Schools and educators everywhere face an array of new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic as they extend classrooms into their students’ homes. Microsoft Education partners are building innovative solutions to make the transition more effective, productive, and engaging. Whether these schools are taking a hybrid learning approach, or they are fully engaged in remote learning, Microsoft Education partner solutions are moving them forward on their distance learning journey.
To be sure, there is a lot to think about. Hybrid learning is more than just presenting lessons online. Educators need to find new ways to connect and engage with students when they cannot interact in person—especially tough in hybrid learning mode. Student assessments, lesson planning, and classroom management are more critical than ever.
Staying connected in ways that count – Kuopio City Schools in Finland with School Day
When the students at Kuopio City Schools in Finland left the classroom and began logging in from home, teachers were concerned about maintaining emotional connections with their students, many of whom were struggling with this new way of learning. Without daily personal engagement, how would they know how students were adjusting? School Day, a Microsoft Education partner, stepped in to help.
School Day Wellbeing is a Microsoft Teams app, built using Azure, Microsoft Graph APIs, and the Microsoft Graph Toolkit. It connects to the school roster to survey students and assess their emotional wellness needs. With this app, Kuopio City Schools can monitor—and respond to—students’ social and emotional wellness needs. The app asks students to respond to simple statements like, “I can get help if I’m overwhelmed” or “I have necessary school supplies.” It then aggregates responses at the classroom level in a simple, fun way, and provides key insights to teachers while protecting individual students’ privacy. In just a few months, Kuopio City Schools collected 200,000 answers from six schools. Principals were able to identify schools with positive trends versus those that needed intervention through these daily assessments and business intelligence data.
“We are interested in how the students are doing at home, and one good tool is the School Day application,” says Jukka Sormunen, Kuopio City Chief of General Upper Secondary Education. “It was very interesting to see the data, and when it shows that students aren’t feeling well, we can react immediately. Supporting teachers was the major thing we could change because of the data.”
Sampo Lokki, VP of School Day, believes that solutions like School Day Wellbeing can make a meaningful difference for both educators and students. “We are using Microsoft Teams to help schools meet their students’ social-emotional wellness needs while also meeting privacy requirements,” Lokki explains. “Teachers have access to analytics to improve wellbeing, and with Microsoft Teams integration, I’m really looking forward to seeing where we can go to help schools around the world.”
Assessing students from a distance – Stockholm Science & Innovation School in Sweden with Dugga
At the Science & Innovation School in Stockholm, remote learning made almost every aspect of student evaluation, scheduling, communicating, and secure testing much more difficult. They turned to Dugga Digital Assessment for a solution.
Built on Azure cloud infrastructure, Microsoft Teams, and Microsoft Graph, the Dugga Digital Assessment app ensures the exam event and the associated link is on every student’s calendar, making it easier for teachers to schedule online exams and helps students meet their commitments. The solution also allows teachers to grade student-by-student or section-by-section. And it all integrates with Microsoft Immersive Reader so it’s accessible for special needs students. for special needs students.
“With the new Dugga app, we can now schedule different tests and exams within Microsoft Teams,” says Dean Patrick Vestberg. “And it instantly shows the calendar of the student exams. Importantly, it’s been easy and quick for students and teachers to adapt to—very user friendly.”
“Our product managers were able to develop features that meet the needs in today’s classroom,” Dugga CEO Maria Gårdlund says. “The Graph APIs made product development much easier and more accessible, and the Microsoft Graph Toolkit has helped us build Graph-powered experiences, saving us a tremendous amount of time.”
To help schools that are struggling with COVID-19-related remote learning challenges, Dugga is currently offering its Digital Assessment app at no cost.
Planning lessons from home – Kinsale Community School in Ireland with Beedle
Kinsale Community School in Ireland, a Microsoft Showcase School, has made significant investments in digital technology. But hybrid learning means an increased workload for teachers, particularly when they have other responsibilities to manage at home. The goal? Improve teachers’ productivity so they could spend less time planning lessons and managing classroom activities for hybrid learning—allowing them to provide more attention to the students. Specifically, they have been using Microsoft Teams to give students and teachers a platform for conversations, online meetings, and shared files.
That’s where the Beedle Planning Tool on Microsoft Teams comes in. Built using Microsoft Graph APIs and Microsoft Graph Toolkit, the Beedle Planning Tool helps streamline departmental collaboration. The Beedle Planning Tool provides a secure, systematic way for all departments to share their curriculum and lessons plans while contributing to the whole school plan. And the integration of Beedle into Microsoft Teams means that teachers can replace the traditional teacher diary with their app, keeping all information in one place for each class and its students.
“This has been excellent for structuring group work, monitoring behavior, and recording homework,” says Ger Hogan, Deputy Principal. “And the information has been very useful for parent-teacher meetings. With the Beedle planner tool, we can extend the value of Teams even further, streamlining how all the school’s departments collaborate.”
As the need for remote classroom planning and management grows, so has Beedle’s reach. According to Beedle CEO Niclas Walter, “The Beedle solution is being used in more than 70 countries, and in the past three months, we’ve seen a huge growth. Our ultimate goal is to make hybrid learning accessible for every teacher on the planet, so they have everything they need from the app.”
Making hybrid learning work
As the global pandemic continues to change the ways we learn and work, the need for sustainable, systematic approaches and resources that keep the focus on student outcomes has never been more urgent. With innovative partners like School Day, Dugga, and Beedle, and creating solutions that integrate seamlessly with Microsoft Education tools, schools can more confidently transition to online learning, foster ongoing engagement, and empower and support students, educators, and staff.
As we continue on this journey, we invite you to learn more about our position on a paradigm shift for education – remote to hybrid learning.