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Cloud Services Thread, Moving away from a learning platform email - any ideas? in Technical; Hi All, Not sure where to post... Currently we have a learning platform and our email for teachers and students ...
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    Koldov's Avatar
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    Question Moving away from a learning platform email - any ideas?

    Hi All,

    Not sure where to post...

    Currently we have a learning platform and our email for teachers and students is tied into this, names are extracted from SIMS with some software they insisted needed to be installed on our server, but we are having trouble getting information from them on how to use the software and add users, as we have opted for the 'I'll get around to you eventually' support package.

    The SLT is unhappy with this due to the cost of the (no)support, amount of downtime as everything has recently been upgraded to 365 of all things (possibly a bit short-sighted of the SLT as these things do happen, but an 'it must work right now, when I want it to or it's rubbish and get a new one' attitude is prevailing!), difficulty in adding users and lack of use by the teachers of any other aspects of the learning platform (training issue IMHO).

    Therefore it has landed on my desk to provide out of thin air, a secure, reliable, school friendly e-mail infrastructure/provider... Oh, obviously the cheaper the better (free if possible). We are on an EES agreement if that helps?

    Please, can anyone point me in the direction of how to resolve this?! I have no experience with this type of thing apart from setting up my own Hotmail account...

    Kol.

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    Griff's Avatar
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    Alright mate we are currently looking into a different email system as well. Ours is hosted through the VLE (It's Learning) which uses Office 365 which we find OK but we get no administrative control over it so we cannot update contacts or share calendars. We are looking at going down the Office 365 route cloud hosted

    These are the 'options' from Microsoft
    Compare Office 365 Education plans - Office.com

    Sounds like they need an injection of realism in terms of the project and also resources needed, if they want mailboxes migrated etc then its going to increase the cost. Also means good communication with the current supplier thats if you are going to use the same email addresses etc.

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    Koldov (16th October 2013)

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    Koldov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Griff View Post
    Alright mate we are currently looking into a different email system as well. Ours is hosted through the VLE (It's Learning) which uses Office 365 which we find OK but we get no administrative control over it so we cannot update contacts or share calendars. We are looking at going down the Office 365 route cloud hosted.
    This lol! Exactly this!

    I haven't raised any concerns yet over, transferring current emails, inputting 350+ users, changing email address, etc. I'm sure I'll just get 'yes, well you can deal with that can't you...?'

    Kol.

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    Koldov's Avatar
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    "have Microsoft verify your domain's eligibility for academic prices"

    What does this mean?

    We have a domain, with a domain controller.... But it isn't public facing and it's not attached to any email address, it's just for managing the school's infrastructure. Does that mean we are not eligible?

    Kol.

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    "have Microsoft verify your domain's eligibility for academic prices"

    They are talking about the domain name so the address you use for your website/email addresses, basically when you sign up I think they give you a line of code which you need to add to your domain via a text record normally this verifies that you own the domain name so it can be linked and used in office 365 I think... someone correct me if I am wrong.

    Microsoft can be pretty helpful with setting up Office 365 so you can always use them and on the up side I guess if you use It's Learning those mailboxes are already in a Microsoft Environment so migration shouldn't be too difficult. We are considering not migrating mailboxes and just telling the users to export emails they want to keep another positive for us is at the moment we would only have staff on this system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Griff View Post
    "have Microsoft verify your domain's eligibility for academic prices"

    They are talking about the domain name so the address you use for your website/email addresses, basically when you sign up I think they give you a line of code which you need to add to your domain via a text record normally this verifies that you own the domain name so it can be linked and used in office 365 I think... someone correct me if I am wrong.
    That is right- in my case I had to pass it to swgfl to do but it apparently wasnt difficult

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    What is your current platform?

    Some questions to be asking of yourself, your SLT and your colleagues who should be using the platform:

    What are you trying to achieve by having a 'learning platform' at all? (scope out the fundamental problem before deciding that *any* learning platform is the solution!)

    What bits of the current system are you using well? What will people be upset to lose? What would people be looking for in an alternative?

    Would investing in a better support package for the current system offer a better investment? (and how do you know?)

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    ...if you've got EES and capacity in your on premises server farm, a local Exchange server is the cheapest option for email, and probably easiest to implement as their is no faffing with syncing up to a cloud service.

    Though it would be a bit of a deep dive given your stated experience. Add 3000 to the cost for some training to be able to to the job being asked of you.
    Last edited by psydii; 16th October 2013 at 10:48 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Griff View Post
    if you use It's Learning those mailboxes are already in a Microsoft Environment so migration shouldn't be too difficult.
    Actually migrations between the various MS Cloud provisions is one of the biggest headaches for the MS Exchange team, and for edu customers often sits in the too difficult / too expensive to solve queue.

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    Koldov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Griff View Post
    "have Microsoft verify your domain's eligibility for academic prices"

    They are talking about the domain name so the address you use for your website/email addresses, basically when you sign up I think they give you a line of code which you need to add to your domain via a text record normally this verifies that you own the domain name so it can be linked and used in office 365 I think... someone correct me if I am wrong.
    Well, the email address we use is an itslearning generated one, so it's not ours as such and the website uses some random .org.uk one that came with the external hosting, which I wouldn't want to be tied to using forever...

    So I guess we actually don't have a domain that we own? Geez I'm rubbish at this!

    Kol.

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    We are really considering if there is a need for the Learning Platform at all I mean if we pull the email system out what we are really left with is a glorified sharepoint installation. I find their support guys pretty good but there are a lot of changes that 'cannot be done' or 'it may come in future updates' and there is a fair amount of downtime. Nearly 2 weeks no email in the holidays, I haven't been able to login to the VLE for 2 weeks because of an error so I had to get into my emails through the Office 365 site.

    As for the email system there are some fundamental flaws the first being that they are not using a current version of Office 365 even though they have just upgraded it. The setup as I am led to believe is an online exchange that serves all the schools in Bedfordshire under it so if you wanted to edit the default address book for your school they would need to give you admin access to the exchange but in doing so you would have access to all schools email systems. So instead we have to manually import a csv file into the contacts and ask staff to update this when people leave/join.. you cannot share mailboxes or calendars I am guessing this is down to exchange situation again.

    Its frustrating because prior to moving to It's Learning we had been testing Live@edu with exchange online and I was led to believe we would be getting exactly the same system in this product but we have been left fairly disappointed.


    Quote Originally Posted by psydii View Post
    Actually migrations between the various MS Cloud provisions is one of the biggest headaches for the MS Exchange team, and for edu customers often sits in the too difficult / too expensive to solve queue.
    Didn't appreciate this thanks for the heads up, I think we are going to start new with no migration.


    Quote Originally Posted by Koldov View Post
    Well, the email address we use is an itslearning generated one, so it's not ours as such and the website uses some random .org.uk one that came with the external hosting, which I wouldn't want to be tied to using forever...

    So I guess we actually don't have a domain that we own? Geez I'm rubbish at this!

    Kol.
    Domains are cheap mate we have 4 because the old HT couldn't decide what to name school after academy conversion

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    Quote Originally Posted by Griff View Post
    We are really considering if there is a need for the Learning Platform at all....

    Domains are cheap mate we have 4 because the old HT couldn't decide what to name school after academy conversion
    I don't think the learning platform is used by the teachers at all, apart from the e-mail. Sure, this may be due to a lack of training and guidance/encouragement and sure with time, effort and money being thrown at it, it may have become a beautiful thing (although never having the need to use it, I'm not sure what it actually does) anyway it ain't gonna happen, it hasn't in the last few years anyway. SLT have got the blinkers on and while I'm tempted to lead them somewhere, it's best if they get a 'free' solution, instead of paying for something they don't use fully. Resources can be copied from t'internet anyway and chucked into a powerpoint for ready made lessons.... (/me runs)
    There was an exchange server here a long time ago, remnants of it can still be found skulking away in various dark places upon ye old admin server... Honestly though? Easier? Less faffing? I cannot say from experience, so I bow to your obviously greater knowledge, but I see a lot of 'exchange problem' threads around, and setting it up, maintaining it, backing it up and allowing external access to it, with extra i.p.'s.... I need to go and lie down....

    Yeah, sure domains are cheap. But how, when I've bought 'myschool.com' do I convince MS that it's actually a real educational establishment?

    Kol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Koldov View Post
    Yeah, sure domains are cheap. But how, when I've bought 'myschool.com' do I convince MS that it's actually a real educational establishment?
    You speak to me.

    Any domain can be used, but reserved TLDs are automatically approved (.sch.uk, .ac.uk, etc.). Any others require a bit of a manual tickle to get approved, normally support reach out and request info on your school before approving. Worst case, it lands on my desk to approve.

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    Koldov (16th October 2013)

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    @Koldov we are going to use completely cloud based stuff no local exchange on site cannot be doing with it like you say too many threads about exchange on here.. our staff use the VLE quite a lot but they are not keen on it and we really have to push it very hard.

    Keep me updated on how you are getting on and feel free to drop me a PM about anything

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    Koldov (16th October 2013)

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    rdk
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    Not exactly the same, but we went through a migration here. We had everything provided by something similar to your local authority, and the email etc was rubbish. We registered a new domain (xxx.vic.edu.au) and used that to sign up for Google Apps for Education. When we had email and everything else working fine, everyone enrolled, we told staff that from date x all staff email would henceforth be to the new address. We left the old email in place, but did no migrating of existing mail. Over an hour one morning four IT staff logged onto the admin side of the old email and set all staff email to forward to the new address (~110 staff).

    So one morning staff had to use the new email (gmail but to our xxx.vic.edu.au address) but the old one was there for people to retrieve saved email and so on. As the forwarded was automatic no new email will ever arrive in the old account. We have said the old email system will remain for one year then be turned off completely, so staff have a year to update registrations etc using the old account, retrieve any saved email or addresses, update contacts with their new address and so on. But we did absolutely no email transfer for anyone (SLT included).

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