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Microsoft announces free help for UK schools to run classes via the internet

Chris Rothwell

Today (9 Apr) @Microsoft announces that all schools in the UK are being offered free help to get fully set up for #RemoteLearning so students can continue to learn whilst at home.

With more than 27,000 schools in the UK, which educate around 10 million pupils, the announcement will enable education customers to:

  • Work with Microsoft’s FastTrack team for free, to help staff learn to run lessons remotely using Microsoft Teams, Office 365, and other programs such as Minecraft: Education Edition, Flipgrid, and Skype in the Classroom
  • Empower both teachers and students to connect, communicate and collaborate in real time through the use of technology
  • Create a safe and secure learning environment through Microsoft tools which use intelligent security features enhanced by machine learning to protect data and identities

Chris Rothwell, Director of Education at Microsoft UK, said:

“Schools across the UK are facing unprecedented challenges and their staff are showing incredible resilience, imagination and passion to ensure that they can help keep children safe and can keep learning while they at home. Technology is helping teachers keep in touch with students and to maintain a connection to the school and each other. This offer to support any school get fully set up for remote learning is so that every school and pupil can benefit, and that learning can continue while schools are closed. ”

Microsoft’s FastTrack team, which works with organisations to quickly get staff up and running with new technology, has announced that it will provide support to help education customers be ready to move to remote learning free of charge. Microsoft has provided Office 365 for Education for free for some time and is now offering extra support to set up a new Office 365 system, or to help existing customers who may only have used basic services, like email.

There are more than 27,000 schools in the UK, which educate around 10 million pupils. Most of them have been at home for the past two weeks following Government legislation.

Microsoft has now pledged to work with those schools so they can run lessons remotely using Microsoft Teams, Office 365 and other popular programs such as Minecraft: Education Edition, Flipgrid, Skype in the Classroom and InTune.

These tools – available on mobile, tablet, PC and browser – promote teamwork, allowing students and teachers to connect with each other, share files, issue and mark work, communicate and collaborate in real time. They also offer a safe and secure learning environment, using intelligent security features enhanced by machine learning to protect data and identities.

Pupils can take virtual field trips via Skype and Teams, while Flipgrid lets them discuss and showcase what they’re working on.

Many schools and teachers are already embracing how technology can help them and their students.

For example, Teams is widely used at Ribblesdale High School, in Lancashire. It is allowing leaders to share priorities more easily as well as help with recruitment and communication. Teachers are sharing class materials, praising pupils and holding conversations, while live lessons in Teams allows participants to share their screens to show what they are working on.

Cornerstone Academy Trust in Devon is using Teams to deliver assemblies, engage with pupils and hold lessons such as Computing, Art, Science and Drama.

Meanwhile, all schools in Wales can access Microsoft 365 and Flipgrid free of charge following a deal announced last year. The country is also creating five Minecraft Learning Centres to help school and colleges use the popular block-building game to teach subjects such as science, history and coding.

As well as a remote learning guide Microsoft has also created three webinars that showcase the benefits of Teams for those anyone working in the education sector:

  • Online classes & lectures with all your students: Explore how you can create a persistent online classroom with meetings for up to 250 participants. This webinar is designed to help first time users of Teams get started and host classes and lectures with online meetings
  • Online meetings with student groups or anyone via their email: Discover how you can keep students engaged with online meetings for small groups. This webinar is for educators who need to create ad-hoc meetings with selected groups of students and will cover virtual office hours, tutoring sessions, and other group meetings
  • IT Admins – Online education and business continuity: Learn how to deploy and manage Teams for students, faculty, and staff. This webinar is designed to assist IT Administrators in setting up Teams for online meetings, collaboration, and more.
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