Cloud-based technologies are revolutionising teaching and learning, and Microsoft’s Office 365 Education offers sophisticated tools to do just that.
Office 365 comes with a lot of the usual Microsoft software offerings, now bundled together in a subscription-based model. However, more importantly for school CIOs and IT education decision-makers, Office 365 features Education, a state-of-the-art collaboration product that has the potential to improve teaching and learning processes.
Office 365 Education offers students and teachers a whole new way to communicate via cloud-based email, web conferencing and document-editing tools. It also provides access to applications and files from any connected device.
Recognising the popularity of apps, Office 365 also has apps that can complement its Education package. These include OneDrive, which offers 1TB of file storage per user and accounts that can customised according to a school’s needs; Yammer, a private social networking app that lets students and teachers communicate at any time; and Lync Online that enables audio and video calls.
Additionally, students and teachers can share Excel, Word and PowerPoint files and simultaneously work on them from different locations, doing away with the hassle of needing to integrate document versions later.
Classrooms for the digital age
Office 365 Education includes Microsoft Classroom, a homepage where teachers can manage classes and assignments online. This can help with tasks such as organising multiple class sections (e.g. History or Geography A and B), creating assignments, collaborating with other teachers on syllabuses and providing students with feedback.
Students can engage with teachers and classmates as well as access class materials if they’re off sick, while apps such as Sway allow teachers to design interactive online lessons, assignments and even newsletters from a phone, tablet or browser.
Office 365 also comes with protection against spam and viruses, making it a secure place to share documents. As a cloud-based service, it’s also logical to use Office 365 for data backup and storage.
A long way from blackboards and chalk
Office 365”s education tools allow for anytime, anywhere learning. They also incorporate new ways for teachers and students to collaborate on assignments and projects while allowing for better management of files on all devices including mobiles.
Technology has advanced rapidly since the first Apple IIs and IBM PCs arrived in classrooms around the world. Today, schools have access to digital tools that were once the exclusive domain of the workplace. Student engagement is just one of the many benefits – because we know how much the typical K-12 pupil loves technology.