For those who don’t know me, I am the Head of IT Strategy at Wymondham High School in Norfolk. I have been in post for just over a year, and in that year we have implemented both Office 365 & Yammer as our core software in the the school, which in turn has empowered students to communicate and collaborate on work projects like never before. We have also migrated to Windows 8.1 on over 600 PC’s , implemented the Microsoft Surface (over 200 of them), had students gain both Microsoft Office Specialist and Microsoft Technology Associate status. This busy year was topped off by becoming a Microsoft Global Showcase School in early December 2014.
Therefore I would like to take this opportunity to tell you what an important role The O Team and Student Ambassador Jason Brown has in making this journey a reality. The O Team is purely student based – no adults, and in that alone has given a unique perspective during the deployment and development of Office 365.
Our two lead members of the O Team are Harry Traynor and Jason Brown. These guys are my work colleagues and
instrumental in making the IT journey at Wymondham High the success it has been. I first met Jason over a year ago when I was new in the job, at a meeting about the Microsoft IT Academy. Out of all the students, Jason struck me as having a real passion about technology. After a brief conversation and finding out how he helps his dad’s computer business, and had a knowledge of Microsoft products all the way back to Windows 95 – I thought that he has a talent that we can harness at school to help others!
Little was I to guess just how much help Jason could offer. Now before I go on any further, if your reading this article and are an IT Pro in a school please think about finding your own Jason. Students relate to students and will give you ideas and ways of thinking that as adults you forget how to. Almost certainly our Office365 offering would not have been as successful if it had been ‘ another IT deployment’ like the previous VLE deployment. STUDENT INPUT GOES ALONG WAY!
Back to Jason’s story, both myself, Harry and Paul Harvey wanted Jason to be a part of this newly formed O Team. So Harry and Paul challenged Jason to create something that promotes Office 365, This could be anything and within 24 hrs I was emailed with this
This really blew my mind! A 16 year can produce this inside of 24 hrs, better than any coursework I have seen in a long time!. Jason was well and truly in the O Team. Jason continued to build a wide variety of learning videos and soon created The O Team YouTube channel which soon picked up by colleagues at Microsoft Education and used to promote Office 365 in other schools. Colleagues at Yammer also picked up on this and asked Jason to use the video to launch an education conference in Canada . Jason Brown was launched on the world stage.
The O Team has also been working with Aron Whiles Head teacher of Old Buckenham High School to develop IT systems and Office 365 at school. Jason again was inspirational in presenting Office 365 from the students perspective, happy to present to over 650 student over three days, it really showcased the skills of a 17 year old student who was almost born to present.
Jason very much continued the year in developing Yammer and Office 365 in the school. Jason become a Yammer manager, being instrumental in developing and educating students in the use of social media in school. During August we applied to become a Global Showcase school for Microsoft. Microsoft products were truly a part of everyday life in the school, we had a natural pathway of students from using Microsoft Office, to Office 365 to getting certified on Microsoft Office products through the IT Academy.
The Global Showcase school membership required us to nominate a Student Ambassador to represent the school from a student perspective. Jason and Harry were the obvious candidates. So this culminated on the launch day for the showcase schools n the 5th December at Microsoft’s London Offices, Jason & Harry tirelessly to interviewed a range of Microsoft Innovative Educators, and Showcase school members about there views for the following year.
The next stage in the journey for Jason, was to become and instructor in our Tuesday IT group for students. Jason has been teaching students in topics such as building PC’s, installing software and building networks, this has been in preparation for some students to complete there Microsoft Technology Associate exam in Networking Fundamentals.
More recently Jason has been working closely with me to develop the new Student Digital Leader team for Wymondham High School. Having had a meeting with Jason about the role of the digital leader team in school, Jason was happy about taking on the role of managing the team. This meant Jason worked with Year 11 student (& Microsoft Office Specialist) Jenny Andrews to advertise, interview and recruit new members in the team. We had our first digital leader meeting this week, when Jason used the new Office Sway to present an outline of the year to the new team.
As we go forward into 2015 as a showcase school, this will be an exciting year for all. I can’t stress how much student ownership can help in the development of IT and technology in the school. The old days of a Network Manager being the sole ‘knowledge base’ in a school need to be forgotten and its a case for the IT pro to work like a network in school, utilising a student and staff knowledge . Our students are developing there own 21st century skills, and as educators we need to be there for them.
I would like to finish with saying a bit thanks to Jason for the support in the last year. Wymondham High would certainly not be a Global Showcase School this year if it was not for his efforts. To the IT Pro I would say go search out your Jason!
Jason will also be on the Microsoft stand on the final day of the Bett Show this year at EdExcel, if you would like to grab sometime with a Microsoft Student Ambassador.
As Jason says ” These are exciting times.”
Jason Brown is on Twitter please follow @WyHighOTeam and please follow @WyHigh_SDL there is an exciting story unfolding.