LiveTiles Mosaic is a free education platform to build interactive digital classrooms, student and teacher portals, and more, with Microsoft Office 365. Mosaic is for students, teachers, parents, administration—the entire academic community. Some schools use Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint, but many are not yet taking advantage of the entire Microsoft product suite for educational use. That’s why we developed Mosaic.
Most teachers are only familiar with the technologies that have been handed down for years. I have used many of those programs and there is definitely a need for improvement in access and delivery. Microsoft’s Office 365 for education provides an entire digital ecosystem for schools, and Mosaic is a cloud-based add-on that provides a user-friendly user interface over Office 365, with even more capabilities coming July 1st. We consider it a space where learning occurs in collaboration with in-class instruction.
Having served in various teaching roles at five different colleges, I’ve seen the need for technology innovation firsthand. Colleges tend to use educational software that is slow to load and confusing. We use it because we know of it and have some basic level of familiarity with it. It’s not uncommon that most professors do not fully utilize the software their institutions provide because they don’t have the time to fuss around with software that is too complex, since priority number one is the students.
Colleges make some attempts at improving this problem, but occasional training workshops are lightly attended. Reasons for the disconnect include the busy schedules of educators, lack of interest in learning the details of clunky technology and simply having other professional priorities. Efficient communication and grading tools are about all that’s really required of a professor for most classes. Some will even steer away from using software programs at all, opting for a pen and pad gradebook. Unfortunately, students are not able to view their grades very often and if the book is lost, so are the grades for the year. Not to mention interaction outside the classroom would be nonexistent.
There are faculty who recognize that intelligent use of technology and teaching methods have real value, maybe to such an extent that “How we teach is as important as what we teach” (Levander). Confirming my own experience, others have found that “most teachers have been slow to transform the ways they teach, despite the influx of new technology into their classrooms” (Herold).
It doesn’t matter how much technology school districts and colleges invest in, the only thing that matters is the ability of the technology to meet teacher and student needs. Clearly this is not happening on a large scale today, and there is a need for user-friendly teaching technology. It’s not necessarily that the educational programs in place don’t have capabilities, it’s that few know how to utilize them. One frequently cited reason for this is that training is not paid work, and so educators are reluctant to take on another project without a tangible reward. Or, put another way, “Technological illiteracy and lack of support for faculty members are critical problems facing colleges and universities” (Nagel).
Very basic PowerPoint lectures (which can serve a purpose depending on the goal of the lecture) and a general lack of knowledge in the area of technologies of learning create a chasm between the classroom and the wider world around it which continually adopts the latest tech tools. In my own IRB-approved research study, I was able to prove that technologies of learning had supported classroom goals at a research-I university.
Given my own research in this area, I feel confident in saying that if an intuitive program came out that was able to get the attention of students (allowing for interaction and engagement) and faculty were able to use it without going through training, the classroom experience could be improved. For any educators reading this, it’s important to point out that my research didn’t suggest having students plugged in at all times, but instead using technology in the classroom in a strategic and measured way, and using it as a forum outside of classroom hours. In the years since the study was published, various social networking applications have become popular with students and the classroom, as it is an avenue that can promote collaboration, engagement and critical thinking.
LiveTiles Mosaic allows for easy social networking integration, and more, into a digital classroom. Mosaic is loaded with user-friendly pre-configured tiles that can be simply dragged and dropped, adjusted or shuffled around as needed on the design canvas to start building out your page. In addition to files, an educator might be interested in posting an academic calendar, social feed, presentation, lecture notes, videos—any number of options to support student outcomes. Tile settings can be adjusted by clicking on the gear-shaped configuration icon. Shapes can be adjusted by clicking on the edge of the tile.
Mosaic was designed to help schools and teachers make the most of Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint Online. It will go a long way toward closing the gap between teachers, technology, and students, and is enabling the academic digital revolution.
1. Herold, Benjamin. “Technology in Education: An Overview.” Education Week. 8 June 2016. Web. 8 June 2016.
2. Levander, Carol. “Why Use A Typewriter When You Can Use A Computer?” Inside Higher Ed 8 January 2014. Web. 8 June 2016.
3. Nagel, David. “Report: 6 Technology Barriers in Education.” Campus Technology. 5 February 2014. Web. 8 June 2016.