As we head into the weekend here is part two of the series on basic SharePoint Features. I will be posting parts 3-8 next Monday-Wednesday so look out forhow to upload and edit documents and the all important search capabilities of SharePoint.
If you missed part 1 you can find it here- How to add a notice to a site
SharePoint Feature 2- editing or deleting a notice on a site
As I have covered on this blog on numerous occasions the single biggest factor which limits the success of a SharePoint deployment in education is user adoption. Engaging students is one area we have looked at before but equally important is the people who will provide most of the content for use by students- the teachers. If they embrace SharePoint then success is highly likely. So why do we see so many SharePoint (and indeed any Learning Platforms) fail? I think the most common reason is teachers rarely gain a subconscious skill set where they know how to use SharePoint.
At Twynham School we support and work with hundreds of schools across the country and developing the confidence of teachers in using SharePoint has been one of our most important developments. In September 2009 I wrote a guide called 7 Basic SharePoint Features which we used in a training day at one of the schools where we have built SharePoint. This has had a huge impact on teacher engagement and confidence in the use of SharePoint. I have made this slide deck available in the blog post SharePoint Survival Kit for Teachers. Today I have taken the 7 features and increased them to 8 before making them available as a video demonstration. I will post 2 each day and I hope you find them useful in training and reinforcing the use of SharePoint in your schools.
SharePoint Feature 1 Adding a notice to a site
In the last post I included a couple of videos to the blog using an embed code from YouTube, the site synonymous with a web 2.0 world. One other site I regularly use for embedding resources is Slideshare, the document presentation sharing site. How many people are using this service? I only use it as an easy way to pull the presentations through on my blog but never really thought about how many people go directly to the site to see presentations. The 10 Power Points I have uploaded on Slideshare in the last year have actually been viewed over 2,300 times in the last 6 months. With this in mind I thought I would give you the top 10 most viewed PowerPoints I have uploaded:
Although the Windows 7 PowerPoints are at the bottom of the list they would actually be the top 5 in terms of views per day. The fact that failure in user adoption is number 1 but only went up in July is perhaps telling of the state of Learning Platforms in the UK.
A few weeks ago we completed the roll out of SharePoint at Frogmore Community College in Hampshire. Since June we have been moving their school website over to SharePoint and creating a Learning Gateway for launch at the start of this school year. Our visit in early September was during a school inset day which was set aside for training on and resourcing of their Learning Gateway. To start the day we had to train the entire staff of 85 teachers and support staff on the basics of SharePoint.
In preparation for this session I started to think about something very simple which I had never given detailed thought to. What basic features do end users (staff) need to know about to start using SharePoint? Sitting down for a couple of hours I realised that many staff find it hard to get started using SharePoint and some basic features are not obvious. I therefore put together a SharePoint Survival Kit for teachers.
Version 1 had 6 key features and at the end of the day staff at the school has managed to upload 2.6GB of resources into subject and staff areas. After feedback I added a 7th feature and presented this session to our new staff at Twynham School last Thursday. Again the feedback was very good- not everybody uses SharePoint everyday and so having access to a handout which runs through the basic key features gives them confidence to have a go. The PowerPoint above is really useful as a handout to all staff, especially when starting with SharePoint at your school. If you would like a copy of the PowerPoint to print out send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Learning Gateway Conference is running today and has been a fantastic success. There has been a great range of great presentations on both tracks and good engagement with excellent questions from the audience. Myself and Dave were very pleased to be asked to speak separately on two different topics with Dave covering how you extend SharePoint. The topic I was asked to speak on is my favourite- user adoption. Over the next 4 sessions I will cover the 1 hour presentation I gave today on the blog. The first session I covered looked at what I think are the 5 main reasons for failure in user adoption within schools and is shown below.
From here I will put up the sections which look at how we have engaged students, staff and parents which has led to high user adoption at Twynham School.
Well it seems a long time ago but it is actually only 72 hours since the first European SharePoint Best Practices Conference kicked off in London. The three days were very intensive with 63 possible sessions to visit and our decision to send 4 colleagues was fully justified with so many inputs available. Looking back at day 1 we arrived for the Keynote with Mr SharePoint, Joel Oleson, running the opening session. Joel presented an overview of the 10 factors you should consider when deploying SharePoint in your environment. For our team at Twynham this was really encouraging to see that most of what we have done aligns with the views of the SharePoint Community.
Joel has kindly made his Keynote deck available from Slideshare and I have added it below with permission. It is well worth working through and most of it will make sense without the input we received from Joel. Below are my thoughts on what instantly made sense to us and aligns with what we have already done.
What made sense- Top 3 things we have already done.
- Adoption is what counts. For our SharePoint setup we have always believed that the most important measure of success will be user adoption. This drives everything and at the end of the day if your SharePoint is not being used it is likely to have failed. How did we achieve this? Perhaps one motto sums up our philosophy at Twynham- Content is King. Whilst this is an over simplified statement, in education too may people spend endless hours discussing and searching for VLEs. If you build rich and varied content into your Learning Platform which makes the end users experience richer they will use it. This leads nicely into point 2 which is…
- Keep it Simple Stupid. Most of the discussion I see in education focuses on ‘The Magic Bullet’ with online learning and so many people avoid the easy gains that can be made with a learning platform by waiting for the killer app (VLE with SCORM compliant resources) which has shown little sign of appearing. This fits in with a third ot Joel’s 10 top tips which resonated with us- Build a Service not Install Software. A classic example of how we have done this is The Revision Gateway which was envisaged as a ‘One stop shop’ for all your revision needs.
- Get a Passionate Executive Sponsor. This was something we only realised we had done when seeing Joel’s deck but it instantly made sense. I have spent most of the last 3 months talking about how we engaged end-users with SharePoint but looking back none of this would be possible without the engagement of our Headteacher and to some extent the whole Leadership Team. They provide the financial resource and allow the time, input and focus in the school which ensures our SharePoint deployment is successful. It is no surprise that our number one point on the School Development Plan is the Learning Gateway- we have full Executive buy-in and it is essential for success.
Tomorrow I will cover the three key messages we took away from the keynote which we feel we need to work on to develop our SharePoint deployment further. My 3 colleagues who came along to the conference are busy polishing their more technical posts which will appear from Saturday onwards for a week so look out for them.