Preparing Teachers to Deliver 21st Century Skills
The novel Coronavirus has transformed the world into a new place with various responsibilities and a wide range of alternatives in every business sector. The traditional methods have been replaced by new-age virtual solutions to cope up with the pandemic situations. The digital transformation had started gradually since the arrival of the computer, but it has accelerated in unimaginable ways during the past few months. The typical routine of every individual has been changed with this virus, and unfortunately, we have to get used to it for at least another six months. Technology has already been an integral part of our daily lives, but with the pandemic situation, it has become the only mode of communication and development of any country individual.
The crucial factor is that educational institutions are being shut down for almost one-fourth of a year now, and students would probably lose the first half or more of their learning period. The education system should undergo a rapid change to provide the best solution for the student’s future and to ensure seamless learning in this catastrophic period. Online learning and virtual environments are the need of the hour for students to continue their learning process even if schools are not opened within the year-end. Microsoft provides a new digital high-tech solution with its simple and cost-effective products for enabling exceptional learning abilities.
Educational institutes fear the risk of safety and cyber security threats from other organizations or individuals with the use of these digital methods. The privacy concerns, limited budgets, and specific compliance regulations are other factors to be kept in mind for setting up the virtual environment. Microsoft has offered the best IT solution for the Education industry using Microsoft Teams, Office 365, and other tools. It has enhanced security, reduced vulnerabilities, and created a smooth learning atmosphere for the students and institutes. Let us see how the model of Education has transformed with ultra-modern digital technology (Microsoft Tools).
Microsoft Office 365:
Microsoft is a well-known, reputed company in the IT sector that has been providing innovative, satisfactory, and creative products/services to every group of people from various fields. Microsoft Office 365 is a complete package of various tools and services that would improve the productivity, efficiency, and security of any institution. It has opened multiple avenues to conduct educational classes in a virtual classroom environment with various students from any part of the world. Microsoft 365 A1 for Education is the perfect solution for small and medium-sized institutes as it is a completely free online version of Office 365.
Microsoft 365 A1 has collaborated with Office 365 online version with email, a personalized hub for class teamwork with Microsoft Teams, video conferencing, compliance tools, interactive methods (private and groups), and information protection. This makes it the best tool for schools or colleges that have a limited budget on their hands. The Office applications that are provided in the A1version are Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. The students and faculties can use the basic version freely with additional services for interactive communication.
There are other plans with Office 365 called the A3 and A5 plans, which have per device and monthly subscriptions available for students and faculties. It has multiple options and compatibility with various devices, helping students and faculties to improve their learning experience. Creative visualizations, data management, and building publishing text materials can be done with the A3 plan using Access and Publisher tools. The A5 plan has Power BI and other tools which enhance the functionality of the old and new tools for active learning. The users can connect through audio conferencing for a meeting, enabling easier access when the network is not stabilized. The price varies for students and faculties for the A3 and A5 plan but is worth the money.
Microsoft Teams is another platform that collaborates with a team or a group of people for meetings or interactive conversations. It has all the tools for document sharing, video meetings, private texting, file storage, application integration, and much more, helping educational institutes to create a perfect environment for learning. Small and mid-sized institutes mostly used the Office 365 solution for Education while Microsoft Teams is infiltrating every educational institute for its natural and pure suite of services. The ability to learn together and share information via a common platform has made schools and colleges to use the tool to their more significant advantage. Microsoft Teams Phone System has provided users the option to place calls using Teams by just clicking the name in their address book. The calling feature can be done from any device like their mobile phones, PCs, Macs, and laptops, making it convenient for the users.
The new features in Microsoft Teams for improving learning are:
- Rubric Grading now available for faculties to enable skills-based grading and other customized grading systems.
- It provides better mobile assignments experience for everyone.
- The cloud-based app can record every interaction with the students and can playback any part of the meeting.
- The Immersive Reader feature has simplified and attracted emerging readers to involve more in the interactions.
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