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.

SharePoint 2010 as an effective Learning Gateway

October 7, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: SharePoint 

One of the topics I will be speaking a lot about this year is SharePoint 2010 and its position as an effective Learning Gateway in education. Last weekend I was fortunate to be able to present with my good friend Dave Coleman at the first SharePoint Saturday UK. The hour long presentation is captured in the PowerPoint below which I hope you find useful. Please do share it with others as the most comprehensive document on our work at Twynham School with SharePoint 2010 as a Learning Gateway.

View more presentations from mikeherrity.

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.

SharePoint 2010 all new features for Education. Whats new at Twynham School

September 20, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: SharePoint, SharePoint 2010, Twynham School 

As schools across the country are starting to settle down into a new year I thought it would be good to share the new features we have added to our SharePoint 2010 Learning Platform. Many of the new SharePoint solutions which I will be showing over the next fortnight have been developed at Twynham School for up to a year . Although all five new features have been made live over the summer for the return to work all our developments follow a tried and trusted methodology. We have always focused on a long cycle of testing and trialing with our end users to rapidly improve our SharePoint educational developments. By the time we go live with new SharePoint features we can be sure that they are fully working and meet the needs of our staff and students. A number of the features can be seen below in our updated gateway which is fully SharePoint 2010. 

The new SharePoint 2010 educational features I will be covering over the next few weeks are:

  1. SharePoint School Calender
  2. SharePoint Rewards System
  3. SharePoint Room Booking System
  4. SharePoint Home Drive Web Part
  5. SharePoint CPD (Continuous Proffesional Development) System

To start this session tomorrow I will be looking at why we rejected the standard SharePoint 2010 calender and how we approached producing a bespoke solution to support the day to day running of the school.

Features of a SharePoint 2010 Learning Platform- The power of search for learning (2 of 3)

August 5, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: e-learning, SharePoint, SharePoint 2010 

In the last post we started to cover the elements of search which have the potential to impact on learning. You can pick up that post from here if you missed it. As well as different ways of refining searches today I wanted to look at federated search and the ability to instantly review search queries and results within the browser.

Federated Search

SharePoint 2007 contained federated search but this has seen improvements within SharePoint 2010. The key premise is the ability to search others sources beyond resources living within your SharePoint. This has the potential to be a major application within education as the ability to bring in search results from search engines and sites like Wikipedia and Youtube will allow students to complete research from multiple sources all from within SharePoint. From a collaborative perspective it also allows searches to be performed across multiple SharePoint sites so that federations of schools can share their data quickly and easily. External databases can also be searched so that many of the administrative elements of a school can be enhanced by the ability to use SharePoint as a central search point.


Image from

Search Suggestions

As well as federated search students will benefit from the ‘Google type’ experience of suggestions. These come in two forms with the pre query suggestions as you are typing and the  ’did you mean’ responses when returning a search result. Pre-query suggestions are based on previous searches so the more SharePoint is used the more suggestions appear in a similar way to Google. The ‘did you mean’ suggestions are based on the content in the indexing and although some might argue that this aids students too much it more closely reflects the web world they live in.

Pre-query suggestions

Post query 'did you mean' suggestions

Features of a SharePoint 2010 Learning Platform- Tagging and Rating

Having looked at MIS and VLE integration it is time to move on to one of the more powerful and often underused features of a Learning Platform- tagging and rating.  This feature has made significant steps forward from SharePoint 2007 and in SharePoint 2010 it has genuine potential to support the learning process through reflection and review.

Tagging and Rating

In many ways the arrival of SharePoint 2010 has led to the liberation for end users who are now active participants. This is immediately obvious in the ability to rate documents within SharePoint 2010 as can be seen below.

The image shows end user ratings for documents and files on a 1-5 star system. Although it is a simple system it has the potential to be profoundly useful for teachers and learners. One of the biggest challenges within SharePoint 2007 for an educator was knowing which resources are proving most useful for support and study. With a simple 1-5 system it is instantly possible to see which resources students are finding most useful. This can allow the ‘bubbling up’ of the best resources to the top so that they can instantly be viewed  when accessing a page. The same system can be applied to a multimedia library as shown below.

Of course a 1-5 star rating has its limitations in terms of the amount of feedback it gives the creator. You could create a document which you thought would be very useful but which gets a low rating- why? This is where tagging comes in. This gives the end user the ability to add additional metadata to a resource which can include an explanation of why the like it. The ‘I like it’ feature is shown both above and below in the top right corner of the ribbon.

Students can then add information about why the liked the resource which can support teachers in adaptation or the future development of resources. This is shown below.

As you can hopefully see tagging and rating have significant potential to be useful in the development of a better learning environment both for teachers and learners.

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