Technology is all the rage in schools these days.
Long gone are the days of blackboards and hard copy worksheets. Today’s students are learning on computers and iPads and turning in homework online. Teachers are sending secure emails to parents instead of written letters home. Class, homework and extracurricular schedules are now hosted online.
St. Andrew’s Anglican College, a primary and secondary school on the Sunshine Coast, saw these trends taking hold and decided last year to get into the tech game. In an effort to rebrand themselves as a leader in technology, they sought out Datacom’s help to build a secure, customisable, SharePoint-based learning management system, or LMS. This LMS system would enable electronic curriculum deployment, content management and communication among parents, teachers and students.
A secure, feature-rich SharePoint solution
Datacom knows SharePoint inside and out. The team in Queensland uses Datacom’s silver-level Microsoft competency skills in portals and collaboration to regularly implement tailored SharePoint solutions at various organisations and institutions. The customisable LMS solution they made available was perfectly suited to St. Andrew’s needs.
“After careful assessment of other learning management systems available, and comparison with our requirements, it was clear to us that building our own solution was the only option that would truly provide the functionality we needed,” says Rory Chapman, Director of ICT of St Andrew’s Anglican College. “Using Microsoft SharePoint as the basis for our learning management system made perfect sense to us. As Datacom developers were readily available, it could be heavily customised to suit our requirements. It could interact with the other systems and databases we had in place, and we were able to leverage our existing investment in Microsoft technology like Exchange and Live@edu.”
Datacom’s answer to these requests involved various customisable SharePoint Web Parts. This combination of native SharePoint and Web Parts means the LMS can be implemented as an entire packaged solution or as individual Web Parts to allow schools like St. Andrew’s to tailor the LMS to their needs. Some of the Web Parts used in St. Andrew’s SharePoint LMS solution include the Student Subject, Teacher Notes, School Calendar and Newsfeed.
LMS results in three levels of impact
The Datacom SharePoint LMS has made a world of difference at St. Andrew’s.
Coursework management is now centralised, with teachers able to drop assignments in an online drop box and students then completing them and dropping them back in. Students can do everything through the LMS portal, including interacting with other students, asking questions about projects and perusing study materials such as related web sites and videos. Everyone has a better handle on their schedules through the SharePoint LMS. Teachers can personalise their dashboards to view all the classes they teach and clubs or sports they coach in an aggregated timetable format. Students and parents can also keep track of assignments and after-school activities, and parents and teachers can communicate with each other if necessary.
And those are just a few of the benefits of the LMS. Not only did the LMS immediately ease several communication and collaboration pain points for all members of the St. Andrew’s community, it also lays the foundation for more innovation going forward.
“After the initial deployment of SharePoint, we have been amazed at the take-up by staff and students,” Chapman says. “Already it is changing the way our lessons are delivered, with staff thinking of new and innovative ways to deliver their curriculum to ensure maximum engagement with our students. With plenty of new features planned, we are sure our SharePoint LMS will be the most important and heavily used piece of technology for all of our students, teachers and parents for many years to come. What a great investment!”