Many schools use Microsoft 365 for obvious reasons: students and educators are able to access much of the package for free, the tools within it are useful to master as industry standards in the world of work, and they cover much of what students need for the IT aspect of their schoolwork.
As a rule, schools and universities who were not taking full advantage of the cloud-based apps and storage began using these functions when remote learning became necessary. However, many education institutions still come short of making the most of Microsoft 365 (Formerly Office 365) for education.
In this post, we will consider how to best use the package to enhance learning and productivity for students, teachers, and other education staff.
Using Classic Tools on a Deeper Level
Most adults working today have some experience with Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. However, learning more about the more advanced functions of these office apps can make them much more useful for teachers. To name a few examples:
- Automating spreadsheet functions to make data entry and analysis easier
- Using live review tools on word documents so teachers or students can review each other’s work in a clear, transparent way that they can watch in real time.
- Using PowerPoint Recorder to create “flipped lessons” where the initial learning is done at home and lesson time is used to reinforce, challenge, and explore. Live captions on these presentations can also make lectures more accessible.
- Creating charts on Excel to show student outcomes or progress towards a particular learning goal
- Using Cameo with PowerPoint during online learning to put a camera feed directly into your presentations
Creating an Online Learning Environment
Microsoft Teams and file sharing apps such as OneDrive used together can create an effective online learning environment for your students.
The features you are likely to use may depend on your classroom setup and the age of your students, but some options include:
- Assigning, tracking, and marking class assignments
- Setting up different teams for different subjects or study groups, complete with chat and resource bank.
- Creating both read only and editable resources for students, and allowing them to upload their own work to folders you can access
- Scheduling online lectures, meetings, or lessons ahead of time
- Using Channel Moderation functions to keep text discussions appropriate and on task
- Using digital whiteboards to collaborate in groups, including during video calls
- Together Mode, breakout rooms, and the “raise your hand” option for effective whole class and group discussions over video
- The option for students to use Immersive Reader to level the playing field for learners with dyslexia, dyscalculia, English as an Additional Language, or other comprehension challenges.
- Access to student engagement data including self-assessments, meetings attendance, and spotlights on who’s in need of extra support
You can also use Teams to make channels specifically for staff, allowing you to easily share school updates, lesson plans, development opportunities, and ideas for the classroom.
OneNote Class Notebook
On the subject of MS Teams, OneNote can be a powerful way to boost its functionality. This app can be used to create class notebooks, where students and teachers can seamlessly collaborate to collect ideas, note down core concepts, or demonstrate how different subject areas link together.
Students can also use their own personal OneNote as workbooks to answer questions, draw charts or mind maps, and write down anything they need to remember. Educators can then access these documents to mark, add feedback or questions, and even insert encouraging stickers.
Microsoft Sway is a hugely underused part of the Microsoft 365 education plan.
Like PowerPoint, it allows educators and students to build presentations with animations and multimedia functions. However, it is less limited to the traditional slide format, with different clickable elements to dive deeper into concepts, seamless video, audio, and social media inclusion, and a variety of presentation formats. You can create a story
The online app also uses AI to suggest relevant information and images as you build your project, making it quick and easy to use.
Sway has a lot of possibilities both in creating dynamic presentations, games, and quizzes for your class, and for students displaying what they’ve learned at the end of a unit or through their own research.
Microsoft have recently introduced a new category of tools built specifically with education in mind.
“Reading Coach” is a new addition to the recent “Reading Progress” tool. Used together, they not only allow students to access class reading assignments and a variety of tools to help with comprehension (such as stretching a word or hearing it read out) but let students submit audio of themselves reading the text aloud. The tool then automatically checks for missed words, mispronunciations, and self-correction, helping children to practise their reading independently. It also gives teachers the tools to check recordings manually if they prefer.
“Reflect” is a tool which encourages children to consider their own emotions and wellbeing, learning the language to express this to others. It does this through an animated monster character and reflection questions their teacher can choose to issue depending on the aims of the lesson or any wellbeing concerns within the class.
Expand your Skills and Knowledge
If your educational team would like to grow in knowledge and confidence about the different tools offered by Microsoft, why not sign up for a session with Elliot Training? Our expert trainers are specialists in the Microsoft Package and deliver engaging, interactive sessions for all levels of understanding.
We work in across the UK, either online, in your workplace or in one of our country-wide training centres. Enquire today about how we can help.