Office 365: Putting Pedagogy First

Frequently Asked Questions about O365

by Rowena Ulbrick, ICT Education Specialist at Expanding Learning Horizons.

During my time as a teacher, Head of Teaching & Learning and ICT Education Specialist, I have come across schools who have successfully implemented new technologies into the classroom, as well as those that have been less successful. From this, I know that it all begins with the approach.

In the case of Office 365, I have seen schools implementing it simply for the OneDrive storage. While this is a useful feature, some schools just aren’t aware of the many other features which create supportive and collaborative learning environments, nor considered the importance of supporting teachers with classroom application and the pedagogy behind using Office 365.

Below are a few of the questions I regularly encounter regarding Office 365.

Q: How do we get the most out of Office 365?

It is important to approach a new technology such as this in a targeted, ongoing manner with a nexus of pedagogy, technical and practical application in the classroom.
Stay away from intensive software training as it only serves to waste time and money. Telling teachers which buttons to push does not help them embed technology into the classroom.

Q: How do we ensure teacher uptake in the classroom?

While there will always be the early adopters in schools, most teachers require ongoing support when introducing new technology into the learning environment. The first step is education through Professional Learning. Teachers must first explore the pedagogy and desired outcomes for students before focusing on a particular function of the technology (eg. Collaboration) and designing a lesson around it. Only once this is established should they begin to use the technology.

Q: How can Office 365 support Professional Learning communities for teachers?

The AITSL Professional Learning Charter for teachers specifies that teachers must both demonstrate innovative teaching and collaborate with one another to reflect on their practice. An example of how this can be done using Office 365 is by creating a dedicated teaching and learning SharePoint site where teachers can share resources, lesson plans, strategies, post questions and engage in dialogue. This helps to overcome the challenge of being time poor.

O365 Hot Tip

An inherent part of Office 365, One Note is built on a collaborative SharePoint site which acts as a virtual classroom. For those already using O365 for its collaborative functions, a powerfully efficient Office App to explore is the “OneNote setup for teachers” which you can add into the SharePoint site. Here you can have one book, with multiple sections within:

  • Teacher has read/write permissions and students have read only.
  • Entire class has read/write permissions allowing collaboration
  • Teacher and one single student have a private book with permissions.

In summary, I believe the key to bringing any new technology into the school environment is to support teachers with professional learning based on pedagogy, exploring new technology and curriculum re-design. 

Contact Rowena to discuss Office 365 in your classroom.