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.

Enrolling a Windows 10 Home Edition BYOD Device Into Intune For Education

I’ve run a lot of demonstrations of Intune for Education  over the last few months and today I tried to see if I could enroll a Windows 10 Home Edition BYOD device into Intune for Education.

This is an important consideration because many of the devices that students bring to school typically only have Windows 10 Home Edition on them and this can not be joined to a local Domain or Azure Active Directory. It’s worth being aware, however, that schools can set up the Kivuto portal for free, and offer their students the ability to boost their BYOD Windows 10 version to Pro Edu for free and for the life of the device. You can see how to do this here.

Here are the steps to join a BYOD Win10 Home Edition device to Intune for Education:

1) Under settings, go to “Access work or school” and click the “Connect” button in the main view on the right:

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2) Alternatively, if you hit the Windows button and search for “About this PC” you’ll see overall device info like below. Note the Edition is Windows 10 Home and there is also a link directly to “Connect to work or school”

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3) When prompted, enter your full school email address as below:

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4) When prompted, enter your school password:

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5) If entered correctly, you’ll receive confirmation it’s been done:

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6) You will then be advised that the device is being registered and applications and policy is being applied in line with the settings in Intune for Education:

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7) Once completed, you will now be returned to the “Connect to work or school” screen and can now see your account listed as below:

 

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8) As a reference, below is the product licenses assigned to the demo user in my Office 365 Tenant:

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9) If you hit the Windows key you should see the various apps streaming to the device as per the policy in Intune for Education:

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For schools, knowing that they can can enroll Windows 10 Home Edition BYOD directly into Intune For Education is an important step as they don’t need to worry about upgrading the devices to Win10 Pro / Edu.

 

Tools To Support Deployment of Windows 10 & Secure Assessment

windows-10-educationFrom my experience working in schools over the last decade, there are two common challenges faced by teachers and support staff:

  • Quickly configuring and deploying school computers
  • Securely managing online assessment with devices

Schools are constantly looking for new ways to streamline the setup and deployment of computers in their environment and there is a huge variety of methodologies to achieve this. Some can be scaled more effectively than others, however these often require considerable ICT skills to achieve. Similarly, to be able to lock down devices to reduce the chance of cheating during assessment is not as easy as it sounds.

With Windows 10, Microsoft have released a number of tools to assist schools with these problems. Firstly, here is an overview of the wider features from Microsoft in Education:

Set Up School PCs App:

This app is designed to make it easy for non-technical teaching staff to easily configure and deploy Windows 10 to new computers, using nothing more than a USB Key. Instructions on how to do this can be seen here:

My Take: Whilst this is not as powerful as other tools available for imaging machines, it’s definitely a good starting point for schools to get standard configurations onto devices quickly. For newer, often cheaper, devices that do not have a network port on it, then this USB deployment method is cheap and efficient.

Take a Test App:

This app tackles the tricky situation faced by many schools: teachers want to use digital platforms for assessment but restrict access to content on the device or internet during the assessment period. With Windows 10, user accounts can now be configured to provide secure, locked down assessment conditions on the device to achieve fairness and parity during the assessment. See the following video for more information:

My Take: As more assessment is happening on devices, it makes sense to standardise on certain assessment conditions. In some situations it’s appropriate for it to be an “open book” test, where local files and resources can be accessed, along with the internet. However, in other situations you’re genuinely looking to assess student knowledge retention and, through Windows 10 and the Take a Test App, schools can ensure that both formative and summative assessment can be securely completed in an equal setting.

Windows 10 vs Competitor Devices:

It is features like the above, new in Windows 10, that offer increased value for schools. Many are now re-evaluating the role of competitor devices and the following link has a handy table comparing Windows 10 devices with other popular devices in schools:

Click here to see the feature comparison table.

The bottom line is Windows 10 equips students to do more with their devices through the use of powerful applications like Office 365, OneNote and Minecraft Education Edition. These rich, desktop applications, along with the browser based versions, provide a great platform to support learning outcomes for students.

Remember to check out the Microsoft Schools Agreement page with the Ministry of Education to see the full range of software available to schools.

Upgrading BYOD Devices To Win10 Education

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UPDATE: I have had a number of schools asking me whether this upgrade path below allows students in a BYOD programme with MacBooks to upgrade to Win10 Edu for dual booting. The good news is that the answer is YES. Because Mac OSX / Mac OS is considered a qualifying license for the Windows Volume Licensing programme, students would be able to obtain a copy of Win10 Edu if their school sets up the Kivuto portal below. This PDF is the best source for further information.

I’ve come across a few schools that are unsure how they can upgrade student-owned BYOD devices from Windows 7/8 or 10 Home edition to Windows 10 Education edition. The main reason schools would want to do this is to manage the devices using a tool such as Microsoft inTune to push out apps or policy and, in rare instances, joining BYOD to the school’s domain. Provided the school is licensing their faculty correctly, they can extend a free upgrade to Win10 Education to their students too.

There is a good comparison between Windows 10 Home / Pro / Education editions here.

To achieve this, Microsoft has partnered with Kivuto to manage the software distribution through a private portal for each school. The process is pretty straight forward:

  1. Schools need to sign up for the programme by clicking here
    1. Schools need to provide their EES / MoE Agreement Number
  2. Verification generally takes only a few days
  3. The Kivuto Store Front is set up for the school
    1. This can be branded / themed to match school requirements
  4. Promotional material can be acquired to encourage students to upgrade to Windows 10 Education edition.

windows-10-student-300x250-v2 There are plenty of reasons why schools want to be standardizing on Windows 10 as a platform for staff and students and with this option, they can now easily ensure student-owned BYOD devices are running the same platform as school-owned devices for no additional cost.

Additionally, the Windows 10 Education license is a perpetual one so even after the student leaves the school they can retain the Windows 10 license on their current device, which adds even more value to this opportunity for students.