Microsoft School Data Sync End of Year Process


Its that time of year again where we are looking at the end of year processes for IT which includes archiving user data, moving those users, upgrading system and taking a little break from staff knocking at the door for help <– never an issue but it is nice to have a break ;-).

Microsoft School Data Sync users your classes for that academic year so we have an end of year process we need to complete for us to be ready to add the following years classes to the system.

When you set up your current profile you would have been asked for an end of year date.  At the end of this date, this changes your profile into a new state ready for the archive process.  I often pick a date towards the end of August, after results day in the UK so any Teams are still available as they were throughout the year for the teachers wanting to check anything for GCSE or A Level students.

The day after the date you have set the profile changes into a locked state, and you are presented with the ability to archive the profile with three different options as part of this archive process.  These are:

  • Mark Classes Expired
  • Archive Teams
  • Remove Students from Classes

Mark Classes Expired

This will change the alias and email address of the Office 366 Group (that underpins Teams) to include expmmyy allowing anyone using this information with third parts to easily filter the classes

Archive Teams

Once a class Team has been archived it will be moved to a drop down in your Microsoft Teams client which is called Archived.  This will help you to separate between your previous year classes and current academic year.

Remove Students from Classes

This is the most important decision to make for your staff, do you want students to be able to see their work from previous years?  Is it important for them to go back to previous years to help with revision?  It might be worth checking with your lead educator around ICT across the school to see what the preference is.

Good luck with the changes, if you have any questions please let me know via Twitter @alex_pearce or add me on LinkedIn (Alex Pearce) and happy to help where I can.

Slidedeck: Office 365 Edu as your file storage


It was a pleasure to speak at the Microsoft Showcase School event at Downe House School.

Having worked with the school on their migration from file shares to using SharePoint Online in Office 365 Education we were both keen to pass this information onto schools and how it was done, the opportunities of using just SharePoint Online or Microsoft Teams.

With a great navigation implemented, teachers and students can easily access their files in the browser and is allowing the school with their digital transformation.


2018 Office 365 Education Survey


I’ve been chatting with a few friends and customer recently about Office 365 Education and it is interesting to hear what different people have to say about the product, where they are and where to go to next with the cloud.  As a result of this I’ve put together a survey which I’m hoping you will fill out about how you are using Office 365 Education and where you are going next.

We aren’t asking for any personal data, just about the type of establishment you are, where in the world you are and then a bunch of questions about how you use and planning to use Microsoft cloud products.

The survey is open until the end of January with the results available during the first week of Feburary 2018.

All results of the survey will be shared online (I’ll create a fancy PowerBi report) and I’ll give a bit of a state of the nation review of it.

There are 25 multiple choice questions using Microsoft Forms and should only take a minute or two to complete it.

So in the interest of sharing – please do complete the survey and look forward to sharing the results with you at the end of the month and thanks for taking part.


Latest updates from Office 365 Education – September 2017



All the latest news from Microsoft Education and the Ignite Conference

What a week it has been for the education team and Office 365 with way to many announcements for us to get into in this post.

The Microsoft Education team announced Microsoft 365 Education along with some licensing changes from the 1st October, some of these are in your Office 365 platform already.  The Office 365 Education license now becomes the Office 365 A1 license and you will soon be able to change your license agreement to match Microsoft’s vision of Cloud-First, Mobile-First.

This week also saw Microsoft host the Ignite conference with a large number of announcements, changes and improvements to all their products including Office 365, Azure, SQL and the future release of the Office 2019 productivity stack.

Below I have put some links we feel should help you to understand the changes so you too can be ready to support your end users.


Microsoft 365 Education is the new licensing model for your next renewal.  Learn more about it from the Microsoft website….click here

Skype for Business will soon become Microsoft Teams.  Microsoft announced their road map to merge the two products into one with external access and telephony…click here


In the next few weeks we will start to see a new Office 365 App Launcher, also known as the “waffle”.  You will now you will see applications you use more often with an All Apps button for the rest. Read more about the changes on the Office Blog…click here

We’ve counted 18 announcements for OneDrive just in this link!  Take a read to know how you can get more out of the cloud storage feature…click here

New SharePoint Hub sites to pull news from all your SharePoint sites that you have in SharePoint Online including your Microsoft Teams and Office 365 Groups…click here

Microsoft Classroom: Webinar Demo


Thanks to Pugh and BFC Networks for allowing me to present on Microsoft Classroom today.

During the call we went through a few different aspect to help understand what you can do with a Microsoft Classroom class.

  1. What is Microsoft Classroom?
  2. What is an Office 365 Group?
    1. Conversations
    2. Calendars
    3. Files
    4. Notebook
    5. Connectors
  3. Microsoft Classroom
    1. Assigning
      1. Documents and Links (video)
    2. Completing
    3. Submitting
    4. Grading
    5. Conversations
  4. School Data Sync

I also mentioned during the call about a new podcast called the MS Edu Podcast where we talk about all the latest from Microsoft that help in the education sector.  You can get more of thing on the site.  Click Here –> MSEduPodcast

Join us today to talk about Microsoft Classroom


Today I’ll be presenting on Microsoft Classroom and School Data Sync, giving live demos and asking any questions you might have.

It is great to be able to partner with Pugh and my own company BFC Networks to present this and will continue to do so every other month with a date set for our next meet up in September (after the summer break).

Join us at 2.30pm for an hour (UK Time) and get to know more about this new exciting product from Microsoft

Sign up at Eventbrite look forward to speaking to you then.

30-06-2016 10-17-10

The Future of SharePoint: Office 365 Education


On the 4th May, Microsoft hosted a 2 hour webinar demonstrating what they are bring to SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online in Office 365.  In the announcements they shared new features that are currently in Office 365 and their mobile apps as well as what they are developing.

As Office 365 Education is free, we are going to get these new features allowing you to get all these when they are released.  Here is a bit of a summary with an education twist with some ideas of what you could do when it is available.


We work with students, the millennial generation – always wanting to use their mobile phone for communication.   There were a few announcements around mobile access to Office 365 and files within Office 365.

The OneDrive iOS app received an update yesterday allowing you to access both your OneDrive files but also SharePoint site document libraries.  In this latest update, you will see the Sites tab at the bottom which will then allow you to see all the sites you are following.  When selecting your site, it will then list the document libraries you have in that site.


For those who use document libraries a lot as a shared document location, this is the perfect feature allowing you to access those files when you need them.  The sites you see are your “Follow” sites which you set in the top right of the site.  The app allows you to take files offline and edit them with your Office client which you will have a license for if you have an EES agreement and the Office 365 Education Plus licenses.

Getting students and staff to click that “Follow” button is important for their navigation – I haven’t yet found a way to do this based on a group so it has to be done by the user.

Microsoft also announced a SharePoint Mobile app and demonstrated this but it is important we take a look at other announcements around this first.


The first thing to note is that we will be getting a new landing page for SharePoint.  In the app launcher, where you see Mail, Calendar etc you will also see Sites.  This will change to SharePoint with a new landing page to help you navigate around all your SharePoint team sites.


SharePoint Home

The left navigation is giving you the sites you currently follow – the same way you have sites in the mobile app above.  Next we have Recent, sites you have accessed but not marked as “Follow”.  We then have Links.

The main page is split in two Frequent and Suggested.  I don’t yet know the difference between Frequent and Recent but I’m guessing that Frequent are sites you visit often and files you use.  Suggested are recommended sites that it finds based on the other sites you follow and access. The home page is based on the Office Graph (linking people, documents and email together) so will always look a bit different based on the students work and files they access.


Each site comes with a board (as they are known in Delve) showing recent information but also the template type such as Group, Blog and Video Channel.

If you are a heavy user of SharePoint in you school, college or university, this can be a great way of accessing the content that is important.  Getting the “Follow” system is also right so teachers can see the Staff areas for the whole organisation but also their departments.  We also want to make sure they can access any class sites and SharePoint Apps as well when they first arrive, not just when they have discovered their classes and sites.

New SharePoint Sites

One of the biggest frustrations I get from my education customers is that different devices in the classroom have with different screen sizes and a lots of websites and some of Office 365 has a responsive design.  SharePoint has been lacking in this space.

Published content can be added to team sites and helps to form news from your organisation.  You will be able to see this news both in a mobile app but also in the browser. Using the Office Graph, you will be able to see Blogs, News articles and other information as it is published keeping you up to date.  The responsive design of the new team sites, blogs and pages help to form the content at the screen size of your choice without any additional work.  With the SharePoint Framework (a new development model) your SharePoint partners and app providers will be able to build into these allowing you to have both your news but also information from external sources such as your MIS.

Creating Sites has become easily and will also provision an Office 365 Group so you get all you content, lists and files along with the communication and collaboration with Jeff Teper stating it will take around 5 seconds to create these when released.


There are two options.  A team collaboration site or a publishing site – the team site will create the Office 365 Group for your team while we didn’t get to see the publishing template.

Team sites have taken a new name.  What do you get when you mix teams sites and the modern Office 365 Groups?  That’s right, modern team sites!  You can still create your normal document libraries, lists and add meta data to sites but we get a few other options.  When we create a modern site, we are asked what compliancy level we would like to set it as, something we can set in the compliancy centre in Office 365.  The main new feature that I could see is the ability to spotlight content from the site in the News and Activity area of the site.


These are also shown on the mobile experience and documents and pages can be pinned to the top for news and activity is drawn up by the power of the Office Graph.

Imagine a class now having an Office 365 Group which is part of Microsoft Classroom but now we can also add all sorts of content into our site, pinning files and pages to the top based on the lesson you are teaching.

Site Content will now tell you how your class site is being used.



Schools still talks about wikis and the need to create pages.  Pages in the new sites are easy to create and very similar to Sway without all the styling.  Easily add a banner, content, documents, document libraries and other web parts to the pages.  The teacher can create a page on a per class or topic allowing students to get the documents, images and other systems that integrate with SharePoint all in one page (a little bit more than what Sway offers).  It will also build the page as responsive design so it can easily be read in the SharePoint app.  I should add here – no more stupid web part galleries – a lot easier when you click on the plus, it gives you the options.


Document Libraries

For those of you who have First Release enabled in their Office 365 Education tenant.  You may have seen a new layout to Document Libraries.  This will be released to all documents over the coming months giving the same experience as your users get in OneDrive.  If you navigate to a document library now, you will see this experience but in the demo and videos they showed the ability to pin documents to the top of the library.  Again something useful if you want students to be able to see important documents for that lesson.


We also have a new feature that I think will be welcomed very warmly by allowing you to copy or move files from one document library to another.  This also includes the ability to copy a file from OneDrive to a SharePoint site that you follow.  There should now be no reason for a teachers to have a memory stick or a file to be stuck in their OneDrive that you can’t access 😉


Lists have become easier to manage, filter and edit with quick view, a fly out option to update the meta data but also the ability to create your own views that can be accessed in the browser and the browser through PowerApps.  We’ll take a deeper look at PowerApps another time but there are some great features here.  PowerApps has just arrived as Public Preview so you can access it now.

Microsoft Flow

Have you ever wanted to create a simple workflow so when something happens to a file or item in a list, it emails your or something else with a third party product – some of you may have done this already with SharePoint Designer.  Microsoft Flow will give you the ability to do this in a visual way in the browser.  Are you expecting all your students to upload their home work to a document library and you want an email to tell you that it has been uploaded.  You can create these in the browser using this new features in Office 365.



Well if you are still reading, you have realised that there is a lot to this the announcements.  I almost found it too difficult to take it all in and we haven’t even talked about the new development framework called the SharePoint Framework, the hybrid options, SharePoint 2016 and that a lot of these features will come to your own environment during 2017 in Feature Packs.  I hope this gives you an insight to what can happen with the free platform and the opportunities you may get from it for your education establishment.

First Look at Microsoft Classroom


As Microsoft increase their competition against Google and release more features for Office 365 Education, we get to see another new feature that is currently in preview for US based customers.  Along with Office Forms, we now get Microsoft Classroom, a great example of how Software Integrator can build on top of the Office 365 platform but mainly Office 365 Groups.


Microsoft Classroom integrated communication and collaboration through Office 365 Group but also their ever growing in popularity OneNote Class Notebook into a single web application available at

With Google pushing hard with Google Classroom, the ability to assign work, communicate and collaborate for Microsoft customers as part of the free offering has become an increasing demand but of course, Microsoft have a great platform that offers so much more.

With OneNote, OneDrive, Office Online, Exchange, Office 365 Groups, the desktop and mobile apps available for the platform, educators are going to get a great experience that fits everyone in the classroom.  Bringing all of these in will allow teachers to select what they want to do with their class but with its integration with Microsoft School Data Sync (ability to have all your classes created for you as part of your MIS timetable) it is also easy for teacher to just get going with their class.

Whether it is file assignment and scoring, communication through email/Exchange or working collaboratively in OneNote Class Notebook a teacher can get straight into or even create their own classroom for extracurricular clubs, sports teams and other classes not on timetable.

The landing page of Microsoft Classroom looks a bit bare when you first log in but don’t worry, once you are assigning work, you’ll see everything on this page.


As you create your classes you will see them down the left hand side in the Assignments navigation panel.  This will load a few different things onto your page and loos very similar to the design of Office 365 Groups.


From here I can get quick links to a few different areas including the Groups Calendar, Conversations, Class Notebook and Files.  When I arrive onto a class landing page, I can see the Assignments set with details around those and give announcements for the class.

When I go to manage the class I can change the class name, give it a course number, start and end date and set a colour, logo (the chess piece) and top banner.



Creating a new assignment is easy with the ability to assign this work to multiple classes at the same time.  I can set a title, end date, description before adding an attachment should I wish.


You can pull in several types of attachments including links to a page within OneNote Class Notebook, upload a new file, select one from OneDrive and also any files stored in the Office 365 Group.  We also have a built in search engine (I’m assuming Bing) to link to those results for either a website or video (video sources including YouTube).


When selecting Calendar, Conversations, Files it will open a new window to the Office 365 Group while Class Notebook will give you a link to the Notebook.

The version I have available is very different to the video below – take a look at the video and you’ll see some extra features and branding which will help take it to the next level.

Responses in Office Forms


Yesterday I posted about my first experience of Office Forms and attached a form at the bottom for users to play with to answer my questions.  The form had three questions which were three different types of question types available which include Choice (used multiple choice), Text and Rating and I wanted to share the results so you could see what it looked like.  I spent the day watch the numbers grow and it also changes as more answers came through.  So thank you to the 32 who responded even though many of you may know nothing about the English Premier League and Aston Villa.


The first question was multiple choice but I also left in an option for you to fill in your own.  People filled in the normal 4 answers but there were 5 other options added.  These 5 were added but not available to others to see.

The results first started as a pie chart but once we had 6 different types of answers it moved to being the bar chart.

Next to each question you can see a two way arrow in the top right.  When selecting this you get a table of answers.  Of course lots of these are anonymous but if the user is logged in, you can see who said this from their Azure AD display name.


The second question was free text but did not have a requirement around it (where you needed to answer the question).  From the 21 people who did answer, on the home page (the first image of this post) you can see the last 3 responses but again when selecting the arrows you can see all answers.


The final question was a rating (and thanks to those who rated Aston Villas season as a 2.68 our of 5 as I feel it was a lot worse than that).  By selecting the arrows you can see each users response.


I mentioned yesterday that you could download a Excel spreadsheet of all the answers.  I still wish there was an option which asked if you would like to send it to your OneDrive for Business but just being able to get it in Excel is great.

In here we can see each of the users responses, time and who they were (with their User Principal Name as well as their Display Name).  The spreadsheet is already formatted with a table and easy to navigate.  The multiple choice question has each of their answers in the single cell while the others have their answers as well.

The spreadsheet is a lot better to see who answered what across the form.  When selecting the arrows in the browser you can’t easily navigate to see what the user gave across all their answer so this spreadsheet does help with that.  Just to take this data and add it to PowerBI now.