Speaking at UK Community Day – 23rd March

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I’m delighted to presenting at the next UK Community Day on the 23rd March.  Do you want to come and join us with a great set of speakers including Steve Smith, Neil Hodgkinson, Penny Coventry, Heath Groves and Brett Lonsdale?  If you do come and register now on the site and we hope to see you there as we take SharePoint to the Battle Royal – SharePoint vs SharePoint Online!

UK COmmunity Day

SharePoint Community Day

 

Come and join us at our SharePoint Community Day taking place on the 23rd March, where our range of speakers pitch SharePoint On-Premises against SharePoint Online and cover all the bits in between.

 

This exclusive day will de-mystify a lot of the mis-understanding between SharePoint On-Premises and SharePoint Online and what options are available depending on what direction your business is heading.

 

The Community Days are delivered by speakers that are renowned industry experts and MVP’s.

 

 

When and Where?

 

UK Community Day ‘SharePoint On Prem Versus SharePoint Online

It’s a battle Royal’

 

23rd March 2017, Leicestershire

 

Free for you to attend!

 

Slide Deck – SUGUK B’ham 11/5/16

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It was a great pleasure to present at the SharePoint User Group and pass on my findings regarding the #FutureOfSharePoint.  A few points that aren’t on the slide deck.

It was great to see Microsoft themselves supporting the community and we get a message from Jeff Teper wishing us all the best for the event.

Jeff

It is always good to see people tweeting and on Facebook while you are speaking and thanks to those did.

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The Future of SharePoint: Office 365 Education

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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.

Mobile

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.

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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.

SharePoint

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Pages

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.

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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.

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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

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.

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Conclusion

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.

CSOM + PowerShell: Setting Theme on Site

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If you are looking to change the theme of your SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint Online site you can do this through CSOM.

Having connected to your environment you can run the below script that will change the theme to the Colour Palette to you have create – see this blog post on creating colour palettes

$web.ApplyTheme( “/_catalogs/theme/15/NewColourPalette.spcolor”, “/_catalogs/theme/15/NewFont.spfont”, “/_catalogs/theme/theme/15/BackGroundImage.jpg” , $True)
$web.update()
$ctx.Load($web)
$ctx.ExecuteQuery()

 

To see how to connect to your environment so the following blog post – Connecting to SharePoint Online through CSOM and PowerShell

CSOM-of-the-Day

CSOM of the Day: Introduction

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Over the coming few weeks, I’m going to release some of the CSOM, SharePoint Online and PowerShell scripts that I use on a daily basis and use to deploy and configure our customers.  Any questions please do add them to the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them.

I’ll also through in a few other PowerShell scripts that I use for SharePoint Online and hope you find them useful.

To make them easy to publish meaning I can do more and more and try and get them out as quickly as possible.  Here is a quick explanation of what to look out for in the script.

Add-Type –Path I:UsersAlexSkyDriveDeploymentbinMicrosoft.SharePoint.Client.dll
Add-Type –Path I:UsersAlexSkyDriveDeploymentbinMicrosoft.SharePoint.Client.Runtime.dll

This will import the 2 SharePoint DLLs required to complete commands and connect to Office 365.  Download them from the internet or get them from your SharePoint server.

We then need to connect to the environment giving a URL, username and password.

$username = “spadmin@bfcnetworks.onmicrosoft.com”
$password = Read-Host -Prompt “Enter password” -AsSecureString
$siteUrl = “https://bfcnetworks.sharepoint.com/”

When you run this script, you will get a pop out window asking for the password for the user you are connecting as.

We now connect using the URL, username and password using the DLLs.

$ctx = New-Object Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.ClientContext($siteUrl)
$credentials = New-Object Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.SharePointOnlineCredentials($username, $password)
$ctx.Credentials = $credentials

And to finish off, we load the SIte/Web.

$web = $ctx.Web
$ctx.Load($web)
$ctx.ExecuteQuery()

You will see this section a lot as it loads what we are asking for from SharePoint

Each post will include this but this post will be used as a guide.

I personally like to use the Windows PowerShell ISE so give it a go yourselves.

CSOM-of-the-Day

Deactivate Sandbox Solution with PowerShell in Office 365

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In recent days Microsoft have released a Visual Studio solution which allows you to control SharePoint Online sandbox solutions.

The solutions builds a DLL file which can be imported as a PowerShell module and then you can use it to Upload, Activate, Deactivate and Delete solutions from a SharePoint Online site collection.

The provided documentation is great however during my own testing I found that solutions were not getting deactivated in my SharePoint Online 2010 site collections.

You will most likely find your 2010 site collection is actually in SharePoint 2013 version (15.0+) however if you use the -environment “MSO_2010” presents an error.  If you change this to -environment “MSO_2013” you will find it works even though you site collection appears to be in 2010.

Click here to download the solution from the Microsoft code website.  You will have to Build the solution to get the DLL as the one from the download does not work.  Alternatively you can download it from here.

Happy PowerShell’ing

Import Module

Import-Module “c:Contoso.Solution.Cmdlets.dll”

Upload Solution

upload-solution -username “admin@xyz.onmicrosoft.com” -password “XXXX” -siteurl “https://xyz.sharepoint.com” -solutionfilepath “C:\Example.wsp” -environment MSO_2013

Activate Solution

activate-solution -username “admin@xyz.onmicrosoft.com” -password “xxxx” -siteurl “https://xyz.sharepoint.com” -solutionid “5BC8D9A8-AE5A-4CF8-8D25-03B239818193” -environment MSO_2013

Deactivate Solution

deactivate-solution -username “admin@xyz.onmicrosoft.com” -password “xxxx” -siteurl “https://xyz.sharepoint.com” -solutionid “5BC8D9A8-AE5A-4CF8-8D25-03B239818193” -environment MSO_2013

Delete Solution

delete-solution -username “admin@xyz.onmicrosoft.com” -password “xxxx” -siteurl “https://xyz.sharepoint.com” -solutionid “5BC8D9A8-AE5A-4CF8-8D25-03B239818193” -environment MSO_2013

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SharePoint Design when consider BYOD – QR Code

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One of the hot topics in the IT industry for 2012 was the subject of Bring Your Own Device and how these can be managed on a secure network, data leakage and the general day to day operation when user can do what ever they want with their admin permissions.

When considering one of our new design for education and SharePoint we wanted to make it easier for learner to get from the device they have in their hand to the information that was being projected on the screen or on another monitor.  Even though there is the whole subject of how you manage phones and tablets that pupils have at home we want to ensure that if they bring them into the classroom they are using them effectively for learning.

In our latest design we have added the ability for the school to have their own QR code in the top right of the environment allowing pupils to pull out their devices, scan the code and then access the information in lessons and access it on their device when they want it.


Click the image to see it larger

What do you think of this using QR codes this way?  Leave a comment below and let us know.

Build your own Report Abuse for students in your school: Part 1

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Ever since the 7th February 2012 which was Safer Internet Day I have been wondering how I could build and share some kind of Report Abuse system in SharePoint that you could build into your own SharePoint environment.

Safer Internet Day was run to make kids and teenagers aware of what to share on the internet, how to behaviour in a safe manner and don’t be afraid to report abuse from strangers on the internet or by bullies in or out of the school.  There has been an awareness video made which you might find useful to demonstrate to pupils.

Building a report abuse area into SharePoint 2010 requires a few steps but it will allow there to be some key features

  • An area for students to report abuse
  • A page for students to see about the effects of internet abuse and the videos from the Safer Internet Day campaign
  • An secure area for selected member of staff to see the reports and get in touch with the student.

Create a new SharePoint Site

We need to create a new SharePoint site, something that is going to have a useful link that kids can remember.  Navigate to the top of your SharePoint site and create a new blank site classes ‘Report Abuse’.  Ensure the site has unique permissions as we need to set special permissions in the site to ensure anything that is reported is kept secure from other pupils.

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You are left with a blank site and we need to start some SharePoint Features that will allow us to do everything we need in this series.

Go to Site Actions, Site Settings and then select Site Features under Site Actions.

Activate the following services

  • Metadata Navigation and Filter
  • SharePoint Server Standard Site features
  • Wiki Page Home Page

The main feature we are going to use is a workflow that takes a submitted form in the submitted list, copies it to a new list that is managed by a teacher and then deleted from the submitted list so other students can’t find it.

Create Report Abuse Content Type

Its important that we have consistency between the drop off of the reports and the logging of the report for member of staff to see and we can do this by making on content type and adding it to both lists.

The column we need which you can add in the same way are

  • Is this about you or a friend?
    • Type: Choice
    • Options: It’s about me, Its about my friend
  • Is this happening at school or out of school?
    • Type: Choice
    • Options: In school, Out of School, Both
  • Date it happened or started
    • Type: Date (no time)
  • What happened?
    • Type: Multiple lines (Plain Text)
  • How should we talk to you about what happened?
    • Type: Choice
    • Options: Call me from a lesson,  You will see your form tutor about it, let talk over email

Here is the process to create the first of these.  I’ll let you create the others

Go to Site Actions, Site Settings

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Under Galleries, got Site Columns

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Click on Create at the top and give the first column a name

Under Groups create a new group called Report Abuse.  When you create each of the other columns you will find Report Abuse in the Existing group drop down list.

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The description box can be left blank but if you want to give the pupils a little more direction or an explanation of what will happen with the information you can do.

Enter the different choices into the box and set that the column has to contain information.

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At the bottom of the page you will see Default Value.  This will have the first choice in the list but by deleting this it will mean the user will have to pick one of these.

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Click Ok to create this column and then create all the others remembering to use the same grouping name.

Create the Content Type

When we have created all these columns we now want to create them into a content type so when we add them to different lists we have some consistency of columns.

Go to Site Actions, Site Settings

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Under Galleries, got Site Content Types

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Click on Create and call the content type Report Abuse

You will need to select a parent content type.  Select List Content Type and then Item.

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Give this content type a new Group called Report Abuse.  It will help us to find it later on.

Now go into the content type and add the site columns created earlier.

Creating 2 custom lists

We need 2 lists, one will be used for students to submit and the other is used to monitor all the submitted reports by students.  We need to have different permissions on both of these lists so students have the ability to submit but don’t see the other list of other submitted reports.

The 2 lists are going to be called.

  • Report Abuse
  • Submitted Reports

Go to Site Actions and then More Options…

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Find Custom List and create the first one called Report Abuse

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When the list is created go to List Settings

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In General Settings, go to Advanced settings and set Yes to Allow Management of Content Types.

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Click on OK and you will be taken back to the List Settings page.  In the Content Type area on the page click Add from existing site Content Types.

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In the groups you will see Report Abuse.  Add this Content Type which will include all the columns you have created.

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Now click ‘Change new button order and default content type.

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Uncheck Item

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Now complete this same process for the Submitted Reports list

In Part 2 we will create the workflow that will take the submitted report and move it to a secure area for a teacher to use and track reports.

How many ways can you use SharePoint in Education?

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There are many ways to get SharePoint 2010 in your school, whether you’re using it as part of a package from a supplier, using a hosting company to host your own SharePoint or using your EES license to host your SharePoint internally.

All of the successful SharePoint implementations I have seen are those that have integrated SharePoint into their daily school lives and don’t use it as just another web page that student and teachers use if they want to. There are loads of great examples of how schools use SharePoint in their school and have a 100% adoption rate but how can this be done for your environment?

I often talk to different schools about this very subject and I split the conversation into three different sections, management, learning and social. These three can be tackled by the school one at a time or all at the same time but each of these can help you integrate SharePoint into your school.

Whether you are looking at going with a third party hosting solution or building your own SharePoint, consider the following and ensure you can achieve these with the solution being provided.

Management

Any process in your school, whether it’s the approval of staff external training, hiring of equipment from IT or keeping the staff calendar up to date it, has a process from the request to information staff of the change/approval. SharePoint can help in any of these and any other process that comes to mind. Let’s take a look at how two of these processes can be used within in SharePoint.

Example – A member of staff requested some Maths training.

Navigate to the CPD site on their SharePoint and click on ‘’new request’’ which opens up Microsoft Word. They fill in the request and click ‘’save’’ which saves the document back to the CPD site. In the background, SharePoint is doing its thing and has emailed a copy of CPD Request to your manager for approval. They then open their email and get a link to the document which opens up in Internet Explorer using Office Web Applications and shows them the request you have made. They are happy and so they click ‘’approve’’ in SharePoint which sends off the email the finance department letting them know to send a purchase order to the training provider. During this time, two other emails have also been sent, letting the Timetable Manager know that you will not be in school on that training day and therefore need to arrange cover. The other email is to let you know that your course has been approved and you can attend.

Example – You want to borrow some digital cameras from the ICT Support department.

Navigate to the SharePoint page they have setup. You click on ‘’digital cameras’’ which loads a page that looks similar to your Outlook calendar and you look for you the time you want. You can see that another member of staff has them already booked at that time so you decide to use them the next lesson. You have to fill out an online form that includes the date and time and the room you require them in. When you have submitted the request, an email is sent to the ICT support team who approve the request. The day arrives for you to use the cameras but you are worried you don’t know how to use them. Help is at hand. Go to the same SharePoint page the ICT Support department use to book the cameras, see that they are still booked and there is a help wiki that’s been setup on the cameras which shows you everything you need to know.

Learning

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Pupils are given out worksheets all the time in class which, 9 times out of 10, are generated in Word or printed off the internet. Why give them something that can be lost, screwed up in the bottom of the bag or used as an excuse for not doing their homework?

SharePoint is a great tool for document storage and management. You can store any type of document and even edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in your internet browser without having to have these installed on your computer or smart phone.

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Documents can be tagged allowing you to easily find content with a same relevant name. As the English teacher, you can upload content for your Romeo and Juliet topic and tag all the documents with Romeo and Juliet included. With the right setup, it will automatically tag the documents with English and Shakespeare.

Social

There is always and underlining question where to use social networking in a school. Personally I believe that students use it every day out of school, so we should be doing the same within the school and integrate into their education. SharePoint can help in many ways with an educational stance.

During the learning section of the post we talked about the ability to tag documents. In SharePoint 2010 we can use these tags within the User Profile services.

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A student can subscribe to one of these tags allowing them to see content as it is uploaded. As a student, I am working on Romeo and Juliet in English and I see Romeo and Juliet in a Tag Cloud. This then allows me to see all updates made to this tag, giving me more information on each of my subjects as other use it in the school.

Each user has their own ‘’profile’’, allowing them to upload an image and give some general information about themselves. SharePoint allows us to manage this so don’t be worried if you don’t want photos. One of the features is the ability to say you are an expert in a subject. Link this to your tagging (like Romeo and Juliet) and a student can then use SharePoint Search to find the most relevant documents, the ability to filter and the most relevant member of staff who can help them on that subject.

SharePoint for All

Whatever the learning asset, document or process it can be done in SharePoint, don’t be afraid to ask someone on twitter or on a community forum such as Edugeek or the SharePoint User Group.

SharePoint Learning Kit Scenario Guide–Whitepaper

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SharePoint Learning Kit is currently used in many industries but it has mainly been developed to be used in education sector. This E-Learning Tool can bring a different element of learning to pupils giving them access to their marks on work automatically having submitted it to the server.

In this scenario whitepaper we will look at 4 different ways SharePoint Learning Kit can be used ranging from a single site to a whole school to multiple schools.

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Download: SharePoint Learning Kit Scenario Guide whitepaper here