Firstclass upgrades to Office365

October 22, 2014

There are only 99 megabytes of space in the FirstClass mailbox, easily taken up by a few Word documents and Powerpoint presentations. On occasion emails will not leave the system. With FirstClass set to become a thing of the past, many of its frustrations will follow suit.

On October 20, FirstClass is being replaced by Microsoft Office 365. The school district has an agreement with Microsoft for Office 365 to be used district wide.

According to the Microsoft Office website, “Office 365 Education for Students includes Office 365 ProPlus, which allows students to install the latest version of Office [for free] on up to 5 PCs or Macs and on other mobile devices including Windows tablets and iPads. It includes 1 TB [1 terabyte] of OneDrive storage, managed by the school, for schoolwork and homework.”

OneDrive is the Microsoft cloud and using it will allow students not to worry that a Powerpoint presentation will take up all the room in their mailbox or that they have too many messages.

Though students can download Office 365 on nearly any device of their choosing, it is also web based. Though the web version does not offer all the abilities of the download version, it offers enough to meet students’ email and file needs.

On a district level, the change has been a labor of many months and is estimated to last until August or September of 2015 until the kinks are worked out of the system.

“Disadvantages include training all staff and students on the system and replicating a number of functions that have been built using FirstClass for which there is not a direct replacement in Office 365,” Rich Moletierre, system user support, said.

One such function is the conference system. They will be replaced by Office Sites or Yammer, a social networking site. All the data from the old conferences will remain available.

An Office Site is similar to an individual’s H Drive. Files can be stored and easily shared and synced. Users can even control access to shared files.

Yammer is a “private social network that keeps you… on top of it all,” according to the Yammer website. The network has developed a form of integration with Office 365. The connections lead to a “seamless experience” that assists in communication through messaging and email services.

The switch from FirstClass to Office 365 will take time for both teachers and students to adjust to.

Usernames and passwords will remain the same.

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