As a school we have recently transitioned to microsoft office365 for education. The mail system is great, and we are working hard to get SkyDrive Pro up and running with all of the staff and students as a central place to keep their work.
What I am interested in personally though is the use of SharePoint Online, specifically for creating an integrated VLE on our system. I know that the Sites aspect of SharePoint has the capability of at least creating a central repository of resources for students to access and use. I would love to know if anyone else has been using SharePoint as a VLE, and if so what features are you actually making use of and how was it all set up?
I actually have a pot of money set aside for me to research using SharePoint, so if there are any kind souls around who have been using it and would be willing to accommodate a visit from me to see it in action that would be particularly awesome!
I am involved in an implementation of over 170 schools utilising Office 365 and our main focal point of O365 is to get users using SP2013 Online. In the main schools are starting to use the Sites area as a central repository of resources/communications portal at present rather than a VLE in it's traditional sense.
My thoughts would be whether someone like Twynham is moving from SharePoint Server to O365 and look at what they might be doing?
If you want to know anything else about what we are doing give us a shout!
That actually sounds exactly like what I would like to try and do. The built in communication and sharing tools will allow a more flexible environment than a static website, but without some of the fuller features of a true VLE platform.
Originally Posted by funkyfin2000
The thing I am trying to work out at the moment is which tools within SharePoint are actually useful, and which are just distractions. I also need to spend some time playing with the Sites aspect to work out what the best way to structure the content is, and any suggestions and tips from your experience would be super helpful!
It seems like the sites platform is quite flexible, but I can't work out how I should be separating the content. When should I be creating a new section within a site, when should I be creating a whole new sub-site, and should I be looking at running parallel sites which are not in a hierarchy at all?
At the moment my thoughts are to use the team site as a central corridor, with each faculty having a sub-site underneath it, potentially then breaking those down further into course sites were appropriate.
I also don't know how easy it is to set up selective content for different users, or how to direct users to specific places quickly and easily. I don't particularly want all students to have access to all content because that could be a little overwhelming, so what would be an effective way of restricting the visible content on a per user basis?
So tools in SharePoint that are useful, if you break it down at the top level first ->
SkyDrive Pro, Office Web Apps and Sites -> I'd say all of them are very useful and are not a distraction
Below that you are talking about functionality that is contained within those areas:
Sky Drive Pro -> Allowing you to share and collaborate on files held in it, IOS/Android apps for easier access - the possibility of moving your network files to this area as every user gets 25gb
Office Web Apps -> The ease of students/staff to be able to open documents on the fly on any device (inc Ipad!) and edit makes the solution very flexible for those groups of users. You can also collaborate in a single document via office web apps - thinking about peer working/assessment (bit like Google Docs)
Sites -> Massive - loads of various web parts/apps that are included within SharePoint Sites allowing you to do all manner of different things. Can't list them all here but Blogs, Wiki's, Document Library's and that's just the built in ones - of course you have access to the Online SharePoint Store to add 3rd party apps as well!
In SharePoint you start with a Site Collection and you basically have a "top level" site -> You then create sub sites from there on in if you like (although you could create a whole new site collection if you wanted) You can control the permissions for each area as well so if you set up a governors site for example, you may only want them to access it. Entirely possible.
Raw SharePoint is fairly easy to use if you have time, what we use to tie all of this together is RM's Unify system. This allows us to provision from AD in multiple educational cloud services including Office 365. It passes all our groups - students, teachers, non teachers etc in to Office 365 so this helps manage your permissions. Along with that to create our sites we use RM Site Creator which is a fantastic tool allowing you a wizard to basically build and manage all your sites and sub sites. It's incredibly clever and could be worth a look (although you have to have RM Unify to use RM Site Creator)
I'll ping you a PM to maybe give you some more thoughts offline.