The past year has seen a transition to remote learning on a scale never seen before. According to a YouGov survey, 43% of teachers surveyed in 2020 believe their institution is now properly prioritising digital education, versus 4% five years prior.
The pandemic-induced uptake in remote learning might be more than just a fleeting trend though. While higher education institutions have been offering virtual education for some time, they are now able to test it at scale, while primary and secondary schools get to grips with it for the first time. 51% of teachers now believe that remote education is a sustainable way of offering high quality learning in the future.
As a result, even after the pandemic subsides many education leaders are planning to retain some or all of their institutions remote learning infrastructure. Schools are considering the use of video lessons to provide teacher cover or education during holidays and snow days. Many are considering a hybrid infrastructure – teaching some students from home and some in the classroom simultaneously to match their preference.
To whatever degree schools look to continue offering remote education, tools like Microsoft 365 Education can offer them a serious step up. Educators are able to save up to 200 hours a year through Microsoft’s suite, which combines virtual collaboration tools with classroom-style aids, offering huge gains in productivity and efficiency.
Getting remote learning right
A strong remote learning set-up is hard to achieve without the right investment and mind-set. Educational institutions have been rooted in their physical infrastructure since their inception. 86% of teachers say their workload has increased since remote education was implemented, while 34% aren’t confident in their ability to teach online. There are also valid concerns from parents about their children’s engagement and lack of contact with classmates.
As a result, many educational institutions want to know how they can provide an experience that matches or even exceeds physical teaching without compromising student development, budget, or learning goals. This is particularly true in creative subjects such as art, resistant materials, and ceramics.
IT departments, meanwhile, are in the difficult position of needing to get to grips with remote-enabling technologies, maintain good levels of cybersecurity, and manage devices. They must also figure out how to provide students with a level playing field whilst they are using a wide range of devices.
Microsoft 365 Education combines Office 365 with security tools, cloud infrastructure and creative apps to provide three core benefits that address these challenges:
1. Enhanced creativity
Apps such as Paint 3D and Minecraft keep students engaged and creative despite the home learning environment. Students can create artwork digitally and bring their designs to life in 3D with ease.
2. Powerful collaboration
Thanks to Microsoft Teams, teamwork and remote collaboration can be achieved with ease. Students can connect with each other and collaborate in real-time through chat, voice, and video for communication. Tools like Microsoft Whiteboard can be added to video calls for more visual brainstorming and collaboration.
3. A safe learning environment
Microsoft 365 Education, coupled with device management tool Intune, allows schools to manage students’ identities, enforce conditional access policies, and protect apps and devices with modern security solutions based on machine learning.
Microsoft offers a ‘student use benefit’ for educational institutions, which means that implementing Microsoft Education 365 is very budget friendly. At the core of this deal, Microsoft offers forty free student licenses for each staff license purchased. Licensing is simple and easy, and establishments with over 1,000 users gain access to Microsoft’s FastTrack services for expert advice.
When you consider the incredible licensing savings, expert support, and ability to solve most remote education pitfalls, Microsoft 365 becomes a no-brainer for educational institutions. With its value stretching far beyond remote learning environments, it becomes a safe investment regardless of whether or not schools transition back to physical teaching.
To get the best value out of the offering, however, schools, colleges and universities alike may want to consider partnering with a Managed Service Provider (MSP). An MSP can provide full, expansive support, managing the entire adoption process and providing ongoing guidance. With many IT departments currently overworked, this allows them to better focus on supporting students and staff in this difficult period.