Education Institutions Leverage on Office 365

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KUALA LUMPUR, 12 August 2013 – Two leading education institutions in Malaysia are finding tremendous value in cloud technology having joined others around the world in adopting Microsoft Office 365 as their collaboration and communication platform of choice. The English Language Teaching Centre (“ELTC”), an institution under the Teacher Education Division in the Ministry of Education, and Al-Madinah International University (“MEDIU”), a non-profit Web-based Islamic university, have adopted Microsoft Office 365 as their secure, all-in-one solution of choice, that allows for students and teachers to collaborate and communicate from anywhere, at any time, through the power of cloud technology.

Carlos Lacerda, Managing Director, Microsoft Malaysia.

Carlos Lacerda, Managing Director, Microsoft Malaysia.

Helping English Teachers Improve Productivity, Collaboration and Communication

ELTC was established in 2002 and has about 80 personnel consisting of lecturers and admin staff, providing training and courses to primary and secondary school English teachers. It faced several crippling IT issues that were hampering its efforts to be more productive and efficient. The Centre needed a single, unifying communication and collaboration platform that would help overcome these challenges.

“One of the problems I observed was the fragmented nature of communications that lecturers and administration staff were facing. They were using different versions of email providers to communicate with each other and there was no one system in place at this organization. There was also no framework in which lecturers and teachers that attended our courses could collaborate on. When we wanted to meet or have other collaborative activities, there was often a disconnect and as a result, efficiency and productivity suffered because extra time and effort was wasted unnecessarily to arrange for them,” lamented Dr. Wagheeh Shukry Hassan, Unit Head of the Language & Technology department at ELTC.

What ELTC was looking for was a solution that could provide the answer to not only its existing challenges, but was also future-ready. “We needed a system that was secure, easily managed, and it has to be cost-efficient. We looked to Microsoft and Google’s offerings, compared the both, and then see if they addressed the issues that were important to us. Google was free and can be easily managed, but then the third and final issue – security and privacy – it could not provide. After extensive research, we decided to go for Microsoft Office 365 and Azure as it provides one platform that addresses all our needs – the perfect solution.”

The flexibility of Microsoft Office 365 to effortlessly scale up will also help ELTC to offer services to other organizations within the Ministry of Education. “For us, Lync and SharePoint within Office 365 were important because those are the sort of technologies that we can easily build upon. As part of the Ministry of Education, we needed also to come up with solutions for other projects within the ministry that could be rolled out quickly. As an example, when we get a request to create an internal blog or website, SharePoint is the perfect solution that allows us to create sites that have a uniformed look across the organization, but is customized to the individual requirements. On the backend, all of this is actually managed by us and more importantly, managed seamlessly and without much trouble,” Dr. Shukry explained.

Al-Madinah staff on Lync.

Al-Madinah staff on Lync.

Microsoft Cloud Computing The Answer For MEDIU’s Students, Teachers and Staff

MEDIU, established in 2007, faced similar issues. As an education institution with international presence, and over 3,000 students and more than 300 employees, MEDIU has huge amounts of valuable education content that needs to be stored securely. The university was also struggling to provide students and teachers with easy access to this great content, from wherever they are, and at any time they need to. MEDIU needed to find a solution to these critical IT issues that were hampering its operations.

“We explored the various options that were available in the market, with our main considerations being that the solution must be able to provide anywhere, anytime access to our content, suits our IT budget, and is a secure and reliable, all-in-one solution,” said Ahmad Nimer, Deputy Chief Technology Officer at Al-Madinah University. “As our first attempt, we decided on a pilot project that combined solutions from Microsoft and Google. The problem with this solution however, is that it is not an integrated all-in-one solution and did not work well together.”

That all changed with the launch of Microsoft Office 365. “After we evaluated the proposition that Microsoft brought to the table, we decided to move away from Google Apps and migrate to Office 365 as it answers all our criteria, and more! We now have a secure and reliable, all-in-one solution that allows our students and educators to collaborate and work together from anywhere, and at any time. Office 365 also works seamlessly with our backend systems and as a result, we were able to reduce our IT expenditure significantly by better managing hardware and consulting costs. This is important to us because we have the additional flexibility to scale up as the university progresses, thanks the power of the cloud,” Nimer enthused.

ELTC staff with Office 365.

ELTC staff with Office 365.

Momentum For Microsoft Technology In Education Increasing

An increasing number of education institutions in Malaysia and around the world are choosing Microsoft cloud solutions because of Microsoft’s comprehensive commitment to a holistic transformation of learning that makes a real impact on educational outcomes for a better tomorrow. ELTC and MEDIU follow in the footsteps of other Microsoft deployments around the world in the education sector.

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) deployed Microsoft Live@edu – a hosted communication and collaboration service that offers email, Microsoft Office Web Apps, instant messaging and storage to more than 10,000 technical colleges and institutes in India, reaching more than 7.5 million users – Microsoft’s largest cloud deployment ever. In June 2013, the Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment (QDETE) procured 14,000 Windows 8 tablets – the largest rollout of Windows 8 in Australia – which will be supplied to a number of high school students to enhance their learning experience.

“Technology has the power to economically expand the impact of education, and accelerate the growth potential of every student, educator and school. We are thrilled that the English Language Teaching Centre of the Ministry of Education and Al-Madinah International University have placed their confidence in Microsoft Office 365 as their preferred communication and collaboration platform.” said Carlos Lacerda, Managing Director of Microsoft Malaysia.

“For over 20 years in Malaysia, Microsoft has been the trusted partner to the Government in providing students and educators with 21st century skills and technology that are relevant to the IT industry and the economy as a whole. We are deeply committed for the long term to educating the leaders of tomorrow, and providing enhanced learning environments to help students and educators in Malaysia to realize their full potential, through technologies such as Office 365,” Lacerda added.