Case study: Office 365

Combining technologies, enhancing practice 

Adrian Ibbetson – Director of Sport and Engagement, Faculty of Health and Wellbeing 

There has been an active attempt to experiment with new technologies in order to lead change and embrace new potential ways of working.  

The Surface Pro is used ‘on the go’ as well as ‘docked’ in the office; the personal OneDrive space is used for saving files and there has been a pilot to use a School OneDrive space to provide easier, secure access for external examiners.  

 Skype is regularly for meetings and interviews, using screen sharing for presentations. Sway has been used for marketing, Meetoo (Vevox) for staff development, and there has been experimentation with Microsoft Teams for staff development and creating a community for PGR students, many of whom are part time, off campus. However, the technology that has been used most actively is Microsoft OneNote, for managing meetings.   

A common challenge has been the creation of ‘space’ to properly discuss items of business, as the danger is that sometimes meetings just become one-way information providing exercises. Using OneNote as a platform for School staff meetings is a way to ‘flip’ them and make the subsequent discussion more effective and productive. OneNote has been used within the Course Leaders’ Forums to assist the generation of NSS and PTES action plans. There has also been trials of using OneNote for School Leadership Team (SLT) meetings. For regular meetings there can often be challenges around getting information together for them, where to ‘keep’ it, how to make it available, how to communicate to people and how to track actions between the group; it’s been found that OneNote offers a neat solution to some of these issues.  Using the Surface Pro with the ability to link to a large screen also means that there is less need to print out large volumes of paper. 

For one-off meetings, information can be shared in various electronic and digital formats ahead of the meeting, so that pre-thinking and preparation can be undertaken, which hopefully provides for more fruitful and informed discussions. Embedding videos to provide a summary of the day to ‘set the scene’ for things like development days and to help explain the pre-tasks that are required, have also been trialled. 

For regular meetings, being able to organise them jointly with a PA, storing things in one place with no need to send out multiple email attachments or uploading and downloading files in SharePoint, is a very positive aspect. What is also good, has been the ability to create links on the agenda, which takes people directly to pages containing the information for that item, which can include embedded files that are saved on OneDrive. A useful time and memory-saving feature is the ability to ‘download’ emails straight into OneNote as items of business, especially when they have attached information to consider; it has been useful to drop important emails into a ‘Future Items’ tab to help formulate subsequent agendas. A list of ‘Actions’ are kept in a Tab and these are deleted when they are done or use them to create the next agenda. Previous meetings can be easily archived.   

It is early days, but hopefully a culture of using technology to enable more flexible, accessible and inclusive student and staff experiences can be created. In terms of School meetings, by using the technology hopefully culture of flipped meetings can also be created that can encourage more genuine debate and discussion. In terms of collaboration, hopefully by using technology it will encourage staff to share ideas and practice, and in terms of community, technology is being used to enhance social connections between students to enable learning and enhance a sense of belonging.