Top 10 ICT Money Saving Tips – 4 – Switch your communications

Part four of the series of Top 10 ICT Money Saving Tips for schools, based on my BETT 2010 presentation.

So far, the first three money savings tips could save a secondary school over £100,000 over three years (and a primary school £20-£25,000). And this tip doesn’t shirk at saving money either, but I think it has further implications, because it brings opportunities to more fundamentally change the way that things in happen in your school – with lifelong savings and transformation opportunities. But enough waffle, on to the detail…

Change the way your staff communicate and teach

By a combination of Office Communications Server, and Office Live Meeting, there are a number of schools who’ve discovered that they can save money, as well as add new facilities in school.

Here’s my summary of the two systems in a nutshell:

  • Office Communications Server (OCS) gives you internet phone calls within and outside of school, a conference calling system, secure instant messaging within your school and/or local authority and remote desktop sharing.
    Read more about OCS on our website
  • Office Live Meeting adds the ability to deliver training or lesson materials through any software, including PowerPoint, to groups (eg students) who can be anywhere as long as they have an Internet connection.
    Read more about Office Live Meeting on our website

By putting these two things together, you have a way of managing your school communications more effectively, and it also gives you ways to switch around your teaching resources. For example, you can use it to deliver a lesson to students across a number of schools at the same time (eg where you have small groups of students in individual schools, who are currently moving between schools for courses), or where you have a cover lesson, and an experienced subject teacher is used to start the lesson off, and then the lesson is managed by a cover supervisor.

The availability of instant messages, but within the secure context of your own school only, means that you can allow teacher-to-teacher messaging, or student support outside of lesson hours, without having to have your staff and students using public systems like Windows Live Messenger. (And because you control the system, you can keep a record of all conversations).

imageSteven Gillott, at Wootton Bassett School in Wiltshire, used OCS and Live Meeting to improve staff-to-staff communication, allowing staff to choose the right medium – phone, mobile, instant message, email or video conferencing – at the right time. And it also allows staff to quickly escalate a conversation, by bringing in others, or changing from an IM Chat to a full video conference. The school also use it to help deliver more flexible accelerated learning for their students, and the changes that it allows in covering lessons means that they are saving between £160 and £180 per day per supply teacher – at the same time as allowing greater educational continuity.

Wootton Bassett School worked with Microsoft partner Eurodata Systems to implement their system, and you can read more about it in the case study on their website

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