Educational Institute: Roots International School System
Overview: COVID-19 pandemic forced countries to implement temporary closure of schools, colleges and universities to control coronavirus outbreak. Roots International Schools were in a dilemma and needed a solution for uninterrupted process of learning for thousands of their students. They required a virtual system within the shortest possible time of 7 days. Microsoft Pakistan recommended Communication Square to establish online learning and help Roots International School in the transition from traditional school system to modern virtual school system.
Solution: Microsoft Teams for Education
As countries worldwide enforced different degree of lockdowns to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, the education sector was hit particularly hard. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in temporary closures of schools and universities impacting an estimated 1.6 billion students worldwide. The decision to shut down educational institutes was very abrupt, leaving school owners and administration in dismay. As the administration of educational institutes scrambled for alternate solutions, some schools resorted to online learning while others without the necessary infrastructure, were forced to remain closed. Roots International Schools is a leading chain of Pakistan based international school/college/university serving over thousands of students in multiple cities across Pakistan.
Traditional classes were not possible due to the coronavirus pandemic, both staff and students were restricted to their homes. The management of Roots International Schools deliberated on setting up online classes to reduce the impact of academic closure on their students. Roots International had to quickly respond to the many challenges thrown at them by the pandemic hence decided to move their staff and students online by establishing online learning solution. They proactively contacted us to possibly deploy Microsoft Teams for Education across different campuses to establish online learning.
When Communication Square was contacted for a possible Microsoft Teams solution our sales team, headed by the CEO, got into discussions with Roots management and IT Department. After facing some initial resentment from the IT Department, our team convinced the management to roll out Microsoft Teams for Education.
Moving Roots International School System to Teams was a challenge. Due to academic disruption impacting students, we were pressed for time. Roots required the solution to be implemented within seven (7) days. Our team identified the following challenges:
Assessment of Infrastructure: Our first challenge was assessing the required infrastructure to successfully deploy Microsoft Teams at a time when our team was restricted to working remotely. Our Microsoft Certified Personnel conducted several discussions over telephone with their IT Department.
Faculty Training: A major obstacle was inadequate faculty training of conducting online classes and lack of technical skills. We had to provide a complete solution that would enable teachers to deliver online classes remotely while staying organized and effective. This included setting up teams for different classes, with weekly lectures assigned to different channels. We created online video tutorial on how to create and manage quizzes, assignments, and upload class lecture material.Student Training: Most of the students were new to online learning, we were not sure if students had the required hardware or internet connection to attend online classes. While parents were also sceptical about the success of online classes as it was a big move away from traditional classroom.
Communication Square LeadsDue to time constraint our team urgently devised strategy to successfully roll out Microsoft Teams. We had to ensure Roots International classes were up and running in no time to safe precious time of students that were already being traumatized by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our priority was to keep students, faculty and school management communicating seamlessly. Since Roots International had not used Microsoft Office 365, we had to first educate them about Microsoft Teams for Education as an effective collaboration and communication tool.
Our solution consisted of the following key components:
Virtual Classroom Configuration: We created channels representing courses for each teacher account and each course was subdivided into weeks.
Faculty & Staff Management: The on-boarding process consisted of migrating teacher and staff data into Teams to create teacher accounts, map courses with teachers.
Student Management: Strict enforcement of rights and permissions for specific user roles was implemented to ensure students adhered to Roots International policies.
Calendar Management & Scheduling: This encompassed setting up the timetable. Students were added according to classroom strength, courses they had registered
Access Control & Security Management: Access Control Mechanism was implemented to ensure students abided by Roots International policies.As a result, both faculty and students stayed connected.
According to administrators and coordinators at Roots International their faculty has enormously benefited from Microsoft Teams for Education. The management at Roots International regularly held meetings to get feedback from faculty regarding online learning using Microsoft Teams for Education, and the feedback we have received from them is encouraging and very positive. Faculty use Teams to interact with students, colleagues, and school management. They also easily share documents and class material with their students and other faculty members, work collaboratively, and initiate class discussions. Additionally, their teachers deliver class lectures, conduct group and individual sessions and respond to student comments while having full control over permissions and restrictions to ensure students abide by the institute’s polices.
Furthermore, Roots International has received positive feedback from students and parents praising the efforts of their teachers, and school management for establishing online learning that is both fun and interactive for their children. Engaging students is a big task, and when students are interested to learn online it speaks volume.