Tag Archives: Salamander

Microsoft 365 user adoption tips from a large multi academy trust (MAT)

In this second podcast episode with Bridge Academy Trust (BAT), we discuss user adoption tips with Mark Fuller, IT Director and how he is supporting 12 schools to embrace the tools in Microsoft 365.



Bridge Academy Trust is a large MAT made up of four secondary schools and eight primary schools. In 2021, the Trust worked with Cloud Design Box and its partners to merge ten different Microsoft 365 tenants and roll out SharePoint and Teams to each school in the trust.

You can read the details about this merge and migration project in this blog post.

One of the key challenges when rolling out Microsoft 365 across BAT was that each school was at a very different stage in terms of blended learning.

“Some of our secondary schools were already using the full suite of tools in Microsoft for teaching and learning. Meanwhile, other schools were only using it for email and storing some files in OneDrive,” Mark explains.

“We also had a school using G Suite that we needed to migrate across and support them in using brand new blended learning tools.”

Mark describes his approach when it came to encouraging user adoption of Cloud Box in each school.

His first quick win is to set the school’s SharePoint intranet as the default homepage:

“This way, I’ve won half the battle because they’re already using it. The page contains links the staff will find useful – timetables, web applications, finance forms, HR forms, policies etc,” Mark tells us.

“When they open their computers, it’s the first thing they see – they haven’t got to start typing out the URL. It just makes navigation so much easier.”

As they roll out, Mark is working with each school to introduce them to SharePoint and Teams and support them with user adoption.

“I speak to staff and give them a brief demo of what SharePoint and Teams can do. I do live webinars and drop-in sessions using Microsoft Teams and record them so staff can watch later if they miss the live events,” he continues.

“I have also created a training site within SharePoint for staff to access. This not only has my own resources on there, but I have links to the courses created by Cloud Design Box and Microsoft. There’s no point in me re-creating what has already been done and they have saved me so much time.”

Access our free training videos here.

Mark points out that it’s important to recognise that each school, even if they are in the same trust, has very different needs and will use Microsoft 365 in different ways:

“It’s important we work with schools to create something that they will use, rather than telling them exactly how to use it. This has worked well, and we’ve had schools ask for all sorts of things, like a place to store all exam information and a site dedicated to assemblies,” Mark enthuses.

Lastly, Mark has made himself available to answer questions for any school that needs it:

“It can be a bit of information overload for some staff, so alongside the training and drop-in sessions, I have made myself available to answer questions from schools.”

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.  

Improving communication and collaboration at Bridge Academy Trust

In this podcast episode, we caught up with Mark Fuller, IT Director for Bridge Academy Trust (BAT) – a multi academy trust based in Essex – about how they have extended Microsoft 365 with Cloud Box to improve communication and collaboration between their 12 schools.



Bridge Academy Trust is a large MAT made up of four secondary schools and eight primary schools. Providing education to students 3-19, the Trust needed a solution that would not only enable collaboration between its schools but also allow each individual school to embrace blended learning in its own unique way.

Following a merger, BAT found themselves managing ten different Microsoft 365 tenants across the trust – one for each of the schools and one for their central trust team:

“We quickly realised that this approach was unsustainable. Our staff had several different logins to access what they needed. It was complex and time-consuming, and didn’t promote any kind of collaboration or communication between our schools,” Mark explains.

“To make everything simpler and to encourage more collaboration between our schools, we made the decision to merge all schools into one BAT tenant with the help of Cloud Design Box and their partners.”

Cloud Design Box worked with SalamanderSoft and AspiraCloud to migrate all 10 tenants into 1 and rollout Microsoft 365, Teams and SharePoint across the whole trust.

One of the key challenges of merging the 12 schools was that they were all at different stages of blended and online learning – each unique in the way they were using Microsoft for teaching and learning.

“Some of our secondary schools were already using the full suite of Microsoft 365 – doing a lot of their teaching and learning in SharePoint and Teams – so there was a lot of data to merge. However, some of the other schools were only using Microsoft for email, while some were using Google’s education tools,” Mark describes.

By rolling out Cloud Box to every school and supporting Mark with training and resources to boost user adoption, we have been able to help every school progress in their Microsoft journey and make the most out of the tools that most benefit their way of working.

You can read all about how Mark has been working with each school to boost user adoption of Microsoft 365 in this blog post.

Moreover, while one of the main motivations for merging to one tenant was to encourage collaboration across the trusts, Mark wanted to make sure address lists stayed useful and relevant to each user.

“We didn’t want students to be able to see the email addresses of every other student across the 12 schools. But, we did want staff to be able to communicate with the central trust team and other relevant groups of people within the trust,” he adds.

“We worked with SalamanderSoft to create separate address lists so that students and staff have access to the contacts they need, instead of a whole list of BAT users.”

This information is driven by the MIS data so automatically stays up to date as students and staff join and leave the trust.

“Our central team all work off SharePoint now. We are working with each school to see how they can benefit from Microsoft 365 and Cloud Box,” Mark enthuses.

“If a new school joins the trust in the future, everything is already set up and we can onboard the school really easily.”

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.  

A quick round-up of Bett 2022

After two years of virtual demos and online networking, we were thrilled to be back at Bett Show in March, talking with schools and trusts face-to-face about blended learning.  

A huge thank you to everyone who came along to see us on our shared stand with our partners SalamanderSoft.  

Cloud Design Box Keith and Tony Bett 2022

The long-awaited three-day event – dubbed EdTech’s biggest reunion – brought together some of the most prominent names in the education community.  

Tony, Darren, Joanne, James, Keith and Joe had a brilliant time demonstrating our product and speaking to schools and MATs about their blended learning needs. 

Tony Phillips with the Cloud Design Box team at Bett 2022

Meanwhile, we also managed to catch up with some of our partner companies – Arbor, AspiraCloud and Microsoft Education.  

AspiraCloud at Bett 2022

Our Operations Manager Darren – a former teacher of Modern Languages and ICT – was particularly excited to talk with Microsoft about Reflections in Microsoft 365 and how it can be used to measure student wellbeing. 

Cloud Design Box was also part of The ANME Trail – hosted by the Association of Network Managers in Education. Visitors could walk around the trail collecting stamps to be in with a chance of winning all sorts of exciting gadgets. 

Cloud Design Box Joanne at Bett 2022

“Bett is a highlight in our calendar every year, so it’s a great feeling to be back at the show in 2022. It’s an extremely busy but exciting week for the whole team. It gives us the unique opportunity of catching up with our partner companies and speaking to schools and trusts about the challenges they face in an increasingly digital world,” enthuses Tony Phillips, Founder of Cloud Design Box. 

“We know that some didn’t make it to Bett this year due to the change in date and potentially due to Covid-19, so we’re hosting virtual demos for those who may have missed us at the show but want to extend Microsoft 365 in their school or trust.” 

Cloud Design Box Keith demonstating Cloud Box Product at Bett 2022

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.

 

Cloud Design Box gains Microsoft SDS Professional Partner status

Cloud Design Box has become one of the first companies to achieve the Microsoft School Data Sync Professional Partner Certification – the highest certification for Microsoft SDS. 

Microsoft SDS simplifies class management in Microsoft 365, reading class data from your school, academy or trust’s MIS and creating classes and groups for Microsoft Teams.  

Previously, we have been awarded the SDS Advanced Partner accreditation as part of the Partner Success Series for Microsoft SDS.

The Professional Partner certification is one up from this and the highest award a company can currently achieve for Microsoft SDS.

“The SDS Professional Partner accreditation covered several advanced SDS topics, including troubleshooting SDS syncs and using Microsoft Graph API with SDS,” explains Cloud Design Box’s Support Case Manager and Cybersecurity Officer Steve Hill, who took part in the Professional Partner training.

“It’s important that we continue to improve our skills and keep up to date with the latest SDS changes. That’s why we’re a Microsoft Partner and routinely attend the Partner Success Series quarterly meetings with Microsoft, as well as complete all the relevant training courses that Microsoft Partner University provides.”

SDS Professional Partner Badge

“We’re excited to be one of the first to receive this from Microsoft! The award gives our customers even more confidence in our abilities to install and manage SDS, ensuring their Class Teams are created seamlessly and correctly each academic year,” explains Tony Phillips, Founder of Cloud Design Box.  

“SDS is recommended best practice when creating and maintaining Class Teams. Not only does it speed up and automate a previous time-consuming task that often took IT managers and staff the whole of the summer holidays to achieve, but it also allows you to create a rich data set of year groups, subjects, schools and more to create future reports across your entire organisation that support the leadership team all year round.”  

You can read more about Microsoft SDS in this guide

The Cloud Design Box team is continuously improving their skills and knowledge on Microsoft 365 for Education and Business, enrolling in Microsoft’s training programmes and courses. We’re proud to add this latest accreditation to our growing list of certifications that includes Microsoft in Education Global Training Partner, Microsoft Partner and CPD certification.

Want to find out more about how Cloud Design Box can support you with your rollover to a new academic year with Microsoft School Data Sync? Book a demo with a member of our team. 

In the meantime, check out these guides on SDS:

 

Updated Guidance for Starting Online Lessons in Microsoft Teams

We have recently updated our video guide on how to start online lessons in Microsoft Teams. As January approaches, many schools will be forced into full or partly online lessons due to sickness and self-isolation. Microsoft Teams as evolved to become easier to use for teachers over the past year and the video below reflects this:



You can also read/watch our previous guides for more in-depth information.
Office 365 User Adoption Podcast Episode 10 – Virtual Lessons using Microsoft Teams

Teacher Guide to Presenting Remote Lessons using Microsoft Teams

Free Events For Schools Wanting To Achieve More With Microsoft Teams

Cloud Design Box and SalamanderSoft have partnered up to design and deliver three free webinars tailored to schools, academies and Multi Academy Trusts who are looking to make the most out of remote and blended learning with Microsoft Teams.

Throughout January and February, the training sessions are free to anyone who works at a school, college, academy or multi academy trust.

“We understand the pressure teachers have experienced during the last year, and with the new Covid-19 restrictions resulting in many schools juggling remote and in-classroom learning, it’s easy for them to feel overwhelmed and struggle to find the time to adapt lesson plans and materials,” says Tony Phillips, Founder of Cloud Design Box.

“Our sessions aim to show schools how to make the most of the digital tools available, avoid duplication of work, save time on admin and find more time to focus on their students.”

Below is an outline of each webinar:


Getting started with Microsoft Teams


Getting Started With Microsoft Teams – Thursday 28 January @ 10am

In this session, teachers can learn how best to use Teams to support home and blended learning with confidence, providing some actionable tips on how both staff and students can get started with Microsoft 365.


Planning Long Term User Adoption with Microsoft Teams


Planning Long Term User Adoption of Microsoft Teams in Schools and MATs – Thursday 28 January @ 3pm

When adopting any new technology, it’s crucial to bring everyone along on the journey with you – not just the tech-savvy members of staff.

Teams is no different. In this session, SalamanderSoft and the Cloud Design Box training team walk you through how to plan for long-term success with Teams, without leaving anyone behind.


Best Practices with Microsoft Teams


Best Practices with Microsoft Teams – Tuesday 2 February @ 10am

Specially-designed around overworked teachers who are struggling with Teams, this webinar demonstrates how you can eliminate additional work by collaborating on resources in a centralised location.

Department leaders learn how they can free up their staff’s time by using these tried-and-tested best practices.


Wilberforce College


Best Practices using Microsoft Teams with Wilberforce College – Wednesday 24 February @ 11am

Over the last year, Cloud Design Box has been working with schools and colleges across the country to support them with Covid-19 school closures and homeschooling through training and strategy sessions, as well as software set up and implementation.

One of these customers is Hull-based Wilberforce College:

“We realised that our students didn’t necessarily have access to lots of digital devices at home, and this was impacting on their ability to carry out independent work. We thought that by using one single platform where they could access all of their learning content on one app would be the best way forward. And that’s why we chose Teams and Cloud Design Box,” says Jonathan Butler, Assistant Principal (Teaching and Learning) at Wilberforce College.

“We’ve been looking for something like Teams for a long time and it’s changed the game for us during lockdown,” says Ashley Howe, STEM Faculty Head at Wilberforce College.

Wilberforce College using Microsoft Teams

Thanks to Cloud Design Box’s product and training, Wilberforce College has become the only educational institution in Hull and the East Riding to be awarded status as an EdTech DfE Demonstrator College.

“Without the help of Cloud Design Box, we would have never been in the position to achieve this,” says Jonathan Butler.

Cloud Design Box’s training sessions, up until now, have been primarily exclusive to existing customers. However, we are now opening up free places to anyone who works in a school and wants to develop their understanding of Microsoft Teams and how it can be used to deliver learning in and outside of the classroom.

Partner company SalamanderSoft supports Cloud Design Box’s product with its own technology and is looking forward to sharing their knowledge with teachers and school staff:

“It’s been a pleasure to work with Cloud Design Box over the past few years, and we’re very happy to be able to offer these sessions alongside them, to help schools get the most from Microsoft Teams as easily as possible,” says Jon Atkinson, Managing Director of SalamanderSoft.

To find out more about Cloud Design Box’s latest free and virtual events, please head to www.clouddesignbox.co.uk/events.

Office 365 User Adoption Podcast Episode 7 – Unlock Classroom Collaboration Potential with Files in Teams and SharePoint

Conversations and instant messaging are only one part of Microsoft Class Teams. Its true power shines through when teachers share their resources with their classes through the File Sharing tabs and SharePoint integration.

Students can immediately access files and resources that their teachers upload and continue learning outside of the classroom.

However, many teachers spend hours uploading and moving files in specific Class Teams. Sound familiar?

Luckily, there’s a much more effective way of managing class resources in Office 365.

Instead of storing your main resources in separate Class Teams, we recommend making use of SharePoint by having a central hub for all of your long-term resources – i.e. the ones your pupils will need over and over again, right the way through the school year.

Not only is this faster for you to manage, but by creating a central SharePoint resource library for each subject, you remove the need to duplicate work while allowing teachers and heads of departments to collaborate when creating valuable learning resources.

“Resources quickly become siloed if you only upload them to individual classes,” Darren Hemming, our Teaching and Learning Consultant says.

Darren is a former teacher of Modern Languages and ICT and is a passionate advocate of blended learning. He has also worked with schools, leading several large-scale learning platform projects for local authorities and for Building Schools for the Future.

“I’ve seen the collaboration and sharing of resources work very well across departments, and even across different schools inside of one multi-academy trust.”

Once this central hub is set up, you no longer have to worry about attaching individual files and folders to individuals Class Teams.

Simply select + to add a tab and then add your SharePoint resource library to the Class Team.



Now, we’re not telling you to avoid sharing anything directly in Class Teams.

Of course, if you have a one-off resource to share with your class on a specific topic, sharing only in Teams instead of SharePoint first makes a lot of sense.

However, creating a central library for your main resources and then adding them to Teams is a much faster, straightforward way of file sharing with your classes.

Learning Tools in OneNote Class Notebook

OneNote Class Notebook is free for education users as part of Office 365, it has some additional functionality which isn’t available in standard OneNote files. In this blog post, I want to focus on the additional learning tools available in this version. There is also a video guide for this post below.



How do I get Class Notebooks?

Class Notebooks can be created in a many ways (depending on how your school decides to use Office 365). Class Notebooks can be created from the Class Notebook App, Microsoft Teams or inside SharePoint or OneDrive.

Creating a “Class” in Microsoft Teams will automatically create a Class Notebook for the group.

How are Class Notebooks different to OneNote Notebooks?

Class Notebooks have a section for each student. Each student can see their own section, the teacher resources and the collaboration area. They can’t see other student sections. Logged in as a teacher, you have access to all the student sections.

OneNote Class Notebook

How do I send distribute an assignment to the students?

Assignments, worksheets or any other hand-outs can be copied into each student’s own section. To distribute a page, the teacher must:

  • 1. Create a new page
  • 2. Populate the page with what you would like to be sent out to the student (e.g. write an essay on…..)
  • 3. In the “Class Notebook” option in the ribbon, select “Distribute Section”
  • 4. Select where you would like the page to be sent

OneNote Class Notebook Distribute Section

How do I review student work?

Class Notebook has a great tool to make it simple to find student work. In the ribbon select “Review Student Work” from the Class Notebook.

OneNote Class Notebook Review Student Work Button

From here, you can select a page and switch between students for quick access to their work.

OneNote Class Notebook Review Student Work

Immersive reader

This option is available under the “View” tab.

Immersive Reader Button

The immersive reader provides the student with a tool to clearly show text on the page without other distractions (images, formatting, etc). In addition to sharpening the student focus on the text, the tool provides some options to:

  • Emphasise syllables, nouns, verbs and adjectives.
  • High contrast themes
  • Focus on lines or sections of the text
  • Read out the text

Immersive Reader

This is a learning tool that has some good research behind it which suggests that it can be used to improve reading and writing comprehension.

Read the study here

What about formal assignments and homework?

OneNote Class Notebook is a great tool for non-formal work hand-outs. With Microsoft Teams, it can be enhanced to provide formal assignments which can be handed out to students, collected in and graded. We will look at that in the next blog/video post.

Need help setting up Microsoft Teams?

I work for Cloud Design Box and we provide teacher training workshops, support, MIS integration, apps and many other services for Office 365. You can contact us via the website or by email. I hope you have found this blog and video post useful!