SharePoint Education: First Insights

As part of my research into the SharePoint Protocol documentation, I’ve been particularly keen on learning about a major new feature of SharePoint 2013, namely SharePoint Education.

In my ongoing USP Journal subscription series called SharePoint 2013 Beta ($14.95 for the entire series) I posted some initial findings on the SharePoint Education component for the second issue.

Over the course of a few blog articles, I’ll repost some of the findings presented in that issue, and even provide some additional insights. I’ve rewritten it slightly but the bulk of the content remains the same.

This article covers the initial impressions and outlines the main features and components. Look towards the bottom of this article for further articles as they become available.

SharePoint Education

Let’s learn about learning in SharePoint.

Yeah, I came up with that myself. Thank you, I’ll be here all week; don’t forget to tip your waiter.

The main topic of this blog mini-series is a deeper dive into SharePoint Education, a new component in SharePoint Server 2013. SharePoint Education targets educational institutions and most likely all levels. It is a major new addition and very extensive.

I’m highly interested in the topic of education and when I first saw descriptions of SharePoint Education, the reason, of course, is that I run a SharePoint university (USPJ Academy), and we’re using Moodle, simply because there aren’t any realistic SharePoint alternatives.

As such, I have extensive experience with learning platforms, and I can hardly wait to see what SharePoint Education will look like. In the meantime, however, I can deduce some information from the released documentation.

Note: The main source for these findings is the [MS-EDUSCOM] document, technically a document detailing the Client Object Model, but still revealing lots of nice information. You can get the document as part of the protocol documentation or directly at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh658242(v=office.12).aspx

SharePoint Education Features Overview

SharePoint Education aims at satisfying educational institutions’ needs for a collaborative and educational environment. It seems to target the needs of both faculty and students, and supports features such as:

  • academic documents, likely books, articles, and so on
  • communities, a new grouping mechanism, ‘parent’ of courses
  • courses, a collection of academic documents, assignments, and lessons
  • assignments, including assigning assignments to individual students
  • events, possibly real-time lectures and assignment deadlines
  • meetings, including recording of online meetings and meeting schedules
  • grades, numeric or non-numeric (letter)
  • quizzes

Despite having a distinct academic feel to it, SharePoint Education should be usable for organization training too. Because of the ease of extensibility, and because SharePoint Education uses only ‘plain’ SP objects, it should be easy to either modify the product to organizations’ needs, or build extensions to cover anything that doesn’t come out-of-the-box.

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Disclaimer: Everything about SharePoint 2013 is speculation at this point. Don’t make important decisions based on preliminary speculation. If you do, you may find yourself in trouble, such as, but not limited to, your cat getting stuck in a tree and refusing to come down.

If you still want to get the insights into what’s likely coming in SharePoint 2013, there’s no better way than subscribing to the SharePoint 2013 Beta series for $14.95.

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SharePoint 2010 Running on Windows Server 8 Beta

So, it’s been almost 12 hours since the massive release of Microsoft beta software today. Of course, most people are focused on the consumer preview of Windows 8, but I wanted to take a look at Windows Server 8 Beta, also released today. Specifically, I wanted to see if there were any hints towards what may arrive in SharePoint 2013.

I’ll probably get back to what I found related to SharePoint 2013 in a later post, but I just wanted to show that it is possible to run SharePoint 2010 on Windows Server 8 Beta.

SharePoint2010OnWindows8

Click for larger version.

You may not be very impressed with this. After all, it’s just installing, right? No, I’m afraid you are terribly, terribly wrong. I started installing Windows Server 8 Beta at around 1700 CET yesterday, and right now it’s exactly 10 hours later. I spent that whole time getting everything working and took the above screenshot just a couple of minutes ago.

I’ll see if I can post a complete walkthrough on how to get SharePoint 2010 installed, but don’t even start unless you’re able to build a console application, manually install and configure all SharePoint 2010 pre-requisites, and do some hand crafting of web.config files. Oh, and you should know your way around configuring IIS too, particularly how to set up and work with ASP.NET.

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