When Microsoft originally announced that they were going to offer the Office 365 suite and its components free of charge to all schools who wanted access, it was seen as a “game-changing move” for education and learning in schools as we know it.
With the focus of today’s technology moving to cloud-based computing, storage, app access, and more, it made sense for Microsoft to offer these services to school districts to ensure that their software suites were still relevant and useful for students. Especially when factored in that competition in the education space has heated up between Google, Microsoft, and Apple, with all three offering enticing services to find their way into contracts with schools across the country.
This summer, school districts from Fillmore to Portville, and even administrators themselves, have been taking part in Office 365 Trainings offered by CABOCES. With a focus on what is Office 365, what features are included in the suite, what can be done with the programs, teachers and administrators have been upping their familiarity and comfortability in using the resources available to them in Office 365.
There were some topics that created more buzz than others, such as how to set-up and use ClassNotebook to run a blended or flipped classroom in various subject areas and grade spans. Seeing teachers experiment with creating classes, adding students and learning how to share documents and classroom resources with the push of a button to student computers is leading the charge this summer toward some classrooms becoming paperless! Sway, a presentation tool that creates its products as websites that automatically scale to fit different screen sizes was also a teacher favorite for combining elements of PowerPoint and website design into a friendly and easy-to-use format. Microsoft Forms, which allows for teachers to create surveys or quizzes online and quickly share them with students, access instant results, and provide data points that can be analyzed and diagnosed deeper to assess student progress on their learning of concepts was one that most teachers say they could see themselves using on a constant basis. With Fillmore and Portville students having 1-1 devices, the possibilities for enriching students’ learning are endless!
With everything around us moving toward cloud-based architecture, it only makes sense that our schools learn and adapt at the same time. Staying current for our students and using the resources in much the same way they do every day will allow us to stay relevant in education and keep the students with the best resources available to them at the touch of a button, mouse, or smartphone screen. With the move to Office 365, students will have the opportunity to have access to their files, and their programs, no matter where they may be with the devices they are already so capable of using every day.
By: Ryan McGinnis, CA BOCES Professional Development