Educator Anthony Newbold demonstrates Teams for the classroom at the Microsoft Education event at Center 415 on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, in New York. 

Jun 23 2017

Microsoft Eases Personalized Learning and Encourages Future-Ready Skills

A new collaboration tool creates a more on-demand classroom for teachers and students.

As digital natives, today’s students have grown accustomed to having their way.

They can go online and customize a pair of sneakers, pick an on-demand TV series and watch shows commercial free, or adjust mattresses to their individual comfort levels. However, one of the only places where we have not given students the ability to choose is in education.

With the personalized learning and one-to-one initiatives many schools and districts are adopting, customized lessons are on the rise — but many teachers are left asking, “How?”

A new education tool, Microsoft Teams, will prove to be the “how” we have all been looking for.

Microsoft Teams Creates a Digital Classroom Hub

Teams is a new, innovative tool that educators can use to organize classes, communicate with students, share documents and hold video sessions for tutorials and support. Teams truly is a digital hub.

Everything that a teacher needs for students can live inside Teams. Files are easily distributed, assignments are collected and worked on, and assessments can be completed and graded without leaving the Teams platform.

Going digital is unique in that it creates accountability for the students. Assignments are all distributed digitally to their notebooks and channels, so students can work on them wherever they are. It also allows students who miss class an easy way to catch up.

My teachers love Teams because providing individualized support to students through the chat feature is easy and discrete. Other students are not able to see when their classmates are receiving a little extra guidance.

Collaboration Nurtures 21st-Century Workplace Skills

21st-century skills are essential for success in the 21st-century workplace. The nature of Teams makes it a great fit for collaboration and communication — two of those essential skills.

Students enjoy the fact that they can participate in conversations with their teachers and peers. Because it is an app, this communication can take place from anywhere. When students miss class, they will have the conversation waiting for them upon their return, or they can join in from wherever they are.

Through the tool, students can also access a host of collaborative Microsoft applications that allow them to co-author documents. Since the co-authoring can take place in real time, they can instantly interact to produce beautiful products that display their creativity and comprehension of key concepts.

Students also really enjoy the stickers, GIFs and emojis. This feature allows them to add their own flare to the conversation thread.

Friendly UI Creates Efficiency and Easy Group Collaboration

Teams is easy to use. It is extremely user friendly and the user interface makes it effortless to monitor appointments or to schedule new meetings or assignments.

By using data, teachers can differentiate groups to provide students exactly what they need to be successful based on their ability levels. Since these things happen in one place, Teams saves teachers tremendous time.

Sometimes, time management in a one-to-one classroom can be difficult, but with Teams, teachers can easily monitor and manage since students can do the majority of their work without leaving the app.

Because of its ability to create several types of groups, Teams is also a great tool for staff and professional learning communities. I have set up groups for my administrative team, the math team that I directly supervise and even a team of teachers attending this year’s International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference. Just like the students, teachers can contribute and participate from anywhere at any time.

I’m excited to see what this digital hub will be able to do for the Bear Creek community with a full year of implementation.

When we initially started our digital transformation, going paperless with OneNote Class Notebook saved the school roughly $30,000 on copier maintenance and paper as well as hours of instructional time.

With this innovation from Microsoft, we are transforming how we accommodate and customize for our students and how our schools operate going forward. I’m excited to see how we can take this a step further and save even more time and money with Teams.

Jason DeCrow/AP Images for Microsoft

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