Introducing Career Coach in Microsoft Teams for Education

The events of the past year have had an immense and likely long-lasting impact on the global economy, the job market, and education systems. Last year, Microsoft and LinkedIn committed to an ambitious goal of helping 25 million job seekers around the globe get the skills they need to land a job in the digital economy. We exceeded that goal, reaching over 30 million people—but we know there is still a lot more to do, especially for higher education students. To be successful, students not only need the right skills, but also insights into the job market in their fields as well as guidance from connections and peers.

To support higher education students and institutions with workforce readiness, we are excited to announce Career Coach in Microsoft Teams for Education, powered by LinkedIn. Career Coach will provide personalized guidance for higher education students and help them navigate their career journey. It will be available to higher education institutions to offer to their students beginning in May 2021. See Career Coach in action on April 22 at the virtual event, “Higher Education Reimagined.” Save the date to attend this free event!

Career Coach supports students from their first day of higher education, and throughout their time at the institution. It will assist them in identifying career goals aligned with their passions, interests, and strengths. It will also help them find opportunities to develop real-world skills and connect them with alumni, peers, and faculty who can support them on their career path.

Many of today’s higher education students are concerned about their future. When the Class of 2021 graduates, they are likely to face an uncertain and challenging job market. According to EIU survey data (2020), 46 percent of students report being extremely concerned about getting a job after graduation, and over half said they had lost confidence in the value of a university/college education.

Higher education institutions are facing increased challenges as well. Some colleges and universities are seeing a decrease in applications and enrollments due to students losing confidence in the value of a university or college education. A recent survey of 2,200 teenagers showed that half were questioning the value of a traditional ­­four-year college experience and were open to alternative paths to careers.

Offering personalized career guidance that equips students with real-world skills can help institutions not only demonstrate positive employment outcomes, but also encourage new student enrollment and persistence through graduation. However, career services departments are not always scaled to provide personalized guidance to all students. ​This is where Career Coach comes in.

“Career Coach is embracing innovation and technological change, enhancing skills to enable our students to be resilient, innovative, and globally connected—capable of coping with technological and other transformational changes ahead for the future of work.” says Eleanor Donoghue, Head of Career Services at University College Cork. “Students can learn at their own pace, in their own time and be supported on their bespoke career development pathway.”

Students can access Career Coach to harness the power of LinkedIn to answer questions, like: What skills do I already have? What career options are out there? What new skills do I need for the job I want? What is the job market for my preferred profession? What paths have others in this profession taken?

Institutions can offer their students access to Career Coach within Microsoft Teams, a collaboration platform many higher education institutions are already using today. Teams provides a space for faculty and students to chat, collaborate on documents, attend lectures and meetings, and access their apps—all in one place. With the addition of Career Coach provided by their school, students will have a personalized career advisor in the same place they manage all their work.

Career Coach provides faculty and staff advisors with a deeper understanding of students’ skills and career goals so they can align curriculum development with student interests and job market trends. It allows institutions to bring together their course offerings with in-demand industry skills, connect students with real-world experiences, introduce them to a network of peers and alumni, and help them learn how to get the most out of LinkedIn.

Institutions that have a LinkedIn Learning* campus agreement can provide students access to LinkedIn Learning’s full 16,000+ course library, ensuring they can seamlessly identify and grow the skills needed to stand out in today’s job market. Students can also find learning resources in Microsoft Learn to prepare for industry-recognized Microsoft certifications. Career Coach also helps them track progress toward their goals and learn about the career journeys of alumni. 

To learn more about how Career Coach works, check out this demo to see the app in action. And stay tuned for details about how Career Coach can help your institution guide students and bring together the curricula, skills, and networks that will guide students toward fulfilling their career goals.

*Requires Career Coach + LinkedIn Learning

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Navigating disruption: Spotlight on social-emotional learning

Just over a year ago, COVID-19 disrupted the educational journeys of 1.6 billion students around the globe and changed how we live, work, socialize, and learn. Today the world continues to navigate the economic, public health, and humanitarian challenges the pandemic caused. Throughout the disruptions, the incredible efforts of K-12 teachers and higher education faculty and staff have rapidly accelerated innovations and advances in hybrid and remote education that seemed years away. Meanwhile, the social-emotional aspect of learning has come into the spotlight.

Educators have long recognized that social-emotional skills are fundamental for academic achievement, creativity, citizenship, and workforce readiness. Research conducted by McKinsey & Company, “The Class of 2030 and life-ready learning,” found that students will be better prepared for future challenges if they have strong social-emotional skills. “Emotion and Cognition in the Age of AI,” a study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, likewise highlighted the importance of emotional well-being for student success, and showed that approaches to support it are in high demand but low supply. A majority of teachers (64 percent) wanted to support student well-being through social-emotional learning (SEL), but they felt they lacked resources and time to do so.

Now, after a year of disruption and change, a new survey from YouGov shows that teachers consider social-emotional learning an even higher priority than ever before.

Teachers consider social-emotional learning an even higher priority than ever before
Teachers consider social-emotional learning an even higher priority
than ever before

As education is being reimagined for the future, education institutions are bringing several key elements together into a holistic approach, the “5S framework,” that:

  • prioritizes student centricity
  • focuses on critical skills
  • promotes social learning
  • provides a safe and secure environment
  • is scalable and can reach hundreds, thousands, and millions of students

To help students navigate the challenges of remote and hybrid learning, teachers report that they need information about what complexities students face, their emotional state, and what motivates them.

Teachers need information to support their students.

Education technology can help teachers connect with and better understand their students, as well as facilitate students’ development of social-emotional skills.

Communication tools such as Flipgrid and Microsoft Teams are social by design, secure, and provide creative and fun ways for students to express themselves. Features in Teams such as Praise badges give teachers and students more ways to recognize and celebrate one another, Education Insights helps teachers and educators understand and respond to student needs, and Reflect in Teams helps students to identify and label their emotions.

Reflect can build students’ emotional vocabulary and improve their ability to recognize and understand how their emotions may impact their learning. In addition, it can help teachers better identify the needs of individual students.

Starting in April, educators will be able to easily post Reflects and see classroom responses over time through Education Insights. 

In addition to Microsoft Teams, there are other best practices, Microsoft partner solutions, and strategies to support social-emotional learning. You can visit the Microsoft Education social and emotional learning page, where you’ll find the SEL Learning Path as well as ideas for using products like Flipgrid and Minecraft Education Edition in remote, hybrid, or in-person learning environments. Flipgrid fosters creative discussion and helps students express themselves through video in an engaging social environment. Using Minecraft Education Edition, students identify their strengths, learn to negotiate with others, and develop leadership skills. Mindful Knight, a freely available Minecraft Education Edition world, teaches specific mindfulness strategies in an immersive setting.

For more best practices and to celebrate the incredible work of teachers and leaders who are transforming education, join us at Microsoft E2 | Education Exchange. Everyone is invited!

We’re excited to have Andreas Schleicher, Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills for the OECD, opening the second day of the event by sharing some of the latest research on social-emotional learning. And after his presentation, you’ll have the opportunity to further your professional development with tracks led by Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts and Microsoft Showcase School leaders. The student engagement and well-being track explores topics including creating virtual field trips with Flipgrid, keeping kids secure online, and how you can support SEL with Microsoft tools. Learn more and register to be a part of it!

And because parents, guardians, and families are a critical part of students’ learning journey, teachers can direct them to the parent, family, and guardian’s guide for a deeper understanding of the importance of SEL.

The future is unpredictable. Social-emotional skills help us better navigate complexity, ambiguity and change, and minimize the negative effects of disruption. The changes of the past year have highlighted the importance of personal connection, accelerated the integration of technology in the classroom, and amplified the role of teachers. It’s encouraging to see the dedication to moving learning forward to a future where all students have the opportunity, support, and tools to be creative, confident, and optimistic learners, realizing their full potential. Thank you for your commitment to learners everywhere and for being part of the Microsoft Education community!

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Get the latest education news, delivered straight to your inbox

There’s a lot for educators to keep up with, like new technologies, upcoming events, students’ emotional and academic needs, and professional development. Luckily, managing all of that gets a little easier with the Microsoft Educator Center monthly newsletter, which shares the latest information about Microsoft Teams, Flipgrid, Minecraft, and more.

This valuable collection of time-saving tips, creative lesson ideas, tech insights, and learning opportunities helps educators support student learning while enhancing their own skills and knowledge. Plus, it’s a quick read, with skimmable text and convenient links to more in-depth information.

Content that’s useful, actionable, and inspiring

The newsletter covers all grade levels, from kindergarten through higher ed, and subjects from STEM to SEL. It includes immersive activities, student workshops, virtual events, support resources, and online classes to help educators further their own skills.

For example, they might learn how to take students on a virtual field trip with Flipgrid events, get a link to a free demo experience from Minecraft: Education Edition, or access a library of student workshops like virtual museum tours and book readings.

They’ll also get the latest on Teams features, video tutorials, upcoming events, and special offers—all especially helpful for educators during remote and hybrid learning.

Check out highlights from the latest newsletter

BettFest now on-demand

Free on demande sessions, replay the best of BettFest

Thanks to all who joined us for BettFest 2021 live! If you couldn’t attend the live event, you can still find much of the content online, available for on-demand viewing.

While you’re there, check out the Microsoft Hub for exclusive partner resources, free product demos, on-demand content, and more.

Microsoft Teams resource center

Teams is one tool that can help with educators’ administrative and classroom tasks, save teachers time, and teach students future-ready skills. Learn all the ways that Teams, alongside other Microsoft 365 tools, can help you, and how to get the most out of its many capabilities. Access resources to help you streamline your work today.

Tracking trends with Insights

Quickly identify assignment and grading trends

See how students are progressing with assignment and grading trends in Insights. Use the data to identify students who could use some extra support. Take a closer look with the demo linked above.

Digital activity report

An Insights digital activity report can tell you how active students are in Microsoft Teams. It shows when a student opens a file, visits a channel, attends a meeting, and more. Watch the tutorial above to see it in action.

Take teaching to the next level

Microsoft’s free educator newsletter can help boost productivity, efficiency, creativity, and professional development. To get started, sign up today.

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Empowering your faculty: A playbook for higher education

We’re excited to announce the completion of a new paper, “Flattening the multimodal learning curve: A faculty playbook,” which aims to equip faculty with effective strategies, practices, and tools to navigate the pedagogical paradigm shift accelerated by COVID-19. The paper addresses the key challenges, digital divides, skill gaps, and socio-economic disparities facing faculty at higher education institutions. It was produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) as a follow up to research released in December, “Bridging the digital divide to engage students in higher education,” which sought to better understand the impacts of the current dynamics on higher education institutions, staff, faculty, and students. The original study reported that at least a third of educators expect that remote and hybrid learning are likely to be a future operating model for many higher education institutions alongside on-campus programs. Additionally, the paper shared advice from education experts suggesting that instructors should go beyond simply delivering lectures online, and should instead create more opportunities for active learning and engagement.

The Economist Intelligence Unit

The study advances the concept that hybrid learning has evolved from simply enabling continuity of education amid the closing of campuses, to reshaping future operating models. The current student population has the highest tech expectations ever—nearly one-third of students said that flexible learning and interactive methods are the most effective ways to boost their engagement—and they require engaging, dynamic interaction with subject material whether they are attending classes in-person or virtually. So, institution’s success will be defined by the extent to which institutions provide an optimal environment for learning, and to which faculty instructors understand and respond to the changing, diverse needs of students in the new higher education paradigm.

"The worst possible outcome of Covid is that we go back to the old system." —John Hattie, Professor and Director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute. @MicrosoftEdu
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In essence, the EIU research shows that the future of higher education is migrating away from a fixed location and toward a more flexible, personalized, and collaborative experience. The role of faculty is expanding as well, going from being “sages on the stage” who lecture to groups of students, to being leaders of and participants in vibrant educational communities. As institutions introduce updated remote and hybrid pedagogies, integrated platforms and tools such as virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and hyper-personalisation tools will be key in empowering the transition. Additionally, institutions will need to invest in technology infrastructure and faculty skills training to survive and thrive.

To deliver valuable learning experiences in hybrid and remote formats, the research indicates that faculty professors will need to build upon pedagogical methods that boost engagement, outcomes, and value, as well as forge online connections and create communities of learners. These methods may include presenting programs in a hybrid synchronous and asynchronous format, increasing interactivity and allowing students to have greater flexibility over when they learn—which the EIU survey shows that students favor. All of these models are supported and enhanced by features in Microsoft Teams such as Together Mode, Recording, and Education Insights, and with powerful predictive analytics, intelligence tools, chatbots and success portals in PowerApps and Dynamics 365.  

“Our best online instructors…build community & demonstrate caring for their students’ frequent interactions, responding to questions quickly, getting to know students personally, taking time to check-in.” —Christopher C. Morphew,…
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Focusing on enhancing technology tools and improving faculty skills with them is just one part of the equation; along with investments in these areas, the study shows that institutions should provide the optimal environment for faculty and students to engage with one another. This environment should include an empathetic, supportive community of educators, partnerships with outside stakeholders such as tech companies, governments and service providers, and facilitation of culture-building, social-emotional learning, and interaction among students.

Empower your higher education faculty and professors by enabling and implementing the tools and IT environment recommended by the EIU study. Download the digital transformation path infographic, the Microsoft Education deployment guide, and read the EIU study.

For additional information and tips, view the instructional webinars:

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The acceleration of hybrid learning for higher-ed students and faculty

Before COVID-19 disrupted the education journeys of more than 1.5 billion students around the world, higher education institutions were already exploring ways to grow enrollment, reach more students, and better engage the “digital natives” of Generation Z. Though the need to move online created challenges, it also inspired solutions that will have long-lasting effects on higher education. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), educators believe the pandemic has accelerated the evolution of virtual education by ten years. “We’ve been entering a new paradigm for the last decade and COVID-19 has just expedited this progress. It provided gasoline to trends that were already underway,” said Michael Horn, co-founder of Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.

83 percent of higher-ed faculty members believe courses will be conducted mostly online this term, and 62 percent say they will be online for the coming academic year. @TheEIU
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In an effort to better understand the impacts of the current dynamics on higher education institutions, staff, faculty, and students, Microsoft Education partnered with the EIU on a new paper: “Bridging the Digital Divide to Engage Students in Higher Education.” The EIU conducted surveys and interviews with faculty and students in the US, UK, Australia, and Germany, as well as with global higher education experts.

Insights indicate that rather than being a short-term solution, remote and hybrid learning are likely to be a future operating model for many higher education institutions alongside on-campus programs. Though more than 80 percent of faculty members surveyed said that less than half of their institution’s courses were online prior to the pandemic, one-third of them report that their institution will permanently add online options for all or most courses moving forward. The expanded availability of virtual learning will require increased investments in technology and additional training for faculty, but these investments, along with more flexible learning programs, could make higher education more accessible and equitable, with learning supported by technology that addresses the needs of diverse learners and flexible programs with schedules that work for students with other obligations. The increased opportunity for remote attendance will serve to broaden institutions’ geographic reach as well, drawing students to the most innovative programs rather than simply the one closest to home.

There is a difference in perspective between faculty and students on preparedness for remote learning. While 85 percent of faculty members surveyed reported that they felt prepared to meet student needs effectively with the resources they had available, more than 60 percent of students shared that they did not feel mentally or academically prepared for the academic year of fall 2020. And almost half of students claim the pandemic has worsened their ability to remain focused and engaged.

85% of faculty feel ready to meet basic student needs

Education experts say that the pandemic has caused students to be stressed, anxious, financially challenged, and socially isolated. According to a study carried out by Hope College in July 2020, 60 percent of the 38,000 students surveyed reported experiencing basic needs insecurity.

Douglas Harris, non-resident Senior Fellow, Brown Center on Education Policy said, “The current situation is pushing faculty to realize that at the very least, students are not going to be able to learn in their class if they’re suffering in other ways.”

John Hattie, Professor and Director of Melbourne Education Research Institute, pointed to the sense of isolation and lack of social connection that students are feeling: “One of the biggest factors that influences student engagement and performance is their sense of belonging in their higher education experience. This is what has suffered the most as a result of COVID-19. They no longer have the same sense of belonging that they used to have.”

To foster a greater sense of connection, experts recommend that instructors go beyond simply delivering lectures online, and instead create more opportunities for active learning and engagement. Innovative schools like St. Edward’s University already use virtual anatomy, virtual internships, virtual counselling, and virtual student teaching, says Dr. Rebecca Frost Davis, Associate Vice President of St. Edward’s University. One teacher even set up a virtual crime scene using 3D cameras, allowing students to go places they couldn’t normally go. “The students who had done the simulation first did better because they weren’t distracted by things when they were learning,” says Dr. Davis.

“The key to making active learning work online is to leverage groups and technology to make students accountable and give them ‘skin in the game’ to do the work.” —Michael Horn, Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation…
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Collaboration tools like Education Insights in Microsoft Teams can help instructors identify students’ needs and adapt their material for maximum impact. Dr. David Kellerman of the University of New South Wales says, “Insights for classroom Teams… has helped me connect with struggling students on a personal level, and to understand the broader trends in my classroom. Every teacher, professor or instructor on Teams has something to learn from Insights.”

Additionally, social activities such as orientations, graduations, and other traditions can be presented virtually to create more opportunities for socialization and connection. Resources such as this e-book and virtual graduation toolkit have ideas and tips for bringing events online. Beyond webcams and chat rooms, there are other creative ways to reimagine in-person gatherings, including building virtual versions of campuses in Minecraft to host in-game meetups and ceremonies.

Today’s higher education students are primarily Generation Z, a generation that is comfortable with technology and who expect it to be a part of their learning experiences—93 percent believe that remote learning will benefit their education. But they are also very clear about what they are looking for: they want their institutions to put their needs first by providing physical and virtual security, and they want to learn skills that will help them succeed in work and in life. “There is a push for higher education in the United States particularly to show greater value and a return on investment. As a result, students are looking for the best value in terms of what they are getting from their higher education and what they will be able to do in the workforce,” says Dr. Stella L. Smith, Associate Director, MACH III Center, Prairie View A&M University.

As higher education leaders work with instructional designers and professors to reimagine courses and fine-tune pedagogy, students and faculty agree that the pandemic is transforming higher education. With cooperation and creativity, this accelerated evolution can enhance student experiences through integration of emerging technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, and create new revenue opportunities for colleges and universities as they develop innovative options for students to pursue lifelong learning with flexible course schedules or micro-masters from different higher education institutions.

For a summary of key takeaways from the report, see the “Strengthening student engagement ​through hybrid education” infographic, and for full details, read the paper.

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