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Microsoft Teams stars in CEWA’s LEADing Lights learning transformation plan

Imagine the challenge for 163 schools, teaching almost 80,000 students who are spread across Australia’s largest state. Each of those students deserves equitable access to the best learning platforms and programmes available. Each teacher deserves professional development and the support of their peers.

Thanks to modern communications and computing technology – and a commitment by the entire learning community – this is now possible.

Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) is leveraging technology, and particularly Microsoft Teams, to make everyone more effective and to help schools, teachers and students accomplish more. We have the opportunity to bring creativity to the classroom, to foster collaboration, among educators and students, in schools and across the State, improving the learning outcomes for each and every student, in support of the LEAD strategy that focuses on Leadership, Engagement, Accountability, and Discipleship.

We are one of the early adopters of Microsoft Teams in Office 365 for Education, and even in this early stage it’s proving an important foundation for our LEADing Lights learning initiative. Leading Lights’ core mission is to amplify the great work CEWA teachers are doing, refine effective instructional strategies, empower leadership, and streamline administration with a platform that brings together many disparate systems.

Teams brings together the people in a central environment that enables thoughtful conversations around these key areas of impact.

Teachers can quickly and efficiently distribute, collect and grade assignments from directly within Teams.

It lets people find colleagues doing similar things. It creates networked improvement communities – school leaders find other leaders who face similar problems or solved problems they are experiencing – teachers find each other and share lessons and pedagogy, and students will be able to connect as well.

Office 365 for Education  is a foundational element for LEADing Lights – and Teams transforms the Office 365 experience to light up people and their conversations. As the collaboration and communication hub for Office 365, Teams brings everyone together.

No matter where someone is located they will be able to share information, access insight, collaborate and comment using Microsoft Teams.

CEWA is already leveraging technology to transform the way teachers manage the curriculum and develop their teaching resources. As CEWA’s community of educators find better ways to initiate conversations about learning, the LEADing Lights platform has accelerated how teachers communicate and collaborate. CEWA’s Digital Transformation LEAD Teachers (DTLEs) are one example of a community of practice that have embraced the capabilities of the platform to share and collaborate with their colleagues across the system.

We are developing a “virtual school” so that students in even the most remote areas can have expanded access to the education programmes and experiences that will open more doors in the future.

We are rethinking professional practice to better align with teachers’ needs for professional growth. One example is by giving teachers reflection tools, rubrics, and instruments that allow them to reflect on their teaching and work with colleagues to identify areas of potential growth, supported by a OneNote “playbook” of stories, resources, and tools to launch their transformation.

We want to provide teachers with new connections and networks, new skills and then they can draw new ideas from each other.

Teams supports the community of teachers and allows them to share their insights and experience, anywhere in our vast state. One of the key benefits of using a tool like Teams is the way teachers from different regions can come together to share ideas synchronously and asynchronously.

Teams also allows us to bring together communities of practice in ways never before possible. Teams has given CEWA educators and leaders one space for meaningful conversations in the form that fits their needs with no boundaries of time or place. Many groups across CEWA are using Teams to create professional learning communities on topics like Minecraft: Education Edition , micro:bit, Reading Recovery, Aboriginal Education, and school improvement networks.

At CEWA we are rethinking what teaching and learning can be.

Importantly we are also conducting research about Leading Lights initiatives. It’s important to know the impact we are having, and what teachers are doing for meaningful education outcomes.

We are using Microsoft’s School Transformation survey in each school to measure impact and also undertaking research on our new virtual school aligned to international quality standards. One of our exciting opportunities is working with Microsoft’s Lead Learning Scientist to better understand how the interactions teachers and students have with their tools relate to learning.

Over time we will build up rich insights about how technology best supports learning so that we can understand what works, do more of it and share it with others.

Our goal is one that is shared among our fellow education systems: to provide equitable access to quality teaching and resources to transform learning for all.”