Head of Digital Learning at a leading independent school talks about how using Microsoft 365 has developed and improved teaching and learning.
Henry Exham currently teaches at a boarding school with 830 students ranging from 13-18. He joins our COO Darren Hemming to talk about how the school utilises Microsoft 365 and how it can be useful for independent schools looking to improve and develop their teaching and learning.
Improving communication in an independent boarding school with SharePoint.
Communication is essential in a large boarding school, Henry points out. With students living on campus, there is a lot more ground to cover when it comes to communicating about extracurricular activities and “school-home” life alongside their academic timetables.
“We’re interested in providing a whole-person education and technology has been an important part of our journey over the last five years,” says Henry.
The SharePoint site that Cloud Design Box has created with the school acts as a central hub and offers information for anything a student or teacher may need for their daily life at the school.
With a feed of updates and news, students can keep up to date with ongoing activities, such as sports, music lessons and school announcements.
Meanwhile, staff have access to up-to-date information about what’s going on in the school and links to staff-only areas where they can find resources.
“It’s great having one central place to go, and it links to all of our other systems, so everyone knows to go to SharePoint first to find what they’re looking for.”
The home site offers personalised features, meaning when users log in, they get content tailored to them. For example, reminders, upcoming assignments and events.
“SharePoint really joins all the facets of daily life in the school,” Henry adds.
The benefits of subject sites in SharePoint.
Centralised subject sites place resources for one subject into easy-to-access areas for students and staff. Driven by MIS data, the subject sites have a document library for each year group.
In the podcast, Henry shares how this setup has been beneficial for the school:
“They’re fantastic as it allows teachers to quickly share large numbers of files with students without sending emails or things getting lost in their inboxes,” he explains.
“One example is GCSE past papers that we uploaded for Year 11 only. It’s great because we know that year group will need to have access to that when the time comes, but it’s separate from the other year groups.”
Creating long-term resources in OneNote.
OneNote has been particularly useful in Henry’s school, allowing teachers to collaborate, share and build on each other learning resources.
“Most of our teachers use Class Notebook, which is attached to the corresponding Class Team so everything is in one place for the student,” Henry describes.
“We’ve got a Biology team just for the teachers of the subject and any Notebook pages we create for our classes we put them back into the shared OneNote so they can be reused and built upon.”
A vision for the future.
With technology and digital learning continuously developing, Henry wishes to delve further to look at the “more interesting” features of Teams and Microsoft 365.
Henry is particularly interested in AI technology and mentions that he can already see how this is going to be beneficial in education:
“PowerPoint offers an automated caption feature. Captions are time-consuming and may not be something teachers include in their presentations. But this new feature can add captions instantly,” he says.
With Year 9, he is keen to incorporate technology into each subject, showing students the digital skills they’ll be expected to have in their future workplaces. He wants this initiative to spread further through each year group, including Sixth Form, who will need these skills as they enter the workplace or higher education.
If you want to know more about Cloud Design Box and how we can help your school or MAT harness the full power of Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, book a free demo today.