São Paulo rekindles its classrooms with cloud tools and digital textbooks

The public school 2.0, arising now in Brazil’s most populous state, is a curiosity-stoked, parent-connected, financially leaner place that, ultimately, revives joy in the classroom for students and teachers alike.

The fuel for this academic makeover is a deep belief in technology – and in a philosophy that “smart” schools offer a powerful path toward an educational rebirth.

The State of São Paulo’s   Department of Education has equipped the region’s 4 million students and 230,000 teachers with Microsoft Office 365 tools, allowing communication and collaboration from any location on any device.

Data and services from the state’s 5,400 schools were moved to Microsoft Azure to cut expenses and make information available across the organization.

And education officials are building a shared services center in Microsoft Dynamics 365, simplifying and centralizing processes across all schools, says João Cury, secretary of education of the State of São Paulo.

“With technology, there is more closeness between schools, students, teachers and families,” Cury says. “When students go home, teachers and parents can communicate with their students and track their progress on their work. And parents may monitor the progress of the learning of their children.”

The tools are also helping crack several long-standing issues, from environmental waste to drop-out rates.

For example, São Paulo’s schools have launched digital books to decrease the use of paper and to enable students to learn in a more visual and playful way, says Rosana Guerreiro Andrade, an education director in the district.

Meanwhile, education officials have implemented an artificial intelligence solution that uses a predictive model to identify at-risk students and keep them coming to school.

“The challenge for Brazilian education is enabling young people to find pleasure, satisfaction (and) joy inside the classroom,” Cury says. “Technology is an ally. It is a friend of Brazilian education.”