Photo - ELTC staff with Office 365
The Malaysian ministry of education's English Language Training Centre (ELTC) and Al-Madinah International University (MEDIU) have selected Microsoft Office 365 to meet collaboration and communication needs.
ELTC unit head of the language and technology department Dr Wagheeh Shukry Hassan said: "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 organisation."
"There was also no framework in which lecturers and teachers that attended our courses could collaborate on," said Dr Shukry. "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."
Dr Shukry said the centre needed a single communication and collaboration platform to overcome several IT issues. "We needed a system that was secure, easily managed, and it had to be cost-efficient. We looked to Microsoft and Google's offerings, compared both, and then saw if they addressed the issues that were important to us. Google was free and could 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 provided one platform that addressed all our needs - the perfect solution."
"For us, Lync and SharePoint within Office 365 were important because those were the sort of technologies we could 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 organisation, but is customised to the individual requirements," said Dr Shukry. "On the backend, all of this is actually managed by us and more importantly, managed seamlessly and without much trouble."
Established 2002, ELTC has about 80 personnel consisting of lecturers and admin staff, providing training and courses to primary and secondary school English teachers.
Photo - Al-Madinah staff on Lync
Securely storing education content
Al-Madinah International University (MEDIU) deputy chief technology officer Ahmad Nimer said the institution was challenged with both securely storing huge amounts of educational content while allowing easy access to more than 3,000 students and 300 staff.
"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, must suit our IT budget, and be a secure and reliable, all-in-one solution," said Nimer. "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."
"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 answered all our criteria, and more," he said. "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," said Nimer. "This is important to us because we have the additional flexibility to scale up as the university progresses, thanks the power of the cloud."
Microsoft Malaysia managing director Carlos Lacerda said these two Malaysian institutions are following the choices made by other organisations in the education sector around the world such as the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment (QDETE).
"Technology has the power to economically expand the impact of education, and accelerate the growth potential of every student, educator and school," said Lacerda. "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."
"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 realise their full potential, through technologies such as Office 365," he said.
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