The Marymount School Medellín, a private girls school in Colombia, needed a secure e-mail platform to link students, teachers, and administrators, but funds were tight. The school found its answer by deploying Microsoft® Live@edu, a free hosted service for K–12 and higher education institutions that provides students, staff, faculty, and alumni long-term, primary e-mail addresses and other applications they can use.
Founded by the Religious Order of the Sacred Heart in Medellín, Colombia, the Marymount School of Medellín is a private, bilingual, educational institution, dedicated to the education of women. The school, now owned by a nonprofit organization of parents and alumni, continues in a loose confederation with the religious order and is part of the Marymount network of schools.
School administrators, dedicated to providing a world-class education to Marymount’s 835 students, needed a unified e-mail solution for students, staff, and parents. The school wanted its students to benefit from other forms of electronic communication and collaboration, but needed to protect them from unfiltered content from outside the school.
“We needed a secure e-mail platform to enable us to reliably communicate with our students,” says María Teresa Arsate Gómez, Head of the Systems Department, Marymount School Medellín. “If a student missed a class to participate in an athletic event, or because they were travelling, the teachers often had a difficult time finding a personal e-mail address they could depend upon to send lessons. Because the lessons could involve large attachments, we also needed an e-mail platform that provided users with substantial storage.”
While the school had a good idea of what it wanted, it needed to be cautious in how it allocated resources, especially as the school endured the forces of a global slowdown.
Marymount School knew it had found the answer to its needs when it heard about Microsoft® Live@edu, a free hosted service for K–12 and higher education institutions that provides students, staff, faculty, and alumni long-term, primary e-mail addresses and other applications they can use. The school rapidly deployed the solution for all but its youngest students, provisioning 620 e-mail accounts.
Live@edu e-mail provided Marymount students and staff with the unified e-mail platform it had sought, and the school was impressed that each personal account offered 10 gigabytes (GB) of e-mail storage.
The school also embraced other elements of the Live@edu suite of collaboration and productivity solutions including Windows Live™ SkyDrive™, a cloud-based file storage service that provides each user with 25 GB of storage, and Windows Live Messenger, for real-time messaging.
We were amazed by the quality of Live@edu and by the fact that we didn’t have to pay a single peso to license it,” Gómez says. “Affordability like that is very important for an institution such as ours.”
Concurrent with its deployment of Live@edu, the school embarked on a pilot project with BrainHoney, an electronic curriculum delivery and classroom management solution from Microsoft Gold Certified partner Agilix. The school was impressed by the product.
“BrainHoney is absolutely user friendly,” Gómez says. “The teachers and students enjoyed it immensely, and we found it easy to administer. We could foresee additional value in using it as a virtual campus to augment our classroom work.”
Better Security for Students
Marymount School knew it was enjoying a highly secure e-mail environment when e-mail-borne viruses disappeared. “After deploying Live@edu, e-mail viruses dropped by 100 percent.” Gómez says. “Previously viruses arriving in e-mails had been a major problem at the school. But now we see none. Live@edu has spectacular filters and security. And we also like the fact that our students aren’t exposed to any advertisements with the free e-mail system.”
||We were amazed by the quality of Live@edu and by the fact that we didn’t have to pay a single peso to license it.
||María Teresa Arsate Gómez
Head of the Systems Department, Marymount School Medellín
Parents appreciate the security of the Live@edu e-mailing and messaging environment. “Parents like that they know that an e-mail from the school is secure, and that they can confidently communicate with teachers,” Gómez says. “They also like that Windows Live Messenger enables their children to collaborate without going into uncontrolled chat rooms on the Web.”
Reliable and Robust
Live@edu has earned a reputation at Marymount School as being reliable and robust. “We enjoy the tranquillity of having Live@edu available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Gómez says. “The reliability of Live@edu provides a priceless benefit, just knowing that it is always there, ready to go, making life better for the students, teachers, and parents.”
The unified communications platform provided by Live@edu is enabling Marymount school to take a new look at how education is delivered. “Live@edu fosters innovation,” Gómez says. “The platform is powerful, yet very easy to use. BrainHoney fits easily with the Live@edu platform, so the combination really invites us to consider new ways of shaping the learning process. We are very excited about the future.”
Students have benefitted from the complete package that Live@edu provides. “Students used to be distracted by using messaging services and reading e-mail,” Gómez says. “With Live@edu, these communication tools are just part of the learning environment, and they are more focused on learning. They’ve acquired a culture of using these communication tools with a lot of responsibility to advance their learning.”
This is good news to Curt Allen, President and Chief Executive Officer of Agilix, who notes: “Our 25-year partnership with Microsoft has been dedicated to taking Microsoft technology, and customizing it to create solutions that are very relevant in the daily lives of teachers and their students.”
Enhanced Educational Experience
Live@edu enhances the educational experience for students of Marymount by enabling them to stay connected with classes even when away from school.
“SkyDrive is absolutely fabulous because the students store their own academic work there, as well as material they share on group projects,” Gómez says. “Last year when some of our students went to Canada on a school excursion, they were able to stay connected with their teachers, who sent lessons across to them.”
45 Percent Less Paper Used
The school credits Live@edu with an up to 45 percent reduction in printing costs enjoyed since teachers began delivering lessons electronically.