Making the case for Teams in the classroom!
In the wake of massive changes to our education systems across Europe, now is a crucial time for teachers and educators to become fully trained up on the digital platforms which enable them to work together and connect with children remotely, as well as in the classroom. Recently, Maverick AV Solutions undertook a beta test for teacher training, getting to understand the issues faced by teachers in the classroom. David Johnson shares the insights after working with teachers for 3 months in lockdown.
Across Europe we were seeing shared issues with teachers working remotely from the classroom. Google, Microsoft and many of the other collaboration platforms provided incredible support, ensuring that lessons could be taught remotely but we saw emerging trends which are set to affect our industry for the next twelve months and beyond.
We interviewed teachers at all levels of the education process and provided Microsoft Teams training for a selection of teachers to see how quickly we could advance their knowledge and ability to work within its eco-system.
Digital skills shortage
With teachers covering such a wide range of disciplines, teaching styles and subjects, the ability to ensure everyone has the same level of digital skills is a pretty hard job for schools.
What we found from our test group is that many teachers only started to use Microsoft Teams during lockdown, so until it happened they didn’t really know all that much about it and how it’s features could help them overcome the challenges they were facing.
We were finding that on a very basic level, teachers were unaware of a majority of the features and functions which Teams offers. Even something as simple as a background change – which, when highlighted, they thought was a great idea to really reinforce the sense of place of being in the classroom, by replacing backgrounds with school branding.
What also became apparent is that there were teachers who went into lockdown not enjoying Teams and becoming quite anti-collaboration, because they didn’t have the knowledge and understanding of its capabilities. Teachers leaving just one training session were total converts because the platform could do everything they needed, but no-one had shown them.
Risk of overload
A potential risk which we’ve encountered is that in trying to fill this skills shortage with training we potentially run the risk of overloading teachers with too much new information at one time.
Some of them found that they couldn’t fully explore the interactivity of Teams because they were busy absorbing information within it. So, what’s crucial moving forward is the structure and development of the way this kind of training is delivered. Staggered learning structures, with time to take in the information which has been presented is key, as is the way information is taken back to schools and shared with teaching groups and departments.
Train the trainer is still as important as ever with busy teaching schedules. There’s no need in having an entire faculty all in attendance, that’s just going to make things difficult for both teacher and trainer.
Training over Tech
This is a crucial takeaway from this initial training run. One of the main issues facing teachers today is the implementation of new technology, without the appropriate level of follow up training. Every one of the teachers on this course, before undertaking was asked to rate Teams. The ratings on average were between 3 and 6 out of 10.
After the training, they were then asked to reassess this value. The averages shot up to between 6 and 10 out of 10. This, combined with anecdotal feedback tells is that the education sector should be focused on the training and education of technology, as well as implementation and installation of new hybrid solutions.
So what’s next?
The next steps will no doubt see our joint industries in lock step with one another, working simultaneously and collaboratively to ensure the quality of education provision.
The future lies with collaborative specialists and professionals providing teachers and educators with the skills and knowledge to be able to perform at their absolute peak, in any set of circumstances.