The City of Leicester College – Office365/SharePoint Project

 

Communication, Collaboration & Participation

The City of Leicester College is looking to move much of its Team storage and collaboration spaces to SharePoint. We have already moved our email system to Office 365, and started to develop some useful online learning resources in some subject areas. Some staff are already making use of OneDrive as their primary storage area, and are using this to share work with each other and their students.

Two years ago, thc College used some innovation funding to help develop this further and to create useful learning resources for the Mathematics Faculty.  We are now ready for the next phase of development, which is to move our entire staff team away from using local network drives to store and share their work, and to make OneDrive and SharePoint Sites the primary repository for all our work.

There are many advantages to this approach for us as a college over the present situation, but mostly:

• One place for all our resources – no need to duplicate work to a separate VLE.

• Resources available anywhere on any device.

• Move to cloud computing lessens our reliance on onsite servers and technicians, prior to end of current ICT Support Contract.

• Streamlined workflows and better communication between staff teams and with students.

However, it is a massive undertaking and will require thoughtful implementation and plenty of training and development for staff. We have already begun to plan out the project and have a detailed timeline and costings for the first two phases. We have engaged a developer to help us think through this transition and to provide useful tools, support and training.

The project has been broken down into 4 main phases, the first two of which have already been developed in some detail:

Phase 1 – Design and branding, Information Architecture, Portal

A set of style sheets (css) and associated resources will be developed to allow for the presentation of the SharePoint sites using the college’s ‘brand’ values and preferred look-and-feel.  A set of content presentation options utilising Client Side Rendering (CSR) JavaScript techniques will be developed to allow for the re-rendering of standard SharePoint Web Parts.  Site and library templates will be created as a part of the definition along with a navigational model. Access and content opportunity permissions (read, write, edit) to defined areas will be advised as a part of this stage. PowerShell scripts developed to automatically deploy multiple sites from template definitions.

An alternative to the current MY-SCHOOL portal interface will be developed, supporting an extended single sign-on model to college applications where such an interaction can be supported.

Phase 2 – MIS integration and homework system

This phase provides for a first level of integration with the Management Information System (MIS) to automatically create staff and student timetables within each user’s Outlook calendar, and the automated creation of class security groups for use with Apps such as Teacher/Student Dashboard to support a full homework and assignment workflow.  The MIS-365 integration will be delivered through the installation and configuration of the SalamaderSoft AD integration middleware.

Teacher Dashboard Plus will be installed and configured to all teaching staff to assign, manage and track homework.

Phase 3 – Content migration

Migrate existing teaching resources from local storage into Office365/SharePoint

Phase 4 – Parent Portal

Develop a portal for parents to keep track of their child’s progress on homework tasks, coursework etc.

 

Digital Literacy

We are looking to move our admin and support teams over to SharePoint early in the project to pilot workflows, shared documents and to start populating it with key organisational information. Much of the initial training will be aimed at supporting this transition, and hence the key DigiLit strands we are looking to develop within these staff teams are:

• Creating and Sharing
• Communication, Collaboration & Participation

However, with a project with such a scope as this, all six strands will be touched on and we will need to ensure staff are adequately prepared to meet the challenges.

The way files are handled within SharePoint is very different from a more traditional hierarchical structure on a network drive, and Entry level staff in particular may struggle with the changes to working practices around shared documents. We need to ensure that staff fully understand this new paradigm as well as the basic skills of creating and sharing files with others.

 

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City-wide school staff digital literacy network

DigiLit-network-2-1024x694

Just before Christmas 2015, we launched a call to secondary and special education schools across the city to participate in a new peer led network, designed to focus supporting school staff digital literacy and CPD. The network builds on the DigiLit Leicester project, which successfully established a process for identifying strengths and gaps in digital literacy, and improving skills and confidence school and city-wide.

ICT investment in Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme has provided all city mainstream secondary and special education secondary schools in the city with world-class technology designed to support effective teaching and learning, connect communities and provide opportunities for teachers and learners to collaborate across the city and beyond. Over the last 5 years we have rebuilt and refurbished 19 schools, completing a programme which benefits over 20,000 young people.

Peer-led digital literacy network

Peer network leads will ensure that staff at all levels continue to be supported in improving skills and developing their practice. The new network represents 10 city schools:

Mahala Active-Nemaura, Head of Computer Science, The Lancaster School

Antoinette Bouwens,Business Manager, St Paul’s Catholic School

Will Carter, Director of Music, English Martyrs’ Catholic School

Natalie Coley and Julie Eden, Nether Hall School

Josie Franklin, ICT/Computing/Computer Science Teacher, Moat Community College

Kitesh Mistry, Lead Teacher: Digital Learning, Rushey Mead Academy

Fabienne Preston, Head of Modern Foreign Languages, Crown Hills Community College

James Rolfe, ICT Lead and Head of Science, Judgemeadow Community College

Tony Tompkins, College Leader – New Technology, The City of Leicester College

Elsbeth Woodgate, Educational Technologist, Ellesmere College

DigiLit network 3

Mahala Active-Nemaura and Tony Tompkins will be taking responsibility for co-ordination the network, which will run until July 2017. Members will also be working with Leicester’s Open Schools Network, to ensure all schools take advantage of the city councils work in relation to open educational licensing and support for open practice.

Digital literacy in focus

Each school has selected a strand of the DigiLit Leicester framework to focus on during the lifetime of the project, and will be focusing on raising confidence and competence levels in this area. Schools were free to select their prefered area from the six framework strands –

DigiLit Network 7

  • Assessment and Feedback
  • Communication, Collaboration and Participation
  • Creating and Sharing
  • E-Safety and Online Identity
  • Finding, Evaluating and Organising
  • Technology supported Professional Development

Interestingly, all participating schools selected one of three strands: Assessment and Feedback, Communication, Collaboration and Participation, or Technology supported professional Development – giving us three working groups.

 

You can find out more about the framework strands and levels here.

The work of the networkDigiLit Network 4

The Peer Network Leads will:

  • Work in partnership with the Open Schools Network, to ensure work completed compliments and supports the development, implementation and identification of good practice in open education.
  • Commit to developing their own specialist knowledge of the chosen digital literacy strand area, as well as complimentary knowledge relating to open education, open educational resources and open licences.
  • Support staff at their school in relation to the development of practice supported by the chosen digital literacy strand, ensuring progression amongst all staff but particularly in relation to staff currently working at Entry level.
  • Ensure that activities undertaken support the school improvement plan and in particular, learner outcomes and quality of teaching.
  • Be an active member of the DigiLit Leicester Network in Leicester – supporting other members, encouraging primary school participation, sharing approaches and ideas, and promoting your work and the work of the other network members.
  • Document and share practice and any high quality resources created in the context of the project under open licence, in line with Leicester City Council recommendations.

Congratulations to all participating schools and good luck for the year ahead!

(First published on Digilit Leicester – digilitleic.com)