1 Microsoft Higher Education Customer Solution Case Study University Launches Online Courses, Measures Learning Outcomes with Education Portal Overview Country or Region: United States Industry: Education Higher education Customer Profile Queens University of Charlotte is a private, Presbyterian-affiliated university in Charlotte, North Carolina, that serves approximately 2,300 students and employs 400 faculty and staff members. Business Situation Queens wanted to expand into online learning and to provide professors with a standard learning management system to enhance classroom-based teaching and communication with students. Solution Queens created a university learning portal using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, the Microsoft Learning Gateway, and the SharePoint Learning Kit. Benefits Added online courses for adult learners Boosted revenue Enhanced ability to measure learning outcomes Established competitive advantage Improved administrative efficiencies Using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 to provide online offerings gives us an economically attractive way to grow by better meeting the needs of our students. North Carolina s Queens University of Charlotte wanted to better support its community s need for online education. Queens knew that online offerings and Web-based support for faculty would enhance the school s ability to attract faculty and students. Queens deployed Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, the Microsoft Learning Gateway portal, and the Microsoft SharePoint Learning Kit to create a portal with customized sites for every course offered at Queens. Faculty can now easily create online courses and better communicate with students. Queens is using Office SharePoint Server 2007 technology to collect student work and better measure learning outcomes over time, expand enrollment through online offerings, and acquaint students with collaboration technology used in the professional world. What s more, the solution s maintenance costs are low and reliability is high.
2 With our [Office SharePoint Server 2007-based] education portal, we are better able to serve our community s adult market, which wants online learning. Queens University of Charlotte campus Situation Queens University of Charlotte is a private Presbyterian-affiliated, comprehensive university in Charlotte, North Carolina. It includes a college of arts and sciences, a business school, a nursing school, an education school, a school of communication, and a college for adult students. Queens has an enrollment of approximately 2,300 students and employs 400 staff and faculty members. Queens sought to expand its enrollment and better meet the community s need for lifelong learning by expanding into online education. However, its technology infrastructure needed enhancement to support new online learning models. Professors envisioned a campus-wide learning management system (LMS) for posting assignments and communicating with students, In turn, students wanted a central, easy-to-use Webbased resource for communicating with professors and fellow students. Some professors used Moodle, an opensource LMS, and others used a mix of software tools to provide Web-based classroom support. However, those diverse and customized solutions did not provide the easy-to-use, centrally administered set of tools faculty and students wanted. Solution In July 2007, Dr. William Clyde joined Queens as Vice President of Academic Affairs and made it his first duty to upgrade the school s technology and facilitate the move to online education. His previous university employer used the Blackboard Learning System, a leading LMS, but Dr. Clyde was cautious about Blackboard on two counts. Blackboard licensing costs have soared in recent years with that software s popularity, he says. Also, we want to prepare our students for entering the real world, and no one is using Blackboard for anything but education. Move to Microsoft A few years earlier, Queens had traded its Novell directory for the Active Directory service, its Novell-based file and print servers for servers based on the Windows Server 2003 operating system, and its open-source messaging system for Microsoft Exchange Server Queens was planning to implement Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, an enterprise collaboration portal that facilitates team sharing of documents, calendars, lists, and other types of content for faculty and staff use. Dr. Clyde wanted to expand this plan and became intrigued with the idea of using Office SharePoint Server 2007 as the foundation for a Queens education portal and for online offerings. The cost to license Office SharePoint Server 2007 would be reasonable with the school s Microsoft Campus Agreement already in place. Even better, Office SharePoint Server 2007 is widely used in the business world, so
3 We will see additional revenue from online courses, giving us huge potential for growth that we wouldn t otherwise experience. Our classroom space and faculty are maxed out. students would gain exposure to a tool that they might very well encounter in a job after college. Finally, from past experience, Dr. Clyde knew that a Microsoft-supported offering would be stable and reliable, providing uninterrupted continuity to faculty and students. Many of the LMS solutions began as kernels written by graduate students back in the 1990s, Dr. Clyde says. They ve been expanded by different people at different times using different code, resulting in products that were not strategically planned or designed to work well together. Every time these polyglot systems are upgraded, you can t be sure how the upgrade might impact another part of the system. The reliability just isn t there. This makes support expensive and risky, because you don t know which part of your solution might be impacted by a change. Dr. Clyde liked the fact that Office SharePoint Server 2007 integrated easily with existing Microsoft programs such as Active Directory, the 2007 Microsoft Office system, and Exchange Server The flexible Office SharePoint Server 2007 feature set could be easily customized to meet diverse faculty needs, and there were many third-party tools for enhancing SharePoint sites. Queens would also be able to use Office SharePoint Server 2007 as originally planned for administrative purposes, such as staff document-sharing and collaboration, which would extend the university s investment and minimize the number of tools faculty and staff had to learn and use. Microsoft Education Software What really excited Dr. Clyde and Queens faculty was the addition of Microsoft education software that works seamlessly with Office SharePoint Server Microsoft Learning Gateway is a Web-based collaboration, communications, and content delivery framework used to integrate a range of Microsoft and third-party products to create customized learning management systems. One of these products is the Microsoft SharePoint Learning Kit, which provides Web Parts for specific tasks, such as assignment submission, return, and grading. Microsoft created these education offerings through work with the Microsoft Higher Education Consortium, (www.microsoft.com/education/hec), which is a partnership between higher-education institutions and Microsoft to define nextgeneration learning needs. Queens used Office SharePoint Server 2007 to create a university learning portal that contains individual course sites. The IT staff created a master class-site template that professors can easily use for their needs. They can post class objectives, grading policies, attendance policies, class calendars, announcements, and anything else they want to share with students. They can also create topical discussion groups in which students can engage in with one another. Students can turn in assignments online, and professors can grade and return assignments to confidential student folders. In some courses, Queens has integrated the Microsoft Office Live Meeting conferencing service to broadcast live office-hour sessions to online students and students unable to attend class. Site authentication and access rights are delivered through the university s existing Active Directory service. Faculty use rights management features built into Office SharePoint Server 2007 to assign and manage student access rights without going through the busy IT staff. Queens implemented its learning portal on three Dell PowerEdge 2950 servers: One runs
4 We feel that choosing Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 as our portal foundation puts us in a position to leapfrog everyone else. Office SharePoint Server 2007, another runs Office SharePoint Server 2007 index and search services, and the third stores all portal data using Microsoft SQL Server 2005 database software. All three run the Windows Server 2003 operating system. Benefits By creating an online learning portal using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Microsoft Learning Gateway, and the Microsoft SharePoint Learning Kit, Queens University of Charlotte was able to quickly launch dozens of online courses and enrich classroom-based teaching with Web-based resources and communication. Portal offerings have helped the school increase enrollment and improve the quality of education. Queens will also use the portal to better track and measure learning outcomes and to provide a framework for continuously improving its teaching. Added Online Courses for Adult Learners When the Queens education portal was on the drawing board in spring 2007, Dr. Clyde had hoped to have 6 to 10 online courses in place for the summer 2007 session and to enroll as many as 100 students. Instead, the university ended up with 14 online courses and registered more than 300 students. We got off to a great start. Faculty interest has been terrific, and student uptake was three times what we had estimated, Dr. Clyde says. The ability to offer online courses is critically important to Queens, because the university serves as the key adult education provider in Charlotte. Research shows that adults have become very comfortable and competent with online learning and desire it because of the flexibility it gives them to juggle jobs, kids, and school, Dr. Clyde says. With our education portal, we are better able to serve our community s adult market, which wants online learning. Boosted Revenue Online courses will boost enrollment and allow Queens to reach people who wouldn t otherwise be able to attend university classes. We will see additional revenue from online courses, giving us huge potential for growth that we wouldn t otherwise experience, Dr. Clyde says. Our classroom space and faculty are maxed out. Using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 to provide online offerings gives us an economically attractive way to grow by better meeting the needs of our students. The Queens IT staff has created a SharePoint site for every class the school offers more than 400 and believes that 35 percent of the faculty members will activate their sites for fall 2008 classes. Enhanced Ability to Measure Learning Outcomes The SharePoint Learning Kit feature that Queens is most excited about is the grade book Web Part. Once grade book has been implemented, professors will be able to record grades for every student assignment in an online grade book and save the assignments in the SharePoint site database. They will be able to save word processing documents, presentations, video or audio files, image files of student artwork, or any other type of file. This is critical to Queens because of the trend in higher education to assess learning outcomes based on course assignments and projects, or artifacts, rather than simply on after-the-fact testing. Grade book is a powerful organizational tool that will enable faculty members to meet portfolio-based assessment requirements. They won t need to search through messages and piles of paper to collect students work. Every assignment is stored in the Office SharePoint Server 2007 database and tagged with the course number, date, faculty number, student number, and other identifying information. Having all student
5 Every time these polyglot [open source LMS] systems are upgraded, you can t be sure how the upgrade might impact another part of the system. The reliability just isn t there. assignments, results, and grading rubrics online will enable Queens to assess student competence and improvement through a single school year and through a four-year college career, as well as to assess the effectiveness of an individual course over time. The university will be able to answer questions such as, Have students improved their ability to deliver a speech because of Communications 101? and Have students writing abilities improved as a result of writing assignments throughout the curriculum? Using grade book will enable us to do rich, portfolio-based assessment of learning outcomes, which is critical to our reaccreditation and helps us more meaningfully assess student performance. It s very difficult to accomplish this rich assessment any other way, Dr. Clyde says. Dr. Clyde points out that the Commission on the Future of Higher Education in the United States and other state and national education initiatives are increasingly calling for real, measurable outcomes in higher education. It s huge for us to be able to save and access all types of student assignments over time to measure growth and competence, Dr. Clyde continues. Established Competitive Advantage Because most universities have had learning management systems for some time now, Queens was at a competitive disadvantage without one. We feel that choosing Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 as our portal foundation puts us in a position to leapfrog everyone else, Dr. Clyde says. We believe that within a year we will have more features than we would get with open source or commercial LMSs. It s an easy-to-use environment and one that students are familiar with and will encounter in the work world. We will be moving from being behind to being way ahead with a cutting-edge online education solution. We will be on the front lines of implementing and knowing how to use Office SharePoint Server 2007 in a higher education setting. Improved Administrative Efficiencies Once Queens got its first few class sites up and running, faculty and staff members began using Office SharePoint Server 2007 to create departmental and administrative collaboration sites to simplify routine document sharing, meeting scheduling, and information distribution. There s been a tremendous buzz surrounding the sites, which we believe will cause SharePoint site use to grow rapidly as we move into the new academic year, Dr. Clyde says. SharePoint sites introduce efficiencies that will make our entire staff more productive. Also, by standardizing on a single LMS framework, Queens has streamlined support and enhancement costs. The Microsoft Learning Gateway and SharePoint Learning Kit are free downloads from the Microsoft Codeplex site, and we can customize those products to our needs, Dr. Clyde says. Also, the licensing costs for Office SharePoint Server 2007 are included in our Microsoft Campus Agreement. Office SharePoint Server 2007 is a familiar environment because we use other Microsoft software, so our maintenance costs will be lower than those for running a non-microsoft product. Also, because many LMSs were built bit by bit, often in various programming languages, they re headaches to maintain. Office SharePoint Server 2007 is very reliable, so our support costs will be low and our credibility with faculty will be high.
6 For More Information For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) Customers who are deaf or hard-ofhearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) in the United States or (905) in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to: Microsoft Higher Education For more information on how Microsoft and its partners are helping to support higher education institutions worldwide, please visit: For more information about Queens University of Charlotte products and services, call (704) or visit the Web site at: Software and Services Microsoft Office Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 Microsoft Server Product Portfolio Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Windows Server 2003 Services Microsoft Learning Gateway Microsoft SharePoint Learning Kit Technologies Active Directory Hardware Three Dell PowerEdge 2950 server computers This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published July 2008
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