About the Project
With the education of more than 500,000 students on the line in Kuwait, the country’s Ministry of Education turned to Microsoft Office 365, and particularly Microsoft Teams. As a result, the MoE ensured that students could access a high-quality education online, while also ensuring the security and safety of these new online environments, and trained more than 80,000 teachers and 29,000 school staff to serve students effectively despite the turn to remote learning.
Teaching and learning with Office 365
Preparing teachers to use the Office 365 integrated suite of apps paid dividends in student engagement and satisfaction. For example, Eman surveyed her students about their experience with Teams. “A major advantage is the flexibility of sharing information. We can share lesson files, PDFs, PowerPoint, and videos all in a single place. And the flexibility of time. I can send links with any assignment without waiting for students’ instant response, or students can share something with me without waiting for my instant response. We love the flexibility of sharing and responding on our own time, in Teams.”
Scaling Up To a Half Million Students
Early on, Dr. Alnajem argued for the adoption of Office 365, because the Ministry of Education already used Active Directory for their student database. But their legacy LMS system was hosted locally and didn’t allow for a seamless, SSO experience for apps like Teams and Stream. “This is why we convinced the technical team in the Ministry to stop putting themselves in the box of their infrastructure. We told them think out of the box, try to utilize the cloud, try to utilize Office 365.” Making the switch using School Data Sync allowed them to “utilize all the tools that are available like Azure Active Directory [Azure AD], integration with Microsoft Teams, and tight interaction with Stream and SharePoint,” he said. The MoE staff followed Dr. Alnajem’s advice, and it paid off. With the backend infrastructure in place, students and teachers across the country got access to Office 365 apps and Teams to collaborate remotely.
Flexible Learning Environments As The New Normal
While the spread of COVID-19 accelerated the transition to online learning in 2020, the Ministry of Education had been preparing teachers to use these tools since 2018, notes Aljazi Alotaibi, a computer studies supervisor. So, even after they are back to school, Eman, Nohal, and other teachers believe that the Office 365 apps will continue to be crucial to their teaching practice. “We want to be online,” says Nohal. “We can do virtual classes for the student who has low marks. Or, before an exam, maybe they need some help, they can access us remotely.” Eman now feels more prepared to respond to the next disruption with the new set of teaching tools and strategies. “We became up to date on the latest technology used all over the world. I think Teams is a global app, and how we use it, so it was great for us. I think we became qualified to face any problem, even a pandemic or anything in the future. That, for me, was a positive experience.” It’s that new feeling of resilience in the face of uncertainty that gives Eman hope and excitement about the future.