Start Building Your Hybrid Learning Classroom

Readers of a particular vintage will be familiar with the legendary Basil Faulty line “Don’t mention the war…” and many may subscribe to a similar point of view when I mention phrases like remote teaching, distance learning and online productivity & collaboration tools. Rightly so, we are just out of a second emergency remote learning stint, the second of two unprecedented formal education hiatuses to occur in the last 18 months. As things slowly return to some form of normality, teachers at all levels of our education system just want to get back to the basics, face-to-face with their learners and recuperate from the universal remote teaching fatigue. Whilst this is more than understandable in the short term, recent experience, I think dictates that we can’t just go back and continue as we were, and I concur with Róisín’s, recent Why Learning in a Post-Pandemic World Will Never Be the Same post. We need to build on what we’ve learned and start to develop and implement new hybrid teaching and learning approaches that blend the best of face-to-face and remote. Granted, this isn’t going to happen overnight, and a new blended learning reality will evolve over time. However, in the interim, teachers should be building on what digital skills they’ve already learned and embedded into their practice during the recent lockdowns and a great place to start is in upskilling yourself on the productivity and collaboration suite in use in your school. In the main, this means either Office 365 for Education or Google Workspace for Education and TeachNet have developed a number of online and blended CPD opportunities this summer to help you get to grips with same. We’ve done a head to head previously but in reality whatever suite has been deployed in your school is what you’ll be using going forward so in most cases each suite’s respective pros and cons are pretty much by-the-by at this point.. Indeed, irrespective of what side of the fence you find yourself, you’ll find TeachNet has it covered. For the remainder of this post, we’re going to look at our Office 365 courses but our Google Workspace for Education in the Primary Classroom course will be featured here also, in due course….

A reminder to start, Microsoft’s ubiquitous Office suite or Office 365 is available for free to teachers and students. Whilst this has been the case for many years now, many teachers and students are still unaware that they can download and install the full Office Suite (For mobile, tablet and PC) for free once their school/academic institution has a valid school license agreement or OVS-ES (Open Value Subscription Agreement for Education Solution). And we’re not talking limited versions either, the entire suite can be installed locally, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, InfoPath, and Access, and the license covers up to five devices.

Even for those school who aren’t paying an annual subscription they can still avail of all the online office apps and generous cloud-storage free, the only thing amiss are the installable versions, see more here. That’s a free email service for staff and students on their own school domain, 1TB of OneDrive storage per user, shared collaborative spaces in Teams and Groups for virtual/remote learning with a standardised (and familiar) interface, cross-school and cross-platform. And that’s really just scratching the surface, Office includes a whole host of powerful educational tools that work across the suite to ensure all tools are accessible to all students. for instance Immersive Reader and Dictate, just to mention two…

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TeachNet are currently offering three EPV day approved summer courses on Office 365, two blended, 21st Century Learning with O365 (July 6th-8th & August 16th-18th) and one fully online, Microsoft Office 365 for Education. All courses will deep dive on how you can use Office 365 in conjunction with the Microsoft’s Education Centre to develop and enhance 21st century skills in your classroom. 21st century skills are the skills that today’s students will need to be successful in this ever changing world and include communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity, social and emotional intelligence, technological literacy and problem solving. All courses are hands on and will provide you with the practical skills to create these 21CLD learning activities using various Office 365 applications including Microsoft Teams, OneNote, Flipgrid & more…

So don’t delay, places are limited on the blended courses so signup now on our Current Courses page, email or alternatively call our support helpline number on 01- 4806208 (available from 9.30am to 2.30pm on weekdays).

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