Why Educational Institutions Should Use Office 365
With educational institutions embarking on the new scholastic year, teachers and departments need to soon begin initiating plans for their classrooms. Fortunately, Microsoft provides a unique licensing model for their Office 365 for Education platform. In fact, as of May 2017, educational institutions are now eligible for rolling out Office 365 products to students and faculty members with consummate ease and zero license costs.
However, this attractive offer requires various elements of configuration to get things up and running. Managing the Office 365 environment while handling day-to-day activities is no easy feat, especially when institutions must ensure that their users’ content is secured.
Why Should Educational Institutions Use Office 365?
With collaboration platforms and educational tools competing for their share of the market, why should educational institutions move to and use Office 365? Microsoft provides institutions with the following value propositions:
Organize in One Place
Any educator understands the significance of managing a central repository. Without documents, lesson plans, and records organized in one convenient place, keeping track of their classroom can quickly devolve into a chaotic mess.
Microsoft’s solution to educators who seek organization is OneNote. First introduced with Office 2003, OneNote has since grown into the de facto note-taking tool for 90% of all Office users. It is available on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android with the same user experience across the platforms. This year, OneNote for Education has been enhanced with the following features:
- OneNote for Teachers: Educators can take advantage of OneNote for Teachers to collaborate with the classroom, present curriculum, and stay organized.
- OneNote Class Notebook: Students can utilize Class Notebook to take notes on an “anything, anywhere” free-form canvas. They can place text, images, tables, printouts, and more.
- Optical Character Recognition (OCR): This new feature helps users convert handwritten notes to legible text.
Engage in New Ways
Keeping your educational materials relevant to a new generation of students means keeping up with the latest technology. Since today’s students are accustomed to using electronic devices regularly, connecting with them requires engaging them at their level.
Office Sway is a new presentation application that allows students and teachers to create interactive materials featuring text, images, and videos. Teachers can create dynamic newsletters for their students’ parents to consume, while students can use it to put together presentations for homework.
In the past, students who were unable to keep up with the pace of the classroom trailed behind with lower standards and achievements. Understanding that there is no baseline or benchmark for which a student connects with educational material, it is critical to individualize learning and bring students together in a collaborative environment.
Microsoft Teams is a digital platform that consolidates documents, conversations, and more into one central place. It provides users with a chat-based workspace to share ideas, comment on class notes, and ask questions to peers and teachers, all while ensuring that information is made available on any device and platform—all in real time.
With Teams, teachers are able to stay in touch with their students and vice versa. This provides both the student and the teacher with a one-on-one conversational medium, making communication easy and personal.
Collaborate Without Boundaries
Historically, students were issued with printed handouts, meaning they have to retype notes or write information from the teacher’s blackboard in the classroom. With Office 365, students and teachers have access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. They are able to store content centrally for consumption and collaboration in SharePoint Online and have access to tools like Microsoft Dictate and Immersive Reader to assist them with their daily activities.
Nevertheless, familiarity with the Office 365 environment isn’t just limited to education. In the latest report by Microsoft, Microsoft Office was rated one of the top desired skills for employment qualification.
Onboarding & Offboarding in a Nutshell
All institutions struggle with student registrations. This is a global phenomenon and is not limited to the institution itself; it’s simply a complex, laborious process. The lifecycle of the enrollee is paramount to all institutions, as this is the primary function of educational organizations.
Being able to correctly onboard students at registration, provision the necessary materials and electronic devices, and ensure that the platform is accessible before the beginning of the scholastic year aids the institution in the overall governance of the student’s profile during their tenure.
Teachers are able to assign users to lectures and streams within the institution and issue instructions on the delivery of courseware and tasks to students, as well as moderate and monitor how everything is managed.
Conversely, students who complete their time at the institution need to be promptly offboarded, or their content must be transferred to another Office 365 account type. This occurs when:
- The student graduates.
- The student transfers to another institution.
- The student fails to deliver the necessary financial commitment.
- The student leaves.
Being able to effectively offboard the student at a user level is just as important as the onboarding process. With Office 365, the entire process can be automated throughout the lifecycle of the student, making the onboarding and offboarding process much more simple.
Furthermore, institutional security is key during the lifecycle of the student, and with Office 365’s threat management, information protection, classification, and security and compliance center, educational institutions are able to lock down and block users that overstep the boundaries stipulated by the institution.
Introducing the Essentials of Office 365 for Education Series
Over the next month, we’ll take you on a journey through the rich feature set that is Office 365. With our Essentials of Office 365 for Education series, you’ll learn how to improve your IT efficiency and allow students to collaborate more proactively with teachers. You’ll also have the chance to chat with Microsoft directly about their vision for Office 365.
This series will cover the following:
- How to successfully onboard your organization.
- How to efficiently manage student onboarding and offboarding.
- How to protect your organization from data leaks and external threats.
- How to lock down content effectively.
Making the Big Move to Office 365?
Looking for an easy way to move to Office 365? Metalogix’s Essentials for Office 365 is an easy-to-use tool that allows you to plan your migration, move your content, report on usage, protect user data, and manage students and faculty—all from a single, user-friendly interface.
Get a head start on your institution's Office 365 project and try Essentials for free today!
Alistair Pugin is an Office Servers MVP based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has worked in various capacities in multiple verticals spanning between 50 to 50,000 users utilizing all aspects of pure Enterprise Information Management. His current position provides him with a mechanism to assist companies with designing their Microsoft productivity stack using “best of breed” proven methodologies to foster innovation and growth through an ECM framework, while incorporating a Knowledge Management strategy. With this vision, he strives to provide customers with a platform for Business Productivity Enrichment, establishing communities of practice through proper analysis and building a knowledge economy that is both quantifiable and achievable.