Around the world, schools that successfully shifted to remote and hybrid learning have many things in common, including, resilient educators, nimble school leaders, and hard-working students. We commend these inspiring individuals for navigating these transitions over the past year, across all grade levels. In addition to their efforts, there is another element that has been critical to schools’ successes over the past year: technology built for education.
One school system that quickly embraced remote and hybrid learning technology is Onslow County Schools. The North Carolina school district, home to 27,000 students ranging from kindergarten through high school, had already been using Microsoft Teams before COVID-19 started. This enabled both students and staff to quickly adjust when Onslow shifted to remote learning last spring. The district also took swift steps to put new technology in place, adopting a range of Windows 10 devices for every student and educator in the district. Along with a team of dedicated educators and school leaders, these technologies allowed the district transition to remote and hybrid learning environments.
Security, affordability, and relevant professional development resources were important factors when the district considered when which devices and online learning platforms to use.
Security: A secure and reliable learning environment was paramount for Onslow County when selecting the technology for the district. “It was important for us to know that Teams is extremely secure. We had to be aware of CIPA and COPPA compliance,” said Stephen Taylor, Director of Digital Learning and Teaching at Onslow County Schools, referring to the Child Internet Protection Act and the Child Online Privacy and Protection Act. “Microsoft helps give us peace of mind that we’re meeting those regulations.”
Though the district had implemented Teams well before school closures, the platform’s strong security features became even more important during this time. With features like Hard Mute and Student Lobby, Onslow was able to keep students secure no matter the learning environment. These tools have helped many educators maintain a structured, supervised classroom at every point in the learning journey.
Affordability: Teams allowed students, educators, and staff members at Onslow to be on the same, easy-to-use learning platform. And to access this critical online learning platform, the district needed devices. Windows 10 offered a range of devices that were affordable enough to be distributed at scale across Onslow County.
Together with Windows 10 devices, Teams provide a learning solution tailored to fit the diverse needs of each classroom. “On the first day of school, I walked past classroom after classroom of teachers using Microsoft Teams to host their hybrid learning classes without a hitch,” said Erin Holland, a Digital Learning and Teaching Services facilitator for Onslow County.
Professional development: It’s more important than ever for educators to feel comfortable and confident using technology to facilitate different learning environments. Microsoft offers a variety of free training and professional development resources to help educators gain the technical proficiency they need to focus on what they do best: connecting with students.
“We wanted to keep the focus on instruction,” said Holland. “With Teams, teachers can provide direct instruction to both groups of students synchronously, and they can monitor student progress every day. That element of consistency was incredibly important.” She said that while other counties closed school for several days or even weeks, Onslow County was able to continue teaching grades three to 12 using Teams after just one day of transition, thanks to the ongoing professional learning opportunities.
As schools like those in Onslow County shift back to hybrid and in-person settings, dependable devices and engaging learning platforms will remain as important as ever. With Windows 10 devices and Microsoft Teams, schools can help student learn from anywhere.
Learn more about how your school can follow Onslow County’s lead and continue to create engaging classrooms in any learning environment.