Microsoft | February 14, 2022
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, a research-intensive public university ranked among the world's top universities, has partnered with Microsoft to fuel innovation and transform the future of education with its cloud-enabled Smart Campus. With a digital-first strategy and the adoption of technologies such as Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams Phone, NTU Singapore is set to accelerate innovation and thrive amid the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
As of January 2022, NTU has successfully converted over 2,600 fixed phone numbers, to the Microsoft Teams Phone system. With the cloud-based phone system, calls become richer and more collaborative, as NTU employees can make and receive calls on their business number from all their internet-enabled devices, while using the same tool they use to chat and host video meetings. In addition to cost savings for the University, employees remain productive, as they can also seamlessly transfer their calls across multiple devices, including laptops, PCs, tablets and mobile phones.
The cloud-based phone system was adopted in 2019, when NTU rolled out Microsoft 365, which includes Microsoft Teams Phone, enabling hybrid learning and remote work. At the height of the pandemic in the first quarter of 2020, the transformation to Microsoft 365 enabled the University to successfully shift within one week from more than 1,000 in-person lessons weekly to online learning for 30,000 students.
Ms Tan Aik Na, Senior Vice President for Administration at NTU Singapore said, "Innovation has always been core to the University's DNA. This digital transformation in partnership with Microsoft marks a significant milestone in our commitment to embrace a culture of innovation, promote maximum efficiency, foster sustainability and improving the lives of our students and employees through empowered learning and living experiences."
Technology plays a key role in powering the 200-hectare campus, which includes a living lab of digital experiments - from running an autonomous electric bus to testing drones for Singapore's airspace. This forms part of the global university's 2025 vision in equipping its Smart Campus with cloud-first technology and agile infrastructure. As the university adapted to respond, recover and reimagine its future during the pandemic, NTU Singapore partnered with Microsoft to create and sustain an environment that fosters flexibility and innovation on and off-campus.
"Fostering a culture of continuous learning in the education sector for our future is key as we keep pace with global changes that shape our education sector in Singapore. Universities like NTU Singapore are stepping in the right direction as they accelerate their digital learning ambitions, embrace change, transform our education system and ensure the readiness of our future workforce," said Lum Seow Khun, Director, Public Sector Group, Microsoft Singapore.
Embracing trusted technology for quality learning and teaching experiences
Before the onset of the pandemic, the institution marked its first step in cloud enablement, having embraced online collaboration and communications by adopting Microsoft 365. This foresight enabled NTU Singapore to swiftly adapt to changes brought on by the pandemic, and allowed the university to pursue uninterrupted learning and teaching experiences through virtual meetings and online lessons on Teams during the nation-wide lockdown in April 2020.
The institution also recognised the importance of seamless collaboration between the faculty and students as they worked from the safety of their homes. Paving the path toward a future of education where agility is the norm, NTU Singapore's deployment of Microsoft 365 strengthens the University's future-readiness while creating student-centric learning environments.
"We previously deployed Microsoft 365 to enable productivity on an intelligent and secure cloud. As it turned out, Microsoft 365 became indispensable during the COVID-19 circuit breaker season and now serves as the foundation for hybrid learning and teaching experiences that benefit both our faculty and our students."
Alvin Ong, Chief Information Officer at NTU Singapore
Connecting the NTU community – anytime and anywhere
Microsoft Teams Phone, Microsoft's cloud-based phone system add-on for Microsoft 365, which links local landlines to Teams accounts, was another factor that enabled NTU Singapore to adapt quickly to remote teaching and learning experiences. Campus staff had the flexibility to take calls on their Teams-integrated mobile phones with the help of Teams Calling, a modern voice platform built on Microsoft Cloud, allowing them to make and receive phone calls from anywhere – including their desk and video phone, mobile phone, computer, or modern Teams displays.
By eliminating the need for existing physical phone infrastructure, NTU Singapore enjoyed cost savings in equipment, maintenance, and international call costs from cross-border research center projects and the provision of online exams and classes for stranded students overseas.
Aligned with NTU Singapore's 2025 vision to harness the power of digital technology to enhance learning, teaching and research, IT managers also leveraged Microsoft Teams and other integrated tools within the platform to create an asset tracking system for IT asset reviews and pre-emptive checks to be conducted more efficiently. The university is now able to allocate resources toward higher-value tasks and innovation, accelerating the institution's broader mission to be future-ready, agile and resilient.
Facilitating change by empowering users
With varying departments and different ways of working, NTU Singapore needed a flexible solution that could meet diverse needs from campus staff to local and foreign students. To address this, the institution opted for Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams Phone as it catered to two extreme types of users.
These include tech-savvy professors who can program software and non-technical administrators who need simple tools, such as email and instant messaging. NTU Singapore also employed flight path planning, a friction-reducing strategy to help users embrace technology that could enhance their campus experiences.
Transforming and shaping the future of education in Singapore
Beyond Microsoft Teams Phone and Microsoft 365, the university plans to roll out its new cloud-based student management system built on Microsoft Azure, amongst other ongoing initiatives to leverage technologies like chatbots and AI. "With a partner like Microsoft, we are confident of achieving our ambitious agenda in our NTU Singapore 2025 vision," said Alvin Ong.
With a successful user-empowered change management program and cloud enablement roadmap in place, the digitally connected university is well-equipped to realise its 2025 vision, leading the way in fueling innovation while shaping the future of education.
About Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and Graduate colleges. It also has a medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, established jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) and Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N).
Ranked amongst the world's top universities by QS, NTU has also been named the world's top young university for the past seven years. The University's main campus is frequently listed among the Top 15 most beautiful university campuses in the world and has 57 Green Mark-certified (equivalent to LEED-certified) buildings, of which 95% are certified Green Mark Platinum. Apart from its main campus, NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore's healthcare district.
Under the NTU Smart Campus vision, the University harnesses the power of digital technology and tech-enabled solutions to support better learning and living experiences, the discovery of new knowledge, and the sustainability of resources.
microsoft | June 17, 2020
Microsoft today announced ‘Teams for Education’ features to engage and prepare students and teachers for new remote and hybrid learning formats in the upcoming school year. These features include expanded audience view of up to 49 participants, custom backgrounds, class insights, and virtual breakout rooms, among other new features. Surveying nearly 500 members of the Microsoft Education community, comprising teachers and institutional leaders from around the world, Microsoft found that there has been a strong uptake in the use of remote learning tools. 61 percent expect to begin the next school year in a hybrid learning environment—a mix of remote and in-person learning—and 87 percent said they expect to use technology more in physical classrooms.
Microsoft | May 21, 2020
Minecraft,” the Microsoft-owned game known for its user-driven content has been at the forefront of mainstream games that utilize educational content.
Much of this content, which was at first fueled by educators in the “Minecraft” community before Microsoft brought it in-house.
Minecraft: Education Edition” has for the last few years played host to virtual curricula that have allowed students to visit and learn about global monuments.
Minecraft, the Microsoft-owned game known for its user-driven content, creative use of blocks and monsters that come out at night, has been at the forefront of mainstream games that utilize educational content. The studio’s “Minecraft: Education Edition” has for the last few years played host to virtual curricula that have allowed students to visit and learn about global monuments, sharpen math skills, understand coding or take puzzle-filled explorations to places as varied as the human body or a NASA-approved jaunt into the International Space Station. Much of this content, which was at first fueled by educators in the “Minecraft” community before Microsoft brought it in-house in 2016, had previously been available only to schools and teachers and worked in tandem with Microsoft educational accounts.
In March, however, Microsoft made an assortment of “Minecraft’s” popular educational tools available for free, with easier access for all players via the “Minecraft Marketplace.” And players have flocked to it. Microsoft reports that there have been more than 50 million downloads globally of educational content since it was made available for free March 24. It’s further evidence that virtual worlds are not just places to play or escape but vessels to learning, connecting or even taking part in digital events. Just this weekend, for instance, “Minecraft” was home to a mock commencement ceremony for UC Berkeley, which featured remarks from Chancellor Carol T. Christ alongside musical performances. It was one of many “Minecraft” graduation ceremonies happening around the globe.
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“Microsoft reports that there have been more than 50 million downloads globally of educational content since it was made available for free March 24. It’s further evidence that virtual worlds are not just places to play or escape but vessels to learning.”
~ Microsoft Says
The UC Berkeley event, said Helen Chiang, the studio head at “Minecraft” developer Mojang Studios, happened organically. When viewed alongside more commercially minded endeavors, such as rapper Travis Scott unleashing a single in “Fortnite” via an interactive experience that attracted more than 27 million participants, this pandemic moment is arguably accelerating an entertainment and cultural landscape in which persistent and evolving virtual worlds don’t just live alongside content crafted by traditional media gatekeepers but become equally as vital.
“Minecraft: Education Edition” has for the last few years played host to virtual curricula that have allowed students to visit and learn about global monuments, sharpen math skills, understand coding or take puzzle-filled explorations to places as varied as the human body or a NASA-approved jaunt into the International Space Station.”
How it all evolves is something of an unknown, as evidenced by the fact that “Minecraft’s” own educational suite was birthed via the game-playing community rather than with the company behind it.“The example right now of universities and college campuses,” says Chiang, discussing “Minecraft” graduations at schools around the globe, “it actually would have been really difficult for us to re-create all these colleges. The fact that we have a tool that passionate Berkeley students can go build their campus, and passionate MIT students can build their campus, that’s where the magic happens. It is not that we do all of these things.” While no one knows yet how the gaming audience will shift when the world begins to emerge from the grips of COVID-19, it’s become clear that interactive entertainment is uniquely positioned for this moment.
Almost daily we discover inventive tactics that users are wielding — not just via “Minecraft” or “Fortnite” but also “Animal Crossing,” Nintendo’s friendly, task-filled game that has become a coronavirus-era phenomena.“Minecraft,” which is turning 11 and is considered by many to be the top-selling game of all time, has now sold more than 200 million copies, says Chiang, and boasts 126 million active monthly players. In April alone, the game saw a 25% increase in new users over the previous month. People are also playing together — “Minecraft’s” multiplayer sessions surged 40% in April. While “Minecraft’s” popularity has never been in doubt, as Mojang Studios gets deeper into the game’s second decade, the company has been looking to expand the “Minecraft” brand. Mojang recently released the augmented-reality mobile game “Minecraft Earth” and on May 26 will issue the hack-and-slash game “Minecraft Dungeons” across multiple platforms.
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