Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board (DDLETB) worked with Cloud Design Box to build a centralised communication and collaboration portal in Microsoft SharePoint and Teams.
In this webinar, we speak to Marcella O’Dowd (FET Quality Assurance at DDLETB) about the impact the portal is having on the way people work together in the organisation.
“DDLETB has responsibility for a variety of education and training services, serving a population of nearly 800,000 people and delivering education and training to approximately 70,000 learners,” Marcella explains.
“We serve a network of around 650 schools, colleges, centres and outreach and community-based settings.”
Previously, DDLETB had a Google site called Cloud ETB that housed all the Quality Assurance (QA) and curriculum documentation.
“The Google site was a repository to house material. All the FET (Further Education and Training) users had the same access password that offered two access choices: editor or reader,” she continues.
“This presented a few problems. It wasn’t as secure as we wanted it to be, and we had one instance where someone changed the password so no one could get in to access what they needed.”
We worked with DDLETB to create a new QA Hub in SharePoint.
Recognising that the team needed a solution that went beyond file storage, we built a portal that encourages communication and collaboration.
“The exciting thing about the new QA hub is that it provides tailored, secure access to everything our further education and training services need, whether that’s downloading a module descriptor, getting programme information, accessing policies and procedures, looking at assessment guidelines or checking when the next committee meetings are happening,” Marcella enthuses.
“It’s no longer just a repository. It’s a communication and collaboration site. It’s a one-stop-shop for any QA needs.”
One thing that was particularly important to DDLETB was strict version control of documents:
“To give an example, we currently need to make sure the DDLETB LGBTQA+ Handbook, policies and publications are available. This will be housed on the QA Hub, ready for people to access the most up-to-date version,” she confirms.
The QA Uploader is another way we’ve helped DDLETB save time and reduce the risk of human error.
Previously, users would need to download a template from the Google site, fill it out and then send an email to the QA team.
“Our team would have to monitor the email account and check to see if new reports had been submitted. We would then have to re-upload them into the right folders, which was time-consuming and it was easy for emails to go astray when we were monitoring multiple inboxes.”
“With the QA uploader, the users simply upload their reports directly to the QA Hub and choose the right report type and training centre. This sends us a notification and the file is already stored in the correct, secure folder that can only be accessed by people with the right permissions.”
Tedious admin tasks are also being reduced and communication improved by the QA Hub’s new calendar.
There are a large number of FET and QA dates each year that are usually sent out as a list at the beginning of each academic year, with reminders sent out as dates and deadlines approach.
“We get a barrage of emails asking when the next course approval or committee meeting is. Previously, we’d have to go to a document with a list of the dates and respond to each email,” Marcella reveals.
“The new calendar feature makes things so much easier. All we need to do is send a link to the calendar. We’ve already seen a huge difference in the number of emails coming in, as people are just going straight to the calendar to check for dates, rather than emailing.”
DDLETB is using the SharePoint News feature to communicate key information and announcements:
“Having the ability to pop announcements into the QA News is great because everybody who needs to know gets an email about it. What’s more, they don’t need to flag emails or save them into folders because they know they can come to the QA Hub and find the information.”
QA News is also automatically displayed on the SharePoint home pages of FET and QA staff.
With such a big change in the way DDLETB works, there were some reservations about moving from the Google Cloud ETB site to Microsoft 365. However, the feedback so far has been extremely positive.
“With Cloud Design Box’s support, the new workflows make a lovely user experience that is easy for us to manage and support. We needed this to be user-friendly and intuitive and ‘intuitive’ is a word that has been mentioned by users when we’ve asked for feedback,” enthuses Marcella.
“We wanted our users to be no more than three clicks away from whatever they needed. Our users love the layout and the simplicity of it and love the fact they can do everything on one site.”
Our work with DDLETB is part of a wider initiative called the DEIS Connect Project. We have also worked with St Kevin’s Community College and Firhouse Community College (both part of DDLETB) to provision teaching and learning environments.
If you would like to find out more about our Cloud Box platform, book a free demo today.