We all have gone to school or college and attended classes in person and on campus and had an unforgettable experience – memories that we cherish throughout our lives. I get nostalgic thinking about that time and I know I am not alone. 🙂
But times have changed, and in today’s fast-paced world, travelling long distances to attend classes for hours, managing multiple notebooks and paying thousands of bucks to attend one prestigious campus, is no more an intelligent decision if one aims to adapt to the future workplace- all digital.
Microsoft survey – Driving Transformation in Education, has revealed some top skills required by the students to adapt to the future workplaces, including problem solving, data analytics, collaboration and digital media literacy. Also, an educator’s skill sets should include the ability to optimize technology and successfully transform teaching and learning experiences in the classrooms.
Most educators believe that they have the knowledge to make the most out of the available technologies but need tools to drive personalized teaching, manage content and assignments, conduct online classrooms and drive collaboration among students on projects.
To address this, Microsoft has developed Office 365 for education that enables students to access educational curriculum outside a traditional classroom. This suite comprises best in class plans that provide education institutions with a set of hosted communication tools, collaboration services, mobile, desktop, and web-based applications, as well as data storage capabilities.
Microsoft developed Office 365 for educational institutions to let educationists create, collaborate, connect and develop professionally.
Here are ten small but magical things that an institution can do with Office 365 for education-
1. Create a team site for your staff members and classes
SharePoint Team site is a collaboration tool that helps groups of people to work together and share information. You can set up a team site for all your staff and host important discussions, share announcements, store documents and other information easily with everyone else in the institution.
With team site, you can also set up a class site for your students that will help you share your lesson plans, show calendar of upcoming events, add drop-boxes for homework, presentations, embed videos and OneNote notebook.
2. Store your resources in the virtual filing cabinet
It is always better to find classroom hacks in a busy teaching environment as this helps you overcome major challenges of a teaching job. Just think of all the different resources that you use while teaching and learning – lesson plans, assessments, spreadsheets, worksheets, past papers, mock test papers etc.
OneDrive helps you to store all your documents and share with other educators, whenever you want them to work on any document. You can create one common pool of resources for the use of students and other for teachers, so that they can access them at any time and from anywhere.
3. Organize your resources at one single place
With OneNote – the virtual binder, organize all your teaching and learning resources like documents, presentations, spreadsheets and OneNote Workbooks and save time and effort which generally gets waste while reproducing resources at the start of a new academic session.
Clip content from the web, PPTs, email messages or documents, and use them for your lesson plans.
4. Schedule, setup, book rooms and run online meetings with Calendar
The Calendar in Office 365 comes with various useful features. You can schedule meetings, seminars or workshops for teaching, add agendas and send other documents to the invitees. You can even share your calendar with your colleagues. This helps eliminate overlapping of events like scheduling tutorials or meetings.
5. Set up a community site for parents and care givers
A community site for parents and guardians help them communicate with your institution and enable you to share news and updates. It will develop as your parent and care givers’ hub and a platform where in you can answer their questions and host some interesting discussions with them.
6. Conduct revision sessions and solve queries with instant messaging
Instant messaging is an easy way of communication between teachers and students. You as a teacher, can provide support even outside of school hours, conduct revision sessions, solve queries prior to exams and assessments, eliminating the need of use of any other social network or external email for communication between institution users. Your students can reach you anywhere, anytime and on any device.
7. Invite a guest expert into your classroom
Invite a ‘guest expert’ into your classroom via Skype video conferencing. Just add your guest as a contact in People, and schedule an online meeting with him/her by using the Schedule meeting tool under the respective name. Students can ask questions, interact with their guest expert without the need of expensive and time consuming visits.
8. Collect data with Excel Online
Collect and organize data on the go with Excel Online, using either tablet or any smartphone. You can use it while conducting tasks that need to note down data and results perfectly like practical sessions or experiments. Your students can use Excel spreadsheets and analyze data and use it in graphs and other diagrams. They can also share spreadsheets among each other and create a complete class version.
9. Create quick surveys and quizzes with Microsoft Forms
With ‘Forms’, a new formative and assessment feature of Office 365 plans for education, a teacher or a student can create custom surveys, questionnaires, registrations, quizzes, very easily and quickly. Its automatic grading and in-quiz feedback functionality makes it valuable for the teachers.
10. Use One Notebook as an e-Portfolio
With OneNote, you can create a digital space that connects students and teachers of one class into a virtual learning community. Create a folder in OneDrive with OneNote files for each student in that class, and then make a list in Word Online with the names of students’ and family names and link to each student’s portfolio, and share that Word document with teachers who work in that class and students.
This regular practice will help students acquire self-assessment skills, will help them in becoming autonomous learners and have positive impact on their learning, creativity and motivation.
With OneNote Online, you can also create teacher’s professional development e-Portfolios.
This is just the tip of an iceberg. There are many other things that you can do with Microsoft Office 365 for education. Feel free to add your comments below.