Presented by: Megan Townes, Microsoft Learning Delivery Specialist
Teachers and schools across Australia moved to remote learning very quickly as the COVID-19 crisis began. While most schools quickly established opportunities for students to join live lessons using Microsoft Teams, some schools also saw the importance of providing on-demand learning experiences so that students who couldn’t join calls live could still participate in learning using the range of tools available to them. These tools are now being used by teachers in the face-to-face classroom, not just for learning delivery, but also for wellbeing.
Peta Jorgensen, Digital Learning Coordinator at Hillcrest Christian College in Queensland said, “Microsoft Teams became the most essential tool for teachers and students during our Learning @ Home program. It wasn’t just where the work was, or links to other software and videos, or where to hand in assignments. It was our way of connecting to students during a time when they needed connections the most. The community that was developed online during this time is one of the biggest treasures of this season. One that we will keep and use daily as we create a new forward movement in education.”
Microsoft Teams was the ultimate platform for remote teaching and learning providing not only a place for teachers to conduct synchronous video calls but also a place to host and sequence asynchronous learning experiences. The majority of schools in Australia had access to Office 365 subscriptions that included Teams already, so they were ready to move to on-demand learning quite quickly.
Jarrel Rivera, an IT Trainer from the Defence Force School of Signals in Victoria said, “We searched for tools that we can utilise. We considered using Zoom and AdobeConnect, but licensing proved to be a challenge; not to mention the steep learning curve for some of our other “experienced” teachers. At some point, we even thought of using YouTube or Facebook live but then there’s the question of privacy. Then we realised we’ve already got Teams!”
Teachers using Teams for on-demand remote learning used the tabs within channels to sequence learning within Teams and intend to continue using that approach so students can see the learning content and activities scheduled ahead. Teachers also discovered the amazing Assignments feature within Teams, allowing them to schedule weekly tasks during remote learning and provide feedback efficiently in digital format. They are continuing to use the Assignments feature to schedule face-to-face class tasks so that students have visibility and awareness of the learning taking place in their classroom. Schools also appreciated how easy it was for teachers to quickly learn and use Microsoft Teams as a learning platform.
Jill Hamilton, P-12 eLearning Coordinator from Immanuel Lutheran College in Queensland said, “I appreciated the ease with which staff learned to use the platform, and it has shown how quickly ‘new’ technology can be introduced and adopted when the need arises.”
This saw teachers pre-recording lessons for students to watch at any time and using interactive tools so students could engage with and respond to lesson content. For many teachers, these tools will continue to support on-demand learning in their face-to-face classrooms but also be available to ensure students who are absent from school due to illness, holidays or other reasons, can still engage with learning on-demand.
Teachers who pre-recorded their lessons for remote learning loved using PowerPoint to create the videos, then upload them to Stream, and use Forms to add questions throughout the uploaded video to assess student understanding and knowledge. These videos allowed students to engage with lesson content and ideas without having to join a lesson live. For some students, particularly those in rural and remote areas, this was essential for them to be able to continue learning in a digital format from home where internet connectivity isn’t as reliable. The benefit for teachers was they could then use the data from Forms to assess understanding and areas of need for further learning. As students have returned to the classroom face-to-face, teachers are continuing to make use of these technologies so students can engage with the video content repeatedly to learn new concepts, and teachers can access analytical data via Forms to continue to assess student understanding.
Lynette Barker, Teacher Librarian at St Therese’s Primary School in New Lambton NSW explained, “The how-to video was a lifesaver! was a comment I heard often over the past few months. There was a need for staff and families to learn quickly, whether it was how to download Minecraft, access OneNote, or navigate Office 365. The solution was video. With Stream’s new ‘Record Screen’ feature this will be even easier. Going forward the staff will focus on the use of Stream and the ‘Record Screen’ feature to create and share videos for differentiating learning in the classroom and supporting learning at home.”
Check out these video guides on how to use PowerPoint to create your own on-demand videos, how to upload any video content to Stream and how to embed questions into your videos using Forms.
Dean Pearman, the Head of Digital Learning and Practice at Wesley College in Victoria highlighted that “The use of video instruction paved the way for new ways of learning and teaching for Wesley students. Staff utilised Teams and Stream to create instructional videos that modelled key concepts, explained learning engagements and helped humanise the learning process. The curation of videos in Stream channels allowed students to easily access a sequenced set of videos that scaffolded the learning processes in a class Teams channel or embedded in OneNote or in our LMS. Learning happened at students’ own pace and they could revise the content continually moving towards mastery.”
The superhero on-demand learning tool during COVID-19 may be Flipgrid. Teachers from across Australia discovered this 100% free tool allowing them to engage and empower every voice in their classroom by recording and sharing short videos. Teachers could create their own Flipgrid activities, sharing lesson content as well as instructions for students to record a video response, or they could tap into the Disco Library of Flipgrid activities and simply reshare to their grids. Check out the FlipGrid resources for ideas on how to use Flipgrid, free online PD and guides.
Though the demands on schools and teachers during remote learning were high, it’s clear that there will be benefits to schools now as they return to full-time face-to-face teaching, but also in the future as teachers retain and use the technologies they adopted during the COVID-19 crisis.
Margaret Simkin, Head of Library at The Hamilton and Alexandra College in Victoria said, “Our professional learning went through the roof and was driven from the classroom up. In over forty years of teaching this was the best I have ever known my colleagues and their capacity, or how my students really think. Combining PowerPoint screen capture with Teams instructions was a real winner. Using the assignments capacity of Teams streamlined things even further.”
What technology or strategy will you continue to adopt that you discovered during remote learning?
Complete these Microsoft Educator Centre courses to learn more:
- Keeping students engaged: Building strong student/teacher connections in a remote learning environment
- Transform Learning with Microsoft Teams
- Flipped Instruction with PowerPoint Recorder
- Microsoft Forms: Creating Authentic Assessments
- Engage and Amplify with Flipgrid