Microsoft Brings Collaboration, Communication to Virtual Classrooms

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Bennett Oghifo

Microsoft has announced that it recently integrated its unified collaboration and communication platform, Teams, into a number of popular learning management systems (LMSs).

According to the company’s statement, this would enable Teams meetings for educators and their students from within their preferred LMSs, including Canvas, Blackboard, Schoology, Brightspace, and itsLearning.

Schools and universities make use of LSMs to manage and present learning content such as coursework, assignments, and tests through a virtual learning environment. But it can be quite challenging to effectively teach learners through the transfer of content alone.

With Teams, teachers will be able to talk students through the content they are teaching in much the same way they would within the physical classroom. Students will also be able to speak to educators to ask questions around a particular subject or idea they are struggling to understand or get clarification on an assignment.

“As we see many educational institutions move towards distance learning, we know that both educators and students are going to go through some difficult adjustments. Microsoft wanted to help ease this transition as much as possible while also supporting a truly connected environment that would enable quality learning. By partnering with these LSMs and bringing the collaborative power of Teams to their platforms, I believe we will be able to do so,” says Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365.

Africa will particularly have to make big leaps in adjustments as the continent has the fewest number of, and thus least experience in, virtual schools compared to the rest of the world, according to a European Union funded report. This means that making this mass shift to distance learning as easy as possible will be key to ensuring the continuation of quality education and learning.

“Maintaining the flow of communication between students and educators will be key to achieving a focused learning environment in the virtual classroom. As teachers adapt their learning material to be more engaging in the virtual world, we must also ensure that they have the right tools to allow learners to participate and get involved in the subject matter,” adds Spataro “Microsoft believes in the power of education to empower students to do and be more, and remain committed to supporting education in all its forms.”

Educational institutions or educators who have Office 365 accounts will be able to create Teams meetings for free in Canvas, Blackboard, Schoology, and Brightspace by following a few quick and easy steps. Those who make use of itsLearning will be able to create a Microsoft Teams meeting anywhere within the tool through its rich text editor.

Microsoft said it has also made it possible for other LSMs to install the Teams app inside their platform and has created a guide for developers to do so.