Pandemic Life

Distance learning, working from home, happy dog

This will be quick. I'm trying to get away from my laptop for awhile. Healthy relationships include time for yourselves. I fear my laptop and I have been getting a little codependent.

The Important Stuff

Holly and I are healthy, not quarantined but working from home and keeping up our social distancing. I've got my home office setup. We've created a little mini-office for Holly at the kitchen table, with a couple monitors to hide behind so she doesn't get distracted by the dog. It's working well enough so far.

Our dog thinks the coronavirus restrictions are the best thing that ever happened. Unending family time! I’m grateful for the excuse to take outdoor walks.

Distance Learning

We've been in all-hands-on-deck mode for weeks. Schools and universities around the world have been forced to go online-only for classes. It's driving demand for distance learning services like we've never seen. When all this is over somebody should write a longform article about the devops engineers who have been working night and day to keep our services online.

We've had lots of company. Just about everyone I talk to in education technology support has been operating on lots of coffee and no sleep. It's a massive, sudden transformation. It wouldn't have been possible at all even a couple years ago.

I'm curious how your workplace or school is coping with the coronavirus response. Ping me here or at @ColinBirge on Twitter and tell me stories.


I'm not getting outside much at the moment, but there's a lot of spring out there.

Distance Learning with Microsoft

Lots of resources follow, for those interested.

Bringing Educators Together

Much of my work has been on the Enable Remote Learning community at Microsoft. It's a brand new, vibrant and growing community of 2500 educators and school leaders trading tips and support for distance learning. I help curate this group with my team and pass feedback to the engineering teams. Join here:

Resources is a quick introduction to the user experience of Teams for instructors and students alike. includes early resources for online meetings and lectures, online meetings with students or student groups, and business continuity. This page will be updated substantially over the next two weeks. is a collection of teaching resources, quick start guides and more, curated by Microsoft education specialists and hosted by our partner Wakelet. is a one-hour online course on crafting a collaborative learning environment with Microsoft Teams. is a one-hour online course on using Microsoft Teams in the instructor or staff professional life. Both this course and the course above are provided with many other resources at the Microsoft Educator Center

Lots and lots (and lots) more resources available here:

IT Staff may be interested in these resources: provides a quick start for IT staff configuring and using Microsoft Teams for remote learning. It is part of a broader set of articles at covers the details of the School Data Sync program that allows for automatic Class Team creation based on a roster in the SIS.


Stay healthy, stay safe, and be smart. We'll get through this together.