Hoover City Schools in Alabama chose Microsoft Live@edu to provide students and teachers with hosted communication and collaboration tools that extend learning beyond the classroom. The district offered teacher training and created standard online collaboration practices for classroom use, spurring grassroots adoption among staff. It developed an Authorized Use Policy and used Microsoft tools to easily provision 4,000 high school student accounts. Business Needs
In Hoover, Alabama, Hoover City Schools operates 17 schools that serve more than 12,500 students. It has two high schools, Hoover High and Spain Park, a national Blue Ribbon School. “As the school system moves forward, we continue to launch technology, curriculum, and safety initiatives that keep our students on the cutting edge—as well as safe,” says Andy Craig, Superintendent of Schools at Hoover City Schools.
Hoover City Schools strives to offer students the best technology to help them prepare for the work force or higher education. “We believe in the value of integrating technology into our classrooms,” says Keith Price, Chief Technology Officer at Hoover City Schools. “We have projectors, sound systems, a student response system, laptop carts, and student computer labs. But we didn’t have a way for the district to extend the value of our on-premises technology so students and teachers could continue to work together outside of the confines of a 50-minute period.”
Teachers use a Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 messaging and collaboration solution. However, if students used their own Web-based e-mail services to communicate with teachers, the district’s spam filters blocked the students’ mail. Collaborative technologies were limited to a few network file shares. “By 2012, our senior students will be required to complete an online course component before they graduate,” says Keith Fulmer, Instructional Technology Coach at Hoover City Schools. “Yet, we didn’t have the collaborative technologies to support that requirement.” Solution
Hoover City Schools chose a Microsoft Live@edu hosted communication and collaboration solution to provide teachers and students with a suite of online services to improve learning. The services include Microsoft Office Outlook Live Web-based e-mail; Windows Live SkyDrive technology, which provides 25 gigabytes of online storage per user; and Microsoft Office Live Workspace, which students can use to access and share documents.
“We looked at Google Apps for Education, but we wanted a solution with familiar tools that teachers would adopt readily for use in the classroom to improve learning,” says Price.
||We looked at Google Apps for Education, but we wanted a solution with familiar tools that teachers would adopt readily for use in the classroom to improve learning.
Chief Technology Officer, Hoover City Schools
Hoover City Schools worked with Microsoft Gold Certified Partner B2B Technologies to deploy Microsoft Identity Lifecycle Manager 2007 to automate the provisioning of an initial 4,000 student accounts. IT staff created users in Active Directory Domain Services within the Windows Server 2008 operating system, and then Identity Lifecycle Manager 2007 replicated the creation of the Windows Live IDs in the Live@edu environment.
Fulmer introduced 80 teachers to Live@edu with a 2009 summer training course. “We designed naming conventions for class folders and helped teachers build distribution lists that connect to their Microsoft Office Outlook contacts,” he says. “Teachers can set up a separate Office Live Workspace for each period. Students will set up folders in the workspace, where they can submit and retrieve coursework.”
Next, Hoover City Schools updated its Authorized Use Policy form, which students, parents, and teachers sign before using Live@edu. “We’re teaching students what we expect of them as twenty-first–century learners,” says Price. “The Live@edu management tools such as the bad word list, antibullying policy, and closed campus list help our district direct students toward positive collaborative experiences.”
In September 2009, the district ran a pilot project with a small group of senior students in the Advanced Placement Government class, who quickly adopted e-mail communications with their teacher. In January 2010, the district began rolling out Live@edu to its high schools. Benefits
Hoover City Schools is using Live@edu to provide better technology tools for teachers and students without incurring extra expense for the district. “Live@edu will inspire our teachers to innovate and our students to take ownership of their work and perform better,” says Price.
Hoover City Schools wants to prepare its students for college by offering an online component to a senior-level class. “With Office Live Workspace, we have the right tools for online collaboration for our blended Senior English and Social Studies class,” says Fulmer. “Now, we have our own distance-learning software that we can control to meet our needs.”
Gives Students Better Technology Tools
With Live@edu as a foundation for digital collaboration, teachers and students can work more productively. “Students won’t need USB drives to transfer their work between student labs and home computers; instead, they can store their documents for online access anywhere they want,” says Fulmer. “Live@edu can help less-motivated learners improve their performance because it empowers them to work when and how they want. Teachers are thrilled they’ll be able to more quickly mark and return students’ assignments. And with a simple add-in from Microsoft Word, teachers can save their documents directly to their Office Live Workspace.”
Hoover City Schools is saving money on licensing and IT costs by moving to Live@edu. “With Live@edu, we’re saving approximately $150,000 in product-licensing costs, and by eliminating server, storage, and off-site back-up resources,” says Price. “And with Live@edu, we benefit from product enhancements added regularly at no extra cost.”
Encourages Teacher Adoption
Fulmer expects almost 100 percent of the district’s high school teachers will voluntarily adopt Live@edu when they see how easy it is to communicate with students. “Based on the enthusiasm at the summer training session, we expect an unprecedented grassroots adoption of Live@edu on the part of our teachers,” he says. “We are excited to see how Live@edu promotes learning inside and outside of a traditional, 50-minute class.”
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