2020 has seen a significant shift to online learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. Whereas only a fraction of students participated in remote education before, it has become a daily reality for most students. Many have found the adjustment much more challenging than they imagined it would be.
Fortunately, tech giant Microsoft has the software that teachers and students need to make this necessary migration a success. Here are five tips for people offering and receiving remote lessons using Microsoft Teams.
Create an entire virtual classroom
Many students have encountered problems with lessons, information, assignments, and conversations coming at them on multiple platforms. They often miss out on valuable information because they did not check one of them.
Microsoft Teams solves this problem by bringing it all together in one place. Files, tasks, online lessons, and question and answer sessions are available, and using the OneNote Class Notebook creates an individual workspace for each student without the need for printing handouts.
The Microsoft Teams hub lets teachers set up their virtual classroom and populate it with their students. They can share lessons and assignments, do their grading, provide feedback, and answer students' questions.
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Keep track of learning with quizzes
One of the realities of education during coronavirus times is that assessment practices need to change to accommodate online learning.
Checking that everyone understands is essential before moving to the next topic, but this can be challenging when students are not present in a face-to-face session. Teachers can create and grade quizzes to track students' understanding of concepts using Microsoft Forms.
Feedback is critical as it reassures teachers, parents, and students that learning is on track. Teachers can provide a quiz memorandum after grading to show students how the answers were obtained.
Assess with rubrics
Assessment rubrics are an essential guide for non-test activities as they tell the student what is expected. Setting assignments in Microsoft Teams allows the teacher to use built-in rubrics that are easy to set up and share. Students tend to perform better in tasks assessed using rubrics.
Rubrics promote fairer, more transparent assessment practices. Additionally, they create consistency in how a teacher assesses performances and leave little room for bias and subjectivity.
The feedback from a rubric provides a meaningful mechanism for students to use for reflection after an assignment. It clearly indicates areas for development, allowing students to focus on these to improve future performance.
Conduct live classroom sessions
Microsoft Teams is an inclusive platform as it incorporates technology to ensure that all students can participate in a lesson. Teachers share their screen to present lessons or show video clips while students use the chat feature to ask questions. Class discussions are possible, although teachers might have to mute some students to avoid crosstalk.
Students cannot always attend live sessions, and those that did may want to return to the lesson to gain a deeper understanding of its content. Teachers can record their live sessions and make them available afterward.
Microsoft Teams works as an educational hub facilitating collaboration between teachers with its built-in Staff Teams and Professional Learning Communities (PLC) teams. Educators need to share information and feedback, and since face-to-face meetings are not possible, they can do so virtually.
Additionally, Microsoft has several training options for teachers to get them started on using Teams. They can join Microsoft's Remote Learning Community to connect with other educators, IT professionals, and Microsoft experts who can assist them with problems. There are also webinars and online learning resources available to help teachers transition to remote teaching.
The bottom line
The key to successful remote learning is keeping students engaged. The same approach to every lesson will not accomplish this, meaning that teachers need to switch things up, bring lessons alive, and maintain personal contact with students while keeping them focused and motivated. It is a paradigm shift that has changed the face of education. However, Microsoft Teams makes it possible for everyone to make the switch with minimal disruptions.
About the author:
Joshua Robinson works for a non-profit that's active in East and Southern Africa and working for the welfare of underprivileged students who cannot afford school or college. He has written several academic papers on this and other social issues and helps others also with his academic writing skills. In his free time, he likes cycling, playing tennis and reading classic novels.