Organization closures and travel restrictions may have posed logistical challenges world-wide, but the spirit of learning burns ever stronger for students and teachers in more than 4,000 schools across Taiwan. Microsoft, in partnership with Taiwan’s Ministry of Education (MoE), enabled 2.5 million students and 200,000 teachers from grade schools to universities to learn remotely using free Office 365 and Microsoft Teams accounts that were tied to their National IDs.
This nationwide transformation is an excellent example of a public-private partnership that has significantly accelerated the MoE’s push for digital education and smart campuses in Taiwan.
Political Deputy Minister of Education Fan Sun-lu said, “In view of the restrictions at the time, our students in China, Hong Kong and Macau were heavily affected by the entry ban and were not able to attend classes physically. Microsoft offered us a digital education solution that made it easy for even elementary and middle school students to learn at home. This solution also empowered teachers to build their IT competence and efficiently engage in activities with their students online.”
“We appreciate having Microsoft as a trusted partner. To date, it has helped support more than 4,000 schools across Taiwan and allowed us to become one of the world’s leading digitally advanced countries,” Minister Fan added.
Both Office 365 and Microsoft Teams brought innumerable teaching resources to the table. Office 365 empowered students and teachers with more than 20 apps in the cloud, while Microsoft Teams facilitated two-way communication, interactive lectures, and, more importantly, integration of the myriad applications on a single platform.
This fusion of Office 365 apps and Microsoft Teams allowed seamless sharing of presentations and documents, while other apps like Microsoft’s Whiteboard for Windows 10 facilitated productive remote discussions in real-time. Online lessons were recorded and stored automatically in Office 365’s video service Microsoft Stream for students to revise at their own pace.
Remote learning across all ages
Over at Tamkang University, remote learning was made possible in a similar fashion for a total of 637 students and 1,041 teachers, including students residing in China, Macau and Hong Kong who were unable to return to Taiwan.
Dr. Huan-Chao Keh, president of Tamkang University, said, “In light of the fact that many students have been affected by the travel restrictions, Tamkang University was quick to implement several precautionary and mitigation measures. With our IT staff and the Microsoft team working around the clock to make the course content available for the instructors, as well as the strong support of all the faculty members, we are confident that we helped minimize the impact of COVID-19 on our students’ education.”
Microsoft Teams was also the collaboration tool of choice for Feng Chia University, another institute that deployed full online learning for over 1000 courses and more than 300 students under its Study at Ease Program. The University’s Information Branch chose Microsoft Teams for its ease of integration with its existing system, as well as the platform’s assured performance that had been validated through repeated testing and verification over the winter break.
Dr. Chuang-Chien Chiu, Vice Principal of Feng Chia University, said Teams proved to be beneficial to both students and teachers. “Lecturers could review the recordings (of their classes) to observe how they teach – this helped them improve their teaching methods and adjust their lecture content. Overall, the Teams platform has really brought us a lot of surprising benefits,” he said.
Meanwhile, Huang Shi-Ying, a Mathematics teacher at Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School, is one of the many educators who benefited from Office 365. Using a Surface Pro, he was able to replicate real-time blackboard teaching, with the transformative benefit of saving all his written notes online for his students’ reference at a later date.