Yammer in the classroom.

As part of our Office 365 rollout at Wymondham High Academy we deployed Yammer as an Enterprise Social Network in school. Yammer was part of the result of working with our students to define our VLE replacement. When we asked students how they used technology to learn things there  was a common answer.  The answer was ‘people send me stuff on social networks’ this was key to deploy a recognisable social platform for our students to communicate and generate ideas.

Yammer itself  is part of Microsoft which in turn is part of Office 365 which forms this extensible toolkit for student learning.   Why have we deployed a social platform in our school, when a lot of schools steer away from social media?

The answer to the questions stems from the development of social media recently and where it will be when our students leave the school and enter further education or the job market.  Take a look at this video from Erik Qualmann called Socialnomics looking at the current state of ‘social media’ in society today.

This shows us the state of ‘social’ now, so what sort of world will it be when our students join the workforce, how much more will social be part of our lives in 5 years time ?   We feel that it is part of our school’s moral responsibilities to teach students about using real world tools in the correct context.

Yammer ESN
Yammer at work for students and staff

This is a typical Yammer page for our school, looking very ‘Facebook’ in style, students and staff can simply get on and use it.  The ability to post articles, discuss, share ideas and collaborate in a familiar platform has meant rolling this technology has been a very straight forward process throughout the school.

As an Enterprise network, students have to have a valid Office 365 account, making it only available to people inside the school. Even though students can use the Yammer app on any of the mobile platforms to allow for anytime anywhere learning.

It has also allowed the school to teach KS3 students about safe social networking and managing digital profiles  effectively. Which, until now has been completed without giving students hands on  time on a managed  social platform.

Yammer come in two forms, Basic and Enterprise. Yammer Enterprise is the full version which allows full control over the enterprise such as monitoring keywords, moderating posts etc.  Yammer Enterprise was $3.00 per person per month.  This was restrictive for our school with 1650 students, however from April 1st Yammer Enterprise will be part of Office 365 Plan A2 for free.

A senior leader once said to me in a meeting ‘just because we can do these things with technology doesn’t mean we should do..’   with a well managed solution like Office 365 & Yammer, this surely means that with a moral obligation to our students, we should.