BFC Networks were founded in 2009 as part of a joint venture to host the Learning Gateway Conference at the Belfry in Birmingham, UK and then again in 2010. In 2011 they started fully trading offering consultancy in the SharePoint and education industry.
A while back when Office 365 Education was released I wrote a starter manual for the manage of your tenancy, some tips and tricks and best practices for you to implement the product into your school, college or university.
As Microsoft have now released the new Office 365 with the Office 2013 stack I through it was only right to update the document, add and remove and bring it up to date for 2013.
WeLearn365 provides schools with Microsoft hosted Exchange email and a “thin layer” portal, designed and developed on SharePoint Online from Office365 by BFC Networks.
The portal gives schools “80% of the features of most VLEs, but delivers 80% of what schools actually need”.
The system provides 25GB inbox per teacher and integration of the new Office Web Apps. By making familiar Office applications available from any browser, WeLearn365 will make learning far more accessible from a range of different devices and for families who cannot afford to license a full copy of Office2010 in their homes.
How does it work?
Schools plug-in online content and apps from a variety of sources to be used by teachers and students, both in the classroom and at home. Warwickshire and BFC networks have also developed the system to integrate the schools MIS data from Capita SIMS, which is hosted on a Microsoft SQL server farm at the Warwickshire HQ. By mixing some key “in county” private-cloud services for student data, with best-of-breed Microsoft public-cloud services from Office365, they’ve been able to achieve a very compelling proposition at a significantly lower cost than most traditional VLEs or school portals.
The interface was built with templates in SharePoint Online, enabling schools to quickly customise and personalise their own site with their school colours and logo.
The Warwickshire team and Microsoft partner BFC Networks have turned the generic SharePoint service in Office365 into something friendly and usable for any school.
All teachers and students across Warwickshire will also have access to a top level WeLearn365 site, enabling collaboration and sharing of best practice across the county.