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INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL NEWS
Bucharest Transitions to the Cloud
By Johnson Jacob 23-Jul-14
Over the last few months, the American International School of Bucharest (AISB), Romania engaged in an extensive project to reduce the total cost of ownership through a comprehensive examination of our IT-based systems. The project was grounded in a change management model that sought to answer the why, what, and how of the ways in which we communicate and collaborate as a learning organization. As part of this endeavor, the IT department evaluated a number of cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms. Notably, an extensive comparison was conducted between two of the world’s leading SaaS platform providers: Google Apps for Education and Microsoft Office 365 for Education. Both platforms promised to enhance our organizational capability and business capacity but, in the end, AISB opted to select Office 365 as our new platform of choice for all organizational communications and collaboration. The final decision was based on 11 broad categories, which included: platform standards, storage capacity, online web apps, desktop client availability, legacy document fidelity/compatibility, hardware and OS compatibility, licensing, professional development, back end management, technical support, and cost. Office 365 aligned with AISB’s current and future needs with added benefits, including 100 percent compatibility and integration with our Windows infrastructure; features that focused on and supported 21st-century teaching and learning; no requirement for data migration of legacy documents; document fidelity; easier transition as a result of familiarity with existing Microsoft Office systems; and upgrade to Microsoft Office 2013 desktop and mobile clients for all users. Benefits also included free Office desktop and mobile clients for all students; minimal disruption and smoother changeover; compatibility with a variety of operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows) and devices (iPads, smartphones, touch devices, etc.); higher availability of in-house, local and international expertise and support; improved data loss prevention; 99.9 percent financial guarantee; and significant savings through reduced cost. The changeover and migration started at the end of February and the entire school transitioned to Office 365 in early March. We are happy to report that the migration was successful and smooth. Over the next few weeks and during the transition period the leadership and IT team facilitated the process by scheduling time and opportunity to engage faculty and staff in their professional learning through many Office 365 workshops. We hope to maximize the promise and potential of Office 365 as an enabler and catalyst in transforming AISB as a model learning organization. We aspire to continue to prepare, engage, and inspire our community of learners by raising capacity and self-efficacy for the use of technology in teaching and learning. We are now exploring the features and strengths of Office 365 through our partnership with Microsoft in the hope of developing personalized learning networks and spaces to support blended and flipped approaches for learning through our 1:1 Learning and BYOD programs. We will gladly share our successes and challenges as we transition through this experience, learning from others as we continue to examine new technological paradigms and models for increasing student learning and performance through improved instructional delivery.
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