The education environments have changed over the past six months. Many teachers and students shift to remote and hybrid learning, while different online communications streams have become essential skills.
This transformation of the traditional education environment has been challenging and has required significant overhauls of systems that have long been in place. One teacher that embraced the change is Dragana Jovanović, a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert from Serbia. Dragana successfully shifted to Skype remote learning while ago, while she started with Microsoft Teams even before the challenges world is facing with, using it for her private classes of the German language.
“As I was always interested in new technologies, I didn’t wait for a time to come when so many of us are forced to work online, but offered Skype classes to my private students years ago. I am a German teacher and I work in a primary school, but I have also always had a lot of private students of all ages who wanted to study German for a variety of purposes. Another reason I had for offering online classes was that some of my private students either lived abroad or didn’t have time to drive to the classes, or they just preferred to learn while sitting comfortably at home”.
Dragana said that the first application she used for that purpose was Skype because it offered everything she needed back then: call, chat, and share screen options. But as time passed and demands grew, both Dragana and her students realized that they needed more. “I remember the time when I started to look for something new, with more possibilities and better performances to meet the needs of a modern and interactive approach to learning and teaching,” – she continues.
Just a year before the COVID-19 crisis, she discovered Microsoft Teams as a great tool for online classes. According to that discovery, she realized the wide range of possibilities covers almost every need of students and teachers alike. “It has all the well-known features like call, chat, and share screen, but it also offers a range of great new ones. I often use the share files option. It has proven to be very useful since I have a large digital repository in .pdf, .docx, or .pptx formats. Those are grammar lessons or exercises that I have created to help my students understand and learn more naturally and comfortably. It saves time, and it allows my students to make their own collections of handouts. It is possible to share files from your own computer, but also to share it from your OneDrive. I love this second option because it gives me the freedom to work virtually from any computer or any place”.
Dragana explains why she loves Microsoft Teams: “As the name implies, Microsoft Teams is perfect for cooperation and working in teams or pairs. This is especially useful in language learning when it comes to practicing conversation. There is also a fun feature that helps bring a note of real classroom into the virtual one. And that is the possibility to raise a hand. In this way, a student can draw attention without interrupting others”.
“There are many more useful features of MS Teams,” – Dragana is highlighting Microsoft Forms for surveys, quizzes, and polls, or make OneNote Class Notebook. “But I’m sure that every teacher will find the most suitable combination for their classes and students. That is actually the reason why I love using MS Teams: you can be your own boss and manager, giving your best and helping students reach their goals while having fun at the same time.”
Let’s see what Dragana’s plan to utilize her role as a newly appointed Microsoft Innovative Education Expert is. She believes she will be a valuable member of the worldwide teachers’ community. Indeed, she is a self-driven educator, passionate about teaching and learning, and inspires students with creative thinking, and ready to share her best practices with the world.
“I love using MS Teams! You can be your own boss and manager, giving your best and helping students reach their goals while having fun at the same time.”