UWA shifts 21k students, staff online in just two weeks – Strategy – Cloud – Software

The University of Western Australia shifted all 21,000 students and staff to a Microsoft-based remote learning solution in just two weeks in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The solution, which uses Azure Labs, Office 365 and Microsoft Teams, was originally devised to support international students trapped in their home countries due to travel restrictions.

But the state’s top ranking university has since designed and deployed the solution to its 18,000 students and 3000 staff to ensure learning can continue during social distancing.

Microsoft last week said all 3,144 units of study had now transitioned to the solution, allowing all lectures, tutorials and practical classes (where possible) to move online. 

The rapid shift was made possible by the university’s decision to migrate students from Google Suite to Office 365 earlier this year, which allowed it to spin up Microsoft Teams quickly.

The university had also previously trialled Azure Labs in two of its courses, which had put 77 labs online. 

However, with the expansion of the remote learning solution that figure has since climbed to 2000 lab sessions across the university.

UWA chief information officer Warwick Calkin said the solution provided students with “streamed and downloadable recorded lectures and virtual labs”.

“With the help Microsoft has provided us, we have been able to implement a solution that benefits our staff and students with an increased level of speed and degree of innovation,” he said.

The university has also developed dashboards for executives to understand how students are accessing and using the platform, and improve decision making.

Microsoft Australia’s education director Tiffany Wright said Azure Labs provided UWA with a scalable and reliable platform to meet the recent need for remote learning.

“This supports international students who are now accessing the learning platforms from their home countries, and also local students who are studying from home,” she said.

The solution has been designed and tested by Microsoft in China to ensure it works as envisaged by the university.