Transforming education to deliver an exceptional learning experience wherever students are

The Courtauld Institute of Art

A single suite of tools providing a secure and streamlined solution
Consistent classroom delivery framework that reduces admin effort and lets teachers focusing on teaching
Students from countries across the world can connect and collaborate digitally

The Courtauld Institute of Art was ready to accelerate its digital transformation to meet the complexities presented by a global pandemic. Exploiting the benefits of Microsoft 365 for Education let them create a consistent classroom delivery framework that helps reduce admin overheads, while also providing a high-quality educational experience in a digital setting.

By identifying the right opportunities and supporting the introduction of Microsoft 365 for Education for The Courtauld, we helped more time be focused on teaching and the quality of teaching. Students also experienced recreated classroom settings – both academically and socially � where they could connect to communicate and work together in – no matter where they currently are.

How we helped The Courtauld achieve these results

The landscape of The Courtauld

As an educational institution specialising in the history of art and conservation, The Courtauld Institute of Art has students from all over the UK – and the world – vying for a place in one of its courses. Part of the University of London, The Courtauld has diverse attendees who all have high expectations of learning that need to be met.

Digital transformation had been on The Courtauld�s radar for a little while – but like many organisations around the globe – being in the midst of a global pandemic accelerated the need to adapt and really start digitising. During the summer of 2020, it became clear the world was still in flux and would not be returning to �normal� for the upcoming term. Enrolled students had paid for courses, but many were now back home living abroad or scattered across the UK, which meant a strong digital framework to deliver and support learning became a necessity.

courtauld web

The challenge facing The Courtauld

With not much time before the new school term began, The Courtauld needed to quickly adapt to a new way of working and find a robust and repeatable method for scaling the framework around digital learning to its students. 

The teachers and teaching assistants came from a range of backgrounds and had different levels of familiarity with digital tools. And like any organisation, everyone had their own preferred ways of working – and in this case, teaching too. As people had begun adapting to the current climate, there was a lot of different technology in place – but there needed to be a clear and consolidated approach.

Several key areas needed to be considered:

  • How to bring people together when they need to be socially distant, or not physically present at all?
  • How can processes be streamlined and durable for bookings, forms, and assignments?
  • How can you ensure students have access to all the materials and content they need?

But also, how can we ensure all this provides high levels of security too? Teachers and learning institutions need to protect their intellectual property and keep their content secure, which some apps or platforms are unable to offer. On top of that, making sure students� personal data, assignments, and in-progress work, is secure was essential too.

To do all this required The Courtauld to quickly become agile and find a solution that would cater to all their needs.

M365 iPad Courtauld

Our solution for The Courtauld

We worked with The Courtauld to support a digital strategy that could be implemented quickly to start transforming how they deliver education. This can be broken down into two main areas; digitising the infrastructure that supports a classroom, and then creating an online learning experience for students.

It was vital to The Courtauld these new digital changes didn�t add more pressure to the internal IT department. Microsoft 365 for Education was selected by The Courtauld as it supported a self-service model, bringing with it a host of benefits that can leverage what The Courtauld already had. Microsoft 365 can also be accessed and used on any device and is straightforward to learn – which reduces the dependency on internal IT administration.

Using the Microsoft 365 for Education suite of tools meant there could be a consistent experience for both teachers and students. Everything could be brought together in one place, allowing for a seamless user experience that facilitated collaboration both in and out of the (virtual) classroom.

There are four main areas to Microsoft 365 for Education that helps enhance the learning experience for students in the digital world. These are:

  • Teams: Microsoft Teams can be used to hold classes or for students to get together in smaller groups to discuss group projects. Live Events in Teams is scalable for larger classes and lectures to take place – with functionality to mute, put up a hand, or ask a question. The Teams interface lets students (and teachers) chat, store and share documents, and comment on existing files. The Teams Classroom template also allows teachers to create class templates that can be used again – with the same associated documents, materials, forms.
  • SharePoint: Microsoft SharePoint lets documents and files be stored securely, and easily accessed either within the SharePoint interface or through Teams. Using this, assignments and classroom materials can be uploaded – and students have access to download the course materials and content they need, when they need them.
  • Forms: Microsoft Forms is a straightforward way to create and share forms. The Courtauld can now use this for exams, quizzes, quick polls, or feedback from students. All the completed forms are stored securely and can be analysed within the Forms interface. Forms also integrates well with Teams, letting forms be sent out to selected groups of students.
  • Stream: Microsoft Stream provides the ability to record classes and share the recordings with ease. This lets students who missed classes, or just would like to refer back, to access the recordings at any time. Stream can also be used to upload other video content or module videos for students to watch. The videos uploaded to Stream can have their privacy settings updated to manage who can access them – and all the videos can easily be shared in Teams too.

Using the Microsoft 365 for Education suite of tools meant there could be a consistent experience for both teachers and students. Everything could be brought together in one place, allowing for a seamless user experience that facilitated collaboration both in and out of the (virtual) classroom.

The impact for The Courtauld

Taking these steps along their digital transformation journey has benefited The Courtauld in a range of ways. They are now able to reduce their admin overheads through a classroom delivery framework that brings consistency each year. This ensures a high-level of accessible teaching materials, while freeing up time to focus more on teaching and the quality of teaching instead.

Meanwhile, students at The Courtauld can access their classes and course material even when they can�t get to a classroom. The COVID situation has impacted many students� educational experience – both academically and socially. But the use of Microsoft 365 provides an opportunity to recreate real classroom settings – and the video technology and communication tools it offers helps deliver more opportunities to connect socially too.

As The Courtauld terms roll on, students and teachers are proving to be adaptable in the face of a changing world of learning. They�ve seen that it is possible to facilitate great sessions online in a secure, digital friendly way. And the best part, collaboration and communication – the cornerstones of education – have now never been simpler, or easier to facilitate.

How this helps The Courtauld in the future

While social distancing and shielding hopefully won�t always be necessary – they�re not the only reasons for considering a more digital-led future in education. Embracing digital transformation sets The Courtauld up to provide a stronger and scalable experience for students in so many ways. By being at the forefront of the digital revolution, The Courtauld are making it easier for students to collaborate with each other, while also gaining more control over their education – so they can tailor how they learn to best suit their personal learning style.

There are more doors this all opens for The Courtauld going forward too. This digital-first approach increases global accessibility by opening education up to more people and removing barriers to attending courses. No matter where students are located, they can receive a high-level of education that gives them access to all the classes and course materials, while also facilitating collaboration and communication with their coursemates too.

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