In recent times, access to education has changed quite dramatically. With schools, universities, and colleges closed due to the pandemic, teachers and students alike have had to quickly adapt to alternative ways of learning.
It would be easy to think this shift to more digital-focused education is just a temporary fix to get through until things can return to ‘normal’. But is ‘normal’ what’s really in the best interests of students? Or has the current climate provided an opportunity to transform how education can work for the better in the long run?
Education providers have the chance to be at the forefront of real impactful change in providing a higher standard of learning for students by embracing what is set to be the future of education and going digital.
These are just some of the ways this new approach to education can benefit students, teachers, and schools.
Digital learning allows education to be opened up to a more diverse range of students, who may otherwise have been unable to attend in-person classes. All students need is an internet connection and a device to connect from, and they can attend classes from wherever they are. This also presents the opportunity to assist students who may have physical disabilities or injuries that make it difficult for them to travel to classes, as well as to students who may be experiencing a range of issues which makes it harder to attend in person.
By storing valuable resources and information related to classes and courses (such as reading lists, e-books, course literature, etc.) in a shared, central location – all students can easily access the key information and tools when they need it to help them study, work on projects, and complete assignments.
Everyone has their own way of learning that works best for them. Some people need rigid structure to keep them focused, others need flexibility to give them the space to work when they feel most productive.
You can allow students to work at a pace that’s best for them. If they find it hard to take in a lot of information at once, they can go and refer back to previous digital classes. And if certain students are able to grasp course materials very quickly, you can provide them with opportunities to advance their knowledge further in ways that are tailored to their capabilities.
Higher levels of personalisation can also see a boost in student engagement, as they can feel more like active participants in their own learning. Students’ motivation increases when their classes and courses are able to meet their individual needs, rather than simply receiving a one-size-fits-all education.
Working together has long been a cornerstone of education. Group projects teach students a number of core values that will help see them through life as they enter the working world. In digital education, there are even more ways for students to collaborate and work together – while providing more transparency for teachers in how well students have been able to work cohesively as a group too.
Through a digital environment, teachers can dedicate more one-to-one time with students to foster a collaborative learning experience with them. Students can also work with each other better through co-authoring documents together, group chats associated with specific files, sharing of useful resources, and greater visibility of the status of other people’s areas. This helps everyone work well together as a group, hone their communication skills with ease, and hold each other accountable too.
In traditional teaching, it can be difficult to gauge how engaged students are with different parts of the course content. Are there some areas where students time and time again have no interest or lack a deeper understanding? Or are there specific parts where students have greater interest, that could be delved into further?
Digital platforms can let you track, monitor, and analyse which materials students are using and engaging with. You can also use digital forms to create quick surveys and polls for students to see which areas they are enjoying or finding useful, and identify any areas where they struggle more.
Digital learning provides more opportunities for engagement within virtual classes too. Some students may not have felt comfortable speaking up in front of other students in the classroom. But when provided with a Q&A feature where they can type their question or discussion point to send to the teacher, more reserved students may feel more emboldened to get involved and interact directly in class.
This last benefit is one that is always good news – for schools and students. Embracing digital learning can reduce the costs for your institution in a number of ways. Utilising digital platforms for courses can help optimise and streamline your internal infrastructure – reducing administrative costs and allowing IT teams to focus their time and energy in other areas. Using well-established digital platforms, such as Microsoft 365 Education, also means you do not need to worry about maintaining servers on-site, and instead can let the experts at Microsoft handle that, along with their top-of-the-line cyber security too.
When it comes to the more physical side, more online classes reduces a need for so much building space to hold classes in. You can teach more students – with less space required – allowing for more income through tuition, with reduced cost in maintaining physical buildings and classrooms.
So now the question is, how do you start on your digital education journey?
It can feel overwhelming transforming how you approach education in an increasingly digital world. Perhaps you have put in place solutions to tide you over during the current times, but are these sustainable and the best options long term?
Microsoft 365 Education has been specifically designed to cater to the needs of educational institutions, teachers, and students. As a fully-integrated digital platform, you can use four key applications together to provide a strong educational experience for students – enabling them to learn and engage in the way that works best for them. These applications in Microsoft 365 Education are:
- Teams: Through Microsoft Teams you can deliver online interactive classes, hold large virtual live events, allow students to hold group meetings, store and share resources (and enable students to do so with each other), record classes, and instant message with students and colleagues.
- SharePoint: In Microsoft SharePoint you can store and collaborate on files, create class schedules, publish news updates to students – and it is all integrated with Microsoft Teams too.
- Forms: Use Microsoft Forms to create quizzes or for course exams – or just for quick polls and surveys to get feedback from students. All responses are stored securely and you can analyse the responses within Forms too.
- Stream: With Microsoft Stream you are able to record and store all your online classes – and create public and private channels to determine access to the recordings. You can also add Forms to the videos, as well as adding recordings to Teams to provide easy access for students.
We want to help you in facilitating and delivering education through digital channels. If you want to find out more about how you can provide your students with the highest standard of education both now and in the future, our team of specialists are here to help and guide you. Speak to us today and let us get you started on your digital transformation journey.
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