Monday, 6 February 2017

Educator Spotlight #4: Erika Esterhuizen – Have you discovered SharePoint?

This is the fourth post in our series ‘Educator Spotlight’ highlighting South African educators who are encouraging the effective using ICT Technology in a school setting. In this post we focus on Erika Esterhuizen from St Andrews College in Grahamstown. The link to this series of posts can be found at http://bit.ly/2cSfEwG

Erika describes herself as “a natural leader where problem solving, and decision making skills are part of my personality.” She is currently employed by St Andrews College in Grahamstown, South Africa, as Head of Department: Information Technology. Her motivation in education is based on ICT integration opportunities and using these to make teacher, parent and learners daily tasks easier. In 2016 Erika won the coveted  ‘ISPA 2016 TechTeacher of the Year ‘ award presented by the CoZa Foundation. Erika says “It is my passionate belief that the use of technology in any career changes lives, families, communities and ultimately, nations.” Erika has also been exploring the use of Microsoft SharePoint.


Are you wondering what SharePoint is all about? Erika says “I enjoy exploring the potential of Microsoft’s Sharepoint. SharePoint is a place for running daily workflows and processes, which I am still learning and exploring. SharePoint is not a single tool, but rather a platform that enables a lot of different educational activities.”  Microsoft SharePoint is a browser-based collaboration and document management platform It is Microsoft's content management system. It allows groups to set up a centralized, password protected space for document sharing. It is not a program, it is a platform. It is a server product. You don’t install it because it is not a program. You connect to it. It has six different areas namely sies, composites, communities, insights, content and search.  It makes sites. It gives you a place to put your content instead of putting it into local folders. It lets you search itself. It gives insights to bringing the information together. When you open Office 365 you’ll notice the link to SharePoint as shown in the image above.

Erika started using SharePoint about a year ago and has described it as 'a never ending learning curve'. Currently she uses it mostly for document sharing and collaboration.

When she started at her school, she found herself accountable for the examination invigilation time table for 100+ staff members during the examinations. She used SharePoint for this. She created an Excel spreadsheet with the grades and their subjects divided into timeslots, shared and sent each staff members the link and let them fill in the timeslots and days they prefer to do invigilation. This worked well. “I also created a calculation sheet which calculate their sessions and it is easy to see which staff member has not enough sessions filled in. This ensures that all sessions are covered.” Erika says she is planning to use SharePoint for swimming galas and athletics meetings by using Excel in SharePoint. "All participants in their individual items should be captured beforehand. On Sports Day, the document should be available on all the tablets of the officials. First the place allocation should be entered by place holder officials. Time keepers can then enter the times of each place immediately, points for each learner could be calculated and certificate could be printed thereafter, without walking or running around by officials.”


Erica plans to keep exploring the potential of SharePoint and share this with the rest of the teachers.  She says “Once every two weeks we as staff members have a period called Curriculum Development  (CD). Here, we often show each other what we have done something interesting in your class with technology or guidance is given of how teachers can use technology to make their workload lighter by setting up quizzes and marked by computer, doing report and planning some kind of project using technology. Co-workers really appreciate and follow those who are truly passionate about technology.”

     
'SharePoint for your Classroom' video
If you are a teacher looking to collaborate and communicate with your students, in class and beyond SharePoint could be just what you are looking for. Here is a  Microsoft Virtual Academy video entitlled 'SharePoint for Your Classroom' http://bit.ly/2ka2bzP featuring Sonja Delafosse from Microsoft.



Ways teachers can use SharePoint as a classroom management tool

  • Announcements: this enables teachers to post important information, for example reminders about tests and assignments.
  • Class discussion: similar to an online forum, students are able to post questions or participate in discussions.
  • Links: teachers can post links to useful websites.
  • Class documents: the document library feature allows teachers to upload classroom resources for example worksheets, assignments, videos and much more.
  • Course syllabus: the list feature in SharePoint allows us to create and customise columns containing different types of information. In this example, teachers are able to post information about the course syllabus.
  • Calendar: here teachers are able to post important event information for example test, assignment and exam due dates as well as to attach relevant information to the event, similar to Outlook.

Think about exploring using Microsoft SharePoint in some of these ways this year.

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