When I get asked to visit schools to discuss ICT being used within the school one of the first area’s I like to discuss are Virtual Learning Environments, as most of the schools I visit use their VLE rarely, some host their public facing website on their VLE, some leave it for virtual spiders webs to appear! Also at some schools they may not understand how much their redundant platform is actually costing them on an annual basis, or the outcomes the platform gives to the school. Then I ask the following question ‘what do you want to do with your learning platform?’ and the usual responses are:
- Upload content and share content with specific groups (year or class groups)
- Collaborate together and work on projects with class
- Access from any device, anywhere
- Customise it to my class/year or even SLT/Governors pages
- Make it user friendly for staff, pupils and even parents to use
- Store electronic documents, securely but still accessible
This is when I start to talk about Sites (SharePoint) that comes part of the Office 365 for education package where the E1 plan is free for education. Then I talk about how the school could use it, not just for teaching and learning but for creating sites for SLT or maths dept, or create a site to upload Governors meeting notes and minutes so no printed papers to send out (another cost saving for schools)!
The tools that come with the Office 365 for Education E1 (was previously A2) Plan enable educators and learners to connect, collaborate and create in real time. Resources and contacts are easy to search for and find, and communication with people outside of your schools platform is made easy with email and Lync video conferencing all included. OneDrive gives all users a massive іndіvіdual 1TB storage faculty, perfect for іndіvіdual learning resources, and users can share everything or just іndіvіdual resources, sites and calendars with other users.
- Flip your classroom by hosting video and audio in your SharePoint sites for learners
- Create a lesson plan repository for your colleagues
- Have a bank of past exam papers and grade assessment exemplars for learners
- Safe and secure communication, particularly between students and staff
All your SharePoint sites work together to make up your Learning Platform and with email, instant messaging and video conferencing, there is no need to use any external tools or services.
What does this mean? Potentially large cost savings to schools using a industry standard cloud based platform…now the only thing the school needs to think about is how they will spend the money saved on the dusty old VLE!
If you or your school would like to discuss this product, or get me in to run a demo for you, contact SBS on the following:
email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0845 3008179 or even tweet us at @SBS_ICT