Today’s post was brought to you by the Microsoft Education Partner Advisory Council.
Making the case for new technology
It’s clear that a cloud-based infrastructure yields multiple benefits for schools, from better ways to secure devices and school data, to more efficient IT administration and measurable improvements in educator and staff effectiveness1. Institutions of all sizes are now considering computing projects that were not accessible or affordable in the past.
As innovative technologies continue to be developed for schools at a rapid pace, it can be a challenge to prioritize and justify IT project requests. Start by documenting and aligning individual and common requirements for both academic and administrative users. Then create a framework with agreed-upon factors. This will help you choose apps and services that meet multiple needs and produce measurable outcomes.
Evaluating the options
With the emergence of cloud services for education, most manual IT tasks are automated, freeing up IT administrators for more strategic roles. Key functions are to recommend and help choose among new services and technologies, set update preferences for different user groups, and to create realistic roadmaps for new deployments and updates.
“Try a lot of new things in small pilots, and let teachers identify what’s working for them and their students,” advises Jim Flanagan, Chief Learning Services Officer, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). “When something new isn’t successful, schools should quickly move on to something else. Or when something new improves student engagement or drives better academic performance, it should be rolled out to larger groups. The takeaway is don’t try to make that one big decision that’s going to save the world. ”
An effective method to help you plan the rollout of Office 365 technologies is called ‘first release.’ This option enables you to allow a small segment of your user base to try out the latest Microsoft Office 365 applications. This set is separate from your ‘current branch’ of users by default. You can choose to have only individuals, certain groups, or the entire organization receive these early updates.
Many programs are now available for free or through a low-cost subscription. For example, Microsoft Office 365 for Education is free to school users. For paid services, cloud metrics enable you to scale up and down, based on real-world usage.
“We implemented Windows 10 to take advantage of the additional education-specific features. Students enjoy the touchscreen abilities and Office 365 features, the teachers love being able to use educational apps they find in the Windows Store and OneNote Class Notebooks.” – Lyneth Crighton, Head of Innovation and Staff Development, Brescia House School
- Transformation Blueprint, co-developed by Microsoft and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
- Office 365 Education
- Set up the Standard or First Release options in Office 365
Easy deployment and management
To simplify management of Windows 10 devices, Office 365, and other apps in the classroom, try Microsoft Intune for Education. With pre-set express configuration settings, this innovative service makes it easy to set up and manage individual and shared devices in just a few steps.
“We have already deployed 100 devices for students and it was very easy because everybody is using the same Windows 10 system, creating policies in a matter of minutes that they can easily apply to all of the computers.” – Silvia Scuracchio, Escola Bosque School, São Paulo, Brazil
“Intune for Education allowed us to run a single deployment configuration to every computer that we have organization-wide. That cut our deployment time from months down to weeks.” – Jamie Trujillo, Chief Information Officer, GOAL Academy High School
Look out for more announcements with updates to Intune for Education around the Bett Show in the UK in a couple weeks.
Click to enlarge, or download this infographic at https://aka.ms/ModernEDUinfographic
- The State of Modern Device Deployment White Paper
- Intune for Education Technical Datasheet
- Learn more and get your free 90-day trial of Intune for Education
Providing a safe computing environment
Best practices for engaging a school community with cloud computing
Some schools have chosen to provide Windows 10 devices to their students through 1-to-1 initiatives, giving them more control over the health of the operating systems running on student laptops and notebooks. Districts that lease or purchase devices, for instance, can eliminate individual app stores on student machines and push out only the apps that will be used for educational benefit.
This helps protect school networks, student privacy, and data associated with the educational process. See Post 1/5: How to protect school data and uphold access policies, for further discussion of this topic.
Strategies that foster participation
Once your devices and apps are deployed, spark creativity by sending out links to templates and training, like those available in the Microsoft Educator Community and at the Office Templates page. Encourage users to connect and share examples of their work with peers.
To encourage high user satisfaction and adoption, start your change management initiative by connecting technology changes to specific processes. Use multiple pilot projects to demonstrate the new ways in which the services and apps support better communication and collaboration, a more engaging classroom experience, and smooth administrative processes.
- Announcements, resources, and events for Education IT professionals from Office
- Microsoft Educator Community
- Office 365 Education
- Microsoft Training and Events page
Measuring usage and forecasting future needs
With more data now available about user behavior and actual software use, you can better match budget forecasts and licensing with user requirements. Robust IT administration services and tools, like Intune for Education and the Office 365 for Education Admin Center, provide details about usage that help support purchase and deployment decisions.
You can use Microsoft business intelligence (BI) solutions to find patterns in workloads in all parts of your organization. Common metrics for education IT include the number of users as it fluctuates throughout the school year, user geography, app usage, and device access.
Select administrative tools and services allow you to view data from multiple sources, including tables from websites, unstructured data, and online services. The more you know, the better you and your team can anticipate future IT requirements in time to adequately prepare.
We hope you enjoyed this series! Below is the full list of posts. With careful planning, a clear understanding of the processes to be changed, and constant communication with affected users, you can expect your technology initiatives to yield positive outcomes and improve user satisfaction.
Modern methodologies for classroom IT management:
- Post 1/5: How to protect school data and uphold access policies
- Post 2/5: Better learning for everyone with secure, connected devices
- Post 3/5: How to deploy school technology that works for everyone
- Post 4/5: Collaboration and communication technologies for school use
- Post 5/5: Adoption and change management for education technology
- Get Started with Microsoft Education guide
- FastTrack program landing page
- Microsoft Store for Education
1. Four Unexpected Perks of a Cloud Migration, EdTech Magazine, June 5, 2017