Once again, many Irish educators made the journey to the BETT Show in London last week. It was great to meet many old friends and to discuss the new possibilities for teaching, learning and assessment that they witnessed at the show. This year the show was once again dominated by the big players, Microsoft, Google and Intel but there were some very interesting displays focusing on STEAM and on new programmes supporting entrepreneurs to create products and services that support digital learning. There were lots of new virtual reality headsets and robots on show, and one wonders how teachers and learners might best utilise these technologies to support learning?
One of the tools that attracted quite a bit of attention was Microsoft Teams, which was launched at BETT in 2017 but is really only now coming to public attention. Teams is a user interface that facilitates collaboration so that users have instant access to everything they need in one place. For an overview of Teams, click on the video below.
What quickly became evident from viewing some of the sessions on the Teams, and from chatting to experts on the Microsoft Stand, is that this tool has a real relevance for education. It has the potential to support Communities of Practice to engage more easily through live and asynchronous discussions and through the sharing of files. To learn more about Teams you can sign up to the Microsoft Educator Community online course, Introduction to Microsoft Teams – the digital hub for educators and students, and see how other schools are using it to enhance teacher communication and collaboration within and across schools.
Head of Learning and Research in Digital Transformation in Catholic Education Western Australia (well worth checking out this site and their resources section), who outlined how they use Teams to support collaboration within the district. They have been piloting it for some time and are now about to use it as a key element of their virtual school network (see below for more).
Teams is constantly evolving and developing and several Irish educational institutions are already exploring its potential and hopefully we can share some of their stories with you in the coming months. Like many tools on the market it appears to have great potential but the key will be for educators to demonstrate and share their practices, so that teaching, learning and assessment practices are enhanced. Finally, it is free as part of Office 365 and it works across multiple platforms and devices.