So, my first contact with Office 365 was in January 2012. Back then, when this service was called live@edu I did not realize, that this will change my whole working experience in this big style. OK, I was aware, that Online-Collaboration, Exchange functionality and a cloud drive will soon be very useful for my daily working routine, but I could not imagine, what Microsoft offers to teachers and students all over the world.
As a die-hard OneNote user now and back then I was thrilled by the possibilites with sharing and collaboration, but I could not even think about the endless options and scope within this great environment. OneNote Class Notebooks, Microsoft Classroom, Planner,… and more are just some of the great features I have seen to evolve around Microsoft’s idea of working in an educational setting with Collaboration and Cloud in mind.
Educators, what are you waiting for?
In my school lots of educators AND students are not aware of the power of Office 365 and the main purpose of using the portal.office.com site is to manage their e-mails. This seems to be a good start, but there are so many more services to use within the Office 365 environment and I find it very sad, that most of my colleagues do not even know, what powerful tools they are missing. Due to some workshops and personal training, some of them are starting to use the OneDrive for Business storage, but still after two or three years running the Office 365, lots of them do not use it at all. (350 GB sounds quite a lot, but for 800 users this means „nothing“)
Skype for Business or Yammer or other powerful tools are not worth a look for many educators and therefore I am asking myself: How to get the colleagues on board? How to show them the power of Sway, Forms, OneNote etc….?
Once a month I am doing a school-wide Office 365 workshop, but there are just 5 to 15 colleagues (from 90) coming to this workshops and only a very small percentage is really using the tools afterwards. Is it a lack of support? What is these colleagues holding back to dig deeper into the tools that Microsoft provides for collaboration among educators and within classes?
At least the Office Pro Plus activations has spread, that means, that students and teachers are installing the newest Office Products onto their devices.
Also students are not aware of the features of Office 365 and the most are dealing with USB-thumb drives and I think nobody has ever used Skype for Business (except my students). In a business world that is more and more depending on collaboration and communication I find it very strange, that students do not dig deeper into this skills. In my opinion they are missing out some really important learning possibilities and we as educators have to show them these skills to get a jump-start in their future careers!
A lot of work to come…
All in all it takes time for sure to spread the word about the cool and useful features of Office 365 and how to use it within your learning environment as a teacher and student. For me it is absolutely clear, that I am going to dig deeper into the use of the new tools like Microsoft Classroom and Planner, cause I see not only the benefits coming from this, but also the need for preparing my students to work with these tools, as they will shape their working future.
I will surely write about my experiences and my ideas here on my blog, hoping that lots of teachers will follow and give feedback on how they are using the O365-world. But I am aware that these are only tools and as my favorite public speaker Sir Ken Robinson said, we need to have great musicians to get great music, we need great educators to make the best use of these tools.
As Office 365 Advisor for the PH OÖ and holding lots of O365-Workshops in other schools I really want to have an impact an how future teachers and students are working with online tools and although I am not that familiar with other solutions like Google Classrooms et al. , the world of Office 365 gives you great tools into your hands and I hope that future educators will use more of the features to enhance learning and productivity. In my opinion there are endless possibilities and so many great examples where you can use Yammer, OneNote, OneDrive, Office Groups, Planner,… within an educational world. I hope that I can explore lots auf them and I hope that in four years from now I will look back and I am going to say: „Office 365 has truly helped me to achieve more in my teaching and my student’s learning!“