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Office 365 User Adoption Podcast Episode 9 – What is an MIE Expert and how do I become one?

In this podcast episode, we’ve taken a different approach. Instead of focusing solely on a school’s user adoption methods, we’re looking at how the process can be made easier when you have a Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) in your ranks.

But what exactly is an MIE Expert and how can your school, multi-academy trust or organisation get one?

We spoke with Elaine Topham, Senior Learning Technologist at Grimsby Institute, MIE Expert and one of six UK-based MIE Fellows.



“An MIE is someone who has nominated themselves to join the Microsoft community of educators that work with Office 365,” Elaine tells us.

“The MIE Status recognises those who are using the latest Microsoft technology in their schools and classrooms to better learning and student outcomes.”

Elaine’s journey to becoming an MIE Expert is an incredible one:

“I’ve always been quite interested in technology; however, I didn’t have the best start – I left school at 15 with no qualifications, so it was quite difficult getting into work,” admits Elaine.

In 2001, she landed a work placement at Grimsby College, working with IT technicians to install computers around the campus and also supporting students who were studying Level 1 and Level 2 IT qualifications.

Several years later, she began working at community learning centres, supporting people who were also completing the IT course:

“I loved this role because it gave me the opportunity to work with people who had perhaps never used digital before – it was a really rewarding job.”

Elaine joined Grimsby Institute in 2010, working as a tutor and teaching IT Functional Skills to students.

“I spent five years in that role, but by this point, I felt that my skills were best suited to supporting teachers in grasping digital. For me, this has a big impact on the students’ learning experience,” she continues.

Today, she oversees the work that the innovation team does, administering VLE and ensuring all their staff have the right training and support they need to do their jobs well.

“Our goal is to make sure our staff are supported and can meet the demands of digital.”

Her recognition as an MIE came about after she was encouraged to apply for the programme by her manager:

“I hadn’t heard of the scheme before, but I looked it up and decided to apply. I put a lot of effort into my application, including all the ways I use Microsoft in my job.”

Elaine was accepted and has been an MIE Expert for almost four years now.

“You have to apply each year, answering questions about why you feel you’re an MIE, what tools you use, and how you share your knowledge beyond the classroom.”

The Microsoft Innovative Educators programme is all about building a community of educators that are willing to share best practice and techniques, so a lot of the benefits revolved around this powerful and well-connected community.

When you’re an MIE, you have a monthly connection call via Microsoft Teams with other MIEs, as well as being kept in the loop about early releases, product demonstrations and new features.

“It’s a global programme, so you get to meet and talk with people from all over the world and learn how they’re using technology in their roles as educators,” enthuses Elaine.

“Because we’re speaking regularly with Microsoft, we also get to guide some of the development of the products, letting them know what works best for us, what doesn’t and what we’d like to see next.”

As Elaine explains, having this kind of insight into the digital tools used throughout your school is invaluable:

“Digital moves so quickly, so being an MIE offers me a quicker way of getting the knowledge I need to be able to pass it onto the staff and students at Grimsby Institute. I’m able to know what’s coming out soon and even shape the future of some of the products to improve the learning experience of our students.”

You can find out more about being a Microsoft Innovative Educator here:
MIE Programs
MIE Expert Applications

There is no limit to the number of MIEs you can have at one organisation, anyone can apply and it’s completely free.

Office 365 User Adoption Episode 8: School Leadership with Microsoft Teams

We’ve spoken a lot on this blog and in our podcast about how Microsoft Teams and SharePoint transforms the classroom, from sharing class resources with pupils to improving student engagement with Digital Ink and Class Notebook.

However, there are also many opportunities to use these tools to drive School Leadership Teams.

We spoke with Gareth Rose, Assistant Headteacher of Notley High School & Braintree Sixth Form to see how their School Leadership Teams, Heads of Faculty and Subject Leaders use Microsoft Teams and SharePoint.



“SharePoint is a brilliant tool for sharing files. And, while it has a lot of collaboration tools within it, we find Microsoft Teams the easiest way to co-author documents used and created by the School Leadership Teams (SLT),” explains Gareth.

“We have five core Teams: one for SLT, one for the admins who support SLT, a data admin team and a pastoral middle leadership team that includes SLT and the Heads of Houses.”

A Team acts as a central hub for collaboration – a place where you can talk with Team members, share and co-author files and keep meeting minutes all in one place.

“To keep everything connected with our SharePoint site, Cloud Design Box has set it up so that users can access the relevant Teams from their SharePoint mega menu.”

School Leadership Teams Heads of Faculty and Subject Leaders use Microsoft Teams and SharePoint

Within each Team, Notley High School has private channels where only specific people can access files and conversations. Private channels in Teams can be controversial as many believe you should simply set up a new Team if a private channel is required.

But, as Gareth explains, it’s a structure that has really worked for them:

“If we set up a new Team every time we need a private channel, we’d have far too many Teams with them all linking off in different directions. With our structure, everyone can access, view and edit the files applicable to them.”

To further simplify processes, Gareth has maintained one rule: SharePoint is for sharing finalised documents and Teams is for collaborating on WIP files.

“All the work-in-progress documents are stored within their corresponding Teams, where they can be accessed and edited by the right people. It’s only when they’re finished that they can be released into SharePoint,” he tells us.

“We have a one version policy – if the file is being worked on, it’s in Teams, and if the file is finalised, it’s in SharePoint.”

It’s easy to see why Notley High has chosen this method of working. This is a great example of Office 365, SharePoint and Teams adoption that shows how the products can be used by the school leadership to work together more dynamically, keeping everyone on the same page and everything in one place, without having to waste time copied into unnecessary emails.


Watch the full Office 365 User Adoption podcast on School Leadership with Microsoft Teams on our YouTube Channel.

Meanwhile, if you would like to discuss adopting SharePoint, Office 365 or Microsoft Teams for your school or multi-academy trust, speak with a member of our team today.


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