Thursday 19 March 2020

Keep Calm and Get SaaS.

The recent announcement of school closures in the UK and across Europe has thrown up a raft of new challenges, one of which is  - “how can we teach without a school”.

For those establishments who have made the move to Software as a Service (SaaS) and reduced the role of local servers and infrastructure this may not be too much of a problem. If implemented correctly and protected by a cloud user directory such as Azure AD or Google it’s quite possible that learning could continue remotely so long as students and teachers have access to the internet and some form of mobile device.

But what can be done for those schools whose data and systems are locked behind the school firewall for the next few months.

First, it’s never too late to stand up an educational account in either Microsoft Office 365 or Google G Suite for Education and start moving services to the cloud. In response to the crisis Google are fast tracking school requests and it’s possible to be up and running with a tenancy within a few days. Both platforms have the ability to quickly import accounts, set up shared storage accounts and move data across. It may not be perfect but your school now has a fully functional collaborative workspace that can operate from any location.

If you are going Google, Classroom is going to be the answer to remote teaching for the next few months. This is now a fully featured, mature service and since it’s entirely web based and free from any licensing you can have a remote learning platform up and running in days.

Both Office 365 and G Suite have integrated video conferencing and messaging platforms that can be used for teaching. Google has made the premium features of Google Meet free to all G Suite for Education customers until July 1, 2020. This includes the ability to record meetings, livestream up to 100k people and add 250 people to a Hangout.

Consider getting hold of some Chromebooks for remote working. These devices are dead easy to set up and manage and work just as well with the Office 365 web apps as with G Suite. If you already have a remote access solution based on Citrix, VMware or MS Terminal services, Chromebooks are the dream client platform. If you can’t afford any hardware and only have a stock of underpowered laptops that aren't up to the mobile challenge, you can easily re-purpose them with Neverware and plug them back into your new cloud services.

Last of all,  if this all seems a bit overwhelming, you can make the transition as easy as possible by contacting a partner or supplier who can help you with the setup process and training.

Keep calm - contact a platform partner or just roll up your sleeves and get started with SaaS.