Bahrain’s Ministry of Education joined forces with Microsoft to accelerate its E-learning strategy and make the transition to remote education in the Kingdom. The effort has enabled public schools with free access to Office 365, including Microsoft Teams for students, teachers, and faculty to connect, engage and learn.
“Microsoft Teams is an international platform used by millions”, said Dr. Mohammed Mubarak Juma, Undersecretary for Resources, Services and Chairman of Virtual Classrooms Committee at Ministry of Education. “And we found it easier to implement it across our schools. We brought all our departments together in the process to support the journey and create centralized classrooms for teachers and students to attend virtually.”
To ensure a smooth roll out of the distance learning initiative, the ministry established a control room with personnel from each department to contribute their efforts in enabling a seamless implementation. With Microsoft Teams, schools were able to build collaborative e-classrooms bringing teachers and students together to use apps, chat, conduct audio and video calls, and collaborate on content as well as assignments in one digital hub.
“We had over 60,000 students participating from the beginning of our first session. And we kept track of the numbers growing on a daily basis. Added Juma. “Through the Team’s application I can track the number of the students that attended virtual classrooms, and the times they interacted with teachers. The students felt just exactly as if they were in the physical classroom.”
The Ministry and Microsoft also conducted a series of joint e-workshops to train teachers and educators in helping them better leverage the remote learning tools and applications and embed them in their daily teaching models. An assessment form was also created by the ministry’s IT team for each student to complete after each session.
“The form enabled teachers to identify the level of understanding of each student.” Said Shaikha Latifa Bint Ebrahim Al Khalifa, Head of Coordination, Follow-up, Undersecretary for Resources, Services at the Ministry. “The success of these sessions has been due to the commitment of the students, as well as the dedication of all the teachers and the members from our control room.”
“We had a clear vision for digital transformation at the Ministry of Education, and this helped us to a great extent by setting our path and accelerating the remote learning program.” Said Nawal Ebrahim Al Khater, Assistant Undersecretary for Planning, Information at the Ministry of Education. “We worked with Microsoft to create centralized virtual classrooms by assigning access for students to Microsoft 365. This also enabled them to use applications such as Word and PowerPoint from any device.”
To ensure consistent support, the Ministry has also setup a quality assurance system that assists teachers and students from training to tracking attendance, and from technical support to helping them leverage new features in Microsoft Teams.
Dr. Mohammed Mubarak Juma lauded the efforts of the team at the Ministry, as well as teachers and other supporting staff in their readiness to implement the distance learning program. He also extended appreciation to the students and their parents for their willingness in adopting the remote learning model, to ensure continuity in education.