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Posted: 6/3/2013
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MT & M College Private Bulgarian College Surprised with Unified Learning Management Portal

MT & M College saw a need for a learning management system (LMS) to help achieve its goal of providing personalized education to students. The College deployed Microsoft Office 365, and particularly Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 as its new LMS. The deployment was well-received. Users liked the system’s flexibility, reliability, ease of use and their access to a unified solution.

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* Teachers and students just love the way they are able to access functionalities for teaching and learning activities, communication, email, and course materials all in one place. *

Milena Hubanova
Administrative Manager
MT & M College

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Business Needs

Established in 1991, MT & M College is a practice-oriented, private Bulgarian college that provides an innovative, individualized approach to student education. On starting their tertiary education at MT & M College and under the guidance of teacher-mentors, students create a three-year personalized development plan that maps out the skills, competencies, and goals they seek to achieve and the courses they plan to take during their student years.

Students also benefit from teaching and learning innovations spurred by an international partnership of MT & M College with universities in the Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark.

MT & M College saw a need for a learning management system (LMS) to help achieve its goal of providing personalized education to students. The LMS, apart from managing the learning process, and student projects and activities, had to enable students to collaborate and communicate online regarding their education needs with their teacher-mentors. At the same time, it should also allow teacher-mentors to provide regular feedback to improve students’ skills, expertise and competencies.

MT & M College initially used Moodle as its learning management system. However, not all of the education activities required by MT & M College were captured in Moodle. For instance, courses were not available in student profiles after the end of the school year. Hence, course history was lost. Communication and collaboration between students and teacher’s feedback was also done via email, rather than in the system. Last but not least, course projects and group assignments were exchanged via email, rather than systemically organized in Moodle.

Moodle was also unable to provide a platform for personal development plans, critical to tracking and fulfilling students’ three-year development plans. While Moodle provided a set of courses which students could choose, it was unable to allow an alignment of students’ individual motivation and goals to learn a skill or develop a competence. To implement personalized education plans with Moodle, MT & M did a lot of workarounds. However, even these remedial measures were constrained by Moodle’s limited extendibility and customizability.

“It was clear that we needed a learning management platform that was flexible, reliable, and easy to use. It also needed to be a unified solution that allowed the learning process, student projects and activities, and email functionalities to be done in one system,” said Milenka Hubanova, MT & M College Administrative Manager. “At the same time, we wanted a platform that was technically easy to manage, and required minimal IT support in terms of set-up, management, and updates,” she added.

Solution

Hence, MT & M College sought an alternative learning management system. Many of the alternative solutions were considered inadequate to meet the needs of MT & M College and rejected. Surprisingly, Microsoft SharePoint Server, an application platform for intranet content and document management emerged as a potential alternative.

Fontys University, a Dutch partner university of MT & M College had been using Microsoft SharePoint Server as its learning management portal for a number of years. When Hubanova and other MT & M College managers visited Fontys University in 2012, they saw how flexible and easy it was to use the system and learned that it could be implemented quickly. They were convinced Microsoft SharePoint Server was the best solution.

MT & M College approached and evaluated various implementation partners. It selected Abilitics, a leading Microsoft SharePoint solutions provider in Bulgaria. Abilitics, which showed a deep understanding of the specific requirements of MT & M College, was also strongly recommended by Microsoft Bulgaria.

When Abilitics started deploying Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 as the learning management portal at MT & M College in June 2012, Microsoft Office 365 came out. Microsoft Office 365 includes Microsoft SharePoint Server. Consequently, MT & M College acquired a license for Microsoft Office 365, a cloud-based service hosted by Microsoft with a suite of desktop applications for email, calendar and contacts (Microsoft Exchange Online), instant messaging, online meetings, and video conference (Microsoft Lync), and the familiar Microsoft Office Professional Plus productivity software.

Project deployment was completed on schedule in four months, just as classes for the second semester were to begin. Said Rossen Zhivkov, Abilitics General Manager, “We had a tight schedule but knew it could be done. Our priority was strong user adoption. We delivered over 35 trainings to teachers and students in groups of around 20.” He added,”Office 365 and the Microsoft SharePoint platform were not only used for the LMS, but also for the college’s intranet collaboration portal, internal administration processes and even the public web site. Logins are unified, and design, look and feel are consistent across all systems. It looks like one system to all of the students, teachers and administrators.”

Benefits

The deployment of Microsoft Office 365 and particularly of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 as learning management platform at MT & M College was well-received. Users liked the flexibility, reliability, and ease of use of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 as learning management platform. They also liked having a unified solution where functionalities for teacher administrative tasks, email system, and content management were all in one place. The deployment of Microsoft technologies also vastly improved communication between teachers and students within the college.

Flexible, reliable, and easy-to-use learning management platform. The deployment of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 has enabled easy and reliable access to course sites where learning activities are hosted, and of public course materials and private documents. Students are also able to create and manage their Personal Development Plans using the platform, and receive feedback from teachers. The platform also allows students to work in teams on a shared document library with shared editing functions supported by Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint. Teachers are also able to share course material, manage student assignments, assign and grade individual and team work, and manage course plans, schedules, and exam protocols.

Unified, all-in-one place, solution. “Teachers and students just love the way they are able to access functionalities for teaching and learning activities, communication, email, and private and public course materials, and individual education plans all in one place,” said Hubanova. Such unified system means that users just have one account and username. They also no longer have to log into and deal with multiple systems using different log-in passwords and credentials.

Improved communication systems. Microsoft SharePoint Server acts as a social communication platform that enables teachers to communicate with students and notify them of new assignments, tasks needed to be done, deadlines for course work, and changes of courses and plans. Students are also able to have video conferences with other students, including those of partner universities in other countries, using Microsoft Lync. Access to Microsoft Exchange Online also meant that students, teachers, and administrative staff have a single email system, which eases communication and enhances the identity of MT & M College.

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 70 employees

Organization Profile

MT & M College, established in 1991, is a practice-oriented, private Bulgarian college. The College, which has seventy teachers and 1,700 students, provides an innovative, individualized approach to student education.


Software and Services
  • Microsoft Sharepoint Server
  • Microsoft Hyper-V Server
  • Exchange Online
  • Lync Online
  • Microsoft Office 365

Vertical Industries
Higher Education

Country/Region
Bulgaria

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Abilitics

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