UNSW pilot Microsoft Teams, exam pass rate increased from 65% to 85%

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney is trialing Microsoft Teams. As part of a strategic plan to become “Australia’s global university,” the University says they seek out...

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney is trialing Microsoft Teams. As part of a strategic plan to become “Australia’s global university,” the University says they seek out and test technologies to help simplify and extend collaboration—not only among students and faculty, but within organisational work groups, between researchers, and with our local and global partners.

The University already runs Microsoft Office 365 for more than 55,000 users, so adding the cloud-only product of Microsoft Teams was a natural fit. Teams provides a single digital hub to access every Office 365 service.

One click and you’re in—chat, Office 365 apps, files, and more. All in one place. All seamlessly integrated.

The University has big plans for Teams is being an extensible product that’s customisable to suit their needs is a big part of that, as they endevour to to assist students with learning outcomes.

Lecturer at the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Dr. David Kellermann, identified a disparity between the learning experiences of students who attended his lectures in person and those who, due to limited seating in the lecture theater, accessed online recordings of his lectures (usually automated slide decks with embedded audio). Kellermann felt online students were missing out on the full lecture experience, missing the critical use of visual aids and nonverbal communication and the ability for 2-way communication to raise questions and participate in class discussions.

In training documentation to staff and students, UNSW provide stats to know about Teams.

  • You can create up to 250 Teams
  • UNSW can create up to 500,000 Teams
  • A team can have up to 999 members
  • A chat can have up to 20 members
  • A meeting within Teams can have up to 80 members

Kellermann wanted students accessing courses online to have the uncompromised experience of the lectures, in a framework that his colleagues could easily replicate. Before Teams, the lecuturer cobbled together a makeshift solution, using an LMS that included streaming video, downloadable notes, and a chat room for posting questions and comments, but scaling the system to other staff was too complex and lacked seamless integration between tools.

Kellermann took his needs to the UNSW IT department, which gave birth to the Teams classroom pilot. As the business was already familiar with Office 365, in just 2 weeks they had a customised solution in Teams for a group of 370 students. Students could stream video lectures (with closed captions if desired), take and view live-synchronized notes, ask questions from their smartphones or PCs, and access class materials all from within the Teams environment. You know, the things modern learning providers should be offering in 2018.

Beyond improving the communication experience for web students, the fluid, interactive nature of Teams has dramatically enhanced student engagement across the board.

Kellerman says,

“Engagement is one of the most important things in teaching.”

“You have to get your students into it, just like a good movie or a good football match. Using Teams grabs the students’ attention and makes learning part of their everyday lives—inside of the classroom and out.”

The results of the trial have been incredible. Kellermann found an 800% increase in discussion posts since moving to Teams. At the conclusion of his course, 100% of the students who participated in the student experience survey agreed that they “felt part of the learning community.” something traditionally difficult to achieve with remote learners. This increased engagement has also had a measurable impact on student success. Kellermann reported that the exam pass rate for the class using Teams increased from 65% to 85%.

In addition, Kellermann’s pilot demonstrates that using Teams can simplify class administration, thanks to its integration with other Office 365 apps. Lecturers can quickly push a meeting, assignment, or exam date out to students from their own Outlook calendars, a convenient and familiar experience. Lecture notes automatically synchronize in OneNote Class Notebooks, while videos are available through Microsoft Stream.

Kellermann went on to say,

“I can’t express to you how joyful it is to end a lecture and know that I don’t have to spend another hour or more on these tasks.”

In the pilot program, UNSW have seen a very organic adoption process. Kellermann’s students began to use the chat feature within minutes and now they’re sharing their enthusiasm with peers and professors. In 2018, the trial will expand to a rollout across UNSW.

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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
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