The rise of the SharePoint School website

July 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: SharePoint 

As part of my return to blogging this week I wanted to talk about one of the genuinely big trends in SharePoint. This is the rise in use of SharePoint as a school website. Although this trend and change in thinking still has a way to go more and more schools are seeing that SharePoint can create a beautiful website and be a powerful way to communicate with stakeholders. In the last 6 weeks alone I have taken 22 requests for SharePoint websites from schools who are using SharePoint as a Learning Platform.

Many of you will also be familiar with our 6th Form website which can be see below as an example of a beautiful SharePoint website.

www.twynham6thform.com

At the same point when I was speaking to a school in London last week who were asking for us to host SharePoint for them they were surprised when I suggested they use SharePoint for their website and even said, ‘have you ever seen a nice looking SharePoint site!’.

To rectify this I thought I would provide some links and an update on our work. Firstly one of my favourite sites for finding examples of good SharePoint websites  is Top SharePoint Sites which now has 1,224 examples of SharePoint being used as a website.

As well as this I wanted to show you one of the sites we are just finishing for a school which again catches the eye.

If you are interested in using SharePoint to host your main school or 6th Form website  and would like some help please get in touch by emailing mike.herrity@twynhamschool.com and I can provide you with further details.

An open letter to Viglen re: Virtualisation

July 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: SharePoint 

Dear Viglen

How are you? I hope things are well in the land of building machines for schools. I also hope you don’t mind me writing to you to ask a few questions about the services you provide. We have recently visited a second school to arrange to install and develop SharePoint where your engineers have recently put hardware in. I wanted to ask a few questions as we may be misunderstanding what is happening but it seems like an unusual way to virtualise school server solutions.

In both the schools we have visited the schools have ordered two servers and a SAN to virtualise most of their existing server stock in an an attempt to reduce cost and increase efficiency. The other primary goal is to reduce the potential impact of failure by creating a failover solution across the two servers. However in both cases we found two puzzling issues. Firstly the two servers have no failover potential between them and are separately connected to the SAN with no migration potential. Although not ideal there are clearly still benefits to having a virtualised solution in terms of cost savings.

However in both cases the schools have purchased two servers with just 8GB RAM. This surely negates the primary gains from virtualising servers as very little can be virtualised on the box once you have the OS on? Today we met a school with just 2 virtualised servers on one of their boxes and nothing on the other which they were leaving for failover even though this was not possible. I am sure you will agree this is a very inefficient use of two servers which are relatively expensive. Perhaps you can clarify as on the surface the schools both seemed to feel they were buying something which should have a very positive impact on their schools and yet this was not possible with the solution they currently had.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes

Mike Herrity

SharePoint in Education Summer Term Review. The Blog is back!

This evening I decided I would do something I have not done in a while and write a blog post. I had realised it has been a while since I last wrote a piece due to the sheer madness of the last term but two and a half months was a bit longer than I realised! I thought it might be useful to write a review of what on earth I have been up to given that 73 days have gone past as we have had some interesting times.

May 2010

SharePoint 2010 is launched

The real focus for the month was the worldwide launch of SharePoint 2010. This happened on May 14th and I am pleased to say we were able to be part of it at Twynham School. As we were on the TAP programme (for more on what a TAP programme is click here) for SharePoint 2010 between December 2008 and May 2010 I was delighted when we were asked to become a case study client. After a few long calls and changes of copy on the actual launch day we were included as a Microsoft Worldwide case study. If you haven’t had time to read the case study you can find a link to the site here or download a handy pdf here.

An Introduction to SharePoint 2010- growing the ‘by schools, for schools’ model

As we were coming to the end of the SharePoint TAP programme I thought it might be useful to share what was happening with the launch of SharePoint 2010 and the benefits to schools. After a little mild arm twisting I managed to persuade Ray Fleming to host an event at Microsoft HQ for 50 schools. With 7 high quality speakers from schools who had been using SharePoint 2010 for at least 6 months we announced 50 spaces…. and promptly had 232 requests! Clearly there was a lot of interest in SharePoint 2010. Our first event on May 14th was a huge success and has led me to think about how we grow the school SharePoint community in the UK.

Excited delegates!

 The main reason for my absence from blogging

Of course the above events are the sort of things I do most weeks as my school has kindly released me to work with other schools across the country. So why have I been so quiet? During the month of May my wife became very ill and ended up in hospital a number of times. The reason for this is she was 12 weeks pregnant and her body was not reacting to well during the sickness phase. 8 weeks of trauma ensued during which it was hard to think of blogging and even working but I am pleased to say she is now 22 weeks along and has recently been given the ‘all clear’.

June 2010

SharePoint 2010 Roadshow

By the beginning of June we had over 300 requests for the ‘An Introduction to SharePoint 2010′ events and so we took to the road to put on events in Manchester and Warwickshire as well as a fourth event in Reading. The waiting list is much smaller now but we will still look to put on one or two events in Reading in the new year. Look out for bigger events later in 2010 and throughout 2011 which build on the initial concept and allow schools to look at specific SharePoint products and techniques.

The Independants Commeth

One of the trends I have been meaning to comment on for some time is the increasing interest shown by Independent Schools in Learning Platforms. Back in 2007 when we started our online learning work we had no contact in the first two years from Independent Schools. In the last year we have spoken to over 100 who are interested in using SharePoint as a Learning Platform with over 20 enquiries in the last 6 weeks alone.

 I have finally become convinced we should use a VLE!

As many of you will know I have been a firm advocate of ‘anytime, anywhere’ learning through open and accessible rich resources over the concept of a VLE. The main reason for my views on this is actually the poor quality of VLE’s I have seen over the years. In the last few months I have found an authoring tool which makes good use of the SLK with SharePoint and I am pleased to say Twynham are now using a VLE! More about this in the autumn term when I will be showing of our work.

July 2010

The Learning Gateway Conference

As we head towards the end of the school year there is still one high quality event to attend before we all head of for a well earned break. The Learning Gateway Conference is taking place this Wednesday 14th July in London. It promises to be a great time meeting up with schools and there are some excellent speakers and topics to attend. There are still a few places left so if you can get out of school on Wednesday fill in the form here and get yourself along

SharePoint 2010 RTM Day. Take a sneak peek at 10 awesome end user features for SharePoint 2010.

As many of you will know today is the RTM (release to manufacture) of SharePoint 2010 and the starting point for many schools to consider migrating from SharePoint 2007 or moving from non-SharePoint Learning Platforms. For our team at Twynham School it is a special day as we have actually been working with SharePoint 2010 since December 2008 on Microsoft’s TAP (Technical Access Preview). This means we have helped been able to help shape and develop the latest platform through Alpha, Beta, Beta 2 and RC- it has been a long but enjoyable journey!

I thought it might be useful to share some of the major developments in SharePoint 2010 as we are now running this fully within the school with our 3,000 users. These are just a taster with screenshots and headings but I will be putting out much more detail over the next few months. Here are some key changes and improvements you should look out for.

1. The Ribbon which we hve got to know (and love?) in Office 2007 now appears in SharePoint 2010.

2. Uploading images is now simple and as easy as the rest of Office

3. Changes take place within the page

4. Media can be instantly uploaded into the page.

5. Cross Browser Support

6. Web Apps bring real cloud computing to SharePoint.

7.  Social Media improvements (e.g. rating and tagging)

8. Improved My Sites and Social Integration.

9. Improved social features in blogging.

10. Powerpoint broadcasting from SharePoint

Introduction to SharePoint 2010 event now full! Second date now added- Monday June 14th

April 26, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: SharePoint, SharePoint 2010 

As many of you will know we are running a free event called ‘Introduction to SharePoint 2010′ on May 14th. Unfortunately this event is now full but I am pleased to confirm we have managed to secure a second date which will be on Monday 14th June. This event is already starting to fill up so please do make contact by email at mike.herrity@twynhamschool.com to book your place.

Details are the same as last time  (except the date) which are:

Microsoft UK have sponsored the event through the provision of their conference facilities

Event Details:

Microsoft Campus, Reading, RG6 1WG

Date: Monday 14th June 2010

Time: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Key topics covered:

Why SharePoint 2010? 10 great features for teachers and students

Social in SharePoint 2010. Capturing students’ interest in social networking to help their learning.

Moving to SharePoint 2010- why, how, when and where?

SharePoint 2010 as a Leadership and Management tool.

Branding SharePoint 2010- how to make SharePoint look like your school, and work for your school!

Using SharePoint 2010 to hit government targets – online reporting to parents, managing absence, community cohesion and personalising learning.

To book places for this event for you and your colleagues please contact me by email mike.herrity@twynhamschool.com

Free SharePoint 2010 Event on May 14th 2010. Places filling up- who should attend this event?

April 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: SharePoint, SharePoint 2010 

Just a quick update to say the ‘Introduction to SharePoint 2010′  event I blogged about yesterday is filling up fast with 70% of places taken since this morning. Do please get in touch and get along by sending me an email to confirm your place(s) to mike.herrity@twynhamschool.com

Who should attend this event?

The main reason for this post is I have been asked this question a dozen times this morning so I thought it might be a good idea to expand on my last post with more clarity!

Reasons for Senior Leaders to Attend

If you are a senior leader in a school SharePoint 2010 is a major step forward in the world of Learning Platforms. SharePoint 2010 provides much easier user adoption through an intiuitive interface and provides powerful business intellegence which can be used to help keep track of school attendance and put student data at the finger tips of staff and parents. Topics covered in the day will include key government agendas including: online reporting to parents, managing absence, community cohesion and personalising learning.

Reasons for E-learning leaders and Heads of ICT to attend

If you are using SharePoint 2007 or thinking of moving to SharePoint from another Learning Platform then this event will be very useful. SharePoint 2010 has significantly improved user interface which means end users are more likely to start using it quickly and efficiently. Along with this out of the box streaming media and enhanced social media features in blogs and wikis make SharePoint 2010 a much improved learning tool.

Reasons for Network Managers to attend

As well as getting a good overview of the capabilities of SharePoint 2010 in general Dave Coleman from Twynham School and Alan Richards from West Hatch will be presenting a session on upgrade and migration techniques. There will also be an opportunity to take away some examples of possible hardware set ups including physical and virtualised models.

As with my previous email the details are as follows:

Microsoft UK have sponsored the event through the provision of their conference facilities

Event Details:

Microsoft Campus, Reading, RG6 1WG

Date: Friday 14th May 2010

Time: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Key topics covered:

Why SharePoint 2010? 10 great features for teachers and students

Social in SharePoint 2010. Capturing students’ interest in social networking to help their learning.

Moving to SharePoint 2010- why, how, when and where?

SharePoint 2010 as a Leadership and Management tool.

Branding SharePoint 2010- how to make SharePoint look like your school, and work for your school!

Using SharePoint 2010 to hit government targets – online reporting to parents, managing absence, community cohesion and personalising learning.

To book places for this event for you and your colleagues please contact me by email mike.herrity@twynhamschool.com

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