Tipbit this morning announced new funding, to the tune of $4 million led by Ignition Partners, with plans to add features and boost usage of the app. It's one of many companies, large and small, working on ways to help users combat email overload.
Why one school district chose Office 365 over Google Apps for 150,000 students
When the Peel District School Board in Ontario, Canada, went live in September with its first-ever district-wide Wi-Fi system for its 150,000 students and 15,000 staff members, it was just the start of big changes.
Also launched at the time was a district-wide Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative, as well as an invitation to students to get free use of the web-based Microsoft Office 365 suite for their studies.
"The school district is transforming with the whole move to BYOD and with the embracing of technology," said Mark Keating, the CIO of Canada's second-largest school district, which includes 235 schools in Brampton, Caledon, and Mississauga in Canada's Ontario province. "It's just changed the way we are teaching and learning."
Goal: Increase collaboration among students and teachers
The key driver for these changes was a desire to increase collaboration among the students and teachers, while building a database of institutional knowledge that students can refer to whenever they need answers to their questions, said Keating.
"Kids live in a social world and there was a real disconnect from the schools," said Keating. "They're moving a thousand miles a minute away from what's happening in school. We wanted to bring social media into the classroom in some way."
Because Office 365 includes chat, wikis, bulletin boards and other social media features that be used by the students within the safer confines of their personalized Peel school district log-ins, they can share information and learn together without the worries of open social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, said Keating.
Also, if students share lesson information outside of the new internal school district social network, those posts are lost to the other students in the schools. If they are posted within the school district's internal social network, those posts and their information can be saved and made available for searching and re-use by other students instead of starting from scratch.
Many of these social collaboration features are delivered through SharePoint Online, one of the components of the Office 365 solution.
"We wanted to have higher student engagement," said Keating. "When we actually teach and create content inside Office 365 we can retain it. It's not lost. And students can help students. They can ask a question and another student can answer it. It's a collaborative environment and that's the way the students live [today]."
All students and staff log into the system through their individual schools, but they can communicate or search for information from all the schools in the district. After logging in with their personalized single sign-on, students can view the classes they are enrolled in, their assignments and lessons and the wide array of social media capabilities they have at their disposal.
"The key is that for this to work anywhere you really have to make it seamless," he said. "Single sign-on is key and making it a transparent transaction for users is key." To help accomplish those goals, the IT team synchronized their local Active Directory implementations with the Microsoft-hosted Office 365 services.
Cisco hopes to drive more use of video conferencing products in meeting rooms -- it said only 7 percent of meeting rooms in the world have video conferencing -- by learning from consumer markets. New products and services aim to make the products cheaper and easier to use. They'll also tie in products like phones and tablets that most people have with them during meetings.
Google Docs and Google Sheets are getting more useful for consumers and enterprises with the addition of third-party tools that enable neat new functionalities.