City’s students benefit from cloud collaboration

04 February 2013 | Michele Bedford Thistle, Business Manager, Government, National Security, and International Organizations, Worldwide Public Sector

We have heard several recent examples of city governments adopting Office 365 to provide an enhanced collaboration and communication platform to their employees, while also realizing cost savings – for example, the City of Chicago expects to see $1.3 million in savings over four years. Those savings will obviously have an indirect benefit to citizens, but what about providing direct benefits to citizens by adopting Office 365?

One recent city government example is the adoption of Office 365 by Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, as part of an upgrade to the Dudley Grid for Learning (DGfL), by which the council provides fully-managed IT services to 106 schools. In 2010, after a public tender, the council asked its private sector partner RM Education to evaluate Google Mail and Google Apps for Education, alongside Microsoft Office 365—assessing both providers’ offerings against criteria including usability, functionality, ease of management, and cost-effectiveness.

One important aspect of the evaluation was the need to comply with the government’s guidance on storing personal data in the cloud. Geoff Baker, DGfL Head of Service, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, notes that, “RM Education confirmed that Microsoft could guarantee that our data would reside in data centers located within the European Union.” In addition to assessing data security, RM Education asked a group of teachers and administrators to evaluate the offerings from a user perspective. While some users were familiar with Google Mail from personal use, the RM Education review found that staff preferred Office 365 in crucial areas.

Based on this feedback and advice from RM Education, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council chose to migrate its collaboration platform to Office 365.

Baker describes several ways in which this will have a positive impact on students’ learning experiences, while remaining cost-effective:

  • Increased access to learning tools – “As Microsoft Office 365 develops, soon students may just need a good Internet connection to access school collaboration tools. This increases learning opportunities, but at the same time, has the potential to reduce costs, because we don’t need to purchase local licenses.”
  • Availability of latest technology – “Dudley schools will soon have access to the latest versions of Microsoft Office applications, and updates to new versions will be carried out automatically in the cloud with Office 365.”
  • Support for anti-bullying requirements across devices – “RM Education maintains filtering for keywords related to bullying and other text that contravenes the council’s acceptable use policies. Even when it becomes common for pupils to use their personal devices to access school email and other applications, communication will be monitored to ensure the safety and protection of students.”

To read more on this story, please check out this case study, or visit Microsoft’s Case Study page for others like it.

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Michele Bedford Thistle
Business Manager, Government, National Security, and International Organizations, Worldwide Public Sector

About the Author

Michele Bedford Thistle | Business Manager, Government, National Security, and International Organizations, Worldwide Public Sector

Michele is focused on sharing stories from government customers creating real impact for citizens, employees, economies, and students. She joined the worldwide team from Microsoft Canada, where she was also marketing lead for several technology start-ups.