Remote Learning Resources Help Schools Quickly Adapt During Pandemic
At a glance
Since 2018, we’ve established an ongoing partnership with the Microsoft Education team. When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, we worked with Microsoft to help both Higher Education institutions and K-12 schools quickly adapt to remote learning. Meeting short deadlines and adjusting to a rapidly changing environment, we created pitch decks and self-service assets to address immediate needs, followed by a messaging refresh. As a result, Microsoft continued to position itself as a trusted partner to schools and universities, as millions of students relied on Microsoft technologies to learn in an evolving and unpredictable environment.
Brand and product messaging
Content strategy and development
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A new approach to learning
The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the way students learn. When the outbreak first began, schools and universities needed to quickly respond and adapt to the rapidly changing environment. Educators who taught exclusively in their classrooms needed to learn how to teach online. Students, especially young children, who rarely used laptops and computers, transitioned to using them every day at home. Parents also had to learn new technology to help their young children attend class and complete assignments. Young adults in educational institutions such as universities and community colleges who once attended class on campus found themselves continuing their education from their homes.
Because Microsoft was already invested in helping schools and universities adapt to remote learning needs pre-pandemic, the technology company was well-positioned to respond to the needs of a disrupted learning environment.
Responding to fast-changing needs within schools
Microsoft Teams — a collaboration app that allows people to chat, work together on files, schedule and conduct meetings, connect to apps, and much more — quickly became a leading platform organizations used to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because Teams for Education also offers workflows for grading and assignments, the platform became a place for schools to host virtual classes, connect students and teachers, and consolidate all their learning apps and materials into one place.
In this way, Microsoft played a significant role in helping schools adapt their learning environments for remote and hybrid learning. Our client needed to rapidly communicate to education customers that the company was there to help. Microsoft requested Spur Reply to help reposition its marketing and sales collateral to respond to the needs of education customers.
Communicating the value of Microsoft products
Since April of 2020, we have produced dozens of assets to help Microsoft support remote and hybrid learning globally using a range of products. We collaborated with senior marketing managers, senior directors, field sellers, technical specialists, and other stakeholders to develop assets such as pitch decks, one-pagers, eBooks, social media posts, blogs, and more. Throughout the entire project, our team met quick deadlines and adapted to meet the needs of a rapidly changing environment.
At the outset of the pandemic, we created a remote learning pitch deck to respond to schools’ immediate needs. Our team designed two different versions. The first version was a brief presentation designed to address top-of-mind issues so that Microsoft sales teams could present their solutions to business decision-makers (BDMs) like provosts, principals, and deans, or high-level technical decision makers (TDMs).
Building on this material, the second version explained Microsoft’s vision for education in more detail and emphasized how Microsoft could play a larger role with additional capabilities. Microsoft Teams remained the content’s focus, but the slides also presented the capabilities of other Microsoft solutions, including Power Platform, Microsoft 365, and Dynamics 365.
As the pandemic evolved, the needs of educators evolved. As hybrid learning started to replace remote learning, we refreshed the decks to adapt to new needs.
We also created a number of self-service assets, including but not limited to:
- A hybrid learning infographic. This one-pager highlighted the main points from the pitch decks in a concise and illustrated format.
- Microsoft Teams guides. These ‘cheat sheets’ were designed for teachers, parents, or students to help them learn about the capabilities of Teams. The guides specifically highlighted how to get started, guidance on running class sessions/meetings, and accessibility features.
- A back-to-school kit. This collection of one-pagers offered tips and how-to’s for Teams and other Microsoft programs that schools could send to parents and students. Schools could also customize the material with their own colors and logo.
- A bill of materials (BOM) refresh. We helped refresh the Teams accessibility BOM, including updating marketing assets that showcase new Teams capabilities. The features — such as closed caption enablement, together mode, and Cortana integration — help further Microsoft’s mission of creating an inclusive and accessible learning space.
- A higher education whitepaper. This document described Microsoft’s holistic vision for technology in higher education, helping to position Microsoft globally as a partner in the education space.
We later helped our client renovate their messaging and positioning framework — the core document of any marketing team that must align all related content and assets. As part of the update, we created new content, including a hybrid learning context narrative section. This asset enabled Microsoft to effectively communicate with schools about hybrid learning, adapting to the pandemic’s current challenges, and how to prepare for the future.
Our client had confidence in our ability to drive this project based on our record of success and our current working relationship with the education team. Because of our existing relationship, we were well-positioned to become Microsoft’s partner to address its immediate needs during the COVID pandemic.
“We're grateful to have helped make education engaging and accessible for students through the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Suzanne Kalberer, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Microsoft Education. “Spur Reply's support in creating valuable resources allowed us to act quickly and proactively, ensuring schools' needs were met.”
Ultimately, we built content focused on hybrid learning to show schools how Microsoft can help them adapt, but also to show how Microsoft is deeply invested in education and empowering every student around the globe to achieve more. Our consultants received positive feedback from family and friends who were teachers and found the content helpful. The materials helped teachers quickly adapt to remote learning when it first became prevalent in 2020.
Helping students continue their education
Through our ability to perform a quick turnaround and respond to the needs of our client’s customers, Microsoft continued to position themselves as a trusted education partner. More importantly, our client quickly jumped into action to help educators and students during the pandemic. Our engagement with Microsoft is ongoing, and we continue to help the technology leader address the evolving needs of schools and universities. “We value our ongoing partnership with Spur Reply,” Kalberer said.
Our expertise helped make education messaging cohesive so Microsoft could tell a story that aligned across different channels within the education team. Our collaboration is enabling the technology leader to support students, teachers, faculty, staff, and researchers during an unpredictable and challenging time.
We're grateful to have helped make education engaging and accessible for students through the COVID-19 pandemic. Spur Reply's support in creating valuable resources allowed us to act quickly and proactively, ensuring schools' needs were met.