Is Your Classroom Going Virtual?

Virtual Classroom: 3 Tips from an Educator Who’s Done It

Students milling about the grounds. Professors bellowing in lecture halls. This was the scene in late summer 2020, when Notre Dame University opened its South Bend, Indiana campus for classes as usual. In the midst of normalcy, an invisible intruder lurked, waging a potentially deadly attack.

Students, staff and faculty began falling ill with sore throats, chills and fever. Over the next few days, approximately 400 members of the Notre Dame community tested positive for COVID-19. The administration promptly shut down all activity on campus and called for at least two weeks of remote learning.

Notre Dame clearly had online infrastructure in place to support the administration’s split decision to go remote. eMazzanti is on a mission to ensure schools at all education levels are prepared to follow suit. With the help of Queen of All Saints teacher, Sister Mary Margaret — an early adopter of remote teaching — we’ve compiled a list of tips for going virtual.

1. Act Quickly

With campuses in Arizona, California and Florida, Queen of All Saints is one of the nation’s most far-reaching parochial school systems. Three years ago, the academy began offering a virtual curriculum option in an effort to engage students separated from campus by geography or family income. The program is a success. As Sister Mary Margaret points-out, many of the students who opt for online learning come from homeschooling families. Participating in live streamed classes, “helps kids feel a part of the classroom.”

Even the tech savvy staff of Queen of All Saints was forced to make some changes in the wake of COVID-19. More online learners meant the academy needed to embrace a more sophisticated virtual learning platform. With its suite of cutting-edge applications and stellar reputation, Microsoft Office 365 Education proved to be the perfect fit for Queen of All Saints’ needs. However, staff faced a road bump on the path to adoption in the form of one slow-to-action IT consulting firm.

“The first company we worked with did not reply to our requests in a timely manner, so we reached-out to eMazzanti. It was incredible how quickly the team responded to our emails.”

2. Don’t Disregard Existing Data

Deployment was just as swift and extremely simple, thanks to Microsoft’s flexibility and our staff’s dedication. Account Manager, Gabriella Taylor, and other members of eMazzanti’s team partnered with fellow Microsoft Education Architect/frequent collaborator, Steve Hall, to migrate Queen of All Saints’ data to the Office 365 Education platform. The seamless transition took place over the course of just two weekends!

3. Make it Your Own

Next, the team customized the new system to Queen of All Saints’ specifications.

“We were most concerned that students would make their own Microsoft Teams and post content that was not sanctioned by the school. eMzaanti worked with us to customize the software to prevent this from happening,” Sister Mary Margaret shares.

Our team trained Queen of All Saints faculty on Microsoft’s many capabilities. Instructors now feel comfortable assigning homework and giving students exams through Office 365 Education.Queen of All Saints plans to adopt additional Microsoft applications with eMazzanti’s help as the school year continues.

Whether your school is looking to expand existing offerings, blend it with traditional in-person teaching, or rely on it for educational continuity should a COVID outbreak occur, every school should have a virtual learning plan in place. Contact eMazzanti for help establishing yours. You won’t be waiting very long for us to return your call or email, but you’ll have just enough time to download and read this handy guide on Microsoft Teams for Education.

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