I’m always impressed with the ingenuity of teachers and how they can take a number of different products and blend them together to make an awesome tool to solve an existing challenge. Teachers are constantly challenged for time and the requirement for accurate tracking of student progress contributes to a significant administrative work above and beyond the core classroom teaching.
I came across this blog post today that talks about Assistant Principal Lauren Taylor who tackled this challenge head on, building a digital replacement to track student literacy progress by combining access to tools included in Office 365 such as:
Again, I really encourage you to read the entire article to learn more about how this works, as it is super impressive what Lauren Taylor achieved and her ‘a ha’ moment was when she realized she could visualize her student’s data using PowerBI and other teachers could access this without needing to see her own paper records of the student testing.
I’ve worked with PowerBI to visualize student data in previous roles (examples here) and it’s an intuitive yet powerful tool for teachers to get deep insights into their students’ progress.
The great part about using PowerApps and Flow is that is a low/no code platform meaning it’s not difficult for teachers to pickup and start building a solution for themselves to meet a specific point of need, as demonstrated by Lauren in this example. It also has deep integration into other O365 applications such as Sharepoint Online and PowerBI allowing for a seamless flow of data.
Integration Into Microsoft Teams
The icing on the cake for me in this solution was the integration into Microsoft Teams. I’m seeing many schools quickly adopt Teams in a range of different contexts because it is so flexible at integrating other platforms into it. It really is a digital hub for all things in the classroom and Lauren Taylor said:
Many teachers are not tech-comfortable – putting it [PowerApps and PowerBI] in Teams made it easy to use for everyone
Digitally streamlining the recording of student assessment has many benefits: it’s stored in the cloud meaning it can’t be lost, can be shared with other educators and just saves so much time. Allowing teacher-aides to get access to data ahead of their engagement with students means they are better prepared and know what strategies they will need to support the student towards their learning goals.
PowerBI is easy to learn to use, yet provides powerful data reporting making it a perfect fit in schools wanting to increase their data-driven decision making. However, it is the seamless integration of all of the above into Microsoft Teams to deliver a unified platform for teachers to keep it super simple to use these tools that is the real winner. As I stated at the start of this blog: teachers are time-poor; providing a myriad of tools in a single platform to record their data and also review the reporting is a significant time saver for them.