The following is a guest post contributed by Microsoft in Education Parter Cloud Design Box, and shares the story of how staff and students at Guilsborough Academy in Northampton are taking advantage of the cloud to improve teaching and learning outcomes, and the operation of the institution. Assisting Cloud Design Box with the project was SalamanderSoft, another Microsoft in Education Partner.
Cloud Design Box will be featured on the SalamanderSoft stand at Bett 2018 (stand C210), and welcome attendees to discuss how they can provide real benefits to teaching and learning at your school.
Office 365 provides a wealth of benefits to any school, college and university that wishes to enhance student learning experience. Guilsborough Academy has recently made the exciting switch from SharePoint on-premises to Office 365 SharePoint Online. Today, we’re looking at some of the incredible opportunities SharePoint Online has created for both staff and pupils at the school.
With the school motto ‘learning without limits’, Guilsborough’s transition to SharePoint Online was a natural step.
Integrating technology into the school day fits seamlessly with Guilsborough’s commitment to the success of every individual student. The school, which is renowned for its quality education for young people of all abilities, continuously strives to enable and inspire pupils to reach their full potential. This can be seen in the performance tables and examination results that Guilsborough students consistently achieve.
Assistant Principal Mr Harvey added:
“Office365 and SharePoint have provided us with a platform through which to drive our bring-your-own-device scheme with students. These services provide a great opportunity to connect with students both inside and outside the classroom; and to be flexible with the devices staff and students use in and out of school to connect."
The upgrade is in complete harmony with the school ethos of placing young people at the centre of their own learning. One of the key benefits of SharePoint Online is that both pupils and teachers can now appreciate more connectivity. Many students are relying less on desktop computers and laptops and, instead, turning to their tablets or phones to access information and content. SharePoint Online in Office 365 allows them to now have vital educational resources at their fingertips, too.
Likewise, teachers are enjoying the flexibility afforded by these services to use a range of devices to manage and upload educational materials for the classroom.
By working with Cloud Design Box, Guilsborough has been able to take full advantage of the SharePoint platform. The handy OneDrive for Business app equips students to search and navigate important documents on mobile devices. Meanwhile, the close integration of Office Online cuts out the need for users to install widely-used Office programmes, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Sway to a specific PC or desktop device. Teachers and their classes stay connected and the barriers of studying successfully outside of the classroom can be overcome.
"Our platform has aided my productivity – I can effortlessly access, share and update information anytime, anyplace and anywhere. I can plan a lesson on my Mac desktop home computer, deliver a lesson on my school laptop and update a shared Excel markbook on my tablet; confident that I will always have access to this information." - Mr Harvey, Assistant Principal
Tony Phillips from Cloud Design Box added:
“By adding a custom design and consistent navigation system in SharePoint, we feel it helps engage students and teachers to get the best out of Office 365."
The move to SharePoint Online has also helped teachers save time in their tight schedules. The live collaboration functionality means that documents can be co-authored by several members of staff at the same time. Before this, files would be locked until the editor had finished their annotations. Now, various users can add information to mark sheets, lesson plans and presentations together whilst see their colleagues edit in real time.
In a similar fashion, documents saved on SharePoint Online are simple to manage. The recycle bin feature backs up deleted files for 93 days, whilst overwritten data can be restored to a previous version if a mistake is ever made.
Not only is SharePoint Online a great way to manage and share crucial classroom resources, it can also be an efficient way to grade and check homework. There is a range of free built-in and third-party products that teachers can use to keep track of assignments and give practical feedback. Cloud Design Box in partnership with SalamanderSoft have provided the MIS integration to automate users and classes.
On the topic of MIS integration, Mr Harvey (Assistant Principal) added:
“Integration with our MIS has allowed us to customise SharePoint to provide a managed, consistent and personalised experience for all staff and students to support learning, teaching and collaboration.”
This has empowered Guilsborough to continue to effectively appropriate targets, track homework and give full support and guidance. It has worked so well that now the school is seriously considering adding Microsoft Teams to their arsenal.
The move to SharePoint Online was made possible by Cloud Design Box. The company has over a decade of experience when it comes to creating and enhancing SharePoint platforms for the education and business sector. Thanks to SalamanderSoft, who supplied the MIS integration, class data is synced overnight to provide an automated learning environment.
Cloud Design Box are experts in SharePoint for Education, Teams and OneNote Class Notebook.
SalamanderSoft provide integration services to the education sector helping schools use the data they already have, to provision, maintain and manage Active Directory, Office 365, SharePoint and Exchange.