by Scott Wieprecht
Expert Educator Columnist, UK
Opening an Office 365 account for your school may seem like a daunting task, when in reality it is a fairly straight forward procedure.
There are countess guides on how to start the technical side of things out there, so I won’t be looking at this in as much detail. Instead I will be talking about the key things to set right when starting out, to make sure your installation runs smoothly into the future.
Firstly, you obviously need to open your account. At this point you will be asked for two key pieces of information – the details of your admin email address, and the ‘friendly name’ you will use, which is “friendlyname”.onmicrosoft.com. In terms of the email address it is key to ensure that this is an email address that the school has access to if you were to leave, as this can become a huge problem later down the line if suddenly no one can access the admin area. Secondly, make sure you get the friendly name correct. This will be seen by all students when accessing certain part of the service. Once this name has been used, it cannot be reused or changed, so make sure you get this right and are happy with it before confirming.
The next step is to ensure that you validate your schools status. Microsoft very kindly offer this as a free service for schools, but to make this workable you will need to confirm the details of your school to qualify. Normally this will be via email correspondence, so look out for this.
The next step in setting up your 365 environment is to get the licenses required. You can apply for the number of user accounts you will need online, at no cost. This about a rough number and go slightly above – for example if you have 23 members of staff then select 30 faculty accounts. It’s better to have too many than too less. Similarly always have some student accounts spare so new members of your school will have access.
The next stage of the setup that I am going to discuss today is adding a domain to your account. This is a really key part, for a number of reasons, but not least it will allow you to offer students an email address on your schools domain (for example MrWieprecht@exampleschool.com). To do this you need to click on the domains menu in the admin section. You will need some basic technical skills as it will ask you to change sections of the MX and AAAA records on your domain. This is however incredibly important to do, as it forms the email and username for everyone that will go on to your site.
Obviously there are a huge number of other, crucial setup area, which we will discuss next time, but due to this column coming out a week before Christmas, I didn’t feel overloading you with information would be beneficial. I will cover the above and more in more detail next time however, though for now I shall bid you adue, and wish you a very, Merry Christmas.