SharePoint Diaries – Our Current Portal

A huge decision has been made to upgrade from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010. These SharePoint Diaries are meant to help me flesh out some ideas and to help others who may be going through (or about to go through) a similar transition.

Here’s a brief rundown of what our current SharePoint portal looks like.

In addition to the top level site (UNIS Home), there are sub-sites for major areas within the school: MSHS, ES, Community, Curriculum and Training.

Looking deeper in the MSHS site, there are libraries for public information as well as staff-only information. There are also sub-sites for each of the departments and other important services such as the library.

Looking further into the Science departmental site, there are subsites for each of the classes taught: G06, G07, G08, G09, G10, IB Bio, IB Chem, IB Physics and IB Environmental Systems. Each class has its own homepage. This page (which is currently the homepage of the class wiki) uses a department-wide template and should include all of the course background information such as course expectations, units of study, initial resources and assessment information.

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Each unit of study also has its own wiki page – again using a department-wide template – that includes the general overview of the unit (unit question, significant concept, area of interaction focus), assessment and links to the content needed for the unit.

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Apparently SharePoint gets a bit wonky when the overall size of a site (Science) approaches 2 GB. Something about the web page aspect stuffing up: as you can tell, this isn’t my strong point!  To help with this, we have another side of the portal – Digital Resources. It is organized in much the same way: each department has a site with subsites for each of the classes taught. But because this is used only for storage and retrieval, there is essentially no limit to the storage quota. There is, however, a maximum file size of 20 MB.  Also, everything in the Digital Resources is accessible to all students, teachers and parents.

Science Digital Resources
Digital Resources for Grade 8 Science

Ideally, student and parents should never have to wade through the thousands of documents in the Digital Resources. The required documents should be linked on the appropriate wiki pages with the appropriate context to make sense of those documents. For the most part, our class wiki pages serve as elaborate Table of Contents pages for each unit.

There is other functionality within SharePoint that is available but rarely utilized: discussion boards, class announcement, timelines. One feature that is heavily leveraged is the integrated calendars. Each year group has a deadline calendar where teachers keep major summative assesssment due dates. This is to help students from getting to overloaded (only 2 assessments can be due on the same day) as well as helps parents keep track of what is coming up for their children.

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In terms of permissions, things are very controlled. Only teachers within the Science Department can edit science wikis, add or edit science documents, or access the Science Office. The default permission is that students have read-only access everywhere. The only exception is if they have their own blog within SharePoint.

I wanted to brief; I don’t think I managed that! But I think this is a pretty good general overview/introduction to our starting point. There are some other aspects to our portal but I think I’ve rambled on enough. If you have any questions or comments or would like some clarification, drop them in the comments below. I’d love to hear how other schools are using SharePoint and what the benefits or drawbacks are.

3 thoughts on “SharePoint Diaries – Our Current Portal

  • February 23, 2011 at 10:13 am
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    Nice work Clint – we are also running Sharepoint 2010. We have a pretty similar set up – we at least for the middle and upper school. Lots of useful tools are provided with Sharepoint but you need to make sure you package them in an easy to use way (for all users – students, teachers, admin and parents).

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  • February 23, 2011 at 2:17 pm
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    @Will Yes, the architect of our two portals is the same person hence the similar setup! You guys have been at it a bit longer than we have and I’d be interested to know how your usage of the SharePoint has changed over time and how teaching and learning has changed as a function of SharePoint over time. What tools do you find most useful in working with your stakeholders? Are you running any add-ons, free or otherwise, to enhance the functionality?

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