Have you ever wondered how SharePoint can support the teaching and learning experience in Higher Education?  Good because so have my colleagues and a good number of Higher Education institutions (HEI) around the world.  So we have started a Higher Education Consortium and we would love you to become involved.  The idea is to build a showcase that will demonstrate to all HEIs that there is a learning environent built by HEIs for HEIs.  The good news is that we are hoping for a deliverable based on student and classroom collaboration by around December 2007.  Everything that is developed will be available as Shared Source.

The next-generation of student collaboration

The objectives of this showcase project are two-fold. First, it is designed to address missing, but critical, teaching and learning work roles, and second, it is intended to jump start the collaborative process for using SharePoint as the development platform for the next-generation higher education collaboration system. In order to achieve the first objective, the most frequently requested work roles enabled by SharePoint will be addressed. These include:

  • An integrated grade book Web part/Web service.
  • Integration of the Testing functionality from the SharePoint Learning Kit; fill in any gaps required for the higher education community to utilize as an online testing platform.
  • Migration of existing Web parts (such as the MyClasses Web parts, Assignment Drop Box, and Student Online Activity Tracker) to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.

In order to achieve the second objective, it is proposed that the development of these SharePoint-based applications be accomplished through a global collaborative effort between Microsoft, several community colleges, several four-year and post-graduate degree-granting colleges and universities, and at least one outside vendor. Such collaboration should not only provide a robust set of Web parts for the SharePoint platform, but it should also help us tune more precisely into the needs of the higher education community.

This is a great opportunity for universities to collaborate in a world-wide initiative to create an environment that is unique to the Higher Education sector using everyday familiar products that help to drive value from existing Microsoft licensing agreements.  I'd love to see the UK universities take a leading position in this consortium because I know that there are some great things happening.

http://www.microsoft.com/education/hsc.mspx