Cloud Office 365 comprises three services: Microsoft Exchange Online, Lync Online, SharePoint as well as the software Office 365 Pro Plus. These services allow students to use the different tools (e-mail, instant message, personalised agenda, video conference and a platform where groups can share and modify documents online).
Microsoft offers three packages. “The first package is free for students and educators and consists of three services as well as an inbox of capacity 50GB. The second package offers three services and software Office Pro Plus. The third package allows access to these services as well as integrated software for mobile phones. The second and third packages are payable,” says Marc Israël, Director Division Office for Microsoft Afrique.
Natasha Ekström, Education Lead at Microsoft Indian Ocean Islands and French Pacific, explains that since the students and youngsters spend most of their time on computers, tablets and smartphones, there should be other methods to retain their attention in class. “Bearing this in mind, Microsoft came up with this initiative,” she says.
In Mauritius, the Fashion and Design Institute (FDI) was one of the first institutions to try Cloud Office 365. “Since our students are in the field of fashion and textile, it is crucial that they master these tools which they will no doubt have to use in their future employments. For the time being, we are using mainly the instant message service which provides more possibilities compared to the previous payable message service,” shares Sadhna Juwaheer, Director of FDI.
Technology as a pedagogical tool
Cloud Office 365 is not the first support to education by Microsoft. In August, in view of integrating technology as a means to provide better education, Intel South Africa and Microsoft Indian Ocean launched a joint project with Clavis International Primary School over one term. A class of 22 pupils and their teacher were provided a laptop for teaching and learning of all subjects.
The pilot project uses ICT as a pedagogical tool for a better teaching and learning experience. Laptops used were specifically created for this purpose and can be used both as a laptop or a tablet. It has been designed to encourage critical thinking in the children.