Using cloud solutions to create a collaborative environment in 21st century schools

A private grade 4-12 educational institution in Greece (Athens), Doukas School has invested heavily in innovative education to provide its 2,000 students with the finest educational, cultural, and athletic programs in the country.

Indeed the school decided to move to a one-to-one computing environment in which every student would own a laptop and digital textbooks. School CEO Konstantinos Doukas explains:  “Educational content is constantly changing, and we wanted to make sure we had the best content.”

To begin with, the students can purchase the PCs at a discounted price. Then, the school’s IT department installs the Windows 7 Professional operating system, the Microsoft Office 2010 productivity suite, and SharePoint Server 2010 collaboration software on every laptop. Also, at the beginning of the academic year, the IT department loads the computer with relevant digital textbooks, interactive software, and educational games stored on a centralized portal – using Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. Conscious of reducing IT maintenance costs, the school is now planning to move to Microsoft Office 365, one connected cloud solution that unites familiar Microsoft Office applications with Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Lync Online.

Moving to a one-to-one computing environment has transformed the learning environment at Doukas School, generating significant improvements at all levels. Indeed, the collaboration and the participation of students increased by 50%. As a result, Parent engagement and participation in school events increased by more than 70%.  And Teachers are more motivated and excited about their job. Innovative education has always been a top priority for Doukas School, both in its pedagogical practices and in its use of technology. The school’s teaching staff aims to foster the importance of educational values and to equip its student body with a mixture of knowledge, skills, and ethics, so that students can become accountable members of society.

This year, 1,200 students in the 4th through 12th grades use Classmate PCs as part of their daily education. “By the end of the academic year, we believe we’ll have everyone ready to move to the cloud,” Doukas says.  Doukas believes that the collaborative environment possible through the cloud prepares students better for a twenty-first-century workforce. “Traditionally, schools have encouraged students to work alone, take exams alone, do homework alone. Then, when they enter the workforce, they don’t know how to cooperate or work together in groups,” he says. “By encouraging students to cooperate with their peers in the classroom and exchange experiences with other students thousands of miles away, we’re giving them the skills required for a global workforce.”

In August 2011, Doukas School was selected as a PathFinder School by the Microsoft Innovative Schools program for its state-of-the-art approach to education. The program, part of Microsoft Partners in Learning, brings together school leaders from around the world to develop a culture of innovation in learning.

You can find the full case study here.

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