21st January 2014
A new report from UK-based SharePoint firm igroup suggests that Microsoft offers information communications technology (ICT) opportunities to schools that may help to familiarise students with technologies being used in workplaces whilst minimising costs. The report also suggests that the alternative solutions offered by Microsoft could prove more useful to schools than platforms that are created specifically for the education sector.
‘School ICT Opportunities for 365’ cites a 2013 CBI study indicating that almost 50% of businesses need to provide basic skills training for new staff. It suggests that a key factor in this is the way in which IT is taught in schools, which is not keeping up with developments in the workplace related to collaborative working and office automation.
The report argues that providing students with access to the technology that they will use in the workplace is an essential consideration for schools, but that such needs are currently set against a backdrop of economic cuts and limited school IT budgets.
With these factors in mind, School ICT Opportunities points out that Microsoft offers a free deployment of Office applications along with SharePoint on a cloud basis, meaning that the cost of software is not a consideration. It goes on to outline a number of other benefits that a SharePoint and Office solution would provide, including improved communication between schools and the home, familiarising students with collaboration software platforms and greater inclusion of parents in the collaboration approach.
Furthermore, according to the report, most schools employ document management systems such as STAR for the submission of work and access to learning materials both inside and outside the school, but as proprietary software that is focused on the education sector, such software has not been developed to the same extent as commercial solutions such as SharePoint.
A no-cost platform is appealing when considering ICT needs in schools, but it is critical that any platform serves to benefit the education of students, prepare students for the workplace and improve day-to-day administration of the education environment. The potential, as the report suggests, for Microsoft’s SharePoint and Office solution to meet these needs and do so to a better extent than existing education-focused platforms, should prove highly compelling to schools and will ultimately drive uptake.
Download the School ICT Opportunities for Office 365 whitepaper.
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