4-page Partner Case Study
Posted: 5/2/2011
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Redlands Redlands School Innovates with Smart Online Learning System underpinned by Microsoft support for Open Source.

“At Redlands, students and staff use Moodle as an increasingly important resource in their online learning. One of the key reasons we chose Microsoft as our hosted mail provider was the availability of the plug-in for Moodle to bring the students’ Live@edu mailbox into their Moodle homepage. Since rolling out Live@Edu, we find that the majority of students access their mailbox through their Moodle lessons.”

Christian Sellies, Director of ICT at Redlands

While seeking a new server-based student email system in 2008, Redlands IT staff began exploring a more strategic education platform that would later introduce additional functionality and scalability to the school. After investigating a number of competitive offerings, Redlands selected the Live@Edu platform principally based on its ability to interoperate with open source learning management system, Moodle, through a Microsoft-developed plug-in. The new platform at Redlands gives students 25GB of storage space and, combined with Windows® 7 and Microsoft® Office 2010, creates a connected learning community.

As a result of the decision to deploy the Microsoft solution the school spends 50% less on new licences and the IT team spends less time managing servers and troubleshooting. Students can now learn anywhere and anytime across any computer at home or at school.

“Knowing that Microsoft was serious in their commitment to education, and investing in enhancements, has helped us to focus on the present and future learning needs of the students in our care,” says Sellies.

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* “We wanted to create a portal that would allow students to access and upload work from home, collaborate with each other, communicate with the school and access everything they needed to learn effectively – anywhere, anytime.” *

Christian Sellies
Director of ICT
Redlands

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Business Needs

In 2008 Redlands was seeking to implement a new server-based student email system. However, rather than looking at the project in isolation, Redlands ICT Committee decided to take a more holistic and strategic approach.

“Student email was the cornerstone of our planned online platform for learning,” says Christian Jean Sellies, Director of ICT, Redlands. “We wanted to create a portal that would allow students to access and upload work from home, collaborate with each other, communicate with the school and access everything they needed to learn effectively – anywhere, anytime.”

The Redlands ICT Committee thought a cloud-based email service might be ideal for the school’s needs, especially if it could integrate seamlessly with Moodle – the school’s learning management system – which would become the main interface into the school’s student portal for learning, and their school Web Portal. Since Moodle requires a background messaging system to deliver optimum functionality, the Redlands IT Team spent several months investigating cloud email offerings and eventually selected Microsoft Live@edu.

Solution

Once they had made their decision, the IT team at Redlands set out to enhance their student learning platform – a Web portal featuring Moodle seamlessly integrated with Microsoft® Office 2010 and Live@edu – to provide student email with a 15 gigabyte inbox, 25 gigabyte online storage, school calendar, address books and messaging options.

Microsoft worked closely with the IT team at Redlands to modify a plug-in component for Moodle to ensure the solution would integrate and function as required in Redland’s IT environment.

“This integration [Live@edu/
Moodle] is something of a first,” says Sellies. “And we felt that the team at Microsoft were really investing in the success of this innovation to enhance the Redlands online learning platform. Every time we encountered an issue, they helped us solve it. It’s a good partnership and one that gives us confidence to innovate.”

Once the new learning portal was ready, the school created an email account for each student in Live@edu and synchronised their passwords.

“After that, we simply asked students to authenticate themselves and check that their Live@edu email was working,” explained Sellies. “From then on they could access everything they needed.

“With today’s students being tech savvy, little or no training was required. Students can now access their email, upload and download files, retrieve documents from their teachers and receive important notifications about events, classes or assignments via any Internet-connected computer.”

Benefits

The IT team at Redlands is extremely satisfied with the
new solution

“We’ve had success against all the objectives we set,” says Sellies.

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* “This integration [Live@edu/Moodle] is something of a first – and we felt that our team at Microsoft were really investing in the success of this innovation to enhance the Redlands online learning platform. Every time we encountered an issue, they helped us solve it. It’s a good partnership and one that gives us confidence to innovate.” *

Christian Sellies
Director of ICT
Redlands

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Coordinators are using group email more extensively to keep various groups informed on school activities, events and requirements because of the mailing system’s improved standardisation. Many faculties have set up live forums for debate on different academic topics. Teachers are using email more to contact and update students, and students are using it to communicate with each other and to learn collaboratively – a trend the school wants to promote.

“Most importantly, we are confident there is no misuse of email as we have locked out the rest of the world from our conversations, and in-built filters on Live@edu provide some a IPM powered by additional protection,” Sellies says.

Anywhere, anytime learning

The new solution has also closed the gap between the home and the school environment in terms of access to resources, files, and programs that are utilised by students and teachers.

“Microsoft® Live@edu, Microsoft® Office 2010 and Moodle combine to give our students an intuitive platform for learning – wherever, whenever,” Sellies says. “They can connect from home, a school laptop, or a school desktop and continue working using Microsoft® Office WebApps. They can download and upload files, access their email and enjoy a seamless learning experience.”

Cross-platform support and easy integration

Microsoft invests heavily to ensure that its products work effectively with non-Microsoft technologies, as well as collaborating closely with customers to resolve interoperability challenges encountered between Microsoft and non-Microsoft technologies.

One of the other main concerns for Redlands when creating its new system was to ensure students did not have to invest in a particular brand of hardware or any new software.

“We knew that parents had different devices at home so we went for a platform that supports Windows and Mac,” says Sellies. “The WebApps capability in Microsoft® Office 2010 means students can edit schoolwork on any home computer without needing to buy specific software.”

Also, one of the key technology advantages in choosing Microsoft is the platform integration it offers across software and services.

“With Microsoft® Office 2010 there was an immediate link between the students’ desktop, their online storage and their applications,” says Sellies. “It works well. And we know that as Microsoft continues to release new products we can expect the same seamless simplicity. Plus, Microsoft has been willing to develop plug-ins to integrate with other Open Source applications to support our needs.”

“In recent times, Microsoft has become a more open company on many levels and this includes making our technology interoperate effectively with the open source applications that are often used by our customers”, says Robert Evans, Platform Strategy Manager at Microsoft Australia. “The ability to be able to continue using Moodle was a prerequisite for Redlands, so the availability of the Moodle plug-in was significant in Redland’s decision to select the Microsoft Live@Edu platform.”

Capacity to meet student needs

A key benefit of Microsoft Live@edu is its capacity to meet students’ needs.

“With a 15 gigabyte inbox and 25 gigabytes of online storage we knew students would find it easy to upload schoolwork – from presentations to assignments, video clips and more,” says Sellies.

“It’s a lot of space, and by offering it at no charge Microsoft demonstrated to us that they understood students and were committed to education.”

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* “In recent times, Microsoft has become a more open company on many levels and this includes making our technology interoperate effectively with the open source applications that are often used by our customers.” *

Robert Evans
Platform Strategy Manager at Microsoft Australia

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A roadmap to the future

The IT Team at Redlands is also confident the Microsoft platform will provide ongoing improvements.

“We knew if there was going to be any real development in WebApps, then Microsoft would be better placed to do a great job – and that has proven to be true,” says Sellies.

“We wanted a partnership with a company we knew would be around for the next 20 years, investing in research and technology and continuing to innovate in education. Microsoft had the required stature and track record. They’re committed to ongoing improvements, and this means we can continue to provide our students and staff with the latest technology to support learning as innovations occur.”

Significant cost savings and reduced IT overhead

There have been immediate and significant savings for Redlands.

“We have made substantial savings by creating a uniform platform,” Sellies says. “The new subscription licenses for Windows® 7 and Microsoft® Office 2010 have reduced licensing costs by
almost 50%.

“By deploying Microsoft® Live@edu we’ve added new functions and features at no additional cost. Plus, we are spared the management overhead and cost of investing in servers. We’ve reduced our server count to six and freed ourselves up, using Hyper-V™ in Windows® Server 2008 R2 to virtualise that environment.

And all of our applications, servers and services are included in the one licence, along with continual updates and upgrades to new versions.”

By selecting Microsoft® Live@edu as the school’s communication and collaboration platform, the IT staff at Redlands can avoid the anxiety of anticipating and coping with increased student numbers or demands on their IT infrastructure.

“Because it’s cloud-based the accounts are infinitely scalable,” says Sellies. “We can add as many students as we need as the school increases its intake. The student mailboxes and storage are not our responsibility, which means we do not have to plan or invest in extra storage to meet future demand.”

Now that the new solution is established, the IT team at Redlands is confident it will largely take care of itself.

“Live@Edu is now working seamlessly,” says Sellies. “We spend very little time managing it, and have only had minimal involvement in troubleshooting through the help desk.”

Microsoft Product that was featured

Live@edu

Live@edu is a complimentary hosted service that provides every student, teacher and staff member with email, instant messaging, 25 gigabytes of file storage, online workspaces, calendars, messaging, video chat and more. It’s accessible online through popular web browsers for Windows, Mac and Linux. Students can store their work

in Windows Live SkyDrive™, a security-enhanced 25 gigabyte online storage system, with a password-protected login and permissions they can control. SkyDrive can also be used to access Microsoft® Office Web Apps, which are online companions to Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote. These tools enable students to view, create, edit and share documents from anywhere with an Internet connection.

For More Information

For more information about Microsoft products and services call the sales and information line on 13 20 58 Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm AEST. To find a partner or solution, visit www.microsoft.com/australia/findapartner/ 

Solution Overview




Business Situation

Redlands wanted to create an online learning platform that would enable their students to connect to each other, the school and a wealth of learning materials. The aim was for students to be able to continue to work seamlessly from home on any computer without needing to buy additional software.


Solution

Redlands deployed Microsoft® Live@edu, Microsoft® Office 2010, Windows® 7 and Moodle to create a comprehensive online learning platform providing students with the ability to utilise any browser to access email, schoolwork, and use Microsoft® Office WebApps.


Benefits
  • Anywhere, anything learning
  • Cross-platform supported and easy integration
  • Capacity to meet student needs
  • A roadmap to the future
  • Significant cost savings and reduced IT overhead 

Software and Services
  • Windows 7
  • Microsoft Office 2010 Suites
  • Microsoft Live@edu

Vertical Industries
Education

Country/Region
Australia

Business Need
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Languages
English

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