Continuing on from recent posts around Data Management and How many ways you can use SharePoint 2010, Alex Pearce, Most Valuable Professional (MVP), has written a guest post on his thoughts around using SharePoint Search and how this can benefit you in keeping your information and documents stored and then again easily found.
For me, Search is a great tool. I use it all the time when I’m on my computer. From finding that e-mail in a folder, the document sat a folder to, how to fix that issue that is troubling my network.
The ability of search in SharePoint 2010 is endless. There are 3 different versions available in SharePoint 2010 including Enterprise Search and FAST Search.
But most schools I have visited are not likely to understand the real benefits of having their own custom search within their school. So what are the benefits within your school and how can they help the school, teachers and students to find data?
What SharePoint Search can do?
SharePoint Search isn’t just searching your own SharePoint environment for documents. It can search external environments such as your old legacy intranet websites, network file shares, personal documents and internet websites bring the accessibility of all your environments into one.
Schools can have a lot of data stored across a network ranging from anything from 300GB to 5TB of data meaning there are a lot files and folders. To look for an individual file is just too time consuming. So why not search for it using a search engine which is SharePoint Search.
Any bit of data that is entered in SharePoint can be searched for, including the file name and the content of the file, each page of text including wikis and blogs and the discussion forums. If you are implementing any of the social network features you can also search profiles to find the best teacher to talk to about Romeo and Juliet or that tricky bit of homework.
Internal websites and VLEs
You may still be running that old intranet website that you or a member of staff created using Microsoft FrontPage but only a single member of staff is using it and they can’t let it go because of all the great amount of work they put into creating it. There must also be some web pages on there that has content that could be useful to teachers who have started at the school since it was implemented and don’t know that these great resources are available as they can’t find them. SharePoint Search can be used to find data on this intranet website so when searching the content is available to the user.
Or maybe you have a VLE in your school which is great, being used to it’s extreme and not wanting to move away from it, why not just use SharePoint for its search facilities and have your own search engine for the whole school?
School website and the Internet
Before visiting a school, I always visit their website to see what the school is about as it gives me a good impression of the kind of people I meet and the characteristics of the school. Some school websites include curriculum information so parents can see homework, worksheets to help their children and what they are studying at that time.
If you have a number of websites you use across the school, these too can be searched by SharePoint and search from a single location. These may include the history blog or the wiki page on an external website however pupils can only find this information if it has a high search engine result or if they know how to get to the website. SharePoint Search allows them to find it within their school environment.
If you are going to implement this feature, I would advise that you only let it search websites that you need it too, otherwise you will need some big drivers to store every bit of information from the internet!
Network or Personal Share
Many schools are making the shift of moving their documents from their shared drive to SharePoint so they can be meta-tagged and file away in a website that is easy for students to find. With SharePoint Search you can search your network and personal shares to find documents. No more looking through endless folders to find that file. Just open a web page and type in what you are looking for. If you are worried about security on those folders and students accessing them, don’t as SharePoint is clever and knows the folder and file permissions so when the user searches they only see the files they have permission to see.
SharePoint Search is just one feature and if you only use SharePoint as part of your EES license for Search you will feel the difference is the accessibility and findability of the files and information from other websites, VLEs and your internal data.
Here are a few blog posts I have created in the past that might help you to configure and understand this more.