How one dance school is using Microsoft Teams to teach from afar
When the COVID-19 crisis caused schools in the country to close, Fina Dance Art School, a local dance school offering dance classes to children from 4 years up and also for adults in Willemstad, Curacao, was faced with a challenge: how to continue give dance lessons to students when the physical dance room was closed? Fina Dance School turned to Microsoft Teams to take the dance room online and keep students active from a distance.
The management team of Fina Dance Art School (Fina) were completely devasted when they had to close their dance school due to the pandemic. They were forced to stop doing what they loved the most; teaching how to dance. They have been doing so since 1983, and now after 37 years abruptly seeing their classes empty, not one single soul given their all in the dance lesson, seeing the sweat drops fall, hearing the joy after a successful move or tiers… was something that they would not get used to easily.
One of the reasons of their sadness was that they were not acquainted with any type of technology available out there that could help them deliver classes online, let alone having an IT infrastructure in place. The ladies at the school had an old-fashioned way of doing business which was working well before the pandemic arrived. This dance school offers several classes, with an overall of 280 students and 8 instructors spread out in different dance styles.
Innovating new ways of teaching
Luckily for Fina, there was one student that was using Microsoft Teams and referred Inova Solutions (Inova) to them to see if we could help the school setup the technology. Fina started to create their Online Continuity Plan to understand better and to have a strategy behind this “new normal” that was shaking the entire world. Initially, the management team was somewhat nervous about this whole Online Plan, but soon after some key conversation with the board and with Inova’s consultants they were very enthusiastic to be able to deliver their classes to their students again and fast! Now they are even thinking offering these virtual dance lessons as an added value to their normal program after COVID-19.
Seeing the little expert, the management of Fina had with technology, Inova offered its Inova Essentials Kit. The Inova Essentials kit is basically a starter package where we help implement the tool for the customer and additional configuration & services. This package comes with Office 365 including Teams. The best part of this entire kit was that it was free of charge as our response to the community in our Country. Fina could also enjoy a Crash Course from our internal champions in Teams, that helped the trainers, staff, and other members of the school jumpstart right away with the use of Teams. From the first conversation we held with the customer to the first live dance session via Teams, took less than a week to happen.
Bringing Virtual Dance Lessons
Students were ecstatic that they could continue with their dance classes virtually. At this point students where completely isolated of the rest of the world with the shelter in place order from the Government. The students could not do other classes online, because lots of other schools where also figuring out how to do so.
The students, especially the what older ones such as teenagers and young adults, where glad about the possibility of being able to continue their dance lessons virtually. They admitted that it wasn’t the same as being physically present in the classroom with the trainer, but that at least they could have enjoyed the participation and being connected with their peers. It’s now all about losing old habit and creating new ones. New tools, new rules. The cool thing was that they could still feel connected while in distant, especially that they could give instantaneous feedback to each other.
As for the trainers, just being able to dance and able to stream that to their students while at home, was something unimaginably for them. It filled their hearth with this immense satisfaction that they could somehow or the other bring sunshine to the screen for the students. It can be a lonely experience for them who are isolated back at home partway through the school year. Fina uses Teams meetings to bring some much-needed cheerfulness to this uncertain time. Fina conducts virtual dance classes for a limited group of students to ensure the best experience is being provided. They deliver interactive sessions, blended with new dance techniques and helping finetune the students’ dance moves. The trainers admit that this new method of given lessons had to make them even more creative when correcting the students’ techniques as it was quite challenging to correct them with no physical contact. However, it opened a new way of thinking and analyzing how to bring over the techniques which before you would not think so deep on it. Bottom line, the tool was functioning!
Teaching remotely, although not without its challenges, has brought a new dimension to the learning process. It was also cool to see parents joining in to say hi and meet the Fina trainers over video.
Choosing the best technology for digital transformation
The first step in Fina’s technology journey was to adopt Teams. Very rapidly after the implementation of that, we implemented Microsoft Office 365 in their infrastructure. At this moment internally they also use all the applications and use Teams to meet with the trainers to talk about new schedules, new programs and much more. So not only did Fina fulfill their expectation of delivering virtual classes to their students, but they also managed to inherit that same culture internally. That was something that the management team of this dance school never had in mind being capable of.
Fina maintained about 50% of their business productivity with the use of Teams.
This solution is now considered to be offered as an added value as part of their USP after the pandemic. With this modern approach in mind, the customer can focus on new market growth. Virtual classes are here to stay for Fina Dance Art School.