Tag Archives: edtech

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.  

Teams for Education summer 2019 updates

Microsoft Teams has had a makeover with some new UI and feature changes this summer. In the video below, we go through these changes and what it means for teachers and students using Teams in the classroom.



Tiles

A new tiled interface helps you to visualise your classes in a more friendly view. Don’t worry if you like the list view, you can always switch back to it at any time.

Teams Tiles

Moving Class Notebook Content

You can now take your Class Notebook content library and teacher only sections with you. When creating your new Class Notebook, you will have the option to import from previous Class Notebooks.

Class Notebook

Assignments Interface

Assignments are easier to view with the new grouped view. Late assignments are marked red.

Assignments

There are more updates coming soon too. You can check these out on the Teams Education blog.

End of Year Rollover Process in Microsoft School Data Sync

Lots of new and exciting features are coming to Microsoft Teams this summer, so get ready for the new academic year in advance and resolve any issues before the students are back.

I’m beginning the process of rolling over the academic year at many schools this month using Microsoft School Data Sync with the Cloud Design Box team. We have come across a few issues along the way. For the administrators out there trying to complete this process on their own, we thought it would be great to share our experience in the form of this video guide taking you through the process.



Before you begin the process, talk to SLT and teachers about the preferred clean-up options.

Expire All Classes

Adds a prefix to the start of the class name in this format: EXPMMYY. If you already prefix your classes with the academic year then there isn’t any reason to run this option.

Archive All Classes (recommended)

Archive makes the Team read-only. Teachers can restore a Team for a class and it will work as it did before. We recommend selecting this option so that teachers don’t have a long list of classes in the new academic year. If you have a course which lasts for two years, teachers can restore the class from the previous year and continue to use it; but it will no longer be updated with live MIS data.

Remove Students from All Classes

This removes students from class notebooks and all student data from assignments. This is non-reversible and therefore we do not recommend this choice.

A few issues to be aware of (which we cover in the video above):

  • Some classes will fail to clean-up – you will have to do these manually.
  • You may need to refresh the profile page if you get stuck on an error when starting the new term.
  • Occasionally a clean-up process may get stuck processing forever. If it lasts longer than 24 hours, log a support call with the Microsoft Education team.

We hope this video helps you out. Please feel free to share your comments, wins and frustrations with the process in the comments below!