Microsoft launches virtual STEM supports for teachers and parents

13 Jan 2021369 Views

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As students begin the new school term from home, Microsoft is offering webinars, guides and DreamSpace TV to help make remote learning easier.

Due to Government restrictions to help minimise the spread of Covid-19, many students are starting back in school remotely this week. To help teachers and parents manage their education from home, Microsoft Ireland has announced a number of resources that will be available online.

The company will host two webinars to help parents learn more about remote learning and get the most out of Office 365. Both events take place in January and will feature live demonstrations and a Q&A for parents.

Additionally, a suite of support guides for parents, teachers and students can be found here. Microsoft has said this page will be updated with further resources.

DreamSpace TV

A key element of the supports will be Microsoft’s DreamSpace TV series. DreamSpace is an interactive teaching and learning experience that aims to engage teachers and students with technology. The sessions are typically held at the DreamSpace campus in Leopardstown, Co Dublin, but will be replaced by an online series for the virtual school environment.

Microsoft engaged with more than 400 classrooms through DreamSpace TV between October and December last year. It was also available on the RTÉ website to make it more accessible.

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Versions of the new DreamSpace TV series will be available for secondary and primary-level students as well as teachers.

The second-level series will bring students between 12 and 17 years of age on a “STEAM learning journey” through computational thinking, creativity and problem solving. Those who complete the series will be well placed to enter Micro:bit’s ‘do your:bit competition, according to Microsoft, which focuses on developing technology for good.

Younger students will have access to 10 video lessons that introduce computational thinking and creativity challenges involving recyclable materials and coding. These will be available to children over the age of nine.

In addition to the pre-recorded lessons, teachers will also have the option to deliver their own DreamSpace session through independent modules. The DreamSpace Teacher package will include a structured work scheme, tutorial videos, worksheets and challenge and extension activities to help students work at different paces.

Making remote learning ‘a little easier’

Microsoft Ireland managing director Cathriona Hallahan said that the return to a remote learning environment presents “a renewed challenge for parents and teachers”.

“What we learned from the previous few months is that parents are in need of support as they help their children to engage with their teachers and school work through technology,” she said. “With this in mind, we have created a parents’ guide to using Microsoft Teams so they are better equipped to support their children.

“While we hope that students can get back to the classroom sooner rather than later, we want to ensure that learnings from previous months will help make this period a little easier for educators, parents and students alike.”

Lisa Ardill is careers editor at Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com