Office 365 for Education is providing schools with free email service for staff and students on their own school web addresses. Additionally staff and students will avail of free file storage which can substantially reduce costs and responsibilities on the school IT systems, a secure web space to facilitate staff sharing and collaboration, and a standardised software platform for everyone in the school available on all platforms and devices.
When writing e-mails or creating shared folders or files the small things matter. Teachers need to be able to easily access their colleagues and students e-mail addresses and with the school directory in the cloud they can do so very simply. By typing the first three letters of a student’s or teacher’s name when sending an e-mail or sharing a file or folder, Outlook gives a drop-down menu of anyone with this name on the school’s network.
Principal Maria Barry of St. Wolstans Community School Cellbridge began her transition to Office 365 by migrating all files from the school server to OneDrive. Ms. Barry used a third party piece of software to conveniently and quickly achieve this. All-in-all the process took less than a month to complete. Ms. Barry felt without being able to do this she would have found the transition challenging. This meant everyone was using the cloud going forward. Staff found the convenience of being able to access resources and planning material from any device, anywhere a huge benefit.
‘It is possible to move from the a school based system to the cloud in a matter of a few days using a secure file transfer service such as that provided by H2 Learning. In order to prepare and plan teachers often wish to access resources outside of the school and now they were provided with this convenience.’
All teachers were now using and saving to the one platform and there was no need for USB keys or external hard drives. Even within the school’s Office 365 teachers have a personal OneDrive for files they may wish to keep private. Staff quickly learned how to create shared folders with their colleagues meaning once they saved a file to the specified folder it was automatically accessible to everyone who had been invited to the folder initially. Some teachers created shared OneDrive folders with their students and were able to restrict the permissions such that students could view and access files from the shared folder but could not add or remove content.
‘What made this even better was the option to set alerts such that teachers and students were notified by e-mail when a document had been modified or added.’
Overall the first steps into the cloud should be made as smooth as possible and allow teachers and students communicate and share in a professional and uniform manner. Office 365 for Education’s platform is a safe, secure, proven method with its software suite being used by individuals, professionals, small and multinational companies around the world for over two decades. Going forward Ms. Barry is confident both staff and students will benefit greatly from using these industry standard tools. Teaching and learning can move in a welcomed direction allowing the efficiency and efficacy modern technologies provide.