Written by education writer Gerald Haigh

In my recent blog on the Civica Education Conference http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ukschools/archive/2014/04/04/thoughts-on-civica-s-education-conference-amp.aspx

I mentioned a presentation on Office 365 in the classroom, by Paul Hart and Brendan Murphy. In the course of it they mentioned they used ‘Reputation Scores’.

It was something I hadn’t heard of before, so I called Paul, who’s a Civica e-learning consultant, to find out a little more about it.

‘Reputation Scores’, he told me, is a feature which enables the leader of a collaborative project – in the school setting presumably a teacher – to know which members of the group have actually engaged the discussion, when and how many times. So the teacher might, for instance, set a question for the group to discuss. As the students make suggestions and ask further questions of each other and the teacher, their ‘reputation score’ builds. There’s the opportunity for the teacher to give a ‘best reply’ award.

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Paul Hart says,

‘It provides good opportunities for students to help each other – peer-to-peer support – so the teacher is not the only one responding. There’s group responsibility for the learning, all in it together, helping each other along the way.’

The reputation score, he says, adds an extra dimension,

‘The real power lies in the way it’s visible to the user and to all other users at the same time, immediately with no delay.’

The growing understanding and popularity of Office 365 with SharePoint Online means that the number of SharePoint users is rapidly increasing. One of the key features of this, and the whole Office 365 offering, is the way that it supports collaborative, anytime/anywhere learning, in a highly organised, flexible yet carefully monitored environment. ‘Reputation Scores’ fits beautifully into that, yet I suspect there will be some – many, perhaps – who are unaware that it exists. Paul Hart, in fact, calls it, ‘A hidden gem’ and you certainly do need to look for it, unless, that is, your IT team, or your provider have, like Civica, spotted its educational potential and made it easily accessible. Part of the reason is that in the adult business world the notion of scoring team members for their participation isn’t always seen as appropriate. In school, though, the act of collaboration itself is part of the learning process, to be encouraged and rewarded. As Paul explains,

‘Although it’s very relevant to today’s classrooms, in a business setting it might not have anything like as much potential, and that’s probably why it’s not always highlighted.’