A few weeks ago, we introduced the new Search Server 2008 (this is software based, not another box for the server room), which allows you to make it easier for people within your school or local authority to find information published on your network - and places you select in external information sources, for example web sites or results from web search engines. Even if you already have a Learning Platform, with learning content loaded into it, you may find that a lot of resources and information is stored outside of it - thinks like lesson plans stored on shared network drives, or school policy documents, stored on another server, or even on the school web site. Traditionally, you have to perform a number of different searches in different places.

Hey, I've just realised this is just like real life.

"I've lost my car keys".

"Have you tried the lounge?"

"Let me see.....no - they weren't there"

"Have you tried the study?"

"Let me see.....no - they weren't there"

"Have you tried the door?"

"Let me see.....no - they weren't in the door"

"Have you tried your coat?"...............

SearchServer Video

Putting a search server in place means that you can setup to search the right resources, internally and externally, to help your users - staff and students - to get to the right information more easily. Meaning staff can just search for an appropriate lesson plan (What would change if everybody in the history department could see all lesson resources referring to King James, and not just the ones that they created and remembered?). And because it is integrated to your network and network security, staff can see  and access more things from the search than students. And the Senior Leadership Team can search whatever secret folders they have that the rest of the school don't know about - and still won't know about. Security of information, as we've been seeing recently is pretty important stuff, so making it more accessible is good but retaining security is critical too.

The video on the left shows you what the Search Server does, from an end-user's perspective.


So, my real life example now goes

"I've lost my car keys".

"Well, I've just looked simultaneously looked in every room in the house, except the bathroom which is locked, and outside, and can tell you they're in your pocket."

 

So why is this in the Christmas present list? Well, there are two versions of Search Server 2008. And one of them is absolutely free. It's called Search Server 2008 Express, and it is functionally the same as its grown up brother (the time to change comes when you have massive search databases - you'll need to read the website for more info, but I think schools aren't going to hit the limits).

Full information on the free Search Server 2008 Express, and the free download are on the web site.