Technology is a great servant of pedagogy
Today I hosted a webinar with Aaron Overington, the IT Manager at Oneschool Global NZ and we discussed his two year journey of moving the IT infrastructure he manages into the cloud. He achieved much of this using the solutions inside the Microsoft 365 Education suite and he went into detail around the planning, objections raised (and countered!), proof of concepts and ultimately the delivery and completion of this project.
I started this blog post with the quote above because, whilst there is a lot of technical discussion in this webinar, if you listen closely to Aaron talking you hear that his driving motivation is to ensure he contributes towards the best possible learning environment for the teachers and students of Oneschool Global NZ, that will result in the highest learning outcomes possible. It’s very important, in my mind, not to lose sight of that outcome because when done well, technology should fade into the background of effective learning scenarios.
This digital transformation journey took Aaron and his team approximately two years from the genesis of his vision through to the completion of the execution and included the powering down of all the on-premise servers across the multiple campuses he supported throughout New Zealand in January 2019:
We recorded the webinar using Microsoft Teams (I forgot to hit record so missed the first minutes!) and you can watch it here:
Some Key Points Of Interest:
The following points are time stamped – click the link that interests you and it will launch in YouTube on that topic.
- The genesis of the new approach to cloud IT – Westmount 2.0
- “A future where students can learn anytime, anywhere, and on any device”
- Cloud Identity – the difference between AzureAD and Azure Active Directory Domain Services
- Why Aaron opted for AzureAD
- Building a Proof of Concept at a small scale
- Went live 30th May 2018 (9 months after the vision was dreamed up)
- On-Premise Services that needed to be modified to support a cloud-first, server-less environment
- Including, DNS, DHCP, client device OS upgrades, an alternative to Group Policy restrictions, printing, true cloud identity to replace on premise Active Directory
- Dynamic Groups – a key part of the overall architecture to streamline the management of everything
- Windows 10 and device enrollment for management: AutoPilot
- How to replace Group Policy
- One of the biggest objections / concerns at the outset of the project was how to replace Group Policy – Aaron explains how Intune can manage this with CSP, OMA-URI, PowerShell and ADMX template ingestion
- Printing – the need for a cloud first, server-less print solution that supported roaming between campuses for both students and staff.
- Achieved by the use of Printix.net with tight integration into AzureAD and Aaron’s Dynamic Groups.
- Application Deployment – how to push out a range of MSI, Windows Store and Win32 apps to devices dynamically. Enter: Intune.
- Managing shared files that were previously stored on-premise in network file shares
- Achieved using Microsoft Teams with the added benefit of collaboration tools included!
- Monitoring the security profile of the new environment with M365 Secure Score
- I wrote about Office365 Secure Score here, the M365 Secure Score looks across the wider solutions, but the principle is the same.
- Financial Savings – you’ll need to watch it to see it!
- Also includes discussion around the massive reduction in support tickets from the schools
- Challenges faced during deployment
- Aaron was open about some challenges they experienced during this journey.
- Questions from the audience – submitted via Teams, I read them out to Aaron and he addressed them
Slide Deck From Webinar:
Aaron kindly agreed to share his deck from the session and you can view this below:
My Point of View:
I’m hugely grateful to Aaron and the team at Oneschool Global NZ for sharing their journey on this webinar and allowing the recording and deck to be shared after the event as well. Oneschool Global NZ has a reasonably unique set of requirements in terms of close management of applications, content and network filtering for users across a geographically diverse set of campuses. Through the use of M365 Education Aaron was able to move the school’s IT infrastructure completely to the cloud and keep it integrated with their cloud LMS (Canvas), video conferencing solution (Zoom) and cloud Student Management System (Edge Learning Solutions).
In completing this project, Aaron was able to achieve significant cost and resource savings for the school and deliver a more efficient platform to drive teaching and learning outcomes for the teachers to leverage and the students to benefit from.
Ultimately, this is the key message from this story in my view: technology remains a great servant to pedagogy and, when deployed effectively, can truly accelerate the digital transformation of an organisation.