In this article, I would like to share my experience during the development of a syllabus management solution using Microsoft Office 365 tools. The degree programs with special accreditation requirements particularly need to comply with certain standards and course syllabi become one of the first artifacts being reviewed during the accreditation site visits. Depending on the number of syllabi to be reviewed the process could be quite cumbersome especially when there are a step-by-step revision and approval processes. In the last few months, I have developed a syllabus management solution and below are my recommendations to other folks out there.
Requires extensive training to be comfortable with multiple tools
I have perhaps spent more than 30 hours of training on Linkedin Learning, Youtube channels, and certain blogs to become comfortable with Microsoft Sharepoint, Sharepoint document library, Microsoft Flow, Microsoft Power BI, Microsoft Stream, and Microsoft Sway to develop a comprehensive system. Due to the aggressive update and improvement schedule of Microsoft, the knowledge becomes outdated quickly, and it requires constant learning to stay up-to-date.
Syllabus Management solution is one of many applications
Although I had the initial time investment, in the beginning, I created multiple solutions and products using the Office 365 tools and continue to create more. I will recommend instructional designers and other educational developers really to look into these tools if they are available. I believe they are very empowering to develop educational solutions.
Simple at the front end and more complex at the backend
It required the end user (instructor) only to be comfortable with Microsoft Word. I developed the backend with multiple Sharepoint document library views, with necessary permissions to the tools, data connections between Power BI and Sharepoint document library.
Watch out the multiple layers of permissions settings
It seems like security is essential to Microsoft. Therefore, there were numerous layers of permissions (site, library, item in the library, and any other web apps (Sway, Stream, Power BI) required additional security permissions.
Microsoft Sharepoint site provides the landing page and controls permissions. Sharepoint document library organizes the syllabi, Microsoft Flow streamlines the process and communicates the information to different stakeholders, Microsoft Power BI allows the managers to monitor the whole process through a data dashboard and take action when necessary, Microsoft Stream provides training videos, and Microsoft Sway provides an electronic guide for the instructors.
This is not a promotional article that Microsoft paid me to write. It is just an opportunity for me to share my findings with other colleagues my experience with Microsoft Office 365. The learning curve is steep, but it is gratifying when you get there. It is very empowering to be able to develop solutions without extensive coding or worrying about database development. I will definitely recommend everyone to take a look at what Microsoft Office 365 could provide before looking for another vendor for a specific solution.