In my last article, SharePoint: A Microsoft Teams Alternative, I highlighted a few benefits to creating a SharePoint site and using SharePoint in the classroom. Since then, I have spent a good amount of time exploring some of the features within Microsoft’s Power Platform: Power Automate, Power Apps, Power BI, and Power Virtual Agents, two of which I think are well worth your time.
There are three ways to create a new workflow:
2. from a template; or
3. from a connector.
Take a look at Power Automate and start exploring how you can automate processes to save you time, money, and energy!
Power Apps allows for three types of app creation: Canvas app, Model-driven app, and Portal app. While I don’t yet fully understand the Model-driven app, the Canvas app uses the device screen (whether a tablet, phone, or other screen ratio) as the canvas to construct the app, and the Portal app functions more like a website that is not limited to internal use. [Disclaimer: Portal apps may require additional licensing so communicate with your Microsoft 365 administrator before pursuing this route.] Furthermore, just like the other Microsoft services, Power Apps provides access to guided learning in the Microsoft Education Center, support documentation, and a community forum (hyperlinked in each image below).
To help me (and hopefully you) better understand Power Apps, I worked with Jay Morris, Director of Technology, at Cuba-Rushford Central School District to brainstorm ideas for meaningful apps. For me, the easiest place to start was a Help Desk app similar to services such as QWare or Spiceworks. To make this happen, we needed to create a SharePoint List that would allow us to collect and update each ticket, and then we used a Power Apps Canvas app to connect to that data.
The Help Desk app can be opened by the app’s administrators/owners and general users either online or through the Power Apps mobile app to view, update, or delete existing tickets or create new ones; regardless of the modification, the SharePoint List is updated automatically through the app. Additionally, we could have the Help Desk automatically email the ticket creator as well as the technician to whom the ticket is assigned any time changes occur.
Shown below are four of the seven screens used to make the Help Desk App (Home, Create Ticket, User Tickets, User View/Delete Ticket, Successful Submission, Admin Tickets, and Admin Update Ticket):
Then, on the same SharePoint site where we created the List, we can create a dashboard similar to what you would see using a service like QWare and Spiceworks.
I look forward to exploring Power Apps further to see what processes we can automate and apps we can create. In theory, I am thinking that we could make apps for lunch orders, teacher evaluations, daily check-ins, etc. If you have an idea, send it my way.
If you’re interested in getting a copy of the Help Desk app template and putting it into place, please do not hesitate to reach out (Mark_Beckwith@caboces.org).
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Model Schools