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Article content Similar to schools across the world, public schools in Coquitlam, B.C., could not have predicted the pandemic.
Content of the article B.C. Content of the article, however, the B.C. schools were probably better prepared than other schools to meet COVID-19's learning challenges.
In no small part, that's due to its collaboration with Microsoft that allows for the enhanced use of the tech company's range of educational, interactive cloud-based applications that enhance learning experiences in the classroom and beyond.
CHILLING AND KILLING
Stephen Whiffin, chief information officer and director of instruction in the Coquitlam School district, says there has been a broad movement to incorporate technology into schools across Canada for quite some time.
Since a few yearsago, the aim was to make use of information technology to improve learning for the district's diverse students.
"We have been focusing for a while on the introduction of Microsoft 365 Education, because it is a suite most people are familiar with."
The ease of use of Microsoft cannot be overstated in its importance to aiding in the ease of use among educators and learners, he notes. So, when the pandemic hit the school district, it was able to swiftly move to an online, at-home learning format.
Whiffin claims that all of our teachers owned laptops and had Microsoft software installed on them. The IT infrastructure was also available to accommodate this rapid change.
The school board purchased new hardware and devices that run on the latest cloud-based Windows 10 operating systems. This allows seamless synching with Microsoft 365 Education tools. Microsoft also provides IT management tools that let administrators manage connected devices networks, networks, and other resources.
Article content It also offers its own Surface brand of touchscreen tablet/laptop/desktop hybrids for exceptional performance in educational settings, with affordable to premium price points.
Microsoft's education suite of software is based on Office 365, the premier software for business across the world. In collaboration with school boards, Microsoft offers a free version of its educational software to teachers and students across Canada. This gives users access to powerful tools such as Teams, PowerPoint, Excel and Word on their devices at home for learning, as well as access to Minecraft Education Edition. Students and parents also have access to specific add-ons designed specifically for classroom use.
Whiffin says that Microsoft Teams, a core communication tool within the M365 suite, includes special plug-ins for education. This allows for remote learning as well as working in the classroom.
Microsoft's education program also comes with applications such as OneNote Class Notebooks. This allows teachers to create virtual spaces for their own small group, as well as class work.
It's about more than software, however. Whiffin claims that Microsoft provides the entire package that is essential in an age where learning is expanding beyond classroom walls.
"All the resources should be aligned, not just for learning, but also to provide the infrastructure that supports learning whether it is in the classroom at home, in the classroom or wherever education needs to go.
Article content All Microsoft 365 Education tools are backed by unparalleled security and privacy measures, Whiffin adds.
He says, "That was absolutely crucial for parents and teachers, so they were confident that students would be able to use the tools safely." "Without this trust it would have been difficult to implement these tools in our classroom."
While Microsoft's 365 Education suite proved its value for remote learning during the pandemic, the most telling illustration of its transformative effectiveness is that students and teachers have continued to use them after returning to classroom learning.
He continues, "That's a testament the quality of education and the effectiveness of tools to enhance it."
Central to the Coquitlam school district's success is Microsoft's unifying platform that meets the demands of students, teachers and support staff.
"The benefit lies in the fact that Microsoft 365 Education provides one set of tools to do A to Z in the learning experience," says Whiffin, whether it be crunching numbers in Excel or putting together a presentation in PowerPoint or communicating in real-time via Teams.
To find out more about Microsoft 365 Education, or download the suite, visit this.
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