Recently at AAJ, we posted a series discussing why SharePoint is an important tool for school districts focused on improving collaboration between faculty members, school administrators and students. In   of this series we looked at how SharePoint can be used to foster a digital community at your school and how that digital community is built based on content, respectively.

Here in Part 3, we will look at one of the more important features of SharePoint: its search function.  The beauty of SharePoint is that it creates a digital meeting ground for the great minds in your school district, such as administrators it’s administrators and teachers. The collaboration platform establishes a forum where these thought leaders within your school can come together, collaborate and make themselves more successful—mainly through storing and sharing content like curricula, lesson plans and coursework on SharePoint’s centralized server.

In part 2 we took a stab at making a list of all the content a single teacher might create throughout the course of a day and the list was pretty eye opening. If one teacher can create that much content, imagine what a whole district would create. If it seems like a ton of data, that’s because it most definitely is.

However, we mustn’t forget the students that these faculty and administrators have been tasked with educating, whose work should also be stored on the SharePoint server.

With the average school district educating more than 1,000 students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the amount of potential content to be stored in SharePoint is dizzying. However, no matter how large the data set or how vague the file name, SharePoint’s intelligent search function will allow even those with the most basic understanding of database searches find what they are looking for. The system not only searches by file name, but works similarly to Google’s search engine in that it searches a document’s contents for keywords. So, if you’re a history teacher at School A who is looking for a new way of approaching the Revolutionary War, you can simply search “George Washington” or “The Boston Tea Party” and see lesson plans from teachers in Schools B, C and D that include these search terms.

Furthermore, as discussed in  , content can be restricted for each individual so when a student searches for their paper on World War II, they won’t find the answer key to their midterm exam that their teacher has stored in SharePoint. Likewise, teachers can also be restricted from searching for private student or administrative data.

Lastly, since profiles can be created for individuals using the SharePoint server, front office staffers can store student transcripts, immunization records and any important information to that student’s profile for easy and quick access via SharePoint search. For larger schools this function can be critical at the end and beginning of school years where student records are constantly being pulled and then re-filed.

SharePoint’s use as a powerful CMS is enough to warrant the use of the system by school districts throughout the country. However, we haven’t even gotten to the most important part. Stay tuned as we conclude our series in “Part 4: Insights”.