As schools around the world start temporarily shutting their doors to prioritise the safety of their staff and students amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, the Education community are relying more than ever on platforms to support them in the provision of online learning.
With the tools Microsoft offers at comparatively low costs, including their School Data Sync, it’s unsurprising that they are rising in popularity to help schools keep going through any closures.
As your MIS already holds all your school’s essential data, it would save huge amounts of administrative time if you could synchronise your MIS and Microsoft to easily transfer a snapshot of the important data you need to help your school hit the ground running with an online environment.
So, here’s a guide on how you can seamlessly pull specific elements of data from your iSAMS MIS and import it into Office 365 and Azure Active Directory.
Using SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)
Using a series of SSRS extract reports, you can export your information directly from your MIS into CSV format. In iSAMS, these reports include:
- School Export for all division information, including the minimum and maximum school years, plus some school Census information.
- Section Export to pull all active teaching sets from the system, complete with active course information.
- Student Export for all current student information.
- Student Enrolment Export to pull all active teaching set information from your MIS, alongside the current students associated with those sets.
- Teacher Export for all current staff information, plus the divisions they are associated with.
- Teacher Roster Export for all active teaching set information, alongside the teachers associated with those active sets.
Allocating each report within your MIS
To use the Microsoft Data Sync within your MIS, you will first need to allocate the reports via your dedicated SQL Reporting Manager and Wizard Bar. It’s likely that, as within iSAMS, you will need to be logged in with Administrator rights in order to do this.
Once you select the Wizard link under SQL Reporting Manager, you should see an option to “Allocate A Report To This Section”. In this drop down, look for the files corresponding with each of the SSRS reports your MIS offers and allocate each of them one at a time.
After these files have been allocated, you’ll be able to access them in your Wizard Bar and prepare them for import.
If you’re already an iSAMS school, you can find more details on how to allocate your reports within iSAMS here.
Setting up Azure Active Directory
To set up Azure Active Directory, you will need to make sure that you have a valid Azure subscription and have Administrator rights within your MIS system.
Firstly, you will need to add an application to Azure by navigating to your Azure Active Directory and selecting ‘ADD’. A pop-up will appear, within which you must select “Add an application from the gallery”, followed by “CUSTOM” once you’re in the Application Gallery. Once you’ve given the application a name, click the tick in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.
Once the application has been added, you can then take further steps to add your MIS to Azure Active Directory, assign a user to your application and enforce single sign-on with your MIS.
These steps will vary depending on your MIS provider, but for iSAMS users we have a document which includes detailed guidance on how to complete each of these steps.
Getting started with Teams
Microsoft Teams is a great tool to facilitate discussions between different channels and groups. Within their offering for Education, Teams are available for Classes, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), Staff Members, and Anyone (which could be used for clubs or extra-curricular groups).
Before setting up your form and class groups, we would strongly recommend beginning with setting up teams for your members of staff. This will help you organise your school’s Teams structure by team and/or department, as well as ensuring your staff members feel more confident deploying Teams for each of their own classes.
To find out how you can create staff teams for different projects, activities, committees, and processes as needed, as well as creating channels based on subject, please see this helpful article by Microsoft.
Also, take a look at this blog post which highlights 5 top tips for teachers to get the most out of using MS Teams:
1. Meetings feature – effectively hold classroom meetings, collaborate on virtual whiteboards, and share documents.
2. Immersive Reader – for message translation, and Live Captions for meetings.
3. Rubrics – rubrics grading helps increase assignment transparency for students and allows you to give more meaningful feedback.
4. Staff teams and Professional Learning Community (PLC) – teams to go along with Class Teams.
5. OneNote Class Notebooks – you have a personal workspace for every student, a content library for handouts, and a collaboration space for lessons and creative activities. You can also embed all sorts of interactive apps, lessons, and content onto the OneNote page
Linking iSAMS with Microsoft School Data Sync
At iSAMS, we have designed our SSRS reports to extract the relevant information from your MIS system and provide you with a file which can then be imported into Microsoft. Based on the popularity of these, we are currently speaking to Microsoft and hope to be able to offer our schools an even more dynamic sync in the future – so watch this space!
If you have any questions about using or enabling the Microsoft Data Sync within iSAMS, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Support team and we’ll be able to help.
If you would like to learn more about our school MIS please get in touch.