OneNote Class Notebook Creator

This time last year Wymondham High Academy was just at the point of trialling Office 365,  as the Head of IT Strategy I was still finding my way around the school site, and trying to remember names and faces. A year later and Office 365 has been embedded along with Yammer to 1600 + students, Teachers have begun to embrace the flexibility of working in the cloud, the ability to move documents in between devices without it changing layouts !

We have also in that year deployed Windows 8.1 to more than 700 school computers, deployed over 200 Surface devices, and added a sustainable BYOD element into school life!, that can really be described as the easy part!. Now the school is well on the way to its goal of embedding the use of technology in the classroom for the benefit of teachers, (making their life easier, working to improve good working practice in the classroom) and students, (understanding the technology, its use and how to benefit from key skills such as communication, collaboration and sharing).

One of the big players here has been the adoption of OneNote 2013, which I can guarantee is the one piece of software people have never heard of, but trust me it can be a real game changer in your school. The latest iteration as a SharePoint app The OneNote Class Notebook Creator can literally ‘blow your mind’ as an educator with its potential in schools.

So what exactly is it?
OneNote Class Notebook Creator allows you to create a whole class notebook, with content library, collaboration pages, and student notebooks, in one document! The real beauty about this is students only see the content library (resources from the teacher), the collaboration space (sharing ideas) and only their own notebook.   So students use the notebook as if it is their own, can copy information from the teachers resource pages, do homework, and the teacher has global access to all the student notebooks and with the power of OneNote can leave feedback on students work in a variety of manners (audio, video, annotation etc).

Going from Zero to OneNote Hero!

School Principal Russell Boulton has been one of the early adopters of OneNote Class Notebook Creator at Wymondham  with his Year 7 Science group.  Up until two weeks ago Russell would admit he knew of but didn’t use OneNote.  After a short session with us, literally 30 mins, Russell then an created his first Class Notebook and shared it with his teaching group on Yammer, our enterprise social network.

Russell Boulton
School Principal Russell Boulton is and early adopter of OneNote Class Notebook Creator

 Class Notebook  has been a catalyst for me to introduce Flipped Learning into this terms  topic.  I have uploaded some video’s into OneDrive for Business and created a sharing link, embedded that into the content library in the Class Notebook so students have access to those resources.     Part of the homework this week was to watch the video’s at home (or where ever they are connected to the internet). So we can get down to the task in the classroom and maximise the learning time.

We have an active group on Yammer for my Year 7 science, and this is a great place to share access to the Class Notebook, also students use it as a discussion point and can help each other out if there is a problem.

The great thing is I can also look into the Student Notebook and see how work is progressing at any time, and with OneNote on my Surface I can leave video feedback instantaneously if I wish.    These are early days but we see the potential and how to deliver learning in a more exciting way for students and am sure, this will develop further.

How easy is it to get started?

After installing the Class Notebook Creator into your Office 365 site then its a case of launching the app from your site.


As you can see Class Notebook creator is now an app in your page, and you can now run it directly.

Here is how simple it is to get up and running.

First of all launch the app and you will be offered the opportunity to create a new Class Notebook, you also have the option of adding other students to existing books here also.


So select Create a Class Notebook, this will take you to the next screen.


Add the name for your Notebook  Science Period 2 Wednesday’s  makes it easy for student to find if they have multiple OneNote open.  Click Next.


This screen shows you the construction of your Notebook.   You can rename the Collaboration Space and Content Library if you need to. Click Next.


Add your students name individually or paste them from a CSV.  This sets up the correct number of Student Spaces.


Decide what goes in the Student Space, these are just standard examples, but you can configure this for your own way of teaching. Click Next.


Lastly you will see a Preview of the Notebook – make sure your happy with it or amend the structure – the choice is yours.  Click Create to create your Notebook.

What happens next?

As on Office 365, you now get presented with a sharing URL giving access to the document, with the permissions set so student only see their own space and both the content and collaboration spaces.   This is available on any internet connected device, so can be leveraged pretty much anywhere.

You can now post the URL into SharePoint or email it, we generally post it Yammer our social feed which is heavily used in school.

Are you an Office 365 user?

Simply add the app from the SharePoint store to get started.  If your not an Office 365 user try Office 365 free for 30 days at

In summary OneNote is a much under utilised tool in the Office suite on its own. Its feature rich and empowering for both teachers and students. Class Notebook Creator takes this to the next level of utilising 21st century skills in the classroom and of course is free.


First thoughts on becoming a Windows 8.1 school

Over the summertime, one of the jobs was to roll-out Windows 8.1 to over 700 devices in school.  The reason behind this roll out was two fold:

Earlier in the school year we had taken part  in the Microsoft Education promotion for the Surface RT.  After upgrading them to Windows 8.1 they proved immensely popular with students in the classroom and around the school.   Therefore we wanted the desktop PC’s to reflect the same user interface.   One of the key visions we have is to level the playing field in IT giving students and staff alike the ability to run the same software that we run in school.   We have done this through Microsoft DreamSpark and Microsoft Student Advantage,

We also noticed that the majority of students on Windows 7 were not interested in working there way through the All Programs menu to find the application they want to work on, but instead they tended to Search for it.      Windows 8.1  federated Search facility allows students to quickly find application or documents and get started into a lesson a lot quicker than before.

wytraining Win8

We upgraded the whole site using System Centre Configuration Manager which deployed all the machines within a few days.  The great news was all of our curriculum based applications would run quite happily on Windows 8.1 (testing is highly recommended!).  Added to this with our Microsoft Dreamspark store, students could now download Windows 8.1 at home as well.

Logon times have also improved by approximately 30 %  this means students can get into a lesson more quickly.

As for the future we we are already looking at moving some of the in-house network actions into the cloud using the Microsoft Live ID.   We are planning to sync user environments directly to the desktop (teachers first!) using Live ID, and the enlarging that to allow students to sync there ‘school’ environments to any other Windows 8.1 device they log onto.  The initial tests are very encouraging.

Students have started developing Apps using Project Siena ( Windows Store App for free) as an initial step into Computer Science, though not strictly computer programming, it does teach the logical thought process into designing apps.

The second reason is the school has a desire to push technology forward.    For so long we have seen technology move on around schools, with students and there smartphones, new devices at home, new devices in the workplace, this is matched with a distinct possibility that a school may be running an older versions of Windows or Microsoft Office.  As educators we are enabling students hopefully with the correct skills in the job marketplace in may be 5 to 10 years time, so I believe the school has almost a moral obligation to give students great experiences using the latest software.

Also the next generation of secondary school pupils will be on us soon who have been brought up with the tablets, touch devices and smartphones, to those pupils technology in the classroom will be even more of an expectation.   Did you know 2.2 million tablet users in the UK are between 3-11 ?  How does the education system react to this ? Probably with teachers with books instructing students with traditional teaching methods unless we make moves forward by matching education technology with the world around us.

I believe Windows 8.1 to be a truly ‘creative operating system’ allowing users to shape and develop their own learning, and it may just be the first step on the way to catering for the next generation of learners coming to our schools.

Welcome to the O Team

Welcome to the Wymondham High O Team.   It is these team of students who have helped design build and implement Microsoft’s Office 365 at Wymondham High Academy Trust.   I am at the age of 43 very lucky to work with such a talented and focused bunch of students.

Let me give you a rundown of the team starting left to right.

Will Singleton – Will as a Year 7 as helped mastermind getting Year 7 students into using Office 365 and is a key team player.  Will is a Microsoft Office Specialist and uses his skills to showcase collaboration and sharing documents in his year group.

Paul Harvey – Paul has finally finished is A-levels and is one of our Yammer Social Network Managers in school.  Always available to help both students and staff. Paul also led on deploying Surface RT in the school.  Paul’s analytical mind has meant any challenge we have set him has been completed, well before target.

Me – Head of IT Strategy and Office 365 Ninja.

Harry Traynor – Harry is a senior O team member and all round champion of anything IT related.  A keen eye for design, some of Harry’s internal promotional posters have found fame with companies like Microsoft and Yammer Inc.

Jason Brown – Media man, a keen photographer Jason’s skills are really coming to the front following his successful application to become an O Team member. Jason has made several Office 365 learning videos which populate the O Team YouTube channel.  Again Jason’s videos have found their way onto the world stage and have been used to recently open an education conference in Canada.

Tobias Dunn – Toby is another Year 7 Microsoft Office Specialist, and Office 365  champion in the school.  Toby also codes using Touchdevelop and more recently Project Siena.


The team recently appeared in a live YamJam where they discussed using social media in the classroom with educators from around the world and regularly work with staff from Microsoft using Lync and Yammer.   The next  thing on the list is the launch of Office 365 with our colleagues at Old Buckenham High School, where the O Team will be leading an assembly to over 500 students.     So all I can say is watch this space as news from this extremely talented team will make it way across social media.

To find out more about the O Team’s Youtube channel follow the link

Wymondham High Academy’s O Team Goes Social!

Recently at Wymondham High Academy our Student Digital Leader teams have been getting onto social media in order to help us promote our school and also to provide to help to members within our school about how to use services such as Office 365, Yammer and DreamSpark. The aim of these videos is to show people just how easy it is to use all of these new facilities we are providing for them – and also to demonstrate the benefits that you can get of using these new facilities.

My name is Jason Brown and I am a 16 year old student at Wymondham High Academy who has been part of the Student Digital Leader (‘O Team’) team since May 2014 and have been closely working with Kevin Sait since the end of November 2013. I have a passion for ICT and computers as well as photography.

Jason is a member of the Wymondham High Academy O Team and helps to promote Microsoft services which the school is now providing.
Jason is a member of the Wymondham High Academy O Team and helps to promote Microsoft services which the school is now providing.

Whilst overall we feel that the launch of Office 365 and all of the other Microsoft services at school has been a success and teachers and students are beginning to realise that after having several years of various VLEs thrown at them, Office 365 is the ‘one that’s here to stay’, some people are still confused about how to use things like such as OneDrive to help them collaborate with peers on documents and some people don’t even know about the £50,000 worth of Microsoft software students can download for free.

There are various ways of educating members about Office 365 and the opportunities that it brings. One of those ways is lecture them in endless assemblies and hope that they’re listening. Another is to drag disgruntled staff to ‘training sessions’ after work hours when they’d rather be going home. You could send staff emails with long lists of instructions explaining how to use OneDrive and the rest of it – which they look at and then immediately delete. Or, you could teach kids about it in their IT lessons and annoy teachers who would rather that they were being taught the IT syllabus – which sadly is not half as exciting as learning about Office 365 or getting your hands on £50,000 worth of Microsoft software for free.

Or, you could take a more modern approach and make some quick videos which get the key points across in the shortest amount of time possible to keep your audience engaged. What’s more, you could produce these videos in beautiful 1080p Full HD resolution and post them onto one of the most popular video sharing networks in the world: YouTube.

Search for 'Wymondham High O Team' on YouTube and our channel will be the top result.
Search for ‘Wymondham High O Team’ on YouTube and our channel will be the top result.

Why YouTube? Simple! The benefits are clear:

1 – People can go onto the YouTube channel at any time they like and watch the videos in any order they like to learn about Office 365 and all of the other opportunities we are introducing. They don’t have to sit in assemblies or be dragged to training sessions after school. Instead, they can sit back in their own home, play the videos and let their minds be blown.

2 – If people like the videos and they find them helpful then they will subscribe to the channel which shows support for what we are doing. YouTube is such a popular site which almost every kid who has internet access visits that there’s bound to be a handful of them watching these videos and learning. One or two subscribers to our YouTube channel to show their support is far more rewarding than seeing a sea of bored faces giving the ‘nod of approval’ at the end of an assembly.

3 – It is rewarding for us who produce this content to see that people are enjoying it and finding it useful. We also love producing videos – well, I certainly do! If we can help our colleagues learn whilst doing it in a way that we enjoy doing, then that is really a ‘win win’ situation.

The story doesn’t end there. YouTube has great integration with Twitter, so every time the O Team post a new video to YouTube, it will also be tweeted on our new Twitter account.

Still in its infancy at the moment, but will be rowing up soon! @WyHighOteam
Still in its infancy at the moment, but will be growing up soon! @WyHighOteam

So what? You might say. Who follows you anyway? Well, at the moment not very many since the account is brand new, but we have had retweets from Wymondham High Academy’s official Twitter (@WyHighAcademy – which is followed by over 900 people, many of which are students and staff currently at Wymondham High Academy) as well as from people at Microsoft who we connected with on the Yammer YCN network (Yammer Customer Network) and also technology journalist Gerald Haigh has been retweeting some of our tweets.

Give it time, and I can only see the Wymondham High O Team Twitter being followed by students and technology journalists and Microsoft employees from all around the world who are interested to see what we are doing. As it stands, Wymondham High has already gained international support from Microsoft. The video below was not only presented to students in Wymondham High in April, but was also presented at a Microsoft employee’s presentation in Canada in May.

The reception from this video has been extremely positive, not just at Microsoft and within the Yammer YCN (which is how it was spotted for use in Canada), but also within school too. After the video was shown in assemblies students were saying that it ‘inspired’ them and they were amazed by what the school is now offering – and they were also amazed by my video editing skills… but more to the point they were more excited about Office 365 and everything else we are providing. As soon as this video was shown, we gained many new Yammer members on the Yammer network within the first week.

And this is what it’s all about it. It’s all about inspiring these students to become interested in what we are doing and getting them to want to go onto DreamSpark tonight and downloading Windows 8.1 Pro for free, and wanting them to go into their Add/Remove Programs, removing Office 2003 and replacing it with Office 2013 (on 365) that they can get for free from the school.

It’s all about wanting them to use Yammer as a tool to talk to teachers, replacing emails.

The question that these videos aim to answer.
The question that these videos aim to answer.

It’s all about getting them to download the Yammer and Office 365 apps on their smartphones so that whether they’re in their bedroom or on the top of the Eiger, they can talk to people in school and continue to learn and produce.


Wymondham High Academy is situated in Norfolk, UK and has been closely working with Old Buckenham High School to help with their Office 365 launch.
Wymondham High Academy is situated in Norfolk, UK and has been closely working with Old Buckenham High School to help with their Office 365 launch.

And it’s not just our students who we want to inspire. We want to inspire every student out there. They can see our videos. They can subscribe to our channel. They can follow us on Twitter. They can see what we are doing. They can say ‘Wow – Wymondham High has all of this. Why don’t we?’ The response we’d want to hear from that is that other schools have been inspired by us and want to do the same. As it stands, Wymondham High is already working with Old Buckenham High School which is a small high school in Norfolk very close to us. We can help them develop and learn. And that is a great feeling.

In the 1980s, Bill Gates’ dream was to ‘have a computer on every desk in every home running Microsoft software.’ 

Our dream is much the same: our dream is to ‘have a computer on every desk in every home running Windows 8.1 Pro and Office 365 Professional Plus, provided by Wymondham High Academy.’ 


So, to conclude, the aim of these short videos is to teach people about the benefits of what we are offering and to get them inspired.

You can visit our YouTube channel by clicking here.

You can follow our Twitter account by clicking here or by tweeting to @WyHighOTeam.

Old Buckenham High School welcomes Office 365

This afternoon, saw the launch of Office 365 at Old Buckenham High School as it made its first steps from Google to the Microsoft platform. We launched Office 365 to staff to get them familiarised with the platform and also to the schools newly appointed Digital Leader Team.

We started the session with a presentation as a ‘first touch for Office 365’ to reassure staff, that if they can use Microsoft Office then they can use Office 365. Followed by my colleague Harry Traynor, showing examples of working with SharePoint sites, and also understanding the concept of OneDrive for Business.

The new digital leader ambassadors were impressed by the ability to share documents in OneDrive and work collaboratively with other students.

They also liked the school has subscribed to Student Advantage, allowing all 650 students to download the latest version of Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus for use on their home devices.

When teaching staff saw this added to the fact they could easily edit SharePoint sites to share great resources with students then you could see that they recognised the benefits.

We also discussed using Office 365 to ‘Work like a network’, allowing students to think of education outside the walls of the school and connect to other schools to share resources using services like Microsoft Lync and Yammer Enterprise.

The school will be installing a RUKUS Wi-Fi solution in the summer holidays and also purchasing an initial number of Windows 8.1 devices to use round the school.

With Norfolk County Council rolling out Office 365 for schools in Norfolk, Old Buckenham High School has really been able to prove that they can shape their own future in a very short space of time.


The next part of the journey

The Digital Leader team

We are now arranging to train the Digital Leader team on working with SharePoint online and to help support staff members in creating content. These Digital Leaders will help shape the future for students in using Office products and be trailblazers for the peers.

The teaching staff

Teaching staff are now beginning to look at new ways of how this technology can begin affect teaching and learning in the school. This is the first steps on the road to mixing technology with great teaching to empower students to become social and enquiry based learners of the future.

Using the technology

Making the right choice of device for the mobile arena is an important one, and key staff members are looking at Windows 8.1 devices including the Dell Venue 8, and the Toshiba WT8 . Again they have been working with students to help make the right decision making sure the students are involved in shaping their own futures at the school.

If your school is looking to move forward in the mobile arena and empower students to use cloud technologies to empower learning then Old Buckenham prove you can begin to shape your own destiny in a short space of time.

For more information on the journey follow @oldbuckenhamhs



Old Buckenham High School – going about it the right way.

Old Buckenham High School
Old Buckenham High School


A few weeks I made an intial post about the work I am involved in at Old Buckenham High School, to help develop a transformational change in technology use throughout the school. This is an update to that post and I thought I would share this with you, to show how quick things can move forward!

The initial meeting started some 3 months ago to talk about the work Wymondham High have done with Office 365 in the classroom.    The SLT team led by Head Teacher Aron Whiles @aronwhiles looked at IT provision from the ground up, and before buying devices wanted to make sure the infrastructure for the school was correct.

Quotes were sourced and replacement  switches were purchased and installed by Network Development Manager Martin Faulkner over the Easter break.   Meanwhile Business Manager Lorraine Collins had been busy organising a Wi-Fi site survey of the school, with suppliers breaking down  the quote into logical sections, to allow a phased introduction over a period of time.

While this was going on Martin had also configured ‘Cloud Migrator’ and migrated all of the SLT team data into Office 365 from Google Apps.   He now knows that migrating other staff members ‘is just a flick of the IT switch away’.

The school has scheduled a Student Digital Leader program to support students and staff with Office 365, whole school assemblies to launch a new way of learning, and drop in workshops for staff to up skill themselves.

Office for IPad coming to OBHS
Office for IPad coming to OBHS

With all this happening students at the school will be able to soon enjoy and gain skills in todays technology, added to this Student Advantage where students can gain the latest version of Microsoft Office for the home PC and also lets not forget Office IPad for free.

These are exciting times at Old Buckenham High School and I am sure by September ‘transformational change’ in the classroom will be well under way.

For more information on this journey follow Aron Whiles @aronwhiles


Social Media Success Story with Yammer

Yammer - let works like a social network!
Yammer – let works like a social network!

Tomorrow students from our school will take part in a global YamJam with Microsoft and Yammer to promote Social in Education.   I thought I would share with you a success story about a bunch of students that were set an interesting challenge.

About a month ago a challenge was set to our Student Digital Leader group, it when along the lines of this:

is to take aerial pictures of the school using a computer, you have a small budget and can utilise any resource you find in the school

Now the interesting part in the challenge is ‘the resource’ and I will explain that later in the post.

The Student Digital Leader group are primarily Year 7 & 8 students who have a keen interest in IT and Computing, and between them they decided they would use a Raspberry Pi computer to complete the task.  I soon had a proposal on how the challenge would work and agreed to order a battery pack and camera for the Pi which duly turned up.

The next stage was to get the PI working, as a webserver with its camera.    So the resource they turned to was Yammer !   They put a post out on the school Yammer for anyone who could help with configuring the PI,  the team soon got a reply for Year 11 students Nick McGee and Jason Brown.

Year 11 student Jason Brown helped out.
Year 11 student Jason Brown helped out.

   The Yammer feed soon began to grow with information being exchanged and eventually a face to face meeting, now the SDL team have a working PI ready for the next phase.

What did this prove to me as we go forward?  Social is an immensely powerful tool allowing students to connect with there peers and other resources to problem solve issues.  The fact it can inspire students to learn from other students, gives students confidence in talking to other peer groups and allow to problem solve on there own.

So tomorrow these student will be working with colleagues from Yammer Inc and Microsoft Corp to promote the use of Social Media in Education in  a global YamJam.    This is another great opportunity for our students to be on a global stage but also interact with companies like Yammer where previously we haven’t been able to.

Yammer Enterprise is free to Office 365 Education customers and offers your staff and students the chance to develop key skills for the future.

Cloud Migrator = happiness for the IT Man


When we changed our email from Google Apps to Office 365 mid term we had plenty of questions from staff about existing email.   We used the educational pricing from CloudMigrator to move Google data into Office 365 in the space of one weekend, this equalled happiness for the IT man.

CloudMigrator was recommended to me by James Marshall from Microsoft, and  has proved more than its worth making migration and simple and easy process.

To get started we downloaded the ‘demo’ version from the CloudMigrator site.    Then setup our configuration file with details of what service we were migrating from, and what service we are migrating to.  We could then test this on the demo version. Once we were happy the configuration file worked we then order enough licenses to cover the migration.

Configuring CloudMigrator is made simple with its logical menu layout.

CloudMigrator support various cloud services, in the case of going from Google to Office 365 we needed to prepare ourselves with some information before the migration.

From Google it was

  1. The Domain Name
  2. Admin Account Name
  3. Admin Password
  4. Consumer Key (same as the domain name)
  5. Consumer Secret (Available from the Google Management Panel)
  6. API Key  (Available from the Google Management Panel)

These are added in the configuration tab on CloudMigrator.


Next you need your Global Administrator details for Office 365 (it might be a good idea to set a GA up for the migration purpose.)  You will add these to destination Platform Server Settings on the configuration screen.

Make sure if you are migrating from one domain to a new domain you add the new Domain Name in the Office 365 settings.


Next select Users /Resources and select which users you want to migrate. If you have users with a different name (i.e. married etc.) you can click on the import name and override it. This was very useful on a number of occasions.

Select the users you wish to import
Select the users you wish to import

Once you have completed the selection click on the Progress tab and choose Start.

For more information on how CloudMigrator can help with your migration and give you a relaxing weekend check out

Why Office 365 in Education?

PowerPointSpiderMan Wymondham High Academy is a Norfolk school based just south of Norwich.  It became an Academy almost two years ago and since then has been in charge of its own destiny.    I have helped shape that destiny since September by introducing Microsoft’s Office 365 as a simple way for students to share and collaborate with tools they know how to use.

This has meant our VLE system has been turned off (saving a big maintenance payment every year), we have been able to equip every student in the school with Office 365 Pro Plus to use at home. Every student also gets the ability to save in the cloud, share and collaborate with peers, as well as using Office Online on any internet connected device.   It has even given us the ‘glue’ for a sustainable BYOD policy in school.  Office 365 has also help address the Flipped Learning agenda in school by allowing teachers to easily share material and resources to students, so pre-preparing them for the next lesson.  This allows the student to get more out of class time, than either watching a video or researching things.

Office 365 also led me to the Bett Show 2014 where I spoke for four days on the Microsoft stand about our schools experience. More recently we have partnered with Old Buckenham High School to help them with the same transformational change that our school has been through.

So now I am detecting a real buzz about Office 365 in Norfolk,   from other high schools making enquiries with us, the Norfolk LEA now on the verge of deploying Office 365 and other services, plus  private schools also making big in roads into deployment.

So why Office365?  it seems the cloud version of Office appears to connect with the way teachers and students do business, and it makes the core fundamentals of good learning, sharing and collaborating very easy.

Office 365 does simplify things for teachers, who lead ever busy lives, and that’s got to be a good thing.  The days of a VLE rollout and people coming in to teach staff  how to post something in a room or indeed share something, meant teachers spent more time trying to learn and then remember how to use the product! This after a few weeks often allowed teachers to fall-back in to old ways of doing things.

Office 365 also  helps us address requirements for the employment market for the future. I am sure you have probably read the last IDC report highlighting the need for Microsoft Office skills in the workplace.

A recent IDC Study, which scanned more than 14 million job postings, found that the most in-demand skills for the top jobs through 2020 are the modern skills such as communication, problem solving and teamwork, coupled with the technical skills of Microsoft Office.  In fact, Microsoft Office is the No. 2 skill employers are looking for in the highest-paying jobs, and No. 3 skill in all jobs.

Even Google list Microsoft Office skills as required for there workforce !    So by embedding use in school, offering Office 365 ProPlus  at home with Student Advantage, we are equipping students with the right skills for the workplace.    Added to this our school is a Microsoft IT Academy, and offers student the Microsoft Office Specialist exams, to obtain industry recognised qualifications.  Google Apps is very much a standalone product in that sense and does not offer the ability to integrate to develop student skills.

Here are some top quotes from our students who use Office 365:

The best thing is saving to the cloud so I can continue working at home on the same document.  I use to use a memory stick to move work to and from school, and now I don’t need to!

Its great to have the apps in the cloud so I can use them with my IPad – but even better if I open a document in the webapp on my PC I can click on Edit in PowerPoint and suddenly its there in the full version.

Sharing works for me.   I use OneNote for organising my homework, and share it with my teacher, by simply clicking on the Share button in OneDrive and typing my teachers email address in.

Office 365 is a part of student life
Office 365 is a part of student life

Students live in a device agnostic world, who are quite happy to start a document on a PC in Microsoft Word, then maybe finish it a home on an Ipad, then amend it on a smartphone before handing it in.  Students views seems to be that the Office experience is all ‘part of one thing’ for them, which is really what we want cloud computing to be to the end  user.

Google has never natively tied in with the school environment from both the teachers and students in the way Office 365 has.   With Google its been a case of, saving work locally, logging into Google and signing in, uploading to Google Drive.  Sometimes during the upload it would fail being a .DOCX . Then reversed to access your data from another machine or at home.

In Office users get to save directly into there cloud space.  Students  were very keen on not having to do that extra ‘step’ to save in the cloud, finding it a ‘messy’ way of doing business.

Each student gets seamless access to the cloud from native applications
Each student gets seamless access to the cloud from native applications

A common theme that we have received from students is the ability to upload a document into OneDrive for Business, and the look and feel of the document remains the same on any device, Android, Windows or IOS.     Unlike Google Apps when students used to upload into Google Drive, formatting would often change, and only be rectified with several print offs later.

Talking to a parent at an open evening recently about Google v Office 365, I said ‘for us its really a  core skill that we have an opportunity to teach in a very subtle way’   Michael Gove said that using Office is not inspiring and everyone should code. Which coding is great, but its still an basic skill that needs to be taught, as the IDC report shows. Likewise I am yet to find any business in the county advertising for ‘Google Apps skills’, but that might be due to the lack of fast internet in the county.   Schools should be responsive to teach students skills that the employment markets demand.

From a teachers point of view a big find has been using Outlook 2013 as an email client and adding commonly used SharePoint feeds so staff can update sites very quickly.    Webmail is a very good and powerful tool, but teachers simply now click on Outlook 2013 and all the information is to hand, receiving email notifications without leaving the browser window open all the time.

A true time saver – I can get an idea from the notification if I need to read it now or later. I didn’t get that in the old system.

The ability to update files in my SharePoint site by using Outlook is great !

So in summary, Office 365 above all make things that were complicated simple, and that is good for everyone involved.   It inspires students as its a technology they know and understand,  and it doesn’t require that ‘extra step’ to upload docs in the cloud.       It also maintains the formatting of documents by keeping them in native Office formats (unlike Google) and you know your data is stored within the EU (unlike Google as far as I know!)

Its ability to plug in to your existing office system, and deliver real world skills in its everyday use, that students can use in college or their first job is a massive plus against any other cloud system at the moment.

The fact the Microsoft recognised the requirement for Office skills and through Student Advantage can equip every student with the latest version of Office to use, seems to me that they are ‘playing there part in developing the next generation of employees with the right skillsets’.      Now I am not picking a fight with Google fans but as an educator I do not get this  integration on so many levels as I do with Office 365, and I guess that’s why I am detecting a change …………………….

Old Buckenham High School – welcomes Office 365

Old Buckenham High School
Old Buckenham High School

Old Buckenham High School has chosen to work with Wymondham High Academy on their Office 365 rollout.   This post looks at how quick transformational change can occur in school.

After an initial discussion with head teacher Aron Whiles in December and showing him how Office 365 had empowered student collaboration at Wymondham High, the decision was made to start Old Buckenham High School on its Office 365  journey.

The reason for the journey is best described by headteacher Aron Whiles:

Aron Whiles - Head teacher Old Buckenham High School
Aron Whiles – Head teacher Old Buckenham High School

Old Buckenham High School is a rural Norfolk school that is embarking on its very own exciting digital journey with Microsoft 365 and SharePoint. The school currently has a very basic ICT infrastructure and limited student access to digital devices to support learning.

Two months ago we began our work with Kevin Sait, Head of IT strategy at Wymondham High Academy in Norfolk. Following our first meeting with Kevin and after being shown what he and his team have developed through Microsoft 365 at Wymondham, I knew that we had to begin this journey ourselves. 

After three short meetings with Kevin and his team at Wymondham High and only 4 weeks, Old Buckenham High School are already up and running with Microsoft 365. Our leadership group are now trialling 365 as well as a group of Year 9 students in their ICT lessons.

We have already been approached by Norfolk Local Authority to work collaboratively (led and supported  by Kevin and his team) to be the first Norfolk LA school to embrace Microsoft 365 as the core of our school and home learning environments.

The coming months promise to be an exciting time at Old Buckenham High School. Follow our exciting journey on Twitter @OldBuckenhamHS.


Aron Whiles

Headteacher Old Buckenham High School

We started by organising a free 30 day demo via .  We then added a domain name to use with the tenancy and qualified for educational discount. This took about a week to organise.

The next stage in the Old Buckenham rollout plan is to work with the Leadership Group to gain a full understanding of how Office 365 can ‘level the playing field’ for students.  We will also be working with the student body to create an internal ‘Office team’ to help with development and rollout throughout the school.

By the end of April students should be able to work seamlessly in the cloud on any internet connected devices, in school and at home. They should be able to do this without worrying about losing formatting or layout. This will make the technology transparent and allow teachers to teach and students to learn.

Mapped into the Microsoft IT Academy is MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist)  certification.This means the school can then begin to offer students the opportunity of up-skilling with industry recognised qualifications while they are learning.

For more information on Old Buckenham High Schools Office 365 for students follow headteacher Aron Whiles @OldBuckenhamHS