Microsoft is reimagining the classroom of the future and empowering educators and students with its innovative software and strategies for high-impact learning.
The way that we work and learn is evolving at breakneck speed. As workplaces and classrooms continue to be challenged and to transform into hybrid models, technology is playing a vital role in creating connected, collaborative, and engaging platforms for the worlds of work and education. And collaboration across industries and institutions is essential in bringing these technologies to bear.
“We work with school boards across the country as well as higher education institutions to help them imagine the possibilities for the future of teaching and learning,” says Dr. Elka Walsh, National Learning and Skills Lead at Microsoft Canada. “We want to empower learners with the skills that they need to thrive both as citizens and in the world of work.”
What Teams also enables us to do is create more inclusive and accessible learning so that every student can participate.
Defining the future of learning
The shift to hybrid work with distributed teams has put a newfound focus on the need to collaborate and communicate effectively. The same thing is happening in classrooms, with the move to hybrid learning.
“We did some research during the pandemic and found that as learning experiences shifted into online learning, there was a 60 percent drop in student engagement,” says Dr. Walsh. “Student engagement is so important — it’s a proxy for student success. So we need to think about how we’re engaging students.”
The solution, says Dr. Walsh, is to focus on high-impact learning strategies. “It’s more than just video conferencing,” she says. “It’s about communicating, collaborating, and creating content together.”
Microsoft’s innovative software offerings help to foster collaboration and communication. “Higher education institutions are using technology like the Microsoft Surface Hub — an interactive whiteboard — for example, so both students who are in the room and students joining remotely can collaborate together in real time, creating a really dynamic experience,” says Dr. Walsh. Microsoft Teams allows students and educators to meet, collaborate, create, and share resources all in one place, while the Microsoft 365 Education suite gives students the tools they need to unlock creativity and promote teamwork.
Removing barriers to education
Microsoft’s software options are also driving inclusion and access to education. “What Teams also enables us to do is create more inclusive and accessible learning so that every student can participate,” says Dr. Walsh. “When we include OneNote, our classroom note-taking program within Teams, this removes even more barriers so that every single learner can thrive,” says Dr. Walsh. “It includes things like Immersive Reader, Dictate (a speech-to-text feature), and translation technology. These are the kinds of technologies that really remove barriers for students who face any kind of learning disability or hearing barrier as well as international students and newcomers to Canada.”
Now is the time to pivot our learning models and to engage every single student, while also removing stigmas and barriers. “We’re at an inflection moment, especially for higher education,” says Dr. Walsh. “Through deep collaboration with industry and post-secondary institutions, we have an opportunity together to transform learning experiences and to imagine the future of what’s possible for our students, and to set them up to thrive in our changing world. We can empower every single student across Canada, and this is our moment to be working together.”