This post was written in collaboration with Gabi Stein, Geri Gillespy, Brian Dang and Jon Levesque
If there is one resource that continually evades the grasp of nearly every educator on earth, it is time. With such a broad set of responsibilities, it seems there simply are not enough hours in the day for a teacher to accomplish everything. Preparing materials, organizing classes, teaching classes, engaging in professional learning, working with parents and families, and playing key roles as co-workers, school leaders, and community members only scratch the surface of what it means to be an educator. When you toss COVID-19 into the mix, it's no wonder that teachers have even less time as they work to fulfill their important roles during a tumultuous time.
Remote and hybrid learning environments are now the predominant means for instruction. Platforms like Microsoft Teams have become the avenue through which teachers teach and students learn. It is our mission to empower every educator to achieve more and we want to help you take meaningful steps toward that end by saving you precious time.
Power Automate can be a useful tool that takes everyday tasks and automates them through various "flows". Like a "flow chart" from which it gets its name, a "flow" is a series of steps that run in order. It can look up rows from a table, send emails, create files, and even play back a set of recorded clicks and keystrokes for desktop automation. Gone are the days of repeating by hand, one by one.
As you will read in the list below, anything from course registration to scheduling announcements can be set to automatically run with very little setup beforehand. The EDU teams within Microsoft have surveyed hundreds of teachers around the world and created automated workflows on common educator tasks including:
Communication from a teacher, administrator, or anyone at the office may need to be translated for families to read in their language. This flow will help an office liaison set up a way to receive content to be translated, automate a basic translation to work from, and return a refined translation to the sender.
This flow will allow for educators to send messages from one Teams channel to a different Team without having to copy and paste. This is different from posting one message across multiple channels within the same Team
This flow tracks an approval process for professional development credits. Educators submit a form for PD requests, then an approval is automatically sent for consideration.
Track approvals or requests for maintenance
This flow will allow leaders or educators create an automatic maintenance system that involves approvals or requests using Microsoft Forms, Outlook, and SharePoint.
We are here to help you implement the flows you see in this list along with any others you may be able to think up. We are eager to understand how automation can become a meaningful and helpful part of your daily workflow as continue to improve them. If you have a story about how an automated process has improved your life as an educator or if you have an idea for building a new one, we want to hear it! Please contact us here.
It is our hope that these flows can free you from the manual aspects of teaching in remote and hybrid learning environments and give you back some time.