Author: Chris Melia – TELT
3rd July 2019
When I heard that Dominic Williamson had announced a series of Microsoft Teams Education roadshow events in the UK, I immediately looked to see what dates were on offer! This was the first time that the MS Teams & MS Education team had delivered a series ‘Teams’ specific events – to really share best practices from across Further and Higher Education.
Luck would have it – the MS team happened to be visiting the University of Newcastle on the same day I was presenting at an Advance HE event hosted by Northumbria University (a 15-minute walk away!). With my Advance HE presentation only starting at 4pm, I was fortunate enough to spend most of my day at the MS Teams roadshow.
On arrival, it was nice to see so many familiar faces from across the sector, and to hear so much positive feedback around the value of our “DigiLearn Sector Community”. This new community harnesses the collaborative nature of Microsoft Teams, to connect colleagues from across FE, HE and beyond. I also bumped into Marc Bennett from the host University (Newcastle), who actually attended a session I presented at our own “Digital Transformation at Scale” event back in April.
The day’s activities started with some opening words by Clare Riley of the MS Education team, welcoming delegates and providing an excellent overview of the day’s agenda. The following keynote came from Dave Sharples and Marc Bennett (University of Newcastle), who shared their rollout of MS Teams for learning, teaching, research and professional services. There were many parallels to be drawn with our own experiences of rolling out Teams from the 2018/2019, and of particular interest were the qualitative case studies and comments provided by staff and students. I feel they really added an element of authentic impact to the presentation. As Marc closed the session, it was nice of him to give a nod to both ourselves (UCLan), and Teesside University in recognition of the work we have been sharing across the sector.
Following a few more case studies presented by Dominic Williamson (once again featuring our work at UCLan!), the group was split into two tracks, one for Learning and Teaching, and another for IT Administration. This was a great idea and really allowed delegates to get the most out of their day, depending on roles and contexts.
I attended the Learning and Teaching track, led by Alan Crawford and Clare Riley (both of the MS Education team). Part of Alan’s segment looked at some of the up and coming Teams features that are being rolled-out as we head into the new academic year. Some of these I was already aware of, but there were also a few that I hadn’t yet come across. What always impresses me with Microsoft, is just how responsive they really are to the needs of institutions across the education sector. Several of the updates coming to Teams, directly address some of the thoughts expressed by both our academic staff and students at UCLan.
In Clare’s segment we looked at how Microsoft are supporting educators in using their tools to enhance learning and teaching practice, as well as the student experience. It was surprising to see just how many other institutions weren’t yet aware of the what the Microsoft Educator Community has to offer. The MEC has become an integral part of our staff development and CPD offer at UCLan, and we have now embedded these resources into a much broader digital development programme (see video below).
After a quick networking lunch with colleagues from the University of Liverpool and Barnsley College (amongst others!), it was time for me to head over to Northumbria University and deliver the Advance HE presentation alongside my colleague Neesha Ridley (Senior Lecturer in Midwifery, UCLan).
Entitled “DigiReady: Preparing learners for the modern workplace”, our session shared an authentic approach to developing digitally-literate, work ready graduates. It was very positively received by those who attended and provoked some good follow-up discussions with points to take away. A copy of the presentation can be found here.
On reflection, it is always particularly rewarding to see and hear the impact that our work at UCLan is having across the wider education sector. The “DigiLearn Sector Community” continues to thrive with 250 members to-date, from over 100 institutions and organisations worldwide.