How do I get Student Advantage in Office 365 Education? (Part Three)

In part one of this little trio I talked about how institutions who already have Office 365 Education can get access to Student Advantage, and in part two I looked at how students access the benefit. In this final part I’ll look at what you need to do to if you don’t already have Office 365 Education.

How do I get Student Advantage in Office 365 Education?

Office 365 ProPlus, which is the “proper name” for Student Advantage, is delivered through Office 365 Education. You might jump to the conclusion that in order to get it you must be using Office 365 Education for all of the other workloads that come with it, like Exchange Online, Lync Online or SharePoint Online. You’d be wrong.

Office 365 Education is a collection of many services:

  • Windows Azure Active Directory for identity
  • Exchange Online for email, calendaring, etc.
  • Lync Online for instant messaging, voice and video communication, etc.
  • SharePoint Online, SkyDrive Pro and Office Web Apps for document creation, storage and collaboration, etc.
  • Office 365 ProPlus for the full featured rich client experience of Office on the desktop and mobile devices.

The only required part of Office 365 Education is Windows Azure AD – that’s the bit that controls the user accounts and licensing. Without it, there’d be no service. Everything else is optional. You can pick and choose which services you take; many start with Exchange Online, adding in other services later. Some will start with just Office 365 ProPlus (under Student Advantage).

You don’t have to move away from your current email and collaboration services to pass on the Student Advantage benefit to your students! Although obviously, I think you should because the full Office 365 Education collection of services when run together is pretty awesome.

How to get started as quickly as possible: FastTrack

Now that we’ve cleared up the misunderstanding about how Student Advantage is delivered we can look at the quickest route to getting all signed up and ready to go.

As well as the resources I’ve put together on this blog, there’s a very handy portal called FastTrack that takes the behemoth that is all of Office 365 Education and distils signing up to it into 3 simple steps: pilot, deploy and enhance.

In a nutshell, using FastTrack as a guide, you need to go through a few easy stages:

  1. Sign up.
  2. Verify academic eligibility by adding your domain to the tenant.
  3. Create your user accounts either through a CSV file upload, or creating automatically from your local AD.
  4. Follow the steps in part one of this blog trio.
  5. Follow the steps in part two!

Beyond Student Advantage

It goes without saying that once your students are using Office 365 ProPlus they’ll get even more value from it by pairing it with SkyDrive Pro and SharePoint Online, Lync Online and Exchange Online. Getting started with FastTrack for the purposes of getting Office 365 ProPlus is a great way to dip your toe into the water but consider piloting the other services and maybe working with a partner to roll them out over time.

Want to know what others are doing? Why not check out the University of West London’s case study on how they use Office 365 Education to start a life-long connection to their students, or read how Warwickshire County Council created WeLearn365 for all schools in the county?

If you’re using Google, maybe it’s time to look at Office 365 Education – Birkenhead Sixth Form College did and they love it!