Today I was fortunate enough to attend a sharepoint training session. I went with high expectations around wanting to learn how to get our 365 sites up and running, how to get some sharepoint document libraries working and of course to meet some people I had previously connected with in the virtual world face to face.
The course itself was very content heavy and was sadly hindered by a very patchy internet connection – not sure what Otago Polytech was on about but it should have been much better – that meant I couldn’t get through as much in the training site as I would have liked. However, I was still able to complete a lot of the tasks outlined and more important find some work around for some issues we have been having.
My big take aways for the day were
Meta data tags – make them work for you
This idea is not new for me, but was very new for some people in the room. Instead of making endless folders of files, make a big document library and tag your documents for easy searching, sorting and viewing. I like this, I am not a fan of our current ‘T drive’ which takes about 10 ticks to find a document and heaven help you if you don’t know what folder a document is in.
You can easily add lists to the share point site or page, and if you use the tags correctly, it means you can easily sort the documents. Our school really needs to invest some time into training staff how to do this to make sure we are sharing documents in the most efficient way.
Use Tables in your web pages
Again an old trick, but still relevant – using a table is the best way to get the formatting to look good. I have used this for moodle, the ultranet but had forgotten for sites, so a timely reminder.
Use the method that suits you
Like many things, there is more than one way to skin a cat on Sharepoint. Call me old school, but I liked the ribbon across the top of the page
It has a comforting feel – not being that experienced or comfortable using sharepoint yet having a nice safety blanket to work from was nice.
About the worst thing from today is I learned a whole heap, but due to the permissions employed by the people about me at school, I can’t implement a lot of what I saw. My permissions are unlikely to change and I’m not sure how to go about getting this issue sorted. I can see us rocking back to school tomorrow, nothing getting set in concrete and next term will roll around and nothing will have changed.
So I am going to build some pages around the site that I have had made for me (I don’t have permission to make any new sites), I am going to keep nagging for class book creator to be installed (because really, this should have happened last year). I am going to best I can with what I have, but it is still incredibly frustrating to know I could do so much more
So I am at a cross roads of sorts at the moment. Through different opportunities and through me being proactive, I have learned an awful lot about how to use 365 software to enhance my teaching and learning programs. I want to share this with others. But at my current school, I have no time allowance and there is no set time for PD for any staff. I need to remember I am employed as a teacher, I have 6 classes and I should make them my priority. I need to find a way to stop other teachers interupting my lessons and very valuable non-contact time to ask how to connect their printers.
So do I look for a techie/teachy job? Do I aim for an HOD roll? Do I look for non teaching consulty type jobs? My heart is still in the class room, but it is getting a bit beat up with the challenges of knowing I could be delivering an amazing course if only it didn’t take 20 minutes for students to log into the school laptops.
So I really got a lot out of the course today – but sadly it was more questions than answers. So much potential is there, it could be done relatively easily, but until someone flicks a switch my hands are tied and I can’t move it forward. Do I want to be the person who gets to ‘control’ that switch? I’d like to think if it was me, I would not be the only person with a set of keys.