Girl using Surface Laptop at university

The latest batch of Microsoft Showcase institutions includes a college using Skype to change how students learn

A UK college that uses Skype to livestream teachers from around the world into its classrooms has been named a Microsoft Showcase College.

Grimsby Institute is one of 12 additions to Microsoft’s new education programme that are based in this country.

The Microsoft Showcase College programme adds to the existing Schools initiative – a global network of institutions using technology to improve teaching and learning. Showcase schools and colleges are supported by the company to focus on personalised learning for students through the use of one-to-one devices and Office 365 Education, Office Mix, OneNote, Skype, Minecraft and more. They also share ideas and are given the opportunity to host educational events.

“The partnership with Microsoft makes us feel we are in safe hands,” said Deborah Millar, Group Director for Digital Learning Technology at Grimsby Institute. “We are benefitting from billions of pounds of research and knowledge that I can’t afford, as a single college. Every PC user in the world has Microsoft tools, and every job that youngsters apply for will require them to use Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

Grimsby Institute, with Hector Minto, Senior Technology Evangelist for Accessibility at Microsoft, front and centre

Grimsby Institute, with Hector Minto, Senior Technology Evangelist for Accessibility at Microsoft, front and centre

“Through working together and blending traditional learning with technology, our student retention and their achievements are excellent. We have that ‘wow’ factor.”

Grimsby – which uses the Office 365 suite, including Teams and OneNote – has won awards in recent years for its attempts to make learning more accessible. The institute uses Skype to increase the teaching skills in classrooms and Microsoft learning tools such as Immersive Reader so every student is included. Meanwhile, it’s higher education building and facilities are open 24 hours a day, offering students the opportunity to study when it suits them.

“Everyone should have an equal opportunity to learn, whether you have a disability or not,” Millar added. She said she also uses Seeing AI to transcribe text.

The other sites named as Showcase Colleges are Trafford, Heart of Worcestershire, Derby, Milton Keynes, Weston, Exeter, New College Swindon, Richmond Upon Thames, City of Westminster and Cardiff and Vale.

Everything you need to know about Microsoft in education

Exeter College is taking a mobility-first approach by leveraging Intune and the Enterprise Mobility Suite to deliver a secure Windows 10 environment to Surface devices and laptops, promoting wireless projection (MiraCast), touch and inking technologies, utilising Office 365, including SharePoint, Teams, Sway and, soon, Yammer. Exeter also encourages an inclusive environment using Microsoft productivity tools such as Office Lens.

“Becoming a Microsoft Showcase School will create a vision that the whole college can get behind,” said Anthony Martin, ICT Innovation Officer.

“It will help align our teams with a unified approach for digital transformation, highlight our commitment to exceptional teaching and learning and ultimately give our students the best opportunity to develop skills that they can take with them as they progress their lives beyond Exeter College.”

Anthony Salcito, Vice-President of Worldwide Education at Microsoft, said: “Microsoft Showcase Schools and Colleges are shining examples of those applying purpose-driven innovation in a variety of ways to build connection, motivate students and to create community in and out of school.

“These schools are truly transforming learning and providing more personalized education to students, empowering them to achieve more.”