Microsoft

From teams, to game-changers, to winners

A Dataquest-Microsoft Workshop on Reimagining Education distils some new disruptions that are redefining the education landscape

A future-proof IT that develops career readiness, is built on the foundation of trust and security, is inclusively designed and fosters well-being – that’s not a utopia but a view of the pillars that are shaping the scenario today.

Cloud-Ready

Amit Pawar, Director, Education, Modern Workplace, Microsoft explained the distinction between remote learning and hybrid learning as the world resets its gears. “Remote learning was a temporary necessity. Hybrid learning is a flexible, reimagined learning experience that empowers all students to succeed and enables education to continue regardless of global health crises, weather, transportation limitations and other obstacles.”

He also unveiled that Microsoft Learn is a platform for access to skills’ content and certification content which has now educator content as well. “You can receive training on how to use our tools. It is a comprehensive platform to develop a hybrid teaching capability for your institution.”

Cloud-ready but not Cloud-dependent is also a critical focal point in this journey. Security, safety and compliance become paramount in the transformation path. You do not have to rip and replace. You can find out integration points in your existing LMS and other systems, Pawar assured.

Stake-holder-Friendly

Simran Dawar, Product Marketing Manager, Education Vertical, Microsoft 365 listed down the challenges that various stakeholders face today. Look at HED students. They must access technology that prepares them for the future. They do not want technology to be a distraction but an enabler. They want to collaborate and communicate with their classmates online. At the same time, IT professionals have the challenge of adding simplicity to all this and not side-lining security. They must manage and deploy devices remotely. They need to safeguard student and teacher data as well as their identities. They have to ensure protection of school devices and data. Now look at administrators. They need to balance tight budgets and promote equitable access to digital learning for students of all backgrounds. As to educators, they face the need to personalise learning for students of all abilities and learning styles. They must enable learning and engagement from almost anywhere. They must maximise class time for interaction and minimise time spent in troubleshooting.

She explained how a platform like Teams helps to balance all these needs and offers educators insights and data to observe a student’s progress.

She illustrated a lot of these features with a demo. “Windows 11 is an offering that simplifies everything. We have reimagined the entire digital classroom. This tool is an inlet for the entire digital world. We really simplify because everything comes at your fingertips in a very easy-access way. The files that you use the most, for instance, can be pinned for initial access. The same can be done for daily files and assignments. The search function and data aspects are also very simple here. It enables accessibility and inking as well as touch-enablement for low-cost to high-end devices. There is a lot of comfort for multi-tasking with layouts, dictation notes and widgets.”

Surface-Strong

While Pawar accentuated how security and compliance are strong features in such platforms, why users need to be careful about regular updates and how Microsoft is doing its bit with the Skills Initiatives it works on, Siddharth Chawla, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Microsoft added that devices play an important role in defining a seamless experience. “A Surface experience for virtual classrooms is quite seamless and simple. It allows one to be productive. The kind of device form-factor options also add a lot of ease for various courses and requirements. Like the need of a pen and a drawing board in engineering courses. Our effort is that one can focus on what’s happening in the class and not be worried about other hassles. Security is also paramount in the devices we offer. In hybrid learning and BYOD framework, somewhere, managing these devices becomes imperative so as to help well with IT workloads and reduce downtime. So the Surface management portal assures a one-stop destination for device management. It is a solution that gives a centralised option for IT managers to self-serve, manage and monitor Surface devices at scale in Microsoft Endpoint Manager.”

Future-Sharp

Looks like reimagining education is going to be a step where multiple stakeholders would be aligned well instead of focusing on just students or instructors.

And as the panel surmised well, technology is preparing students for the future. This is being done on all fronts – from curriculum and STEM courses to simplified hybrid learning experiences, to pathways to industry-aligned technical certifications to help students to get future-ready as well as career coaching. Sunil Rajguru, Editor, Dataquest, PCQuest, CiOL explained the relevance of this cloud-readiness and future-readiness for the country’s education transformation. He also hinted about the possibility of education in a Metaverse soon.

With platforms that are cloud-ready and not cloud-dependent, with the ability to integrate in existing IT environments, the game has become edgier and sharper. And game-changing mind-sets is what will separate winners from also-rans in the new world of hybrid learning.  

By Pratima Harigunani

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