Tag Archives: blended learning

Getting the best value from Microsoft 365 for Education with Jonathan Bishop from The Cornerstone Academy Trust

In this podcast episode, we speak with Jonathan Bishop, the CEO and Executive Headteacher of The Cornerstone Academy Trust (TCAT), about getting the best value from Microsoft 365 for Education.

TCAT is based in the southeast of England and comprises four primary schools. Their motto “Fortune Favours the Brave” is undoubtedly reflected in their forward-thinking approach to IT and technology, as Jonathan explains in this podcast episode.   



“We run our academy trust like one school with four campuses. We use technology to bring our four schools together and pool our money and resources to do everything centrally,” Jonathan tells us. 

TCAT has spent the last few years rolling out one-to-one devices to each student in their trust and working with Cloud Design Box and other partners to move all their infrastructure to the cloud: 

“We had a clear vision to have one device per student, with a cloud-based learning platform that allows flexibility and enables a teaching and learning strategy built around blended learning,” Jonathan describes. 

Because of their success with technology, they have been involved in several Department for Education programmes, working with schools regionally and nationally on a number of projects.  

The EdTech Demonstrator programme is one example – this is where TCAT works with schools and trusts across the UK to deploy networks and devices, set up learning platforms and help with ed tech strategies.  

On top of this, all four schools within the trust are Microsoft Showcase Schools, English Hubs and run the Science Learning Partnership. 

“This allows us to have a big outreach and work collaboratively in partnership with other schools on school improvement projects.”  

How do you get the best value from technology in education? 

“Getting the best value out of technology is not about getting the cheapest option. It’s about looking at what outcomes you want to achieve and choosing the solution that will deliver those outcomes best,” Jonathan explains.  

“The danger with going for the cheapest option to get ‘the best value for money’ is that if it doesn’t change the outcomes for the children and doesn’t have any impact, then it’s not value for money, is it?” 

When looking at your ed tech strategy, Jonathan explains that you must first look at your infrastructure.  

“You could spend lots of money on devices but have utterly frustrated students and staff because they don’t work due to slow internet speeds or short battery life,” he adds. 

“Device selection is so important, and changes depending on your desired outcomes. For example, when we built our TV studio, we wanted a place to create media content for the curriculum, do staff CPD and bring our schools together for assemblies and conferences. So we needed high-end machines, hardwired with good broadband. However, when we looked at one-to-one devices for our students, we wanted mobility and long battery life.”  

Investing in IT to enable specialist learning. 

This approach to ed tech strategy has enabled TCAT to work in new and flexible ways, transforming how they deliver the curriculum. 

One example is the ability to get the most value out of specialist teachers. 

By investing in noise-cancelling wireless headsets and mics, the trusts can now deliver specialist learning (like languages and coding) to hundreds more students at a time. 

“Before, we would have 30 children in a classroom with one teacher and maybe a teaching assistant. Now, we have 250+ children in one lesson – they could even be across different year groups – being supported by specialists in that subject.” 

“What you’ve got is value for money because while I’ve invested in the headset, the digital pen and the tablet, I’ve got lots more children getting a better-quality education, delivered by a specialist.”  

Jonathan Bishop shows the noise cancelling headsets he invested in for TCAT.

Your ed tech strategy isn’t optional – trusts cannot afford not to invest in IT.  

Jonathan is a firm believer that if schools and trusts aren’t investing in ed tech, then they are denying students vital opportunities and skills: 

“Too many people think ‘we have no money, so we can’t achieve this, and therefore we’re not going to do it’. But, you’ve got to think differently. Getting the right devices and technology in the right hands of students and teachers brings MAT-wide efficiencies – it’s not an option,” he continues. 

“We’re in the business of education, and I’m a teacher. And whilst I might oversee these four schools in this role, I want to get as we all do the very best for children, the very best experiences, opportunities and outcomes for children.” 

Catch up on all the episodes of our podcast on YouTube, Spotify or on our website.

If you would like to find out more about our Cloud Box platform and how we can help improve communication and collaboration in your school or MAT, book a free demo today.  

How to add your upcoming events to a SharePoint site with the My Events web part

In this guide, we show you how to add the Cloud Design Box exclusive My Events web part to your SharePoint sites.  

The My Events web part gives you a quick glance at your upcoming events by showing your calendar events from Outlook.  

It would sit perfectly on a home page so users can see their calendar items at a glance whenever they log in.

An example of the My Events web part on a SharePoint homepage

How to add the My Events web part to a SharePoint site. 

Before you add this web part, you need to make sure your Office 365 global admin has approved the Calendars Read API permission. This can be done via the SharePoint admin centre.



 

  1. Head to the site you wish to add it to and hit Edit in the top-right corner of the screen. 
  2. Decide where you want your calendar events to appear on the site and hit the plus button to add a new web part.
  3. Search for “CDB My Events” and Cloud Design Box customers should be able to see our CDB My Events web part.

Search for My Events to find the web part in SharePoint

4. Selecting this will show your personal calendar events for the day.

5. Select Republish in the top-right hand corner. 

With this web part, you can flick back and forth through the days of your calendar.  

An example of the My Events web part in SharePoint

You can also select Open My Calendar to open a full view of your calendar in Outlook. 

An example of an Outlook calendar that can by accessed via the My Events SharePoint web part

There is also a privacy mode which will initially hide the events. This is particularly useful if you are a teacher with sensitive events and you regularly share your screen on a projector. This mode can be configured using the pencil icon when editing the web part.

web part properties

The My Events web part for SharePoint is only available to Cloud Design Box customers. If you would like to find out more about our Cloud Box platform and how we can help improve communication and collaboration in your school or MAT, book a free demo today. 

3 essential resources for educators and school leaders

In this podcast episode, we spoke to Microsoft specialist and TweetMeet lead Marjolein Hoekstra about her journey with Microsoft, TweetMeets, MVPs, MSEduCentral and much more.

She reveals three must-have resources designed especially for educators and school leaders.

Marjolein first became connected with Microsoft after diving deep into OneNote and designing an example of what features she thought OneNote should have.

“I wanted to tell them about my desires for OneNote and they were so impressed with my ideas that they asked me if I wanted to become a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional. Of course, I was honoured,” says Marjolein.

“It was around this time I discovered how often OneNote is used in education, and I started to focus my efforts to showcase features of OneNote to educators and get involved in the Microsoft Education community.”




Microsoft asked Marjolein if she would like to organise TweetMeets for Microsoft educators, which she ran successfully until 2020 and has recently started back up in 2022.

“TweetMeets are a multi-lingual conversation on Twitter between educators globally. It takes place once a month and focuses on a certain topic. For example, previous TweetMeets have discussed equity and inclusion, hybrid learning and reading fluency and literacy,” explains Marjolein.

“Every TweetMeet is led by different hosts, who are experts in that month’s topic. It’s a chance to find like-minded people from around the world and connect with other educators and school leaders.”

You can find details about the next TweetMeet via the TweetMeet Twitter account.

Marjolein has also been building a spreadsheet of ‘Frequent Edu Links for Educators‘, which is a compilation of resources centred around certain topics or Microsoft products, especially for educators.

“We have topics for multiple different products used within Microsoft education. Teams plays a major role in this because it’s the underpinning platform for so many tools nowadays, but we have resources on Microsoft Edge, Whiteboard and other tools in the Microsoft suite,” Marjolein describes.

“The spreadsheet lives in your browser, so you can open this whenever you need to and share it with others.”

Microsoft Frequent Edu Links screenshot

The spreadsheet currently has a collection of 1,300+ resources that Marjolein and her team have been collecting over the past year and a half.

“We intend to keep updating the spreadsheet and we listen to feedback from users so that we can decide which resources to include,” she continues.

The third resource Marjolein talks about is the Daily Microsoft Ed Tech Newsfeed.

“This is basically a news page with blog posts, tweets, videos and other resources from Microsoft Education. It’s a mixed bag of the latest resources that could be of interest to educators,” says Marjolein.

“We also include announcements from the Office 365 IT Admin centre, so educators who are a bit more technically inclined can prepare themselves for what’s coming in the near future.”

Daily Microsoft EdTech News screenshot

Remember, Cloud Design Box also has an extensive library of resources focusing on Microsoft 365, SharePoint and Teams for education. Access all of our videos, podcasts, blogs, guides and more here.

How to add Teams assignments to the student and teacher calendar

In this quick video, Tony shows you how to add assignments in Microsoft Teams to student and teacher calendars. 





When you next go to set a task in Assignments in Teams, look for the option to Add assignment to calendars.  

Assignments settings - adding assignments to student and teacher calendars

Here you have four options: 

  • None – The default setting and will not add the assignment to any calendar. 
  • Students only – Only adds the assignment to student calendars. 
  • Students and me – Adds the assignment to student calendars and your (the teacher) calendar. 
  • Students and team owners – Adds the assignment to student calendars and any teachers that teach that class. 

Add assignment to calendars dropdown menu

Once set, the assignment is sent as an event invite to your Outlook mailbox, the same way a Teams meeting, or calendar invite would be sent out.  

Outlook invite for Assignment event

You can then accept the invite and it will appear on your calendar the day the assignment is set for.

Assignment in calendar example

Automatically set up calendar events for assignments. 

As it may be difficult to remember to set up calendar invites each time you create an assignment, there is a way to automate this process.  

Simply head to the Assignments tab in Teams and hit the cog button to open Assignment Settings. 

Set automatic calendar invites for Teams assignments via the Assignment settings tab

Under the Calendar section, there is an option to Add future assignments to calendars.  

Select your preference from the dropdown menu (None, Students only, Students and me, or Students and team owners).  

From now on, all future assignments you set will be sent out as calendar invites to that selected group.  

Not only is adding calendar events for assignments a great way to remind you and the students of upcoming homework deadlines, but it can also be useful when planning workloads and help you avoid setting multiple big assignments for the same dates.  

If you would like to learn more about how we can help your school or MAT achieve more with Microsoft, please contact a member of our team today.

Lost Learning – How teachers can reassign missed homework to individual students in Microsoft Teams

Teachers can easily and quickly reassign homework tasks to individual students in Microsoft Teams Assignments when students have missed out on learning.

Over the last few years, many students have inevitably lost hours of learning due to higher absences, adjusting to learning from home and dealing with abrupt changes in restrictions.

On top of this, some individuals have struggled to access learning remotely due to a lack of access to devices or internet connectivity.

This major disruption has caused a huge problem for schools as teachers battle to clearly identify gaps in individual students’ learning and keep track of progress.  

The ability to reassign missed assignments can help students catch up on lost learning at their own pace.

Here’s how you can easily reset an assignment or reassign a piece of homework to individual students in Microsoft Teams.




  1. Go to Assignments in Teams to view the assignments you have previously set.
  2. Select Create to open three options: Assignment, Quiz or From existing.   Create an Assignment from existing assignment in Microsoft Teams
  3. Select From existing to use a previous assignment. This brings up a list of all the classes you teach – you can scroll through or use the search bar to find the one you need.
  4. Select the class and hit Next. All the previous assignments from that class will appear. Lost Learning Assignments - Find an assignment to reuse in Microsoft Teams
  5. Select the assignment you wish to reassign and hit Next.

As you can see, everything is already populated for you – the title, instructions, relevant resources, rubric etc. – so there’s no need to waste time re-adding information.

However, if you need to edit or add additional guidance to the task, you can easily do that.

Reassigning an Assignment in Microsoft Teams

To reassign the assignment to an individual student: 

  1. Head to the Assign to section and select where it says All students to bring up a drop-down menu where you can choose Individual Students or Groups of students.Lost Learning in Microsoft Teams 4 - Reassigning assignments to individual students
  2. Select Individual students to bring up a list of all the students in the selected class.
  3. Choose the student(s) that you wish to reassign the assignment to, and then hit Done. 
  4. You may also wish to change a new due date. You can alter this in the Date due section. 

Once you’re happy, tap Assign to assign the task to the selected students – only these students will get a notification about the homework task. 

You can view this in Assignments in Teams and keep an eye on which students have completed and turned in the work.

ATTACHMLost Learning in Microsoft Teams 5 - Viewing re-assigned assignmentsENT DETAILS

Assignments in Microsoft Teams makes it easy for teachers to save time when supporting students with lost learning and missed assignments.

If you would like to find out more about how Microsoft 365 and Cloud Box can help your school or trust overcome the challenges of lost learning, book a demo with a member of our team.

Lost learning – How schools and trusts can encourage students to catch up with SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint can help schools and trusts overcome many of the lost learning challenges they face in 2022.

Over the last few years, many students have inevitably lost hours of learning, due to higher levels of absences, adjusting to learning from home and dealing with abrupt changes in restrictions.  

On top of this, some individuals have struggled to access learning remotely due to a lack of access to devices or internet connectivity.  

This major disruption has caused a huge problem for schools as teachers battle to clearly identify gaps in individual students’ learning and keep track of progress.  

Using SharePoint as a central storage hub for all learning resources, schools and trusts make catching up on learning accessible to students anytime and anywhere.  

Students can catch up on missed learning on their own terms and take ownership of the gaps in their knowledge.  

Meanwhile, sharing resources in SharePoint encourages staff to work together to create learning resources and share them across departments, schools and the trusts.

This not only cuts down the number of hours wasted re-creating resources that already exist, but it can also drive up quality as the resources can be reused, recycled and built upon year after year. 

Below are some tips on how to use SharePoint in a way that enables students to catch up easily on lost learning.  



Structure folders around student needs.

It’s essential to keep the student’s point of view in mind when creating and structuring your SharePoint folders.  

Choose clear names for folders and documents and consider numbering them so they appear in a specific order – for example, by term, week or lesson number.  

This makes it so much easier for students to revisit lost learning and reduces the chances of them needing to contact you to find specific documents.  

In the example in our video guide, Joe breaks down learning into terms, weeks and lessons and then numbers worksheets and tasks so that students can access the right files.  

Structure files in SharePoints around students' point of view

Search for keywords.

Encourage students to use the search function in SharePoint.  

The clever tool allows you to search within the selected folder – keywords can be used to search the titles of folders and files and even words within documents.  

This is great when students need to access something quickly or revise a specific topic.  

Tip: Take this one step further and use the Find tool (Ctrl + F) to drill down into documents and search for specific keywords.  

Connect it to Teams with Cloud Box.  

With our Cloud Box solution, you can automatically connect your learning resource folders to the respective Teams channel so students can access everything they need without leaving the Teams app.  

The resources folder can be accessed in the top navigation bar and documents can all be opened up within the Teams app.

Connect SharePoint to Teams

Share resources quickly.  

Resources can also be easily shared outside of SharePoint.  

Simply select the file, document or folder you wish to share and click Share. 

A pop-up appears with multiple sharing options:  

  • You can email a student (or multiple students) the selected file directly so that they can access the folder. 
  • Or you can create a sharing link that can then be copied into a Teams message or email.  

From here, you can also alter the editing permissions to prevent students from editing the resource.

Note: You’ll get a notification as soon as students open your link.  

Share resources in SharePoint

SharePoint makes it easy to share resources with students who may have lost learning, but it also makes it very easy for staff to collaborate and work together on creating documents. If you would like to find out more about how Microsoft 365 and Cloud Box can help your school or trust overcome the challenges of lost learning, book a demo with a member of our team.

 

Bridging the digital divide – how Cloud Design Box is supporting launch of the DEIS Connect Project

Cloud Design Box has been working with St Kevin’s Community College in Dublin to support them in becoming one of the first DEIS (Delivery Equality of Opportunity in Schools) schools in Ireland.  

The DEIS Connect Project aims to bridge the digital divide in schools and provide digital devices for all learners. It was launched by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin on 4 February 2022.  

All 1st and 2nd year students have been given an iPad for use in school and at home, with laptops distributed to all 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th years at the college.  

The DEIS Connect initiative is a clear demonstration of DDLETB’s commitment to delivering a high-quality learning experience for all of our students and school teams,” states  Mr Adrian Flynn, Director of Schools at DDLETB.

We are very proud of St. Kevins CCs achievements in leading the path in embracing the best of what technology-enhanced learning has to offer. We look forward to further developing this initiative throughout the DDLETB DEIS network.”  

Our team have been working with the school and the DDLETB (Dublin and Dún Laoghaire Education and Training Board) to create an online solution for blended and remote learning at St Kevin’s. 

The hybrid approach to learning is one of the first of its kind in the country, allowing students to access learning resources at any time from their devices.  

Equipped with our Cloud Box platform and new skills from staff training sessions we’ve delivered, teachers at St Kevin’s can access everything they need to create and store quality online learning materials, provide feedback to students and track learner progress. 

 An Taoiseach Micheál Martin at St Kevin's Community College

“The Cloud Box platform is a fabulous benefit to our school. It’s a great place for staff to collaborate, and it links directly with our MIS data – which is invaluable to me as the ICT coordinator. Now that we have become a 1:1 school, with all students having access to devices, this software is completely invaluable to us – all the students’ Teams and content libraries created from the very start,” enthuses Mr John O’Callaghan, ICT Coordinator at St Kevin’s.  

“Cloud Design Box has been extremely approachable and easy to work with, from the initial build of the platform and while finetuning the software and going above and beyond to meet our needs.” 

St Kevin’s celebrated the launch of the project on Friday 4 February with a visit from Micheál Martin. 

Watch the launch day video here: 



 

 Mr Tony Barry, Principal of the school said on the launch day: 

“DEIS Connect will expand the capacity and opportunity for all learners to engage in the use of digital technology in both teaching and learning. It is an innovative solution to tackle the digital divide and to benefit learners,” 

“Every student coming to St Kevin’s now and into the future regardless of means will receive a digital device to assist them with learning – to prepare them for further education, college and to ensure they are workforce ready.”

Mr Tony Barry at St Kevins Community College DEIS Connect Project

The whole team at Cloud Design Box is thrilled to be involved in this project, which has provided an entire community with the tools they need to thrive in todays digital environment.  

If you would like to find out more about our Cloud Box platform, book a free demo today.  

 

How to create topic notebooks in OneNote

OneNote can be used to create and organise digital learning content for students – that can be shared in a centralised area. Teachers can create a mini-website/digital topic notebook for each topic that can then be shared via a link or in Teams.

Important: This is not a tutorial on creating Class Notebooks. For more information about Class Notebooks see this guide.

Example of a topic book in OneNote

In this guide, learn how to: 

  • Create a new OneNote file. 
  • Add and edit pages and sections. 
  • Edit the colour coding of your OneNote. 
  • Break sections into subsections.  
  • Add and format text in OneNote. 
  • Insert images, tables, links and other resources to a OneNote page.  
  • Change the appearance of a OneNote file.  


Create a new OneNote file.

  1. Head to the student resource folder in which you want to create your new OneNote notebook. 
  2. Select New and then OneNote Notebook. Select New and then OneNoteNotebook to create a new OneNote in a student resource file.
  3. Add a name for your new OneNote notebook and select Create.

Note: You can edit your OneNote in the browser view, but some features may not be supported. Access the full range of features by selecting Open in the desktop app. 

Open in desktop app

Add and edit sections/pages in OneNote.

A OneNote notebook consists of sections and pages, just like a traditional ring binder folder.

  1. Rename a page/section by right-clicking and selecting Rename Section/Page.
  2. Add a new page by selecting Add Page at the bottom of the page list.
  3. Add a new section by selecting Add Section at the bottom of the page list.

Adding and editing pages and sections in OneNote

Edit the colour coding of your sections in OneNote.

  1. Alter the colour coding on your sections in OneNote; simply right-click the section and select Section colour. 
  2. Choose which colour you wish to set for the section.

Editing the colour coding of your OneNote

Break OneNote sections into subsections.

Sections can be broken down into subsections, which is excellent when you need to split up chunkier topics and make them more digestible for students.

  1. Right-click on Add Section and select New Section Group.Add new section group
  2. Name your new section group.
  3. Add sections into your section group by selecting your section group and Add Section.

Subsections and section groups example in OneNote

Add and format text in OneNote.

  1. Tap the place you want the text on your OneNote page and start typing to add text.
  2. Format the text – change the size, colour, font etc. – with the text toolbox at the top of the screen.

Text formatting in OneNote

Insert images, tables, links and other resources into a OneNote page.

The Insert tab – found on the top navigation bar – allows you to insert a range of resources to a page, including:

  • Tables
  • Pictures
  • Links
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Files
  • And more!

Insert pictures, tables, links and other resources into a OneNote page

Change the appearance of a OneNote file.

The View tab – found on the top navigation bar – allows you to alter the appearance of your OneNote file. From here, you can:

  • Set a page colour.
  • Insert rule lines.
  • Check accessibility.
  • Use the Translate tool.
  • And more!

Change the appearance of your OneNote via the View tab

The final result is a fully interactive, read-only topic book for students to use and revise from. Students can use the colour-coded sections to find the information they need or use the search bar to type in keywords.

Additionally, with our Cloud Box solution, long-term learning resources like this one can be easily shared across departments and even entire schools and trusts and be reused for future academic years.

Book a demo to find out exactly how we can help your school, academy or multi-academy trust today. Give us a call on 01482 688890, or send us a message

 

Add students’ upcoming assignments to your school’s SharePoint home page

We have launched a new SharePoint web part exclusive for Cloud Design Box customers called My Assignments, allowing students to see all their current and upcoming assignments from their SharePoint homepage.  

Your school’s SharePoint homepage should give students a quick overview of what’s going on in the school community, and their classroom.  

Popular features of a school intranet include the latest news, an announcement from the headteacher and maybe even a word of the day/week to get students thinking.

But, a common question we get asked by our customers is Is there a way to show upcoming assignments on the homepage? and thats why we created this new web part.  

Schools can now add My Assignments to their SharePoint’  pages 

SharePoint home page with My Assignments web part showing students upcoming assignments.

The student can see what assignments are coming up, what class theyre for and when theyre due. The ones that are overdue are highlighted in red.  

Whats more, the student can click the assignment and be taken directly to that assignment page in Microsoft Teams.  

My Assignments SharePoint web part showing students upcoming assignments.

The My Assignments web part has been designed to make it easier for students to keep track of assignments and take more ownership of their learning.    



If you’re a Cloud Design Box customer, you can edit your SharePoint home page and add the My Assignments web part to the page. Please get in touch with support if you need assistance with this.  

If youre not a customer but want to find out how we can help your school or trust achieve more with Microsoft 365, get in touch with a member of our team right now