With fifteen faculties and more than 9,000 students, Goce Delcev University of Stip is a top-ranked public university located in North Macedonia. It began experimenting with remote learning solutions in December 2019. By March 2020, more than 4,400 students and 360 lecturers were actively using Microsoft 365 tools to access, learn, and share content, making Goce Delcev the first university in North Macedonia to seamlessly shift to a remote educational environment, aligning students with the demands of increasingly digitized world.
Goce Delcev University is the second ranked public university in Macedonia, with 9,000 students enrolled across fifteen faculties. “Our mission is to support the educational needs of our future leaders,” begins Mishko Djidrov, Professor and Vice Rector. “It’s about developing sustainable, socio-economic, and technological strategies that enable the country and its residents to rise to any challenge.”
After a successful pilot test of Microsoft Teams in December 2019, when Goce Delcev had to suddenly shift all staff and students to remote education due to COVID-19, the university decided to move its lectures onto the platform and succeeded in doing so almost overnight. “We didn’t just need a solution, we needed a fast solution,” stresses Jordan Tikvesanski, Deputy Head of ICT Services. “We couldn’t just stop the educational process. Plus, we had the support of the Microsoft office here in Macedonia which made a huge difference in helping us act quickly.”
The educational format needed to swiftly adapt
“Based on a university-wide survey we ran, 67 percent of our students now expect access to online learning and for interactive materials to be a part of their future,” says Tikvesanski. “Some front-end and back-end Microsoft solutions were already in place. Students and teachers managed their files through the Office 365 suite, namely using SharePoint and OneDrive. SharePoint functions almost like a back-end for Teams and lets teachers and students easily collaborate, using the same files on the same class notebooks. Since we already had student and teacher accounts synchronized with Azure Active Directory, it was easy and straightforward to start using Teams. So, its teaching possibilities combined with the fact that we were already familiar with it from both a front and back-end point of view, felt like a natural extension.”
Quick user adoption provided for rapid scaling
“We took it step by step,” details Djidrov. “We developed our own Macedonian user manual to help with the educational processes for having classes, doing homework, and taking exams. Then we shared video tutorials on how to use all of Teams’ functionalities, i.e. how to share, how to collaborate. It was impressive how swiftly the teachers and students adopted Teams. In some cases, it even enhanced teacher student interactions, with higher student engagement, many of whom were more comfortable participating via chat panels for example, rather than having to speak up in class.” Over the course of three months, students and teachers benefited from more than 100,000 hours of audio lectures and 50,000 hours of live video. They participated in more than 11,000 live meetings.
“The world is changing fast. Digital resources enabling nimble, inclusive and collaborative learning methods are key, and it’s what students, teachers, and staff need and want,” stresses Djidrov. “We’re discussing introducing hybrid study programs that will include more technology, more online lectures. There is no time to be wasted, and the best way to make this move efficiently is with the help of Microsoft tools,” he concludes.
“It was impressive how swiftly the teachers and students adopted Teams.”
Mishko Djidrov: Vice Rector, Goce Delcev University