 365 was already becoming established within The Wellington Academy even before the Diploma took shape - with both staff and students using Office 365 for e-mail, calendars and sharing work. Allowing students a single log-in to all applications they use on a daily basis will provide continuity.
BFC Networks have been working with The Wellington Academy for the last 3 years in their deployment of Office 365. Their expert knowledge brings a uniqueness to our challenges in education by looking at our concepts and turning them into the reality for the school to be able to deploy what we need within the cloud platform.
As a valued Microsoft Partner, BFC have deployed Office 365 Education to 1000s of schools within the UK and can tailor to any need from email migration, shared drive location or with their range of application for the cloud service. http://www.bfcnetworks.com