Free Salamander School Data Sync Updated with new features

Since the initial release of Salamander School Data Sync (SDS) in May there have been a few requests from customers for new features. This new version adds two of those features:

Effective Date
Effective Date is a process which allows the user to define the date on which the export processes run. During Holiday period’s it may be useful to set this to look at the student, teacher and class information at a particular date rather than the date of running the application.

This allows the utility to help the provisioning of SDS for new Academic Years and/or Terms before they start.

Toggle output CSV with missing details
By default the utility will output, to the CSV files, the details of every user it finds in the data from the MIS. This will include those without complete details which could cause sync issues with SDS. This version now adds the ability to, optionally, remove the details for any missing students/staff.

 

For more details on the utility please visit http://www.salamandersoft.co.uk/sds/

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Free Salamander School Data Sync now available

Salamander School Data Sync (SDS) is a free utility designed to mirror data from a schools MIS/SIS system into Microsoft’s Office 365 and Azure Active Directory. It allows the provisioning of teacher & student accounts as well as online classrooms and enables Microsoft Intune for Education. It enables all this by building on top of Microsoft’s School Data Sync by transferring relevant data from your MIS/SIS into Microsoft’s systems. Save time for your administrators and teachers by automating the creation of your users and classes so that they are ready for your learners.

Salamander SDS supports a number of MIS vendors and allows you to easily configure the data the way you want it. Once the data is in Microsoft’s systems, then other 3rd party vendors can access it through the Microsoft programming interfaces without needed their own integrations with your MIS/SIS.

We have been working with Microsoft on School Data Sync since Microsoft first announced it in 2015 and so have unrivalled knowledge of integrating MIS systems with it.

For more details on the utility please visit http://www.salamandersoft.co.uk/sds/

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Microsoft Classroom to be replaced by Microsoft Teams in Office 365 for Education

Update (23rd June 2017): Immersive classroom experience in Microsoft Teams rolling out to Office 365 for Education customers worldwide: https://educationblog.microsoft.com/2017/06/collaborative-classroom-features-now-available-microsoft-teams/?wt.mc_id=AID620997_QSG_SCL_172658

Update (17th May 2017): Microsoft has published a support article on the change at https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4022583/microsoft-classroom-preview-features-are-moving-to-microsoft-teams. In brief it looks like the existing functionality will be available in tabs in Teams. The existing content will not be transferred, but most of it will be available through the underlying group. The notable exception is assignment data which you will need to export if you want to keep it after the Microsoft Classroom close date.

Yesterday (2nd May 2017) in their #MicrosoftEDU event support for education features in Microsoft Teams. From the Microsoft Office blog

The new classroom experiences in Teams will help teachers manage their daily workflow more easily than ever before. Using Teams, they can quickly and efficiently create classes with automatically populated student rosters from their school information system; share files and teaching materials; make announcements; divide the class into project groups and monitor progress; create, distribute and grade quizzes; deliver personalized learning with OneNote Class Notebooks; and distribute, collect and grade assignments. And because Teams is a digital hub, students can work together anytime, anywhere, and on any device; teachers can connect with their peers and continue their own development in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs); and school administrators can communicate and collaborate with their entire staff.

From the image you can see that the tabs are similar to those in Microsoft Classroom.

 

Then education tenants started to get this message in their message centre.

We’re making some changes to Microsoft Classroom Preview

On July 31, 2017, we’ll discontinue support for the Microsoft Classroom Preview, as we work to unify our classroom experiences in Microsoft Teams in Office 365 for Education. Since the Microsoft Classroom Preview released, we’ve been very thankful for schools’ feedback from around the world; which has helped us improve benefits and features of the service. Ultimately, we learned to keep it simple and put classroom resources all in one place. We listened and we’re bringing the best of the classroom features (e.g., Assignments and OneNote Class Notebook) to Microsoft Teams in Office 365 for Education.

How does this affect me?

– Microsoft Classroom Preview will continue with current functionality until July 31, 2017. – Teachers will not be able to create new notebooks or assignments after the July 31, 2017. – Current classes and associated content will continue to be available as Office 365 Groups. Teachers can access assignment resources, files, calendars, and conversations, through tools such as Microsoft Outlook and SharePoint Online. If necessary, they can copy Class Notebook content to their personal workspace (e.g. OneDrive for Business). – When the new class experiences become available in Teams, School Data Sync will start creating the new classes for Microsoft Teams. SDS will continue to sync existing Microsoft Classroom Preview classes through July 31, 2017.

What do I need to do to prepare for this change?

We apologize for any inconvenience resulting from this transition. We encourage you to try out Microsoft Teams, and get yourself familiar with the Teams experience. Please click Additional Information to learn more.

So by July 31st 2017, Microsoft Classroom, which never got out of preview, will be discontinued, to be replaced by the education experience in Microsoft Teams. While this will be very annoying for those who have invested their time in trialling it, and using in their school – it does make sense. Classroom, although built on top of Azure Active Directory, was a very much standalone experience, and just for the education sector. Microsoft is heavily pushing Teams as part of Office 365 and so will be investing a lot in it. Hence adding the education functionality to it makes much more sense and will make it more likely to keep being updated as it’s part of a ‘core’ product.

We’ve yet to see what the assignment functionality is like, but my guess is that the Assignments tab will be very similar to Classroom, because it’s likely to be the same back end. One of the advantages of Teams is that the tabs are configurable and extendable, so anyone can develop new functionality in a tab, hopefully it should have just been a case of putting the assignments functionality in a new UI container.

On the administration side, both are powered by School Data Sync (SDS) and so no change is required and any time you have invested in setting that up is not wasted. So you can continue to create your classroom/team group using SDS whether it’s by manual csv upload, Salamander Active Directory or our new free SDS utility.

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Salamander Active Directory now has support for Microsoft Classroom and School Data Sync

edu_112X112_classdash_icon_color_en-USAs Microsoft Partners we have been working with Microsoft Classroom and School Data Sync (SDS) for a while and are working with a couple of pilot schools in preparation for the release of the preview.

Now the preview is available we can now announce our technical support for them.

This includes the management of the SDS specific attributes for users, Office 365 groups and the creation and updating of Classrooms from your MIS data and Local Active Directory. This can be done without any of the data going via the US data centres. This is from any of the MIS/SIS systems we support such as Capita SIMs, Facility, Progresso, iSAMs, RM Integris etc.

There are however, caveats about the fact that some of the data used by Classroom and SDS is stored within the US, notably any manual CSV uploads for SDS and the assignment data for Classroom. As such we would not recommend that you use these for live data until they are generally available for the UK market. If you want to use this functionality then as Data Controllers, you will need to ensure that you are happy that some of the data goes overseas into US data centres. [Update: As from January 2017 all data is kept in the EU data centres.]

If you do want to go ahead, then we have developed our SDS import so that it avoids the data going via US data centres and so can safely create the SDS groups, Once the SDS groups have been created then you can use Classroom, however as the data for the assignments is still stored in US data centres, we cannot recommend using that except for a pilot with test data.

If you have the preview and would like more information about getting it configured to synchronize with your local Active Directory and MIS just drop an email to support@salamandersoft.co.uk if you are an existing customer, or info@salamandersoft.co.uk for new customers and we’ll be in touch.

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