Firefly, a platform used by teachers across the UK to simplify lesson planning, track learning progress and involve parents in their child’s education, has selected Microsoft Azure as its cloud provider.
The move to Microsoft’s cloud will allow Firefly to better integrate its popular learning service with Microsoft services such as Teams and its range of built-in applications, including Reading Progress, which is designed to support and track reading fluency.
Teachers can prepare and share learning resources and content, and create online Teams meetings for their class directly within Firefly, simplifying how they run their classes and saving them time. Running virtual meetings in the classroom has been critical during the pandemic as large numbers of children self-isolated at home.
This adds to Firefly’s existing ability to manage seating plans, share curriculum resources, provide structured lesson frameworks, manage timed activities, and understand each student’s needs and requirements. It can also be used seamlessly with Microsoft, allowing users to embed Office documents, synchronise with Microsoft Active Directory, integrate with OneDrive and allow secure single sign on using Microsoft 365.
Azure’s flexibility and agility will also allow Firefly to grow and expand its platform to new schools.
Simon Hay, founder and Chief Executive of Firefly, said: “Our aim is to drive better learning outcomes for pupils and teachers, and include parents more in their child’s education. Moving to Azure allows us to do that much more effectively. It will also allow us to explore exciting new tools and services in Azure and Teams as they are released that can support learning outcomes.
“Teachers have struggled with multiple systems for too long. We are bringing together everything they need in one place so they can create, structure and share resources. Microsoft provides the platform and we provide the right experience for teachers – it’s a perfect combination.”
Firefly was founded by Simon Hay and Joe Mathewson while they were GCSE students. The pair were frustrated they had to cycle to school to ask teachers questions about their subjects during study days at home. Firefly now helps 1,000 schools in the UK and around the world – including 75 of the top 100 UK independent schools and 10% of state schools – connect pupils and teachers safely and securely from anywhere.
Rachel Evans, Director of Digital Learning and Innovation at Wimbledon High School, said the start of lessons at her school “is often in Teams but by using the new Firefly on Teams facility, the workflow throughout the lesson is richer and easier to manage”.
Stuart Jackson, Director of ICT at Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools (ESMS), said: “Our open approach, using the best that Firefly and Teams has to offer, has worked well and has been welcomed by staff, pupils and parents. Taking the best of these two products – Firefly and Microsoft – and giving teachers the scope and opportunity to use both has really supported their teaching at ESMS.”
At these and many other schools, Firefly and Teams is enabling teachers to quickly and easily get insightful information about students’ learning and how they can adapt it to suit individuals. Meanwhile, parents use an online Firefly interface to pay bills, complete forms for school trips and understand what their children are learning and what work they have been set, bringing them much closer to their child’s education than ever before.
For example, teachers can send an assignment to their pupils via Teams, and the Firefly platform can share each child’s progress with that individual’s parents, along with further resources that can aid learning about that topic.
Microsoft tools such as Reading Progress can be used in Firefly’s platform to blend classroom and home learning.
Hay added: “Teams is great for educators and is bringing parents closer to the classroom. Parents can open the Firefly app on their phone or tablet and see the tasks their child has been set by their teachers. They can then be involved in that learning, and use reading time at home to support what their child is learning at school.”
Jennifer King, Education Industry Executive Advisor at Microsoft UK, said: “Firefly has become a critical tool for teachers across the world. Moving to Azure will help Firefly provide a seamless and joined-up experience for educators, giving them more control over shaping the curriculum to suit the needs of their pupils.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Teams and Firefly truly come together to boost learning.”
To learn more about using Microsoft tools in education, click here.
Firefly will be speaking at the Microsoft stand at the Bett education conference in London on Friday March 25. To find out more, click here.