New SharePoint 2010 features for education. SharePoint School Reward System.

In the last series I looked at Twynham School’s first new product for SharePoint 2010- the Online School Calendar. If you missed these posts you can find the first part here and the second part here. Our second product launch this summer was the SharePoint School Reward system which has been live at Twynham School for 5 weeks now. The idea for an online reward system was developed within out Student Council and I have written about their part in our SharePoint development in previous posts which you can see here. With every development we ask that whether you are a student or a member of staff you create a ‘mock up’ or storyboard to make sure your ideas are clear and the original ideas of the students can be seen in the image below.

From this point we then set to work building the solution in SharePoint. One of our newest SharePoint developers, Rob Brown built out the original teacher view which I will show in this post. The main criteria was to give staff instant access to the classes they teach and their tutor group to give a reward point or as we call it an AA (Academic Achievement). As well as this it quickly became clear that staff would need the ability to give any student an AA regardless of whether they teach them or not. The interface for staff can be seen below:

Using the left hand side teachers can quickly and easily award AAs to students they teach or tutees. They simply select a class from the drop down and all students are shown as you can see below (student surnames have been removed):

From here a teacher can select any student and award an AA from the drop down up to a maximum of 3 AAs. Two things which were removed from the specification were the ability to give more than 3AAs and the ability to batch select an entire group and give them all an AA. In both cases students felt these actions would devalue the curency of the AA and wanted fewer reward points given for better achievements. The final aspect you will notice on the image above is a running total of AAs you as a teacher have awarded to each student so you can see how they are doing in your subject during the year.

You can see the full gateway page with the AA system built in below to give some context:

Tomorrow I will cover the system for awarding AAs to students that you do not teach.

New SharePoint 2010 features for education. SharePoint School Calender part 1

One of the most irritating uses of SharePoint I have seen in education has happened at my very own school for the last 4 years. Each summer we start to put a calendar together in a word document for all the key events and activities in the school year. When this is compiled we put it in a document library which is not what SharePoint was meant for! As a result every time somebody wanted to check a date they would go to the staff home page, click through to shared documents and open the word document. The main reason this happened was the out of the box SharePoint calendar did not meet the complex needs of the school. That is at least until now!

Our development team have been busy treading one of the most important lines in SharePoint development: building something that is customised so that it is fit for purpose whilst at the same time utilising and maintaining the out of the box features so that the solution is transferable to other schools. The result can be seen in our homepage below.

Zooming in you can see our school ‘week to view’ calendar which contains columns showing all the key information which is part of making a busy 1600 school run smoothly. Although this may all look like madness from outside of the school it gives a simple and instant way to view key information directly from the home page. The beauty of the solution is the view shown below can be easily altered for another school whilst maintaining the back end SharePoint functionality.

What if you want to see beyond the next week to look at future dates and events? Simply click on the calendar icon in the icon bar and you instantly see full school year.

The image above shows the whole school year view with an option to select individual months. We launched the calendar at the start of September and it has already proved to be one of those solutions which is not flashy but at the same time has a big impact on an institution.

Tomorrow I will cover how you create, edit and ammend the calendar using basic SharePoint functionality.

Speaking on SharePoint and the Learning Gateway at SharePoint Saturday DC #SPSDC

I am pleased to announce that I will be speaking at SharePoint Saturday in Washington DC with my good friend Dave Coleman on Saturday 15th May. We will be speaking on ‘Creating an effective and highly developed Learning Gateway for education with SharePoint 2007 and 2010′.  We will be picking out most of the themes from my recently released E-book and also launching our SharePoint 2010 demo site which we hope will be useful for both educational and non-educational institutions.

As well as this I hope to have a few new web parts to give away so try to come along and say hello.

Customising the SharePoint look and feel

Something very interesting is starting to happen to SharePoint at Twynham School. People are starting to play with it in a deep and meaningful way! The best bit about all this is I am not referring to our developers. We have been using SharePoint for years under the stewardship of Dave Coleman our Network Manager but really strong development started in March 2007. Since this time we have gone for a very locked down approach with Dave and his team controlling the navigation and layout. This has served us brilliantly and prevented an explosion of sites and varying layouts that our Student Voice teams told us left them bemused when we had intranet sites.

Year 9 ICT Digital Colour Unit

I am pleased to say all this has now started to change as staff and students have become attuned to SharePoint after two years living with it as our ‘One stop shop’. The IT department in particular have started to become pioneers on the look and feel and along with Science are now starting to look at layout and the use of permissioning and visibility. At the end of the day there is no getting away from the fact that SharePoint can look very bland with document libraries. To overcome this the IT team produced a unit on digital colour which has so much more appeal just by using the content editor webpart. The response from students has been very positive and is leading to increasing innovation amongst staff who are getting to grips with MOSS 2007….just in time for SharePoint 2010 to arrive! Oh well.

Achievement Show 2009 Presentation

The Achievement Show is up and running in the last 10 minutes and dozens of leading schools are now presenting throughout the Emirates Stadium. If you havent been able to make it this time I thought I would upload my presentation which will be running in the Technology Theatre from 11.45am. Consider this pre-release material!

View more OpenOffice presentations from mikeherrity.

The Achievement Show 2009- still time to book

I have been a little remiss in not keeping up to date in sharing some of the excellent CPD which is taking place at the moment. By far one of the best value for money opportunities is taking place next week at the Emirates Stadium- the notice is short admittedly but maybe you can make a Monday morning pitch to your Head!

*Stop press- if you are attending the Achievement Show please tweet with #achieve2009

This Tuesday 16th June 2009 sees the second annual Achievement Show held by The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT). This is an exceptional event which showcases the work of schools involved in the Leading Edge Programme run by The SSAT. For me at £99 this is the most cost effective CPD opportunity in the school year.  Take a look at the schedule online and if your school is quiet on Tuesday next week (Year 11, 12 and 13 may all be away and exam season is easing off) see if you can get to London. Booking this late can still be done although they are nearly sold out. You can do so by contacting 

Come and see me presenting on our work at Twynham School

If you are coming along to the Achievement Show on Tuesday do please come and see me presenting if you are interested. The focus will be on raising achievement through a learning platform. I am on at 11.45 am at the New Technologies Village which it would appear is the first area next to the event entrance.

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