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Lockdown Learning - Office 365 for Education

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In lockdown with your kids? Worried about home schooling? Office 365 can help families across the globe equip themselves with the technology tools to facilitate better, more productive learning during these difficult and uncertain times. From small group chats to class discussions, we take a look at what learners of all ages and abilities can use to continue their valuable learning…

With nurseries, schools, colleges and universities now closed thanks to the UK-wide lockdown, many parents are faced with the daunting task of not only keeping their children entertained and exercised, but to maintain a good level of learning – all while trying to work from home themselves!

In any normal situation, us parents would rather pull our own eye lashes out or chew a limb off (too strong? maybe not) than imagine the reality of weeks, possibly months, of home schooling our little darlings without the additional need to stay sane while largely confined to the house AND continuing to stay productive in our own jobs to make ends meet.

But here we are in a time of our lives no one expected to be embracing; our real life 1984 or A Clockwork Orange. And needs must, so we must make the best of a bad situation in the knowledge it will not be forever.

Thankfully, day-by-day more and more resources are being launched by exercise, teaching and entertaining professionals to help keep everyone occupied. We’ve got this guys – thanks to the likes of Joe Wicks taking PE off our hands for that precious half an hour followed by Steve Backshall covering parasites to pademelons, there’s a chance that we might not lose our minds!

Carry on educating

A priority for parents is, of course, their children’s education and doing all we can to prevent this suffering over the coming weeks. Many schools have been proactive in posting daily lessons on school websites or via YouTube – and with the help of Office 365, you can equip your ‘students’ with the tools and technology to make completing tasks easier and efficient, while staying safe online.

What is Office 365?

Office 365 is an integrated cloud-based email system designed for anyone! All you need to operate is an internet connection to gain access to 50GB of storage, with the opportunity to integrate the full version of Microsoft Office as required. It means learners and educators can stay connected, anytime, anywhere – and on any device!

Any student with an eligible school email can access Office 365 for free and log in on any device to access Word, PowerPoint, Excel and much more. The real beauty of this technology for learning, however, is TEAMS. Teams is an online classroom hub where students can chat with their whole class, or in smaller groups, and have one-to-ones with their teachers. They can also take advantage of video calls.

If they’ve been added to a team, they will receive a notification. Communication and activity can be monitored easily with teachers being able to mute students who are sending inappropriate messages or being distracting.

An Assignments app is built into Teams, so students can see work their teachers have posted for them, they can also submit work via ‘Turn in’, and later see their grades and feedback.

Every class Team also has a Class Notebook where students can create their own private notebook to take notes, reference resources and practice maths equations, for example.

Any problems and students can tap into the Student Help Center, detailing all you need to know about using Teams, to project ideas, etc, that can enhance learning, engagement and creativity.

Staying safe online

As ever, it is worth a reminder to learners of all ages of the risks to those unfavourable trying to steal valuable password or login credentials through phishing and spam emails. The rule of thumb is ‘if in doubt, throw it out!’. Obvious measures can be taken such as setting a home WiFi password, as well as ensuring your anti-virus software is up-to-date and shut down at least once or twice a week.

The benefits of Office 365 for home learning:

  • Stay in touch with teachers and educators.
  • Meet virtually through Microsoft Teams which lets you chat, post messages and files – and video chat from any device.
  • Find assignments quickly and easily, with handouts, quizzes, tests and homework all being assigned and even graded online.
  • Students stay engaged – remote learning can be fun because the virtual classroom is interactive and inclusive!

Good luck all!