This article was first published in the Winter 2014 issue of OnWindows
For over twenty years, APS IT Services has been promoting the interests of primary education in the Netherlands in the fields of IT and education. As an educational large account reseller, we offer licenses to all Dutch primary schools and, through the Microsoft School Agreement offered by APS IT Services, these 7,800 schools make the best possible use of the capabilities of Microsoft software and services.
APS IT Services organises the online administrative registration of all educational licenses through a specially designed web portal. In this way both the provider (Microsoft) and the user (the school) can easily contribute to the further development of the use of technology in education on the basis of their specific expertise. In the Dutch educational licensing system, teachers, school administrators, employees and pupils can work at school and at home with the latest available software – a solid basis for facilitating education in the 21st century.
Ten years ago, to enable us to serve all schools in the Netherlands as a fully-fledged partner, APS IT Services set up a network to act as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the schools. This BIC (Bovenschoolse ICT-Coördinatoren – Cross-School ICT Coordinators) network is made up of some 120 individuals, located throughout the Netherlands, who represent their constituents: schools and school management boards. They have unrivalled knowledge of the day-to-day workings of their schools, and of their particular wants and needs. The BIC network helps APS IT Services to match supply to demand. As ambassadors, its members represent a valuable and essential link between educational practice and IT as provided by APS IT Services.
Microsoft licenses open up a wealth of possibilities for schools. A product such as Office 365 helps users in an educational organisation on many levels. So, for many years, APS IT Services has offered training and consultancy on different levels for management, system administrators and teachers to help them take advantage of available technology. A wide variety of training programs and seminars are available, specially tailored to these target groups. Popular themes range from configuration and implementation to using technology with students in the classroom.
Within the field of work of TAC TIX (Training and Advisory Centre for Technology Information Xchange), APS IT Services offers a wide range of relevant services to schools. Introductory sessions, basic training and expert training programmes are offered throughout the year, and implemented on the basis of registrations by schools. In addition, APS IT Services provides training on behalf of Microsoft on elements of the ‘Partners in Learning’ programme, in which Innovative Expert Educators and Innovative Schools can share and learn with and from each other.
If an educational organisation has a demand that can best be met with a bespoke solution, APS IT Services offers a consultancy package. For example, a customised configuration and implementation of Office 365 can be carried out in various ways, depending on the choices and priorities of the school management board. APS IT Services provides support throughout this process. The translation of the technical use and functional possibilities of Office 365 into its use in education means that schools, with appropriate guidance, can turn their vision of using technological applications in the educational process into a reality.
To provide inspiration, as well as for benchmarking purposes, APS IT Services has been organising international study trips for several years. Every year, a group of managers and staff with responsibility for IT travel to Microsoft’s Executive Briefing Center in Redmond, US to learn all about the latest applications and possibilities envisaged by Microsoft within its educational product portfolio. Reference visits to American schools are also built into the programme.
Inspirational presentations give the participants in these study trips a ‘dot on the horizon’ to test or further develop their policy for the coming years. These presentations give participants so much insight into the possibilities offered by data analysis, personalised learning, innovative education and increased productivity that after they return from the study trips, they are often highly motivated and enthusiastic, and succeed in taking major steps in their schools’ development.
APS IT Services offers Dutch schools the support they need to innovate through the use of technology. By arranging licenses and offering training and consultancy, APS IT Services empowers schools to give their students an even better preparation for 21st-century society and the skills it demands.
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