Microsoft Education Cloud Solution: End To End Guide For Deployment

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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.

Think In Ink – Examples Of Digital Inking

Video

This is a good video showing the various ways that Digital Inking can be used in schools. These examples are taken from the Tanglin Trust School in Singapore and include ideas from:

  • Automatic citations using the OneNote Clipper and then annotating the content directly in OneNote.
  • Sketching scientific diagrams in OneNote to reinforce learning and ideas (in this example, around erosion).
  • Language features in English – highlighting verbs/adjectives in poetry.
  • Using the Learning Tools (Immersive Reader) to support literacy in all subjects.
  • Maths annotations by clipping graphs made in Desmos and then inking over the top of the graph in OneNote.
  • Ink Replay – learning the correct stroke order of Chinese characters by using Ink Replay and then attempting to replicate this in OneNote.

Great Example Of OneNote Class Notebooks In A School

I’m linking to a great success story from Klein Forest High School in Houston, Texas, which recently deployed OneNote Class Notebooks across subjects in the secondary school.

You can read the full blog post here.

It’s worth reading in detail for the approach and how they opted to roll it out:

To prepare for our summer trainings, we decided to actively “promote” OneNote. We visited PLC meetings, made infographics, emailed the details out and posted on our website. During the summer of 2016, we provided professional development for our staff introducing OneNote and had them participate as students using a Class Notebook that we had created. Most of them fell in love with it on the spot. We also had the teachers who piloted OneNote during the previous year assist with staff development for additional buy-in.

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Once school started this August, things got off to a slower start than we anticipated. Teachers were falling into old habits. Therefore, we decided to switch our approach from marketing to grassroots. We targeted specific teachers who we felt were catalysts, teachers that would share our sentiments. This proved to be successful because—just like we suspected—it spread like wildfire!

There is also an embedded Sway showing how OneNote Class Notebooks are being used across the various subject areas

What is exciting from this story is that teachers were sharing the benefits with their colleagues directly – almost a viral deployment. I’ve seen this first hand in schools I’ve worked in where OneNote was deployed and when you have teachers creating resources for their colleagues to help them use the tools better, you know you’ve won. From the blog:

Another staff member, an ELL teacher, used it with his students who are new to the country and learning the English language. He was drawn to the Learning Tools add-in. He saw vast improvements in the students’ writing and language acquisition over time. He even made some tutorial videos as a supplemental resource for our teachers ready to jump in.

Once again, do take a moment to read the entire blog post here.

Updates for OneNote Class Notebook, Learning Tools and Office Lens—plus stickers!

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Screen shot of updates to OneNote Online

Another major release from the Microsoft Education team this morning, focusing on more updates for OneNote Class Notebooks, the popular Learning Tools as well as adding some fun with stickers for teachers to motivate students with.

Read the official announcement here.

The summary updates include (my observations in italics):

  • The availability of Class Notebook Tools on more platforms.
    • Having these available in OneNote Online means virtually any device can now benefit from these, even if they don’t have the OneNote desktop client installed
  • Updates for Learning Tools for OneNote—new languages and more.
    • Seeing these reading comprehension tools extendede to Word (both Desktop in Word 2016 and Word Online means even more students will be able to benefit)
  • The ability for teachers to give stickers to students in their Class Notebooks.
    • We have all seen how popular emoji have become in virtually every form of digital communication, from emails to text messages through to social media posts. Now teachers can add stickers to student NoteBooks.
  • New embeddable content types from partners.
  • Updates for the OneNote Class Notebook and LMS.
  • The availability of Office Lens for iPad, including Learning Tools.
    • Lens is a neat tool that has lots of benefits for students taking photos of whiteboards, screens and other content and offering some basic improvements on viewing. Nice to see it on the iPad at last.

I’ll be exploring these updates in more detail in the coming weeks and post back any nice features I see.

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Embedded content with stickers being displayed

OneNote For Education – 3 Minute Summary

One of the big investments from Microsoft in the Education sector is the Teacher Ambassador Programme. These experts,  with recent classroom experience, actively go out to schools and provide professional development for teachers on a range of Microsoft tools and solutions.

In the above video, one of the NZ Teacher Ambassadors, Morgan McKeen explains the different parts of OneNote and why it is an excellent tool for schools to use:

  • Personal Notebooks
  • Class Notebooks
  • Staff Notebooks