Microsoft Education Cloud Solution: End To End Guide For Deployment

microsoft_education_it_getstarted_workflow.png

2017 has been the year that has seen the various pieces of Microsoft’s Education offerings come together in a more cohesive, end-to-end offering that can now be deployed very easily by schools or their ICT partners.

Naturally, this is centered around Office365 and the power of the Azure cloud identity with Azure Active Directory, combined with the recent Creators Updates in Windows 10 providing a great overall solution for educators and students alike.

To the make the process of deploying this even easier, Microsoft have released a great step by step guide, with accompanying videos. The overview article, and the best place to start if you’re new to all of this, can be found at the following link:

Deploy & manage a full cloud IT solution with Microsoft Education

What is Microsoft Education?

Microsoft Education consists of these new and existing services and tools from Microsoft:

  • Microsoft Intune for Education for simple set up, control, and management of the resources for your school including apps, devices, and settings
  • Office 365 for Education provides online apps for work from anywhere and desktop apps for advanced functionality, built for working together and available across devices, and it’s free for schools, teachers, and students
    • School Data Sync to help automate the process for importing and integrating School Information System (SIS) data that you can use with Office 365
    • OneNote Class Notebook to organize course content, create and deliver interactive lessons to some or all students, collaborate and provide private feedback to individual students, and connect with major LMS and SIS partners for assignment workflow
  • Microsoft Teams to bring conversations, content, and apps together in one place and create collaborate classrooms, connect in professional learning communities, and communicate with school staff
  • Learning Tools are moving beyond the OneNote desktop app and is now available in Office Lens, OneNote Online, Word Online, and Word desktop
  • Whiteboard to create interactive lessons on the big screen, share and collaborate real-time by connecting to Class Notebook and Classroom
  • Windows 10, version 1703 (Creators Update) which brings 3D for everyone and other new and updated Windows features
  • Minecraft: Education Edition which provides an open and immersive environment to promote creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving

I’ve collated the following video guides from the individual instruction pages which are all worth checking out, with the goal of having a “one stop shop” for school IT admins to be able source all the help they need to deploy and maintain Microsoft Education.

In the following walkthrough videos, we’ll show you the basics on how to:

  • Acquire an Office 365 for Education tenant, if you don’t already have one
  • Import school, student, teacher, and class data using School Data Sync (SDS)
  • Deploy Microsoft Teams to enable groups and teams in your school to communicate and collaborate
  • Manage apps and settings deployment with Intune for Education
  • Acquire additional apps in Microsoft Store for Education
  • Use the Set up School PCs app to quickly set up and provision your Windows 10 education devices
  • Log in and use the devices

So, let’s get started with the setup process!

Set Up An Office365 Education Tenant

(full instructions here)

Use School Data Sync To Import Data

(full instructions here)

Enable Microsoft Teams For Your School

(full instructions here)

There is no video for this one, but the step by step instructions on the link above are very easy to follow along with.

Configure Microsoft Store For Education

(full instructions here)

Use Intune For Education To Manage Groups, Apps, and Settings

(full instructions here)

Set Up Windows 10 Education Devices

(full instructions here)

There is no video for this one either, however the above link shows you how to use the free Set Up School PCs App to quickly deploy new devices and join them to Azure Active Directory (AAD) – this process usually takes less than 5mins for a brand new device out of the box.

Finish Windows 10 Device Setup & Other Tasks

(full instructions here)

Conclusion

It’s now easier than ever before to quickly set up a feature rich educational environment using the Microsoft cloud offerings of Office365 combined with Windows 10 devices.

I hope the above guides help but if you have further questions, drop them in the comments section below.

Guest Posts: Modern Methodologies For Classroom IT Management

I am going to link back to a series of five upcoming blog posts that are aimed at helping school ICT administrators manage and secure their environments more effectively. The five blog topics are as follows:

protecting-school-data-8

Using the cloud is a great way to protect school data

The first blog post has a number of great links within it, including information about cyber security risks faced in schools:

As each of the posts are published I will update the links at the top of this post to provide a central point to access them.

End Of Support for Dir Sync & Azure AD Sync Approaching

DirSync & Azure AD Sync will reach end of Support on April 13, 2017.

Azure AD will stop accepting connections from DirSync and Azure AD Sync after December 31, 2017. For more information about the DirSync and AAD Sync upgrade, please see the DirSync and Azure AD Sync deprecation documentation. If you have questions or feedback about this change, you can leave the team a comment on the blog linked below or reach on Twitter using the #AzureAD hashtag.

https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/enterprisemobility/2017/04/10/end-of-support-for-dirsync-and-azure-ad-sync-is-rapidly-approaching-time-to-upgrade-to-aad-connect/

So now, it’s time to get cracking and move to Azure AD Connect if you’ve not done so already:

AD Connect.png

Azure AD Connect – keeping your identity synchronized in the cloud.

Free Azure Cloud Migration Assessment Tool

As more organisations, including schools and tertiary institutes, explore cloud migrations from on-premise servers, the number one question is always “how much will it cost me and how much can I save?”

Recently, Microsoft have released a free cloud migration assessment tool that you can see here:

Click here to start the free cloud migration assessment

There are three ways you can import data into this assessment tool:”

  1. Manual Import – essentially entering the RAM/CPU/OS specs of your physical/virtual servers one at a time into the online tool
  2. Bulk custom import – download an Excel template to manually update the specs and then import into the online tool
  3. Automated discovery and import – this utilises the free Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit. This can be configured to scan through all/part of your server network to automatically identify the specifications being used and then generate an import file for the online tool.

You can watch a detailed instruction on how to use these three methods in the YouTube clip below:

cloud migration toolkit

Click the above image to watch the YouTube clip

What I really like about this tool is that you get a report with calculated costs for Azure hosting compared to your on-premise infrastructure costs:

Azure Report.PNG

An example of the predicted cost savings using Azure compared to on-premise hosting.

This is, of course, based off assumptions in terms of costs to maintain on-premise services and this is where the tool is very flexible. If you have already done a TCO or ROI exercise and know the costs of on premise services you can manually update these costs in the assumptions calculator to truly match your known costs:

Azure Assumptions

This tool allows great flexibility in terms of entering your true/known costs into the assumptions tab to get accurate comparisons

Tools like this can give organisations certainty in terms of predicted costs for moving their infrastructure into the Azure cloud. I’d love to hear first hand from educational institutes out there that have used this tool – feel free to post a comment below if you have.

 

Teaching STEM? Think Imagine Academy

imagine-academy-bannerAs more schools shape courses around the acronym of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths), they are also looking for innovative ways to create curriculum that is relevant and has ‘real-world’ application for students.

One easy way this can be achieved is through using Microsoft’s Imagine Academy:

What impresses me about these courses is the diversity of options available to teachers and students, all under a single institutional license – read more on the official Imagine Academy website here. The areas of study within the Academy are laid out as follows:

Areas of Study.PNG

For more technically skilled students, or those that have already decided on a career pathway in IT, the Computer Science and IT Infrastructure courses certainly provide early access to training for industry recognized qualifications. Schools that already have effective Digital Technologies teachers can use this as an additional support resource, but for many schools that may not have any qualified teacher in this curriculum area, students can work self-paced through the online materials independently.

Additional benefits include the ability to get Microsoft Certification on the completion of courses through the Imagine Academy, along with linking into world wide initiatives like the MineCraft Hour of Code

It’s instructive that the Netherlands have added the Imagine Academy to every secondary school in the country as a way to support STEM education:

Check out the Microsoft Academy homepage to learn more.